Charles Freeman on Peer Review and the Provenance of Samples

imageHe writes by way of a comment to When it Comes to the Shroud of Turin, Has Peer Review Lost its Luster?, a prior posting in this blog:

As I write as a historian for two university presses (OUP and Yale University Press), I am always subject to peer review, on my proposals themselves, on my drafts and on my final versions. I am also asked to comment, as probably one of three ‘reviewers’, on proposals sent in. In the vast majority of cases I see the peer reviews on my own work although they remain strictly anonymous and often i am able to clear up points reviewers have disagreed with to the satisfaction of my editor (who makes the final decision on publication as with most academic journals). It is a system that works well.

I am not a scientist but there does seem to be a genuine problem, accepted by many contributors to this site, relating to the provenance of samples from the Shroud. I leave it to others to comment but I am always amazed that Ray Rogers’ work on the 1988 samples is described as ‘peer-reviewed’ when he fails to provide any supporting evidence that the fibres he used were genuinely those cut off by Gonella. He suggests that they have not come to him directly so there is every possibility that they might not be the originals or have been contaminated on the way. There is even talk on this site of an intermediary who passed on materials. So who are the ‘peers’ who considered Rogers’ paper acceptable? Was he able to provide them with further evidence he chose not to publish publicly that convinced them of the authenticity of his fibres?

On a separate note, it would seem important to know where these fibres are now, following Rogers’ death. Who actually owns them? Is anyone authorised to pass them on to an independent laboratory specialising in textiles to see if Rogers’ findings might be replicated?

6 thoughts on “Charles Freeman on Peer Review and the Provenance of Samples”

  1. Charles, this is the problem with unauthorised samples, however Msgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti of the Turin archdiocese did not question the authenticity of what Rogers was working on, he merely denied what Rogers was alleging. So what can be said now?

    1. Louis, it’s even clearer that that.

      Turin issued a scathing statement attacking the the authenticity of Fanti’s work during Holy Week, this year, In 2005 after Ghiberti criticized Rogers:

      “The Diocesan Commission for the Holy Shroud released another statement, saying that the study of Rogers was “very interesting” and would be the basis for a future study “on the chemical characteristics of the cloth and its possible inhomogeneity” (as cited in Muldoon, Shena. “Was the Dating a Hoax?” Inside the Vatican, 13:2 [March 2005], pg. 25.)”

      The cite and a discussion are contained in Entry #37,” p. 20, “Chronological History of the Evidence for the Anomalous Nature of the C-14 Sample Area of the Shroud of Turin” by Joseph G. Marino and Edwin J. Prior,

  2. John, thanks for the lead. You have admitted that you know who the middleman was but are unable to reveal anything and that is understandable given the reasons you have stated, in fact more information, although helpful, will also add fuel to the fire. But I can also understand Charles’ position and, who knows, some day the samples that were in the possession of the late Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini may be used to put an end to the controversy. If the Turin archdiocese attacked Fanti, then there is something else they know about, there was a hint about this when what Barberis said was published by Vatican Insider-La Stampa, before the book was published, and the professor also told Jerome Corsi, in a videotaped interview, that the archdiocese was preparing for another CD test, finding the right person to choose the sample being the problem.

  3. First of all : CD (= ???)
    What is the meaning for that acronym : the CD test ?
    I only know the CD as Corona Discharge, but this is noty a test (a control) !
    This is a treatment for linen samples used by Fanti to simulate the BIF.
    — —
    So …
    In my opinion they have to control the samples using the AFM techniques
    as I indicated in 1998 in that old and rough presentation (allowed time = near
    10 or 15 minutes !).
    — —
    I want to add that I have heard that they (in Turin) failed the Raman test in 2002.
    Is that very strange story a credible fact ?
    If you read the new book by Fanti there is an interesting point at page 92 about
    the working system wioth visible light (= the linen and the problem caused from the fluorescence under Raman controls that disguise/distort the information. Bad results = deceptive data !) where some words of explanation describe the Raman spectra (obtained from linen samples of the shroud) were taken under the IR
    (and not visible light) then we can also try to search some information
    about the past (= 2002) Raman analyses …
    Here the vague words that we can read under the address :–7982

    >Raman analysis is non destructive, and the use of remote fibre probes allows analysis to be performed on virtually any sample in-situ.
    >Renishaw’s expertise in this area was recognised in 2002 when the Sindonic Conservation Committee in agreement with Cardinal Poletto of the Turin diocese, selected their Raman instrumentation to provide analysis of the Holy shroud (also referred to as the ‘Turin’ shroud).
    — —
    Then the simple question to answer is the following :
    What kind of exact Raman analyses in 2002 ?
    Have you found the useful description for the old Raman controls ?
    Where are the inherent spectra ?
    If we have not (at hand) these spectra we cannot compare the results
    obtained by Giulio (who indicated Anna Tinti and Pietro Baraldi, at page 81, as
    sources about the vibrational spectroscopies tests)…
    How to get around this problem ?
    — —
    Moreover another unsolved question seems to be the control about the possible
    influence from the BIF mechanism indicated by Fanti (= the Corona Discharge).
    Where are the comparisons for the samples coming from the Shroud with
    the spectra obtained from the linen treated with the CD (and/or the VUV)
    treatments ?
    — —
    My conclusion is the following :
    I hope to read something in the future paper by Fanti.

  4. I ditto Charles’ Peer Review and the Provenance of Samples.

    Johnnie Cochran would of had a field day how the CoC was addressed.

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