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Sharon Hill should check out her facts

imageSharon Hill writes in Michael Shermer’s Skeptic Society blog , Shroud of Turin believers want science to look until it comes to the conclusion they like:

First she grabs a bit of information out of the Buffalo Newspapers about Russ Breault:

Radiocarbon-dating tests in 1988 were supposed to settle debate about whether the Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Jesus.

Scientists determined the famous piece of linen was no older than the 13th or 14th century and, thus, did not date to the time of Christ.

But more than two decades after the testing, the shroud continues to be a source of intrigue worldwide, as well as in Western New York.

Russ Breault will add to the local discussion with a talk 7 p.m. Tuesday in Immanuel Lutheran Church in the City of Tonawanda.

“It remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the world,” said Breault, who tours the country presenting the “Shroud Encounter,” a 90-minute presentation on the history of the shroud and various scientific examinations of it. “When you drill down into all that we know, it is truly a fascinating study. It is just like a CSI investigation.”

All perfectly reasonable. Then she injects this bit sourced from Joe Nickell:

Gee, this guy [=Russ] is missing the other half of the story.

“It’s the work of a confessed Medieval forger done in France in the middle of the 14th century using red ochre and vermilion tempre as part of a faith-healing scam,” said Joe Nickell, an investigative historian and Amherst resident who has written two books and several articles on the subject.

It has been well established that it isn’t a painting. Joe keeps believing it but the evidence is overwhelming that it isn’t. Luigi Garlaschelli thinks it an acid etching in the linen fibers. Nicholas Allen thinks it’s a photograph. Colin Berry thinks it’s a scorched image. Nathan Wilson thinks it’s a reverse bleaching of raw linen. Frankly, I’ll go along with a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), and former editor for physical sciences at Nature, Philip Ball, who recognizes that no one has figured out how the image was formed.

Hill then quotes the Buffalo news account again.

Local engineer Jeffrey Skurka, who recruited Breault to lecture last year on Palm Sunday in Springville, credits the shroud with helping rejuvenate his Catholic faith.

Skurka, who lives in Niagara Falls, doesn’t dispute the radiocarbon- dating results, but he ascribes the dating to a phenomenon known as “radiative capture,” which he believes was caused by radiation emitted during Christ’s resurrection.

“We need to take a harder look at this,” Skurka said.

She writes, “So, we have faith based conclusion. He wants us to look harder until we find justification for the answer he likes. That’s sham inquiry and it’s worthless.”

Actually he didn’t say that. Everyone who comes up with a hypothesis, whether its scientific or wacko like “radiative capture,” will readily say something like Skurka said. In fact, Nickell thinks we should look harder at his painting hypothesis – which is by-the-way is somewhat different than the late Walter McCrone’s painting hypothesis. And Berry wants people to look harder at his scorch hypothesis.

What Hill has done that is completely unfair is to imply by loose association that Breault is part of group of people that “want science to look until it comes to the conclusion they like.” I know of Russ’ intellectual integrity. He would never suggest that. Hill should attend his lecture. She should ask him a question of two.

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