Home > Image Theory, News & Views, Science > Colin Berry and Luigi Garlaschelli may have already won the prize with different solutions.

Colin Berry and Luigi Garlaschelli may have already won the prize with different solutions.

May 5, 2012

imageThe fell hand of consensus is apparent in the dramatic differences between the first list of image characteristics David Rolfe was using for his challenge to Richard Dawkins and the new list developed in Valencia.

There is good and bad in it. Language that implied that the only explanation for the image required a cloth covering a body is nearly gone. Good. Irrelevant statements about rigor mortis being evident and other such statements have been stricken. That too is good.

But. But. But. There is a complete lack of any measurement specificity thus allowing for very liberal and incorrect interpretations. That is bad. Superficiality, for instance, is dumb-downed to nothing more than saying the body image does not penetrate below the surface fibers (or is it surface of the fibers). Then, too, what is a few millimeters between believers and skeptics when describing resolution? This will not do.

And what has happened to some of the now classical, oft acclaimed easy to understand characteristics? Is it not true anymore that the image can be removed with adhesive? Is it not true anymore that the body image does not fluoresce when viewed under ultraviolet radiation? One of the great dangers of lists by consensus is the implied understanding that an omission is consensual agreement that what was omitted is irrelevant or not true. 

And is it now suddenly resolved by consensus that the image is not contained in an impurity layer. Is this fact or group-think?

Of course, the biggest danger of lists by consensus is the implied and fallacious appeal to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam). And what authority is that? The congress in Valencia? To claim consensus in science is daring and bold. It generally implies widespread acceptance on a grand scale. Evolution, global warming and the expanding universe, come to mind. But — and we must remember this — once upon a time, before Edwin Hubble, the consensus was that the universe was static. Consensus is group opinion. In this case it is the opinion of what can only be seen by others as a biased small group. The word consensus should be avoided at all cost.

Crisply written, factual observations, supported by strong evidence that in every way accord well with scientific methods is the only acceptable way to go. Consensus should have nothing to do with it.  Facts are facts.

Can it be that all swans are white by consensus? Of course not.

Looking at the list, as it is written, I’m thinking that Luigi Garlaschelli and Colin Berry have both already won the prize, and have done so with completely different solutions. I’m glad that this list isn’t yet cast in stone.

See: So is Ray Rogers’ Hypothesis Out the Window by Consensus?

  1. May 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | #1

    I agree with you Dan. To not spell out with clarity the superficiality of the image is ludicrous. It is a key attribute of the image. We all know the story of the camel–a horse designed by committee…

  2. daveb of wellington nz
    May 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm | #2

    The classic logical syllogism commencing with the premise “All swans are white” held perfectly true until some explorer, probably William Dampier, discovered the southern continent of Australia, thus altering the perception of classical logic forever. There is another related story telling of the different interpretations of scienific disciplines, involving three scientists (an astronomer, a chemist and a mathematician) who travel by train from Oxford to Scotland and who for the first time perceive one black sheep in a field. They also could not arrive at a consensus as to the correct logical answer.

    Who can guess what as yet unknown discoveries may await further investigations, if they ever happen, into our favourite artifact? But a narrowly focused consensus group is unlikely to provide any kind of conclusive answer!

  3. Yannick Clément
    May 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm | #3

    Instead of producing a list of “facts” for some kind of challenge with a skeptic, I think that would have been a better thing to retake the list of “evidences” regarding the Shroud that was published at the Dallas conference in 2005 (http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/doclist.pdf) and reduce it to the max by ONLY keeping all the VERY SURE facts science know about this relic. By acting like that, I’m sure we would obtain a list much shorter than the one published in 2005, but, at the same time, that would be very solid and true.
    Here, I’m not talking about a list that would include some kind of hypothetic thing like the question of the chromophore of the body image or the evidence found in the pollens (the scientific debate still rages on about those questions), I talk about sure scientific facts that have been verified and confirmed, like the bloodstains are made of human blood, the serum stains are really serum from blood clots, most of the bloodstains came from exudates of traumatic blood clots, all the things science is sure about the superficiality and other characteristics of the body image, etc., etc.
    I think that if a consensus could have been achieved on an exhaustive list of facts like that, that would have been a much more positive thing than the present list that is really incomplete and, worse than that, that contain at least one “facts” that have not been proven yet, i.e. the first one who state “The body image is created by molecular change of linen fibres”. Effectively, IF Ray Rogers hypothesis is correct regarding the thin layer of impurities present at the surface of the cloth, then this first point would be wrong, in the way it is expressed. Presently, there’s no way to be 100% sure about that.
    Also, I don’t understand the purpose to challenge directly one skeptic in particular or even the skeptics in general… I think the publication of an updated list of sure scientific facts regarding the Shroud, done without any other pretention than to speak the truth about what science knows for sure about this relic, would have been a much better idea than the present list. It would have been like a scientific statement regarding the Shroud instead of a provocation against a skeptic.

  4. MouseInTheHouse
    May 6, 2012 at 4:08 am | #4

    fell hand?

    • Dan
      May 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm | #5

      “When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced. The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;” William Shakespeare (Sonnet 64). There is no “consenus” on what he exactly meant except that fell means destructive, defacing, etc. He is almost certainly referring to engravings on grave stones and ravages of time on their clarity. That is the meaning I was implying, the loss of clarity from trying to arrive at consensus.

  5. Paulette
    May 6, 2012 at 5:22 am | #6

    Did Barrie Schwortz really concur that the image is the result of a molecular change to the fibers of the cloth? Or is the consensus of the Congress of Valencia misrepresented?

    It does not matter. The list of seven image characteristics is a slumgullion of meaningless verbiage that will do little more than confuse the public about shroud science. I am very disappointed.

    • Yannick Clément
      May 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm | #7

      And so Am I !!!

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