Dear Stephen E. Jones

I noticed that you have responded to my criticism of your posting, The Shroud of Turin: 2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over eyes, with an inline addendum. You begin:

Response to Dan Porter In a post, "The Forger and the Coins: One in a Gazillion with 13 Zeroes," Dan Porter, owner of the Shroud of Turin Blog, has criticised my post above, dismissing the evidence for the coins over the eyes of the man on the Shroud as "pure pareidolia":

"… 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.

But pareidolia is (my emphasis):

"…a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant … Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds …"[126]

"… the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features"[127].

Stephen, if you don’t like the term pareidolia – and I still do – then how about visual noise?

You continue:

However, in this Porter is simply ignoring the evidence above, for example, that Jackson, et al. found on their VP-8 Image Analyzer three-dimensional `relief map’ of the Shroud, images of two, round, flat objects over the eyes, which were the same size and shape of Pontius Pilate leptons.

Round flat objects? Let’s look at several images:

image1) This is perhaps the most famous of the images. It is a VP8 image prepared by Jackson. One might say the images over the eyes seem like flat disks. There might be something there. It’s hard to tell. Barrie Schwortz says,

I do not argue that there appears to be something on the eyes of the man of the Shroud, and it may well be coins or potshards . . .

But, I’m not even sure of that.

clip_image0012) In the photo Stephen, you provide, seemingly (I agree with you on this) sourced from Giovanni Tamburelli of the Centro Studie Laboratori Telecomunicazioni S.p.A., Turin, Italy, we see, as you put it, “small, round, raised, object over each eye.” These certainly don’t appear like, “two, round, flat objects.” These could very well simply be eyelids.

You continue:

They did not "imagine" them-the images really are there. And this was confirmed by others using different three-dimensional computer processing. Even if the details on the face of those two objects could not be seen, it would still be a reasonable conclusion that they are Pontius Pilate leptons.

Look! How can this possibly be a reasonable conclusion? Potshards? Um, maybe. Nothing but the normal curvature of eyes, perhaps swollen eyes? It seems so.

3) The History Channel provides an image prepared by Ray Downing during the making of the Real Face of Jesus. I think this provides good confirmation that “two, round, flat objects” ARE NOT clearly (conclusively) there.


If anything, the 3D images, and there are others as well, argue against the presence of coins over the eyes.

But Stephen, you continue:

And Porter is simply ignoring the improbability that a lituus shape and even one letter, in the correct order and angle of rotation around the lituus (both of which can be clearly seen on the Shroud – see above) `just happen’ to be chance patterns in the Shroud weave, which `just happen’ to be over the eye of the man on the Shroud, is of the order of 1 in 1.1216 x 1015. Not to mention that the `chance patterns’ are three-dimensional, round and flat!

If I thought that what constituted particular shapes and letters was completely or mostly the same chemical product that constitutes the image of the man on the shroud, I might think the statistical argument has merit. But I don’t think so.

imageThe statistic that you refer to were based on observations made on the 1931 Giuseppe Enrie photographs, beautiful and detailed, technically wonderful and absolutely wrong for this kind of analysis of small details. Why? Because the film was high resolution orthochromatic film. The problem was compounded when Enrie coupled this film choice with near-raking light thus creating countless miniscule patterns and shapes from the shadows between threads of the weave. Since orthochromatic film basically only records black or white, any mid-tone grays that existed on the cloth as image, background banding patterns in the ancient the linen, and accumulations of centuries’ worth of dirt particles caused more miniscule imaging.

The picture on the right is an approximation of banding found in the face area. The dark horizontal band about a quarter of the way down goes right through the eyes. Vertical banding lines also go through both eyes. Before you can do any statistics you must adjust for the banding noise, shadow noise and visible contamination noise.

It helps to quote from something Barrie Schwortz wrote in 2009:

. . . the high resolution orthochromatic film used by Enrie, coupled with the extreme raking light he used when making the photographs, created an infinite number of patterns and shapes everywhere on the Shroud. Since orthochromatic film basically only records black or white, any mid-tone grays of the Shroud image were inherently altered or changed to only black or only white, in essence discarding much data and CHANGING the rest.

The grain structure of orthochromatic film itself is distinctive: It is not homogenous and consists of clumps and clusters of grain of different sizes that appear as an infinite myriad of shapes when magnified. It is easy to find anything you are looking for if you magnify and further duplicate the image onto additional generations of orthochromatic film, thus creating even more of these shapes.

Although Enrie’s images are superb for general views of the Shroud (they look great), they contain only a small part of the data that is actually on the Shroud so they are much less reliable for imaging research purposes and have a tendency to lead to "I think I see…" statements. I would feel much more confident if these claims were based on the full color images of the Shroud which contain ALL the data available.

As I used to try and explain to Fr. Francis Filas, who first "discovered" the rather dubious coin inscriptions over the eyes and who had enlarged and duplicated the Enrie images (through at least five generations – and always onto orthochromatic film), there is a fine line between enhancement and manipulation. Fr. Filas first presented his findings to the STURP team in 1979 and frankly, not one of the STURP imaging scientists accepted his claims.

And now Stephen, you suggest something that just isn’t true.

From other things Porter has written, for example, his preferring a naturalistic explanation of the Shroud’s image, I assume that he does not want there to be images of coins over the Shroud man’s eyes because that would be more problems for a naturalistic explanation of the Shroud’s image, and further evidence for a supernaturalistic explanation of it.

No. No. I don’t “prefer” a naturalistic explanation. I only prefer a true explanation. Less than a month ago I posted So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer? in which I wrote:

I consider any image caused by radiation, of any kind, naturalistic. The only question is where the very natural radiation came from. I remain totally unconvinced from any evidence or by any argument so far presented that miracles produce energetic byproducts.

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer? None!

Let me repeat what I said: None!

Actually, I have a gut feeling that the image is miraculous in ways none of us have yet imagined (supernatural if you prefer that term). How is not something I am ready or able to articulate. I doubt the image was caused by the resurrection or by any energetic byproduct of the resurrection just as much as I doubt it is the accidental product of a pre/non-resurrection chemical reaction. 

Stephen, you conclude:

Therefore Porter blithely dismisses all the evidence above that there are Pontius Pilate coins over the eyes of the man on the Shroud with the `magic’ word "pareidolia"! But in so doing he goes far beyond what the word "pareidolia" means. However, Porter is welcome to his beliefs and I don’t see my role as convincing him, or anyone, but just presenting the evidence and letting my readers make up their own minds.

Blithely? You mean, lacking due thought or consideration? Talk about going beyond the meaning of a word.

I know there are still a few people who think there are images of coins over the eyes. That’s unfortunate.

16 thoughts on “Dear Stephen E. Jones”

  1. It may be, I think we can all agree, that Dan is deluding himself into denying the presence of coins over the eyes of the shroud image. Sadly, I’m afraid, I’m doing exactly the same, and I suspect so are a great many others. Vox populi is not necessarily vox die, of course, but Dan is not pursuing his obdurate course alone, by any means.

  2. Dan, your are right.
    I agree with Colin (surprise !!): “good blog”.

    But looking again at the Ray Downing’s 3D Image, I ask: how is it possible ?

    Today, I visited the Cluny Museum in Paris.

    I saw many bas-relief and (small) seals from the 13-14 centuries .
    I did not saw anything which could explain the TS image.

    The TS image is definively unique.

    1. Quote : “The TS image is definively unique.”

      Comment : In many ways, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean this is a miraculous image. For example, most of the properties of this image (including the 3D information) are roughly the same we see in images of plants and flowers caused by a Volckringer pattern effect… So, in another way, maybe this is not an image so unique after all.

  3. Someone on this site a while back made an observation re the likely effect of entering a sunken feature like an eye socket into a 3D enhancement program. It went something like this: at the deepest, most recessed part of the eye socket you have the eye itself, or eyelid, which is pale in the sepia as-is Shroud image, and is encircled by the darker ring representing the eye socket. When you work from the Enrie negative or any negative, that is reversed: you then have a dark eye, surrounded by lighter eye socket. Any 3D-enhancement program that reads image intensity, i.e. dark, as height above the xy plane is bound to elevate the eye above the surrounding eye socket. In other words, one is bound to get a ‘protruding eye’ relative to its immediate surrounds.

    That would hardly seem to warrant a bald statement that a real 3D ‘button’ like structure was placed on a closed eye, much less that having a size and shape matching ‘exactly’ a particular Roman-era coin means it must therefore, ipso facto, represent that coin.

    I have a holiday snapshot of a family member which appears to show a miniaturized Eifel tower growing out her head, but I happen to know, as the photographer, that she and the tower were several hundred yards apart.

  4. I believe It’s unique because of the TS image is imaged on a herringbone zigzag pattern. If the image was created on a more continuous tight uniform weave the image resolution would be sharper but the apparent edge sharpness would be lost. To me, the fact the image is on this specific weave is what makes it unique. To be honest I’m not so impressed about the 3D visual. Since the weave and the TS image both posses AM frequencies (dots) and screen angles converging onto itself, this pattern simulates the technology I use in printing for secured documents against counterfeiting.

    As far as the Enrie photo, The photograph in question is very sharp. We don’t need to concern ourselves about the minuscule patterns that are captured in the print. If one observes very closely the first generation print of Enrie, you will see the area of the threads that created the “so called lepton coin”.

  5. I agree with you, Colin. Good blog. Clear explanation of why there are no coin images.

  6. Plotting darkness as height seems to be the explanation as to why “buttons” appear to be over the eyes in the 3-D images. I also get the impression that the hair and beard (presumably darker than skin colours) are set forward of the face in the 3-D images maybe for a similar reason.

    The Ray Downing image is fairly convincing that there are no coins.
    Processing the Enrie photos with their orthochromatic film and their raking light through 5 successive generations of “enhancement” and one could see whatever one wanted. The need to remove “banding noise” is also an issue. Barrie makes the point that none of the STURP team were persuaded that there were coins.

    For examples of leptons with lituus motif, said to be produced during governorship of Pontius Pilate go to:

    I’ve come to the view that they’re not just there on the Shroud!

    1. “Processing the Enrie photos with their orthochromatic film and their raking light”

      No issue there. The Pantone family that makes up the hues on the TS excluding the blood stains are almost linear to each other so all that is required is a small exposure compensation. And the 33 degree lighting directed at each opposite corners of the TS is the correct lighting situation for museum art. Since the print that was used only captured the face area the raking wasn’t so much the issue rather the tensity of the cloth itself when photographed.

      5 successive generations of “enhancement”

      There’s the problem. (Resolving Power)

      Fr. Filas was mistaken if he thought by creating 5 generations he would reduce the banding making the coin more visible. His technique failed since it doesn’t isolate banding from the rest of the image.

  7. A few days ago, I emailed Dan an illustrated comment entitled: coins over eyes, PART ONE: ARE ARCH-SCEPTICS THE VICTIMS OF THE ‘I THINK I SEE NOTHING BUT’ SYNDROME? and asked him to publish it.
    Most obviously he hasn’t. Has he just trashed it because he most probably ‘thinks’ he is right on the basis of (non-initiated eye) consensus reality? The fact remains though I can prove (almost) beyond reasonable doubt there really are Pilate coin partial imprints on the TS Man’s eye areas and I will in PART TWO. Will Dan never publish it either?

    1. Max, send it again. I don’t see it. Perhaps it landed in the spam folder but I don’t see it there either. Thanks. Dan

  8. Here my email to Dan:

    Hi Dan,

    By way of reply to a most unfortunate and desinformative posting of yours entitled “Dear Stephen E. Jones » (May 12, 2013) that triggered Paulette’s most vehement and blind criticism, (“The myth of the coin must end”) and a whole series of biased opinions by a few ‘gullible arch-sceptics’, please find here attached:

    “Coins over-eyes, PART ONE:



    Although I don’t share Stephen Jones ‘half-blind’ arch-advocacy as far as the coin-over-eye issue is concerned, I must confess I just cannot buy into your ‘half-blind’ arch-scepticism either.

    For the sake of good archaeology and fairness of debate, thank you therefore for publishing it in your blog.
    All the best,


    1. Max,

      I still don’t have it as an email with attachments. You might want to double check the email address you are using.

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