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More on Helfand on the Shroud of Turin

Al of Chicago repeats the question: How many mistakes can I find? Is Dr. Helfand not even embarrassed for writing this? And here is my list.

The Shroud of Turin project began in the late 1970s when a group of scientists and engineers, a large fraction of whom came from the Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Laboratory (which I find a frightening thought), lugged millions of pounds of equipment over to Turin and were granted unlimited access to the shroud in order to perform scientific experiments on it to prove that it was the burial shroud of Christ. And indeed, the first experiments, all released through press releases and not scientific journals, were very encouraging. There was iron in the blood on the places where the nails had gone through the hands. The image on the cloth was not possible to produce prior to the age of photography and on and on.

Finally, ten years later, when the church relented and allowed two square centimeters of the cloth to be shipped off to two independent laboratories for double-blind tests of the age dating of the shroud, the age in both cases came back at about 650 plus or minus 20 years, or roughly, 1351 when historians had already shown that the Avignon Pope had excommunicated a French bishop for displaying a fraudulent burial cloth of Christ, "very cleverly painted." My question is, suppose the Carbon-14 data on the shroud had come back differently. Suppose it had come back with a date of A. D. 26. Would then Prof. McGrath or anyone else have said, "Oh, but science has nothing to do with religion, so we won’t take that data into account?"

  1. the goal never was to prove that the shroud was the shroud of Christ
  2. one in four was from Los Alamos, but only half of them went to Turin. It is an exaggeration. But Los Alamos scientists are excellent. BTW he got the name of the lab wrong.
  3. hundreds of pounds of equipment not millions. Helfand must be thinking about Hubble telescope. Nah, it only weighed 24,500 pounds.
  4. access was very restricted, limited to non-destructive tests and just five days, where does Helfand get this stuff
  5. almost all results were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals unlike the carbon dating which was first released in a blackboard-stunt presser.
  6. there was iron in blood, of course, not particularly where the nails went through but because blood contains iron. in fact, it was blood.
  7. wrists not hands
  8. we do not know that image could not be produced before the age of photography, and we still don’t know how the image was produced
  9. the church didn’t relent, they were part of the process, this is pure hyperbole.
  10. it was seven centimeters of cloth not two, half held in reserve and half divided among the labs
  11. it was three labs not two, the difference is important. and they
  12. the carbon 14 tests were not double-blind tests, he should read the report. It is clear that Helfand has relied on the writings of an English teacher, Joe Nichols (sic) who denounces the value of science for his work.
  13. the results were not 650 years old plus or minus 20 years in both cases. many tests were run and the statistical result was 95% certainty between 1260 and 1390, a span of 130 years. but now we even know that this was wrong
  14. the tests have since been proven wrong by several people in different organizations
  15. tt was not cleverly painted. again, Nichols (sic) and not science. good grief, Helfand.
  16. And where did this date 1351 come from? does Helfand just make up dates.
  17. the Avignon pope did not excommunicate a bishop. are Helfand’s astronomy lectures as filled with mistakes.
  18. why 26 ad? why not 30 or 33?

I haven’t counted the others yet. So keep writing in.

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