The Forger and the Coins: One in a Gazillion with 13 Zeroes

clip_image001Yesterday, in his blog, Stephen Jones revisited the topic in a posting entitled, The Shroud of Turin: 2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over eyes. He concludes:

Finally, this is yet another problem for the forgery theory[§14]. A medieval, or earlier, forger would have had to imprint the tiny letters 1.3 mm (1/32 inch), four of which are barely visible, and the rest invisible to the naked eye, on linen, in photographic negative[123], when the very concept of photographic negativity did not exist until the early 19th century[124]. Moreover, these leptons were not identified as being coined by Pontius Pilate until the early 1800s[125], so even in the unlikely event the 14th century or earlier forger knew of these coins, he would have no reason to think they were significant.

But this is so only if you believe that the images of coins are there. I’ve spent years considering this question; I don’t believe they’re there. What people see, I think, is pure pareidolia. (see: Paper Chase: Why There Are Probably No Images of Coins, Lettering, Flowers and Whatnots on the Shroud of Turin). Unless Jones can prove the images of coins are there, he cannot legitimately say that a forger would need to “imprint the tiny letters.”

Jones, to his credit, tries to prove it. He is thorough. His posting is comprehensive with extensive notes and citations. Maybe its me. Can someone explain this to me?

Fifth, the probability that there is a lituus and one letter in the correct position over one of the eyes of the man on the Shroud is 1 in 1.827 x 106 x 6.1389 x 108[122] = 1.1216 x 1015, i.e. 121 with 13 zeroes after it. Therefore the evidence is very strong that there is an image of a Pontius Pilate dilepton minted between AD 29-32 over the right eye of the Shroud. This is true irrespective of whether there is over the left eye the image of one or two Julia leptons, minted by Pontius Pilate in AD 29; and despite the mistake of Filas and Whanger in not realising that since the lituus on the image of the coin in an Enrie 1931 negative photograph over the right eye of the Shroud has a reversed question mark shape, then the Pontius Pilate lepton coin which was the basis of that image must have a question mark shape.

11 thoughts on “The Forger and the Coins: One in a Gazillion with 13 Zeroes”

  1. As I was saying yesterday, I’m no expert in probability and statistics, but here’s my hunch for what it’s worth.

    The probability calculation would only be valid if the claimed design and apparent lettering had been clear enough to report before any numismatists were consulted. Once you say “Ah, this is the image of a coin” and then go looking, firstly for museum coins of the period, and then for their known markings by image tweaking, then it ceases to be an objective exercise suited to probability calculations.

    If one cannot be absolutely certain from the markings per se that the image is unequivocally that of a coin, lepton or otherwise, then one is into the kind of minefield territory where any arrangement of 52 cards in a pack can be claimed by a statistical amateur to represent “impossible odds”. But those impossible odds, calculated as 52 factorial, i.e. 1 in 52 x 51 x 50 ….. x 3 x 2 x1 are of course only relevant and valid if one has forecast the particular order in advance… It has to be a “genuine” prediction, based purely on the laws of chance. One is not allowed to import extra information that shortens the odds, i.e. “loads the dice” in common parlance!

    The key word is “tweaking”. Once you go looking for particular letters, and tweaking your way to “success”, then it’s no longer objective, and no longer science (merely confirming one’s preconceptions).

    1. PS: As regards the passage quoted re the ginormous odds, i.e.

      “…the probability that there is a lituus and one letter in the correct position over one of the eyes of the man on the Shroud is 1 in 1.827 x 106 x 6.1389 x 108[122] = 1.1216 x 1015, i.e. 121 with 13 zeroes after it. Therefore the evidence is very strong that there is an image of a Pontius Pilate dilepton minted between AD 29-32 over the right eye of the Shroud.”

      presumably what the author meant to say was that the probability of the coin image, or rather its billions(?) of constituent pixels, arising purely by chance was 1 in that very large number, i.e. essentially zero. (For that to be true, it would have had to be a sharp and unmistakeable image, perfect in every respect, with every pixel in exactly the right place, and, as mentioned above, a straight photograph arrived at without any trial and error tweaking, but that’s by the way, and was certainly not the case).

      Yesterday it was statistical number-crunching overkill. Today it’s probability number-crunching overkill. The expression is ‘over-egging the pudding’

  2. Has Father Filas’ work ever been examined by “outside the circle” of Sindologist?

    wouldn’t it have been more logical to hand off Fr. Filas’ prints and negatives to an impartial film manufacture that already has countless of film data and specs for each films Father Filas used?

  3. Hugh Farey :
    I asked earlier: “Is a lepton heavy enough to keep an eyelid closed?”

    These coins were made by first producing a long, thin strip of metal between two dies. The end of the strip was placed between two striking dies, and hit with a hammer. Then the strip was pulled quickly, about the length of one coin, hit again, and the process is repeated until the end of the strip is reached. After all the impressions had been made onto the metal, the coins were individually cut out. The two striking dies were not fixed in place very well, so many of the coins have the pattern on one or both sides off-center. The coins are from about 11mm to 17mm in diameter (about half an inch), and weigh from .8g to 3.5g.

    2-3 g for the coin is going to be totally enough to keep the eyelid closed. The eyelids do not open in every corpse and if closed tightly may not need any coins

  4. I’d agree that the 3-D imagery gives the impression that there’s something like buttons over the eyes. If the Shroud’s authentic and they are coins, then they’re probably Pontius Pilate leptons, smallest coin in 1st c. Palestine. As for a lituus and lettering, I don’t see them, and am inclined to think they’re probably pareidolia. Maybe I haven’t looked for them as well as I might. Some say they see them, others say they don’t. For me that’s not strong evidence that they’re there. I’m inclined to think that the weave is too coarse for such a detailed image to be visible. I’d concede that the first investigators may have seen them clearly, since when the image over the eye may have been damaged by someone’s sticky tape or other cause. Barrie stopped Max Frei taking such a tape, but there may have been another occasion when such damage was done.

    I’m inclined to agree with Colin’s idea at #2 of what the calculated probability is meant to convey. But it’s only valid if the image is clearly visible, and I don’t believe it is.

  5. The main problem with this theory is the use of Enrie’s pushed contrast image for the simple reason that the image is not truly itself when one uses enhancement techniques, but is rather modified (changed within limits) to provide a sharper image. When this is done, one cannot legitimately use the image for these kinds of exercises where “I think I see” can reflect reality because the image has been modified to make it clearer for contrast purposes. There’s nothing wrong with doing this for contrast, but that is it’s limited purpose.

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