A Parenthetical Change in the Valencia Consensus

imagePlease note that the wording of statement 1 of the Valencia Consensus has been changed on the Image specialists agree on a basic set of image characteristics on the Shroud of Turin page of David Rolfe’s blog with the addition of the part in italics within parentheses.

The body image is created by molecular change of linen fibres. There are also bloodstains. There is no body image beneath the bloodstains. (For the avoidance of doubt, this characteristic does not exclude the possibility that the molecular change may have taken place in an impurity layer at the linen surface).

I find this acceptable though I much prefer a single sentence without a parenthetical phrase because I find both the notion of molecular change of the fibers or of an impurity layer as having equal footing based on the evidence.

I still object to the notion of science by consensus. Presby Theo commented well this morning when he quoted from a speech by Michael Crichton at the California Institute of Technology on Jan. 17, 2003:

I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. 

Does this mean that all consensus in science is wrong? Some would argue no, not when consensus is widespread having survived repetitive consideration over time. That is not the case here, however. We have a consensus of only five scientists formed in a day or two. Will it seem that they are sufficiently representative of the Shroud of Turin scientific community?

15 thoughts on “A Parenthetical Change in the Valencia Consensus”

  1. I see no problem in the change made to the number 1 statement, it mentions the impurity layer and that that may be involved in the image formation and not just the linen fibrels…good enough! The main point is that the image is extremely superficial…point made, case closed.

    As for all the opposition to the ‘consensus’, this I believe is not a ‘true’ consensus for any true meaning of the word. We must remember these ‘points’ mentioned on the list were established already by most all scientists involved with the Shroud investigation, so not just decided by a few!. These points were just picked out of an already ‘established’ list of scientific points! It doesn’t matter who you have on the board or how many, there will always be opposition to certain members choosen or to the fact some of the more prominant scientists cannot be included.


    1. I forgot to add, I don’t believe all this squabbling means anything anyways, I foresee NO ONE seriously accepting this challenge to accomplishing it, to any great means. I don’t think it is possible to replicate the image now or ever, the incredible combination of details that make-up this image is, to me anyways, beyond comprehension. I’m no scientist or chemist or have any letters behind my name, but common sense and a keen eye tells me this image is not “normal” in the ‘Naturalistic’ or ‘scientific’ sense of the words, presently.


      1. NATURE CAN REALLY BE SURPRISING MY DEAR RON ! He he ! You should be prudent to completely disregard the possibility that God used his own creation to accomplish a masterpiece like the Shroud !!! ;-)

  2. I would say consensus in science is right when you have a tested, repeatable theory that is correct. The consensus does not create the right result. It only reflects that scientists accept what is proven as such.

  3. Even if I am glad to see this change taking place (it’s better than nothing), I agree with Dan that both hypothesis (because that’s what they are) should have been put on the same level. But having said that, I should add this : Since they are both hypothesis, can someone tell me what they do in a list of FACTS ???

    I repeat what I said in my recent paper published here :

    The only acceptable phrasing concerning the chromophore of the image is this : “The coloration of the body image results from a dehydration-oxydation process involving some kind of carbohydrates on the top-surface of the cloth”

    That’s why I ask M. Rolfe to reconsider again the point #1 of his list and change it for what I just said. Now, for the second part of the point #1 that state : “There is no body image beneath the bloodstains.”, I think it should not be mixed with the coloration of the body image and be put in another independent point in his list. And I also think that this point could be extend like this : “There is no body image beneath the bloodstains and the serum stains.”

    Adler discovered that both the blood on the Shroud AND the serum on the Shroud have been able to protect the cloth during the image formation process and that’s very important to note. For example, that was one of the observation that lead Ray Rogers to conclude that the image formation process was a very MILD process, involving probably some kind of chemical reaction(s) on-top of the cloth and that this reaction took place most probably at NORMAL temperature, without any emission of heat. That’s why I think this second part of the point #1 SHOULD be separate from the first part and also should be extend to include the serum stains. This is not a banal fact !!! The image formation process had absolutely NO EFFECT whatsoever on both the bloodstains and the serum stains that were already on the Shroud when it took place.

    At least, because of this recent change in the list of M. Rolfe, I have a sense that this blog has contribute to change things in some people’s head and I’m really happy to see this. That proves the valor of this blog. Of course, I’m not dumb enough to think that this change uniquely comes from me and some other bloggers, but I’m sure M. Rolfe has read all that we have written here and take that into account. I even have a sense that my recent paper about Rogers quotes have been a real eye-opener for some people !

    Now, if M. Rolfe really wants to write the better possible list of facts he can, he MUST change his point #1 to something like what I just said about the dehydration-oxydation process, without any reference to the real chromophore of the image, whether it’s the linen fiber or the impurities, because, for the moment, we can’t be 100% sure of the correct answer to this question. And even more than this, there is even a possibility that the real chromophore could be found, at least in some parts of the Shroud (like, for example, the images of the hair, mustache, beard, etc.), in both an impurities layer residing on the surface of the cloth AND ALSO in the primary cell wall of the most superficial fibers on top of the cloth ! In other words, there’s still a possibility that both hypotheses can be true (to some extend) !

    I think even Thibault Heimburger would agree with me about that !!! ;-) But to be perfect, I really think that M. Rolfe should do another change in the point #1 of his list and put the fact concerning the absence of an image under the bloodstains (and the serum stains) in a new and independent point.

    1. No doubt Dan will censor this comment, the way he has censored my others recently. But for those concerned with facts – not fancy- here’s a thought that will almost certainly fail to appear on Shroud Mystery Inc.

      If the Shroud image really were on a surface layer of substances that were originally deposited from immersion in water – e.g Rogers’ starch, saponins etc – courtesy of his Pliny cookbook – then how come the water stain has not affected the image in the region of the knees?

      The entire “surface impurity” hypothesis is just that – with the difference that Rogers never bothered to verify it in any formal rigorous sense – barring one or two impressionistic spot tests – making it a non-scientific hypothesis. In other words a lark, not a serious hypothesis… No serious scientist cites Pliny as the last word on linen manufacture, and assumes that Pliny-prescribed additives are there without bothering to test.

      I’ve given up on the Shroud. Too many loonies. There are plenty of other intriguing phenomena worth studying, like Stonehenge and Silbury Hill.

      1. Firstly, it’s important to note that Rogers was never able to scientifically confirmed the presence of Saponaria on the cloth. But it’s a fact that McCrone discovered some starch fractions in fibers from image areas. This was later confirmed by Rogers himself. That fact alone proves that there really are some impurities on the Shroud. Also, and this is often forgotten, Al Adler, near the end of his life, talk about some tests he made to check out if there wouldn’t be some pectin impurities on the cloth and he was able to demonstrate with both chemical test and spectral analysis that it was really the case ! You can read this in his book “The Orphaned Manuscript”. Those pectin impurities, along the starch impurities, were probably deposited on the top-surface of the cloth by the evaporation-concentration process after the cloth was washed and dried.

        Adler did this check out after a Frenchman named Stéphane Mottin emit the hypothesis that the cloth light fluorescence was caused by some deposit of pectin on-top of the fibers and that this deposit came from the retting process of the flax plant (note : this is the very first step done to make a linen cloth). I’m not an expert but it seems pretty obvious to me that those pectin impurities come directly from the pectin present inside the primary cell wall. In other words, the retting process seems to be able to extract some of the pectin present in the pcw and make some deposit of this substance on-top of the linen fibers… Bizarrely, Rogers never talk about this finding from Adler. It’s bizarre because it seem, at first sight, to be a confirmation of his hypothesis concerning a thin layer of impurities present on the top-surface of the cloth… Anyway, scientifically speaking, it is almost sure that there are at least 2 sorts of impurities on-top of the cloth, namely starch and pectin impurities, and there can be even some other carbohydrates impurities that are still waiting to be confirmed (like the saponaria for example).

        The fact that there are at least 2 sorts of carbohydrates impurities doesn’t prove that this was the elements that were colored during the image formation process but, nevertheless, this was probably the case since, at least for the starch impurities, this kind of carbohydrates impurity is much easier to color than the linen fibers themselves (that’s Rogers words).

        And the question of Collin is this : If the chromophore of the coloration is really a thin layer of impurities, why the water stains on the Shroud don’t seemed to had any effect on this colored layer ? Good question ! In the same sense, we could also ask ourselves the question : While Adler report that there are a lot of little blood particles stuck inside the threads on the Shroud (they were taken out of the surface of the blood clots by abrasion because of the numerous folding and handling of the cloth), why Adler report that there seem to be no particles of coloration struck inside the threads ?

        Those 2 observations (i.e. nothing in the image has moved with the water and there is no sign of abrasion on the surface of the image fibers) seem to prove that the coloration that has formed the image is pretty hard to disaggregate. The fact that we need to use very strong chemical agents like diimide to reduce the color seem to confirm that. All those observations lead to only one conclusion : the coloration is very stable and is not soluble in water. Now, the question is this : if the image come from a dehydration-oxidation process that has colored a thin layer of impurity, is it normal that this colored layer of impurities is not soluble in water ?

        One thing’s for sure, Ray Rogers was fully aware of the 2 observations I just report here… So, it seems pretty obvious that, at least for him, a colored layer of carbohydrates impurities that was formed by a dehydration-oxidation process is not supposed to be soluble in water ! If this wasn’t the case, do you really think for 2 seconds that Rogers would have emit his hypothesis concerning the Maillard reaction ??? Do you really think an expert in chemistry like Rogers didn’t thought about this aspect of the question ??? Seriously, this idea seem completely ridiculous…

        Anyway, just to verify that aspect of the question, I made a search in Rogers book for an answer. And I had no difficulty at all to find it !!! Here’s the quote I found on page 106 of Rogers book : “Water-stained image areas on the Shroud showed that image color does not dissolve or migrate in water. Maillard products are not water soluble, and they do not moved when wetted.”

        This single quote prove that my expectations regarding the professionalism of Ray Rogers were right ! On this specific question of the water stains, I think we can say without any doubts that Rogers proved his case !

        My friend Collin, I think you’ll have to look elsewhere in order to find a good argument against Rogers hypothesis !!! I recommend you to start with a good reading of Rogers book that you can buy here : http://www.lulu.com/shop/raymond-n-rogers/a-chemists-perspective-on-the-shroud-of-turin/ebook/product-15663522.html

        Take care of all the details you will found in this book and reflect upon them. You cannot go against Rogers if you don’t read carefully all that he wrote concerning his hypothesis…

  4. To some extent the debate about (non-)/acceptability of consensus in science is merely semantic, and I think Andy’s comment comes close to the mark. The sciences in general have frequently been contentious. I can recommend any of Hal Hellman’s books in his series “Great Feuds in …” (Science / Mathematics / Technology / Medicine). The feuds were sometimes about priority, sometimes about validity, sometimes about concepts.

    Two matters come to mind in connection with this challenge and the debate about consensus.

    Around 1900, David Hilbert, president of a prestigious international mathematical association presented a programme of some 23 unsolved problems for the twentieth century. I think most of them have now all been resolved, a few in quite unexpected ways, e.g. Godel’s undecidability theorem, axiom of choice, and the contiuum hypothesis in transfinite numbers. Hilbert had not sought consensus for his programme, but his status as president had allowed him alone to formulate his programme of challenges.

    The second matter relates to the Paul Wolfskehl prize of 100,000 marks for the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem Fermat had formulated his notorious theorem around 1637, and claimed to have had a proof (he hadn’t – it was really a hypothesis). The problem challenged the best mathematicians for the next few hundred years. In 1908, Paul Wolfskehl, a Gernan industrialist bequeathed in his will a prize of 100,000 GM to whomever could solve it. The challenge attracted every amateur mathematician throughout the world, and the math dept in the university of Gottingen was inundated with attempted proofs. In response the dean developed a routine card response “The first error occurs in Line xxx”.
    The Theorem was finally proved by the English mathematician Andrew Wiles at Princeton U in 1995, who had dedicated much of his professional life to its solution. Peer review of his first presentation of the “proof” revealed.a serious problem which seemed intractable. However further work resolved his difficulty, and Wiles eventually collected the prize.

    You can find any amount of material on the web about Fermat’s Last Theorem, the Wolfskehl prize and Wiles’ proof of the theorem. Simon Singh has published an excellent paper-back on the subject.

    The example serves to illustrate.how acceptance in the scientific community comes about, certainly in mathematics anyway. I doubt if the Shroud challenge will attract the same amount of attention as did the Wolfskehl prize. But it would not surprise me if we have to wait a few more hundred years, before the enigma can be finally resolved.

  5. “Maillard products are not water soluble, and they do not moved when wetted.” Really? Who decides these matters? Science by consensus is bad enough. Science by ex cathedra pronouncement is even worse…

    To set the record straight, and speaking as a previous Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at a food research institute, let me tell you that Maillard reaction products (melanoidins) that are made using reducing sugars and simple amines can most certainly be water-soluble. It is the melanoproteins that tend to be insoluble (see under “Isolation” in that link) but Rogers specifically stated it was, at least according to him, low molecular weight putrefaction amines (cadaverine, putrescine etc) that provided the amino nitrogen for production of the Shroud image.

    1. If you constantly doubt the profesionnalism of someone who was a head chemist in a place like Los Alamos, it’s your choice but I think it’s a bad one…

      1. It’s not about whether Rogers was right or wrong. It’s about whether melanoidins, the intensely coloured polymeric endproducts of Maillard reactions, are soluble in water in water or not. Those that are formed from reactions between simple organic amines and reducing sugars can indeed be soluble – I provided a link.

        We could also discuss other details pertaining to Rogers’ reporting of his Maillard hypothesis – like his starting with quotes from Pliny re starch having been used as a processing aid – of questionable relevance to Maillard reactions. Why? Because starch, an alpha-1,4-linked polyglucan, has no reducing properties until degraded, but Rogers then suddenly switches to referring to “crude starch”, but that too is only reducing if accompanied by hydrolytic products (glucose, maltose etc).

        Then, in his model systems, he states that “dextrins” were used, dextrins being highly degraded starches. Are we supposed to equate “starch” with “a mixture of degraded starch with hydrolytic end products” when they are not chemically synonomous? Or are we supposed to assume that those saponins somehow help to degrade starch to reducing sugars (I see no reason why they should).

        The entire Maillard/melanoidin hypothesis is like a castle built on sand foundations, and shifting sand at that. I would be saying that here no matter who had made the claim – friend or foe, living or dead – because that is the nature of scientific enquiry – to examine the facts with a cold detached eye, concentrating on what was said – not upon who said it.

        There can be no progress in science if one is to be accused of being disrespectful simply for questioning or challenging so-called “factual” claims – ones that often turn out to be nothing of the kind when subjected to close scrutiny.

        If I were asked to describe the melanoidin hypothesis in a single word, while remaining polite, it would be PREPOSTEROUS.

    2. Ho, by the way, you’re not alone in this anti-Rogers group who constantly deny any conclusion he ever made versus the Shroud. It’s clear that there’s a big Rogers bashing in the Shroud world these days and it’s disgusting because the man is not here no more to defend himself and his science. And believe me, he would have been able to knock out collinsberry anti-Rogers arguments in one single punch. If someone really think that Rogers didn’t know well things like the primary cell wall or the way carbohydrates impurities on linen that were colored by a Maillard reaction would react to water, you must be someone who still doubt that the earth is round ! Incredible… As Barrie Schwortz once said to me, when someone has made up his mind on the Shroud, there’s NO WAY this person will ever be able to change it. Remember that after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, there were still people to deny it !!! When someone DON’T WANT to see, what can you do about that ???

      If Rogers clearly state that “Water-stained image areas on the Shroud showed that image color does not dissolve or migrate in water. Maillard products are not water soluble, and they do not moved when wetted.”, I don’t really see one good reason to deny this fact. And what is not said in Rogers quote is that he was not talking about some fabrication of beer or another food product. He was referring instead to a thin layer of carbohydrates impurities that were colored on-top of a linen cloth. So, if Collinsberry still want to deny Rogers conclusions on this topic, then please show us some scientific proof that carbohydrates impurities that are present on-top of some fibers and that were colored by a Maillard reaction can be water soluble… The link he gave us talk only about food industry and some beverages like sweet wine or dessert wine, and beer. We’re very far from a thin layer of carbohydrates impurities sitting on-top of a linen cloth that would have been colored. Please, don’t compare apples with oranges… I think Rogers, on its side, knew the difference.

  6. Crichton is dead wrong: consensus is not “a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”

    Consensus in science is needed because it tells us where the evidence leads for experts in the field.

    For example in history the consensus in scholarship is that Jesus really existed and was not a mythical figure. But a tiny minority of minors scholars disagree. Scholars do not say “our consensus is the ultimate truth” but just this where all the data and our line of reasoning lead.

    In science, the consensus in scholarship is that quantum particles do exist. But some major scientists and philosophers of science (van Fraassen for example) disagree. There is a debate the matter is not already settled.

    But maybe Crichton just confuses “consensus” and “paradigm”.

  7. I disagree entirely with Yannick’s approach of using Ad Hominem in reverse. I have little or no interest in WHO makes a statement, or assertion. I don’t need to know that a statement comes from Ray Rogers, Colin Berry, Edith Piaff or Pliny the Elder! I am interested in WHAT is being said, and that the person making the statement is working within their sphere of knowledge. I learnt long ago that there is no sacred writ in science. There are only facts (proven by experiment), theories and hypotheses (to be tested) and concepts ( a framework for the theory). All can be challenged in the crucible that is the scientific community at large. If it’s not accepted by the scientific community then it remains only a theory, which may be either true or false! Even if it’s thought to be true by the scientific community, it can still be challenged by new facts that come to light. Remember: NO SACRED WRIT IN SCIENCE!!!

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