Of provenance, chain of custody, proper care and suitability of samples

imageTo trust or distruct, that is the question.

A reader writes:

You can not question the provenance, chain of custody, proper care and suitability of the samples used by Fanti without also, again, asking the same questions about the C14 samples.

And Stephen E. Jones wrote in a comment to another posting:

In reply to [a comment by Colin Berry who wrote, “]It was understanding that “tufts” were taken from the cope, not a neat 8.1cm x 1.6cm rectangle.[“]

I said nothing about a “rectangle” let alone “a neat 8.1cm x 1.6cm” one. That is Colin’s own straw man. They were just “threads” from “tufts” taken from the cope of St. Louis d’Anjou:

“The Cluny Museum was contacted but refused to be involved. `…They got scared …’ as Evin remarked later. So he and one Gabriel Vial went along to the Basilica of Saint-Maximin at Var and pulled some tufts out of the cope known to have been worn by St. Louis d’Anjou (d. 1297). A postal strike intervened so Vial had to hurry to Turin himself and hand his “control sample” to Tite himself on the very day of the cutting of the sample from the Shroud: 21 April 1988. … Confronted with the importunities of an excited Vial, the imperturbable Tite divided his offering into three parts which he placed not in cylinders but in envelopes for the three laboratories as an apparently unexpected but later very useful “Sample 4″ – threads from the cope of St. Louis d’Anjou (d. 1297).” (D. J. McDonnell, “The Great Holy Shroud Dating Fraud of 1988,” 4 November 2003).

But it had to be enough linen in those threads for the three C-14 laboratories to carry out a valid C-14 dating, otherwise they would not have been valid controls.

And each of the three C-14 laboratories subdivided their postage size sample of the Shroud several times (one was 9 times from memory), and each subdivided sample had to have enough linen to do a valid C-14 dating. From memory the Shroud samples were reduced to threads anyway, so that they could be pre-treated more thoroughly. A self-styled `Sciencebod’ if he thought about it (even if he had not bothered to READ about it) should have realised that the C-14 labs did not do their tests on the `rectangle’ of Shroud linen that they were each given.

So if the Shroud is authentic (as all the evidence, apart from the 1988 radiocarbon dating, points to), then an explanation is needed for how three C-14 laboratories `just happened’ to agree on a C-14 date range, 1260-1390, the mid-point of which, 1325, `just happened’ to be about 25 years before the Shroud appeared at Lirey in the 1350s.

A not unreasonable explanation is that, faced with a public relations disaster, of three C-14 labs all using the then new AMS method, and with literally a million pounds then riding on Oxford’s AMS test being successful, and with the labs being unable to come up with a consistent, publishable, C-14 date, with some of the C-14 sub-samples yielding a C-14 date of 1st century, and other sub-samples yielding a C-14 date of 16th century (due to an invisible repair with cotton-which Oxford lab actually discovered after Arizona had done its test), the three labs all agreed to use a 13-14th century date range, the midpoint of which was just before the Shroud first appeared in the European historical record. And one way to do that was use some of the dates that the 13th century cope of St. Louis d’Anjou had yielded.

It used to be a trump card argument in favour of the 1325 +/- 65 years C-14 date, that if the Shroud was 1st century, then how did it `just happen’ to yield a a mid-point date that was a mere 25 years before the Shroud appeared in the undisputed historical record? But that argument cuts both ways: if the Shroud IS 1st century (as the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to), then how did it `just happen’ to yield a mid-point date that was a mere 25 years before the Shroud appeared in the undisputed historical record?!

Therefore, I stand by my point (without necessarily saying or believing that that is what happened): “…no one can absolutely prove that the Shroud samples tested by the three C-14 laboratories in 1988 were not switched, for the sample from the 13th century cope of St. Louis d’Anjou …”

[Colin Berry had written] “It should be easy enough therefore to shoot down this latest unhelpful attempt to muddy the waters of science by going back to the cope to see if there’s a missing rectangle.[“]

See above on the “rectangle” being Colin’s own straw man. I repeat that I said nothing about a “rectangle” being taken from the cope of St. Louis d’Anjou, and nor does my argument require it: “tufts” and “threads” from that 13th century linen cloth sufficient for three C-14 labs to each perform a valid C-14 test, will do just fine.

14 thoughts on “Of provenance, chain of custody, proper care and suitability of samples”

  1. Steve,

    There is on Shroud.com a remarkable chronology prepared by Joe Marino and Edwin Prior that is thoroughly sourced and buries the C-14 tests. Among other things that is a quote from the principal of one of the labs that pioneered AMS C-14 dating that the entire dating process was a “shoddy enterprise.” See http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/chronology.pdf (Entry #12, p. 7)

    It was a disgrace and lingering in the background is the specter of actual fraud and blatant violations of the scientific protocols both proposed, and adopted, for the C-14 procedure.

    I can not judge the efficacy of Fanti’s work right now, but before this decade is out, I believe that there is a better than even chance, that even the most biased mind will be confronted with the reality of a First century origin for the Shroud. Unless the individual is a pseud-skeptic indulging in pseudo-science to validate his atheistic beliefs.

    John Klotz

  2. The scenario being proposed here is so outlandish as to be complete crackers. Pardon me if I leave Stephen E. Jones to his wild conspiracy theories.

    (He also needs to remember that it is living scientists whose name and reputations he defames. Maybe he thinks he is safe from libel laws in Australia. Possibly he is, but I still think his line in character slurs is despicable).

  3. It’s typical that Colinberry would actually post this response and conveniently forget that the people in charge of the 3 tests had violated at least 13 different protocols. Protocols that the STURP team had made a proposal for, but were conveniently ignored by the the people in charge of the tests. Protocols that would have saved all researchers a ton of headache, but thank God that Ray Rogers acted As a true scientist would and followed the evidence where it took him.
    But then again, we all know how unbiased Colin is and has no dog in this hunt right? ;)

  4. And Colin never defames the reputation of scientists. Nooo. Not one of these C14 scientists in 1988 had the professional courage or scientific acumen to walk away from what was a massive example of pseudoscience. That’s right, Colin, pseudoscience.

    1. Many moons ago, I said pretty much the same myself – that the radiocarbon scientists should have walked away. What we don’t know is the kind of pressures – applied or self-imposed – that might have made them stay and make do with a bad job.

      Applied? It could have been put to them that aborting in a big blaze of publicity risked having the Vatican withdraw its invitation, and the dating might then have never happened.

      Self-imposed? The labs might have lowered their sights and said that their chief interest was in validating their state-of-the-art methodology, for which they would be happy to test adjacent samples cut from an inconspicuous corner in the interests of statistical homogeneity, and that it was for the Turin custodians or Vatican to decide how many samples to cut out, bearing in mind that each one defaces a precious ‘icon written in blood’ to use Pope Emeritus Benedict’s description, authentic or otherwise.

      In other words – a ranging shot experiment for starters, instead of a statistically-conclusive answer for the entire Shroud all in one go. Personally. I’d still have walked away, while staying long enough to sample the delights of Turin, one of the few major cities in Italy I have yet to visit.

      I’ve always wanted to drive a Mini down those steps at speed (Michael Caine, “Italian Job”). Italian Job – now there’s an expression to conjure with…

  5. It was Riggi who decided about the cutting of the sample, and together with Gonella, made a big mess. The scientists took what was given to them. Curiously Riggi is said to have been known for “rigorous methodology”, BSTS Newsletter, 67.

    1. Took what was given to them? They had no knowledge of how improper this sampling was? Not one of them said wait a minute? Scientists?

  6. All this had the approval of Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero, OCD the relic’s papal custodian, who was apparently influenced by “Carmelite spirituality,” where there are no “material supports.” The prelate — at least then — was just as sceptical about the Shroud’s authenticity as the scientists. It looks like whether just one or seven pieces were cut for the dating would make no difference to them, so they took what was given.

  7. No one is blaming the people at the c14 labs, I know I certainly am not.
    It was the people in charge of the c14 protocols that I blame. Sturp should have been in charge of the c14 tests as it showed that their recommendations for testing were the most thorough . Of course Colin wouldn’t agree but then that’s why Sturp has many peer reviewed papers on the shroud and Colin has none.

    1. You’re right, Bippy. I really must get cracking on the peer-reviewed thingy. Firstly, however, I seek your advice. Am I allowed to team up with a journalist, and write a book for the Easter market, ahead of the tiresome business of peer-review?

      Secondly, am I allowed to do a Ray Rogers and launch my own journal (Sindonologica Acta?), one that years down the line will look kindly on the submissions of a long-standing member of its Editorial board?

      What do you reckon is my best move, to avoid any suspicion of beating the system? Or should I just stick to reporting my ideas and kitchen-research findings on the internet, doing a passable imitation of popular science blogger?

  8. Does anyone have a clue as to what happened? You can’t say that you trust the labs and it’s too bad STURP wasn’t involved. The fact is at a meeting in Trondheim, STURP was proposed to give advice on the sampling area since it had conducted rigorous scientific analysis of the composition of the Shroud. STURP also proposed that the C-14 test be concurrent with new tests to following-up on its 1978 tests.

    In the end, the C-14 labs objected to anymore tests because the C-14 would determine if they were necessary. STURP was kicked out of the process altogether. The Labs argued that if the C-14 determined that the Shroud was medieval, then there wouldn’t be a need for further tests. I kid you not. Somebody should have smelled this a long way off but everybody was trusting the integrity of the labs. That was a huge mistake. As they say: “Trust but verify.” There was no verification by independent entities.

    That was a mistake. The protocols were violated from the very beginning. The selection of samples from only one location chosen by textile “experts” who didn’t know about, or didn’t care about, the scientific findings of STURP that would have eliminated the site chosen because of visualized contamination with quad mosaic photography and several other analytical studies.

    You can read about it in the chronologies I cited in another post. The chronologies are detailed and sourced. It’s really a remarkable work. https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/chronology.pdf


  9. I found many factors why STURP was kicked out of the C14 procedures. The desire by the Church and Centro to remove STURP altogether started with the fiasco of Dr. McCrone’s publication and public discourse with fellow STRUP members. This event was followed by an unauthorized announcement by Father Filas’ six generation of copy prints to eliminate “screen frequency noise” on a continuos tone print to prove his hypothesis of the lepton coin………. And, the final collateral damage to STURP was the passing of King Umberto.

  10. Giorgio,

    Can you name any group or individual who contributed more solid scientific data on the Shroud than STURP? McCrone, was like the C-14 Labs, someone who began with an agenda. Ray Rogers and STURP paid a terrible price for not understanding what McCrone was about. He damaged some thier samples and delayed serious blood work with his audacious and ridiculous claims of finding paint. You should really read Heller and Adler about McCrone. It was STURP who proved what a fool McCrone was. He was a one trick pony playing off his “successful” debunking of the Vinland map. Problem was that 15 years later, long after STURP, McCrone was debunked on the Vinland map.

    The STURP findings were published in peer-reviewed scientific Journals. The only peer-reviewed journal that published the C-14 findings was Nature, and a few years later Nature admitted that the C-14 had NOT closed the issue of the Shroud’s authenticity.

  11. If I’m not mistaken Ray resigned over the McCrone’s fiasco for many years. Yes, McCrone was fixated that it was some type of tempera technique and that an artist painted the Shroud. It’s been a while I read “A Chemical Investgation of the Shroud” by Heller and Adler but what I do recall is they debunked McCrone’s hypothesis. All in all, I think STURP did a wonderful job in their research of providing hypothesis for further studies. However, what is lacking is a chain of custody, proper care and suitability of samples stated in the title of this thread.

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