From Atheism to Catholicism

imageSally Read in The Tablet – Outfoxed by God:

For almost all of her 40 years, a Suffolk-born psychiatric nurse-turned published poet and passionate atheist felt little but contempt for Catholicism. But then, in less than a year, after a springtime epiphany she was received into the Church. This is her journey

And near the end of the article:

Coming out as a Catholic hasn’t been easy. I understand best those that pick fights with me – how to explain such profound experiences, such a deep love? What surprises me more is envy, a wistfulness that faith has eluded many of my generation. They sense what I can confirm – faith means more love. Becoming Catholic is, of course, a reversion. My great-grandfather was an Orangeman in Northern Ireland. I come from generations of hard-line protestants-turned-atheists. These days, when I pray the Rosary, I find myself wondering which woman was the last in my line to do so, and how easily she gave it up.

Unrelated to the above, it’s interesting to search through The Tablet for articles about the Shroud of Turin.

Joe Nickell, Children’s Author

imageIn her blog, [a] homeschooling, freethinking mom dreaming of learning to live off the land, during short breaks from teaching times tables and cleaning up poop,” who tells us, “I’m trying to figure this whole secular parenting thing out while raising my kids in the heart of Jesus Land, and it’s not always pretty,” writes in a posting:

Teaching my kids to think skeptically as they are bombarded with information and various worldviews is of great importance to me. I’ve said it before, but as a homeschooling mom, my goal is to teach my children how to think and not what to think. Of course we learn math facts, grammar rules, and history, but more important than filling their heads with particular knowledge now, is teaching them to love learning and to continue schooling themselves for their entire lives. To this end, here are three great books for teaching kids to approach life skeptically!

1. Bonnie loved reading The Magic Detectives [Joe Nickell, Prometheus 1989]. The book features thirty short real-life mysteries, from Bigfoot to the Shroud of Turin to UFO sightings. After studying each case, the reader can think it over before flipping the page to read the solution to the mystery. Bonnie flew through it, then we adapted one of the suggested assignments in the back of the book. She wrote a small essay on the ethical difference between tricks used by phony "psychics" and stage magicians.

In the book, Nickell argues from the d’Arcis memorandum, the wrap around distortion problems, the discovery of paint particles, on how easy it is to make a negative (it is not, of course) and the use of carbon dating.

It makes you think about homeschooling. I doubt that even the most secular, freethinking school districts, far away from “Jesus Land,” would use a book like this even “for teaching kids to approach life skeptically.” Being skeptical is fine. Freethinking, fine. But, mom, check out the factual content of this book as it pertains to the shroud. That was 1989. One of the things I wanted my kids to learn was the value of fact checking. Much has happened since 1989.

The mom concludes:

Have you found any other good books for little skeptics? Especially for younger readers?

Mom, go to Click on Children’s Books. In the search box enter the word Skeptic for 6 books, Atheist for 16 books, etc.

Quote for today by Paolo Di Lazzaro

imagePaolo Di Lazzaro in an email to Barrie Schwortz, taken from “The Shroud in the News for Christmas 2011: An Editorial Response by Barrie Schwortz,” which by-the-way is a MUST READ:

Our results are more evidence that it is not easy to replicate the body image and skeptics will have to believe in a miracle to sustain it was done by a forger in the middle ages!

Correcting an article about the Shroud of Turin

imageLast week and article by Mike L Anderson appeared in Articlesbase, Shroud of Turin: shroud of Christ? It begins:

"In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal ‘snapshot’ of the Resurrection" (1).

In such soul-stirring tones, Ian Wilson provides a popular explanation for the haunting image on the most famous cloth in history – the Shroud of Turin. The alleged burial cloth of Christ captivates. Theologian, Robert Perry says the "Shroud is intentionally produced by Jesus as his own record for posterity, as his own gospel"(emphasis his) (2). Artist and theoretical physicist Isobel (sic) Piczek calls it the "… only window on the future in the cosmos, on the cosmos" (3).

It concludes:

Perhaps one day the Father will exact an answer from many to this question: "How is it that you tried to shroud the glorified One in a medieval cloth? (26). (emphasis mine)

Annette Cloutier, a reader of this blog corrects Anderson’s article:

These very misleading/mal-assertions by Anderson need to be carefully addressed one by one:

To quote McCrone is to be on the side of conning the public for self aggrandizement. (I didn’t think McCrone was actually a member of STURP. He certainly didn’t go to Italy to study the Shroud in Turin in 1978. But he managed to con away the tapes containing particles of blood, pollen and other Shroud surface material from Ray Rogers a valid member of Turin. He kept those tapes for over a year, long enough to deprive others, such as Dr. John Heller (another valid member of STURP) from making a timelier, honest, and carefully scientifically scrutinized evaluation. McCrone got to the press first. Heller’s book didn’t get the press it deserved because of McCrone’s cronyism to anyone who was anti-STURP. (Boy, does the Divider ever have a legion.)

It is most imperative to note that John’s Gospel is not writing fact… the tons of spices to anoint the Body of Christ is comparable to the tons of water converted to wine at the wedding feast of Cana. It has to do with competing with the Hellenistic gods of wine/this life (Dionysus) and embalming spices/afterlife (Persephone)… a great exaggeration to get the reader convinced that Jesus the Christ is greater than Dionysus the god of wine (Wedding Feast of Cana), and Persephone the goddess of the eternal spring/resurrection (the entombment/the spices).

The two cloths John mentions seems to be the Sudarium and the Shroud which Anderson will not even mention (the Sudarium) as being so similar to the Shroud in material and in blood-stain formation.

Bishop D’Arcie’s accusation of calling the Shroud a painting has been already addressed by Antonacci and others that the so-called painting was a quick-lived substitute commissioned perhaps by the de Vergy family to be displayed at Besançon, France (1349) after the 1347 fire at the Cathedral of St. Etienne. But it didn’t stay in circulation long. The display of the genuine Shroud at St. Mary’s Lirey France took place after the death of Geoffoy de Charny on 19 September 1356, which gave Jeanne de Vergy the necessary funds to continue on after her husband’s death defending King John the Good (Hundred Years’ War).

No prior history of the Shroud before the 14th century???? Look at the detailed drawing of the Shroud in the 1192 Hungarian Pray Manuscript… Then there was the peaceful transfer the the Shroud to the kingdom of Constantinople from the city of Edessa in 944. All the kingdom of Constantinople wanted from Edessa, in lieu of war, was the Shroud. How it was so well venerated in Constantinople thereafter: even Robert de Clari wrote in his journal (1203) of how the Shroud was displayed at St. Mary’s Blachernae (or some say he meant to say at the Pharos Palace Cathedral) every Friday. Pro-Shroud theory says that there was a solemn parade that took place every Friday in moving the Shroud from the Pharos Palace Cathedral to St. Mary’s Blachernae. Anti-Shroud theorists say that deClari was confused.

Anderson’s so-called art historian(s), who claim the Shroud is of 13th or 14th century iconography, need a lesson in art history. They should begin with the artwork of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript, 1192, which graphically depicts the Shroud and its formation.

As far as those rascally labs are concerned anyone familiar with the testing of the Shroud will know that none of these "scientists" behaved in a scientific way: they did not research the work prior done a decade or more prior to their tests. They did not even read Dr. Gilbert Raes’ (Ghent Institute) work done in 1969 to 1973 specifically on this corrupted corner. Dr. Raes said that under the microscope fibers of cotton could be seen mixed with the old waxed linen fibers, and there was dye and glue to boot. No, these "scientists" from the three faulty Carbon 14 labs did not even do research on the onsite scientific examination of the Shroud done by STURP. These lab scientists, as you say, Joe, were paid to confound the real science done by STURP John Heller and Alan Adler in 1979-1980. But ignorance loves ignorance just as money loves money.

Dissent of the day with a bit of a response

Stephen J. Waddock, an artist, computer artists and graphic artist writes:

imageTypical of most apologetics, you have have misrepresented both the view of Richard Dawkins and Science regarding Carbon-14 dating. Dawkins does not “admit it is controversial”. His comment/position regarding the Shroud and Carbon-14 dating is:

The dating of the shroud remains controversial, but not for reasons that cast doubt on the carbon-dating technique itself. For example, the carbon in the shroud might have been contaminated by a fire, which is known to have occurred in 1532. I won’t pursue the matter further, because the shroud is of historical, not evolutionary, interest.

I have not misrepresented Richard Dawkins (pictured). Moreover, I fully agree that the controversy is “not for reasons that cast doubt on the carbon-dating technique itself.” However, the example Dawkins gives of fire contamination from the 1532 fire is outmoded and was never really taken too seriously by many people. I assume it is because of inadequate fact checking by the publisher that it appears in print. After all, why would Dawkins research this topic thoroughly given that the book – you are, of course, referring to The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, a wonderful book, which I thoroughly enjoyed and with which I have no scientific issues on the topic of evolution – is not about the shroud. I am a little surprised, though, that a book published in late 2009 doesn’t have a better handle on the scientific developments pertaining to the carbon dating of the shroud that took place over a period of two decades after the test. It is an unfortunate tarnish.

I’m sure you agree that in all matters of science, no conclusion, even carbon dating, should ever be thought of as final and unchallengeable. Why even Einstein was wrong. You should read the posting, here in this blog, called Mixing Up Faith and Science on the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin.

and, you wrote:


Different kinds of radioactive decay-based geological stopwatches run at different rates. The radiocarbon stopwatch buzzes round at a great rate, so fast that, after some thousands of years, its spring is almost wound down and the watch is no longer reliable. It is useful for dating organic material on the archaeological/historical timescale where we are dealing in hundreds or a few thousands of years, but it is no good for the evolutionary timescale where we are dealing in millions of years (1986, p. 226 emp. added).

…but hey, what’s a more-than-little misrepresentation of someone’s position when your arguing for god.

Now, you are citing a different book: The Blind Watchmaker. That was published in 1986 as you say. That was before the carbon dating of the shroud. Nonetheless, what does it have to do with the shroud? And, by-the-way, I have no issue with that text. Nor do I imply that I do.

Is it the pot that calls the kettle . . . or is it the other way around? Oh, and how do you know I’m arguing for God? It wouldn’t do me any good, I suppose, to tell you that my theological perspective is that I should argue for truth no matter where it might lead.

(By-the-way, I share the view of theologian Alistair McGrath that The Blind Watchmaker in an excellent refutation of William Paley’s outmoded views on intelligent design.)

If the carbon 14 tests fail to meet basic and robust statistical standards for sample homogeneity, as they do; if there is credible evidence that what was tested was chemically unlike the whole cloth; and if the cloth contains measurable vanillin, as it does; then we cannot trust the carbon dating no matter how fine the science of radiocarbon dating is. Sadly, Richard Dawkins is apparently unaware of this.

Then changing to the matter of the image you remind me that I wrote, “We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion.” To which you add:

Uh….yes, we do.

The image on the shroud could not have been made from laying the cloth over the face of a individual. It is impossible to accurately render a 2-dimensional image from a 3-dimensional image (of this depth) WITHOUT distortion. Absolutely,physically not possible.

This can be tested by applying a transferable solution to the face of a person and then laying to cloth on the face and applying pressure around the features of the face to transfer the solution to the cloth. When removed and flattened, there would be noticeable spacial distortions between the features of the face.

A more simple way to show this is not possible would be to take a simple character face mask and attempt to flatten it out. You would notice that the different depths of the mask would cause spacing distortion between features such as the eyes, nose and mouth.

Simply not possible.

Uh…. I’m confused. I agree with you. In fact, just about everyone who has ever thought that the shroud was real during past one hundred years agrees with you. It’s a red herring, a favorite argument used by Joe Nickell who doesn’t want to deal with facts.  The point is that we have no idea of how the image was formed. Really, we don’t. And skeptics don’t either.

Bravo! Wonderful Facelift of


We owe so much to Barrie Schwortz for all his great work over the years. Barrie, thank you!

From the Late Breaking Website News page of the wonderfully redesigned site, today, on this this sixteenth anniversary of

If you have managed to get to this page and are reading this article, you will have already noticed a dramatic change in the look of this website. After sixteen years online, we have given the website a long overdue "facelift" to make it more modern in appearance and much easier to navigate. I have had many criticisms about the look of the site over the past few years, but some months ago a reader pointed out that the site was difficult to view and navigate, particularly on the smaller screens of smart phones or tablets. Although we have always put more emphasis on content than design, it is hard (or downright stupid) to ignore the fact that over 100 million Americans alone now view the internet on such devices. It was certainly time to make some changes.

imageThe first thing I hope you noticed is the dramatic redesign of the front page. We have replaced the original variegated, multi-colored background site-wide with a solid light gray background that is easier to read and loads much faster. We eliminated all the link buttons that littered our Main Menu and other pages and replaced them all with simple text links. Most importantly, we combined the Main Menu into the front page, where it belongs. The menu is broken into two sections, one for General Contents and the other for In-Depth Contents, the latter of which is now listed on the page in alphabetical order. Instead of having to click a link to view a separate Main Menu page, just scroll down a bit and the menu content is right there. (You can still click on the Shroud photo if you like, which simply jumps you down the page directly to the menu items). You will also find that the Search Engine box has been moved to the front page. Of course, as always, a second search box is still available from the Website Library page. You will also find a Navigator bar at the bottom of every main page that gives you quick links to other important pages of the site. Navigator bars have also been added to the top and bottom of the Scientific Papers & Articles page and the Links To More Information page that allow you to find papers and links alphabetically instead of scrolling through scores of listings. There are many other changes and refinements you will find as you navigate the site, all designed to make it more user-friendly. I hope you find the new look of the site a good step in the right direction. And it only took sixteen years!

Speaking of sixteen years, one friend and viewer of our site recently asked me how the website got started and what prompted me to build it. In fact, he strongly urged me to write an article telling the story and include it in this update. It seemed like a good idea, so you will find links to the new article titled The History of from all the appropriate pages of the site. Of course, as I’ve already stated, content is still our primary focus, and this update is no exception. Although it is not as large as some previous anniversary updates because of the time necessary for the redesign, it still contains some very important new materials. I have included the usual Update Table of Contents below to make finding the new content easy.

Finally, no update would be complete until I thanked each and every author, scholar, researcher, student and viewer who, by their continued participation and support, make this site possible. You truly make this all worthwhile. Thank you for being there.

Barrie Schwortz, Editor & Founder

Late Breaking Website News!  and the Home Page

The Viral Hate Religion But Love Jesus Video

THIS IS VIRAL: Dan Gilgoff, CNN’s Religion Editor writes:

With so many atheists coming out of the closet, it’s not difficult to imagine a video decrying religion racking up millions of hits on YouTube.

But a video along those lines has been viewed 15 million times and liked more than a quarter-million times since it was posted on January 10, featuring an enthusiastic young Christian from Washington state.

Note passion and crucifixion discussion at about 3 minutes and 15 seconds, near the end.


Link to CNN story and video: ‘Hate religion, love Jesus’ video goes viral – CNN Belief Blog – Blogs

Comment Promoted: Unicorns

imageAnnieCee writes:

Stephen E. Jones, I suppose you’re right about the unicorns but a wild bull is not nearly as romantic. Women LOVE the dainty, sensitive creature known as the unicorn…

The State of Skepticism: Ridicule works. Right?

imageI imagine he thought “painted blanket” wasn’t clear enough. Anyway, KnightErrant as he calls himself, wrote, “There is no more reason to believe in God than to believe in unicorns.” A little bit down the page he wrote this:

Arguments on Existence of God

  • Mentioned in the Bible, just like unicorns.
  • Physical evidence limited to a painted blanket (Shroud of Turin).
  • Belief in God is widespread.
  • Ah, but, because…(all the philosophical arguments).

A Little Reality: On Unicorns and God

Tidying up loose ends on Philip Mathias’ National Post Article on the Shroud

On January 3, I noted that  Philip Mathias in the Holy Post section of the National Post wrote an article called Reliability of Shroud of Turin fails on faith, not science. It was a response to the ENEA report. I said of the article that it was a hodgepodge of good and bad information.

imageSubsequently Jerry Amernic from Toronto (pictured), who describes himself on his website as an author from Toronto who has written five books and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, wrote in a letter to the editor:

Philip Mathias is right that the Vatican has said that new experiments prove the Shroud of Turin is "impossible to falsify," the implication being that it’s the burial garment of Jesus. But the Vatican has always held onto this belief. In 1978, The Shroud of Turin Research Project allowed a team to study the shroud for a week. These so-called experts were "sindonologists" or "shroud scholars" – an oxymoron if there ever was one – and they said "Hallelujah!" Ten years later, three independent laboratories performed Carbon-14 dating tests on a sample of the cloth, and all three said the thing was a medieval forgery.

Science and religion, especially when it concerns the Vatican, mix like oil and water. This is the same institution that found Galileo guilty of heresy for saying the Earth revolved around the sun and it will go to the ends of the Earth to verify creationism. But when you get to the end of the Earth, one does tend to fall off.

Whoa! Readers reacted. No longer were they writing about the article but about Jerry Amernic’s letter. Michael Olsen from Kanata, Ontario wrote in the Post:

It is regrettable that letter-writer Jerry Amernic, when writing about the examinations on the Shroud of Turin, repeats the tired assertion that science and religion are incompatible, "when it concerns the Vatican."

Just a little research will show that members of the Catholic Church have been responsible for thousands of advancements in science over the centuries, in fields as diverse as astronomy, seismology and physics. Mr. Amernic’s claim that the Catholic Church "will go to the ends of the Earth to verify creationism" is contradicted by the fact that the discoverer of genetics – the linchpin of evolutionary theory – was an Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel, and that the proposer of the "Big Bang" theory was a Catholic priest, Father Georges Lemaitre.

Andrew Bourque, Georgetown, Ontario:

I am always amused when some atheists and anti-Catholic pundits claim sole ownership of reason, logic and objectivity then quickly abandon these virtues when speaking about the Catholic Church. For example, letter-writer Jerry Amernic alleges the Vatican is antagonistic toward science while ignoring such realities as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This organization was started in 1936 by Pope Pius XI. Its stated goal is “the promotion of the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences, and the study of related epistemological questions and issues.”

To date, this organization has had many distinguished scientists as members including over 40 Nobel Prize winners for science. It’s hard to imagine how any fair-minded or rational individual could claim that the Catholic Church is “anti-science” when there are a myriad of examples that quickly prove otherwise. That being said, bigotry (even the atheist kind) is never big on logic, reason or objectivity.

Barbara Gobbi from Robert Creek, British Columbia:

Letter-writer Jerry Amernic is much too skeptical about the possibility that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Christ. Carbon-14 dating tests have long since been tossed aside after it was discovered that the material tested was from a mend in the shroud. And studies of the pollens found on the shroud have been found to be native to the Jerusalem area . . .

There is more, but you get the idea.

Paper Chase: Jones republishes Jackson’s, "An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image"

imageStephen E. Jones, with permission from John Jackson, has republished John’s full paper, An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image. That is a great service to all of us because the paper isn’t online and is hard to find. Jones includes his own preface, which reads in part:

"Cloth Collapse theory" to explain the origin of the Shroud’s image is, in my opinion, one of the most important thing ever written about the Shroud of Turin. This is because it claims to, and I agree that it does, "explain all image characteristics found on the shroud image." Yet, it has never been published online and can only be found in a comparatively obscure, out-of-print book: Berard, A., ed., 1991, "History, Science, Theology and the Shroud," Symposium Proceedings, St. Louis Missouri, June 22-23, 1991, The Man in the Shroud Committee of Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo TX. However, you can see Dr. Jackson’s presentation of his theory at the St. Louis Symposium in the video, "What is Missing? "

Here is the link: The Shroud of Turin: John P. Jackson, "An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image" (1991)

So you need to access Wikipedia’s Shroud of Turin page today

imageSo you need to access the English Shroud of Turin page on Wikipedia today. You can, just click on and immediately hit the Esc key. This will prevent the Wikipedia blackout protest screen from loading. This trick works with any page.

Wikipedia, blacked out its Web pages as part of a global protest against two anti-piracy bills making their way through the U.S. Congress. Interesting enough, NBC, the NBC in MSNBC, supports the legislation but Microsoft, the MS in MSNBC, is opposed.  Google is opposed but is remaining online. A story at MSNBC reports:

The two bills, supported supported mainly by the entertainment industry, are aimed at stopping illegal downloading and streaming of movies and TV shows. But many in the tech world — including giants Google and Facebook — say the legislation would let federal authorities shut down portions of the Internet without due process, and fundamentally alter the Internet’s ability to provide a platform for free speech.

New Book: Christ to Coke

imageHat tip to John Klotz:  There is a new book out by art historian Martin Kemp called Christ to Coke: How Image Becomes Icon ($22.71 for hardcover and $15.37 for Kindle at Amazon). It looks interesting. I have not had a chance to peruse it yet but have glanced at it on my laptop and iPhone: fantastic color photographs of many icons of Christ. Here is what the publisher, Oxford University Press has to say:

How does an image become iconic? In Christ to Coke, eminent art historian Martin Kemp offers a highly original look at the main types of visual icons. Lavishly illustrated with 165 color images, this marvelous work illuminates eleven universally recognized images, both historical and contemporary, to see how they arose and how they continue to function in our culture.

Kemp begins with the stock image of Christ’s face, the founding icon–literally, since he was the central subject of early Christian icons. Some of the icons that follow are general, like the cross, the lion, and the heart-shape (as in "I heart New York"). Some are specific, such as the Mona Lisa, Che Guevara, and the famous photograph of the napalmed girl in Vietnam. Other modern icons come from politics, such as the American flag (the "Stars and Stripes"), from business, led by the Coca-Cola bottle, and from science, most notably the double helix of DNA and Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2.

The Shroud is discussed. Kemp writes (I provide a longer quote below the ‘Read more’ fold):

Given the loud public debates. and the disappearance from view of the Vatican Veronica. the Turin Shroud is now the most famous of the αχειροποίητα. The fact that the image is far more apparent in a photographic negative than in the original has served to enhance its magical status. For the enthusiastic seeker of evidence, its elusiveness as a picture allows the viewer to see details that may not be there. It has occasioned its own recent pseudo-histories, often of such an extravagant and fanciful nature as to rival any medieval legend. Even Leonardo, as a proto-photographer, has been pressed into service as its forger.

If we are to look analytically at the image on the shroud as a picture (however it was made), it exhibits clear visual features that point to its painterly origins. The first thing to say is that it bears few of the physical characteristics needed for an imprint made by a cloth wrapped around a body. Even if the linen was initially laid flat on the corpse, it would have sunk softly around it, and any imprint would have registered aspects of the top and side of the head and some portion of the flanks of the whole body. The bony prominences of the hands, knees, and feet would have come into particularly direct contact with the cloth, but there is no evidence of their having done so. The attenuated proportions, stick-like nature of the folded arms and straight legs, and the long, thin, unmodelled fingers are all consistent with both medieval and Byzantine figure styles, just as the existing Holy Faces all betray their Byzantine origins. If I were asked to provide an art-historical date for the portrayal of Christ on the Shroud, I would estimate it have been made in the later thirteenth or first half of the fourteenth century in Italy or southern France. This is consistent with the much denigrated carbon dating. The other possibility is that it is of Byzantine manufacture. Were the various bodies of evidence ever to converge consistently on a date in the first century AD there will still be a lot of visual explaining to do. It seems to me to be evidently made by hand.

Continue reading “New Book: Christ to Coke”

Paper Chase: Danusha Goska’s Untitled Essay

Sciencebod, by way of a comment, writes:

imageOne of the major questions that sceptics need to ask themselves is this: why is there only one Shroud of Turin? If it were – or had been – a fake, produced by some ingenious imprinting process that mimicked at least some of the properties of modern photography, indeed, computer-aided imaging technology – then why was the "trick" not repeated subsequently again and again, in a range of applications, as finally to elicit a huge groan or yawn on each reappearance?

OK, so I am repeating the obvious – namely that the Shroud is unique – making it not just an object of devotion for the faithful, but equally well an object of intense interest and speculation, at least to those of us possessed (or afflicted) with an open and enquiring mind…

At the risk of stealing Sciencebod’s thunder, those two excellent paragraphs above that are chockfull of common sense, I must, nonetheless, draw everyone’s attention to the following, written by Danusha Goska in 2000, then a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University. It was one of the earliest essays that I read that made so much sense. Sciencebod reminded me of it:

The shroud has been subjected to imaging analysis by NASA scientists, to carbon dating, and to analysis, performed by criminologists and botanists, of the pollen particles found on its surface. Forensic pathologists have analyzed the death depicted on the shroud. At least since Descartes, the West has come to regard religion and hard science as polar opposite disciplines. It is this very intersection of religion and hard science that intrigues, delights, and perhaps even threatens many, and attracts many to the Shroud story.

In truth, though, and perhaps counterintuitively, the hard sciences are limited in their ability to crack the mystery of the shroud. This sounds contrary-science has come to be understood as the source of definitive truth. In this case, though, hard science has failed to provide an answer that satisfies the demands of Ockham’s razor.

William of Ockham (1285-1347/49), positied that, "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate;" that is, "Plurality should not be posited without necessity." In other words, Ockham’s razor demands that, of two competing theories, the simplest explanation is preferred.

The shroud compels exactly because there is no simple or easy explanation. None of science’s tests, including carbon dating, has changed that. None have produced a simple explanation that meets the demands of Ockham’s razor.

One might argue, based on carbon dating, that the shroud is a simple forgery, dating from the middle ages. That theory is not best tested exclusively by hard science. Rather, insights from the social sciences and the humanities are necessary in cracking this mystery.

I am not a hard scientist. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Folklore Institute at Indiana University. Folklore, like its fellow social sciences, has demonstrated that human expressive culture follows rules, just as surely as carbon decay follows rules. One does not need to be a social scientist to understand this.

Suppose an archaeologist were to discover, in an Egyptian tomb, a work of art that followed the aesthetic prescriptions of Andy Warhol’s 20th century American portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Certainly, hard science would argue that ancient Egyptians possessed all the technology necessary to produce such items of expressive culture. Ancient Egyptians had pigments; they had surfaces on which to draw. Hard scientists might see no mystery in a pharaonic Warhol Marilyn.

A non-scientist would have every reason to find such a blase’ attitude bizarre. Of course the ancient Egyptians could produce Warhol-like art. The fact is, though, that they simply never did. Ancient Egyptians, like all artists everywhere, followed the artistic mandates of their time and place.

True, art does change, but it changes organically, slowly, and after leaving vast bodies of evidence of change in intermediary forms. For example, as different as it is, art from Greece’s Golden Age can be seen to have grown from Egyptian art, in intermediary forms like Kouroi figures.

The shroud is as much an object of wonder and worthy investigation, in spite of carbon dating, as would be an isolated pharaonic Warhol, or a rock song that had been composed during the period of Gregorian Chant, or a Hopi vase that someone somehow came to made during the high point of peasant embroidery in Czechoslovakia. Yes, in each case, technology was available to create these anomalous forms; however, as any layman might well point out, humans did not choose to use available technology in order to create anomalous forms.

There are two consistently unaddressed flaws in the arguments of those who contend that the shroud must be of medieval origin, created by contemporaneously available technology. The first flaw is that even if technology had been available to create an image with all the remarkable features of the shroud, there is no way to explain why an artist would have done so.

This question must be explored not via carbon dating, NASA imaging, or pollen tests, but, rather, by comparison with other relics from the medieval era. I have not seen research by experts in medieval relics that attempts to compare and contrast the shroud with comparable artifacts from the medieval era. Does the shroud look like other relics, or does it not? If, as I suspect is true, it does not look like other relics from that era, then it behooves anyone who argues for a medieval date to explain exactly why. Those who argue this position must tell us why the equivalent of a Warhol portrait has been found among Egyptian artwork where the laws of human expressive culture dictate that it plainly does not belong.

In the writings of church reformers like Erasmus and Martin Luther, one can read descriptions of medieval relics. In fact, many relics once popular in the medieval era can be visited even today. Reformers like Erasmus and Luther expressed open contempt at the gullibility of the Christian masses. Bones that were obviously animal in origin were treated as if the bones of some dead saint. Random chips of wood were marketed as pieces of the true cross; random swatches of fabric were saints’ attire.

Why, in such a lucrative and undemanding marketplace, would any forger resort to anything as detailed and complex as the shroud? Why would a forger resort to an image that would so weirdly mimic photography, a technology that did not exist in the Middle Ages?

Well, one might argue, the forger created the highly detailed, anomalous shroud in order to thoroughly trick his audience. This argument does not withstand analysis. The relic market is profoundly undemanding. It was profoundly undemanding in the Middle Ages; it is barely more demanding today.

The Ka’bah of Islam, the millions of Shiva lingams found throughout the Hindu world, the venerated sites of Buddha’s footfall or Buddha’s tooth, the packages of "Mary’s Milk" on sale to Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem, are all contemporary relics that attest to the willingness of believers to believe in items that might look, to others, like simple rocks or standard, store bought powdered milk.

The faith in relics is not limited to the large, world religions; New Age is similarly flush with relics of a provenance, that, to non-believers, may seem comical at best. For example, a speech well beloved by New Agers, titled "Chief Seattle’s speech," has long been known to have been written by a white Christian man living in Texas. This knowledge has not stopped many New Agers from believing that the speech issued, miraculously, from Chief Seattle.

The shroud does more than not follow the simple rules of relic hawkers. The shroud not only does not follow the laws of the expressive culture of medieval relics, it defies them. For example, blood is shown flowing from the man’s wrist, not his hands. It is standard in Christian iconography to depict Jesus’ hands as having been pierced by nails. This was true not only of the medieval era, but also today. What reason would a forging artist have for defying the hegemonic iconography of the crucified Jesus? Anyone who wishes to prove a medieval origin for the shroud must answer that question, and others, for example:

Items of expressive culture are not found in isolation. They are not found without evidence of practice. If one excavates an ancient site and finds one pot, one finds other pots like it, and the remains of failed or broken pots in middens.

If the shroud is a forgery, where are its precedents? Where are the other forged shrouds like it? Where is there evidence of practice shrouds of this type? If the technology to create the shroud was available in medieval Europe, where are other products of this technology? Humankind is an exhaustively exploitative species. We make full use of any technology we discover, and leave ample evidence of that use. Given the lucrative nature of the forgery market, why didn’t the forger create a similar Shroud of Mary, Shroud of St. Peter, Shroud of St. Paul, etc.? And why didn’t followers do the same?

I’m not attempting here to prove the shroud to be genuine. I am insisting that hard science alone cannot tell us the full truth about the shroud, and that ignoring the obvious questions posed by the humanities and the social sciences leaves us as much in the dark about the shroud as ever.

It may be found at Barrie site, here.

The coming together of STURP: It’s a secular miracle!

imageThe Recovering Hopper writes in a blog posting, Two Very Different Sides:

At lunch I read a chapter where Heller describes how things just seemed to come together for the ad hoc group of scientists: STURP is declared a non-profit agency in record time, donations fly in just as needed, a wild stock tip supplies hotel fare, an old lady volunteers to hand-weave an imitation shroud for a trial run. As I’m reading all these I suddenly spoke out loud: “It’s a secular miracle!” and then I burst out in laughter.

Good article. It includes some discussion of Heller’s book and Ian Wilson’s two books.

Maybe it is not 3D, at least not the Volckringer patterns

imageMarty Benton writes:

I wonder if what we think are 3D reliefs prepared from Volckringer patterns are not something altogether different. I suspect what appears to be 3D-ish elevation is a representation of relative chemical reaction completely unassociated with spatial relationships.  

The veins appear higher than the blade and higher still nearer to the center rib. That would seem to be where the most lactic acid would be transferred to the paper by contact and lakes of vapor. The leaf seems really fat with an unnaturally beveled edge. That apparent bevel may result from less lactic acid reaching the paper at the edge of the leaf.

To fully assess this we need to see the facing pages from the book that held the leaf. Ideally, we need to see the leaf.  We need to know which side of the leaf is being plotted for 3D content. I imagine the facing page’s imprint might have a similar appearance of elevated veins and a fat bevel. That would not make sense.

The point is that because something appears to have 3D characteristics, it may not be a real spatial representation. I’m not saying the Shroud’s image isn’t spatial data, what you call a height-field. I’m saying, however, that we must consider other possibilities.

Father Jonathan Morris profiled

imageRemember Fr. Jonathan Morris who opened and opined in the History Channel’s Shroud of Turin special, The Real Face of Jesus? There is a wonderful, all too short, article about him at J and L Research and Explorations.

Fr. Jonathan travels the world, covering news events and issues from human trafficking, to the Muslim youth riots in Paris, to the murder of a Christian publisher in Turkey. He has reported on the state of Christian churches in Venezuela and Syria, and interviewed a wide-range of individuals, from First Lady Laura Bush, to the Grand Imam of Paris. He even debated the atheist biologist, Richard Dawkins, on BBC. He never shrinks from controversy in defending his faith.

The 3D images on the Shroud of Turin are not unique

imageA reader writes:

Dr. Sciencebod wrote, “We are told that the 3D properties of the Shroud image are unique to the Shroud.”

It might help to know by whom we are told this for I am unaware of anyone saying so. Does he mean that photographs and normal paintings will not produce a 3D image like we see on the shroud? That is true. But by no means are such 3D properties unique and I would be very surprised if the burn marks didn’t show such characteristics. Smudges might, too.

It might also help to know what software Dr. Sciencebod was referring to when he wrote, “I take it you are aware of the way the computer was programmed, i.e. to treat light and dark areas on the shroud as being closer to or further from a 3D object that was emitting some kind of radiation.”  No software, that I am aware of, was written specifically for such analysis on the shroud.  Can Dr. Sciencebod produce evidence of this. The VP-8 Image Analyzer was developed for mapping planetary surfaces and other 3D data stored in image bit maps. It just so happened that this hardwired machine, that cannot be programmed, produced the first 3D images that show that the image cannot be a painting or a photograph. The notion of a body emitting radiation was an attempt to explain the 3D properties. It wasn’t the other way around.

I agree that the 3D aspects of the image are not unique. Virtual reality and gaming software regularly uses similar images, called height-fields, to produce realistic landscapes. NASA uses them to generate 3D surface representations of the moon and planets. Those height-fields are created by radar and lasers. Google Earth makes its amazing 3D renderings of our planet the same way. NOAA produces those amazing 3D images of hurricanes from radar data represented in height-fields. Height-fields are used every day in hospitals for 3D ultrasound sonograms of fetuses. So the 3D characteristics seen in the shroud are not even unique to a human body.

Ray Rogers, by-the-way, was very much convinced that an image of a body that appears to be 3D encoded could occur naturally without supernatural action.

I Stand Corrected

imageBarrie Schwortz wrote to me:

. . .  you [that is me] made a comment that is not really correct. You said:

BTW: In this email, Rogers stated, “Energetic radiation absolutely can not be used to explain the properties of the image.” That, at least, the ENEA team proved was wrong.

I totally disagree. All the ENEA team did was color the surface of a fiber. They did not create any image that could be compared with the Shroud. So their research only shows that they can discolor a surface fiber with their laser. It does not show that they can create an image with the Shroud’s properties using this method. They proved very little.

And Yannick Clément wrote:

M. Porter, I don’t know how can you say that. Read again my open letter please ! If Rogers hypothesis is correct about the fact that it is a thin layer of impurity that was colored on the surface of the Shroud, then the ENEA TEAM DIDN’T PROVED HE WAS WRONG ! What they showed (without an independent confirmation by the way) is that they could color superficially the primary cell wall of the cellulose of the linen fibers. THIS IS NOT THE CONCLUSION REACHED BY RAY ROGERS REGARDING THE BODY IMAGES ON THE SHROUD.

Until the ENEA team will be able to only color a thin layer of impurity WITHOUT affecting the primary cell wall of the cellulose of the linen fibers, then there’s good chances that their experiments and results are simply irrelevant regarding the Shroud ! In that regard, I don’t think anyone can claim that they proved that Rogers assumption was wrong regarding energetic radiation effects versus the Shroud’s body images !

And others wrote to say similar things. However, one reader wrote:

Rogers had argued that radiation sufficient to color a fiber destroyed the thing. Joan Rogers had blown samples to bits with lasers trying to color them. If that is the sense that you meant then you are correct. ENEA succeeded where Joan had failed. You could color a fiber and Ray was wrong. But is that the correct context for the letter you quoted from?

No. So, I stand corrected. Yes, I was thinking about Joan Rogers’ experiments. But that was the wrong context.

It is enough to make you want to become a skeptic.

I posted this just a little over a year ago on November 7, 2010. I called it, “Thoughts for a Sunday Morning: Tinfoil Hats.” I was reminded of it today by two people: 1) a Jesuit priest friend of mine who is thrilled that ColinB (aka sciencebod), a skeptic who is a real scientist, has joined in the discussions here in this blog and 2) someone who inquired about those crop circles in England that looked something like the face of the man in the Shroud of Turin. So here goes again:

It is enough to make you want to become a skeptic.

In recent years, we have seen a world of craziness when it comes to skepticism about the Shroud of Turin. Perhaps none was as historically dyspeptic as a great conspiracy theory woven by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince: Leonardo da Vinci created the images on the Shroud.

image This wasn’t their only conspiracy theory. In The Stargate Conspiracy we learn that the CIA and MI5 are actively manipulating a secret cult of powerful and rich leaders, including leading scientists who believe that they are in direct contact with extraterrestrial intelligent beings from the star Sirius. These extraterrestrial beings are claiming to be the gods of ancient Egypt, the very gods responsible for an image of a face on Mars. Why are secret American and British agents, with help from NASA, doing this? To create a new insidious mind-control religion. As icing on the cake P&P tell us:

We reveal the ground-breaking research that provides a plausible answer to the most enduring questions about the ancient Egyptians’ achievements and beliefs – and, explosively, uncover the true nature of the gods themselves . . .

In How Leonardo da Vinci Fooled History we learn from P&P that the greatest painter and polymath in all of history secretly invented photography and then created a gigantic camera obscura. He discovered how to make film out of linen, how to chemically develop pictures and fix them. He was, after all, they remind us, a genius. He understood the camera obscura. So did many educated people, even for several centuries before Leonardo. He had experimented with chemistry. That, too, was a passion of many educated people in his day. Moreover, the authors tell us, he was, “[a] known joker, conjuror and illusionist, and a Church-hating heretic.” Is all of this not proof enough? Not even if it were true, which it isn’t.

A big problem for Picknett and Prince was the fact that Leonardo was born a century after the shroud was exhibited in Lirey. It was therefore necessary that he have an opportunity to replace one fake shroud with another fake shroud of his own making. He might have been welcome at the Savoy family palace, P&P tell us. After all they may have owned one of his drawings. Not only did he do all these things, say the conspiracy duo, he dabbed on blood in all the right places. He replaced the head of the crucifixion model with a photograph of his own head. P&P figured this out by comparing the head on the Shroud to a drawing of Leonardo and found, generally speaking, that the eyes and the nose and the mouth of both men were all in about the same place on their respective faces.

There were other strange skeptical theories about the image. There was the Shadow Shroud, a dust painting of a corpse lit by candlelight in a tomb, and another photograph theory sans Leonardo. On and on, theory after theory.

But hasn’t that been the problem of the proponents of authenticity, as well? To some extent, yes. You could say ‘yes’ and leave it at that. But there has been a stark difference. Proponents of authenticity always seemed a bit more reserved, somber, tentative. They spoke mostly of hypotheses and philosophical notions like Occam’s Razor. They sought and obtained publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

image The skeptics, on the other hand, at least some of them, tried not to get too close to science. According to Joe Nickell, not being a scientist is advantageous as researcher or investigator. In an article entitled, “An Interview With Joe Nickell,” Eric Krieg of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking, describes Nickell (using Nickell’s own words) as an “investigator” and formerly an “undercover detective, teacher, draft dodger, river boat manager, carnival promoter, magician and spokesperson.” 

“Joe [Nickell] impressed on me the difference between being a scientist and an investigator,” Kreig continued:

Joe seems to have no significant credentials . . .  Joe remarks that a scientist tends to approach an investigation from the narrow view of his own specialty – where as a ‘jack of all trades’ would come up with more avenues of investigation.

But the skeptics always sounded confident and certain. “It happened this way,” they seemed to say. That sounds admirable, of course, until you realize that that no two skeptics were saying the same thing.

Lest you think that such nuttiness is reserved for skeptics, it ain’t so. The tinfoil hat crowd has arrived from wherever, perhaps from the star Sirius, to tell the world that the Shroud is real. It’s hard to pin down when all this started, but the publication of Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Christianity seems defining. Tipler is a professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University, a theoretical physicist, a quantum cosmologist. But . . .! In his newest book, The Physics of Christianity, he suggests that the Shroud of Turin is the key for figuring out how to save the universe from ultimate collapse so that brilliant minds can build and sustain a computer simulation of our past lives, including consciousness and free will, thereby giving us immortality. Heaven is a virtual reality. There is more. Here I must quote from Martin Gardner’s review of Tipler’s book to touch on one other aspect of the Shroud:

All conservative Christians believe Jesus was free of the original sin that resulted from the Fall, which has been passed on to all descendants of Adam and Eve. Catholics think that Mary, too, escaped original sin. (It is a Catholic heresy to reject the Immaculate Conception.) How does Tipler explain the way Jesus and Mary differ in this manner from all other humans?

Tipler’s answer is wonderful. There must be genes that carry original sin! This could be verified some day, he writes, by first identifying the gene. Thus, failing to find evidence of the gene on the Shroud of Turin would explain the sinlessness of both Jesus and his mother.

(I am, dear reader, doing my best to keep a straight face while I summarize Tipler’s convictions.)

image image There is, of course – I say ‘of course’ because everyone follows crop circle reports – the account, just this year, 2010, of two crop circles in Wickham Green, just South of the M4 highway, near Hungerford, in Buckinghamshire, in England, in the United Kingdom. There are images in each of the crop circles. If you overlay these two images after flipping one of them around left to right, and you squint, it is obviously the face seen on the Shroud of Turin. This discovery left one pundit to suggest that there were only two possible explanations: either extraterrestrial beings – may I suggest Picknett and Prince’s friends from the star Sirius – are trying to tell us something or some very talented pranksters used the image on the Shroud for some chicanery.

More recently we have been entertained by a pseudo-chemistry and pseudo-history that proposes that the shroud was a Jewish tallit. Now there is a soon to be released book that argues that the images are quantum bio-holograms. If that is not enough there is a published report from The Urantia Book crowd:

image It [=UB] says that Jesus’ resurrected body was like that of angels and that his physical body still lay in the tomb after the resurrection and that the angels were given permission, upon request of an archangel,  to cause the accelerated dissolution of his physical remains. This permission was requested and granted so that they would not have to witness the decay of his body. The correlations have primarily to do with the superficial nature of the image and current theories about corona discharge and nuclear medicine  imaging.

It helps to understand that the UBers believe that Jesus was the name that the most senior angel, Michael, the ruler of Nebadon, used, temporarily, after the incarnation and before the resurrection. The administrative angel Gabriel, his second in command, ruled the universe while Michael, a.k.a. Jesus, was visiting this planet. He is currently using the name Michael, not Jesus.

And finally – well for now anyways – from a book called Lost at Sea, we have explanations for errors in the carbon dating that defy human comprehension:

They label this skull fell back into dust in the radiocarbon year 5020 bc where this soul ate the fruit of this tree around the calendar ring—that is 6000 years before Christ rose into light: Here this ancient temple wall fell back into dust, around this soul on this raised mound, these doctors call Broca’s area, named after a brain surgeon, where they discover these tongues of many language begin to speak out through these gates and where they look for the Creator of the word— in this wilderness from this historic cross over  point through time—with the AMS. . . . The image locks in the location where this seed buried in the ground rose up into light and left its image to prove that the AMS can’t count the number of times this ancient body rose up into light and it circled these souls —lost at sea—as shown on the stump . . .

(Yes, AMS stands for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, the method used to date the Shroud of Turin.)

Get out your tinfoil hats. It is only going to continue. It’s enough to want to become a skeptic.

NOTE:  When I originally posted this there was a comment that expanded on and sought to clarify Frank Tipler’s explanations. That comment can be found here.

Tough Questions from Sciencebod

sciencebod, by way of a comment on the thread, “And you thought you knew all about peer reviewed journals” has brought up some tough questions that need their own thread so as not to be lost. I have subdivided his comment into three parts to which I have  taken the liberty of adding the numbers 1, 2 and 3:

image1. Speaking of imaging, or at any rate computer-aided imaging, can anyone explain to me why the so-called 3D-encoded image on the Shroud includes not only the victim, presumed to be 1st century AD, despite totally spurious (we are told) carbon dating to the contrary, but extends to the later 1532 fire damage as well?

The burn marks indeed have (or seem to have) a 3D appearance. The best and the only explanation is that the burn marks are progressively darker near the center of the scorch mark and this translates into a pseudo-elevation when plotted. It is no different then a drop of ink on a piece of filter paper, getting lighter and lighter as it moves away from the center. It plots like the shape of a mountain. This phenomenon is useful in better understanding the burn marks. Good observation, sciencebod.

imageThis does not mean that the 3D appearance of the body isn’t exceedingly mysterious. It proves (some would say only demonstrates) that the image is not by reflected light as it would be seen by the eye of an artist or the lens of a camera. The intensity of the image color can be plotted as a 3D elevation of a body if one presumes (or allows for convenience) that the body is in a generally horizontal position. Some, particularly those who favor an energetic cause for the image, say that it represents body to cloth distance. I remain unconvinced that it is distance. But whether or not the image represents body to cloth distance it is an analog height-field dataset. It cannot be a photograph made with reflected light.

2. Re the latter: look for the 4 framing elongated diamond-shaped additions that intrude upon and spoil an otherwise perfect snapshot, one which would only be possible – acccording to a group of Italian scientists – using state-of-the-art short-wave uv laser beams.

I don’t think the Italian scientists (ENEA) actually said that. I think they said UV light , not specifically lasers (they used lasers experimentally), was capable of creating a coloration of the fibers that is similar to what is found on the shroud. What they did is constantly overstated mainly because the media didn’t read the report.

3. (Shhh – don’t mention the lack of a converging lens, concave mirror, or even pinhole camera, without which no imaging is possible, at least not according to boring old 20th/21st century science), …

That is a problem. That is a big problem. How do we get a high resolution (focused) image without a converging lens, concave mirror, or even pinhole camera. That is of course true only if we think the image was created by light in the near infrared to ultraviolet spectrum. (Other focusing possibilities come to mind for microwave and x-ray.) This is one of the reasons that I doubt that the image was caused by light or any energy source. There is one interesting proposal for overcoming this problem. It is advanced in the History Channel documentary by Ray Downing. It is beyond explaining here, but do have a look. 

Ray Rogers was acutely aware of the resolution issue when he proposed a chemistry-only solution, a Maillard reaction, as the cause of the image. His work (not in my mind yet a fully formed hypothesis) has since been improperly and unfairly characterized as merely a diffusion hypothesis (e.g. totally and inappropriately misrepresented in Giulio Fanti’s most recent paper, “Hypotheses Regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud. A Critical Compendium,” in The Journal of Imaging Science and Technology, (Vol. 55, No. 6 060507-1–060507-14, 2011)).

As most of you know, if you read the many threads of discussion in this forum, Yannick Clément is the strongest and most articulate proponent of Rogers imaging work. I won’t even try to summarize his views. Just go browsing. Rather, I still have a copy of an email I received from Rogers on January 4, 2004. It read, in part, in this version as posted to the Shroud Science Group (compare to Fanti):

Dear Dan and Researchers:

Just to clear up a few items. . . .

Fairly thin stagnant zones of gas form near fixed surfaces. Other gases that approach such zones must diffuse through the stagnant gas to reach the surface. Diffusion of gases through other gases is modeled with Graham’s Law of Diffusion. The rates of diffusion are inversely proportional to the square roots of the densities of the gases. Diffusion parallel to the surface of a cloth that covers a body can not be instantaneous, and it will be much slower for heavier
molecules. The main products of body decomposition after a few hours are quite heavy molecules.

In the context of image-formation hypotheses that involve reactive gases, remember that cloth is porous. Gases diffusing to the surface can pass through the pores and be lost. [This fact is probably responsible for the image color on the back of the cloth in the area of the hair. Matted fibers inhibit the diffusion of gases.] This phenomenon will restrict vapor concentrations as a function of the distance from contact points where a body touches a cloth.

Cloth surfaces are active and adsorb gases rapidly, a fact that further limits concentrations as a function of distance.

John Jackson’s mathematical analysis of image resolution suggested that no single, simple molecular-diffusion or radiation mechanism could produce the image observed. However, a combination of systems could offer an explanation, e.g., anisotropic heat flow by radiation from the body to the cloth, attenuated heat-flow in the cloth, gaseous diffusion, convection, surface properties of cloth, and the dependence of chemical rates on temperature.

BTW: In this email, Rogers stated, “Energetic radiation absolutely can not be used to explain the properties of the image.” That, at least, the ENEA team proved was wrong.

So sciencebod, I don’t have complete answers for you. As there is no burden of proof issue here, I have no problem being very convinced by the 3D and many other characteristics of the image that it is not a forgery. Yes, I know that sounds a bit like the ridiculous ‘irreducibly complex’ issue in evolutionary biology, but it is not the same. There is no claim that the complexity of the image or the image mechanism is irreducible. It is just illusive, still. I don’t think it is energy, however. I think Rogers may have been on the right track. He did create some rudimentary experimental images. But note I said “may have been.”

Something is missing. I don’t know what it is.

Poem for Today: A portrait of Jesus like the Shroud of Turin

From a poem In and Out Of My Hands in Golden State Years/Hits & Near Misses 1989-1994:

imageI see my Jeep Wagoneer
Waiting under a halogen lamp
Its rusty ass pointed my way
When something strikes me odd
I’m Fifty yards away and
The back window’s frosted over
The pattern’s quite unique
The hair
The beard
The patient weary tender smile
Twenty five yards and yes
Like the Shroud of Turin
Now Jeep of Tom
Etched in crystal
On the back window of my faithful Jeep
A portrait of Jesus
It was hard to believe
Was it a coincidence
A miracle
Did it mean something
Was it a message
God is coming
God wants peace
God likes Jeeps