Author Archive

Finally, An Explanation for the Exclamation Mark!

November 25, 2015 26 comments

and Michael Tite has some thoughts about the image, as well

imageYesterday, in a comment to Three Questions About The Reweaving Hypothesis, Charles Freeman mentioned that Michael Tite was still lecturing about the shroud. That prompted this response from Hugh Farey:

He is indeed. His most recent lecture was on Monday (yesterday), at the University of Durham Institute of Advanced Studies, in their ‘Evidence on Trial’ series, entitled ‘ Fakes, Forgeries and the Turin Shroud: the scientific evidence.’ It can be heard (audio only although it was clearly an illustrated lecture) at

It tells us little about the dating of the Shroud that we didn’t know before, but contains this little snippet which may be of interest:

I put that exclamation mark because the date had been leaked in the press certainly as medieval for some time, so it was really saying ‘there you are; you’ve known it all along.’ Various other interpretations were put on it – rather more sinister ones – so it wasn’t a very helpful thing for me to do, but that was the reason. That was my response.

Later Tite suggests that the image may have been associated with a real crucifixion, perhaps of a crusader. He is particularly taken with the wrist rather than hand bloodstains.

Do listen. The audio runs 45 minutes. (The introduction is barely audible but the lecture is fine.) Here is an abstract of the talk from Durham University’s website:

The primary underlying theme of the lecture will be the role of scientific examination in providing evidence for the authenticity of antiquities that supplements the evidence provided by their stylistic attributes. The methods of scientific examination will include the investigation of the raw materials and fabrication methods used in the production of stone, metal and glass antiquities together with thermoluminescence dating of ceramics and radiocarbon dating of organic materials. Examples of the application of these methods will include the Getty kouros, the British Museum crystal skull, Etruscan bronze figurines, Neolithic pottery from Anatolia, the Turin Shroud and the Vinland Map. The damage caused to our understanding of the past by the illegal excavation of antiquities together with the consequent ethics of collecting and authenticating antiquities will also be considered.

Categories: Lectures

Three Comments Promoted, Seven or So Reasons to Believe the Shroud is Authentic

November 23, 2015 12 comments

imageLet’s start with the third comment, one by Hugh Farey:

I also agree with Daveb. He summarises the evidence that counters a medieval date for the shroud admirably, and uses, entirely reasonably, words like “ambiguous” and “unproven”, and explains that he is persuaded of authenticity. I, on the other hand, am not persuaded of authenticity. I think that’s fine. The Shroud will not become authentic, or medieval, on the basis of what Daveb or I am persuaded, and it is good that together we can work towards removing some of the ambiguity of the evidence, whichever way it leads.

The “also agree” is agreeing with John Klotz who packed it into six words:

As usual, Daveb says it all.


And what Daveb said:

Until proper representative sampling is carried out in accordance with a valid sampling protocol, the validity of the results from the single grab sample in 1988 must remain ambiguous and debated, whatever the cause might be of the mismatch from an earlier date, in view of other indications that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. These indications may include: 1) Fanti’s mechanical testing suggesting the possibility of a 1st century date; 2) Historic arguments that the Shroud was in Constantinople in 1204; 3) Indications from the Hungarian Pray manuscript that distinctive features of the Shroud were known in 1195, prior to the alleged C14 dating; 4) Forensic arguments that the image is that of a real crucified person who suffered the punishments reported in the gospels including a crown of thorns and percussio wound to the chest; 5) the otherwise inexplicable cause of the image; 6) the unsmeared blood stains; 7) Presence of Jerusalem limestone; Etc, etc!

The assertion of homogeneity of the cloth remains unproven, in light of reputable assertions of occasional mending, and in that case a single grab sample is insufficient, even though it might be a routine practice for testing of other cloths (e.g. mummy wrappings) for which there would be no cause to presume mending. Rogers, whatever shortcomings there might be in his chemistry knowledge, and also reputed to be an agnostic, was the chemist with the greatest familiarity with Shroud chemistry. His investigations persuaded him that there were anomalies indicative of highly skilled mending.

Should perchance representative sampling demonstrate that the single grab sample was in fact adequately representative of the whole, then some other explanation for this peculiar result might then have to be considered. The forensic arguments, together with the enigmatic cause of the image, seem to me to be particularly persuasive of authenticity.

I’m not sold on numbers 1 and 6, but I am sold overall.  And I think that the historic argument is much more than Constantinople in 1204. I find the Hymn of Pearl very persuasive, for instance.

That Rogers might have been agnostic doesn’t weigh on me. And if it did, it might impress on me a measure of objectivity. However, Joan Rogers, Ray’s wife, has publically stated in the past that they were both Protestants.

Categories: Comments Promoted

Fr. Matthew Pittam on Relics

November 23, 2015 3 comments

imageWhen have you ever read about the carbon dating of the shroud in which no mention was made about the results?

The University of Oxford is to become a world leading centre into the study of religious relics following the launch of a new department. This ground-breaking centre, based in Keble College’s Advanced Studies Centre, is to be composed of computer and medical scientists as well as historians, classicists and theologians. Such an interdisciplinary approach builds upon work that has been undertaken by the university’s archaeological school since the 1980s.

Past achievements within the university have included the dating of the shroud of Turin, which involved study in three laboratories and the radiocarbon accelerator unit. This new unit is the first time that such a wide-ranging field of experts has been brought together in this way.

Not that there is anything wrong with that; this article is not about the shroud but … As a new centre to study relics opens in Oxford, Fr Matthew Pittam takes a look at some more unusual examples in the Catholic Herald:

  • The head of St Catherine of Siena – San Domenico Basilica Siena, Italy
  • The Holy Prepuce (Christ’s foreskin) – stolen in the 1980s
  • St Antonius’s body – Church of San Marco, Florence, Italy
  • Blessed John Henry Newman – The Oratory of St Philip Neri, Birmingham, UK
  • The hand of St Francis Xavier – Gesu, Rome

Well, I hope Oxford is not planning to test the foreskin.  It has gone missing, since 1983. 

Fr. Pittam concludes his article:

I remember a friend telling me how he had retrieved relics from a presbytery bin when the parish priest had disposed of them in the early 1980s. This just shows how relics have been regarded by many more recently.

Hopefully, the new Oxford Centre for the Study of Relics will help further advance and promote the use of relics in the Church and encourage us to think afresh about their importance. Whilst studies will undoubtedly identify some relics as counterfeit or misidentified, others may be confirmed as originating from the time and place where the holy person lived. It will certainly give the veneration of relics more credibility.

JFK and the Shroud of Turin

November 23, 2015 1 comment

imageJohn Klotz has an interesting posting in his blog, Living Free.  It’s called Yet again, JFK [and the Shroud]. Read it and follow the links.

THE BOOKENDS — beginning:

I am working to update and mold the material in Quantum Christ into a new book tentatively entitled "The Pope and the Apocalypse [and the Shroud?] Distractions abound including four matters that are still in litigation at one stage or another. Also, current events of an apocalyptic nature including the refugee crisis are a necessary distraction but a component of what I will be writing about.

— ending:

This morning there was published on Salon an excerpt from a new book by David Talbot. David is not only the founder and first editor of Salon; he has spent a lifetime digging deep in the JFK assassination. I thoroughly recommend the Salon posting. And the next time some scientific expert or skeptic derides the authenticity of the Shroud as being disproved by the "evidence," think JFK and the Warren Report.

(link shortened by me using Google URL Shortener)

Is it the evidence or the legitimizing and reporting of the evidence?

Categories: News & Views, Other Blogs

Three Questions About The Reweaving Hypothesis

November 22, 2015 65 comments

imageA reader asks:

Is there any confirmation that Raymond Rogers actually analyzed the 1988 Sample when he determined it was interwoven with dyed Cotton? How exactly do we know he received this from Gonella?

Also, did Joe Marino and Sue Benford ever have access to the 1988 sample? How could they have confirmed it was a reweaved sample if they were kept at individual universities?

Has anyone ever responded to this supposed refutation of the reweave theory titled The Invisible Mending of the Shroud, the Theory and the Reality.

HERE are a few postings in this blog dealing with the subject. Just scroll down the page. If you want to see the comments, click on the title or the word comments.

(linking in email edited by me)

Categories: Carbon 14 Dating

More on The Relic Master

November 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the author of the soon to be released novel, The Relic Master.

Some years ago, Christopher Buckley was writing an article on people’s infatuation with lists when he stumbled on something unexpected. His research yielded not just online “listicles” about embarrassing celebrity moments but a reference to a very different sort of list: a catalog of the 19,013 holy relics that belonged to Frederick of Saxony, who ruled from 1483 to 1525. It became the basis for his new novel, “The Relic Master,” out next month.

Mr. Buckley, 63, is best known for his satirical Washington novels such as “Thank You for Smoking” (1994) and “The White House Mess” (1986), as well as for “Losing Mum and Pup” (2009), his memoir about his parents, Patricia and William F. Buckley Jr., the conservative writer and impresario. For much of his career, he also wrote political commentary for publications such as National Review, the magazine his father founded.

But in recent years Mr. Buckley has focused more on straight fiction. “The trouble with trying political satire anymore is American politics have reached the point of being self-satirized,” he says with a smile.” Satire is “everywhere, especially on TV, and is being brilliantly done.” So he thought he ought to do something different.

Set in the early 16th century, during the papacy of Leo X, “The Relic Master” tells the story of a scheme to forge the Shroud of Turin. Mr. Buckley’s characters include historical figures such as the painter Albrecht Dürer, the Duke of Urbino and Frederick of Saxony.

In the story, Dürer counterfeits the famed relic—an idea that came to Mr. Buckley when he saw a self-portrait by Dürer that resembled, to his mind, a reverse negative of the Shroud of Turin. …

I’ve mentioned William F. Buckley, the father on occasion in this blog, perhaps most significantly in a posting directed at Colin Berry, On arrogance and second hand literary wisdom.

Note:  The color photograph, above, is inline linked, meaning it is directly displayed from the Wall Street Journal website without copying it.  It is by Peter Ross.

Categories: Books

Computer Hacking Theory for Carbon Dating Continues

November 21, 2015 12 comments

“If so, then this itself was a form of scientific fraud,
or at least scientific dishonesty.”  Surely, you’re joking, Mr. Jones.

“The AMS system is clearly designed so that if there was a problem with the dating process at a laboratory, then its target (Shroud) and control sample dates would wrongly agree together, and disagree together with the correct Shroud and control samples dates of the other two laboratories.”  Again, surely …



imageOkay, I know the subject is over-reported. But I like the quotation by Richard Feynman. It’s a quotation I have always liked, never thought much about, and now am seeing again in the context of the shroud. It is from his famous book, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself-and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.

It did strike me as odd that Stephen Jones would use this quotation in his never-ending quest to convince skeptics of the shroud’s authenticity and non-skeptics alike that the results of the 1987 carbon dating of the shroud were the product of a computer program planted in all three AMS labs by a computer hacker, possibly on behalf of the Soviet Union’s KGB.

Is it that Stephen’s theory is preposterous or is it that it seems preposterous and we’re all of us fools? It’s fair, I guess, to ask, given what Feynman said. But then, too, we might think a little introspection by Stephen may be in order.

This part of the theory may be new to you. Stephen writes in his blog, The 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Turin Shroud was the result of a computer hacking #4. It makes for interesting reading:

The uncalibrated dates of sample 1 (the Shroud) in Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper are widely different. As can be seen in Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper (see above), sample 1 (the Shroud)’s average uncalibrated radiocarbon date by each laboratory was widely different, unlike the non-Shroud samples (2, 3 and 4). Prof. Gove criticised the 1989 Nature paper for having been, “opaquely written” and “difficult to comprehend … even by experts in the field“:

“On 27th February the 16 February 1989 issue of the British journal Nature (volume 337) finally reached the library in my lab. On pages 611-615 appeared the article titled ‘Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin’ by P E Damon et al. … The article was rather opaquely written-difficult to comprehend in complete detail even by experts in the field …”[20]

Presumably this was deliberate so as to conceal the inexplicable fact that the Shroud sample dates between the three laboratories were widely different. If so, then this itself was a form of scientific fraud, or at least scientific dishonesty.

So says Stephen. Now, dear reader, figure this out:

As stated above the process was fully “under computer control” so human error cannot have intervened in the process, to cause the Shroud sample dates at each laboratory to disagree widely (as they did-see next), while the control samples dates had “exceptionally good agreement. The AMS system is clearly designed so that if there was a problem with the dating process at a laboratory, then its target (Shroud) and control sample dates would wrongly agree together, and disagree together with the correct Shroud and control samples dates of the other two laboratories. Otherwise AMS radiocarbon dating in general would be unreliable and this “mediaeval … AD 1260-1390” AMS radiocarbon date of the Shroud would have to be disregarded anyway (as it should have been)!

So again it is inexplicable if the Shroud sample dates were real (and not computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Timothy W. Linick‘s) program in this fully computerised process), for “the agreement among the three laboratories for [control] samples 2, 3 and 4” to be “exceptionally good,” yet the “spread of the measurements for sample 1[the Shroud]” to be somewhat greater than would be expected (my emphasis).

He does provide a nice graph to help us see this*:

Anyway, I like Feynman’s quote.  I may find a way to feature it on every page of my own blog. It is useful. You can invoke it, probably, for every argument you have about the shroud. It makes for great ad hominem slinging, too. Just make sure you are not the person who has fooled himself.

*The image of the graph is inline from Stephen’s site so he can’t complain that I’m copying his material.

Categories: Uncategorized

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