imageSteven Schafersman,  maintains a website called “Free Inquiry: The Humanist and Skeptic Website of Steven Schafersman.” It is interesting. There are some thoughtful articles. Do have a look.

Having discovered some discussion of the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin on this blog, he writes:

Ask yourself: Which groups of scientists analyzed samples of the Shroud of Turin that were NOT representative of the whole? Was it the three world-renowned dating labs at Oxford, Zurich, and Arizona who had relatively large swatches of the Shroud given to them by the official Vatican team who sampled the Shroud under the observation of numerous witnesses and video cameras and who got their samples from an area of the Shroud that was carefully studied for months to be sure it was representative? Or was it the group of Los Alamos scientists (or engineers?) who had three threads (!) of cotton (!) when the Shroud is well-known to be composed of linen and who got their threads from a sample taken unofficially (!) and against the wishes of the Vatican and without proper chain of custody? Really, be serious: Who do you wish to believe?

But why is that a valid question (Ignoratio elenchi)? The point was that with material from near the site of the one sample cut from the shroud and divided among the labs and also with material remaining from that sample, Raymond Rogers of Los Alamos, and subsequently several other scientists from Los Alamos and other places as well, were able to show that the samples were not representative of the cloth. “Which groups of scientists?”, Schafersman asks. All of them.

(Engineers?), he ponders parenthetically. They were chemists. Point being?

The cotton is significant. Schafersman is right that the shroud is linen. So why was there cotton in the sample? It wasn’t representative.

Chain of custody? There is no basis at all for that conspiracy theory tidbit.  Good grief! Free Inquiry or Free Imagination?

Schafersman quotes Thomas Jefferson on his site: “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.”