Paper Chase: Sight and Brain and Shroud of Turin Images

Do read Sight and brain: an introduction to the visually misleading images by Daniele Murra and Paolo Di Lazzaro:

image. . . We should consider this “subjectivity risk" when using computer tools to elaborate images, because we may generally have the propensity to make visible something that we want to see but that is not embedded in the original image.

Concerning the scientific approach to the acheiropoietos images, only reproducible experiments are scientifically acceptable.

Interpretations of shapes, coins, faces, flowers or letters “seen” on acheiropoietos images by means of image processing tools should be considered a track useful to address further studies, but they cannot be considered as self-consistent proofs.

It is a short paper, wonderfully informative and easy to read and understand.

48 thoughts on “Paper Chase: Sight and Brain and Shroud of Turin Images”

  1. In the post “Father Filas’ “Discover Pilate’s Lepton Coin” Paper Available”, Giorgio Bracaglia kindly offered a pwd for readers of this blog, so that we could download the original material from his website. I have done so, and thanks a lot Giorgio for it. Additionally, I have carefully read the full post “An Excellent Analysis of the Coins-on-the-Eyes Issue” by Jos Verhulst from Antwerp.
    In my opinion, there are two major difficulties regarding the coin issue that I guess at this stage, are nearly impossible to overcome or revert.
    1. All the photographies used were taken in the analogic era. In the case of father Filas they are second generation photos. The image analyzing techniques used at that time cannot be compared with current ones and determining the degree of validity corresponding to those techniques….is just impossible. In some cases, some of these photos have jumped into the digital era after being scanned. But how? For example, most scanners provide JPG images which though not visible at first sight, originate a compression of pixel values. Only TIFF images should be used. This is only an example. How much information –if any- is lost in the way? I miss a thorough research on this aspects.
    2. All the claims –as mentioned by Murra and DiLazzaro-are based on a subjectivity approach of the images. It is someone who sees something that the rest sometimes can see or not. However, the existance or not of hidden images is something that can be defined in an objective way. Current machine learning algorithms like Self-Organizing Maps or Random Forests combined with MonteCarlo/bootstrapping techniques could provide a mathematical approach and determine if a discernible pattern exists or we are talking about noise.

  2. The last days, I have tried to find the existing literature about coins/letters on the Shroud. To start with, I have exclusively sought literature on peer-review papers belonging to the Journal of Citation Reports (JCR). For those readers not familiar with the JCR, I will briefly say that in every field of expertise there is a group of top journals in which the members of a given scientific community publish their results. This takes place only after at least two colleagues have scrutinized that paper and if finally accepted, it can be considered that there are not sound mistakes or repetition of previous results. This means that authors are making a contribution to the advance of knolewdge in that area. Depending on the impact of the papers published on that journal, the JCR also provides a ranking. Usually, the higher the journal is in the ranking, the more strict are the conditions to get a paper published. Before someone comes with the case of Nature (#1 in the JCR) and the C14 I will say that the errors in the datation–if any- must be atributted to the sample selection stage, the only stage that peers could not scrutinize and had to give for granted. Never to any of the stages.
    Well, the only paper I have found that meets these standards is the paper by Marion in Opt. Eng. 37(8) 2308-2313 (August 1998). A quick consultation, indicates that in the field of Optics in 1998 there were 47 journals and Optical Engineering was in position #24. This means quite a good position in the ranking and you can bet that the paper by Marion went through a strict filter and was only published because the methodology followed was -at that time- a standard one, widely used and accepted by the rest of the scientific community in the fields of optics and image analysis.

  3. After reading this paper, I see a serious attempt to overcome the difficulty of the gap between analogic/digital material while using a mathematical tool like Principal Component Analysis (PCA).
    “Many photographs of the face were digitized: a reproduction on film of the Enrie photograph (I931) and several others (negatives, slides, and paper prints) made by Vernon Miller in 1978 under various lighting conditions and in different wavelength bands (red, green, blue, IR).”
    After digitizing, he used PCA as a way to combine and extract the meaningful information from different wavelengths and sources. The outcome is a set of inscriptions obtained in an area around the face.
    “Before interpreting the graphical signs that the digital processing highlights, let us note that these signs are much larger (1.5 to 3 cm) than the fibers of the cloth (about 0.7 mm wide). This size is evidence of the fact that the letters are not artefacts due to the weaving of the cloth.”

    As an expert, he was well aware of the things that usually happens with images

    “But the digitizing and processing techniques can create their own artefacts, especially aliasing effects. Precautions must be taken to minimize such effects in digitizing and processing periodic structures. such as a cloth. Note also a subjective artefact, called the Rorschach effect, which, for instance, makes shapes appear in randomly located stains on a paper. This effect is dangerous in interpreting inscriptions.”

    To avoid this:

    “To avoid false interpretations, we used criteria for deciding whether the signs that we see can correspond to real writings:
    l. The signs are not isolated but they form groups.
    2. Their gray values are similar.
    3. They have approximatively the same size, thickness, slope, and fashion.
    4. They are correctIy aligned and periodically spaced.
    5. They have a significance because they form a word or a piece of word in a known language.
    If these five conditions are simultaneously verified, the probability of an artefact becomes very small. “

    A final check:

    “To eliminate this possibility completely we made a final check: if we apply the same processing to a neighboring similar region and if this operation does not cause any graphical signs to appear, we finally decide that the group of signs must correspond to writings.”

    We can discuss on how good is this method but I would like to stress the idea that if this procedure had not been an acceptable one (in 1998), the peers would have rejected his methodology, his results and his paper.

  4. Two additional results from Marion’s paper:

    Against having been painted

    “It is an isotropic image. The Fourier transform of the image shows no preferential frequencies, proving that no preferential direction exists in the image itself. Consequently, it is difficult to imagine that this image could have been made directly by a human hand.”

    The letters are originated the same as the rest of the image

    “Although the physical nature of the letters is not known, curiously their fine structure in the photos is the same as that of the body image: the letters are also formed by the variations of the size and the intensity of the rods. This characteristic is difficult to explain, but it shows that the useful information required to decipher the inscriptions is entirely contained in the image pattern. This observation is fundamental to understanding the image processing method.”

  5. Very good posts Gabriel! Some interesting points made which I agree with. The main problem is the fact analog era photos were used. I’ve read just about everything I could find on Dr Filas’s work, including the paper mentioned above, which I believe Filas gives very strong reasoning as to why in his method used, you are able to see the images of letters and staff. ( I think they show up quite clear) without any pre-expectations of the mind…One point he makes which is quite interesting is about the mathematical chances of these artifacts being precisely where they are! Of the whole area of the Shroud, what is the chance that these letters and staff ‘grouped’, ‘spaced’ and sized almost exactly matching a known coin of the era and would be placed precisely where they are? I agree with Filas that it is pretty slim. So, I personally see no reason to simply discard these findings out of hand but to wait for more studies to put this topic to rest.

  6. “Interpretations of shapes, coins, faces, flowers or letters “seen” on acheiropoietos images by means of image processing tools should be considered a track useful to address further studies, but they cannot be considered as self-consistent proofs.” (P; Di Lazzaro & D. Murra)

    Di Lazzaro and Mura do seem to ignore here that SPY DETAILS ON ANCIENT COINs ARE NOT UNLIKE FINGERPRINTS. Now why don’t Di Lazzaro & Murra tell criminologists that fingerprints in conjunction with blood patterns cannot be considered as self-consistent proofs!

    My detection of SPY DETAIL was made via an eidomatic-numismatic reading grid based on blood pattern analytical technique.

  7. I know many people will not love what I will say here, but I don’t care ! I’m not here to make friends but to express my point of view !

    I just want to say this : In science, every conclusion MUST have a scientific confirmation from AN INDEPENDENT researcher or research team. In Shroud science, IT IS EXTREMELY HARD to find this kind of independence of mind because almost every scientist who’s interested in the Shroud believe it is the genuine Shroud of Christ and have some preconceptions ideas about the subject. I don’t think we can say that this work of Marion found his scientifically independent confirmation yet !

    And sorry, but many of those kind of articles and researches about those kind of images (flowers and coins) are often done to confort the agenda that is to prove the resurrection using the Shroud. Why ? Because it is proven that the Corona discharge can produce an image of coins on linen. So the stretch isn’t to long to associate the image of coins produced by Corona discharge and the resurrection of Christ ! I think there’s a real danger of biais there.

    I dream of the day when Shroud science will be lead by atheists or agnostics scientists who DON’T CARE ONE BIT about the Shroud being authentic. Understand me, here I’m not talking about the Walter McCrone of this world but I’m talking about honest scientist who have no preconception about the Shroud (like the majority of the STURP members were by the way). Now, that would be science we can trust because it would not be agenda driven.

    And, I think Ray Schneider said it well the other day when he state : “The best of the “enhancements” do present the impression of elements of the Pilate coin, however the elements seem to be out of placement and not in the correct scale, so it may well simply be a case of similarity and not a real image at all. Remember that the folks doing the processing were looking for a particular appearance so there is a selection phenomenon at work which will drive the process to the best apparent fit.”

    I think the last phrase is very true even when Marion pretend his method avoid every subjective interpretation. I’m not so sure about that because he knew what he was lookin for and I’m pretty convinced that he wanted badly to find it. By the way, this guy Marion worked with Barbara Frele and both believe also that the ghost writtings represent Jesus death certificate ! So, if you don’t see an agenda behind those claims, you could at least agree with me that there is something fishy about all those researches…

  8. Oh, and I forgot to say that I agree with the last statement made by Ron : “So, I personally see no reason to simply discard these findings out of hand but to wait for more studies to put this topic to rest.”

    More studies (direct studies involving more than just image analysis) are definately needed before we can consider the presence of those images as a scientific fact… We’re not there yet !

  9. Why do Di Lazzaro & Murra TOTALLY ignore FALSE NEGATIVE IMAGES to retain only FALSE POSITIVE IMAGES? Is it a scientific approach to the coin-on-eye issue? Definitely not. How come the possibility of FALSE NEGATIVES has never crossed their mind? Their ignorance of both “spy detail on ancient coin” and “false negatives” make their approach is 75% NON SCIENTIFIC!

    Because of them, Shroud Science do become SHROUD UNCONSCIENCE.

  10. The only way we can settle this debate once and for all (and I’m not even sure that would be the case) is like I said from the start : a series of direct researches done on samples coming from the eyes area. A chemical test could easily confirm or dismiss the blood stains that Max claim that are there. That would be a good start…

  11. By the way should I need to say I defended an agnostic’s view point when defending Marion’s. I was myself more than sceptical about past detections of Pilate coin by Filas et al (1079-2008).
    I changed my mind BECAUSE I TOOK EXTENSIVE WORK. How many hours has Yannick Clément spent investigating the eye areas? Which tools, methodologies approaches etc has he used to make HIS MIND? Could he precisely tell me?

  12. “And sorry, but many of those kind of articles and researches about those kind of images (flowers and coins) are often done to confort the agenda that is to prove the resurrection using the Shroud.”

    YC, I see you’ve taken up my opinion to finally make it yours ;)
    (Yesha’s resurrection doesn’t need to be proven. It is FIRST AND FOREMOST a matter of faith).

    1. Unfortunatelly, it is not the way many researchers direct their research in the Shroud world…

      And by the way, you say that : “Yesha’s resurrection doesn’t need to be proven”. I would add this to your comment : “Yesha’s resurrection CANNOT be proven !”

      I don’t want to start another debate but the resurrection is not an event that will ever be proven in scientific terms… FAITH IS NEEDED. Ste Therese of Lisieux said it best : “Confidence and only confidence will lead us to Love (for her Love = God).” And how can we learn confidence if it’s not by trusting something we cannot prove ??? ;-)

  13. I have spent enough hours to read and reflect on the gospel accounts and ancient Jewish burial rite, customs and beliefs to know that, in the context of the gospel, it is just illogical. Period. I don’t say it’s 100% sure that there is no images, but regarding the probabilities, I would guess 99 % ! ;-)

    Question for Max : When you say that there is really images of coins, how can you be sure that it is not just images THAT LOOKED LIKE COINS ??? And can you make the difference between the two ? For me that line is too easy to cross and many people do it…

  14. Ok. Then explain to me why it is logical to put Roman coins over the eyes (pagan rite) of a Jewish dead that his disciples (all pious Jews) consider the Messiah on friday night (partial rite) while they knew full well they had to comeback on sunday morning to do an anointing of the body and finish the ritual ? Maybe your logic work on another level than me, Barrie, Dan, etc., etc. ??? Explain this one to me please…

    By the way, you’re pretty strong to attack people personally but you’re very weak at giving good answers to the good questions I asked you since we start debating on this topic ! ;-)

    So please, give me some answers !

  15. Mentionnig Marion, In 1998 I wrote him a note to tell him that In spite of his pionneering work on the ghost writings around the face, I totally disagreed on several of his readings. I identified ghost writings coming mostly from a linen band and three woodpieces (actually the titulus damnationis fragmented into three and written in Hebrew , Greek and Latin). The woodpieces did seem to have been used as a “chin-box” to make up for a faulty head-dresss.

    1. Max Patrick Hamon :
      Mentionnig Marion, In 1998 I wrote him a note to tell him that In spite of his pionneering work on the ghost writings around the face, I totally disagreed on several of his readings. I identified ghost writings coming mostly from a linen band and three woodpieces (actually the titulus damnationis fragmented into three and written in Hebrew , Greek and Latin). The woodpieces did seem to have been used as a “jaw-box” to make up for a faulty head-dresss.

  16. La formación de las manchas de sangre es un proceso DINÁMICO en el tiempo.

    La evolución en el tiempo del coágulo sanguíneo hasta su completa lisis tiene una CRONOFISIOLOGÍA.

    Las manchas de sangre de la Sábana de Turín NO son observables en la práctica médica, porque precisarían en un DETERMINADO MOMENTO de su génesis de la desaparición, DESMATERIALIZACIÓN, del cuerpo que las generó.

    NO son reproducibles, ni siquiera en el Laboratorio.

    Las características observables de las manchas de sangre de la Sábana SI demuestran la desaparición o desmaterialización del CUERPO envuelto en la Sábana, la RESURRECCIÓN de Jesús de Nazaret.

    http://lasabanaylosescepticos.blogspot.com/2011/03/pero-entonces-amigo-miojesucristo-ha.html

    Carlos Otal.

  17. Me puedes explicar entonce como Moroni y Rodente, por ejemplo, llegan a reproducir calcos de monedas muy sencillamente sobre la sabana identica a la de Turin? Lo que digo es que no son tantas manchas come calcos de sangre (sangre mesclado con una solucion aquosa.

  18. By the way I dont belong to any church, temple or synagoue. I am neither an atheist or an agnostic. I AM A FREE THINKER. ARE YOU FREE TO THINK? JUST ASK YOUSELF, AND YOU’LL GET YOUR ANSWER.

  19. Carlito eres un medico Forense? No olvidarte tampoco que se trata de un sangre arquéologico…

  20. Devemos tener en cuenta del muy especifico ritual adoptado (una fumigacion del cadaver con la Sabana banada de une solucion acuosa) y/o tambien de la temperatura possiblemente elevada del cadaver…

  21. I just would love an experimetal reconstruction of Yeshua’s burial to take place in a Ist century tomb in Jerusalem! I maybe a dreamer but I do hope I am not the only one…

  22. “We should consider this “subjectivity risk” when using computer tools to elaborate images, because we may generally have the propensity to make visible something that we want to see but that is not embedded in the original image.” ((Murra – Di Lazzaro)

    What about Mura and Di Lazzaro’s propensity NOT TO SEE WHAT THEY DON’T WANT OR CAN’T SEE but THAT IS INDEED EMBEDDED IN THE ORIGINAL? Can Murra & Di Lazzaro SCIENTIFICALLY ANSWER that crucial question? THEY JUST CAN’T!

  23. I would like to focus the discussion on available facts and not on hidden agendas. If no matter how good a scientific approach is, someone’s work is to be judged by allegedly hidden motivations and conspirations we are going nowhere. Currently, knowledge moves forward in all fields of science through research made public in JCR journals. I admit that it is not 100% perfect but is by far the best system available and the one has made possible the advance of science for mankind. The analysis of the Shroud seems to be the only scientific field to be out of this system. If we substitute this standard system by one based on intuitions or reportedly agendas, honestly, I think we will never reach any conclusion.
    During the last weeks, I have found out that there are a certain number of serious attempts to take the Shroud issue into the scientific discussion by commonly accepted standards with JCR papers by Rogers, Adler, DiLazzaro, Fanti, Marion, even Damon (Nature) and others. All of them have gone through a strict reviewing process by true experts and if we wanted to move to a scientific study of the Shroud, these works just cannot be disregarded on the basis of hidden motivations of the authors.Do we know more on optics and image analysis than the reviewers of Optical Engineering? Do we know more on C14 analysis than the reviewers of Nature?If the answer is “No (or even yes), but they have a hidden agenda” we will never be able to keep up to the standards of a serious scientific and systematic approach. If we want analysis of the Shroud to be just like any other scientific field, let’s start by adopting the criteria and protocols that have made science move forward.

    1. Interesting point of view but there’s a very important point for all the conclusions that are writen by any researcher : To be considered valid scientifically, they must be confirmed by an INDEPENDENT reasercher (two other independent confirmations is much better). It’s not the case for many conclusions that were put out in the last 30 years in Shroud research. Many conclusions from some researchers were contradicted by other conclusions made by other researchers. The C14 issue is a perfect example of that. Without disregarding everything, we must be extremely prudent versus any conclusion that are drawn. And I don’t think those who claimed that there are really coins images (or flowers or writting) on the Shroud have received a scientific confirmation of their claim yet… That’s all I say.

  24. From the best of Tamburelli’s 3D image of the Shroud face, I also detected 4 3D floral images. I submitted my findings to Avinoam Danin to benefit from his expertise. Among four suspected areas (I indicated to him), I identified three floral images of Daisy Crown (sunflower family).Here is his reply:

    Dear Max,

    Thank you for your letter. The lower image (near the lips) looks to me as an image of a plant from the Asteraceae (sunflower family) and the hypothesis of Chrysanthemum seems appropriate. However, until I see it in a more original photograph I would not join you in claiming that it is a 3D image of a Chrysanthemum. If you are going to quote me, the two
    sentences marked in bold-face should be used. Lehitraot, Avinoam

    Actually, the 3D image I sent Avinoam, was the best of Tamburelli’s.

  25. Balossino and Baima Bollone got sort of mixed up (and so did Moroni and Rodante) with a large petalless head of what I identified as a Chrysanthemum Coronarium on the left eyebrow arch. The Italians researchers just mistook it for a Pilate coin!

  26. “”All of them have gone through a strict reviewing process by true experts and if we wanted to move to a scientific study of the Shroud, these works just cannot be disregarded on the basis of hidden motivations of the authors.” (Gabriel’s quote)

    Sorry to tell you Gabriel you are very naive to think ALL the late reviewing process made, for instance in 2010 by Di Lazzatro was STICT. I could tell you about FALSE NEGATIVE in terms of “pseudo-strict” research paper reviewing. But it is a TOO LONG story….

  27. “Concerning the scientific approach to the acheiropoietos images, only reproducible experiments are scientifically acceptable.” (Murra – Di Lazzaro)

    My experiments are reproductible.

  28. “It is a short paper, wonderfully informative and easy to read and understand.” (Dan’s quote)

    I agree with Dan, THIS IS A BIT SHOR
    AND WONDERFULLY PARTiALLY INFORMATIVE
    all the more so as
    it is easy to get you to misunderstand what is really PAREIDOLIA all about!

  29. Shoul I repeat it: TO REALLY UNDERSTAND ONE THING IS TO BE ABLE TO SEE IT FROM SEVERAL DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS AND PERSPECTIVES

  30. I have read carefully this paper from Di Lazarro and that prove just my point of view about the HD images : It’s a real good thing that they are not available for the moment (not until they can be included in a series of direct researches on the Shroud to back it up).

  31. Es difícil saber lo que se entiende por “judíos piadosos” (pious Jews)

    ¿Los que COMÍAN con publicanos y pecadores? Marcos 2.13-17. Mt 9.9-13. Lc 5.27-32

    ¿Los que NO ayunaban?. Marcos 2.18-22. Mateo 9.4-17. Lc 5.33-39

    ¿Los que ROMPÍAN el reposo del sábado?. Marcos 2.23-28. Mt. 12.1-8. Lc. 6.1-5.

    Son leptones las monedas que echa la viuda del Evangelio de Marcos (Mc 12, 38-44) en el arca del Tesoro del Templo, 2 monedas (leptones) que sumaban 1/4 de as.
    El lepton valía 1/8 de as.

    ¿Qué monedas NO PAGANAS echarían los RICOS en el arca del Tesoro?

    Carlos Otal

  32. A pious Jew in my mind is someone like the majority of the Jews during Christ time. And I’m sure Jesus and his followers and family were also pious Jews. A pious Jew is someone who try to follow the law of Moses and don’t want to follow pagan rituals. A pious Jew is someone who go to the synagogue every week. In brief, a pious jew is not someone who would live like a pagan, who would not think like a pagan and who would not believe in God like a pagan. A pious Jew would not want to put coins over the eyes of a relative who just died because a pious Jew didn’t believed that the dead would need money to cross the Styx river… That’s about it !

  33. Si el rito hubiera sido pagano se habría realizado de manera CORRECTA.
    El pago a Caronte para cruzar el río Aqueronte (para Virgilio la laguna Estigia) estaba establecido en 1 a 3 obolos, según la condición social del difunto.
    El obolo venía a valer unos 16 leptones, así que Caronte habría considerado un INSULTO el pretendido pago de 2 leptones y habría retenido durante 100 años al difunto hasta pasarlo gratis (eso hacía Caronte con los que no pagaban).

    No quiero decir con ello si existen o no existen monedas en los ojos, sino que el argumento de que era una ceremonia pagana NO es válido.
    No debemos REINVENTAR el Evangelio. Los discípulos de Cristo no se caracterizaban por la observancia estricta de la Ley: no ayunaban, no guardaban el reposo del sábado, se relacionaban con recaudadores de impuestos y pecadores, etc, etc.
    NO eran judíos piadosos a los ojos de fariseos y otros grupos observadores estrictos de la Ley.

    Carlos Otal

  34. The thing is : Jesus preached the resurrection of the death and NOT THE CROSSING OF THE STYX RIVER which is, no matter what kind of coins you used, a pagan rite. So, I don’t see his family or disciples doing a rite like that. It’s not logical in the context. Jesus and his followers did attempt the synagoge and were surely normal Jews that tried to follow (even losely) the precept of Moses.

    1. Error. I should have said a pagan belief instead of a pagan rite for the crossing of the Styx river, but I’m sure you understand what I mean.

  35. To conclude my point of view on this question : The payment to Charon was a pagan rite mainly done in the Greco-Roman world. Jesus and his followers were surely not Hellenistic jews (except maybe for Matthew and his friends BEFORE being converted). And even then, the fact that Matthew accepted to follow Christ show that he was still waiting for the Messiah. So, I don’t see him living a complete Hellenistic way of life. And he was surely well aware of the law of Moses… For the others, they were all children of Abraham that surely tried to follow the law the best they could and I just don’t see them performing a pagan rite like that during the burial of the men they considered the Messiah. Don’t you think if they performed a pagan rite like that on Jesus that it would have been an insult to him and his preaching ? I REALLY THINK SO !

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