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.

6 thoughts on “Correcting Joe Nickell”

  1. I’ll take this line: “the still-bright-red ‘blood’ which failed forensic serological tests”

    Forensic serological tests are those which involve using antibodies as probes to test for the two major blood serum proteins, album and immunoglobulin; and for surface molecules (ABO carbohydrate antigens) expressed on red blood cells (and other cell types).

    Bloodstained fibers from the Shroud tested positive for both albumin & immunoglobulin , whereas unstained fibers from the Shroud were negative. In addition, the presence of AB and MNS red blood cell surface antigens were present on bloodstained fibers, but not unstained fibers. O red blood cell surface antigens tested negative on both types of fibers.
    Doesn’t seem that the blood failed forensic serological tests at all, rather, looks like the blood passed with flying colors.

    Additionally, Alan Adler and colleagues provided 10 distinct chemical tests demonstrating the red stains had the molecular characteristics of blood. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals distinct serum halos surrounding wound marks.

    The bright-red color has been attributed to a higher than normal presence of bilirubin in the blood, consistent with excessive trauma from bodily torture. Also, Rogers proposed that Saponaria (used to treat the linen during its preparation before weaving) products present as a thin carbohydrate layer on the surface of the cloth, is hemolytic, which could result in further release of intracellular (RBC) contents.

    Dr. Nickell needs to pursue another line of attack. The results are in: It’s a pass, not a fail.
    Thanks for playing.

  2. I’ll take this line: “the still-bright-red ‘blood’ which failed forensic serological tests”
    Forensic serological tests are those which involve using antibodies as probes to test for the two major blood serum proteins, albumin and immunoglobulin; and for surface molecules (ABO carbohydrate antigens) expressed on red blood cells (and other cell types).
    Bloodstained fibers from the Shroud tested positive for both albumin & immunoglobulin , whereas unstained fibers from the Shroud were negative. In addition, the presence of AB and MNS red blood cell surface antigens were present on bloodstained fibers, but not unstained fibers. O red blood cell surface antigens tested negative on both types of fibers.
    Doesn’t seem that the blood failed forensic serological tests at all, rather, looks like the blood passed with flying colors.

    Additionally, Alan Adler and colleagues provided 10 distinct chemical tests demonstrating the red stains had the molecular characteristics of blood. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals distinct serum halos surrounding wound marks.

    The bright-red color has been attributed to a higher than normal presence of bilirubin in the blood, consistent with excessive trauma from bodily torture. Also, Rogers proposed that Saponaria (used to treat the linen during its preparation before weaving) products present as a thin carbohydrate layer on the surface of the cloth, is hemolytic, which could result in further release of intracellular (RBC) contents.
    Dr. Nickell needs to pursue another line of attack. The results are in: It’s a pass, not a fail.
    Thanks for playing.

  3. 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.

  4. It is breath-taking the attitude some of these skeptics take. One gets the vague feeling that they may be terrified of the idea of an authentic shroud. It doesn’t matter a hill of beans to Christianity if it’s genuine or a forgery because it proves nothing. I admit though that it’s nice to have should it be genuine which is why people are interested in it and why people study it. This attitude of “you shouldn’t even waste your time doing this because it’s silly” that some skeptics take is frightening. It confirms my notion that they should never be positions of authority, especially in government. Those that present such sentiments presume that they are entitled to determine what others SHOULD be doing.

    If the shroud is ever properly and officially radiocarbon dated again and if the results bear a first century origin I predict that main argument of skeptics will suddenly shift from “it’s a forgery” to:
    – “you can’t be certain it’s Jesus’ shroud”
    – “it’s OBVIOUS that the body was stolen”

    These are already preloaded arguments you hear from time to time.

    It’s so sad that some people cannot let others pursue their curiosity in this without getting upset and personal.

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