There is a rather bizarre trend in Kryptos solution methods over the years.  The solver begins with a traditional encryption method they propose as the K4 ciphering mechanism.  They then make rational and logical attempts to solve K4 by reversing this historical encryption algorithm.

And it doesn’t work.

This is when they depart from that crazy “thinking in the box” and decide Kryptos is actually a highly creative and interpretive code of the most imaginative artistic form.  They take that “intermediate” failure and use it as the staging ground for an increasingly iterative series of solution attempts.  I present the concept that it would be perhaps better to start from scratch, so to speak, every time with the ciphertext of K4 instead of combinatorial effort where each failure is just that much closer to the next failure.

Typically a person will reach a limit that depends entirely upon their personality and skill-set.  At this point they will reach out to any current Kryptos enthusiasts or even some conspiracy theorists for help.  They don’t have a solution but it’s so close, if someone would just believe them or help out a little.

If you think I’m making fun of you then you should probably keep reading.  If you’re experiencing a sort of sickly fascination akin to watching a traffic accident then you should probably keep reading as well.

Developing a series of steps to decipher K4 or any of Kryptos is unlike a logical argument although both can use the same errors in judgement.  Solving Kryptos in this way is much more like a series of linear directions and not a group of premises that support a final conclusion.  Each step is determinate upon the other and any flaw, mistake or failure in one results in a serious problem for the rest of the method and invalidates its conclusion.  That’s the bottom line, argue special circumstances if you want but it won’t change that truth.

Why is it important to discuss this phenomenon?  It’s fairly widespread and a common paralyzing force on some very intelligent people.  It inculcates a steadily strengthening belief that it doesn’t matter if it didn’t work, just keep trying and try harder!  If you’ve experienced it and overcome it then you know what I’m trying to describe.  If you’re ensnared by it currently then maybe a warning will help.  If you’ve been free of its siren call so far, maybe this will keep you from falling into its trap.

To an outside observer it can seem crazy, obsessed, arrogant and ridiculous but to the affected party, it is all too real and dynamic.  I will give a non-Kryptos example that I hope will emphasize the problem and its danger.

I’m going to cure cancer!

So I decide that I want to devote my life to curing cancer because my pet platypus died a tragic death of gall bladder cancer when I was 13.  I dig into the schoolbooks, excel in high school and graduate top of my class.  I then go on to a prestigious undergraduate university and get my Bachelor’s of Science.  Then it’s off to medical school for almost a decade and several years after that I’ve landed a laudatory position in a cutting edge research hospital.  Due to my overwhelming credentials, I’m given a lab and funding and lab workers.  The stage is set.  The actors are in their places.  My concluding triumph over the horrors of malignant cell growth is nigh.

I know the problem, cancer.  I know what it looks like, cancer.  No one has cracked it yet.  There’s no single definitive cure even though many brilliant minds have been trying for years.

I do some literature research, not too much – just enough to have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.

  1. Turns out, there’s a ubiquitous, white crystalline solid disaccharide that has been extensively researched and been found to be correlated to various diseases and human survival.  I write a mini-grant proposal and fund 6 months of research to explore its possible applications in curative cancer research.  It fails to yield any conclusive results that suggest it is of practical value in treatment.
  2. I’m not surprised.  As it seemed to be ineffective, I went back to the research and found correlations to a moderate sized, saturated hydrocarbon chain fatty acids.   It is a triglyceride, an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acid groups.  Perhaps in conjunction with the white crystals from the previous experiments, it is a co-application that is necessary for efficacy.  Another 8 months later and we failed to show a positive result.
  3. I return once more to the papers for inspiration and I am not disappointed.  Turns out the cytoplasm of an ovate spheroid, consisting of 15% proteins dissolved in water may be just the ticket.  It only took 5 months of testing the combination of the three-part therapeutic treatment regimen to discount success but I have begun to feel this is but one more intermediate step in the process of finding a successful treatment.
  4. New inspiration in a preparation of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of a natural compound known as vanillin is an apparent setback of a year and a half but I can feel progress inching forwards.
  5. A powder made of members of the monocot families Poaceae or Gramineae is included unsuccessfully.  Undeterred, I press on despite criticisms from colleagues.  No one else has tried this or come this far, I can’t give up yet!
  6. In an effort to appease the traditionalists, I include NaHCO3 – sodium hydrogen carbonate.  I deem it likely that we are but 1-2 steps from completion of my proposed efforts and look for open collaborations at other research facilities to expedite the program.
  7. It seems redundant in view of step #2, but I return to a favored theme and include an emulsion or colloid of globules within a water-based fluid.  Each globule is surrounded by a membrane consisting of phospholipids and proteins.  The combination of each necessary component is surely the way to a solution.
  8. In desparation I have turned to other disciplines and after an amateur’s education in basic physics, I tackle the dilemma with my coup de grâce, a thermodynamic application of kinetic energy.  While it seems to have not solved the problem of treating cancer, I am happy with the efforts I have made so far and release numerous papers documenting my work.
  9. I present my results to the NIH and express an interest in an interdisciplinary effort to start with my process and complete it for the miracle the world has sought for so many years.
  10. They recommend I try a mixture of #1, #2, #3, #7 in conjunction with dihydrogen monoxide as an encapsulating coating.
  11. I am ridiculed by my peers, the medical community and the world.
  12. I am fired.
  13. I maintain the veracity of my proposed solution in the face of withering criticism by citing a dizzying array of statistical models that cannot help but convince even the most skeptical of the validity of my treatment for cancer.
  14. Despite my failure to convince anyone of my treatment, I am left with the conviction that I was right and it was perhaps cancer that was wrong.

I’m sure this sounds very logical and scientific.  Our author seems to have a good grasp of the various disciplines necessary to effectively develop a treatment of cancer.  What went wrong?  You’ll notice how there are 8 individual attempts that are linked sequentially even though each resulting attempt has produced yet another failure.  It’s very logically presented and professional yet something seems wrong…  I hope you can see that each of the first 8 steps is plausible individually but it is the combination of applying a new method to a previous failure that is the essence of his error in logic.

Unlike most Kryptos efforts that proceed in this manner, my cancer cure does indeed result in something useful if not for cancer then it is at least appealing.  I’ll leave you with the layman’s directions if you wish to attempt to replicate the results.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Heat at 350 degrees Farenheit for 30-40 minutes
  • Allow cooling and coat with frosting (#10)
  • Serve and enjoy