Archive for the ‘Other Blogs’ Category

Checking in on Stephen Jones’ Blog

August 10, 2014 Leave a comment

imageInterspersed with his seemingly ever-evolving conspiracy theory (eight parts so far and counting) that the radiocarbon laboratories had been hacked by agents of the KGB – or something like that – it seems, too, to be an inside job, at least in Arizona – Stephen Jones is writing a Shroud of Turin encyclopedia in his blog.

Unwilling, it seems, to broach any controversy or dispute whatsoever he tells us that the image contains x-rays of bones and teeth, flower and plant images, images of coins over the eyes and many, many other things. These are observations that many people dispute, including me.

He tells us, also, that the d’Arcis’ memorandum, the 1988 radiocarbon dating and claims that the image contains artistic errors have been discredited. I’m less skeptical, here, but there are still a lot of unresolved issues:

Treating all this as undisputed facts allows him to write in the first and so far only article in his new encyclopedia:

Conclusion Since there is overwhelming evidence that the Shroud is authentic, and no remaining evidence that it is not, then the Shroud of Turin is the very burial sheet of Jesus Christ!

What more is there to discuss?

Christian Piatt: Jesus told me that the Shroud of Turin was his photograph.

August 7, 2014 3 comments

imagePiatt is really talking about a twitter-type nut job (or a self-proclaimed messiah), not someone who perhaps thinks the shroud is genuine. At least that is how I read him in a recent posting in his blog on the Progressive Christian Channel at Patheos.

No, I don’t mean he speaks to me while I’m in the throes of prayer or comes to me in my dreams. He actually talks to me through twitter. A lot. And he’s pretty weird.

Yesterday he told me that the Shroud of Turin was his photograph. I’m starting to think this Jesus is a little bit…off.

We have no shortage of messiahs among us, it seems. From David Koresh types who steer their cult followers toward an untimely death to self-proclaimed Twitter messiahs, there are always plenty of folks claiming to be the embodiment of the Christian second coming.

I wonder if Jesus had any idea what a great setup for nut jobs he was leaving behind when he said he’d come back some day.

Who is Christian Piatt? We have encountered him three times in this blog already:

50/50 : Colin Berry’s Most Outlandish Proposal

August 5, 2014 30 comments

imageHe writes in his blog:

But can it hope to tell us much more, even with more up-to-date technology, if restricted to non-destructive sampling, or those pussy-footing "sticky tape" samples? . . . There is a solution to this, but it requires grasping a nettle.

It’s time for a quid pro quo, or returning of a favour. Interest in the TS has been greatly increased by the application of modern science and photography since 1898, and while the radiocarbon dating has failed to support authenticity, the response of the 3 labs to the onslaught of criticism and abuse has been dignified (and I expect will remain so). I believe the time has come for the Shroud’s custodians to do the decent thing, and make a gift to science.  I’m sure they know what I mean, without me having to spell it out. OK, so it’s 50% of the total but it’s the less attractive 50%. Once definitive answers have been obtained, leaving most curiosity sated, what remains of that less than 50% could be displayed far from Turin, far from the prime 50%, say in an Italian science museum. There would then be twin centres for the TS – one restricted to occasional displays only, the other for permanent display. How about the Museo Galileo, in Florence?

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word ‘Significant’

July 31, 2014 8 comments

I didn’t mean to upset some of you so much

imageBut the word ‘insignificant’ doesn’t work either. Colin thinks he is right on this. I don’t think he is; let me be clear about that. But I do think he is right to raise the question of why STURP didn’t investigate (or didn’t investigate more) the negativity of the image. He legitimately thinks they should have. The real questions when we get past the emotion caused by a bad word choice on my part are these:

  1. Is the fact that the image is a negative a clue into how the image was formed?
  2. Should this fact have been considered by STURP?
    Colin has chimed in some more over on his blog (CLICK HERE and scroll down to the picture of an old battle tank parked in front of the post office in Friar’s Point, Mississippi).

Right or wrong, this is nonetheless legitimate thinking. So if you can get past the emotions I caused . . .

In fact the blind spot is not just confined to STURP. It continues to this day. Think of how many times one reads of this or that theory of image formation (Maillard reaction, flashes of radiation, uv excimer laser beams, radioactive xenon, earthquakes, corona discharges). When did you ever hear “sweat imprint” being mentioned, despite imaging-by-sweat being a fixation/obsession with medieval and later pilgrims (see the St. Francis de Sales letter to his mother written as late as 1648). Even the common French description of the Shroud as the "Suaire" ("face cloth")  instead of a "linceul", an oddity picked up by French Canadian Mario Latendresse, provider of the stupendous Shroud Scope,  on his site under the intriguing’ Machy mould’ gives a strong clue as the way the Shroud was initially perceived as a bodily imprint left by bodily secretions.

A Significant Criticism of STURP

July 30, 2014 12 comments

imageColin Berry wrote it in all-caps and red letters. For good measure, he added four exclamation marks:


Colin, in his latest posting this morning, STURP approached the Shroud with a major blind spot for negative imprinted images. Time to send in a new STURP team, properly constituted, wrote:

Even if one had grounds for thinking the TS was a painting, despite the lack of brush marks, the generally indistinct fuzzy image with no clear edge, the absence of pigment (not even hang-up in the interstices of the weave as per “blood”) there would be a major question staring one in the face.

Why does the image show a reversal of normal light/dark tones such that one needs a Secondo Pia type conversion to negative to see it’s a “real person”, indeed the popular image of Jesus.? How can one ignore so obvious a feature of the TS – its negative character, and fail to ask why, if testing for fraud  (or well-intentioned simulation) it was done that way? If one’s going to assemble a largely self-appointed team of detectives, then one should do what detectives do, and try to think like a criminal might, and start by establishing a motive. What possible motive might a medieval forger have for depicting Christ, especially when newly-deceased, in the negative (an unattractive image some might think when placed alongside the 19th/20th century negative)?

[ . . . ]

So what did those STURP members, with few if any image analysts among them, and NO art historians fail to take on board? Answer: the obsession in that era with allegedly genuine images of Christ obtained as IMPRINTS, mainly in sweat, purportedly, with or without a contribution from blood. Straightaway one needs to flag up the obvious – that a contact imprint from a 3D subject, or part thereof , like a face is ALWAYS a negative image. . . .

imageAnd there is this intriguing thought:

Any approach to the Shroud’s NEGATIVE image that takes account of its historical setting, around the time first public display, and indeed first definitive mention in written records, in 1357, must take account of the then celebrated so-called ‘Veil of Veronica’. Before asking what that was, or rather became with much image-embellishment at the hands of artists, let’s first turn to wiki to see the evidence for the Veil’s celebrity at the era in question: [ed. that would be Wikipedia, the entry for Veil of Veronica]

However, firm recording of the Veronica only begins in 1199 when two pilgrims named Gerald de Barri (Giraldus Cambrensis) and Gervase of Tilbury made two accounts at different times of a visit to Rome which made direct reference to the existence of the Veronica. Shortly after that, in 1207, the cloth became more prominent when it was publicly paraded and displayed by Pope Innocent III, who also granted indulgences to anyone praying before it. This parade, between St Peter’s and The Santo Spirito Hospital, became an annual event and on one such occasion in 1300 Pope Boniface VIII, who had it translated to St. Peter’s in 1297, was inspired to proclaim the first Jubilee in 1300. During this Jubilee the Veronica was publicly displayed and became one of the "Mirabilia Urbis" ("wonders of the City") for the pilgrims who visited Rome. For the next two hundred years the Veronica, retained at Old St Peter’s, was regarded as the most precious of all Christian relics; there Pedro Tafur, a Spanish visitor in 1436, noted:

[ . . . ]

Good point, Colin. That is what these blogs are about. Asking questions and raising concerns that are not otherwise being asked in less argumentative sites.

BTW: Colin is angry at me. He thinks I was a bit unfair. He may be right:

I’ve just been given a mild reprimand (yet again) for changing the subject on my blog through use of addendums.

To reiterate: this is my blog, my space, and it’s not for other bloggers to act as style police.

The blogger in question has in fact ignored the main content of this posting, the one in the title (LOTTO v LUWU) and chosen to nitpick on a detail of the brass-rubbing addendum. My crime: to make mention of processing the image by tone inversion then 3D-engancement in Image J. I’ve failed I’m told to demonstrate that the 3D step produced 3D enhancement.

Correct. I never said it did. I simply showed the result after each of the two steps, and invited my readers to form their own judgement. In fact there is a small difference in the ‘post 3D’ image – i.e. shadiing effects that make the image less like a cartoon, clothing especially, faces too if one looks closely, more like a portrait, BUT I DID NOT SAY THAT. I simply left it at saying that the processed images were more ‘life-like’ and used that term immediately after the tone-inversion alone.

That site is becoming increasingly vexatious, especially for its constant attempts to trip me up on matters of pettifogging detail, and its systematic attempts to draw attention away from the main content and conclusions.

I shall be giving that dreary lacklustre site a miss from a while, having several ideas in the pipeline that I want to post here. I shan’t bother to see how they have been subsequently mushed on that site, as indeed they will.

Another Paper by Yannick Clément

July 27, 2014 6 comments

imageOn July 20th, I posted a lead to a new essay by Yannick Clément. At the time I mentioned that I would mention another paper soon.  Today, I noticed a link to it on The Holy Shroud Guild Facebook page. That prompted me to get going and mention it here. It is called My thoughts on a recently published paper by Raymond N. Rogers by Yannick Clément dated July 9, 2014.

Yannick begins:

I would like to express some thoughts about the « new » paper of Rogers that was recently published on the website, which is entitled “An Alternate Hypothesis for the Image Color”1 . This article was written by Rogers in 2001 but was never published anywhere before.

By-the-way, here is a link to the paper at An Alternate Hypothesis for the Image Color

After several pages of discussion, Yannick begins his several paragraphs of conclusion:

There is no doubt in my mind that this “new” paper of Rogers constitutes a real historical finding, which can help us to understand all the different steps that were taken by Rogers in his study of the Shroud image. These steps indicate the high level of scientific professionalism with which he did his work in order to discover the best rational hypothesis to explain this image without underestimating or leaving out any important data and observations. In consequence, this paper can also help us to realize the poor scientific value of the work done by some other “scientists” on the Shroud image, especially when we consider the fact that those researchers have not at all followed the same scientific “path” of Rogers. In the end, I think we can really see in this particular paper, which was the first attempt of Rogers at describing his impurity hypothesis for the image chromophore, as being the genesis of the Maillard reaction hypothesis he proposed the year later (in 2002)45 and which he never stopped refining until his death, two years later.

FYI:  Apparently, the two recent papers by Yannick have also be published on The Holy Shroud Guild site:

Penn & Teller’s Hateful Bullshit

July 27, 2014 13 comments

The mocking of Fred Zugibe is particularly nasty.

imageSometimes I don’t get the way Facebook works – or is it that I never do. Just this morning I took a quick look at the page for The Holy Shroud Guild. The topmost recent post was dated May 5th. That was followed by one from just a few hours ago (I’ll get to that in a subsequent post), then one from later in May and then things seemed to settle down with normal posting sequences going from recent July down the page to the oldest entries.

It’s a good thing it happened because I had missed the May 5th posting by Danusha Goska. It was important. It was a link to something she wrote, Christophobia on Campus, Penn Jillette and Joseph Goebbels, and Shroud of Turin Talk Update, in her Save, Send Delete blog. She wrote (and you should read the whole posting):

Jillette and Teller’s performance was hateful. It was comparable to the kind of material that Joseph Goebbels used to produce. Goebbels also took distinctively religious icons – in his case Jewish ones – and associated them with derision in order to facilitate violence and hate.

I’ve often heard New Atheists complain that they have a bad reputation. They wonder why.

It was a good thing, too,  to read what Danusha wrote because four days ago a reader had written to me about the video. It was making the rounds on New Atheist blogs and such. He sent a link to a mid-July entry in The Thinking Atheist. Had I seen it? No! It was two and a half years old. So what, the reader said, it is out there and getting attention; you should show it. No, I won’t, I thought. Why advertise it?

Having read, Danusha’s posting, yes, I will. The readers of this blog are intelligent. I’m not promoting it since it is written by bigots for idiots and there are no idiots here. Maybe the comparison to Goebbels is a bit strong. Even so, Danusha makes an important point. The mocking of Fred Zugibe is particularly nasty.


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