Badder Still: Bad Archaeology at Bad Archaeology

imageSo the blog owner at Bad Archaeology doesn’t like what I wrote. Let’s take it bit by bit:

And finally, there’s a recent criticism of the page devoted to The Turin Shroud. Rather than comment, the person who disagrees with what I wrote, a blogger called Dan Porter, has written an entire blog post, Bad Archaeology at Bad Archaeology (how I wish I could have used that title!). In his comment on Bad Archaeology, he calls it a “comprehensive response”, but it’s far from comprehensive. It cherry picks elements of the page for specific criticisms, but I found that I had to delete only two errors of fact.

Only two errors of fact? I agree I should not have used the word comprehensive. Point well taken.

What Dan Porter has done has been to use the very dubious claims of Ray Rogers that the linen samples used for radiocarbon dating were contaminated, . . .

Is this how good archaeology is done, claiming something is dubious without the least bit of explanation? Dubious? Why? To the contrary, a mountain of evidence now exists in support of Rogers. It is indeed the carbon dating undertaken in 1988 that is dubious. Click on Read More below to see a comprehensive enough list of reasons to doubt the carbon dating.

. . . to press on with the silly notion that the image on the Shroud encodes three-dimensional data (an inexplicable miracle!) and generally disagree with what I wrote.

What his criticism did allow me to do was to test the claims about the encoding of three-dimensional data in images. I took a well known facial image and processed it with results that look fairly similar to those obtained from the Shroud. It even rendered unevennesses in the photographic print as three-dimensional! Another miracle!

imageIt is painfully obvious that over at Bad Archaeology the concept of the three-dimensionality in the image is not any better understood than it is by our friend Sciencebod over at Science Buzz. It is painfully obvious because BA resorts to mockery. No one that I know of claims that the 3D data content or how it plots to an elevation is miraculous. Where did BA get that idea? Granted, some people think the image was recorded by the Resurrection. That part would be miraculous. Others do not. Rogers, for one did not. imagePlenty of people who participate in this blog don’t think so. For an introduction to the 3D encoding read Sciencebod’s 3D Problem.

The green picture of Einstein (copied over from BA) is supposed to explain what? Any picture will plot something even indented eyebrows. Is that understood at Bad Archaeology?


Continue reading “Badder Still: Bad Archaeology at Bad Archaeology”

The New Yorker on awful musicals like “Into the Light,” about the Shroud

imageIn The New Yorker, Michael Schulman wonders: Is "Carrie" the Worst Musical of All Time? Turning to “some notable buffs,” such a Paul Rudnick, for opinions he offers up this:

Paul Rudnick, playwright and humorist: It’s hard to pick the absolutely worst musical, because some shows were just painfully tedious or derivative or overblown. But, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this selection, “Into the Light,” from 1986, had the distinction of being both terrible and transcendently unlikely, because it was a musical about the Shroud of Turin. It would be hard to imagine a good musical about the Shroud of Turin. If memory serves, the show concerned a battle between faith and science, and it climaxed with a scene in some sort of laboratory. The scientists had proved that the Shroud, with its possible shadowy image of Jesus, wasn’t authentic. But then a laser show erupted, proving I’m not sure exactly what. Maybe that God is, in fact, a really chintzy special effect.

Bent Spoon Article on the Shroud of Turin

imageThe opening paragraph of a five page article on the Shroud of Turin in The Bent Spoon online magazine shows how little the author knows about the subject:

To believe that the Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Jesus, you must accept that no one knew of its existence until 1353. Before that time, there is simply no record of the Shroud existing. No talk of a miraculous linen bearing the image of Christ’s crucified body, no record of an archaeological excavation uncovering it. Nothing. It was either the best kept secret in history, or something very strange was going on.

Except, that is, for the many references to such items.

imageBTW: It seems impossible from this magazine to figure out the name of the author for an article. They list the names of contributing authors without pictures in one place and provide a photograph of the author at the beginning of each article. So the author, pictured here, after telling us that Benedict XVI called it an icon, which means by definition of the word that he implies it is a painting, the author states:

The linen cloth now known as the Shroud of Turin appeared out of nowhere in 1353, and was being used in a faith-healing scam by a church in Lirey. The testimony of two Bishops at the time convinced Clement VII that it was nothing more than the work of a clever artist, and should not be billed as the true burial sheet of Christ. Scientific examination of the Shroud backs this up by carbon dating it to exactly the same period of time as its appearance in history.

The authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is also called into question by comparing it with the gospel accounts of Christ’s burial and resurrection. They clearly do not match and, in fact, have major contradictions between them. For the Shroud to be real, you would have to believe that not only are the gospels wrong, but that traditionally respectful burial practices of Jews at the time were completely thrown out the window in the case of a man they called the son of God.

Nothing new that I can see: Cafeteria facts, inaccuracies, and the old argument that the shroud contradicts the Bible (as the author of the article interprets the text).

Sciencebod’s 3D Problem

imageA reader writes:

I recall one of your postings in which you recounted the story of someone who claimed that there really wasn’t a picture of a man on the shroud, that what we all saw was no different then a picture of Jesus that appears on a slice of toast. As I recall, no amount of explanation could convince him to change his mind.

Of course not. That would violate the first law of kookiness.

Now, excuse me for interrupting the reader’s email to repeat a part of what I wrote that the reader refers to:

One day, I was astonished to receive an email from someone who claimed that we only think we see an image of a face on the Shroud. What we think is an image, he told me, is merely the happenstance accumulation of smudges and stains on the cloth. It is no different than an imaginary image of Jesus on a burned slice of toast. It is a pareidolia, an apophenia. I had never heard of either of these words. Now I have. As far as I can see, they mean the same thing. According to my Merriam-Webster dictionary apophenia is "the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data." Pareidolia is defined as apophenia.

I wrote back. "The image is too detailed. It is too realistic and too complex to not be the real face of a man. When I say real, I mean by any means. Absent other evidence this includes painting, photograph or something else that we don’t understand."

But he persisted. His mind was made up. "You can’t prove it," he wrote back. "It could be pure coincidence and you don’t know for a fact that it isn’t. What is the threshold for perceiving an image? What are the criteria for saying that the image is of a man? Are you an expert on the human face?" . . .

I suspect that there is a rather fuzzy swath of undecidedness between certainty that an image is of a face and is not. Given the setting and circumstance and a measure of sanity in whatever our worldview may dictate to us, we can usually avoid undecidedness. If I see a face in the clouds, I know it is a phantasm (another cool word), an illusion, an apparition of sorts. I am sure most of us think the same thing if we see a face on a piece of toast or in a smudge of a windowpane. It should be easy to know what we see for any given context. If I see a face in a Picasso, even if it looks less like a face than what I see on my morning toast, I know it is an image of a face because of the context. But what about the face on the shroud? It is a face? The context is clear. There is an entire body there – admittedly, at the risk of being declared incompetent, maybe a pareidolia. I don’t know how the face got there but it is a face.

Now to resume the readers email:

imageDr. Sciencebod has the same sort of problem with 3D. He fails to distinguish between fully expected pseudo-elevations from burn marks and the real-elevations visible on the real image of a man on the shroud. This is apparent when he writes, “So-called 3D-encoded information is an artefact of the computerised imaging – which explains why the 1532 burn marks appear as a hologram-like 3D as well as the image itself.”

A bit of disclaimer is in order. I’m not convinced that the shroud is real. At the same time I’m not convinced it is fake. So for me it is a mystery. If it is real, I am not at all inclined to think the image was caused by energy left over from some sort of physical resurrection. I have seen no convincing evidence for that. But even if I had I would have significant difficulty accepting it. I am a Catholic much more in sympathy with progressive Catholic scholars like Crossan who interprets the resurrection as a statement of faith and not as a physical event in a scientific or historic sense.

However, the 3D, which Dr. Sciencebod so casually dismisses, is ever so appropriate for the shape of a human form that it is silly to think otherwise unless one confuses reality with toast. Even so, the 3D effect obtained by plotting luminescence may not be a real measure of distance between body and cloth. It may be something entirely different that we have not imagined. But it is not casually dismissible. Regardless of how it came about, it is a real property of the image. One cannot claim to have found a method by which to create the image on the shroud unless one can show how that method encodes this property. One cannot claim it’s an artifact in order to escape this pass/fail criteria.

NOTE: Top picture is from Discover Magazine. Bottom picture is called “Face in the Shroud.” It is a 3D rendering of data in the shroud image undertaken by Ray Downing for the History Channel special, The Real Face of Jesus.

More on Sciencebod Reacts (Focus on paper by Fanti, et al)

imageA reader writes (BTW ColinB is also known as Sciencebod in this blog):

ColinB has a point when he says Fanti et al assume that the cloth is genuine and do not entertain the skeptics point of view. I would call its inadequate and not comedic, but the point is still valid.

Does he have a point?

Another reader has a different point of view:

Comedic. So-called scientists. The notion that Giulio’s paper is suitable only for the thrash. Read the junk sciencebob writes on his blog if you want comedy. Does he think for a minute that he can create an image by heat that is superficial to only 200 or even 1000 nanometers, that gets its shades of dark and light color from discontinuities of same shade of color fibers (like in a half tone), that is negative and 3D? Oh, I forget, he denies the 3D is real.

Here is what Sciencebod wrote that prompted the above emails:

. . . Suffice it to say that the desrciption of the computerisied anthropometric study of Fanti et al as “real scientific work” is comedic, as is the paper itself. Nowhere does that paper consider the sceptics’ view that the image was produced from an inanimate replica. e.g. a bas relief or statue. Instead it makes numerous explicit assumptions that it was a body that had been taken down from a cross in a state of rigor mortis with head tipped forward, knees drawn up, that an image had been acquired on a cloth that was loosely draped over etc. Talk about self-serving assumptions – ones that make that final diagram of the two “supeimposable” (sic)outlines totally at odds with unaided, non messed-around-with simple observation, e.g.

link to non-computer transformed dorsal v frontal comparison

Note too they say “superimposable”, not “superimposed” – a crucial difference, and then refer to “compatible”, a term that is shot through with subjectivity.

Nowhere does the paper say how the image was formed from a real person on that draped-over cloth, especially those parts not in direct contact with the cloth. What a worthless publication – the referees should have thrown it straight back, or better still in the bin…

I am only too painfully aware, needless to say, that the icy-cold objectivity of (real) science is not for everyone (present company excepted ;-) and that would include those so-called scientists who use computer-aided (re-)imaging systems in an attempt to escape the evidence of their own eyes, to say nothing of common sense…

The clue to the artefact – a term I use deliberately- lies I believe in those (over)long bony fingers, says he with a gleam in his eye, which I intend to put up for discussion shortly. But probably not here… I know where I am not welcome…


Basis: Sciencebod reacts

Quote for today by Mario Latendresse

imageFrom Dr. Latendresse at

When looking into the details of the images on the Shroud, we are constantly surprised by the precision of reality it describes. The photograph presented below is yet another example. If a forger, from the fourteen century, ever thought about producing the details we are going to study, he or she went well beyond what any artist would ever do during the next five centuries. These details alone are enough to convince most people that the Shroud is not a painting. They are way too small and too subtle for a painter to do by hand. It goes well beyond the necessity of forgery.

ACTUALLY, take the time to read the full page which contains this quote. It bears directly on the discussions with Colin (Sciencebod).

Click on image to see larger version. Image is from where attribution reads, “Photograph kindly provided by Barrie Schwortz. Copyright Barrie Schwortz.”

Ridiculous Claim x 2820 = Fact

imageThis sentence showed up yesterday, January 28, 2012, on a blog called Photos That Shook The World. Pia’s 1898 photograph, in fact, fits the theme of the site. Then I read:

Radiocarbon tests date it to the middle ages, however apologists for the shroud believe it is incorrupt – and carbon dating can only date things which decay.

Did I miss something? A victory for faith over science! End of argument. I must admit, however, I have never met an apologists who thinks this. Even so, according to Google, this exact sentence appears 2,820 times on various websites and blogs, some entries going back to 2007. Think the sentence has been repeatedly plagiarized?  Some will note that it is permissible to copy exact text with attribution. And Photos That Shook The World does at least link to Wikipedia as an information source. But nowhere, not that I could find, is this claim ever expressed in Wikipedia.

Defending the Faith in a Secular World

imageFrom The Pueblo Chieftain: Local Lifestyle

First Southern Baptist Church Pueblo, 301 Cleveland St., will host a conference on "Excellent Evidence: Defending the Faith in a Secular World" from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 4. (Lunch is not included).

Experts in physics, astronomy and the Bible will present on these topics: biblical reliability, the Shroud of Turin, and how science and scripture agree.

Round-table questions for speakers will follow the conference. Speakers include apologetics instructor Ron Lint, USAFA professor Rolf Enger and Hubble telescope team developer Don Hood.

For information or to make reservations, call 542-5935. Cost is $22 and is payable at the door.

Hat tip: Joe Marino

The most intelligent thing anyone can say with regards to the shroud is, "I don’t know."

imageSo, a discussion about the Shroud of Turin ended up on CBS Sports message boards yesterday. The question asked was, Did the C-14 tests debunk the Shroud of Turin?

After some banter back and forth, someone wrote: “So I don’t think trying to debunk religious artifacts should be looked at as trying to steal away the piece of mind of religious followers.”

Then someone who calls himself BUCKinFL and uses a football helmet for an avatar wrote:

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a skeptic.  A little often overlooked fact is that most Christians are also skeptics regarding religious artifacts.  In fact the site that was posted, the skeptic site that is skeptical of that Ark site is in fact a Christian site.  I think what a lot of people, Christians mostly, resent is the snarky elitist attitude that many atheist skeptics take.  It shows a lack of tolerance to other people’s rights to believe hat they want to.  Or more importantly, it shows a lack of tolerance for the rights of people to see things differently when the facts are not totally clear.  The toast?  yeah, I don’t think most Christians think this is anything but a hoax, likely done for one reason, to cash in on the idea that at least one sucker would come forward with money to own it.

The shroud however, has not been debunked and thus, how it was made is an unknown.  It has been proven that it was not made by any known means in the past  It is clearly from before the time of Da Vinci since it appears with known identifiable marks, well before Da Vinci and well before the dates of the C14 tests.  In fact, not only is it known to not have been created through any known means available in the past, it wasn’t created by any known means even available today.  In addition, there are many things about it that have been proven through research that suggest authenticity because they fly in the face of what was believed by people during the times it would likely have been created had it been created as a hoax, shortly before its introduction in Europe.

For instance, the fact that it can be proven that the blood stains are scientifically proven to have gotten on the cloth from an open wound, not through manual application.  The ability to know the difference is a recent technology and not one that a hoaxer would have even suspected would be available.  Nor would they know that in the future they could tell the difference between human or animal blood, not would they suspect that we could determine whether or not the blood was somebody who had been tortured.  The fact that the hoaxer would have had to torture somebody and then applied the cloth to that person while they were still bleeding just makes it so unlikely as to make it you really have to stretch rational belief to believe that this was done.

The hoaxer would also have to understand the concept of a negative exposure, which is what the image is.  When was photography created?

The hoaxer seems to have been able to predict the future, had access to advanced science not known for many centuries later, and also not hold to common misconceptions of the time.  Given this, it seems as likely that the hoaxer is alien, or from the future as it is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ with the image created during his rise from the grave.

The most intelligent thing anyone can say with regards to the shroud is, "I don’t know."

Hat tip: Joe Marino

Shroud Encounter Presentation in South Carolina

imageRuss Breault will be presenting Shroud Encounter at Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Monday January 30, 2012 at 7:00 PM in the Camak auditorium.

Bad Archaeology at Bad Archaeology

imageFrom an article, The Turin Shroud in a blog called Bad Archaeology (two guys) we find: 

It was in the documentary’s omissions that the greatest faults lay. The voice-over stated that the image is not painted, giving the impression that nobody could explain the colouring other than that it’s a “degradation of the cellulose” in the linen fibres. That’s not quite correct. What is seen on the shroud is a chemical darkening of a starch and polysaccharide coating on some of the fibres: it’s not the fibres themselves, but something applied to them after manufacture. In other words, pigment. And if that’s not paint, I really don’t know what is. One of the members of the STURP team, Walter McCrone, concluded during the study that the image was painted using red ochre and vermillion pigments. The programme didn’t mention him or his conclusions!

. . .

The scientists at the radiocarbon laboratories noted contamination of the samples with cotton, while McCrone had already drawn attention to the mixture of cotton and linen. This means that they were able to deal with it. They recognised the cotton and removed it, dating the linen fibres, which is what they were asked to do. The preparation of samples for dating involves rigorous cleaning to remove potential contaminants, such as these stray cotton fibres. There is no reason to suspect that the three laboratories undertaking the dating did not do their basic cleaning, especially as they had spotted the contaminants.

The programme brought up the old claim that the image on the shroud somehow encodes three-dimensional data and, using the same computer program used to create a three-dimensional image of the face on the shroud, showed that it does not work with photographs. How dishonest! We’re not dealing with a photograph on the shroud but with a painted image. The comparison should have been with a painting. Talk about prejudged conclusions! Besides, if we’re dealing with an image produced by draping a cloth over a corpse, it ought to be far more three-dimensional than we see: where are the sides of the body that the cloth would have touched? The fact that they aren’t there is good evidence that the image is painted.

Extraordinarily bad archaeology being practiced here fellows. Did they really say?

What is seen on the shroud is a chemical darkening of a starch and polysaccharide coating on some of the fibres: it’s not the fibres themselves, but something applied to them after manufacture. In other words, pigment. And if that’s not paint, I really don’t know what is.

It’s not paint. Did you mention that the coating is 200 to 600 nanometers thin? Paint that! Did you mention some real science used to test for paint? Ray Rogers is quoted below:

We tested all pigments and media that were known to have been used before 1532 by heating them on linen up to the temperature of char formation. All of the materials were changed by heat and/or the chemically reducing and reactive pyrolysis products. Some Medieval painting materials become water soluble, and they would have moved with the water that diffused through parts of the cloth as the fire was being extinguished. Observations of the Shroud in 1978 showed that nothing in the image moved with the water.

The Shroud was observed by visible and ultraviolet spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and thermography. Later observations were made by pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry, laser­microprobe Raman analyses, and microchemical testing. No evidence for pigments or media was found.

Did you say the labs detected cotton and removed it? Did they ask why cotton was there? Cotton isn’t the contaminant here. It suggests the possibility of other contaminants. Did they do a chemical analysis of the samples? Madder root dye, aluminum products, gum were subsequently found. They overlooked that. Cotton was a clue that the sample might have material intrusions from repairs. The repairs might have been made with newer linen with cotton spun in among the linen fibers to hold dye needed to make newer cotton look old. Evidence suggests that is so. Did you mention that the test results fail basic statistical tests for sample homogeneity? Did you mention that what was tested was chemically unlike the whole cloth. Did you mention that the cloth contains measurable vanillin but that the carbon dating samples do not the cloth does not contain measurable vanillin but that the carbon dating samples do? (Corrected)

Good archaeology means considering all the facts, not just those that are convenient. 

You did say, also:

In the event, three laboratories were chosen (Arizona, Oxford and Zürich) and asked to perform several tests on each of four samples taken from different parts of the cloth. . . .

No, they did not take samples from different parts of the cloth. One sample from one corner was cut. Part of it was divided into three roughly equal portions for each of the labs. They then made further divisions. Bad archeology includes bad factual statements, does it not?

Do we need to review this?

The programme brought up the old claim that the image on the shroud somehow encodes three-dimensional data and, using the same computer program used to create a three-dimensional image of the face on the shroud, showed that it does not work with photographs. How dishonest! We’re not dealing with a photograph on the shroud but with a painted image.

Maybe on the television program in question someone compared the shroud image to a photograph. But it has also been compared to numerous painted images. A little basic research would have revealed this. It is irrelevant anyways. It shows a complete lack of understanding about the 3D properties of the shroud image. You might want to check out The so-called 3D Encoding of the Shroud.

New Book from Smashwords: The Turin Shroud by the Temple of Mystery

imageThere is a new book out as of yesterday, January 26th, according to the publisher. It seems to only be available in a number of e-formats like PDF and EPub and only from Smashword. The author is some group or something called Temple of Mysteries. The price is only $3.68 but it is only 10,803 words (think about 40 pages).

For centuries belief that the Shroud of Turin really bears the likeness of the crucified Jesus Christ had to be a matter of faith alone. Then in 1898 it was photographed for the first time, and suddenly the negative image revealed an astonishingly life-like wealth of detail of a tall bearded man horribly tortured with whip, nails and crown of thorns. Virtually overnight, the age-old faith of the pilgrims seemed to be vindicated. Surely this was the very image of Jesus?

Who is the Temple of Mysteries? Here is a quote from the home page:

Learn about the enigmatic Knights Templar and their devotion to Mary Magdalene. Why did Leonardo da Vinci revere her and was he responsible for faking the known Templar artefact, the Turin Shroud?

Discover the secrets of sacred sites such as Rennes-le-Château and why it is of interest to groups such as The Illuminati and The Priory of Sion.

Find out whether the Templar descendant Prince Henry St Clair (Sinclair) sailed across the Atlantic in 1398 to discover America long before Christopher Columbus and whether there is evidence of his voyage encoded in Rosslyn Chapel.

The real mystery is who are/is these guy(s) ?  It’s not the $3.68. Any takers?

The Christ of the Shroud of Turin and other reminders

imageFrom an article about an exhibition of the work by William Kurelek, one of Canada’s greatest 20th-century artists at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario:

Artists’ self-portraits can tell us both what someone looks like and what makes them tick. He’s placed himself in front of a wall neatly covered with images. A picture of the dead Christ from the Shroud of Turin [far right in picture] might serve as a reminder of his recent conversion to Roman Catholicism. A reproduction of an Eastern European icon of Mary holding the Christ child and a photograph of Ukrainian dancers hint at his roots. He liked to paint from photographs — and memory.

Hat tip to Joe Marino.

Sciencebod reacts

imageHe repostes:

But some here, notably Paulette, might care to take a glance at the paper’s introduction. Note the claimed 7cm difference in length of the front and rear images (see her earlier comment and the scorn she heaps on me for pointing out how obvious it is, even in the images avaliable on the internet). But first she will have to get down off that school ma’am’s high horse of hers ;-)

Ah, the soft rubber tip on the foil: the smiley ;-)  In looking at what Paulette wrote we see that she did not so much heap scorn on Sciencebod for pointing out anything but for not pointing out anything. It isn’t about a claimed difference in length between the front and back images or even if it is obvious. It is about his slapdash approach to analysis, which to my way of thinking is a perfect example of the gee-whiz science he so disdains. Why not say, “I’ve noticed . . . has anyone seen any research on this? . . any thoughts? . . . am I onto something?” Sciencebod seems rather to parry attacks and and declare touché. What does he expect?

Here is what Paulette wrote (I added links and images for clarity):

The author of science buzz tells us that his blog is primarily about his “scepticism re media-hyped gee-whizz science, especially ‘pseudo-science’, as previous postings will demonstrate, NOT religion…”

imageWell it certainly isn’t about science, either. Consider his 5th item in which he tells us, “Dorsal and ventral imprints may have been obtained from two different templates. Some claim dorsal and ventral images are not consistent. A quick play around with my laptop would suggest as much.”

He is out of his league. Look at the picture of the dorsal and ventral images that he put together in his blog (above). This isn’t scientific thinking. As a science teacher I would have given one of my 9th graders a failing grade if he turned in something like this. He has lined up the rightmost and leftmost edge of the cloth as though the feet were aligned to those edges. The best he can do is write, “some claim.” Who? What documentation? Forget the fact that hundreds of scientists spent thousands of hours studying the images on the shroud. imageCompare his “quick play around with my laptop” with the fifteen page paper, “Computerized Anthropometric Analysis of the Man of the Turin Shroud” detailing the real scientific work of Giulio Fanti, Emanuela Marinelli and Alessandro Cagnazzo of the Interdepartmental Center for Space Studies and Activities at the University of Padua. They are consistent.

Almost all of his 37 points are like point 5, not researched, not carefully thought out. Joe Nickell move over. You have competition.

In reference to  He’s back and it’s a doozy « Shroud of Turin Blog

Quote for Today

imageFr. Alan Neale, an Episcopal priest, writes on his blog, White Collar Views:

Though my faith does not rest upon the authenticity of the Turin Shroud and though the practice of relics has never been part of my spiritual journey yet the story and debate about the Shroud has always fascinated me. It has been no problem for me to accept its authenticity and I rather like the image of resurrection power acting like some power almost unknown to man.

Alan Neale, was born in London, England. He received his first degree from the London School of Economics. A second degree in Theology from Oxford University followed. Ordained in Exeter Cathedral, he served in the city-centre church St. Andrew of Plymouth, Devon, The University of Christ Church, Southampton and St. Andrew, Stanstead Abbots, Hertfordshire. In 1988, with his wife Wendy and three children, he moved to Brookings, South Dakota. After thirteen years as Rector of St. Columba’s Chapel Middletown, Rhode Island, Alan became Rector of Philadelphia’s Holy Trinity in June, 2004.

Promoted Comment on Correcting Joe Nickell

imageDaveb of Wellington NZ by way of a comment writes:

I’m not sure why we should bother. Joe NIckel, Sciencebod and other skeptics like them have already made up their mind and just keep recycling tired old arguments. They enter the debate with closed minds that it’s a fake and then muster outworn arguments, coupled with mockery and derision, to try to make their case. This is not the way to do good science, and is a complete contrast to the objective, fair-minded and analytical approach taken by those working closely with the artifact. Most of Nickel’s other arguments are answered by reference to Ian Wilson’s most recent book “The Shroud”, Random House, 2010.

Despite Bishop D’Arcis’ most carefully worded letter of 1389 to Avignon Pope Clement VII, he was unable to provide a single documented reference supporting his charge that Bishop Henry of Troyes had looked into the matter “some 34 years ago or thereabouts” and found that it “had been cunningly painted”, Note that he is even unspecific about the date, even though any supporting documentation would still have been available to him. The truth of the matter is that very likely all the churchmen, Bishops Henry, D’Arcis and the Canons of Lirey, were all moved by avarice to meet their debts, as apart from the Shroud, they had missed out on the largesse of other relics seized from the sack of Constantinople. Pope Clement VII may have known more about it than he let on. He had a close connection with the de Charny family, and he enjoined D’Arcis to perpetual silence on the matter under pain of excommunication.

We do not know the history of the Shroud, as its original owner in the West, the gallant and most honourable knight Geoffrey de Charny was killed at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 defending his king, before he was able to reveal how he came by it. However Ian Wilson attempts a credible reconstruction of its history as the Mandylion of Edessa, and musters several sound arguments to support it. This may not suit the pedants who insist only on facts, but it is the unavoidable vagueness of the history of those turbulent times. That so much can be reconstructed is a credit to Wilson’s perseverance and energy.

Wilson also itemises several criticisms of the C14 tests, and describes the jostling for control between John Paul II’s chief scientific advisor Dr Carols Chagas and Turin’s Professor Luigi Gonella. Chagas’ well thought-out protocol was scrapped, and Gonella and the AMS laboratories had their way. Without even touching on the likelihood that the C14 sample was a patch, and not the original material at all, Wilson lists the following criticisms:-

1. Choosing only of labs using the AMS method, all three being clones of one another;
2. No involvement of a professional textile conservator in choosing the sample;
3, Taking just one single sample, from one single area;
4. Choice of site for the sample being well-documented as subject to prolonged repeated handling during the centuries;
5. No provision for any chemical analysis of the sample;
6. Unofficial purloining by Gonella and Riggi of unused portions of the sample for their own personal research purposes;
7. Denial of any other synchronous scientific approaches to the Shroud.

Nevertheless, no amount of logical argument will change the minds of the skeptics. They have made up their closed minds on the issue. And still retain the gall to call themselves scientists. Maybe they’d make good lab technicians, and not attempt to be more ambitious.

See: Correcting Joe Nickell « Shroud of Turin Blog

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious describes improvements to

imageA reader writes:

The word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious came to mind when I saw the wonderful improvements to Barrie’s  As you will recall Mary Poppins uttered that famous word rather than admit to being speechless. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Correcting Joe Nickell

imagePhyzics over at A Rather Silly Blog writes, “Joe Nickel – c’mon guy,” then:

So I’m sure that everyone who keeps up to date on the Shroud has heard about the recent experiments by ENEA which were able to reproduce the superficiality of the Shroud image using bursts of light. My point in writing this though is to show the blatant fallacious writings of skeptic Joe Nickell, who is repeating the same false facts that I heard far too many Shroud skeptics tout:

“Given the tremendous evidence against the ‘shroud’ — its incompatibility with Jewish burial practices, lack of historical record, bishop’s report of the forger’s confession, the still-bright-red ‘blood’ which failed forensic serological tests, the presence of pigments and paints throughout the image, three laboratories’ radiocarbon dating of the cloth to the time of the confession (1260–1390), and much additional evidence — it would seem that Di Lazzaro is straining at a gnat and attempting to swallow a camel. Let him produce a shroudlike image according to whatever theory he can muster, and we’ll talk again.”

Let’s break this down line by line.

He’s back and it’s a doozy


Here is one example:

30. .So-called 3D-encoded information is an artefact of the computerised imaging – which explain why the 1532 burn marks appear as a hologram-like 3D as well as the image itself.

So much for science. There is too much to take in with one posting. Maybe we’ll have to go through all 38 points one at a time.

If you can’t wait, you can go here and read all 38 points. science buzz: The Shroud of Turin – think of it, if you will, as a medieval EuroDisney, designed to attract thrill-seeking tourists, oops, sorry, devout religious pilgrims…

L.A. Marzulli is on Coast To Coast AM

Coast To Coast AM
on YouTube and move the slider up to 10:19



Has Playful Leonardo Left Us a Clue in the Salvator Mundi?

imageAustralian artist Dorothy Gauvin asks Has Playful Leonardo Left Us a Clue?

It’s happening for me again, an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment. This time it’s an idea that fits within my own field of Painting. Yet this time, I’m completely at a loss as to how to test it. You see, it’s about a mysterious work recently identified as by that towering genius and trickster, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Since it’s no longer physically possible for me to travel, so as to go to see the original, I can only muse on printed reproductions of the painting titled ‘Salvator Mundi.’

imageSo, in hopes of getting a reply from someone who can enlighten me, I’m throwing my possibly ridiculous thought out into the ether of Cyberspace. Here goes:

In every report I’ve read, experts refer to an object held in the left hand of the Jesus figure as a ‘globe’ or as a ‘sphere’ of crystal, representing the world. To my eye, this is clearly a round lens, such as that which is a component of the camera obscura, which Leonardo described in his notebooks and is now thought to have utilized in making the Shroud of Turin.

Can this crystal object be the playful clue he left – out in plain sight – to another of his cryptic jokes on us all?

Shhh! Don’t tell Picknett and Prince. They’ll need to revise their book once again.

Satan and his clever Shroud of Turin trickery

imageJon J. Cardwell writes one of the more comprehensive biblical-literalism arguments against the shroud on the Justification by Grace blog. It’s long hair again and it’s the napkin that was about his head again, and a lot more. And then there is this clever hypothesis:

How then does one explain some of the inexplicable anomalies that the shroud seems to posses: the 3-dimensional quality of the image; the laser-like transmission of the image that is beyond our present technology, etc? Frankly, I can’t explain them. Neither do I care to. Satan has been very good at getting our attention off of God and getting us to waste our time on trivialities. If Satan, as the father of lies, can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), then he’s probably clever enough to provide some trickery in this world. . . .

Is one tempted to wonder who is tricked by whom?

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