It is interesting to note that one year ago a reader of this blog criticized the binary decision table used by Giulio Fanti. See Not happy with Giulio Fanti’s Paper in JIST. He wrote:
Baloney, baloney, baloney. This is based on a simple scoring table of 24 characteristics for 12 methods that looks like a street gambler’s punchboard. It assumes that each of the characteristics has about the same weight. C11 reads, “The pronounced rigor mortis of the body is evident, especially on the back image near the buttocks.” C24 reads, “No image can be found under the bloodstains, because they formed before the body image.” Should these two characteristics have the same weight? And why is there a “because” in C24 which changes the characteristic into an argument. The scoring is essentially binary, using x, o and ? for inconsistent, veriﬁed and dubious. All of it seems totally subjective, e. g. like how evident is rigor in the butt. I would trust Zugibe or a forensic pathologist, not Fanti on this. (emphasis mine)
Now look at this quote from the new paper on the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado website, The Shroud A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer. It reads, word for word, exactly like the sentence in Giulio’s paper “No image can be found under the bloodstains, because they formed before the body image.”
Yesterday, Paulette objected to the sentence in the new paper for the same reason that a reader objected to the identical sentence in Giulio’s paper last year. Paulette wrote:
. . . a scientist would never write “because” in an observation statement, particularly one that is not all that well confirmed. He or she might say is that the observation suggests a possible conclusion, never that it is explained by a conclusion.
I think Paulette comes off a bit too strong when she says, “a scientist would never write . . .” I agree however that it is unwise in a table called ‘Image Characteristics Evidence’ to use what is obviously a conclusion following the word ‘because.’ It is more problematic because (no pun intended) the astute and often questioning reader knows full well that it is a desired conclusion for what becomes obviously the goal of the paper as expressed in the binary decision table. (This is not to imply that I disagree with the conclusion implied by the bloodstain observation even as I disagree with the overall conclusion of the paper).
Now look at the punchboard-style binary decision table in the new paper and consider the criticism leveled at Giulio’s paper a year ago. Similar lists. Same terms such as inconsistent or dubious. Only the subjective decisions within the table seem different leading us to a different overall conclusion. Déjà vu or what?
The blogosphere has changed the rules of shroud science. Bloggers are a tough crowd. Here, in this blog, for the most part, readers who comment are extraordinarily well informed, very perceptive and thoroughly analytical. (And I mean to imply that I agree with Paulette and the previous reader.)
It seems to me that a positive thing to do with this paper over many days and weeks ahead is to take one item at a time, maybe one-a-day or so, and discuss it in this blog (or re-discuss it or choose to ignore it). And there will be no let up on the many other things that get posted like this wonderful new Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse: Distinguishing human blood from that of other species.