In reference to rude comments made by Colin Berry, you may have seen the one brief sentence from Tersio Gorrasi that read, “I stopped to receive these comments!” 

Two members of the Shroud Science Group have told me that they won’t be visiting this blog so long as Colin Berry continues with his rude remarks. Two others, I am certain, left for the same reason in December.

And then there is this from Leland in Boston:

I am agnostic about the shroud. I had  hoped to find this blog informative. Unfortunately Dr. Collins’s [sic, should be Colin S. Berry’s] rudeness is too over the top for my taste. His recent reply to Chris in which he wrote “if one were sufficiently small-minded and mean-spirited as you reveal yourself to be with that unnecessary and uncalled for ad hom,” is a perfect example. (Did the pot just call the kettle black?) So was his very recent comment to Maria da Glória Gonçalves Barroso rude and thoughtless. Dr. Collins [Berry] is boorish and mean.

The image is not a scorch. I’m not agnostic about that.  But how do I say so without being insulted?

I doubt that anyone can scorch a flax fiber to a depth of only 200 nanometers. Even if someone could, it is ludicrous to think that this could be done on such a large scale without modern day hoisting equipment rigged to precision temperature and time controls. But that’s not all. It is ludicrous to think that an anatomically precise statue of a crucifixion victim existed before the middle of the fourteenth century. If it had existed it would today be one of the greatest museum works of art just as it would have been then one of wonders of the world of Christendom and beyond.

Dr. Collins [Berry] has tried to prove superficiality possible by scorching an onion skin laid over linen. What folly. If you will but toss a bit of linen and an onion skin into a fry pan you can see why. The onion skin turns brown quickly. I suspect that it caramelizes at lower temperatures and much faster than linen scorches. You just don’t mess with different materials without testing or researching, not if you are a good scientist. STURP, Rogers, and Di Lazzaro have all sufficiently explained and demonstrated too why the image cannot be a scorch. Get over it or prove otherwise. Yes, I said prove otherwise.

Dr. Collins [Berry] , in order to overcome objections, has resorted to sloppy scientific speculation. Give me a break. Induced florescence from burned linen ceases over time, he suggests. Ridiculous. Prove it. A scorch in linen will fade sufficiently, he suggests, making the image very faint and low in contrast. Yeah, right! Prove it.

Dr. Collins [Berry] rejects the need to prove anything. He lectures us in a haughty fashion, which is ridiculous because he is so wrong. He said, “But as I have had to remind some folk before, scientific hypotheses are not proved – they are falsified – so until someone here is able to provide some sound reasons for thinking it is NOT a scorch, then I can take a back seat for a while – perhaps indefinitely.”

First of all, that is just plain naive. Yes, of course, scientific theories are not proved. And, yes, they must be falsifiable. Most philosophers of science agree. Few, however, think it is so black and white and so simplistic. In the world beyond Vienna’s Café Central of the early 20th century, to assume hypotheses or theories are acceptable simply because they haven’t been falsified is ludicrous in the extreme.

For instance, while it’s true that the statement ‘all swans are white’ is falsifiable, no sensible person in the real world would regard this statement as reliable "until someone here is able to provide some sound reasons for thinking" there are black swans.

And, for instance, Einstein, in 1916, argued that the Sun’s gravity bends light from distant stars as the starlight passes by the sun on its way to earth. He had a well reasoned argument. He wanted to see if he was right. He wanted to convince others, as well. Like Dr. Collins [Berry] , I suppose, he might have simply said, prove me wrong. He didn’t. He sought ways to test his hypothesis. A photograph, he knew, might show the effect if taken during a solar eclipse. Stars, if he was right, would appear to be slightly in the wrong place because the starlight had been bent. If on the other hand stars were in the right place then his theory would be false. It wasn’t false. In effect, in reality, and as the real world sees it he got the proof he needed. Sufficiently proved. Yes, for Einstein didn’t just take a back seat for awhile and leave it to others.

We might imagine a pharmaceutical company putting out a drug and saying it will cure this or that and saying, furthermore, “so until someone here is able to provide some sound reasons for thinking it is NOT a [curative then we] can take a back seat for a while – perhaps indefinitely.”

And, could we not, by Dr. Collins [Berry]’s overly simplistic understanding of Popperian criterion, say that the shroud image is a photograph, an acid etching in linen and a scorch, all at once. The champions of each of these hypotheses choose to ignore very basic, well documented observations. And so from different perspectives (and how are we to know which one is right) none of these hypotheses has been falsified.

Dr. Allen, to his credit, built a room-sized camera and produced a life-sized photograph on cloth. Dr. Garlaschelli created a full-body image in linen. Every scientist who proposed an explanation for the images sought to produce at least a facial image that met the characteristics of the image. This is true of skeptics and proponents of authenticity, alike.

But not Dr. Collins [Berry]. He writes, “My job as a scientist is largely done – at least in a proactive experimental sense – having provided the ideas that distinguish between mechanisms, notably conduction v radiation. I leave it now to a technologist who has time on his hands to convert those ideas into a tangible end-product – though I suspect few would regard making a life-size facsimile copy of the Shroud, complete with blood stains etc as a useful or desirable end-product, except perhaps for some fleeting media fame.”

I’m out of here. I’ve got better things to do than listen to a boorish fundamentalist.

Regrettably, I may need to limit Colin Berry’s participation in this blog. It is not because of his skepticism. That is welcome, indeed wanted. I had hoped for challenging dialog. I had hoped that he would put our feet to the fire. That didn’t happen. Colin, who might have substantively challenged the work and findings of people like Al Adler, Ray Roger and Paolo Di Lazzaro, instead called it Mickey Mouse science. He called the folks at ENEA “idiots” and a “bunch of jokers.” Yet, even mild criticism of his hypotheses and experiments results in complaints of “ad hom” attacks on him. I’m tired of it.

Insults are to be expected. But insults as substitutes for substance serve no purpose whatsoever.

I don’t want to lose good people because of Colin. So, effective immediately, unpleasant, insulting comments from him will not be published or will be edited by me.