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It helps to read what you cite

June 9, 2015 4 comments

imageCan you spot the flaw in yesterday’s posting, Carbon dating and the Shroud of Turin, by John Leonard?

But then a pair of amateur detectives/scientists named Joe Marino and Sue Bedford published a peer-reviewed research paper suggesting that the carbon dating test results for the Shroud of Turin were incorrect — not because the tests were flawed, but because the sample itself was flawed.

Bedford and Marino claimed that the sample that was carbon-dated came from a section of the shroud that had been expertly repaired to be undetectable by the naked eye.

Ray Rogers, one of the lead research scientists involved with STURP, became furious when he found out the integrity of his work product had been challenged by amateurs in a published, peer-reviewed paper. He said the claims of Benford and Marino were absurd and promised to prove they were wrong by testing material from the original sample still in his possession.

Instead, Rogers found powerful evidence suggesting Benford and Marino had been absolutely correct in saying the material for the original carbon dating tests had been taken from a contaminated section of the shroud, identifying cotton fibers in the sample not found in the rest of the shroud.

The paper linked to by John Leonard in his posting, the paper that he says made Rogers furious, refers to the late Ray Rogers.

Recently, additional information has been discovered strongly supporting, if not verifying, the validity of the invisible patch theory. In addition to the recent publication of a peer-reviewed article by former Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) chemist, the late Ray Rogers …

Wrong paper! Leonard might have read WRAPPED UP IN THE SHROUD, Chronicle of a Passion by Joe Marino and gotten the right paper.  In fact, he could have found the citation he needed by just reading the description of Joe’s book on Amazon:

Joseph Marino, a former Benedictine monk, has been studying the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to the burial cloth of Jesus, since 1977. He and his late wife, M. Sue Benford, presented a paper at the Sindone 2000 World Congress in Orvieto, Italy, hypothesizing that the reason the 1988 C-14 dating of the Shroud resulted in a date range of AD 1260-1390 for the cloth was because of a sixteenth-century repair in the sample area. Raymond Rogers, one of the scientists from the Shroud of Turin Research Project who studied the Shroud in 1978, thought the hypothesis was nonsense at first but later concluded that Benford and Marino were probably correct. Other scientists have independently verified Rogers’ findings, which were published in 2005 in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal, Thermochimica Acta.

Straw Poll From Somebody

June 7, 2015 1 comment
Categories: News & Views

Dear Colin Berry

June 7, 2015 7 comments

imageColin Berry tells us he is moving on.

Change of plan: I’m now terminating all posting on the Shroud of Turin, feeling as I do that I’ve given it my best shot, and that it’s now time to move on. However, I’m still available here to respond to questions, criticism etc as best I can  (see quick link to Comments top right).

Dear Colin:

In your latest blog posting you complain about my use of a picture of a child making hand imprints with finger paint. “Yet another attempt to infantilize,” you write. No it wasn’t that at all. I use pictures the way newspaper editorial pages use cartoons. Yes, to poke fun, but also to express ideas. These two pictures next to each other metaphorically captured his notion of what you refer to as a two-stage technology. Something is applied to the body and then its is applied to the cloth where it can be developed somehow.  You were working with white flour and using nitric acid and limewater as developing agents. Maybe you were onto something. Maybe it is not white flour.

I want to scream at you to lighten up. I was not suggesting that your work was infantile.  Compared to every other skeptic of the shroud, you have shown more erudite imagination than any, ever.  You researched more. You experimented more. You wrote more and you wrote well.

You say at times that I am pro-authenticist. I’m not. I can’t imagine trying to tell anyone that the shroud is real if I don’t believe it. I say the shroud is probably real. I say, on every page of my blog, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.”  Every page!

Probably! May be! Those words mean that I could be wrong. If I’m wrong I want to know it. So first of all I want to thank you as you move on to other things for trying out new avenues that may lead the truth about the shroud no matter what that truth may be. I sincerely mean that.  Thank you.

You have recently advanced the idea that the medieval person who created the image was not thinking of the piece of cloth as a burial cloth but something else all together, like a stretcher. That thought will not go away. Thanks for that.

You advanced many such ideas. Those will not go away. They will be pondered by me and others in years to come.  Thank you.

You have discovered many things. Those will hang it the air among everyone who properly studies the shroud.  Thank you.

You have taught me a lot.  That will stick with me. Thank you.

You have created an important list that skeptics, if they are to be as careful as you, must consider carefully.  With your permission, I’m going to remove the word stoopid and publish it on my blog, maybe with a link in the upper right corner, because it’s a good list. 

The past three of so years have been contentious at times.  There have been times when I would have liked to have reached through the screen and punched you.  I’m sure you felt the same way. But there are times when I would have liked to sit down and had a beer with you.  We could talk about Freeman, perhaps.  Here is a toast to you.

You know, Colin, you could change plans again. You could at least drop by and comment every now and then.  Godspeed. 

Categories: Other Blogs Tags:

Colin Berry’s New Two-Stage Technology

June 6, 2015 Leave a comment

imageColin is upset — or something. He writes in his blog: Reaction to my new and absurdly simple "stick ‘n’ stain" model for the Turin Shroud? So far, one of stunned silence or ill-concealed contempt.

Caption from Colin’s site: “Hand imprints obtained using the new two-stage technology …

Colin guesses why there is stunned silence:

It’s hardly surprising, is it, that a model for the Turin Shroud that starts with  "Mix some plain flour and water 700 years ago" is hardly calculated to set the world of sindonology on fire?

But that’s in essence what was proposed some 6 weeks ago, and to which the response might loosely be described as looks of blank incomprehension from some (well, the internet equivalent thereof) or expressions of derision and contempt from others.

I’m sorry that the model uses so plebeian a commodity as plain flour as imprinting medium. Had I given it more thought, it could so easily have been something more upmarket.  Saffron? From Saffron Walden, Essex,  hopefully to give a UK connection with medieval France, and attract the attention of the Times and the Guardian?  Saffron would certainly give an instant yellow imprint, eliminating the need for that hazardous second-stage development with nitric acid.  But would the sceptics, whether pro- or anti-authenticty,  buy into that story: "TS image is simply a saffron imprint"? I doubt it somehow. Shame. I could have stayed in the cosy well-appointed kitchen laboratory, avoiding the cold confines of my garage had safe old saffron been the answer.

I must also apologize for describing it as the "stick ‘n’ stain" model in my last posting. How utterly common can you get?

But I have this difficulty you see. It’s to do with that serendipity thingy. You know, you start off with a brilliant idea to try this or try that, and along comes something totally unexpected and surprising that one would never have predicted in a million years.

Saffron?  Did you consider finger paint? Actually, here is the picture hot-linked from Colin’s site. 

Again, caption from Colin’s site for this picture hot-linked from Colin’s site: “Hand imprints obtained using the new two-stage technology (white flour imprints developed with nitric acid).

Colin, we have to wait for you to finish posts.  We never really know when you are done.  Now, I can say to everyone, go read Are the peculiar fingers of the Turin Shroud a pointer to medieval forgery? My new imprinting "Stick ‘n’ Stain" model says they are.

And I did link to your previous posting.  You know, Colin, you could tell us with a comment in this blog that you have something you want us to read. I also read emails sent to me.

Any other reasons for stunned silence?

Categories: Other Blogs

Housekeeping: How to Participate

June 5, 2015 4 comments

imageA reader asks, “How do I sign up for your group?”

It is not my group.  In fact it is not a group at all.  It is a public blog. You could say it is my blog because I started it, I moderate it, and I keep it going.  I post new topics at least six times a week. Sometimes I post two or three topics on the same day. 

But you could also say that this blog belongs to everyone who participates.  That is how I think about it. And most people can participate.

Everyone can offer comments except spammers, annoying trolls and people who are excessively insulting to others.  So far, only four people out of hundreds of people have been blocked from participating.

If you are reading the blog on the web, click on the title of a posting, scroll down until you see the words, “Leave a Reply,” and type in your comment.  If you follow the blog by email, as more than 700 people do, click on the comment button in the email. That will open a page in your browser to just the right place. 

You must also enter a name and an email address. You may use your full name or just a nickname. The name you provide will appear in the blog.  Your email address will not. It will never be released.

When you comment for the first time, your comment will be delayed until I can review it. I carry a smart phone and review comments throughout the day. After I have approved your first comment, your subsequent comments will appear instantly. This method of checking the first time is how we catch the trolls. It works.

On rare occasions I have found it necessary to remove or edit a comment, which is a pain-in-the-butt.  “Butt” is near the unacceptable end of the spectrum of acceptable wording. Capisce? Don’t make me edit out words, please.

You may email me with suggestions for topics or with comments that don’t fit under any particular posting.  You may also write guest postings for consideration. My email address is shown in the right-hand column.

Categories: News & Views

Is Charles Freeman Emerging as the World’s Leading Shroud Skeptic?

June 1, 2015 21 comments

“This is a small sample of Charles Freeman’s research on the subject, which should be more widely known so that National Geographic would be embarrassed to take the shroud seriously.”

— Ophelia Benson


clip_image001While Colin complains that the world is ignoring his two-stage imprinting model, Charles Freeman is getting special attention for his painting theory from Ophelia Benson over at Butterflies and Wheels in the well-read Free Thought blogs collection.  Benson is particularly well known for her criticism of pseudoscience and religious fundamentalism. She writes: 

Charles Freeman has an article in History Today about the Shroud of Turin. He tells me the subject is neglected by academics, and “the absurd ideas of the authenticists are given full and virtually unchallenged internet space.” He adds that National Geographic is especially bad on this, maintaining “the idea that there is something inherently mysterious about the Shroud when in fact an afternoon in a conservation lab – which would find the traces of gesso and paint – would probably sort things out.” He gave me carte blanche to use the article, so have a feast.

So have a feast. Or not.

Colin Berry: It’s the negative image with 3D properties, stoopid

June 1, 2015 7 comments

The Urban Dictionary defines stoopid as having the quality of being really, really, really, stupid.

My current two-stage imprinting/developing model, which the world of Shroudology
is still largely ignoring …

imageColin tells us on his blog:

Digression: Yup, it’s how real science operates – there is no obligation in model-building to incorporate other people’s assumptions or preconceptions that might not have been given as much prior thought beforehand: science ain’t democratic, and would not have made such speedy progress between the 17th and 20th century if that had been the case. Science is unashamedly elitist, which is why scientists rely on each other via ‘peer-review’ to judge the fitness for publication in respected journals. There is no trial by media where traditional science is concerned. Internet-reporting of science in real time via the internet is a different matter entirely, which is why this blogger is taking the trouble right now to spell out the difference between a painting and an imprint, and will be explaining shortly why the a priori  indications are that the TS image IS an imprint, not merely an artist’s attempt to simulate an imprint, or even a hybrid of painting and imprint, reiterating yet again his amazement that STURP bothered to squander so much time, energy and resources on checking out the depressingly third-rate “just a painting “ hypothesis when there were far more pressing questions to address re the MECHANISM of imprinting.  STURP was supposed to be an elite task force, and should have behaved as such, eliminating non-starters from its model-building assumptions, and indeed should have STARTED WITH A MODEL, instead of thinking one could go in with space-age equipment and simply hoover up the relevant facts, arriving on time at a destination called Truth. Sorry, all you STURP defenders, but that’s not how science (real science, that is) works in the real world. Indeed, it sometimes fails to reach its destination on  time, even using its preferred model building approach. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: experimentally-based model building is the worst form of enquiry, apart from all the others that have been tried from time to time.

So, to the question: why are/were we supposed to see the TS image as an imprint, a real imprint, not just an artist’s impression of an imprint, the answer, correction , answers, are painfully simple:

1. It’s the close correspondence to events leading up to and immediately following Joseph of Arimathea’s arrival at the cross bearing expensive linen for wrapping and transporting a sweat and blood-stained body, likely to leave an imprint, stoopid
2. It’s the up-and-over double image, on high quality linen, stoopid.
3. It’s the life-sized image, stoopid.
4. It’s the negative image with 3D properties, stoopid.
5. It’s the cardboard cut-out look, stoopid, with no imaging of sides, stoopid.
6. It’s the image superficiality, stoopid
7. It’s the real-looking bloodstains, stoopid.
8. It’s the absence of a loin cloth, stoopid.
9. It’s the absence of a crown of thorns, just strategically-sited blood stains in the hair etc, stoopid.
10. It’s those spindly fingers, exactly as expected from real imprinting, stoopid
11. Ten killer clues should be more than enough to be getting on with. If you want more than 10, then it’s the whole darn shebang, stoopid.

To conclude: to those of us who ain’t stoopid, the Turin Shroud IS a real imprint.

The real question is whether the TS could only have been formed by imprinting of the real Jesus onto his burial shroud, as we are repeatedly asked to consider and/or believe by certain self-styled "scientists", OR whether it could have been faked by a medieval artisan.

This retired scientist’s own position, after some 3.5 years of research, albeit in kitchen and garage: of course it could have been faked. My current two-stage imprinting/developing model, which the world of Shroudology is still largely ignoring (Thibault Heimburger MD being a notable  exception) – or maybe has yet to learn of – shows how it could have been accomplished, at least in principle. It ain’t rocket science. Indeed, it’s part kitchen science, starting with plain white flour. Medieval alchemists could have supplied the nitric acid.

Hopefully my model will not turn out to be a damp squib,  the way the STURP Summary was a damp squib, with much pseudo-science following in its wake, much of the latter coming from senior STURP members who, in view of their unique  STURP credentials should  have exercised greater self-restraint, no matter what their particular ‘world view’.

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs
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