Speaking of Joe Nickell, he has a new book out as of yesterday, Prometheus Books (May 7, 2013): The Science of Miracles: Investigating the Incredible (ISBN-13: 978-1616147419): Joe Nickell
Here is the Prometheus’ description:.
Conveying the sense of adventure surrounding the investigation of any mystery, this is both entertaining reading and a comprehensive, science-based study of miracle claims. Is the Shroud of Turin really the burial cloth of Jesus, produced by a miraculous burst of radiant energy at the moment of Resurrection? What happens at faith-healing services to provide apparently miraculous cures? Steering between the twin pillars of belief and disbelief, experienced paranormal investigator Joe Nickell examines these claims and more. Relying on his forty-plus years of experience in tracking down the solutions to mysteries, Nickell uses on-site examinations, lab experiments, and other detective methods to uncover the facts behind the most incredible claims. He evaluates the evidence in six major categories of miracle claims: miraculous images (such as "weeping" icons); magical relics (like the Shroud of Turin and the Holy Grail); miracle healings (at Lourdes or at the hands of healers like Benny Hinn); visionary experiences (including near-death experiences); saintly powers (such as stigmata); and "the devil’s work" (such as demonic possession).
And of Joe Nickell, the publisher says:
Joe Nickell (Amherst, NY) has been called "the modern Sherlock Holmes" and "the real-life Scully" (from The X Files). Since 1995 he has been the world’s only full-time, professional, science-based paranormal investigator. His careful, often-innovative investigations have won him international respect in a field charged with controversy. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead. See http://www.joenickell.com for more.
No reviews yet that I have seen. It is available in paperback for $11.99 and $8.69 in Kindle.
An article, Science Shines New Light on Shroud of Turin’s Age by Shaffer Parker, Jr. is perhaps the best article so far on Fanti’s methods and findings. It appears May 6th in The National Catholic Register.
The article explains Fanti’s methods with easy-to-understand terminology. For instance, here is a short explanation of how Fanti identified shroud fibers from other fibers on a vacuum filter.
It was on fibers from “filter H” that Fanti did most of his work. “I discovered a relatively simple technique to detect which linen fibers were from the shroud,” he said, “based on cross-polarized light used in a petrographic microscope. The shroud fibers show a coloration like a coral snake, probably because in the original preparation of the fibers they were beaten with rods.” More recent fibers, Fanti said, were prepared differently and therefore appear differently under a microscope.
The article addresses doubts about Fanti’s findings, as well. Then, as though there was nothing more to say about the Padua professor’s wrok, Parkers gives over several column inches to Joe Nickell’s general skepticism and a rebuttal by Barrie Schwortz.
While he rejects the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, Nickell insists that a shroud might be found that he could accept did come from the tomb of Jesus Christ, but its history from the grave to the present day would have to be completely documented. “And it could not have an image on it,” he added. “That implies a miracle, and as such takes it out of the realm of science.”
Or not. Is Nickell stuck in the 1990s?
Take the time to read Science Shines New Light on Shroud of Turin’s Age
As far as I am aware the whole material was used for the dating here – that is what the weighed components suggest – and we don’t have any remaining sample in our archives with these sample numbers. I think the position taken here was that we only had permission for dating and not other research – and at that time, the measurements needed as much material as possible. It is true that it is normal practice to retain some material for further checks in routine dating and we do normally do this – so I can see that other labs may have made different decisions.
Apparently Oxford needed at least 16mg to produce reliable results (they cut their 50mg sample into three). Strange that Tucson needed only 7mg.
John C. Iannone will be presenting, The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: The Case for Authenticity, at Holy Family Catholic Church, 5125 S. Apopka Vineland Rd., Orlando on Monday, May 13th at 7pm in the church. From the churches website:
No cloth in history has been so studied as the Holy Shroud. Nor has any cloth so caught the fascination and reverence of the world. And still, this Linen remains a mystery. Is it the ancient burial cloth of Jesus, a Visual Gospel providing in its fabric the story of His passion and resurrection?
What do modern blood and DNA studies reveal? Are there images of flowers and pollen on the Shroud that trace its history? What do pathologists say about the wounds and the weapons that created them? These questions as well as new scientific and historical evidence are discussed in this free 1 hour intriguing presentation supporting the authenticity of the Shroud presented with many colorful PowerPoint slides.
By way of a comment, Jason Engwer, writes to me:
Have you considered including a more extensive topical index on your blog? Maybe have a section on your side bar that links to posts on a wider range of topics that frequently come up (like the objection based on the length of Jesus’ hair). That would make it easier for people to find things on the blog, and it would save you and others time when those topics come up again in the future.
I have thought about it. It would not be easy. Even coming up with a good list of categories would be tough. I would then have to make category decisions on 2,250 existing posts and edit those posts to assign the new categories. Because topics often develop during discussion of another topic, I would need to consider over 16,000 comments. If anything, I have been thinking of abandoning categories altogether. They don’t accomplish much.
I think Google search can accomplish much of what we want with the site argument. (The search function that comes with the blog is useful but not as comprehensive). Here is an example for long hair: site:shroudstory.com Jesus "long hair" Be sure to note the word site, the colon and shroudstory.com without any spacing.
Also, have you ever put together a collection of audio and/or video files on the Shroud? Or do you know of anybody else who has? If nobody’s done it yet, it would be a good idea to have a large collection of audio files on Shroud-related topics, for example, in one location.
It is beyond anything I would know how to do. If I just Google ‘Shroud of Turin’ videos, which includes many audio tapes and podcasts in video format, I get 449,000. I’ll grant that some of these are duplicates and a few of them are for a rock band called Shroud of Turin. But still. . .
Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton introduces a Barrie Schwortz video in her Public Catholic blog over at Patheos and then gets into a big argument with a Bill S.
Believers are, for the most part, quite equitable about whether or not the Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud of Christ.
Atheists, on the other hand, tend to get worked up about it. They seem almost to fear it. I am guessing that this is because they’ve got so much ego invested in their non-belief that the thought that some artifact might rattle that a bit is scary to them.
I may not agree with Bill S. but I don’t agree much with Rebecca, either. Some of the most adamant shroud skeptics I have encountered are believers: biblical literalist fundamentalists who argue that the shroud is fake because it shows Jesus with long hair. Many of these same fundamentalists insist that Jesus was wrapped in strips of linen, mummy style, and not a shroud. They are not equitable at all. It is not uncommon for them to send some very insulting fire and brimstone emails.
And when it comes to Atheists, I often encounter people who are completely unfazed by the shroud. They are so convinced that it can’t be real that they shrug and walk away.
Then again, how do we address the question of what Thomas de Wesselow believes: that the shroud is real and that the very natural image on it inspired belief in the Resurrection and hence led to Christianity.
Don’t get me wrong. I read Rebecca’s bio and I’m impressed.
The Real Face of Jesus pages at the History Channel just got a few face lifts and several pages of rewritten text. It is worth a visit.
Now that the subject has been raised again, I thought some newer readers of this blog might be interested in reviewing some older posts about the Arizona radiocarbon samples. I forgot how much there was until I went to the archives:
- Radiocarbon & Much Ado About Nothing
- More About Jull’s Paper in Radiocarbon Journal
- Was the sample used in the Jull paper NOT from the Shroud of Turin?
- More on was the sample in the Jull paper NOT from the Shroud of Turin?
- More on University of Arizona and Jull’s Paper
- Even More on Suspicious University of Arizona Testing of the Shroud
- Joe Marino, Sue Benford and the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin
- Radiocarbon & Much Ado About Nothing
- Mark Oxley’s Paper is a Must Read
- Link to Tyrer’s Significant Paper
- Arizona Radiocarbon Dating Samples of the Shroud of Turin
- Again, the Issue of Peer Review
- Peer Review of the Freer-Waters/Jull Paper Continued
Hugh Farey wrote:
. . . Dr [A. J. Timothy] Jull [pictured] has confirmed that two of the four samples were indeed retained, and the other two were cut into two again, making four samples of between 5mg and 7mg for dating. I have not pressed him on whether this was actually sufficient.
Does anybody know how much the Oxford or Zurich labs used, or whether they too kept back half their sample for further research and/or confirmation of the results.
There were several other comments and then David Mo asked if Hugh had a problem with Dr. Jull’s answer. To that, Hugh wrote:
Not at present, no. I simply want to know how many mg of an unknown fabric was considered necessary to achieve a dating measurement in 1988. There is carbon dating submission advice online (http://www.ess.uci.edu/ams/Sample%20Submission%201.htm), from the University of California, currently asking for 2.5mg of dry weight carbon-rich organic material. If that was the case 25 years ago, then the dating procedures carried out by Arizona seem to me beyond reasonable reproach.
David Mo continued:
This is important information that you have obtained, Hugh. It changes many hypotheses. May we have some literal quotation from Jull’s writing/e-mail?
This is it, a lot of literal quotation, a fantastic contribution by Hugh to our knowledge about them samples in Arizona. Hugh comments:
In his email to me, Dr Jull writes [my notes in square brackets]:
[This measurement was therefore made in Turin.]
These were subdivided into a. 13.86mg, b. 12.39mg, c. 14.72mg and d. 11.83mg. Obviously, these total 52.8mg not 53.7mg. The discrepancy was attributed by us to a weighing error, when the original sampling was undertaken.
[These measurements were therefore made in Tucson. Jull assumes the Turin measurement was wrong. There may have been some drying out.]
You are correct that last two of the pieces (c and d, as labelled above) were used for the dating and they were subdivided into two – making a total of four discrete samples for dating.
[The mass of the 'extra sliver' was originally given as 14.2mg by Riggi, but it could be piece (a) above if it had dried. The mass of the largest tested sample could not have been more than 7.36mg.]
Each of these 4 samples was processed as separate samples. In each case, the resulting graphite was run twice, resulting in 8 independent determinations. I think that the 2 determinations on each sample were combined in the Nature paper, but that the original data was provided to Dr. Tite, who was coordinating the publication.
The remaining material was retained in case of future work to reproduce the results, as is normal practice in any laboratory.
[If so, then presumably the Oxford and Zurich labs did the same. I have not heard from Dr Ramsey or Dr Bonani yet.]
For continuity, let’s try to keep the comments going at the Special Request from Hugh Farey posting and not have comments here.
A Google translation of an article in Vatican Insider, Concerts, celebrations and reflections in memory of the Holy Shroud by Domenico Agasso Jr.:
A Concert and a s. Mass presided over by the papal custodian Msgr. Nosiglia the presence of the leading specialists of the Shroud are scheduled for the Feast of the Holy Cloth, which is celebrated on May 4, the date established in 1506 by Pope Julius II [pictured, portrait by Raphael, ca. 1511]. And two days later will begin a series of lectures as part of "The meetings at Holy Shroud", entitled "A body hast given me – The human story of the Shroud."
Tonight at 21 in the Cathedral of Turin begins with a concert by the Association Concertante – Art and Music Project, "which will perform in the ‘Petite Messe Solennelle’ by Gioacchino Rossini," say the organizers, which include the Museum of the Shroud and the International Centre for Sindonologia. Tomorrow instead, at 18, still in the Cathedral, there will be a Mass celebrated by Archbishop of Turin. Nosiglia. "But at the side of the liturgical celebrations – inform – the date also marks the annual event for a comparison between the members of the International Centre for Sindonologia, whose meeting will be held at the Museum of the Shroud right in the afternoon of May 4, gathering in Turin the leading experts on the Shroud. " Scholars and scientists from all over the Planet "will take stock of the situation on the various subjects’ open ‘connected to the Holy Shroud: an opportunity that presents itself important in light of the recent debate – riaccesosi worldwide in the wake of last month’ television Exposition of Holy Saturday and the concomitant launch the app ‘Shroud 2.0′ – which, in particular, dealt with the issue of the alleged samples of fabric in hands of private parties. "
Monday then the Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud and the Center for Sindonologia will initiate a series of meetings on "A body hast given me – The human story of the Shroud", which will run for five consecutive Mondays (always beginning at 21 at the church of Turin SS. Sudario). conferences – they will all be moderated by Msgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the Diocesan Commission for the Shroud – "will proceed along a theme centered on the concept of the Son of God who became man taking a body. Through its body Jesus ennobles the human condition and it shares all the events, to the more painful, on the cross.’s body becomes so crucial component of Christian consciousness, the object of faith concerning the Incarnation of the Word and the human condition. "Here are the appointments.
On May 6, Don Roberto Gottardo, Episcopal Vicar of Turin, reflect on "The Shroud shows a body – The body today." On May 13, Ernesto Olivero, founder of SERMIG, will speak about "The body of the Shroud destroyed by suffering. The daily dialogue with suffering. " On May 20, Don Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association, will speak on "The groom (the King) sleeps. The mystery of the tomb, the body is no longer a man. " May 27: "The awakening of the King", with Don Carlo Neck, professor of dogmatic theology. On June 3: "A body – flesh for our life. The Eucharist, his body in my body ", with Mgr. Giuseppe Anfossi, Bishop Emeritus of Aosta.
Lee Krystek, on his excellent website, The Museum of Unnatural Mystery, after summarizing pretty much everything from STURP to Fanti’s latest, wraps up Visiting the Fake Shroud of Turin:
Probably one of the techniques that got closest to what we see on the Shroud (and by my thinking was probably the method used by the forger, if indeed the Shroud it a forgery) was done by Jacques di Costanzo, of Marseille University Hospital, in 2005. He had a bas-relief ( a type of sculpture that stands out from the background ) created that looked like the figure on the Shroud, then draped it with wet linen. He then let it dry so it molded itself to the statue and then dabbed ferric oxide, mixed with gelatine, onto the cloth. When the cloth was allowed to dry, then pulled off and reversed, the image resembled that of the Shroud. Most importantly the result had no brush strokes. The lack of brush strokes on the Shroud of Turin is often cited as an argument for it not being painted by an artist. [See picture below]
Does it Matter?
So, is the Shroud of Turin real or fake? Just looking at the replica it struck me how much the image on it seemed to be exactly what we might expect to see down to the blood dripping out of a nail wound on the hand. I’ve observed that things in the real world are rarely that neat and tidy. It reminds me of a minister friend of mine that remarks that he doesn’t like pictures of Jesus that make him look too "clean" and unreal. To me, the Shroud looks too perfect to be authentic.
At a certain level, does it really matter if the Shroud is genuine? Even if you can prove that the Shroud was actually used to wrap a victim of crucifixion in Jerusalem in the 1st century A.D., will you ever be able to prove that the person involved was Jesus of Nazareth? The Romans were not shy about nailing people to the cross and it could be one of hundreds of victims.
And even if you prove that it was Jesus, existence of the Shroud really doesn’t prove or disprove the central tenant of Christianity, which is that Christ rose from the dead. Proponents and skeptics seem to fixate on the Shroud as evidence one way or the other of the Resurrection, but it really isn’t.
And I think the Catholic Church, which has owned the Shroud since it was gifted to them in 1983, understands this. They take no position on the authenticity of the artifact, leaving it up to the individual to decide on their own what they think.
Perhaps we should appreciate the cloth for what we know it to be: a mysterious work of art. Perhaps produced by some unknown force of nature, a cunning forger, or maybe just a clever artist.
Phys.org story on Jacques di Costanzo work.
Author and journalist James Rygelski has a prominent article, What would ‘proving’ Shroud do? in the Lifestyles section of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
So I hope the pope grants the request for another test. Equipment exists that would quickly measure a section of the shroud for nuclear particle transfers. I know Mark Antonacci well enough to say that he’s doing this as a devout believer and not some glory-seeker. To view his foundation’s website, visit www.testtheshroud.com
However, I have cautioned Mark that while many of us will always believe in the authenticity of the shroud, the more important thing is that we believe in the authenticity of Christ – whether or not the shroud they wrapped Him in after the crucifixion still exists.
Jesus showed a doubting Thomas the wounds that Thomas said would be the only proof he would accept of Jesus’ resurrection. But Christ also told him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
Yes, I would like to see more tests. But I’m not convinced that those tests have been properly defined. Mark Antonacci has a petition on his site. I’m not ready to sign it. As for Rygelski’s caution to Antonacci: Amen.
I’ve been following your posts avidly as usual, but not commenting much as I’ve been over at James Randi commenting on carbon dating. I wonder if I could ask you or, via shroudstory . . . of the origin of the diagram of the carbon dating piece of material shown by Bryan Walsh at the 1999 Richmond Conference. It’s given in [Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin: Partially Labelled Regressors and the Design of Experiments] and is very detailed.
Joe, John, Colin, Thibault, Giulio, Adrie, Barrie, Russ, Dave, Max, Andy, etc. etc. etc. ???
Mark Shea is pretty certain in an article simply called The Shroud of Turin that appears in the National Catholic Register:
Turns out the Shroud of Turin does date from the first century after all. That’s because it is, as I have always thought, the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. Unless, of course, you seriously believe that a medieval European forger just happened to have a 1300-year-old burial shroud (that originated in the Holy Land) laying around and decided to use it to conduct an absolutely unique and unrepeatable experiment in photo-realistic imaging on cloth.
Mark links to a story in the Vatican Insider which boldly says that in the lede. But it doesn’t say that in the article. It is a stretch. Better to say that Fanti thinks it could be first century. He continues:
At present, however, all the evidence we have accumulated keeps pointing–with a persistence galling to dogmatic materialists–to the image being what Christians have always taken it for: an "image not made by hands" that was somehow imprinted on the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. It is not "proof" of the Resurrection. Nor is it "scientific proof" of a miracle. Science leaves off where miracles begin and the most the sciences can do is what they are currently doing: say, "We can’t explain how this image was created." But for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and his Resurrection from the dead as their salvation, the Shroud is a particularly striking witness, as are the various other signs and wonders God has done down through the ages. It’s not so much food for the soul (the Eucharist is that) as it is a sort of vitamin pill for the soul. If it turns out to be a fake, it turns out to be a fake. Other fakes have happened. But nothing in the core of the Faith changes.
I have an issue with Mark. He tends to conflate those who think it might be a natural image with those who think it is a fake. He also over simplifies. Plenty of Christians, too, think it is natural or think it is fake. But then he qualifies his ascertains:
Still, I have a high degree of confidence this will not turn out to be a fake, not because I believe it to be the burial cloth of Jesus by faith, but for much the same reason I have a high degree of confidence that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy: because it’s the most sensible synthesis of the available physical evidence. I have nothing riding on the authenticity of the Shroud. I just think it’s the best explanation of all the data.
Adrie Vd Hoeven writes in The seam and missing corners of the Turin Shroud as characteristics of John Mark’s temple garment in a paper published at Academia.edu (uploaded April 5, 2013):
In this article I will use some known and new facts about the anonymous author of the Fourth Gospel,the so-called ‘beloved disciple’, and about John Mark, and I will compare and link these facts to each other in order to show how the temple garment lost by ‘Mark’ became the burial shroud kept by‘John’. This is illustrated in the figure below. These, and more, facts and links are discussed in more detail and with more sources and arguments in my long article “John Mark – Author of the Gospel of John with Jesus’ mother” on my site www.JesusKing.info.
Interesting article, Open-access science journals affect credibility in The Columbus Dispatch by Steve Rissing, a biology professor at Ohio State University. I know we have discussed this before, but Rissing offeres some additional perspectives:
This process of peer review lies at the heart of scientific communication. Done with care, it assures a high standard of objectivity and clarity in research accepted for publication or presentation. Done poorly, it can mislead others, especially members of the public who read the publications directly or through the press.
Most biologists who edit a journal or serve on its board usually do so for no more than one or two journals at a time. One of the new journals that sent a recent “Dear Researcher”invitation to submit a paper has an editor-in-chief who works for 52 journals, according to an online index service. Those journals cover not only biology but also economics, medical practice and food science.
A recent New York Times front-page story focused on the hidden costs of these new scientific conferences and online journals. The article focused on the plight of unsuspecting conference attendees and authors. They were stuck with undisclosed and exorbitant conference fees and publication costs.
They are hardly the only ones led astray by these practices.
The politicization of science and the rise of science denial have already made it difficult to get a clear understanding of the state of much scientific research. The rise of for-profit journal mills that create hundreds of new publications with few if any standards can only confuse this situation.
Hat tip: Joe Marino
Tom Acemoglu commented on an article, Science still can’t explain Shroud of Turin, researcher says, appearing in the National Catholic Reporter. It warrants more attention:
I have far more respect for someone who studies something as culturally potent as the Shroud of Turin and can say "we just can’t tell where it came from". This isn’t a claim to faith, but an openness that maybe it can’t be explained away so simply. To deny the possibility that this the shroud is legitimate is not to stand on the intellectual high ground, but in the same philosophical muck as fundamentalism. Positivism IS a kind of fundamentalism.
For me, the Shroud is at least as potent as the finest icons. Honestly, it’s more so. The blood is real, the negatives of the photographs are shocking, the wounds are consistent with the kind of injuries that Jesus sustained, and recent research has picked up so many peculiar things about it that it has become far more difficult to be satisfied with the explanation that it’s a clever medieval trick. Read up on it, if for no other reason than to experience a profound meditation on why the Resurrection and our redemption did not come cheap.
Here is a story from the National Catholic Reporter that dovetails with the video in the previous posting: Science still can’t explain Shroud of Turin, researcher says:
Barrie Schwortz . . .
Raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, "it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I’m a Jew and involved with probably the most important relic of Christianity," Schwortz told Catholic News Service.
"Isn’t it funny how God always picks a Jew to be the messenger," he said.
Schwortz said he, along with the other members of the research team who came from various faith backgrounds, had to set aside personal beliefs and focus on the shroud itself rather than any religious implication it might carry.