Colin Berry: Hardly copper-bottomed evidence for so crucial a question

imageColin Berry in commenting on Getting the Left and the Right Right in this blog writes in his blog One picture can be worth a thousand words …:

Conclusion: the blood from the (alleged)  ‘spear wound’ is on the subject’s right side, so appears on the LEFT side of the subject’s imprint (your right).

Shame there’s no sign of a wound on the body image that corresponds with all that blood, but that’s another story,  one that has been addressed previously on this site, back in August.  Suffice it to say that bloodstains on the Shroud (head, hair, wrist, feet, side, scourge marks should not be regarded  as synonymous with wounds when (a) the latter are NOT apparent on the body image, AND (b)  one is less than 100%  certain that the Man on the Shroud is NOT a forgery, e.g.  in which the blood was painted onto a wound-free body image to convey the impression of wounds.

But do I hear you say that the blood came first, did it not, so was unlikely to have been painted on?  So we are told, but as I’ve said on a number of previous occasions here, the evidence for ‘blood first- body image second’  rests upon qualitative spot tests  from just one laboratory with a protein-digesting enzyme on a microscope slide – hardly copper-bottomed evidence for so crucial a question.

It will be the anniversary of my first Shroud posting in just 3 days time. My next post will attempt to summarise my current, now better informed  position after another 135 postings. It will  include the crucial but neglected issue addressed above: which came first – blood or body image?

In 1781, The London Magazine mentions the use copper on Royal Navy ships. I like the phrase:

Admiral Keppel made a remark upon copper bottomed ships. He said they gave additional strength to the navy and he reproached Lord Sandwich with having refused to sheath only a few ships with copper at his request, when he had since ordered the whole navy to be sheathed.

Gib Singleton’s Shroud of Turin

imageMarisa Martin writes in WND Cowboy Michelangelo visits the Vatican:

If you ever find yourself in Santa Fe mesmerized by an energetic bronze of Geronimo so charged it seems about to molt or mutate on the spot, it is probably one of the masterful creations of Gib Singleton.

Singleton’s bronzes are lodged, hosted and collected across the globe. His dominant themes of western and biblical subjects manage to never contradict or eclipse each other, but are oddly supportive and symbiotic in spirit. This diversity of subjects is reflected by his collectors. Singleton is defined as the only artist to be simultaneously represented in permanent collections of the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Vatican, the U.S. Olympic Committee Museum and the State of Israel (a bequest from the collection of Golda Meir).

A quintessentially American artist, Singleton is fascinated by characters like Sitting Bull and Doc Holliday and the clash between Indians, settlers and the U.S. military. Sympathy for Native Americans is evident with expression and gesture but never descends into cloying kitchniess, regardless of the extremity.

Down a bit:

It takes courage and professional confidence to keep cowboy hats and chaps on your statues when culture seems dictated by big coastal cities. Regional disdain and cultural pressure hasn’t affected Singleton, and although not a household name everywhere yet, he is highly esteemed in his craft and in many collecting circles. Those include a “Bowed Crucifix” design carried by Pope John Paul II on his crosier and a piece made for the Shroud of Turin [pictured]. He’s made Stations of the Cross and chronicles the population of the Bible and various saints in bronze.

Peter Higgs Criticizes Richard Dawkins

imageI tend to notice Richard Dawkins stories since David Rolfe’s challenge to him.

Alok Jha, a science correspondent for The Guardian writes Peter Higgs criticises Richard Dawkins over anti-religious ‘fundamentalism’:

On one side is Richard Dawkins, the celebrated biologist who has made a second career demonstrating his epic disdain for religion. On the other is the theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, who this year became a shoo-in for a future Nobel prize after scientists at Cern in Geneva showed that his theory about how fundamental particles get their mass was correct.

Their argument is over nothing less than the coexistence of religion and science.

Higgs has chosen to cap his remarkable 2012 with another bang by criticising the “fundamentalist” approach taken by Dawkins in dealing with religious believers.

“What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists,” Higgs said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Fundamentalism is another problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a fundamentalist himself, of another kind.”

He agreed with some of Dawkins’ thoughts on the unfortunate consequences that have resulted from religious belief, but he was unhappy with the evolutionary biologist’s approach to dealing with believers and said he agreed with those who found Dawkins’ approach “embarrassing”.

And there is this:

Dawkins did not respond to a request to comment directly on Higgs’s “fundamentalist” charge.

Getting the Left and the Right Right

imageMichael asks in a comment:

Ok tell me this why on the shroud of turin is jesus left side seem to be the mark of the spear? For 2000 yrs its been on right side!

daveb of wellington nz replies:

The scriptural reference for the wound in the side is the gospel of John 19:34. However John does not say on what side the wound was given. There are several references in the early Fathers of the Church establishing a tradition that the wound was given on the right side, and this is precisely what analysis of the Shroud image shows.

Now, the Shroud itself acts as a mirror. Imagine yourself holding up say a bed-blanket by its corners, and imagine that your bodily image is projected onto the blanket on the side facing you. This is roughly the way that a Shroud would be draped over a human body. Your right-hand side will be projected onto the.left side of the blanket image. and vice-versa your left-hand side will be projected onto the right side of the blanket, just as looking in a mirror. On the original Shroud cloth the wound certainly appears to be on the left hand side because of this. But you need to view it on one of the several photographic negative images to reorient it to the correct view, when the image will then appear correctly on the right-hand side. Similarly on the Shroud cloth, the right foot appears to be crossed over the left, when in actual fact, the left foot crosses over the right and is therefore in front, also as shown on the Shroud negative photographs.

There is quite a lot that can be said about the wound in the side, and forensic pathologist Dr Pierre Barbet conducted several investigations into the various wounds, examining the negative photographs and experimenting with recently dead cadavers and amputated limbs during the 1930s. His book “A Doctor at Calvary” published in the 1950s is a classic in Shroud forensic literature.

He considers that the cross could not be more than about six foot high as both the crucifixion and the blow itself had to be given by foot soldiers in the execution squad. The blow itself was not part of the actual execution, but was a legal requirement to establish the fact of death before delivering the body to relatives. The blow itself seems to have been given by the Roman “lancea”, a long bladed spear, and the size of the wound matches the size of the lancea blade exactly, from various Roman military artifacts which have been recovered.

Dr Barbet discussed the details of the side wound in chapter 7 “The wound to the heart” of his book. He considers that the blow was delivered above the sixth rib, obliquely but almost horizontally, and the soldier would be seeking to pierce the right auricle of the heart which is always filled with blood. The water described in John 19:34 is pericardial fluid which would have accumulated in a great amount from the trauma of crucifixion. Barbet was also a classicist of some ability and is able to support his analysis by reference to considerable Roman military and other sources as well as by his forensic abilities.

I hope these few notes might give you a better understanding of the various technicalities implicit in your question.

For more information see: Negativity and the Shroud

Image from Stephen Jones’ Blog

Merry Christmas Everyone


The Nativity by Jacob de Backer (circa 1540/1545–1591/1600)

Paper Chase: The Conspiracy Against the Shroud

imageBT from the Coast Guard Academy in New London emails:

I enjoy the enlightening comments of many people in this blog, none more so than those of Dave from New Zealand and none specifically more than the comment about Ulysse Chevalier. A hearty thanks to Dave for the link he provided and a special thanks to Jack Markwardt for a wonderful paper.

Dave wrote:

. . . Canon Chevalier was the acknowledged leader of a progressive faction around 1898, when Pia’s first photographs of the Shroud appeared. A hitherto barely noticed relic suddenly seemed to be on the verge of becoming authenticated – worse, it tended to corroborate the orthodox position, thus threatening the schemes of the progressives to usher the Church into the twentieth century and into modernity, ostensibly setting aside old out-worn beliefs and practices, but in fact promoting a type of reductionist liberalism. Both Chevalier and Rev Herbert Thurston fell back on their version of the D’Arcis memorandum to discredit it. The two reverend gentlemen appear to have entered an unholy conspiracy to discredit the Shroud, not by an objective scholarly representation of the D’Arcis memorandum, but by deliberately and fraudulently misrepresenting it by twisting facts, and the deliberate omission of material, and hence concealing their lie, Regular bloggers will be aware of a common public misperception that the D’Arcis memorandum discredits the Shroud, apparently in an authoritative way, as being a man-made object from the 13th – 14th centuries. This misrepresentation is solely due to the work of Chevalier and Thurston.

The case against them is clearly set out in a paper: "THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE SHROUD"; By Jack Markwardt, 2001. Markwardt’s spine-chilling paper against the two conspirators can be found at:– Recommended reading for all who have an interest in the truth concerning the Shroud!

This is the sort of thing that hurts the reputation of shroud science

The first thing you notice is the headline that reads, “EXCLUSIVE: Newly Published Images of the Shroud of Turin.” That exact headline appears in dozens of blogs and so do the images. So much for exclusive. The second thing you notice is the gobbledygook. When I see words like “proprietary technology” in this context I immediately think of the proprietary cure-all formulations of snake oil sold by peddlers from the back of mule drawn wagons.

imageThis is the sort of stuff that hurts the reputation of shroud science. This notion that the eyes are sometimes closed and sometime open or that Jesus is pictured with King Herod on Jesus’ abdomen is extreme pareidolia mixed with a wild imagination using highly manipulated photographs: nothing more.

The exclusive article reads:

Ron Stewart has consulted with law enforcement and various museums, including the Brooklyn Museum, in regards to analyzing photos and actual artifacts with his proprietary imaging technology, which is called Infinite Macroscopic Microscopic Imaging (IMMI).   The IMMI technology is a proprietary technology that in part uses at least three different combined imaging technologies, known in scientific terms as :  ”Preliminary, estimated, and extremely advanced Deconvolution Wavelet Transforms”.  In layman’s terms this simply means: “when an image is distorted, blurred, and unclear, that in part these three combined technologies will bring the image into appropriate resolution, clarity, and focus,”.

Mr. Stewart  holds a Doctorate of Theology in World History ; Emphasis On Historical Archaeology, and also has a Ph.D. in Theoretics.  Additionally he holds a Bachelor degree in Electronics with a focus in Imaging and Photography.  The culmination of these various degrees has resulted in the development of his specialized form of imaging and analysis.  For more information on his images of the Shroud, please visit his website at’

Get me some documentation that explains how to really unblur a picture or get me a letter from the director of the Brooklyn Museum telling me that Stewart is on to something and I’ll give this some real consideration. Well at least I’ll look at the pictures again.

A note to Thibault Heimburger from Colin Berry?

imageColin Berry writes in his blog in a Guest posting from Hugh Farey (yipee – another science bod!)

Some of you may be familiar with physics-trained Hugh Farey, who has been doing experiments recently with scorching of linen, and use of an ultraviolet lamp to check changes in fluorescence that may or may not accompany scorching from hot metal.

Yesterday he kindly sent me photographs of some of his current experiments. In the next day or two I will display his photographs here, together with his accompanying comments. Any thoughts of my own  regarding Hugh’s findings will appear as comments, provoked or unprovoked by others’ observations and conclusions.

And with what I can only assume is a note to Thibault Heimburger, Colin writes:

Now that’s what I call a (bas relief) template. French physicians please note!

Go have a look. Click on the photograph (or here) for some additional information. This may turn out to be interesting after a bit more analysis and commentary.

Nice Short Summary of the Shroud of Turin

imageLorie Wimble, who describes herself as the "Liberal Voice" of the political blog Conservative Haven, writes a nice summary to introduce the David Rolfe/BBC video, Shroud of Turin. The piece is posted today at TechI:

There have been many claims and a handful of studies about the famed Shroud of Turin over the last century that has culminated over the past two decades into a state of further mystery. Some believe it is a masterful fake crafted in the 14th century. Others believe it is the linen that wrapped the body of Jesus Christ prior to His resurrection. Most don’t consider at all, preferring to avoid the clash of science and religion that it represents.

The problem is that the “clash” seems to be heading towards a center point where science and religion merge.

Many thoughts of its authenticity were apparently debunked 20 years ago when carbon dating placed the linen-cotton mix of the shroud to the 14th century. Science investigated. Science spoke. The questions were put to rest. There are several problems that have risen since then that appear to cast more doubt on the accuracy of the dating than the authenticity of the shroud itself. The most glaring challenge that still has not been met is that with today’s advanced technology, we have not found a way to duplicate the effect. Many scientists and scholars have concluded beyond a doubt that there is no way it could have been created by natural or man-made means today, let alone 650 years ago.

The topic deserves a deeper study than we can put together today, but this video from the BBC touches on several very compelling pieces of evidence that the shroud existed well before the carbon dating said. More importantly, it shows how the shroud could not have been made by man.

(Video Link)

Endowed by their maker with dim wits


How can I hold that all men are created equal when here standing before me stands stinking the moral carcass of the gentlemen from Ohio. Proof that some men are inferior. Endowed by their maker with dim wits, impermeable to reason, with cold pallet slime in their veins instead of hot red blood. You are more reptile than man, George, so low and flat that the foot of man is incapable of crushing you.

So said Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania to Congressman George Pendleton of Ohio on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in the movie Lincoln. We aren’t quite that bad in this blog. Nonetheless I have been fielding some complaints and some of them are justified.

With the one exception, M. le chanoine Ulysse Chevalier, pictured here, let’s try to avoid unnecessary characterizations of others. I don’t want to start editing. Enough said.

Colin Berry’s Christmas Present

imageHe writes in his blog:

PS: I know what I’m getting for Christmas;-) It’s a microscope with a USB socket for linking to a laptop. It will hopefully serve as the equivalent for a bolt-on camera attachment. I’ll soon be able to take a better look at the superficiality issue. Now all I need is a uv lamp…

Now that is something all of us have been waiting for.

There is an interesting discussion going on over on Colin’s blog. The title of it is “Let’s poke ‘em with hokum…” | The Turin Shroud: but for the pseudo-science it would have been dismissed long ago as a medieval fake. Everything after the word hokum constitutes the title of his blog. No question about where he stands, is there? The discussion involves Colin, Hugh Farey, Adrie, and a brief appearance by Thibault Heimburger offering some literature finding help.

What Colin does throughout his blog – and we should thank him for this – is challenge what perhaps for some have become almost fundamentalist-like beliefs about the shroud: lack of fluorescence in the image, serum halos, bilirubin, no image beneath bloodstains, etc..

Here is a taste:

Colin Berry says:

Maybe fluorescent has a role to play in distinguishing between these two mechanisms – or, for that matter, any others that may be proposed. But the problem one is up against is that the fluorescence (or lack of) that we see now may not accurately reflect what might have been seen centuries ago immediately after image-imprinting. Fluorochromes tend to be fairly reactive and thus unstable chemicals – if not within weeks or even years – at least over decades and centuries as chemical double bonds become modified by oxygen etc. If Rogers’ vanillin can act like a chemical clock, albeit erratically, then so can fluorochromes that are initially yellow-green under uv light. As for those elusive red ones – well, I’m as much in the dark as you. The only red fluorochromes I have come across are free porphyrins, i.e. the cyclic tetrapyrroles that remain behind when iron is stripped out of haems.

Hugh Farey says:

I don’t know if my hypothesis works better when the ‘overall’ scorching happens before or after the ‘image’ scorching. However, we are told that the entire shroud is ‘yellowed with age’ and ‘weakly fluorescent.’ This is consistent with the entire shroud being heated (as part of the manufacturing process before the image, or in a reliquary after the image) to, say, 200C, producing some visible chromophores (yellow -I have still not been able to produce fluorescence without any visible change at all), and some invisible fluorochromes. (Your Phase 1 above) I believe the fluorochromes form at one temperature, and are indeed degraded into non-fluorescence after a very small increase in temperature. If I pour a blob of molten lead onto a piece of linen, and (after tipping it off) look at it under UV light, the scorch itself does not glow, it just looks brown, but it is surrounded by a coastline of yellow-green fluorescence, as if a steep temperature gradient is being illustrated, from no change, to fluorochrome, to visible scorch (shades of brown) and eventually to char (black). Your Phase 2 then, is the application of a hot template, which would turn more of the fluorochromes into non-fluorescing scorch, reduducing the overall fluorescence. I entered the shroudstory/shroudwithoutallthehype fray trying to demonstrate (with you) that the image could be a scorch, but was consistently obstructed by the “scorches fluoresce but the image does not fluoresce” chant. I think the idea that scorches only in fact fluoresce round the edges, and that the fluorescence of the shroud image is smothered by the overall backgroud fluorescence, overcomes this obstruction.

ENEA Folks Again? Déjà vu of last December?

imageIn the December 20 issue of Applied Optics, you will find a new article: Superficial and Shroud-like coloration of linen by short laser pulses in the vacuum ultraviolet by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra, Enrico Nichelatti, Antonino Santoni, and Giuseppe Baldacchini (Vol. 51, Iss. 36 — Dec. 20, 2012 pp: 8567–8578)

Déjà vu of last December? Not really. Everything then was in Italian and poorly translated by journalists and bloggers using Google translation. Nonetheless, it is behind a pay wall. You must pay $35 if you do not have subscriber access and are not a member of the Optical Society of America. So most people who need to read this won’t. Will the Telegraph and MSNBC pick up this story again?

Here is the abstract:

We present a survey on five years of experiments of excimer laser irradiation of linen fabrics, seeking a coloration mechanism able to reproduce the microscopic complexity of the body image embedded onto the Shroud of Turin. We achieved a superficial, Shroud-like coloration in a narrow range of irradiation parameters. We also obtained latent coloration that appears after artificial or natural aging of linen following laser irradiations that, at first, did not generate any visible effect. Most importantly, we have recognized photochemical processes that account for both coloration and latent coloration.

At least this is timely for the discussions going on in this blog. Recall that this is the “news” that got Colin Berry going a year ago.

Is it absurd to think that the Shroud can show a physical trace of the Resurrection?

imageYannick Clément, in an open letter to scientists, quotes French Catholic theologian Odile Celier from Qui a peur du Saint Suaire? (Who’s Afraid of the Holy Shroud?) by Brice Perrier (2011). I have taken the liberty of tweaking Yannick’s English (by guessing) but only in these quoted paragraphs and not in the full open letter, which follows:

Since science became involved (note: it is even truer since the failure of STURP to totally explain the image on the cloth, which doesn’t mean however that this image will never be naturally explained in the future), the devotion to the Shroud underwent a real mutation because it is no more [longer[ the memorial of the Lord’s Passion and death than [but] the material witness of his Resurrection and, by doing so, the providential object called to healed this modern decease which is the decline of the Christian faith.

Yannick goes on to say:

There’s no doubt that such a mutation is not seen with a good eye by the Vatican, because, as Jean-Michel Maldamé (a Dominican monk who’s also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science) states in Perrier’s book, the idea that the Shroud can really show a physical trace of the Resurrection of Christ is absurd from a theological point of view. And Maldamé continue by saying this (personal translation):

The word “Resurrection” would lost [lose] his sense and would be deformed. This would be a materialization of the Resurrection and that’s contrary to the theology teaches [taught] by the Church. The only trace of the Resurrection that exist[s] can only been found in the Gospels and in the testimonies of the Apostles.

Yannick’s complete open letter is contained below. You may need to click on “Read more” to uncover it:


After having read carefully the translation of M. Barberis comments provided by Dan (link:, I just want to say that I am VERY PLEASED by it! Some of you will remember that I was one of the first to elevate my voice against M. Fanti’s unscientific antics at the moment he published his “special edition” issue about the Shroud. At that time, I wrote an open letter that you can find here on the blog at this adress: I said roughly the same thing as M. Barberis but in a much longer and exhaustive way. What I love the most about M. Barberis comment is the fact that here, unlike myself, you got someone well-established and well-respected in the Shroud world who finally dare to critic M. Fanti’s way to do Shroud science (which is, in fact, unscientific to say the least). Such professional comment should have come much sooner but at least, it is there for anyone to read now!

Continue reading “Is it absurd to think that the Shroud can show a physical trace of the Resurrection?”

Continued: Who took which sticky tape samples where and when? 6BD Pictured?

Kelly Kearse sends along another grid (you should probably first read Who took which sticky tape samples where and when? 6BD Pictured?):

Attached is a picture from an ’84 Shroud Spectrum article showing an earlier grid system developed by B. Bollone & A. Ghio. This numbering system appears different from the labeled magnet frame coordinates used by STURP in 1978. In the BG grid (Bollone-Ghio), the right cheek area looks like it would fall within 6Bd. Perhaps this grid was used by Frei (in 1973)?


Bargain Price on De Wesselow’s The Sign

Joe Marino writes:

You may want to let your readers know that De Wesselow’s "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection" is available for only $5.95 at .

It has quite a good selection of books on religion. The catalog I have lists the shipping and handling to be $3.50 total no matter how many books are ordered. I’m not sure if that applies to online ordering or not. The site has info on requesting a catalog.

imageI saw a book in the psychology category that looks super interesting:

Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable. By Bruce M. Hood. The author, a cognitive scientist, posits that our minds are designed from the very start to think there are unseen patterns, forces and essences inhabiting the world, and that it is unlikely that any effort to get rid of supernatural beliefs, or the superstitious behaviors that accompany them will be successful. 302 pages. HarperCollins. Pub at $25.99 Only $3.95.

It’s books like these that I think show the import of the Shroud. Anyone can try to explain away belief in the supernatural but it’s not so easy to debunk something as supernaturally concrete as the Shroud. I hope to read it at some point. Perhaps one of your readers can do a review if they read before I do.

Who took which sticky tape samples where and when? 6BD Pictured?

imageStarting at comment #26, from among some 55 comments to a previous post, Coins on Eyes Issue Again, there is an interesting and important discussion going on about tape sample locations on the Shroud of Turin: Who took which sticky tape samples where and when?

In comment #27, Barrie Schwortz writes:

Sadly, Max Frei died years ago. However, in 1978 NO researchers were permitted to take sticky tape samples from the face of the man of the Shroud. I documented every minute of Max’s tape sampling experiment photographically and I can assure you that neither he nor Rogers took any tape samples from the face.

By comment #54, Max Patrick Hamon is writing:

Barry (sic) wrote “there was no way for Frei” to take a sample from the TS man’s face, I AM STILL ASKING HIM HOW COME THEN in one of Avinoam Dannin’s research paper on the TS one can read:

“A bouquet of rock rose, which I (Avinoam Danin) had noted along with the crown chrysanthemum in 1995, appears on THE RIGHT CHEEK of the human profile on the shroud. Dr. FR HAD PLACED HIS ADHESIVE TAPE No. 6bd AT THAT SPOT(bolds are mine) and actually found some grains of rock rose pollen long before anyone had discovered images of the plant on the shroud.”?

How can Barry account for the existence of 1978 Frei’s sticky tape No. 6bd REMOVED FROM THE TS man’s RIGHT CHEEK? THIS IS A MATERIAL FACT!

(Myself I have detected at least 4 flower heads among which one petaless flower head on the left side of the TS man’s face).

By comment #55, Hugh Farey is writing:

imageThere is a plan [right and larger version below] of the shroud showing tape sample areas taken in 1978 on the McCrone Research Institute website, which does not show a sample 6BD. However the numbering is somewhat obscure (at least to me). It looks as if there were 6 sample phases (although they are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9), each one labelled alphabetically, with the suffix F or B to indicate the frontal or back image. These constitute the 32 samples often mentioned. However, the alphabetical series are full of gaps.
Series 1 covered the back of the legs and is lettered AB to JB, but CB is missing.
Series 2 covered the front of the legs and is lettered AF to CF, with a plain 2-F just to confuse things.
Series 3 covers an area of Lirey holes (AF to EF) and also a midriff area of the back (AB to FB, with DB missing).
Series 4 has an EB on the back of the neck, and a 4-F on a non-image area.
Series 5 is missing altogether.
Series 6 covers the chest, AF, BF and DF, but no CF.
Series 7 & 8 are missing altogether, and Series 9 covers the top of the head, AF to CF.
Perhaps somebody could explain this?

It is usually stated that Max Frei also took some samples in 1973, which of course the STURP team were not involved with. Perhaps one of these was the sample Danin was talking about. The sample number sounds bit fishy though. Danin’s paper mentions sample 6BD. I wonder if that’s a misprint for 6DB, which would make more sense, but in that case it would refer to a sample on the back of the image, not the cheek.
Perhaps somebody could explain this too?

Comment from a passing stranger

imageA “Passing Stranger” writes in a comment:

Wow!! Even by the standards of the nonsense that shroudies come out with the “coins on the eyelids” is far out. Ignore mere facts about the cloth, image processing, numismatics and Jewish burial customs just to cling to the chance this medieval fake is real.

Dear Passing Stranger. Thanks for dropping by. The the mere fact that your comment appears here shows that we don’t ignore these facts. It may be difficult to notice if you are just passing through; many of us agree with you except on one specific point; most of us don’t think the shroud is medieval. However, a couple of us do think it is medieval. Charles Freeman and Colin Berry come to mind. Of course, Colin is not a shroudie. He is a shroudologist.

Barberis: Fanti’s conclusions are not scientific

imageThe following is a Google Translation of an article by Maria Teresa Martinengo that appeared in Vatican Insider:

The International Centre for Sindonologia of Turin, which by statute "ensures every scientific support, technical and organizational field Shroud to the Papal Custodian of the Shroud," that the archbishop of Turin, the president Bruno Barberis [pictured] distances himself from theories that Professor Giulio Fanti supports the "Journal of Imaging Science and Technology." Above all, the conclusion reached by the Paduan professor when he says, "would be required voltages up to tens of millions of volts. Or, coming from the scientific field, a phenomenon linked to the resurrection. "

Professor Barberis, a mathematician at the University of Turin is categorical: "We are scientists and we must always remember the lesson of Galileo. If we can not verify, and reproduce, our study did not have scientific importance. And the resurrection that Fanti wants to prove scientifically – we can not reproduce in the laboratory. Of course, we can not reproduce the nuclear reactions in the sun, but we can study the sun with sophisticated tools that we have today. We know what happens. Another is the case of the resurrection. "

Insists, Barberis: "The resurrection is called supernatural phenomenon, and can not be studied by the sciences we need to understand the natural phenomena. As long as a man can not bring back to life someone verify this phenomenon, talk is out of place. "

For Barberis, one of the scientists closer to the Church of Turin, the concerns are many. "The corona mentioned Fanti may also be the case, but a natural phenomenon that reproduces in the size you need is not there. And with the current tools, corona is only applicable to a small piece of tissue. "

Reiterates several times the same concept, Bruno Barberis. "If there is something scientific – notes – I have to be able to repeat in the laboratory, otherwise it is not scientific. This approach is the only possible one, shared by the International Centre for Sindonologia and many other scientists who do not want to prove anything. "

Now, what about UV?

Any volunteers for a better translation? See

LiveScience Goofs Again

Kim Ann Zimmermann, in an article, Pareidolia: Seeing Faces in Unusual Places, writes in LiveScience:

A prime example of pareidolia and its connection to religious images is the Shroud of Turin, a cloth bearing the image of a man — which some believe to be Jesus — who appears to have suffered trauma consistent with crucifixion. The negative image was first observed in 1898, on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral.

Are there no editors at this magazine? In the three short paragraphs just above the paragraph I just quoted, Zimmermann very correctly and very clearly defined pareidolia as follows:

imageThe psychological phenomenon that causes some people to see or hear a vague or random image or sound as something significant is known as pareidolia (par-i-DOH-lee-a).

The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, which is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data.

Some common examples are seeing a likeness of Jesus in the clouds or an image of a man on the surface of the moon.

The picture of a man on the Shroud of Turin is not at all mere random data. It is unmistakably a picture of a man. It might be a yet unexplained work of art. It might even be a photograph by Leonardo da Vinci.  (Humor me, I’m just trying to make a point). It might be the product of some natural phenomenon. Or it might be a miraculous acheiropoieton, an image not created by human hands. But it is not a pattern of random data that just so happens to look like a man. That would be so extraordinary and so statistically implausible as to be truly miraculous. It is not a pareidolia.

We’ve covered this extensively in this blog, most recently four months ago when I wrote these words (again) from an earlier post:

One day, I was astonished to receive an email from someone who claimed that we only think we see an image of a face on the Shroud. What we think is an image, he told me, is merely the happenstance accumulation of smudges and stains on the cloth. It is no different than an imaginary image of Jesus on a burned slice of toast. It is a pareidolia, an apophenia. I had never heard of either of these words. Now I have. As far as I can see, they mean the same thing. According to my Merriam-Webster dictionary apophenia is "the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data." Pareidolia is defined as apophenia.

I wrote back. "The image is too detailed. It is too realistic and too complex to not be the real face of a man. When I say real, I mean by any means. Absent other evidence this includes painting, photograph or something else that we don’t understand."

But he persisted. His mind was made up. "You can’t prove it," he wrote back. "It could be pure coincidence and you don’t know for a fact that it isn’t. What is the threshold for perceiving an image? What are the criteria for saying that the image is of a man? Are you an expert on the human face?"

I suspect that there is a rather fuzzy swath of undecidedness between certainty that an image is of a face and is not. Given the setting and circumstance and a measure of sanity in whatever our worldview may dictate to us, we can usually avoid undecidedness. If I see a face in the clouds, I know it is a phantasm (another cool word), an illusion, an apparition of sorts. I am sure most of us think the same thing if we see a face on a piece of toast or in a smudge of a windowpane. It should be easy to know what we see for any given context. If I see a face in a Picasso, even if it looks less like a face than what I see on my morning toast, I know it is an image of a face because of the context. But what about the face on the shroud? It is a face. The context is clear. There is an entire body there – admittedly, at the risk of being declared incompetent, maybe a pareidolia. I don’t know how the face got there but it is a face.

Is there pareidolia on the shroud? I think so: the coins over the eyes, lettering, flowers, scorches that look like clowns. We’ve been there many times.

Asking Randi what do so many people have against science?

imageJoseph Cotto interviews Atheist and scientific skeptic James Randi (pictured) in the Washington Times:

Joseph F. Cotto: Scientific skepticism is a well-known concept. Why, in your view, is it so important in this day and age?

James Randi: Because very little of this process – to test paranormal and pseudoscientific claims with the methods of science – is shown by the media, by educators, or by the public. It is easier and simpler to accept every crackpot notion and invoke "political correctness" as a crutch. This is a major reason for the existence of the James Randi Educational Foundation, to challenge the media when they are careless and irresponsible about pseudoscience and the paranormal. I call this the "Oprah Winfrey Syndrome," accepting and promoting any woo-woo notion that sounds "nice" and "comforting" without considering its validity.

And, in my opinion, any testable religious claim is a variety of paranormal claim. This includes items such as the Shroud of Turin, weeping icons, and stigmata.

But can you so easily dismiss the Shroud of Turin by branding it a paranormal claim?

On Genetic Codes and the Shroud of Turin

imageAndy Weiss writes:

I was thinking about the Shroud and wanted to share this with you in case an expert or two might be able to address. My thoughts were these:

If the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus, he was conceived and born of a virgin apart from union with a man. Presuming only one human genetic code/biological material, what would be expected physical evidence found on the Shroud, if any, by an expert in Biology, Genetics, Blood Chemistry or any other specialties that might bring something of substance to bear on this line of thought?

I do realize that there could be two genetic codes, only one provided by the human Mother. Once one considers a virgin birth, one has to admit a possibility of two genetic codes is not far fetched."

Reading the Shroud Backwards

clip_image001Mark Dery, writing in Religion Dispatches magazine, may be right. But is ‘fandom’ the right word. I favor ‘faith.’ But in this case, if you read the whole tiresome article, The Transfiguration of the Fanboy, fandom fits.

To the devout, the blurry apparitions of the messiah on Veronica’s Veil and the Shroud of Turin are palpable evidence of Christ’s historical reality and of his divinity. But they can also be read backwards, as visual metaphors for the shadow of a doubt that haunts all fandom . . .

Does a shadow of a doubt about our faith drive some of us to study the shroud?

%d bloggers like this: