imageThere is a new answer in Quora to the question, “What is the Holy Shroud of Turin?”. The previous answer was in January of this year, by me.

The new answer is from Tim O’Neill who describes himself as an Atheist, Medievalist, Sceptic and amateur historian. You can read the entire answer here and below the fold. Here is what he says about the radiocarbon dating:

5. Radiocarbon Dating evidence: In 1988 three samples taken from the "Shroud" were dated using the latest C-14 radiocarbon dating technology by three of the best dating labs in the world. All three came back with remarkably similar results:

  • Tucson: 646 ± 31 years;
  • Oxford: 750 ± 30 years,
  • Zurich: 676 ± 24 years old
  • This gives a mean of 689 ± 16 years, or calibrated date ranges of 1273-1288 AD with 68% confidence, and 1262-1384 AD with 95% confidence. In other words, it places the production of the "Shroud" in precisely the period in which we would expect a fake relic to be produced – the Middle Ages.

And what about the work done by many scientists to challenge or verify these results in the years since 1988 (this is what scientists do: science thus is self-correcting)? O’Neill resorts to verbal sneering, which is totally without substance:

Despite desperate and often ridiculous and hysterical attempts to discredit the 1988 carbon dating results by devout religious believers in the "Shroud", these scientific results fit all the other evidence we have about this artefact. The only logical and objective conclusion that can be reached is that the so-called "Shroud" is a Medieval fake.

And they don’t fit “all” of the evidence. This is why Christopher Ramsey, the present director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, thinks more testing is needed. There are significant scientific and non-religious reasons to doubt the validity of the tests.

We’ve read descriptions like this before. Joe Nickell comes to mind.