Archive for the ‘Other Blogs’ Category

From Fraud to Computer Hacking in Carbon Dating the Shroud of Turin

February 19, 2014 12 comments

imageA little over a month ago, Stephen Jones, created a posting with a title that read, The case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud #1: Introduction. To make the introduction, Stephen lead off by quoting Thomas de Wesselow:

I had for a long time been thinking of posting on this topic, and was prompted to do so by reading recently what the agnostic Shroud pro-authenticist, art historian Thomas de Wesselow, wrote:

"The third possibility [why "the 1988 result ... conflicts with all the evidence that points to the Shroud having been in existence long before 1260"] is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. … However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ’1325 ± 65 years’[3] is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve" (my emphasis)[4].

“I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation,” he tells us:

.  .  I cannot prove that there was scientific fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, although I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation. All that I can do is to set out the evidence for: 1) what went wrong in that dating; 2) the anti-Christian bias and/or dishonesty of some of those involved in the dating; and 3) suggest various ways that scientific fraud could have occurred in that dating. And then leave it to the `men and women of the jury’, my readers, to make up their own minds, based on that evidence.

Six postings were to follow:

. . . #2: "Difficulties of radiocarbon dating"; #3: "Conflicts of the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud with other evidence"; #4: "What went wrong in the dating of the Shroud"; #5. "Bias and/or dishonesty of some involved in that dating"; #6: "Possible fraud scenarios in the dating of the Shroud"; and #7: "Conclusion"

Stephen is incredulous when it comes to the carbon dating. So am I. But I have not joined the ranks of those who might think it is fraud. I don’t see sufficient evidence for that. What there is is circumstantial at best. And I can’t see that fraud can be the “only viable explanation.” I did want to see what Stephen would say, however. I waited. A month of silence followed. Then on February 5, Stephen inserted the following note into his posting:

Note. I have now realised that this topic is going to require a lot of research, which will distract me further from my series " The Shroud of Turin." So I am putting it on the backburner . . . .

Damn! Other topics ensued.  Sooner or later, I knew, Stephen would tell us why, in his opinion, fraud was the only viable explanation. Thus I was surprised when Stephen posted: Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (1)

Another viable explanation?

This latest posting is only part one. And it says absolutely nothing whatsoever about the subject. I read it. I reread it. I searched on the word hacker. Nothing! I searched on comuter? Nothing! There is a picture of a book; Clifford Stoll’s 1989, "The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage." What was this about? What did Stephen uncover?

Fearing another long wait for a part two I bought the book. No, I have not read it yet. But I did search for some key words (isn’t Kindle great?): I searched for Shroud? Nada! I looked for Turin? Not Found! Arizona? Nope! Oxford? Nope! Linen? Only a reference to someone in white linen pants. Carbon dating, radiocarbon, C14? No! No! No!

I can hardly wait for part two.

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On in Jerusalem in 33AD?

February 17, 2014 60 comments

maybe there never was an earthquake

clip_image001Onion-peel the cited sources  in the Meccanica paper and . . . “It seems likely that all the evidence for an earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion is probably derived from a single source, the Gospel of Matthew.”

Stephen Jones doubts that Matthew was talking about an earthquake at all. In a comment to a reader of his blog he puts it best:

As I pointed out in my comment above, in Mt 28:2 "it was not actually an earthquake", i.e. a geologically-caused one, "It just FELT like one".

That is because Mt 28:2 says: "… there was a great earthquake [Gk. seismos megas], FOR an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it" (my emphasis). So it was the ANGEL’S descending and/or his rolling back the stone at the tomb’s entrance which was the cause of this "great earthquake", not geological activity.
I also pointed out that the Greek word "seismos means "a shaking" and in Mt 8:24 a "great storm" at sea is exactly the same Gk. words seismos megas translated "great earthquake" in Mt 28:2.

So the `earthquake’ caused by the angel on resurrection day would have been better translated, "And behold, there was a great SHAKING, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it" (my [=Stephen’s] emphasis).

So maybe because of a translation error there never was an earthquake. (If Stephen is right I must rethink my long held assumption that the earthquake was a metaphor).

Referring to the study published in the journal Meccanica Stephen had wondered:

. . . who peer-reviews these Bible-science papers? Did they consult any Bible-believing theologians?


Well, yes, in this case that might have been a good idea. Humor me; the paper hinges on one assumption, that there was an earthquake in AD 33. The paper cites various sources to establish this fact, but they may all hinge on Matthew’s Gospel. Maybe a biblical scholar or two, bible-believing or otherwise, theologian, historian or exegesist would have been a big help. Sounds crazy! After all this is supposed to be a scientific paper in a scientific journal. Unfortunately, it is bible-based more so than a casual reader might think.  

Skeptics Community at the Stack Exchange 

To understand this better, we need to turn to another source, a probing source. That is Skeptics Community at the Stack Exchange. There, prompted by a similar question in the Christianity Community, someone asked: Did a magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit Jerusalem in 33AD?

clip_image001[4]1) First up is Jon Ericson:

The paper that sparked the news story states in its conclusion:

Considering the historical documents attesting the occurrence in the “Old Jerusalem” of a disastrous earthquake in 33 A.D., the authors assume that a seismic event with magnitude ranging from the 8th to the 9th degree in the Richter scale could have produced a thermal neutron flux of up to 1010 cm−2 s−1.

The historical documents cited are:

  • NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center "Significant Earthquake Database"

    While it does list a number of earthquakes in the first century, the evidence for each is widely diverse. The August 24, 79 A.D. Naples earthquake is well documented since it coincided with the eruption of Vesuvius. The 33 A.D. earthquake in Palestine seems to have far less documentation. The two sources indicate:

    33 A.D., Bithynia and Palestine. At the crucifixion. The city of Nisaea was destroyed. (reference #521)

    33 A.D., Palestine, Jerusalem. (reference #1222)


    Catalogue of Recorded Earthquakes from 1606 B.C. to A.D. 1850, Part I, 1606 B.C. to 1755 A.D. Report of the 22nd Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Hull, Sept., 1853, John Murray, London, p. 1-176.


    Historical seismicity of the Arab region. IASPEI/UNESCO Working Group on Historical Seismograms and Earthquakes, August 27-28, 1985, Tokyo; Preliminary Proceedings, p. 59-84.

    It’s not at all clear (without reading those reports) where each got its data. One might expect the second used the first as a baseline. It’s possible the 1853 catalogue used the Gospel accounts.

  • Thallus

    We only have only have fragments of his third book of histories via Sextus Julius AfricanusHistory of the World, which has also been lost. However, Africanus was quoted by George Syncellus, who disputed Thallus’ apparent claim that the darkness reported at the same time was an eclipse. There is some doubt that Thallus was writing about the Crucifixion event at all.

  • The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea

    I’ve had some difficulty finding out much about this document, except that it appears to be legend, not history. In The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations Bart Ehrman and Zlatko Plese date the work between the 4th and 12th century. Therefore, it was likely influenced by Matthew’s accounts.

  • Dante’s Inferno

  • Ambraseys N (2005) Historical earthquakes in Jerusalem: a methodological discussion. J Seismol 9:329–340

    I don’t have access to this myself, but the article helpfully notes:

    Modern writers say that Jerusalem is situated relatively close to the active Dead Sea Fault zone. They accept the occurrence of the Resurrection earthquake, to which they assign the severity of a catastrophic event, characterized by a local magnitude ML = 8.2, as well as of another earthquake that took place in Bithynia, during the same period, that would have had even a greater magnitude.

    (Details of "local scale" may be found on Wikipedia’s Richter magnitude scale article.)

    But the abstract of the paper cited reads in part:

    However, as we go further back in time before our era, the historical record gradually disappears and the archaeological record takes over. Unfortunately, the archaeological record is too coarse and ambiguous, without any precise internal archaeological indicators. Dating is based on, or influenced by the very few historical records, such as in the Bible and inscriptions, which provide an example of how their assumed accuracy may influence archaeologists’ interpretation and dating. Quite often this develops into a circular process in which archaeological assumptions or theories are transformed into facts and used by earth scientists to confirm the dates and size of their proposed events. In this article we discuss the problems that arise when Biblical and archaeological information is used at face value to assess earthquakes in the Holy Land. This combination may produce earthquakes of hypothetical location and of grossly exaggerated magnitude with consequences for the assessment of seismic hazard.

    Therefore the paper used to obtain the oddly specific local magnitude of 8.2 seems to express caution about the evidence for the dates and sizes of earthquake reports like "Old Jerusalem".

  • Summary

It seems likely that all the evidence for an earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion is derived from the Gospel of Matthew. The authors of "Is the Shroud of Turin in relation to the Old Jerusalem historical earthquake?" seem to have over-estimated the strength of evidence for such an event. It is perhaps worthwhile to note that conclusions of the paper depend on the precise timing and strength of the quake. 
[ . . . ]


2) Second up is Jefferson Williams:

The Dead Sea is not thought to be capable of producing a M 8.2 earthquake in Judea. Max I have heard about is M 7.5. There was an earthquake around the time of Jesus’ death but it was much smaller than M 8.2. It was estimated at M 6.0 to M 6.5 and was dated to between 26 and 36 AD. (

It appears that the authors of the Turin Shroud article conflated an earthquake in Northern Anatolia in 29 AD that was associated with a solar eclipse with Matthew’s description of an earthquake in Chapters 27 and 28 and came up with Magnitude 8.2.

A significant amount of early Christian apologetic literature assumes that the Northern Anatolia 29 AD earthquake was what was described by Matthew in chapters 27 and 28 because the Anatolian earthquake was associated with midday darkness (due to the eclipse) and occurred around the right time.

However, this logic was faulty because the crucifixion occurred on 14 or 15 Nisan in the Jewish Calender which is the time of a full moon; meaning a solar eclipse was not possible. Further, earthquakes from northern Anatolia do not produce significant shaking in Jerusalem.
[ . . . ]


Painting is The Angel at the Tomb of Christ by Benjamin West (Brooklyn Museum). I share the position of the Wikimedia foundation that photographs of two-dimensional works of art in the public domain may not be copyrighted by the photographer.

Abraham and His Camels & The Shroud of Turin. How did we get here?

February 11, 2014 9 comments

imageStephen Jones has posted Off-topic: Archaeologists Carbon-Date Camel Bones, Discover Major Discrepancy In Bible Story? in his blog. He begins nicely and I agree with the way he begins (his text is in bold).

Researchers Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University have discovered what may be a discrepancy in the history laid out in the Bible. Using carbon-dating to determine the age of the oldest-known camel bones, the researchers determined that camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE. This is fallacious. Just because the oldest camel bones that archaeologists have yet found in what today we call Israel (assuming the carbon-dating is correct) are 9th century BC, does not mean that camels were not in Israel before then. . . . That is a version of the fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance: "We haven’t found it, therefore it did not exist"!

But soon it becomes apparent that this is not a posting about carbon dating or camels or logical fallacies. It quickly evolves into a defense of biblical literalism up against “naturalism” that “so dominates the academic world that group-think . . . prevents the Christian, Biblical position from being heard in the secular schools and universities” (AND the Shroud of Turin, according to Stephen is an example). And what specific Christian, biblical position is under attack? That Abraham had camels.

Stephen tells us:

Dr. Robert Harris, an Associate Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, says this [the carbon dating of the camels] shouldn’t come as a shock to the theological community. “While these findings may have been published recently, those of us on the inside have known the essential facts for a generation now," Harris conveyed to HuffPost Religion through associates at JTS. "This is just one of many anachronisms in the Bible, but these do not detract from its sanctity, because it is a spiritual source, not a historical one.”This might be the modern Jewish position but it is not a consistent Christian position. The Christian New Testament states the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, was "breathed out by God":

Wait a minute! I’m a Christian. While I fully respect Stephen’s beliefs in biblical literalism, I don’t agree with his assertion that what Harris says is inconsistent with Christianity. I don’t mind if Genesis is wrong about Abraham having camels. In fact, I rather imagine that Abraham was a composite figure developed as part of the early Jewish history legend about 1500 years after he was supposed to have lived. Stephen should believe what he wants but he should not imply that his specific beliefs define Christianity. (I wouldn’t even get into this discussion but for the fact that he is, for some reason, writing about the Shroud of Turin).’’

He quotes scripture:

2Tim 3:16: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"

It depends. I’m a Christian. I use the Bible. To my way of thinking, using literal words from the Bible to argue that the Bible is literally true is about as big a fallacy as you can have.

Stephen continues:

The real problem is that Naturalism, the philosophy that "nature is all there is-there is no supernatural", so dominates the academic world that group-think . . . prevents the Christian, Biblical position from being heard in the secular schools and universities.

A prime example is the Shroud of Turin. . . .

The Shroud of Turin?  How did we get here?

Stephen continues:

. . . The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud is the very burial sheet of Jesus, bearing the image of his crowned with thorns, crucified, speared in the side, dead, buried and resurrected, body! But the secular world, dominated by Naturalism, rejects it out of hand.

I agree with Stephen’s statement up to the word ‘dead’. It may be an image of Christ’s resurrected body but I don’t think there is any evidence of that. (I believe in the resurrection but am not convinced that the shroud shows that).

Then again, if Stephen and I were to lay out what each of us thinks is the evidence pertaining to the authenticity of the shroud we would differ greatly. He thinks there are images of coins over the eyes. I’m quite certain there are not, and so forth. Can we even agree that the shroud is real if our reasons are different?

If you continue reading Stephen’s posting, he comes to the conclusion that the rejection of biblical literalism and rejection of the shroud’s authenticity tells us that the end is near. I think there is a fallacy in this thinking.

Categories: Other Blogs

Dear Colin: If you change your mind you are welcome back.

February 8, 2014 8 comments

imageFor the past two years, you have been a frequent participant in this blog. You have commented 1,294 times. Most of your comments have been comprehensive, thoughtful, and well written. Many of us disagree with you a lot, and that’s fine. It is only when we start insulting others that things get testy. Yes, you mostly start it. And yes, people return the favor.

You also maintains you own blog, The Shroud of Turin: medieval scorch? Separating the science from the pseudo-science… (formerly entitled, Shroud of Turin Without all the Hype). Oftentimes, I cover your own postings in your blog. I used to cover you more frequently but lately what you have been posting is mostly selected comments that have already appeared in this blog. Maybe that will change because as you wrote:

Firstly, I shall be wasting no more time on the site.

It is simply a mouthpiece (with some very mouthy contributors*) for the pro-authenticity, anti-radiocarbon dating agenda. Its host, Dan Porter,  is almost certainly a front man for a behind-the-scenes organization, probably hard-line Roman Catholic, despite his declaring himself  to be some kind of Anglican (Episcopalian). Or maybe it’s a soft-sell commercial operation. Who knows?

I had no idea. This organization is so behind-the-scenes that they have not told me. Shades of conspiracy thinking, is it?

I think this is the fourth or fifth times you have left vowing never to come back. C’est la vie, I guess. But if  you change your mind you are welcome back.  Really! And don’t stand on principle. None of us around here do.

You also wrote:

I would ask its host [that’s me] NOT to do cover posts on anything I post here in future.

Just as the news media doesn’t work that way, neither does social media. It would be analogous to a politician telling the New York Times not to cover him in the news because he doesn’t like what they write about him. 

There are some things you can do, however. You can customize your blogging template to include the following meta command:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow" />

If you do that, the search engines will eventually drop you from their results. This may take a few months because of the hundreds of comments you have placed in this blog. Google already knows too much about you. You must also stop using the promotional feeds. I see that you use Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit. Tumblr, LinkedIn. No good if you don’t want people to comment on what you write. Finally, you may want to issue user codes and passwords to those people you want to see your blog. If it is  1) in public space, 2) about the shroud and 3) newsworthy, it will or may be covered.

You wrote:

. . .  I’ll still be here,  ploughing my lonely furrow for what I  call genuine untainted  agenda-free science. There will be short shrift to those who continue to malign the radiocarbon dating scientists . . .

Colin, I’m not a scientist. In my world if someone announces and endorse the results of a study, be it scientific, historical, financial, etc., they are quite naturally endorsing the methods used. You can’t get away with saying the scientists in the radiocarbon dating labs merely tested the sample given to them. They knew about anomalies in the sample. If they didn’t know then they were not doing their job. Rogers put it well to Vatican Insider:

Asked whether he [Rogers] thought the authorities at Turin had been aware of such evidence as the 1978 photographs indicating that the corner of the Shroud from which they took the sample was unlike the rest of the cloth, Rogers responded that “it doesn’t matter if they ignored it or were unaware of it.  Part of science is to assemble all the pertinent data.  They didn’t even try.”

The threat of short shrift is noted. I guess you can write about my blog and I’m not supposed to cover yours. Is that it? You can criticize scientists left and right, but I am not supposed to? is that it?

You conclude:

So, time to move on. But to where and how?

I’ve decided to put together a lecture presentation, with no particular audience in mind as yet, one that summarises my thinking about the TS, especially the hot template/hot Templar angle. Yes, it’s all hypothesis, but I try wherever possible to accommodate as much of the available data (hard data that is) while keeping ideas testable in principle.

This is a real-time endeavour, and has been from the start just over 2 years ago. So I will be assembling that lecture in stages, directly underneath here, using my blog essentially as a work area.

That’s the nature of the exercise. I suspect this may be the first time a sustained scientific investigation has been carried out in real time on the internet. . . .

Categories: Other Blogs

Touching on the Byzantine legend that Jesus had a shorter leg and therefore was lame

February 6, 2014 38 comments

imageStephen Jones has just posted a continuation to his series, "The Shroud of Turin."  This is  part 25, "3.7. The man on the Shroud was buried (1)".

. . . the man on the Shroud’s left leg is bent, due to his left foot having been nailed over his right and it then remained fixed by rigor mortis in that crucifixion position[24].

This presumably is the source of the 11th century Byzantine legend that Jesus actually had one leg shorter than the other and therefore was lame[26]. And also the source of the strange design of the Russian orthodox cross, which has a footrest angled with the left side higher than the right which fits Christ’s perceived shorter left leg on the Shroud[27].

In a caption to the photograph shown on his blog (and here) Stephen writes:

[ . . . "The Adoration of the Cross," Second half of the 12th century, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia, Cat No. 14245[28]. Since this icon is dated from the "second half of the 12th century", i.e. 1150-1200, and if its strange inclined cross footrest is based on the Shroud, then this is further evidence that the "medieval … AD 1260-1390"[29] radiocarbon date of the Shroud is wrong!]

Stephen continues:

As this form of the cross is universal among the Russians[30] it must date from the beginning of the national conversion to Christianity, when missionaries in 988 came from Constantinople[31]. But then the Shroud would have been in Constantinople in the tenth century[32]. Which agrees with Ian Wilson’s Mandylion/Shroud theory that the Shroud arrived in Constantinople in 944[33], folded eight times in the form of the Mandylion portrait[34].

Fascinating stuff. Better explained then I’ve read or heard it explained before. But there is just a bit too much ‘presumably’ – ‘and if its strange inclined cross’ – ‘it must date from’ – language of speculation to make me comfortable. To his credit Stephen uses this cautionary language and doesn’t carelessly make it sound like fact.

Categories: Art, History, Other Blogs

‘In Case You Missed It’ from STERA: Danusha Goska’s Thinking

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Items of expressive culture are not found in isolation. They are not found
without evidence of practice. If one excavates an ancient site and finds one pot,
one finds other pots like it, and the remains of failed or broken pots in middens.

Danusha Goska

Last night, Barrie Schwortz wrote on STERA’s Facebook page:

clip_image001IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… In the earlier days of the website, we sometimes published comments from our viewers, although that declined over the years as other online venues became available that allowed for more immediate interaction (like this Facebook page). Back in 2000 there was an ongoing debate about the work of Emily Craig, who believed the Shroud was an artwork. This stimulated a debate between Dr. Craig and Shroud scholars like Prof. Dan Scavone and Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, Jr. One particular comment came from then Ph.D. candidate (and now Ph.D.) Danusha Goska. She brought a completely different perspective to the study of the Shroud that is still relevant today.

Click HERE to read the page on Or read it HERE along with some thoughts by Colin Berry in the blog at Paper Chase: Danusha Goska’s Untitled Essay when I quoted Danusha to respond to Colin two years ago (Colin was calling himself sciencebod at the time) – my gosh, that was two years ago.

Here are a couple of other posts regarding Danusha:

Categories: History, Other Blogs, Science

Ian Wilson to Speak on the Shroud of Turin in Melbourne

January 28, 2014 3 comments

imageIn an article, Shroud of Turin – Conversation & Controversy, appearing in The Culture Concept Circle, Carolyn McDowall writes:

Ian Wilson (1941 – ) is a prolific, internationally published author specializing in historical and religious mysteries. He graduated in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford, England, in 1963 and studied art at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art during the same period.

He continually and enthusiastically conducts wide-ranging research projects, both at home and around the world, often giving exciting, tantalizing talks, pushing the edges and boundaries of a subject.

[ . . . ]

On 9th February at 3pm at Melbourne, all interested parties are invited to hear Ian Wilson present a lecture Latest Researches into the Shroud’s History – New Approached and Intriguing New Developments.

He is sure to create a few waves, because he will be talking about The Shroud of Turin, which is one of the most controversial subjects and most studied artifacts in history.




New Official St. Louis Conference Website

January 28, 2014 4 comments


The design is excellent. Click HERE or on the above image to explore the site. There is an updates section that you will want to bookmark and visit frequently. For instance, you will note that . . .

Prof. Bruno Barberis Attending

The organizing committee extended an invitation to Prof. Bruno Barberis, Director of the International Center of Sindonology in Turin, and he has accepted.

We also already have preliminary commitments from six members of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP). Many other scientists and Shroud researchers are expected to attend. In addition to many new and exciting papers, roundtable discussions and open question & answer sessions are planned.

There is also a subscription mailing list for updates on the conference. The sign up form is conveniently located on every screen of the site in the lower right-hand corner.

Key dates to note for presenters:

  • Submission of Abstract:  15 April 2014
  • Acceptance/Rejection: 30 May 2014

Time Out: Interruption Interrupted

January 26, 2014 1 comment

imageIf you were holding your breath waiting for the next installment of Stephen Jones’  The case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud, relax: breath. He informs us:

Note. I have now realised that this topic is going to require a lot of research, which will distract me further from my series " The Shroud of Turin." So I am putting it on the backburner until I get to the topic in that series of the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, in "6. Science and the Shroud," which will be after I have covered "4. History of the Shroud" and "5. Art and the Shroud." That will enable me to then refer back to what Prof. Christopher Ramsey, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit admitted was the "lot of other evidence that suggests to many thatthe Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow":

"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information. Christopher Ramsey (March 2008)" ("The Shroud of Turin," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Version 143 Issued 31/10/2013).

See: Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Jones for a bit of background in this.

Photomicrographs and More at Mario Latendresse’s Sindonology

January 25, 2014 4 comments

O.K. writes:

I don’t know if you have seen what’s new on Mario’s webpage:

Besides, I would like to send those interesting pictures. The first one are Enrie photos from Wikipedia. The second one are processed in the ImageJ using Process>Find Edges function. Interesting as they outline no contours on the Shroud Image, as well as several folds.

Indeed. This is a nice and useful update. Check it out. And here are the pictures from O.K.:




Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs

Paper Chase: A Wonderful, Rare Document from Father Weuncheal

January 19, 2014 3 comments

imageGiorgio Bracaglia has uploaded a new file, Doctor Hynek and the Holy Shroud by Edward A. Weunschel, C.SS.R., S.T.D.  to the website of the Holy Shroud Guild.

Giorgio calls it “a rare document from Father Weuncheal.” I might add the word wonderful, as well.

You may click HERE for direct PDF access if you are using Windows 8 and want to read the document with the Chrome browser or in desktop mode.

Categories: Other Blogs, Paper Chase

Paper Chase: Dorothy Crispino on The Fathers of American Sindonology

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Barrie Schwortz writes on STERA’s Facebook Page:

I am busy working away on our January 21st update but wanted to give you something to read in the meantime. This is a presentation made by Dorothy Crispino at the 1996 Esopus Conference in honor of Fr. Adam Otterbein, in which she details the beginnings of Sindonology in the U.S. – In case you missed it…

The Fathers of American Sindonology

In this place sixty odd years ago, a handful of Redemptorist priests recognized Christ in another effigy, and like the disciples at supper at Emmaus, they lost no time in spreading the news. Perhaps you remember how it started, here in this very building. How Father William Barry, a priest at the Mo…

Categories: Other Blogs, Paper Chase

Barrie Schwortz’ TEDx Talk Featured on NDE Site

January 12, 2014 8 comments

imageIf you have been following this blog you know about Barrie Schwortz’ TEDx Via della Conciliazione Talk (May 3, 2013). After that posting I featured Barrie’s talk in the right margin of the blog. You may have clicked on it there. Of course, you may have encountered it elsewhere such as Vatican News, the Catholic Herald and It is hosted on YouTube, which in and of itself is a powerful referral source.

I was fascinated to see the Barrie’s talk featured on NHNE Pulse, a blog as dedicated to Near Death Experiences as we are here to the Shroud of Turin. Go check out TEDx: Barrie Schwortz on The Shroud of Turin. And take some time to browse about as I am sure others, upon landing on, do for us.

NHNE lists this blog as a reference and I’ve touched on the subject of Near Death Experiences on occasion. There was Near Death Experiences and the Shroud of Turin? about Eben Alexander’s book featured in Newsweek and the Huffington Post. There was my quoting from John Klotz’s blog, Living Free in which he wrote:, the Internet equivalent of MSNBC has a lengthy article by a author of a book to be released next week entitled “Brain Wars.” It’s about Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) and Near Death Experiences (NDE)

It is my position that the Shroud has a direct relationship to the issues raised.

And there was Akiane’s Jesus, Heaven is for Real and the Man in the Turin Shroud and Still More on Akiane’s Jesus, Heaven is for Real and the Man in the Shroud

It took years for me to be mostly convinced that the shroud is real. I’m still working on NDEs.

You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may

January 11, 2014 8 comments

imageIt is an attractive website: The Shroud of Turin for Children. But does it bother anyone that the following (brown background box below) appears on every single page?

It is one thing to toss around what we think we see as facts among adults who usually know how to take such claims with a grain of salt. It is another to tell children, definitively, that something had been placed around Jesus’ neck with three Hebrew letters and what that means.



“You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may,” is the famous line by Sam-I-Am in Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

Danish blogger, Austin Sailbury, explains that “Green Eggs and Ham is about navigating life with an open mind and, at its best, it’s Seuss’ way of saying, ‘Don’t judge a book, or an egg—or a man—by its color.’”

Sadly, Dr. Soons takes a different approach with the shroud. What he should be saying is that some people see a ponytail on the man of the shroud. Others do not. Some people see lettering and it could mean this or that. So don’t believe everything you are told. Keep an open mind and you may learn how to judge what you see. In other words, make informed decisions. 

Is this a missed opportunity or is it a chance to fix a website soon?

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Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Jones

January 10, 2014 14 comments

imageStephen Jones is starting a new “mini-series of posts, setting out the case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud . . .”

This is the last paragraph of part 1 of Stephen’s series:

. . .  I cannot prove that there was scientific fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, although I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation. All that I can do is to set out the evidence for: 1) what went wrong in that dating; 2) the bias and dishonesty of those involved in the dating; and 3) suggest various ways that scientific fraud might have occurred in that dating. And then leave it to the `men and women of the jury’, my readers, to make up their own minds, based on that evidence.

The preceding paragraph in Stephen’s posting is a quotation by Richard Feynman from his book, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)

It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty – a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid-not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, And how they worked-to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated. Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can-if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong-to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it … the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another … I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. (emphasis here is by Stephen)

But are we talking about fraud? Stephen is:

What do I mean by "fraud"? By "fraud" in this context I mean at least the definition of Broad and Wade [right in their book, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science], of "making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best’ data for publication and ignoring those that don’t fit the case": (bolding by Stephen)

This ‘mini-series’ sounds promising. Stephen isn’t joking and the title of this posting, being as it is a play on the title of Feynman’s most famous book, is meant as a full-throated compliment to Stephen, assuming he pulls it off.

Best Shroud of Turin Comment of the Day and it’s on Another Blog

January 9, 2014 3 comments

Confused, huh? It’s okay it happens. Let me help you out a little: When Mark says above that the truth claims of Christianity neither rise nor fall on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, what he means is "the truth claims of Christianity neither rise nor fall on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin". He’s a professional writer so sometimes he gets carried away on the flowery verbiage.

– AnsonEddy

imageThe commenter is talking about Mark Shea who is finding a naturalist explanation of the image miraculous. I’ve always thought that. But yes, I know, it is an a priori sandwich.

Mark Shea says in Shroud of Turin Dated… over at Patheos:

For some, the notion that there is a naturalistic explanation for the Shroud deprives it of a divine origin.  Me: I find myself thinking, “Out of all the millions of people who have lived and died, it seems like more than luck that only Jesus of Nazareth should have his image preserved.”

And I can’t help but think that atheists of the gaps sense rather the same connection, since they spend so much time attempting the hopeless task of writing it off as what it obviously is not: a “medieval forgery”.

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Paper Chase: The Role of the Internet in the Future of Shroud Research way back in 1998

January 5, 2014 4 comments

imageBarrie Schwortz writes on STERA’s Facebook page:

With the 18th anniversary of coming up on January 21, 2014, I thought you might like to read the paper I presented in Turin in June 1998 (when the website was only 2 years old) that shared my vision of how the internet could play an important role in future Shroud research. I just read it again for the first time in 16 years and it is somewhat dated, but you might find it interesting. Here it is, in case you missed it:

I am sure that I speak for most of us when I say thank you, Barrie. And congratulations for having your outstanding vision, your dedication to excellence and your perseverance in the face of a lot of difficult work. You made it happen.

Today, if we type “Shroud of Turin” into a Google search box, we discover that there are about . . .

  • 869,000 webpages (HTML and PDF, many among dedicated websites)
  • 247,000 videos (admittedly many duplicates)
  • 144,000 blog postings
  • countless images (and countless copies)

Barrie, your website is a treasure trove. And, but and so too is everything about the shroud found elsewhere on the internet. You didn’t create all of that material, Barrie. But in one way or another you inspired it – you inspired us. I regret to inform you, however, are not allowed to tire or retire. You have been too successful to allow that to happen.

Categories: Other Blogs, People

What did Stephen Jones just say?

January 2, 2014 21 comments


Stephen Jones is also commenting on Rep. Rebecca Hamilton’s article 2013 Favs: New Tests Date the Shroud from the Time of Christ in Patheos. Stephen writes:

But as I wrote in my post, "Shroud of Turin News, October 2013:

"But if the Shroud is a deliberate fraud, then it would almost certainly be a work of Satan, and no Church that calls itself Christian should be promoting a deliberate fraud (much less a work of Satan)!"

So I for one do not believe that the Risen Lord Jesus, who sits at the Father’s right hand and controls everything . . . would allow such a convincing fake as the Shroud would then be, to exist.

So 2013 was a great year for the Shroud. I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us Shroud pro-authenticists in 2014?

“So I for one . . . ” is clearly the most profoundly interesting  Shroud of Turin quotation for 2014, so far.

Categories: News & Views, Other Blogs

Happy New Year from STERA

December 29, 2013 2 comments


This just popped up on STERA’s Facebook page. Thanks, Barrie.

This presents us with a chance to wish the same to Barrie Schwortz and the Board of Directors of STERA.

2014:  Two significant shroud conferences are scheduled and I think we can expect a major new book on the Shroud of Turin. 

BTW: STERA is easy to find on Facebook. Simply type in

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A Christmas Posting by John Klotz

December 24, 2013 Leave a comment

clip_image001John Klotz has posted A Blessed Christmas from Boris Pasternak on his blog.

This painting by Domenico di Bartolo (1400–1447) is one of many portrayals of the ‘Our Lady of Humility’ genre often associated with the text,

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold from henceforth all generation shall call me blessed.

I thought it fitting. For more information see the description page at Wikimedia commons.

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Building A House on .Argumentum ad Ignorantiam

December 22, 2013 47 comments

imageWe do not order our lives by proof
beyond reasonable doubt.

– John Klotz

Earlier this morning, Fr. Duncan (+Dunk) responded to daveb who had made the point in a comment that nobody knows how the image was formed (see I agree. I agree. I agree. Mostly.). He wrote:

In one form or another it is the most used argument for the Holy Shroud’s authenticity: nobody knows how the image was formed therefore it is real.

Well, hmm! I would probably say, since we are talking about authenticity, nobody knows how the image was forged or faked or artistically created. And then yes, I would agree, the argument is used frequently. Philosophically, I don’t like it. We are voicing classic Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance). Nonetheless, I find myself using the argument with the shroud. It seems true.

In 1963, John Walsh wrote:

The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Christ in existence…or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever products of the human mind and hand on record…it is either one or the other, there is no middle ground.

And we weren’t clever enough to figure out how it might have been manmade so many of us found ourselves agreeing it was real. We still do. Can such logic be defended? Stephen Jones is one of the few people to tackle this question and he has done so very effectively. In a posting, Shroud of Turin News, October 2013. Stephen began by  quoting Jonathan Pitts of The Baltimore Sun saying:

To believers, the Shroud of Turin, as it’s known, is the cloth that cloaked the body of Jesus before his planned burial. To skeptics, it’s a hoax conjured up to sell Christianity or draw tourists.

And then responding:

The “skeptics” (who are themselves “believers” in the Shroud’s non-authenticity) have no evidence that the Shroud was “a hoax conjured up to sell Christianity or draw tourists”. They cannot cogently explain: Who conjured it up? How was it conjured up? When was it conjured up? Why can’t they conjured it up (i.e. make a convincing replicate copy of the whole Shroud)? The “skeptics” (so-called) cannot even agree on how the Shroud was “conjured up”. As Ian Wilson concluded after reviewing all the major sceptical theories of how the Shroud was forged:

“Yet ingenious as so many of these ideas are, the plain fact is that they are extremely varied and from not one of them has come sufficient of a groundswell of support to suggest that it truly convincingly might hold the key to how the Shroud was forged – if indeed it was forged.” (Wilson, I., “The Blood and the Shroud,” 1998, p.10-11).

Quoting Pitts again:

It has been studied by everyone from theologians to NASA historians, and still, no one knows. “The shroud is the most analyzed artifact in history, yet it’s still the world’s greatest unsolved mystery,”

Stephen follows through with:

This alone is effectively proof that the Shroud is authentic. It is an important qualification of the usual “argument from ignorance”, that if something should have been discovered by qualified investigators but hasn’t been, that “absence of proof of its occurrence” is “positive proof of its non-occurrence”:

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance)… A qualification should be made at this point. In some circumstances it can safely be assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence for it would have been discovered by qualified investigators. In such a case it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its nonoccurrence. Of course, the proof here is not based on ignorance but on our knowledge that if it had occurred it would be known. For example, if a serious security investigation fails to unearth any evidence that Mr. X is a foreign agent, it would be wrong to conclude that their research has left us ignorant. It has rather established that Mr. X is not one. Failure to draw such conclusions is the other side of the bad coin of innuendo, as when one says of a man that there is `no proof’ that he is a scoundrel. In some cases not to draw a conclusion is as much a breach of correct reasoning as it would be to draw a mistaken conclusion.” (Copi, I.M., “Introduction to Logic,” 1986, pp.94-95. Emphasis original).

Stephen then concludes:

Similarly, if the Shroud were a 14th century or earlier fake, the science of the 20th-21st century should have discovered that by now (see below on the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud to 1260-1390 is itself a fake!). So that absence of proof by modern science that the Shroud is a fake, after 35 plus years of intensive scientific study of the Shroud, is positive proof that the Shroud is not a fake!

Okay. That is unless we missed something. How do you evaluate that possibility?

That is all fine and good until argument from ignorance logic turns into a building foundation:

Myra Adams, in a recent article, Jesus `most significant person ever’ in new research study, (and see my posting, How the Shroud Becomes Part of the Conversation) stated:

. . . that is why [=Jesus’ significance] the mysterious Shroud, which could prove Christ’s physical resurrection – the foundation of Christianity, is still an open and active cause célèbre among believers in Jesus’ divinity and members of the scientific community who continue to study the Shroud and remain intrigued by its unique properties.

which resulted in a swift and direct reaction from Stephen:

The Shroud of Turin already has proved, beyond reasonable doubt, Christ’s physical resurrection and therefore that Christianity is true. But that does not mean that that proof cannot continue to be unreasonably denied, by those (including some Christians) who don’t like the implications of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true.

So am I a denier? And, apparently, I don’t like the implications of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true? Has a weak argument from ignorance become the basis for saying that we have “scientific proof that Christianity is true?”

Fear the person who has no doubt. Witness George Armstrong Custer.

– John Klotz

December’s Flippancy Award: What Would Jesus Do?

December 22, 2013 1 comment

clip_image001From the Bicycle Story blog:

Little is known about the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby (APBL). In fact, until the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz made a video last Spring lamenting the APBL’s efforts to “begrime” New York City with Citi Bikes, few people (if any) knew that the group existed. Exactly who they are and the extent to which they influence the world’s affairs remains unclear. But, I had the rare opportunity to interview the APBL and help shed light on their dark conspiracy. In it we discuss their history, their slow and steady reshaping of the free world, their end game, and much more.

Your shadowy organization remained a secret until Dorothy Rabinowitz exposed you in her screed against New York’s bike share this year. How did she discover the truth?

We think it might have had something to do with the 6,000 bright blue bicycles we placed on just about every corner of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Wealthy New Yorkers can ignore all kinds of things—from homeless children to the fact that most of the city’s public schools and hospitals are being demolished and replaced with luxury condominiums—but apparently bicycles are a bridge too far. Looking back, we realize we could have taken a more subtle approach in our attempt to secretly turn New Amsterdam back into Amsterdam. But it’s like Oprah always tells us at our weekly poker games, “Go big or go home, shitheads.”

How long has the APBL been asserting its influence on the world?

We don’t have official records, but we recently uncovered research proving that the Shroud of Turin was actually a towel that Jesus used after he completed his first century ride. (When anyone tells us that biking in sandals isn’t safe, we typically tell them that we actually know what Jesus would do.)

Categories: Humor, Other Blogs

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