the 2007 carbon dating
and a bit of fascinating history
I would like you to post some of the following issues on the blog:
1. The 2007 carbon dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo. Mark Guscin has written in the article ‘The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Oviedo’
Just weeks before the congress took place, new samples from the Sudarium were subject to carbon dating. Five samples were dated from five different cloths –three of them came up with the expected date, while the cloth from an Egyptian mummy returned a date of any time in the 19th or 20th centuries. The laboratory immediately concluded that the cloth (and the mummy) were fakes. The sample from the Sudarium was dated to around 700 AD. Scientist César Barta spoke about the carbon dating process, emphasising the fact that if carbon dating is always absolutely accurate, then we could just as well finish the congress there and then. However, there were several points to bear in mind– in specialist carbon dating magazines, about half the samples dated come up with the expected date, around 30% with an “acceptable” date, and the other 20% is not what one would expect from archaeology. The laboratory used (via the National Museum in Madrid) said they were surprised by the result and asked if the cloth was contaminated with any oil based product, as oil is not cleaned by the laboratory processes used before carbon dating and if oil is present on a sample, the date produced by carbon dating is in fact the date of contamination. Finally, the history of the Sudarium is very well established and there are definite references to its presence in Jerusalem in AD 570 and at the beginning of the fifth century.
Micheal Hesemann in a recent book (“Chusta Chrystusa, Naukowcy na tropie zmartwychwstania” pg. 230-232, that is polish edition of “Das Bluttuch Christi”) gives some more details. The dating was performed by Beta Analytic Inc. from Miami, and the result was 660-890 AD.
It is curious, because so far we know, the Sudarium had been carbon-dated in the 80s, by two laboratories: Tuscon and Toronto, based on samples taken from it by Max Frei and Pierluigi Baima-Bollone. Various accounts about the results exist. So far I have met: 653-786 AD Toronto, and 642-769 AD (in other version 642-869 AD) Tuscon. Micheal Hesemann, on the other hand, reprots 540-869 AD. Also "between 1st and 9th century" claim was made at one point.
Does anyone has any more details about 2007 dating? So far I know, on the Barrie’s site, on the Valencia conference page, there is listed a paper called ‘Dating the Cloths by the C14 Method – The Oviedo Sudarium’ by Felipe Montero Ortego, but it seems to be inaccessible either via Barrie’s site, or the Google.
2. The second issue is that I have found interesting site of Micheal Hesemann. Mainly German, but there are a few articles in English.
The second referenced item, Discovered: The Cave Monastery which housed the Sudarium of Christ concludes fascinatingly:
Many question remain unanswered: Did St. Gerasimus discover a hiding place of the early Christians, did he find the long-forgotten “Sudario Domini” in these very caves, maybe preserved in a wooden chest or a large jar, like the Dead Sea scrolls? Or was the precious relic entrusted to him by his teacher, St. Euthymius, the “founder and patron of the Judaean wilderness”, who established several laurae of hermits in the Judaean desert? We can only speculate about the details. But we can say for sure that Antoninus gave an accurate description of the cave monastery which existed in the cliffs of the Wadi en-Nukheil, at least since the 5thcentury. And that in this cliff laura, according to the pilgrim’s report, the Sudario was once venerated, before it was brought first to Africa, then to Spain.
Preferred New PDF Link The Missing Corners of the Shroud of Turin and the Radiocarbon Date
Pam Moon has a new paper out,
The Missing Corners and the Radiocarbon date of the Shroud of Turin at The Shroud of Turin Exhibition website. Note: the paper is 11 slow-as-molasses pages stored as PNG graphics files wrapped in HTML. I’m travelling this week and must read papers through a hotel WiFi signal. It took 6 minutes to load on Windows 8.1 It is still trying to load on an iPad. Printing fails each and every time with various pages being dropped. (Others have encountered printing problems, I’m told). My only option was to save each page file manually, then print each one in Photoshop. You can only copy text with OCR software, which is how I copied the following paragraph.
This paper argues that the corners were removed because of water damage from douse water used to put out the fire that partially burned the Shroud in 1532. The contaminated douse water led to the formation of mould and bacteria on the cloth. The corners were too damaged and stained to be saved so they were cut away by the curators of the Shroud. Then the area around the cut was unravelled and cleaned with a disinfectant applied with a cotton or linen cloth. Additional fibres were added to the Shroud material by the cleaning process. Finally the unravelled fibres were rewoven and a patch applied to the corner.
It is an interesting paper. Take the time to read it.
Pam, if you see this and you want your paper to get the attention it deserves, please put it into a PDF file.
NEW & IMPORTANT: A paper from Thibault Heimburger: The Scorch Hypothesis: New Experiments, April 2014
questions for Giulio Fanti and Paolo Di Lazzaro
What is the final result of diimide (a powerful reducing agent) treatment on images produced by Corona Discharge ? … and on images produced by VUV excimer laser irradiation ?
Those are VERY GOOD QUESTIONS that DiLazzaro or Fanti or anyone else has [not] been able to answer yet (to my knowledge at least)… I guess that if it is so, it’s simply because no one (starting with DiLazzaro and his team) have chosen to make the test, which would probably discard their hypothesis right away, because I seriously doubt that a diimide treatment of their oxydized samples would be able to remove the color and leave a clean linen fiber behind as it was the case for the colored fibers of the Shroud…
and added in another comment:
Here’s another test DiLazzaro should do with his oxydized samples: Try to apply sticky tapes on it with a similar amount of pressure as Rogers used in Turin and see if he can find the same kind of ghosts of color on the tapes. Again, I seriously doubt he could find any… And if my guess is good, that would also be enough to discard his hypothesis right away. Same thing for Fanti and his corona discharge hypothesis.
Paulette took a swipe:
Remember the Valencia Consensus Parenthetical.
For those who don’t, see A Parenthetical Change in the Valencia Consensus from two years ago.
Stephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:
I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.
The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .
I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything. It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?
. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"
Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?
. . . I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.
That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right? By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?
And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.
Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named? Evidence, this time?
“Carbon dating alone, whether in its 1988 form or
some improvement upon it, isn’t enough.”
Jason Engwer has delivered a significant and thought-provoking analysis in Triablogue, Weighing The Shroud’s 1988 Carbon Dating
Meacham to Farey upon a whirlwind:
[William] Meacham wrote nearly a decade ago. There have been some significant developments since then. In his book, Meacham discussed Ray Rogers’ 2005 article that undermines the 1988 carbon dating results. Further research since then has corroborated Rogers’ findings. For some examples, see here. A study published in 2010 by Marco Riani, et al., for instance, found significant heterogeneity in the section of the Shroud tested in 1988. In 2013,Giulio Fanti and some other researchers published the results of some dating tests they ran on alleged fragments of the Shroud. All of their dating methods showed a pre-medieval date.
On the other hand, Timothy Jull, a member of the University of Arizona lab that tested the Shroud in 1988,published an article in 2010 that cast doubt on Rogers’ findings. In 2013, Hugh Farey wrote an article that discusses problems with the reweave hypothesis (the view that the section of the Shroud tested in 1988 contains some more recent threads woven into the original cloth during a repair, so that the more recent threads would distort the carbon dating).
Mark Oxley has written an article criticizing Jull’s piece. For some initial reactions to Farey’s article, see the thread here. In that thread, Thibault Heimburger says that he’s noticed some problems with Farey’s article and suggests that he’ll be writing a response to it.
I think Jull and Farey make some good points that significantly weaken the reweave hypothesis. The reweave hypothesis still seems to be the best explanation of the evidence, but now by a smaller margin. We have to leave the door wide open to other possibilities.
Wringing answers from the unknown:
How would the artist or forger know how to portray a Roman crucifixion victim so accurately? Why would he repeatedly and accurately depart from how Jesus was portrayed in the large majority of medieval depictions (a nail wound closer to the wrist than the palm; wounds from a thick cap of thorns rather than a thin wreath of thorns; etc.)? Why are so many characteristics of the Shroud inconsistent with the interests of an artist or forger? Why would an artist or forger brilliant enough to produce such a masterpiece go about introducing his work to the world in such an ineffective manner? Geoffrey de Charny was a relatively low-level figure in the society of his day. The modest status of the Shroud around the medieval timeframe suggested by the 1988 carbon dating is incongruous with what an artist or forger brilliant enough to produce the Shroud would be likely to do with it. And why would an artist or forger include a close-up depiction of Jesus completely nude and uncovered on his back side, something that the vast majority of people seem to find objectionable even in the more sexually libertine cultures of our day (how much more so in a medieval context)? Why and how would an artist or forger include so many details that can’t be seen by the naked eye (in an age without microscopes and other such devices)? Why would an artist or forger display his genius in the Shroud, but nowhere else? Why don’t we see comparable displays of genius from the same source around the same time? Why is the Shroud such an isolated object that stands out so starkly from the medieval context?
The notion that the 1988 carbon dating alone equals or outweighs all of the evidence cited above for an earlier date is absurd. The 1988 dating of one small piece of the cloth, from such a poor area for that sort of testing, can’t bear the weight that’s so often placed upon it. I would argue that even if further carbon dating would produce the same or similar results, the evidence for an earlier date would still weigh more. Carbon dating alone, whether in its 1988 form or some improvement upon it, isn’t enough. There has to be more. That’s how good the evidence is for an earlier date.
Do read the entire posting Weighing The Shroud’s 1988 Carbon Dating at Triablogue.
* Whirlwind? In this sense, yes, borrowing some words from the conflicted Anne Rice:
Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.
In Rogers’s book on page 78 I read that “Image color can be chemically reduced with diimide, leaving colorless fibers.” I’ve seen this mentioned on several websites and I’ve read that the image does not respond to ordinary bleaching.
My teacher and I looked it up in Wikipedia. Neither one of us can understand what it says.
What does it mean? What does it rule in or rule out?
Good questions? I just looked up reductions with diimide in Wikipedia and I could not understand it either.
Two years ago, Stephen Wagner, in his role as“Paranormal Phenomenon Guide” for the web publication About.com, wrote an article titled, Why the Shroud of Turin is Fake. I mentioned it in this blog on April 2, 2012. I thought it was silly. I still do.
Just yesterday, Stephen tells us that one of his readers named Robert has responded with his own ideas about why the shroud is probably not authentic.
Instead, what we see on the shroud is an image that projects from a complex shape all in one direction – that is, toward the perspective of an observer. There is focus, definition, proportion, all codified through the perspective of an observer. It’s how we’re used to seeing things, so people don’t pick up on it as an anomaly or error, but it’s not at all how the image must appear if it’s what it purports to be.
The shroud image requires that the shroud rose up above Jesus, stretched itself smooth and taut, and then a signal rose up from his body and headed toward a focus. No energy was scattered, it all just went one way and one way only – toward the eye of the viewer. And as it passed through the hovering, smooth sheet, it imprinted information only on the superficial fibers, somehow carrying along with it some understanding of its own distance traveled, so that it could render an artistic coding of the depth dimension, in terms of shadowing, etc.
ALL SORTS OF LOGICAL PROBLEMS
The idea is fairly absurd, on its face, but let’s imagine that that happened. The sheet rises up in a ghostly manner, and smooths itself out. Oh wait – it’s attached at the top, where it doubles back around under the body. So it can’t rise up to get some distance for the photo. Also, the goo and the gore which is in nice registry with the image, wouldn’t correspond in that way if the image was formed out of contact with the body.
There are all sorts of problems with the shroud. Jesus is lying on his back, having been through a very rough day, and yet his hair is not only fluffy and nicely styled, and not only projects its own image directly upward to the sheet, but it is indifferent to the effects of gravity. His hair is the hair of someone standing up. It floomfs out and falls to his shoulders. The hair of someone who’s been bleeding and sweating all day and is lying on his back, doesn’t look like that, even if we imagine that he was carefully shampooed, rinsed, and blow-dried.
And how does Robert address the fact that nobody can explain how the image was formed?
"How was it made?" is a pretty tough question to answer about nearly anything – we don’t even know exactly how cigarettes are made because the manufacturers don’t want us to know.
[ . . . ]
My own feeling is that the image was meant to be ghostly and suggestive (though records show that it was much brighter and clearer at the time of its creation than it is now), and that it was really the now-mostly-vanished gore that was painted on that was the "image" seen centuries ago.
[ . . . ]
Someone figured out how to reverse color scale, liked the strangeness of images made that way, and realized how perfect that technique would be for a magical "picture".
Anything new? Is Robert the new L’enfant Terrible of skeptical explanations?
if these images are truly scientific, then the unexplained screams out to be explained.
eVeritas: News for the Faculty and Staff of the University of Miami, reports that a 3D Exhibition on Shroud of Turin Visits Campus April 14:
UM’s Catholic Campus Ministry, along with the Franciscans of Mary, Missionaries of Gratitude, will present the 3D-hologram exhibit, “The Holy Shroud—the Burial Cloth of Christ,” and a lecture by its creator at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 14, on the University Center Patio.
At the event, which is open to students, faculty, and staff, Dutch scientist Petrus Soons will present his scientific research on the images of Christ on the shroud.
For more information on Soons and the history and creation of the Holy Shroud of Turin in 3D, visit http://shroud3d.com/. For more information on the event, please contact Michelle Ducker at email@example.com or Lourdes Wolf Marenus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As some of you know, I certainly have real reservations about Petrus Soons’ 3D work., that statement being the title of a posting from November 2012 in which I wrote what follows (below the line).
Bernardo Galmarini, “the 3D expert that produced the conversion from 2D to 3D,” writes on the shroud3d site [which is Petrus Soons’ site]:
I thought at first, that in this more scientific conversion, the hidden information in the Shroud (3D information in the gray-scale), would be a nuisance or obstacle to produce a human representation of the face, and that I would have to struggle continuously against this. Strangely enough, this hidden scientific information in the Shroud became the key and the basis for this work, reducing my artistic work to only softening the “holes” and deformities (caused surely by the passing of time) and the adapting to what this scientific version commands you to do: filling in and normalizing the “holes” or “dead areas” in the hidden information of the linen. For example: the areas without information in the forehead have been corrected following the surrounding gray-scale with coherent information and with a normal human forehead in mind. This process was helped by the fact, that the central zone of the forehead and the bony structure of the orbits contain very coherent information and that of course was taken as a guideline.
That statement lacks needed clarity. There are certainly holes and deformities. Why is not clear in most cases. It seems completely unjustified to speculate that these are caused by the passing of time. Without knowing how the image was formed, without knowing much about how the shroud was stored or displayed over many centuries, we shouldn’t make such guesses.
Exactly what are the holes and deformities? They have not been detailed on the website. The bloodstains certainly are a problem and to make adjustments for these is perhaps warranted. But what about other deformities? How is the problem of banding addressed? Banding, a variegated background pattern to the cloth, perhaps the result of how the thread of the cloth was bleached and having nothing to do with the passing of time, is certainly the single biggest deformity that exists. It gets peculiar treatment in this new 3D work. The left side of the face (our right) has been partially retouched to minimize the effect. The other side of the face is shaped as though there was no banding but the banding remains. Pictured here is an estimate of the banding in the area of the face.
At the bottom of the beard and the lower areas of the hair, darker areas that are not the result of banding are strikingly evident. These relatively dark areas don’t recede towards the background as expected for grayscale plotting. (You can’t see this without 3D glasses. Don’t even try.) What is the rationale for this obviously apparent artistic adjustment? Moreover, hair above the forehead pompadours frontward without grayscale tones to support it. This hair and facial hair treatment seems artistic.
The entire head and shoulders seem to be completely detached from the background. You can, with 3D glasses on, move your own head ever so slightly and see detached movement. (Again, you can’t see this without 3D glasses.) Galmarini speaks of “hidden scientific information,” presumably but not explicitly the grayscale. I can’t find any data in support of this phenomenon. It seems as though an artificial outline has been introduced around the human form. There does not seem to be any such outline on the Shroud. In fact, researchers, over the years, have noted this lack of outline because it is something that an artist, had an artist created the Shroud, would have certainly included. Interestingly, the areas of the lower neck and upper shoulders, though darker than the background, don’t recede into the background and don’t show detached movement. Most amazingly, the lower part of a prominent water stain above the face is now worn in the hair like a miniature yarmulke while the upper part of the stain adorns the background. This, to my way of thinking, strongly suggests the use of false outlines. What other reason can there be other than to enhance the 3D effect?
The most surprising thing is that the grayscale tones that to the untrained eye look like highlights and shadows, but that in fact become the basis for plotting three-dimensionality, remain in place in the plotted image. If you plot a three-dimensional object from the grayscale density you should have something that looks like a stone statue. Whatever highlights and shadows seem to exist in any resulting computerized virtual-reality image should only be from artificially introduced light placed at a calculated angle and distance in the virtual world. This is what the VP8 Analyzer does and what other software packages such as POV-Ray do. But in the anaglyph in question, it looks as though the original image was stretched like a thin film over the calculated shape. Original highlights, shadows and even herringbone twill patterns are there.
I’m willing to be convinced that I am wrong, that the anaglyph in question is scientific. I would actually like this. If this were so we would have something that is truly amazing. Clarity is needed, however. Specifics are required. I would like to see how much of this conversion to 3D is reproducible in a scientific sense and how much is "only softening the ‘holes’ and deformities."
In order to claim that the 3D images on this site are scientific the steps and procedures must be reproducible by others, at least in theory. Documentation is needed.
- We should know the software or algorithm used to plot the image including any variables or settings used.
- The terminology “hidden scientific information” should be clarified. It is essential to understand how plotting software uses this data.
- Expose higher resolution images for examination if the work was done in higher resolution. While this image may be 800 pixels wide, the resolution is no better than 72 ppi. Ordinary books carry pictures at four times the number of pixels per inch.
- We should be able to see, in anaglyph form for comparison, the unadjusted, scientifically plotted part of the project so that we can judge for ourselves just how much of the final product is by way of adjustment.
- All adjustments made should be explained and justified.
It bothers me to think that these images will be used, as the pastor suggests, in presentations to show the 3D characteristics of the Shroud. These images are certainly being displayed in churches, in exhibits and on the internet without the qualification that this is art and not science. If that is so, it is most unfortunate.
On the other hand, if these images are truly scientific, then the unexplained screams out to be explained.
Don’t get me wrong. There is 3D data in the Shroud’s images. It is the most important quality for knowing that these are not images formed by reflected light as a painter would envision or a camera would capture a human form. The 3D data is a quality that must be accounted for in any hypothesis attempting to explain how the images were formed, be it miraculously, naturally, by fakery or even as honest art. Indeed, this quality, treated scientifically without various forms of electronic manipulation, sooner or later, may suggest how the images were formed.
Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.
My favorite Episcopal priests turned Catholic priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, pictured here with his wife and four children, weighs in on the GJW (The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife):
However, clever folks on both sides could piece together any sort of saying of Jesus from the scrap we have here. The headline grabbing text seems to read, “Jesus said to them, “My wife…” Is Jesus referring to his wife? Theoretically it could be, but in the absence of any other evidence that Jesus was married, and going against the early text and 2000 years of tradition that he was not married this is unlikely. What might the rest of the text say? Perhaps Jesus was quoting another text about marriage thus, “My wife is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones said Adam…” or “My wife is also my sister and my mother in the Lord.” Who knows?
While it is interesting to follow the scholarship and the debate about this ancient manuscript, what also interests me is the way the secular press have handled it. First of all they have called it “the Jesus Wife Manuscript”. No doubt the headlines will blaze about how Jesus was married and we now have ancient proof for it. This will then become the popular scream. “Of course priests should marry. Jesus was married!!!” Another detail was in the Boston Globe story. The papyrus was carbon tested by one laboratory at 700 BC. So carbon testing can come up with a result that is clearly about a thousand years off? Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin suddenly the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.
“Of course priests should marry. Jesus was married!!!”
Actually, I think so but not because of the GJW
Fr. Longenecker wants your help:
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I knew there would be a way to work in a picture of the $2.2 million mansion that is the residence of Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. (Fr. Longenecker is not part of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.)
Christian Askeland has posted a very good analysis, Jesus’s Wife Resurrected from Dead, in the blog Evangelical Textual Criticism.
Using two labs, the GJW fragment and a Sahidic John fragment associated with the same papyri lot were carbon dated. The rounded 2-sigma ranges for the manuscripts are as follows:
Only the Harvard report indicates the date of the test (14 March 2014); one might surmise that the second test was ordered after the extremely early date arrived from Arizona. Whatever the case, if one of the two GJW 14C dates were to be accurate, it would probably be the Harvard range (650–870 CE), which is corroborated by the related GJohn manuscript (chart above). Having said this, the result remains somewhat inconclusive. (δ13C levels were also higher than expected, suggesting contamination in all samples.)
So does this confirm the authenticity of the GJW? Such a late dating bulldozes King’s first appraisal of the manuscript as a fourth century witness. The GJW fragment under question is broken on all sides except the top, where apparently the modern forger cut the empty section off of a larger fragment which was in fact ancient. Carbon dating has no value for authenticating such a manuscript, although if the Ptolemaic date (410–200 BCE) offered by the Arizona AMS lab were accurate (of which I am not convinced), fraud would be certain.
If a husband were to genetically test his children to determine whether his wife had been faithful, and the tests returned indicating that that the children could not conclusively be proven to not be his, would this assure him of his wife’s fidelity? Could he then, based upon these tests, be confident that he had indeed fathered the children? Karen King has produced no new evidence to authenticate this fragment. On the contrary, her prior contentions that the GJW fragment was (1) part of a literary codex and (2) was fourth century are now indefensible. Her method of argumentation was not self-critical or objective, but will doubtlessly be sufficient for those who already want to believe.
Ray Schneider: Why is the carbon dating wrong? I don’t know. That it is wrong I am quite certain . . .
Ray is up with a recommendation on his blog, Political Brambles:
With Easter soon to come it’s appropriate to think about the Shroud of Turin and this video is hard to beat since it touches upon so many of the issues. . . .
. . . This video demonstrates the correspondence between the sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud which, in my mind at least, proves that the 1988 carbon date is wrong. Why is it wrong? I don’t know. That it is wrong I am quite certain for the shroud duplicates blood stains that are on the sudarium of Oviedo which is much older than the shroud and so both cloths were in contact with the same body.
It is a good video, produced and directed by Reuben Aaronson for The Learning Channel. It runs for about 52 minutes.
START HERE with a Boston Globe article, No evidence of modern forgery in ancient text mentioning ‘Jesus’s wife’ along with a video to get up to speed (if you’re not).
A reader writes:
Note that there is a new "Jesus’ Wife" publication. [See “Jesus’ Wife” Articles in HTR: Initial Thoughts in Larry Hurtado’s Blog.] The observation which may interest you is the huge discrepancy in C14 dating by experts with the possibility of contamination effects.
These cannot be statistically consistent. (And recent statistical analysis of the SOT results indicate that they also were inconsistent among samples.)
(I believe there was also a problem with a control sample.)
People make a big deal of C14 testing, when it probably is not very reliable for certain materials. It might be noted that just because someone is a specialist in some field of science does _not_ at all mean they are statistical or even methodological experts. 95% aren’t.
The carbon dating discussion in Larry’s blog runs less than a paragraph and reads:
. . . The two radio-carbon tests, however, are both a bit puzzling and interesting. The proposed dates of the two tests are out from each other by several hundred years. The one report (by Hodgins) notes the curious date-result (405-350 BCE and/or 307-209 BCE), about a thousand years earlier than the date from the other carbon-dating test (659-969 CE), and Hodgins suggests some kind of contamination of the sample. But I’d assume that a contamination would come from something later than the ancient setting, and so skew the date later, not earlier. I’ll need some help with this!
The study is flawed. Ever worked as an EMS? On sweaty, grimy, warm skin someone’s blood will run every which way, even in nearly horizontally rivulets. It flows. It gushes. It spurts. It mixes with sweat. I’ve been sprayed with blood from flailing limbs. Put a few drops of blood on your arm and jerk it hard to mimic a spasm. You can never reproduce violent outdoor traumatic blood flow on a body in pain with plastic tubing, air conditioning, calm and shower fresh skin.
I think the normal reaction of an individual viewing the Shroud would be to mentally record the
I think the normal reaction of an individual viewing the Shroud would be to mentally record the image as being on the outside of the Shroud. That in fact must be the case, if as Thomas de Wesellow maintains that the sightings of the angels in the tomb recorded by the Gospels would be actually a sighting of the image on the Shroud as the women looked in.
One problem with this theory is that the image of the Shroud, superficial as it is, was on the inside of the Shroud as it covered the body of Christ, not the outside. If Christ’s body were still in the Shroud when the woman peered into the tomb there is no manner in which they could have seen the image unless they removed it from the corpse.
De Wesellow, like many skeptics, likes to quote scripture when it supports his theory and then explain away anything that contradicts that predisposition. He tosses-away as inauthentic Mary Magdalene’s report: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him” after citing it for the position that Mary was accompanied by other women that Easter morning (thus the italic “we” which is de Wesellow’s)
This is where de Wesellow and I begin to part ways. In my imagination I see no corpse but a shroud partly turned over like a bed sheet in the morning. . . and, lo, the image of the man, whom they knew was before them. Or something like that.
Hugh Farey writes as a comment:
“Edgerton linen” was hand-produced by a Kate Edgerton, from plant to woven cloth, and then, much to Ray Rogers’s chagrin, ironed, which made it go yellow, so he soaked it in hydrogen peroxide to bleach it. He hoped, and was probably correct, that this had no effect on his subsequent experiments. Although the linen is descibed as prepared “following the methods used in the Near East in Roman times,” no details are given in “A Chemist’s Perspective on the Shroud of Turin.” I have acquired some quite stiff unbleached linen, however, and am prepared to give it a try, using leaves from soapwort mashed in water as a source of saponin, and commercial dextrin (a readily available water-soluble glue) as the starch. I also have ammonia and urea. The problem is “freshly dead” animals. The trouble here is to acquire enough for sufficient repeatable experimentation. However, after asking around, I find that people who keep snakes as pets feed them on frozen mice, which are available quite cheaply in bulk. This looks promising, so I’m preparing an appropriate protocol for just the experiments you suggest!
Incidentally, although my linen feels quite stiff and heavy, it has an areal density of only 16mg/cm2, which is considerably less than the Shroud, which therefore appears to be considerably thicker than I had previously imagined. As such, I think it will be much easier to produce discolouration on one side of the cloth only. Other investigators (Thibault? Colin?) might be able to comment further on this, and readers of this blog might like to weigh a bed-sheet themselves to confirm how flimsy it is compared to the Shroud.
presented his results at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences
in Seattle in February
<<< YouTube Link >>>
Linda Geddes writing today in New Scientist Magazine:
Borrini wanted to know if the "bloodstains" on the left arm, the clearest ones, were consistent with the flow of blood from the wrist of a crucified person. So he asked Luigi Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia, Italy, to assume different crucifixion postures, while a cannula attached to his wrist dribbled donated blood down his arm.
They found that the marks on the shroud did correspond to a crucifixion, but only if the arms were placed above the head in a "Y" position, rather than in the classic "T" depiction. "This would have been a very painful position and one which would have created difficulty breathing," says Borrini. Someone crucified in this way may have died from asphyxiation. Borrini presented his results at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Seattle in February.
Borrini says similar positions were used during medieval torture, but in those cases the victims were suspended from a beam by binding their wrists with rope, rather than using nails.
The results confirm earlier experiments by Gilbert Lavoie, a Massachusetts-based doctor, that suggested a Y-shaped crucifixion. "The blood-flow is absolutely consistent with what you see on the Shroud," Lavoie says. He described his studies in Unlocking the Secrets of the Shroud.
"The imprint on the Shroud does not correspond with many traditional artistic images of crucifixion," says Niels Svensson, a doctor in Maribo, Denmark, who has also studied the Shroud.
. . . Usually, the argument is that science demands absolute answers and legal standards such as beyond reasonable doubt do not apply in the august chambers of science. I think that’s nonsense of course. As I have written: “We do not order our lives by proof beyond reasonable doubt.” I also have written: “Fear the person who has no doubt. Witness George Armstrong Custer.”
Setup 2: As part of a comment yesterday, Jason Engwer wrote:
Sometimes it’s objected that classifying the Shroud image as a miracle, or associating it with a miracle, would bring about an end to scientific investigation of the image. I don’t see why that would be the case. People often continue to investigate something they consider miraculous. I wouldn’t want scientific investigation ended. I’d encourage people to keep investigating the image. And the people who aren’t convinced that the image is miraculous would keep on investigating it regardless of what other individuals believe. I doubt there are many people who want an end to the investigation. The more the Joe Nickells and Luigi Garlaschellis of the world fail to duplicate the image, the more my view of the matter is strengthened. Keep it up! And if I’m wrong about the image’s miraculous nature, or if there’s some natural means of duplicating an image that was created by some other means that was miraculous, I want to know that. I don’t want an end of the investigation.
The bold emphasis above is mine. I must add Colin Berry’s name to this. He’s earned his wings and his name will forever be repeated around the high-back tables of shroudie watering holes.
Setup 3: It was back in December last year that Fr. Duncan (+Dunk) responded to daveb who was at the time discussing the point that nobody knows how the image was formed (see I agree. I agree. I agree. Mostly.):
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.
I would probably say, since we are talking about authenticity, that nobody knows how the image was forged or manmade, and then, yes, I must agree that the argument is used frequently. Philosophically, I don’t like it. It is classic Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance). Nonetheless, I find myself sometimes using it with the shroud. It seems so true.
But, but and but:
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 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 reaction from Stephen Jones:
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.
I was taken aback a bit by that. I think the shroud is real. I’m still reluctant to say that its authenticity is proven even as I agree (though dragged along kicking and screaming) with John Klotz’ wise words above. And I must agree with Jason Engwer that investigating must go on. Does that make me a denier? Is it true that I don’t like the implications “of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true.” ? No, of course not.
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, Stephen responded:
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, Stephen writes:
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,"
We can forgive Pitts for the NASA historians faux pas. 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!
Absence of proof equals positive proof? Ouch!
Which of course brings us back to John and Jason. There is, however, one more rock to look under. And isn’t that also the definition of insanity.
Doug Erickson, writing in the Wisconsin State Journal reports on a talk given by Larry Shapiro [pictured], a philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison:
Larry Shapiro isn’t interested in arguing over whether there is a God or not.
But if you ground your belief in God on a belief in miracles, then the UW-Madison philosophy professor has a problem.
“Belief in miracles is irrational given the evidence to date — you don’t have the reasons you need,” Shapiro told about 150 people at a recent public talk on campus, part of an ongoing series in which UW-Madison philosophers tackle contemporary issues.
[ . . . ]
“In every case of a reported miracle, it’s always more surprising to think that the miracle actually happened than it is to think the testimony is false, for whatever reason,” he said. “It could be the person testifying to the existence of the miracle was hallucinating, was drunk, didn’t understand what she was seeing, was lying, whatever the reason.”
This speaks to the credibility of the witness or witnesses, another important notion, Shapiro said. In order to believe in the purported resurrection of Jesus Christ, for instance, a reliable source is critical, he said. Yet the Gospels were written decades after the purported resurrection by unknown authors, and the scribes who eventually copied the original documents were sometimes illiterate or had religious agendas and would adapt the documents they copied as they saw fit, he said.
This letter to the editor (yes, there still are letters to the editors) from James L. Carney caught my attention because it mentioned the shroud:
Regarding Sunday’s In the Spirit column, "Belief in miracles ‘irrational,’ UW philosophy professor says," professor Larry Shapiro’s argument that belief in miracles is irrational rests upon two assertions.
First, inexplicable things that happen actually have some natural explanation but we haven’t figured it out yet. And second, there is no plausible evidence of miraculous events. The first argument is silly and the second one is false.
Just because primitive people put spiritual labels on medical conditions or events that have a natural cause does not mean there are not inexplicable occurrences that defy logic. For example, the Shroud of Turin is a religious artifact that defies scientific explanation for the time and place of occurrence, and even today for that matter.
The New Testament provides plenty of proof of miraculous events, especially and including the resurrection of Christ. These reports were given by eyewitnesses and verified by people who suffered torture and death in defense of their testimony.
There is no proof there were not earlier reports before the mid to late first century. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
There are thousands of documented near death experiences that defy rational explanation that excludes the existence of a supernatural soul.
Defies scientific explanation, is that good enough? How often we try to get away with that. Look for me to make this question into another two or three postings.
The VP-8 Image Analyzer was a simple non-programmable analog computer
from Interpretations Systems Incorporated that produced simulated
3D elevations from brightness maps, often called height fields.
How many times have we read something like this?
the Shroud uniquely has 3D information embedded in the image, which was only discovered by NASA scientists in 1976.
Or heard something like this, in this case from a recent Simon Brown video?
Peter Shumacher, the inventor of the NASA VP-8 Image Analyzer, describes the discovery of the 3 D image.
NASA had nothing to do with it. Really. It was not the NASA VP-8 Image Analyzer. And Peter Shumacher did not invent it.
Barrie Schwortz tells us in a recent comment:
The VP-8 was purchased by William Mottern of Sandia Laboratories from Interpretation Systems to use in the examination of the x-rays they were making at the lab. Bill felt it was another way to extract image data from nearly monochromatic x-rays. He originally saw the VP-8 advertised in a trade journal and bought one. Shortly after the Shroud image was placed into Bill’s VP-8, Jackson and Jumper purchased one for STURP’s use and the man who came to install it was Pete Schumacher, founder of the New Mexico Shroud Museum in Alamogordo.
Two of our team members were from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and were directly involved in the space program. Don Lynn was in charge of imaging on the Voyager, Viking, Mariner and Galileo projects. At some point in time, some journalist out there wrote erroneously that the VP-8 was used in the space program and it seems to have stuck and become part of Shroud “mythology.” JPL had far more sophisticated technology than the VP-8.
Andy in another comment clarified:
Just to clarify Barrie’s comment on one point, as Pete Schumacher tells it, the VP8 was donated by Interpretation Systems to Jackson & Jumper for their work. I’m fairly sure they didn’t have the $25k it would take to purchase it then. Pete agreed to deliver and install it if the company would pay for the gas. This was Pete’s introduction to the Shroud and he had no knowledge prior to seeing the 3D green screen image in Jumper’s basement. He knew the VP8 did not do 3D, but made brightness maps as one of its functions.
A page at shroud.com, a description of one of the 1978 Examination Photographs, provides more information.
Darn. Stephen left out two of my favorite historical items:
1) The Hymn of the Pearl and 2) The Mozarabic Rite.
Stephen Jones is up with Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #1.
. . . this is part #1 of my revised proposal that the three radiocarbon dating laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, which in 1988 dated the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval … AD 1206-1390," may have been duped by a computer hacker.
Well, there is nothing so far to justify the speculation of a computer hacker. It will be interesting to see where he goes with it, now being forced to revise his thinking after seeing emails to Hugh Farey from two of the three lab directors.
Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers that could have been hacked to conceal real carbon dating results from the scientists. We’ll see.
Anyways, Stephen has provided us with some historic information to consider.
Nice new picture of Stephen.
A week ago or so, David Kyle Johnson, an associate professor of philosophy at King’s College in Pennsylvania, wrote a three part posting in his blog, A Logical Take hosted on the website of the popular newsstand magazine, Psychology Today.
- Let Go of the Shroud Part I: The Shroud of Turin: It’s obviously fake
- Let Go of the Shroud Part II: The Shroud of Turin: Examining the evidence
- Let Go of The Shroud Part III: The Shroud of Turin: It’s Just Bad Science
After some first takes by way of a few comments here, we may need to parse out some of his arguments into separate posts. This is largely an poorly informed attack.
What was the name of his blog? A Logical Take? Is this not a straw man fallacy . . .
Shroud enthusiasts—“shroudies,” as they like to be called—insist that the image on the shroud was produced by some kind of energy (like radiation) emitted by Jesus’s body as he rose.
. . . with a touch of Ignoratio elenchi and a whole lot of oversimplification?
So what about those shroudies that insist otherwise? He might have gotten away with that statement, though, if he had not gone on:
. . . But the image on the shroud could not be produced by such an event. (A) Radiation can’t leave an image in cloth. (B) Even if it could, since radiation emits in all directions, at best it would just leave a blurry silhouette, not a clear cut face with features. (C) Even if it could produce a clear cut face with features, that face would be distorted. A cloth wrapped around someone’s head lays flat against their nose, eye sockets and ears. If someone’s face somehow ‘radiated’ and recorded an image on such a cloth, when flattened out the cloth would depict whole representations of each part—nose, eye socket, and ears—all pointing in the same direction. Needless to say, this is not what the shroud depicts.
So, even without knowing how the shroud was faked, it’s obvious that someone did fake it. Honestly, this should be enough to convince any fair open-minded person. Of course, nothing I say will convince the “true believer,” so I might as well just stop here. But there is a lot more to the story. So next time we’ll look at the evidence, and even discover how the shroud was likely faked.
And he tells us in his blog that he is attacking pseudoscience. Does he know what he is talking about?
By the way, David Kyle Johnson’s link, Radiation can’t leave an image in cloth, is a link to Colin Berry’s site. Did our philosopher friend read or understand what the chemist Colin Berry actually wrote? Methinks not.