Published May 18, 2013

Beale Treasure Story
What Constitutes a Credible Solution?

  

Over the years, I have received communications from different people who sincerely believed they had broken one or more of Beale's ciphers, or in some cases had found an alternate interpretation of the cipher numbers. In all cases, it was fairly easy to conclude that I disagreed. I suppose I should say "humbly disagreed," as these people were sincere in their beliefs and for the most part had spent considerable time and effort in arriving at their conclusions. Although, I must admit, I find it hard to accept that what seemed so clear to me was conversely so difficult for them to conceive or comprehend.
   
In my view, a proposed solution method for Beale's ciphers should at least withstand the following simple tests:
 
1. The solution method should be consistent with and satisfy Beale's objectives.
 
2. The solution method should be such that Mr. Beale could easily create a simple set of instructions enabling Mr. Morriss to make use of the solution method to recover the information needed to carry out his (Beale's) instructions.
 
3. The solution method should not be so complex that the recovery process would be overly burdensome on Mr. Morriss.
 
4. The recovered information should make sense and be consistent with the Beale treasure storyline.
 
5. However, the decoding or recovery process should not have so many degrees-of-freedom that it allows almost any text or set of information to be recovered.
 
The proposed solution methods that I have seen fail with respect to one or more of the above five criterion. But all have failed #2. No one has provided me with a step-by-step set of instructions to explain how the ciphers were to be decoded or processed.
 
In my view, it is unlikely that a proposed solution method will be universally accepted unless it is first examined and vetted by other intelligent observers using the above and perhaps other criteria.