Let’s look a bit more at what Chet Raymo wrote (see Francis Bacon and the Shroud of Turin):
In the meantime, an objective observer should assume that the Shroud is a 14th-century religious icon or outright fraud. That is when the Shroud first appears in the historical record, and that is when carbon-dating assigns its origin. It was a time when religious icons were commonly manufactured or assumed. Why evoke miracles when a perfectly natural explanation is more plausible?
Who is invoking miracles? Among all of the scientists I know who are studying the shroud, I know of no one who is invoking miracles to explain the carbon dated age of the cloth.
We’ve already said why we should not assume a scientific conclusion in the light of reasonable doubt about evidence. Assuming in this context is not scientific. But what about how Raymo tries to tie up his argument. Look at the second sentence: “That is when the Shroud first appears in the historical record, and that is when carbon-dating assigns its origin.”
Scientists rightly decry the use of historical evidence as scientific input. But that is where it should stop. They decry it, too, when history seems to contradict scientific conclusions. If there is disagreement, then science is the arbiter. In its most rigid form it is called scientism. Science is always right, they tell us. Raymo does it one better. He is using history, because it is convenient to do so. “I’m right,” he implies, “history supports what I say about the carbon dating.”
But does it?
First, let’s add a few words (in bold) to make part of his statement more accurate. Then let’s see if it is meaningful:
That is when the Shroud first appears in the existing and known historical record in Western Europe.
Museums are filled with items from antiquity whose earliest known records are much later. It is absurd to try and make a rational correlation between the dates of first written records about an item and its actual provenance. Moreover, there is actually a wealth of information that suggests that earlier records do exist and what we are dealing with is a gap:
There is a drawing of a shroud from 1192 (nearly a century earlier than the earliest carbon 14 date) that is clearly identifiable from particular features as the current Shroud of Turin. It is well known that a cloth with a purported image of Jesus existed in Edessa as documented by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius (and this must be considered legend) the cloth was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the 70). In 544 a cloth with an image thought to be of Jesus was found concealed above a gate in the city walls of Edessa. That cloth was transferred to Constantinople on August 14, 944. It was, at that time, described as a full-length burial cloth with an image of Jesus and bloodstains. Following the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, it became the property of Othon de la Roche, French Duke of Athens and Thebes. He sent it to his castle home in the town of Besançon, France in 1207. At Eastertide, it was removed from castle and displayed in the Besançon Cathedral until the cathedral was destroyed by fire in March of 1349. Any records that might have existed may have been burned in that fire as all church records were destroyed. In that same year, Geoffroy de Charny, a French knight married Jeanne de Vergy, a grand-niece of Othon de la Roche, and delivered the shroud to the canons of Lirey, thereby creating the earliest extant record in Western Europe.
Now, given Raymo’s invocation of Francis Bacon (as I explained in a previous post) and his lack of desire to examine the evidence, we might be suspicious that he is unwilling to believe the evidence or is unaware of it. He tells us that he just isn’t interested in reading it.
For a long time it was the historical evidence that caused many people to doubt the carbon dating — not the miracle straw-man argument Raymo voices. Now it is the overwhelming scientific evidence that what was tested was not part of the shroud, probably because it way a repaired part of the shroud.
If that wasn’t enough, Raymo drops in, “It was a time when religious icons were commonly manufactured or assumed.” That is certainly true. It is irrelevant. It’s an emotional argument full of irrationality. Some relics emerged during this time that were, in fact, real relics. History tells us why and that is why the shroud, if it is real or much older. The marauding, thieving French and Venetians of the Fourth Crusades brought numerous relics and treasures back to Europe. Over the years they began to emerge and for the first time they were documented in Western European records.
It is far better for a scientist to say we don’t know and to advance a hypotheses than to ask people to assume science is right despite evidence to the contrary.
From Shroud of Turin for Journalists: The Peculiar 3D Phenomenon of the Shroud of Turin Image
Like any painting or photograph of a face or an entire human body (or for that matter a vase, apple or any three dimensional object) brightness represents light. Look at a full frontal picture of a man. The tip of his nose approaches white and the depth of the recesses of his eyes are darker. The roundness of his face from his cheeks towards his ears is progressively darker. At first glance, the face on the Shroud of Turin appears to be such a picture. It isn’t.
How do we know this? All regular pictures, be they paintings or photographs, represent light coming from some direction and being reflected towards our eyes. The eye of the painter or the camera lens is a proxy for our own eyes. The reason the recesses of a man’s eyes are darker than the tip of his nose is because less light gets to into the recess. Image analysis shows us that this is not so with the facial image on the Shroud. There is no direction to what seems like light. Something else is causing the lighter and darker shades. That is looks like light to us is an optical illusion.
Look at the black and white picture that looks like a smoke ring. We might think that this is light reflected off of the smoke. It is not. This is an analog data file of elevation, sometimes called a bump map in the world of computer graphics. With special computer software we can plot the data, the brighter and darker tones, as an elevation. That is exactly what we can do with the image on the Shroud of Turin: plot it as an elevation.
Let’s be clear: You can not plot a regular photograph this way. Nor can you do so for a painting, even a brown and white painting. You can do so with a precise copy of the Shroud, however.
Not only does this show that the image on the Shroud is not a photograph or painting, it shows that something extraordinary occurred to form the image.
It is a well established principle in criminal law that if there is reasonable doubt about someone’s guilt, acquittal is warranted. That principle, not often stated that way, is part of science as well. If there is reasonable doubt about some scientific proof, it is not really proof. Knowing that there is doubt, it is unwise for a scientist to say, “In the meantime, an objective observer should assume.” Yet that is exactly what Chet Raymo writes in Science Musings. He tells us:
A reader asks by e-mail why I have not taken note here of the new chemical tests that “prove” the Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial cloth of Jesus, is between 1300 and 3000 years old. The answer is simple. I prefer to wait until I read the original scientific paper, and analyses of the paper’s content by knowledgeable chemists.
Fair enough. But read them.
You will have noted that a commenter here suggested recently that I am not aware of the considerable literature on the Shroud. I am indeed aware of it, but I have better things to do that read the many books and web sites that support the Shroud cult, just as I don’t bother reading the voluminous literature on alien abductions or astrology. . . .I reply [sic assume rely] on the filter of the peer-reviewed scientific literature. When one of the two weekly peer-reviewed journals to which I subscribe — Nature and Science — takes notice, so will I. Be assured that I am open to any possibility.
First of all, poisoning the well is not effective scientific commentary. By implying that the scientists who endeavor to study the shroud objectively are part of a cult or that this study is anything like alien abductions or astrology shows the writer to be extraordinarily non-objective. Indeed pay attention to Nature. Philip Ball, writing in Nature Online explained peer-reviewed scientific findings by Raymond Rogers, a Los Alamos chemist, that the carbon dating was invalid. He pointed out that Rogers credentials were impeccable, his approach was objective and unbiased and his science was solid.
But expand your reading, Chet. Scientists know very well that Nature and Science do not have a monopoly on science. May I suggest Chemistry Today (July/August 2008). May I suggest Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pp. 189-194). And, though not published, as of yet, but presented to peers at Ohio State University, review the findings of Robert Villarreal and a team of nine scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories (some cult, those Los Alamos folks). He stated:
the  age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.
And while this recent statement (March 2008) is not peer-reviewed, it is nonetheless a statement by Christopher Ramsey appearing on the website of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford University of which Ramsey is the head:
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. 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.
This is hardly the stuff of in the meantime merely assuming.
To make a point, Chet Raymo tells us that . . .
Nearly 400 years ago, Francis Bacon wrote: “What a man would like to be true, he preferentially believes.” This is the danger that lurks in every search for truth.
It cuts both ways. To ask us to assume something despite reasonable doubt shows us that Raymo “preferentially believes.”
Better to say, as most in this supposed cult (which is actually a group of very serious scientists, historians and archeologists, many in academia) say, “We don’t know.”
For more information see posting on the Carbon Dating Mistake.
Chet Raymo is the author of Natural Prayers, Honey from Stone, and Climbing Brandon, and many other books that explore the relationship between science and religion. Raymo has also published several novels and books for children. He is a professor of physics at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, and a science columnist for the Boston Globe.
- (Crossposted at One Episcopalian on Faith)
There is a wonderful early 3rd century text called the Acts of Thomas (not to be confused with the Gospel of Thomas). Many scholars argue it is Gnostic and the Catholic Church has called it heretical. But that does not diminish its significance for historians. It is the legendary story — true, partly true or false — of the apostle Thomas’ (Judas Thomas or Thomas Judas Didymus) mission to India and his martyrdom. Authorship is often attributed to the Gnostic poet Bardesane of Edessa, perhaps as early as 216 CE).
Within the Acts of Thomas is an extraordinary Syriac poem, The Hymn of the Pearl, (also known as the Hymn of the Robe of Glory and the Hymn of the Soul). The poem is thought to be older than the Acts of Thomas. It is inserted in different places in different versions of the Acts found among early Greek and Syriac Christian traditions.
Within the Hymn of the Pearl there are a few lines of poetry that are intriguing. These lines, referred to as the “two images segment,” seem to have been inserted into the hymn. This is one common translation of those lines with optional interpretations (other translations appear after the fold):
Suddenly, I saw my image on my [burial] garment like in a mirror
Myself and myself through myself [or myself facing outward and inward]
As though divided, yet one likeness
Two images: but one likeness of the King [of kings]
If we infer from the context of the poem that the first-person speaker of these lines is Jesus (contextually justifiable in a stylistic sense and not a literal sense) then these words might be a wonderful description of the Shroud of Turin, Jesus’ purported burial shroud.
On the shroud, we find two images: one facing outward and one facing inward, though the modern interpretation is usually expressed as a front and back image.
This hypothesis is reinforced by the Legend of Abgar, as related by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius, a cloth bearing an image of Jesus was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the biblical 70).
The words, “like in a mirror,” are puzzling. Several interpretations have been suggested: 1) The image is a collimated image as is, indeed, a mirror. 2) The image is reversed left to right, also an attribute of an image in a mirror. 3) The image is life size. 4) The image on the shroud is a negative and this is a primitive attempt to describe negativity.
There is little question that the Hymn of the Pearl, originated in the Mesopotamian city of Edessa. And it was in Edessa, in 544 AD, that the Edessa Cloth was discovered — the cloth that we now know, from solid historical records, was a full burial cloth in which . . .
You can see [not only] the figure of a face, but [also] the figure of the whole body.
–– The Codex Vossianus Latinus
The Rev. Albert Dreisbach, an Episcopal priest who studied the Shroud of Turin for many years asks us . . .
to ponder what these seemingly strange expressions might mean, if they do NOT have reference to the Turin Shroud . . .
This comment has been promoted to its own posting. Gore was one of the authors of the 1989 Nature article on the carbon 14 dating of the shroud. Please feel free to comment:
Exactly where is the data that discredits the Radiocarbon dating. Have other parts of the Shroud been dated for comparison. Is cotton vs. linen the only “evidence”. In other words are we still in need of information. And what the notion of a neutron flux at the resurection…as put forward in the issue of Nature with our shroud paper. Careful fellow humans for we are without the final truth and in a perfect creation we do not want to give out a dream of our own imagining as a replacement. As one of the original authors of the dating I am still waiting to see something interesting and have remained silent. I see many have a lot to say and seem to know all the secrets of the universe. Besides fragile human ego I see nothing so far. More will be revealed beyond the fragility of human nature …I pray.
— Brad H. Gore
Source: One Episcopalian on Faith
Over and over, we read in newspapers and blogs that the shroud was carbon dated thus proving it was medieval. Sometimes, a reporter will mitigate by mentioning that some people question the results. But what we should be reading, if scientific accuracy is important, is that the carbon dating is well understood to be invalid.
What is being reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals and at scientific conference is very different than what is being reported in main stream media. Why? Because, invariably, any reporting about the shroud falls under the general category of religion which is often a subcategory of something called lifestyle. Not that it shouldn’t be so categorized, but journalists who write these stories invariably have only a sketchy and often outdated understanding of the science of the shroud. So much has happened in the twenty years since the shroud was carbon dated. It warrants consideration. That carbon dating exercise warrants more than a mild “some people question” attempt at balanced reporting. There are always people to question anything. What exactly are the questions? And who are the some people?
Fortunately, many readers know the answer. Thanks to the Internet, many of today’s readers are well informed and this makes reporters’ stories that mostly rely on regurgitated old information look lame.
The new information, well documented in ethical scientific journals, doesn’t prove that the shroud is authentic. Far from it. But it does show that the single scientific argument having any peer-reviewed gravitas, has crumbled. Now, other arguments from history and other scientific disciplines that suggest that the shroud is much older warrant consideration and mention.
It’s likely that the Shroud of Turin’s wasn’t really carbon dated.
To still accept the carbon dating of the shroud, we must imagine that Robert Villarreal and his team of nine scientists at the prestigious Los Alamos National Laboratory were wrong when they showed that the carbon dating violated the first principle of carbon dating: the sample must represent the whole. They demonstrated that the sample area was significantly unlike the rest of the shroud. In other words it is almost certain that the shroud itself was not carbon dated. (Reported August 15, 2008, at the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin scientific conference).
To still accept the old carbon dating, we must also imagine that a comprehensive twelve page article in the scientific journal Chemistry Today (Jul/Aug 2008) is simply wrong. Do we imagine the authors Sue Benford and Joe Marino are wrong? Do we imagine the reviewers and editors who scrutinized the article, are also wrong?
To believe in the tests, we must also ignore Christopher Ramsey, the current head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, a lab that participated in the original carbon 14 dating of the Shroud. In March of 2008, he said that because of new information “further research is certainly needed.” He went on to say:
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.
To still accept the old carbon dating, we must imaging that chemist Raymond Rogers was wrong when he found significant chemical difference between the carbon dating sample material and the rest of the shroud — he had set out to prove the opposite. He found extraordinary evidence of medieval mending that explains the chemical differences. He also found clear chemical reasons to believe that the cloth is several centuries older than the carbon dating results. He published his findings in the peer-reviewed journal Thermochimica Acta (Vol 425 (2005) 189–194).
We must imagine, too, that Georgia Tech’s Principal Research Scientist, forensic materials chemist John L. Brown was wrong when with a scanning electron microscope he found clear evidence of mending. (“Microscopical Investigation of Selected Raes Threads From the Shroud of Turin,” Jan 2005)
Why is mending an issue?
To measure the age of the shroud, a single sample was cut from a corner of the cloth. That sample was divided among three radiocarbon dating laboratories and a reserved piece was set aside in case it was needed. The labs, in turn, divided their pieces into sub-samples in order to run multiple tests. Each sub-sample was then burned with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide. An Accelerator Mass Spectrometer was then used to measure the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 isotopes. Because carbon 14 decays over the years, it is possible to used the ratio determines the age of the sample.
A problem arises if the sample consists of older original cloth thread and newer threads from mending because the carbon dioxide gas is a mixture of gas having different ratios.
Several textile experts examined documenting photographs of the radiocarbon samples and found what they believed was visual evidence of reweaving. Based on estimates from these photographs and on a historically-plausible date for reweaving, Ronald Hatfield of Beta Analytic, a leading radiocarbon dating firm, provided estimates that show that the original cloth might, in fact, date to the first century.
With all of this evidence in hand, researchers combed records looking for other evidence. It is startling to look back at the clues that were there and ignored:
- Giovanni Riggi, the person who actually cut the carbon dating sample from the Shroud stated, “I was authorized to cut approximately 8 square centimetres of cloth from the Shroud…This was then reduced to about 7 cm because fibres of other origins had become mixed up with the original fabric …”
- Giorgio Tessiore, who documented the sampling, wrote “…1 cm of the new sample had to be discarded because of the presence of different color threads.”
- Edward (Teddy) Hall, head of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory at the time of the 1988 carbon dating noticed fibers that looked out of place. A laboratory in Derbyshire concluded that the rogue fibers noticed by Hall were cotton of “a fine, dark yellow strand.” Derbyshire’s Peter South wrote: “It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past…”
- Gilbert Raes when he examined some of the carbon 14 samples noticed that cotton fibers were contained inside the threads. This cotton is unique to the carbon dating sample area. There is no cotton elsewhere on the shroud.
- Alan Adler at Western Connecticut State University found large amounts of aluminum in yarn segments from the radiocarbon sample; up to 2%, by energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. Why aluminum? That was an important question because it is not found elsewhere on the Shroud. It may have been aluminum hydroxide, a common mordant used in dying; possibly used to make a repair invisible to the naked eye.
- Remi Van Haelst, a chemist, statistically showed that the sample was not homogeneous, hence suspiciously not a good sample.
- Bryan Walsh, a statistician, confirmed Van Haelst’s analysis and found that different pieces of the sample, the sub-samples, contained different levels of the carbon 14 isotope. In other words, different parts of the sample produced starkly different ages, which is consistent with the argument that the samples were from a medieval repair to the cloth.
In light of this does it suffice to simply say that some people question the results? It does sound balanced. It is the sort of balance in reporting that diffuses. If someone is inclined to believe the shroud is real, he or she can continue to do so. If not, he or she can continue to believe in the carbon dating. But has the reader been given any real information?
Balance, when it comes to different opinions, as in politics, is a good thing in journalism. Balancing facts with fiction is not. Diffusing truth is never helpful.
One test for balance is to reverse the argument. Try this: the carbon dating is now understood to be invalid (a fair statement) but some question this. Okay, who?
Well there is Joe Nickell, a book author and writer for Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Nickell is not a scientist and has expressed a disdain for scientific methods. He attempts to use biblical-literalist arguments to refute the shroud’s authenticity, which is quite peculiar for an atheist. He likes to remind us, also, that three labs dated the shroud and obtained identical results. He fails to mention that the three labs performed the same test on pieces of the same sample. They should have achieved near-identical results but in reality the results were statistically different enough to call the results into question.
There is also Steven D, Schafersman, who is a scientist. His primary line of argument in defense of the carbon dating is that scientists make mistakes (presumably only those who question the results) and invariably they will continue to do so. He has attacked Rogers for relying on a non-peer-reviewed paper. That simply isn’t true. Rogers was attempting to disprove the hypothesis in that paper and found, to his surprise, that it was correct. Philip Ball, who for many years was the physical sciences editor for Nature, that most prestigious of peer-reviewed scientific journals, the same journal that published the 1988 carbon dating results, agrees that Rogers was trying to disprove the mending hypothesis. In fact, the public record shows that Rogers initially believed that the proponents of mending were part of a “lunatic fringe” in shroud research.
So who else is defending the carbon dating? Is there anyone from the original team of scientists who did the testing that is now defending it. Are there any voices at all emerging from the radiocarbon dating laboratories other than that of Christopher Ramsey who calls for further research, who thinks it is equally important look at other scientific and historical evidence?
And what might that evidence be?
There is the definitive proof that the images are not light-reflective images as are paintings or photographs. Rather, they are topographical graphs that just happen to look like images. In this sense, it is not unlike a sonogram of a fetus in a womb. This is not to suggest that it is sonogram. But, as with a sonogram, it looks like a light-reflective image. But because it is topographical data, it is possible to plot rotatable 3D images with graphics software. You can’t do this with a painting or a photograph.
This leads to a vexing problem. No one knows how the images on the shroud are formed. The brown color of the image is a dehydrated and oxidized organic substance. The fibers of the shroud are coated with a fine polysaccharide layer, possibly a soap residue from washing the cloth after weaving. In places, inexplicably, that layer has turned into a caramel-like or Maillard substance forming the images.
Known artistic techniques are ruled out. It’s not painted. That is proven. All this leads to another vexing problem. It is easy, thus, for some people to imagine that the images are miraculously or supernaturally formed. But this is unscientific. It’s akin to God-of-the-gaps thinking now so popular in Intelligent Design theory. Many shroud researchers, including Rogers, think that images, might have been naturally formed and that there is no basis for assuming miracles.
Philip Ball offers a helpful perspective in Nature Online. He explained Rogers’ findings that the carbon dating was invalid. He explained, too, that Rogers credentials were impeccable, his approach was unbiased and his science was solid. And of the shroud, he said:
The scientific study of the Turin Shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God. It does more to inflame any debate than settle it . . . . And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artifact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made.
In that, there should be a story. It is arguably the most studied artifact in all of history and, frankly, we don’t know how old it is or how the images were formed. With all the technology we have, we don’t know how to create such images. We could carbon date it again but will anyone believe the results the next time given all that has happened before?
Fascinating post here:
More details are above and on other threads in this discussion group, related to the Talpiot Tomb. At this point, given the unique biological anomalies in fiber traces recovered from Jesus ossuary bio-concretions – (all consistent with the Turin fibers), and other evidence including consistent patina fingerprint, and a tentative date on one fiber collected on sticky tape from the Turin Shroud (bracketing 1st century AD) – to say nothing of the fact that that I would never have accepted the cuts for the C-14 tests allowed by Cardinal Pellegrino over 20 years ago (too many recorded cuts and reweaves during the past 400 years, in the permitted sampling corner) – I’m willing to give it a maximum probability ceiling of 50%, that the Turin Shroud (regardless of whether or not the image of the Turin man is a Medieval artistic enhancement over the blood stains), is real and is original with the Jesus ossuary.
Much more data is required, to either negate or confirm this. One random fiber that seems to date, by C-14, from the right period (the shroud being consistent with wool weaves from another Jerusalem tomb and with flax herringbone weaves from Masada fabric) has my attention. Very well, then. What we await is permission to date ten more fibers from random points on the Turin Shroud, along with some blood stained fibers to see if mtDNA can be recovered and matches mtDNA from the Jesus ossuary bio-concretions. Jesiuts and Franciscans, by the way, have been extremely supportive and helpful, during the past year, with research on the Talpiot Tomb and apocrypha related to it. Also on Turin.
By the way: in answer to lies that the drive-by Media machines have told you (and by this I refer, among others, to the inventor of the term, “drive-by media,” Rush Limbaugh):
Item: Most Americans believe that we scientists claimed to have found bones in the Jesus Ossuary (and a quote that someone created, originally, as a joke was falsely attributed to me: “Bones of Jesus found. Easter canceled”). In fact, I not only failed to find a trace of bone in the Jesus ossuary bio-concretions; but all fiber evidence is counter-indicative of decay products from a process of primary burial and decay. The only bone fragment recovered from a bio-concretion in this ossuary is consistent (based on extreme hemispherical curvature) with a metacarpal. Even if only coincidentally consistent with the blood image evidence of metacarpals popped loose from the Turin Man’s wrists like wisdom teeth, it is nonetheless hauntingly consistent with what crucifixion would have left behind (blood, skin, and metacarpals). The one definitive conclusion I am willing to stand by is that the Jesus ossuary was missing skeletal remains decayed from a body. That is, we are missing a body and all that appears to have been laid in the ossuary in the first place are two shrouds of unusual composition – again, one of them uniquely consistent with the Turin fabric (flax woven on a loom contaminated with cotton – and which has remained mysteriously un-invaded by black mold, and unoxidized, and supple).
Read the full posting: Crowlspace » Pellegrino on Shroud and Tomb