Again: Joe Marino, Sue Benford and the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin

In the past couple of days there has been a lot of blame-game, back-and-forth banter about the 1988 radiocarbon dating. I though I would republish a posting from almost three years ago. It follows:

Joe Marino, Sue Benford and the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin
January 19, 2011

Joe Marino writes:

imageWhen Sue Benford and I submitted to Radiocarbon in 2001 our paper on the 16th century patch (a.k.a. invisible reweave), we were told who the reviewers were:

*Paul Damon, head of the U. of Arizona laboratory

*Jacque Evin, French C-14 expert present at the 1988 sample-taking

*Gabrial Vial, French textile expert present at the 1988 sample-taking

*Franco Testore, Italian French textile expert present at the 1988 sample-taking

*Harry Gove, inventor of the C-14 method, who had literally bet a companion that the Shroud was medieval and was heavily involved in various aspects of the dating, including working to keep STURP from being involved in any testing

Do you think the deck was stacked against us?

Yes! But Benford and Marino prevailed. Big time!

What Joe Marino and Sue Benford accomplished is monumental. They proposed that the material used for carbon dating was from an area of the shroud that had been mended using a process called invisible reweaving. Of course, as everyone involved in shroud research now knows, Ray Rogers, a Los Alamos chemist, doubted they were right. According to Nature’s Philip Ball, “Rogers thought that he would be able to ‘disprove [the] theory in five minutes.’” (brackets are Ball’s). Inside the Vatican, an independent journal on Vatican affairs, reported:

imageRogers, who usually viewed attempts to invalidate the 1988 study as ‘ludicrous’ . . . set out to show their [Benford and Marino] claim was wrong, but in the process, he discovered they were correct.

Ludicrous was a mild way of putting it. Rogers words were stronger. He thought of the two researchers as part of a lunatic fringe. In the end, however, Rogers proved himself wrong. And he was honest and bold enough to admit it. In a letter to the editor of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine he wrote:

I accepted the radiocarbon results, and I believed that the "invisible reweave" claim was highly improbable. I used my samples to test it. One of the greatest embarrassments a scientist can face is to have to agree with the lunatic fringe.

It would have been nice to see something similar from Timothy Jull in the recent paper he coauthored with Rachel Freer-Waters. Granted, he did not think that he found corroborating evidence in support of Marino and Benford. By simply accepting the presence of cotton fibers by saying that Gilbert Raes had found cotton, too, he sent a clear, unintended signal to everyone who understood Marino, Benford and Rogers that he didn’t get it. To others, it was an unfortunate misrepresentation of the evidence because it suggests that Jull ignored recent literature on the subject. The cotton evidence is very meaningful.

The presence of cotton fibers is better described as a material intrusion than by the more common term contamination. It is important because the best evidence suggests that it is not present anywhere else than in the sampling area and the adjacent Raes area. And since there was evidence of reweaving including visible clues, madder dye, alum and cotton, then it is reasonable to conclude that there might be newer linen fiber used in reweaving. Cotton may have been used to enable dye to stick to the fiber. Dye was probably used to make newer thread appear yellowed like the older thread. It would have been nice if Jull had acknowledged this as a reasonable possibility.

What specific chemical analysis of the samples was done before carbon dating? Anyone who has read the 2008 article in Chemistry Today, authored by Benford and Marino, knows how important this should have been. Did the labs consider this or even know about existing evidence that suggested that the sampling area was chemically different from the rest of the shroud? Rogers was clear on this matter when he was asked if they were aware of this or simply ignored it.

[I]t doesn’t matter if they ignored it or were unaware of it.  Part of science is to assemble all the pertinent data.  They didn’t even try.

Jull missed an extraordinary opportunity to address this possibility.

Material intrusion is a big problem in carbon dating. Students of radiocarbon dating technology are familiar with classic examples. For instance, it is almost impossible to date a sample from a peat bog when it is a mixture of decayed newer plants that grew (materially intruded) into older decayed plant matter. And there is the known problem of dating snails living in an artesian spring in Nevada. They were found to be “27,000 years old” at the moment of death because their shells were formed from existing ancient bicarbonate (materially intruded) that was depleted of much of its carbon 14.

Not only had Benford and Marino provided a theory, if not proof, that the carbon dating of the shroud was invalid because of material intrusion, they provided a new, surely more famous, example of material intrusion for radiocarbon dating education. Call it an instant classic example. But the lesson is bigger than that. Students and practicing scientists of radiocarbon technology need to wonder how so many scientists didn’t anticipate the problem given that there were ample warning signs at the time. Jull missed an opportunity to address the need for learning from many, many mistakes.

Jull probably had no difficulties publishing his paper in Radiocarbon. The deck was certainly not stacked against him. He is the lab director, now. The Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona holds the copyright. Jull in fact is the editor, which makes the paper he coauthored seem less a carefully reviewed scientific paper (was it at all?) and more of an op-ed. This is particularly so since Jull was involved with Arizona’s role in the carbon dating since the beginning.

58 thoughts on “Again: Joe Marino, Sue Benford and the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin”

  1. So we are being asked to believe that there was just one part of the Shroud – a mended corner – which by pure chance happened to be the area that was selected for C-14 dating, despite any irregularity being noted by the fabric expert Mechthilde Fleury-Lemberg.

    That sounds statistically improbable, to say the least. If it’s defended by saying that the corners were especially subject to wear and tear, needing occasional repair, nay expert, painstaking invisible reweaving (but with more modern C-14 replete thread, further stretching credulity) then what about the opposite corner on that side? Should there not be evidence for mending there too? Or was it too done so expertly and invisibly that no one can hope to detect it (except of course by radiocarbon dating, suddenly the only way of detecting dilution of old thread by new)?

    Rogers’ studies? Who if anyone knew that the thread he used had been taken from the centre of one of the test samples, and then kept in a private archive, to be used later to attack the credibility of the radiocarbon dating on questionable chemical grounds.
    Until we know more about the provenance of Rogers’ thread, where and how it was stored, who had access to it (“chain of custody” etc) then Rogers’ findings are no basis on which to doubt the radiocarbon dating.

    But why are we endlessly discussing what should be seen for now as a ranging shot exercise? Simply repeat the radiocarbon dating with a properly-constructed sampling frame, and let everyone (Shroudie bloggers included!) see the areas to be sampled ahead of time say in HD photomicrographs etc.

    1. CB: “Rogers’ studies? Who if anyone knew that the thread he used had been taken from the centre of one of the test samples, and then kept in a private archive, to be used later to attack the credibility of the radiocarbon dating on questionable chemical grounds.
      Until we know more about the provenance of Rogers’ thread, where and how it was stored, who had access to it (“chain of custody” etc) then Rogers’ findings are no basis on which to doubt the radiocarbon dating.”

      Who ? Myself.
      I am beginning to write a paper based on some unpublished documents that will give you some evidences.
      I hope to be able to publish it before the end of this year.

      1. “I hope to be able to publish it before the end of this year.”

        In your position, Thibault, I would feel duty bound to say what I knew back then immediately, and not keep people waiting a day longer for what you knew about an extraordinary abuse of trust and position – the covert removal and sequestration of even a single thread being a gross breach of professional standards in my view. (Why was Rogers not given the retained AREA of fabric that we all know about instead of a single thread with uncertain chain of custody?) But then I am not you, and vice versa, with an entirely different internet MO from yours*, so I guess we’ll just have to be patient.

        *Like your two permanently on-display pdfs (top right corner) having no facility for leaving comments and/or criticism.

  2. We’ve been down this road many times before. I’m not sure what is to be gained by retracing the steps. Dan refers to the Marino-Benford paper of 2005. It can be found at the shroud com site under benfordmarino.

    A more recent paper is even more telling. “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, 2008. It lists and discusses some 45 points of evidence over some 27 pages plus an Appendix. It can be found at:
    http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/chronology.pdf

    It includes a few web references to houses which specialise in invisible mending of the type. I recall one such is http://www.withoutatrace.com located in Chicago. Their web-site describes their skills and craft.

    Up until about 1842, the usual method of displaying the Shroud was for it to be suspended hand-held by five bishops. There are many contemporary illustrations of this method, clearly most deleterious to the cloth. Only subsequent showings from 1868 had it static in a frame. Although much of the comment postulates a 16th century reweave, it is quite possible that it was actually done as late as 1868 when Princess Clotilde replaced the backing silk lining. That would certainly skew the C14 tests.

    Thiebalt Heimburger has written extensively on the absence of cotton contamination elsewhere. I have recently seen photographs of the STURP team closely examining the Shroud all over in microscopic detail. They are all insistent that the Raes sample is the only location where there is cotton contamination.

    It all comes down to the poverty of scientific thought in electing to take non-representative samples, for such an important crucial test. This is quite irrespective of the farcical way in which such decision was made. As for so-called “ranging shots”, no artillery officer would ever depend on one such, as his final attempt to win any battle.

    1. When you are one of just three AMS labs invited to test the Shroud, there is no “poverty of scientific thought” in agreeing to the decision (almost certainly not theirs) to test three contiguous strips from the one corner sample (though it may be politically naive). One’s immediate concern would be with how one’s answers look alongside those of the two other labs. Will the results be reasonably concordant, and help to establish the credibility of some very sophisticated technology, one that sorts atoms by mass, or will the results differ so much as to bring the technique into disrepute, vis-a-vis the alternative but less sensitive method based on counting radioactive disintegrations?

      In the event the answers from the three labs were reasonably concordant, i.e. 1260-1390, so it’s hard to see where the “poverty of scientific thought” comes into it, except to further beliitle the contributions from the three participating labs. One can only assume that the commentator has no experience of the collaborative inter-laboratory trials that are routine in analytical protocol development. I have experience of several, notably in dietary fibre and resistant starch analysis, where each lab receives samples from a single batch of test material which are then separately analyzed, each lab following its own protocol, and results then displayed and published, warts an’ all. On those results can depend which particular variant is adopted later as the international standard for analysis. So there is absolutely no reason for any of those three labs thinking that they were engaged in a futile exercise, merely because they were all working on the same corner specimen. As I say, it could be regarded as a ‘ranging shot’ exercise, and most folk should appreciate why one of those is needed even in a military context, thus giving rise to the expression. The idea that perfect targeting for a perfect outcome can be achieved in one fell swoop is simply not of this world.

      But I have a stronger criticism to make of the comment. Why is there no call for a repeat determination, now that we have confirmation that the AMS procedure can give reasonably concordant answers in the hands of different laboratories, using different variants? Suppose the same medieval range of dates were obtained from 5 or 6 different sites chosen at random, making it impossible to sustain the argument that all had been invisibly mended. Would some new grounds be sought for protesting against a “poverty of scientific thought”?

      There are times one wonders whether the perceived crime of those analysts was less to do with coming up with the wrong answer, and more to do with coming up with the right one. ;-)

      1. Your defense of the labs is so absolute that it weakens your case. You see no issues at all with the C-14 testing, no issues with the protocols? No possibility of bias? That’s rather unscientific reasoning in my opinion.

        I’m not an academic or scientist but I have ‘lived among them’. And I’ve learned two things about them: firstly they are indeed human beings who put their socks on one foot at a time like the rest of us. Secondly the academics reputation, his stature among his peers, his mojo, is directly tied to being able to defend his theories. To be proven to be in the wrong is no trifling matter. It can scuttle one’s professional esteem.

        This sword is two-edged of course and we see this pressure on both sides of the Shroud debate. I can see in many sindonologists the need to be right, to fanatically defend a theory even when others raise reasonable doubts. I have no reason to think it would be any different for the C-14 scientists. Do scientists take some secret oath when they get their degrees that states they will only serve the truth and forsake any personal ego in their careers? I know doctors take oaths and they still botch it up.

        And even if further C-14 testing was permitted, are we so certain that even with more rigorous protocols that the results would be any more accurate? This cloth is unlike any other we’ve seen. Did the image formation process itself (whether it occurred by some bio-process 2000 years ago, or by a yet unknown medieval process) affect the cloth and its carbon reading? Are there other infusion elements (aside from threading) that may skew the results?

        Even if new C-14 data pointed to a 40 AD year date I wouldn’t be using that as my smoking gun. C-14 is only one cog in the wheel.

    2. “Although much of the comment postulates a 16th century reweave, it is quite possible that it was actually done as late as 1868 when Princess Clotilde replaced the backing silk lining. That would certainly skew the C14 tests.”
      IMHO, the reweave hypothesis makes sense only if it was done BEFORE the 1532 fire. Otherwise I can see no reason to make a perfect “invisible reweave” in the C14 corner since many highly visible patches were sewn in 1534.

    3. Please keep in mind an invisible reweave depends of using thread from the original fabric. It would affect the dating in the least.

      1. No, just the threads used must resemble original as much as possible, so usually threads from the same fabric are used. But it was not possible in case of the Shroud -repairing one damage would create another in different place of the precious cloth.

  3. Didn’t Colin B post to this blog that he wouldn’t have accepted the handcuffs placed on the selection process by the Vatican (at the instigation of the the carbon labs, by the way.)

    The most tragic point was that they convinced the Vatican to exclude STURP from the sample selection process. Be careful what you wish for. STURP scientists had information in hand that would have prevented the chosen sample to be representative of the whole Shroud and required another site.. It was madness to chose the site they did, but madness the pseudo-skeptics must latch onto to “prove” the medieval date of the Shroud.

    The fact that Jull is still fighting a rearguard action defending the Shroud demonstrates if not intellectual dishonesty, at least a desperate attempt to evade the truth.

    I would have thought the issue was effectively closed, but it will live on because the pseudo-skeptics can accept the truth of the Shroud’s authenticity without calling into question their whole world view. The only arrow in their quiver is carbon dating. As Lee said a at Gettysburg after the failure of Picketts Charge: “Too bad, oh Too bad.”

  4. The main problem with the re-weaving hypothesis is that there isn’t any re-weaving.
    It accounts for the C14 error, the history of the shroud makes it likely, and the discovery of cotton seems to suggests its possibility, but the close-up photos of two of the sample pieces, together with a close-up photo of the area immediately adjacent, show that it just isn’t there.

      1. Perhaps someone can quote from Rogers’ article the part where he shows that the threads themselves are different from the rest of the Shroud and the evidence he provides for this. I have found it difficult to find. He just seems to assume it rather than provide evidence of his own. Has anyone found enough cotton threads to make a difference to the date?

        The gum that he notes could have been added at any time to an original cloth as, apparently, this was a standard way of protecting cloth that might otherwise have decayed-again can someone quote the evidence that he provides to prove that the gum was a dye and not simply a means of strengthening an old cloth.

    1. Hugh Farey :
      The main problem with the re-weaving hypothesis is that there isn’t any re-weaving.
      It accounts for the C14 error, the history of the shroud makes it likely, and the discovery of cotton seems to suggests its possibility, but the close-up photos of two of the sample pieces, together with a close-up photo of the area immediately adjacent, show that it just isn’t there.

      From: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/marben.pdf

      “A blinded analysis of a photograph of the Zurich C-14 sample, by Thomas Ferguson
      & Co. Ltd, world-renowned makers of Double Damask Linen, resulted in their perception
      that the sample was “touched up to prevent unraveling.” They further observed, “We
      have to say that we see the twill pattern clearly on both sides, but still there is something
      different left versus right.” (Ferguson & Co., 2000)

      In a second blinded examination of photographs of both the Zurich and uncut C-14
      samples, European-trained weaver David Pearson, owner of the French Tailors in
      Columbus, Ohio, immediately recognized the disparate weave pattern and differences in
      thread size, stating “there is no question that there is different material on each side…(B)It is
      definitely a patch.(/B)”[(referring to what we have highlighted in Figure 2 as the pink section)] (French Tailors, 2000). He stated that medieval European weavers would typically try to match the original cloth and then hand-stitch approximately ½ inch of
      new material into the old, such that it was invisible to (B)all but the trained eye(/B). This would ensure the long-term integrity of the material, while maintaining aesthetic consistency
      throughout the fabric. This type of detail to repairs would be consistent with the wealth
      and devotion of the Savoy family, who owned the Shroud at the time.

      In a third blinded analysis of the Zurich C-14 sample, by Albany International, Louise
      Harner remarked that “the float is different on either side of the sample” (Albany
      International Research Company, 2000). It forms a thick/thin, thick/thin pattern on the
      right side, whereas the left is much more consistent throughout (see Figure 6). This is
      probably due to the fact that each side of the pattern was woven independently, possibly
      corroborating Pearson’s belief that part of the sample was a patch.”

      All boldings mine.

    2. Hugh,

      It is impossible to exclude a reweaving (particularly if it is based on some kind of splicing technique) just looking at some photos. Otherwise the reweaving (if present) could have been easily discovered by the textile experts.

      We are speaking here about a technique that is probably not known in detail by most of you.
      I don’t remember if the ‘Frenway book” which explains this technique is available somewhere.
      I have it. Just ask me, if necessary.

      1. But the book claims that technique described in it is really invisible, and can explain all what we know about 1988 C-14 datingor needs some modifications to adjust it to the now-known facts?

  5. One must be fair and stick to honesty when commenting. Not even the Archdiocese of Turin, whose spokesman was Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, doubted the provenance of Rogers’ sample. They only contested his conclusions, which still is one among several hypothesis of how the results of 1988 carbon dating may have been skewed.

    In my view Rogers’ mistake appears to have been his bias against the supernatural,making him to refer to the so-called “lunatic fringe.” Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God and died insane, now we have had RD taking a bus around London saying the same sort of thing. It is important to take all data into account, leave prejudice, if not hatred, aside in order to avoid making dogmatic proclamations. An open mind is the best option, particularly when there is conflicting data.

  6. “One must be fair and stick to honesty when commenting. Not even the Archdiocese of Turin, whose spokesman was Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, doubted the provenance of Rogers’ sample.”

    But it’s not just the provenance that is the issue, is it (and that in itself is clouded in mystery, i.e. as to how a thread could be removed without any of the several eminent attendees in Turin in 1988 knowing about it, or if they did remaining silent)? It’s the subsequent history of that thread that is also in question, up to it suddenly being conjured up like a rabbit from the hat for Rogers’ microscopy etc. So it’s not “honesty” that is on the line, certainly nobody’s here surely for questioning the propriety of events that were supposed to have been fully in the public domain and on the record.

    No, it’s not about honesty, so much as transparency. What should have been totally transparent is clouded in mystery and uncertainty.

    There is also the matter of accountability. The names of everyone involved in the decision-making re the radiocarbon dating should have been on the 1989 Nature paper. But important names are missing, meaning that key individuals were unaccountable for their actions and decisions.

    Knowing what we know now, if the full list of names had been on that paper, then a case could have been made for having the paper withdrawn through failure to get straight answers to straight questions- and not, repeat not because of any serious methodological failings on the part of the three radiocarbon laboratories, but because of the murky circumstances surrounding the sampling decisions and procedures and subsequent deployment of undocumented material, the provenance and history of which we are expected to take on trust. Why should anyone in 2013 now be expected to take anything on trust when the names and reputations of the radiocarbon workers are being so shamelessly dragged through the mud. Trust is a fragile commodity, and it has for all intents and purposes now been destroyed by some of the pernicious accusations and insinuations flying around on blog sites and TV documentaries.

    There is just one way to put a stop to this nonsense once and for all, and I frankly cannot understand the failure of the Shroud’s custodians to see what is necessary, namely to repeat the radiocarbon dating with dispatch, and this time, to do it with a proper sampling frame and with TOTAL transparency. There must be no more powerful intermediaries whose names and input fail to appear on the final paper.

    1. Colin : “No, it’s not about honesty, so much as transparency. What should have been totally transparent is clouded in mystery and uncertainty.”
      Agree, but the damage has been done and here we are trying to see who was wrong in an operation that went off the mark from beginning to end,with mistakes made by both Church and laboratories. From what is known, the authorities in Turin are working to see what can be gauged from the data they have with them and only then will they probably decide what to do.

      1. Yes, but how long will the Church spend sorting through the wreckage of the train crash caused through restricting analysis to a single corner sample? What does it hope to salvage? Reputations that have been trashed? (With new insinuations appearing daily, and bandying around of vague terms like “Machiavellian” that allow stirrers to stay on the right side of the law)

        Without wishing to incur the charge of similar finger pointing (recognizing that I am left totally fazed by the blow-by-blow accounts of planning for the 88 dating) it would seem to me that major blame for the fracas (I still avoid the term fiasco) lies with appointees called “science advisors” who wielded enormous power and influence, yet whose names failed to appear on the 1989 Nature paper. So the authorities who made those appointments are at least partly responsible for the fracas, and cannot sit idly by while talk of dark conspiracies continues. All they need do is repeat the radiocarbon dating with a decent sampling frame. How about having the entire operation overseen this time around by an online community comprising all those with an interest in achieving a successful outcome i.e. scientists, theologians, and though I hesitate to say it, some representatives from the Shroudie blogosphere (to provide a modicum of confidence that an essential ingredient – transparency – is preserved from start through to finish).

  7. David Goulet :
    Your defense of the labs is so absolute that it weakens your case. You see no issues at all with the C-14 testing, no issues with the protocols? No possibility of bias? That’s rather unscientific reasoning in my opinion.
    I’m not an academic or scientist but I have ‘lived among them’. And I’ve learned two things about them: firstly they are indeed human beings who put their socks on one foot at a time like the rest of us. Secondly the academics reputation, his stature among his peers, his mojo, is directly tied to being able to defend his theories. To be proven to be in the wrong is no trifling matter. It can scuttle one’s professional esteem.
    This sword is two-edged of course and we see this pressure on both sides of the Shroud debate. I can see in many sindonologists the need to be right, to fanatically defend a theory even when others raise reasonable doubts. I have no reason to think it would be any different for the C-14 scientists. Do scientists take some secret oath when they get their degrees that states they will only serve the truth and forsake any personal ego in their careers? I know doctors take oaths and they still botch it up.
    And even if further C-14 testing was permitted, are we so certain that even with more rigorous protocols that the results would be any more accurate? This cloth is unlike any other we’ve seen. Did the image formation process itself (whether it occurred by some bio-process 2000 years ago, or by a yet unknown medieval process) affect the cloth and its carbon reading? Are there other infusion elements (aside from threading) that may skew the results?
    Even if new C-14 data pointed to a 40 AD year date I wouldn’t be using that as my smoking gun. C-14 is only one cog in the wheel.

    “Did the image formation process itself (whether it occurred by some bio-process 2000 years ago, or by a yet unknown medieval process) affect the cloth and its carbon reading?”

    No, not unless there was a totally unexpected phenomenon beyond the realms of known science, aka a miracle (like C-14 atoms changing their half-life through faster or slower radioactive decay). But the radiocarbon dating was not intended to prove or disprove a miracle. It was intended simply to date by a known method with its strengths and indeed limitations.

    Whatever your misgivings about the objectivity of science, there is a simple remedy if you doubt the results of any given scientist – or group of scientists – namely to demand that the findings be confirmed by others, or that modifications be made to the experimental procedures to take account of legitimate objections.

    So why are you not pressing for a re-dating? Is it because you think it improbable they will come up with what, for you, would be the right answer? If so, one has to ask whose objectivity and bias is most in question – your own or that of those dodgy untrustworthy scientists posturing as if totally infallible – which in my experience wins neither friends nor admirers at scientific congresses, a modest, measured, patient, systematic, occasionally self-critical MO being much better received and indeed expected.

    1. I’m all for re-testing (with improved protocols and different labs). But as I stated, C-14 – in my layman’s ignorance – is but one indicator of the age. It is not infallible. And would you, if the new testing pointed to an older date feel that was definitive?

      I’m not anti-science, just keenly aware that science is but a tool wielded by us imperfect apes.

      1. It’s easy to see how an ancient carbon-based material could be dated as much younger – contamination by more modern undecayed carbon-14 being all that would be needed. . But how could a modern object be made to seem older that it really was? One would have to get the C-14 atoms to decay at faster than their fixed half-life rate, or somehow to remove them altogether. The probability of either of those happening is what can be cautiously described as vanishingly small.

        So if a length of linen were to date as 1st century AD, then I’d be more than ready to accept that date, unless there were powerful evidence to the contrary, and not just any old corroborating evidence of a totally different nature, e.g. like a specific weave pattern but evidence that could directly account for or explain the deficiency of C-14 atoms.

        I’d have been as intrigued as the next man if the ’88 dating had returned a 1st century answer. But it did not, so the mystery for me is learning how a medieval whizz kid produced that image, and for what purpose.

  8. I keep reading from Colin how the C-14 scientists have been dragged through the mud and borderline slanderous accusations thrown at them. I’ll go one further, their professional reputations have indeed been called into question. They are the victims of slander/libel, perhaps John Klotz could confirm this, and could rightly take legal action against those making such claims. I’ve seen cases go to court over much less. Given the stakes, their professional reputations, why haven’t these individuals taken legal action?

    1. There is one very good reason why they haven’t: truth is a defense. Can you imagine the kind of discovery that would happen if an expert selected by a defendant got his hands on the remaining samples held by the plaintiffs’ institutions.

      Oxford seems to have claimed that its sample was used-up but there is the fact they were informed by their own subcontractor, Precision textiles, that there was cotton interwoven in the oxford carbon sample. and it was not transient. BSTS Newsletter No. 26 – September/October 1990 .
      (https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/n26part6.pdf)

      However, Zurich and Arizona apparently have retained (as good scientific labs would) a portion of their samples. It appears, and I am willing (really anxious to hear differently) that they have refused independent examination of their retained remnants. Prove me wrong, open up your retained material to independent investigation!

      Also, don’t hold your breath. The only thing they the carbon dating proved is that an anomalous portion of a frequently handled portion supported a Middle Age origin. But the evidence that it was anomalous was overwhelming.

      There is an recent positing by Barrie Schwortz concerning the quad mosaics. I defy anyone, who has the slightest regard for scientific method to review the illustration that appears with the article and still claim hat the carbon samples were not from an anomalous portion of the Shroud. http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/quad.pdf

      If the carbon labs want to rebut: show us your samples!!!

  9. Charles Freeman :
    Perhaps someone can quote from Rogers’ article the part where he shows that the threads themselves are different from the rest of the Shroud and the evidence he provides for this. I have found it difficult to find. He just seems to assume it rather than provide evidence of his own. Has anyone found enough cotton threads to make a difference to the date?
    The gum that he notes could have been added at any time to an original cloth as, apparently, this was a standard way of protecting cloth that might otherwise have decayed-again can someone quote the evidence that he provides to prove that the gum was a dye and not simply a means of strengthening an old cloth.

    “A gum/dye/mordant coating is easy to observe on Raes
    and radiocarbon yarns. No other part of the shroud shows
    such a coating. The early thermal evolution of furfural during pyrolysis/ms analyses, the relatively easy water solubility, the yellow color formed with iodine, and the easy hydrolysis
    suggest gum Arabic. Gum Arabic is obtained from Acacia senegal and is composed of pentose-sugar units. Its presence as a major component in the coatings on the Raes and radiocarbon samples is not a surprise, because it has long been a common vehicle in tempera paints. The radiocarbon sample had been dyed. Dyeing was probably done intentionally on pristine replacement material to match the color of the older, sepia-colored cloth. The gum is probably the same age as the Raes and radiocarbon yarn and should have no effect on the age determination. In any case, this water-soluble, easily-hydrolyzed gum would have been removed completely by the cleaning procedures used on the dated samples[1].

    The dye found on the radiocarbon sample was not used in Europe before about
    a.d.1291 and was not common until more than 100 years later [6]. The combined evi-
    dence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton
    content, and pyrolysis/ms proves that the material from
    the radiocarbon area of the shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth. The radiocarbon sample was thus not part of the original cloth and is invalid for determining the age of the shroud. Because the storage conditions through the centuries are unknown, a more accurate age determination will require new radiocarbon analyses
    with several fully characterized and carefully prepared samples.”

    1. Thanks for this, O.K., but gum arabic was, apparently, used when cloth needed to be sealed from decay (and this would,inevitably be any time after the weaving, so where does Rogers’ get the idea that it was a dye from? Then he introduces ‘probably done intentionally on pristine replacement material’. Yes, this is ,of course, his crucial argument but what Independent evidence does he produce in support of this. I cannot find any evidence in the actual article but perhaps he just accepts Benford and Marino on this and does not feel that he needs to add to what they have already said. In short, it is hard to see what evidence he provides from his own samples of threads to back up his argument but perhaps someone has spotted something I haven’t. As noted elsewhere John Jackson rejected Rogers’ argument ( photographic evidence shows no evidence of reweaving) and Mark Antonacci also found it lacking. So I wonder whether this article should be given the status it has when it has been challenged by so many others who are themselves happy to accept the authenticity of the Shroud on other grounds than those proposed by Rogers.

      1. “A gum/dye/mordant coating is easy to observe on Raes
        and radiocarbon yarns. No other part of the shroud shows such a coating.” (emphasis mine)

      2. As to Jackson and Antonacci, they are somhow biased. Antonacci believes that if increased amounts of certain isotopes (C14, Ca41, Cl36, Cr53) are detectedin the cloth, this would be a direct evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection.

        And Jackson promotes his another, competitive theory about carbon monoxide contamination (see http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/jackson.pdf ) -so he wants to dismiss re-weave theory. However, he is not so firmly against it -it is mentioned in Siefker&Spicer paper (although it is obviouis that Jackson stays behind it) see http://www.shroudofturin.com/shroud.html

        However, sceptics love to take Jakcson’s citations out of context. Just see English Wikipedia.

      3. Gum coating. If , as I understand it , gum is added when there is a need to preserve part of the cloth from deterioration, this, where the cloth was held by sweaty clerical hands when exposed, is exactly where you would expect to find it as a later addition. There would have been no need to cover the whole cloth. Perhaps we need to add to the list of tests, one for gum at the other corner of the Shroud.
        I am still not clear why gum arabic can be seen as a dye- if anyone can find examples where it is used as a dye in other circumstances then I would be convinced but it seems to have been Roger’s own idea. The cloth that the gum was used on could have been of any date, of course, but the gum itself has nothing to do with the date of the cloth to which it was applied. It might be contemporary, it might be hundreds of years later that the original.

      4. “The combined evidence[emphasis mine -O.K.]from chemical kinetics[that means vanillin -O.K.], analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms proves that the material from the radiocarbon area of the shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth.”

        +

        * three blindly revieved experts claimed that the sample was, manipulated.
        * spliced threads found in the sample
        * unacceptable Chi^2 value
        * probable spatial heetrogenity of the sample as suggested by Fanti, Crossilla, Riani et Atkinson (the most reasonable explanation is different ratio of new vs old threads in different parts of the sample)

        Little?

      5. Who has provided a ratio of old versus new threads in any sample from the Shroud? Who has found an actual cotton thread? Why use cotton THREADS, if there are any, rather than linen threads to make repairs? My point about Roger’s paper not being secure is that there are too many questions left open and assumptions made without sufficient evidence to evaluate them. Rogers tries to cover a lot of ground but only provides ten references for the whole of his paper. It just left me with questions that are unresolved.

  10. I posted the second comment, now at #3, very late Fri night, now Sat morning, I’ve just had breakfast, and in that time we’re already down to #20.

    Colin took issue with my last para, and misconstrued it as yet another attack on his C14 science mates. That’s not what I intended at all.

    daveb: “It all comes down to the poverty of scientific thought in electing to take non-representative samples, for such an important crucial test. This is quite irrespective of the farcical way in which such decision was made.”

    You don’t have to be a scientist to manifest ‘poverty of scientific thought’. That ‘poverty’ is evident in the decision to exclude STURP, to exclude any other kind of scientific testing on the samples, to abandon the Chagas protocol, to allow a local Technical school teacher to over-ride the Pontifical Science appointee, in the decision to allow a textile expert, Mme MF, totally ignorant of the subtleties of the TS, to participate in the decision of sampling location, the anti-authenticity attitude of some of the Church representatives, in allowing the proprietary attitude of the Turin guardians to unduly influence the decision, in the farcical two hour argy-bargy immediately before the sampling, in the decision not to take representative sampling, in the C-14 scientists themselves being prepared to accept the non-representative sample for testing, in the aftermath of announcing the results contrary to agreements, etc ad nauseam. (see Benford-Marino paper).

    1. daveb of wellingon nz :
      in the decision to allow a textile expert, Mme MF, totally ignorant of the subtleties of the TS, to participate in the decision of sampling location

      MF didn’t participate in decision of sampling location. She was suggested by Chagas, who was Gove’s fellow, and thus rejected by Gonella due to animosities between the two. Genrally dirty politics screwed the whole operation from the begining, and it is not important who is more guilty of that.

    2. Correction: See “The setting for the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud”, by Emanuela Marinelli, Valencia, April 28-30, 2012.
      http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/marinelliv.pdf
      Marinelli’s paper documents the whole lead-up fiasco to the sampling decisions.

      O.K.: Mme MF was insistent that the TS was totally homogenous. Because she had no understanding of the subtleties of French invisible weaving, and could not see any evidence of “darning” she was certain that the area was not a patch despite any misgivings held by others present who knew about the cotton in the Raes sample. This had to influence the decision to proceed along the lines taken. She was an expert in textiles, but at that time knew practically nothing about the Shroud.

      1. At that time she was not involved in carbondating process, as she was moved away by Gonella, because being suggested by Chagas. Instead, he took Vial & Testore who were really green about TS! So far I remember one of the suggested taking sample from the patch (!), another pointed chest wound and asked: what is that brown stain? (!).

        They ultimately became experts in TS -but post factum.

        As to MFL, she was not present, and IMHO she is not ignorant, but wants to save reputation of Archidiocese (which organized sampling) and her colleagues.

      2. Mme MF showed her knowledge f the reweavingtechniques by writing a thorough rebuttal of the Marino Benford theory, correct me if I’m wrong.

  11. colinsberry :

    “I hope to be able to publish it before the end of this year.”
    In your position, Thibault, I would feel duty bound to say what I knew back then immediately, and not keep people waiting a day longer for what you knew about an extraordinary abuse of trust and position – the covert removal and sequestration of even a single thread being a gross breach of professional standards in my view. (Why was Rogers not given the retained AREA of fabric that we all know about instead of a single thread with uncertain chain of custody?) But then I am not you, and vice versa, with an entirely different internet MO from yours*, so I guess we’ll just have to be patient.
    *Like your two permanently on-display pdfs (top right corner) having no facility for leaving comments and/or criticism.

    Colin:
    No, I don’t feel duty.
    Because
    – Contrary to you, I have to work (50-60 hours /week)
    – I am waiting for a important corroboration
    – I wish to write my paper carefully
    Period

    1. I believe that internet forums were intended for instant communication, with recognition that, in the heat of the moment, we may all say things that we later regret and /or have to correct.

      So that being my own understanding, based on some 7 years of blogging, I can’t say as I care greatly for your MO, Thibault, like your using this web forum a few minutes ago to flag up that you are sitting on important information, and then telling us we’ll have to wait possibly months for your carefully referenced paper.

      Maybe you should just stick to your pdfs (inviting no comment or criticism) seeing as how you seem unwilling or incapable of entering into the spontaneous free-flowing nature of internet debate.

    2. Thibault,

      We have never corresponded but I am aware of your work. I understand that your next piece will deal with the provenance of samples issue. God speed, but do the thorough work you are noted for.

      1. Thank you John

        This kind of inquiry needs a lot of time.

        The key question is : how is it possible to understand Rogers’ sentence about his C14 samples.

        Rogers: “HE [Gonella] reported that HE excised the threads from the CENTER of the radiocarbon sample”. (emphasize mine)

        When, how, who received these samples, the “chain of evidence” etc…
        The answer could not be found in a single document.

        I had to read many published and unpublished documents (in Italian and English) coming from Gonella, Riggi, Rogers, Adler…comparing them and trying to understand.

        Now I understand why Rogers could write what he wrote.
        I have some evidence that his radiocarbon samples came truly from the CENTER of the radiocarbon sample. I am just waiting for an important testimony.

        Everybody is able to understand that I have to write a comprehensive report, which is not compatible with partial comments on a blog (even on the very interesting Dan’s blog)

  12. Goodness me; you pop downstairs for a cup of tea and when you come back there have been dozens of comments and three more blogs from Dan!
    The comments from invisible weavers mentioned by OK in the Benford/Marino paper are at best unconvincing. It’s not at all clear what they were given to comment on. Was it that very unsharp photo of the Zurich sample that accompanies the paper? If so, the few irregularities noticed by the ‘experts’ are nothing like enough to establish a patch.
    The Benford/Marino paper is a clever attempt to find a fault with the C14 dating, but it doesn’t work on a number of levels. Another misguided drawing is that of the patch illustrated at Figure 2, which is correlated with the left/right differences noticed in Figure 6, which claims a patch to one side of the line where the herringbone changes direction, and “normal” shroud on the other. If the patch was anything like that illustrated, then at least two of the Arizona dates, and at least two of the Zurich dates, would have been pure, unadulterated patch, while the others would have almost pure shroud. This is not in accordance with the actual dates found. If the whole thing was interwoven to a depth of half an inch (as described by David Pearson of French Tailors, then it should be easily visible on a micrograph.
    As for “what I can see that Rogers couldn’t” (question from David Goulet), we are looking at quite different things. I’m looking at whole pieces of cloth, two or three square centimetres or so, while Rogers was looking at individual threads. The proportion of cotton in any of the threads of the shroud does not seem well established. Villarreal’s thread, for example is described as pure cotton, which does not concur with the varying proportions found by other researchers. I wonder if this is partly due to the sticky tape sampling of the main shroud, which extracted only fibres, whereas the thread analysis of the Raes sample consisted of whole thread.

    1. Hugh:

      The comments from invisible weavers mentioned by OK in the Benford/Marino paper are at best unconvincing. It’s not at all clear what they were given to comment on. Was it that very unsharp photo of the Zurich sample that accompanies the paper? If so, the few irregularities noticed by the ‘experts’ are nothing like enough to establish a patch.

      Do you really think that they showed to the experts this compressed to minimize its size photo that is included in pdf version of their paper? Even the writings on the other figures in this document are not clear enough to be easily readable. But I suppose the original illustrations actually were.

      If the patch was anything like that illustrated, then at least two of the Arizona dates, and at least two of the Zurich dates, would have been pure, unadulterated patch, while the others would have almost pure shroud. This is not in accordance with the actual dates found.

      From: http://www.shroud.com/vanhels3.htm

      “I asked the British Museum for some explications. Dr. Morven Leese explained the LOW Arizona errors as follows : Arizona did not send in FOUR, but EIGHT “paired” dates, each pair measured the same day, with the same set of standards and blanks. The EIGHT “dependent” dates were combined in FOUR “independent dates, given in Table 1 (Nature). Each pair of DEPENDENT dates are combined into an INDEPENDENT date.”

      What guarantee do we have that other raw data were not manipulated to give the “proper results”? None. And in fact , laboratories and British Museum have all the cards in their hands, they can give us conflicting accounts how the measures were performed, and samples cut, adjusting them to any proposed patch theory. Maybe this seems a little bit conspiratory, but very likely the statistical analysis of raw data was somehow manipulated. Stephen Jones also thinks so. Gonella and Turin Colonetti’s Institute refused to sign the result of the analysis.

      See also:

      http://www.ohioshroudconference.com/papers/p09.pdf

      “Also in the ventral missing-corner section, which we hypothesize to consist of
      restorative surface dyes and what was likely an undocumented “invisible” medieval
      repair, is the section from which the 1973 Raes sample was extracted for analysis. In this
      sample, Raes found that the side seam had been attached to the adjacent main Shroud by
      a 2-ply- linen sewing thread (18).By removing the sewing thread, Raes was able to separate his sample into two distinct pieces, which he identified as “Piece 1” and “Piece 2.” Each piece exhibits different characteristics, such as cotton content, lignin content at the growth nodes, and thread size, suggesting two different origins of the yarns.”

      1. Also from: http://www.ohioshroudconference.com/papers/p09.pdf

        In terms of the C-14 area in relationship to the water stain, which has been posited to be much older than the 1532 fire and also impacted the sample area (31), photo analysis demonstrates that this latter assertion is incorrect. This photograph, when placed next to an image showing the location of the reserve versus C-14 sample, clearly
        demonstrates that the entire C-14 sample area was outside the water stain region. The crease can be used as a marker to compare the two photographs and location of the C-14
        sample. Further, it is also notable that the reserve sample does not appear to have any water stain markings. According to the illustration of the water stain area, the stain should have gone directly through the mid-section of the reserve sample forming a distinct marking discoloration. Since the sample does not show any evidence of a water stain marking, this could very well be explained by the later addition of a patch in this area.

        Emphasis mine.

      2. “Do you really think that they showed to the experts this compressed to minimize its size photo that is included in pdf version?” Yes, OK, I think they might have done. Is there any evidence to the contrary?
        “Arizona did not send in FOUR, but EIGHT ‘paired’ dates, each pair measured the same day, with the same set of standards and blanks. The EIGHT ‘dependent’ dates were combined in FOUR “independent dates.” Arizona seems to have set aside the thinnest piece of the two samples it received, and cut the other one in half. According to Marino and Benford’s patch hypothesis, Figure 2, one of these halves was pure patch, and the other one mostly shroud, with a little bit of patch at the top. One of these halves was set aside (later to be studied by Freer-Waters). The other half was cut into four, and these four samples independently burnt and reduced to little carbon pellets. At least two of these pellets were either pure shroud or pure patch. Each pellet was subjected to two “sputterings.” There were thus eight actual readings from the four samples tested. Each sample had its two readings averaged, to produce the four “independent dates.” Had there been a 16th century patch over a 1st century cloth, as speculated by Benford and Marino, then at lest two of these dates would have been pure 16th century or pure 1st century. This is not borne out by the published dates.
        Incidentally, it was good of the Arizona crowd to submit both their dates for each sample. If the Oxford labs used all their sample for burning, they had enough for about 6 “sputterings” of each of their three divisions of their sample. What a pity we don’t know what they were.
        “it is also notable that the reserve sample does not appear to have any water stain markings.” That’s perfectly true.

  13. Charles Freeman :
    Who has provided a ratio of old versus new threads in any sample from the Shroud? Who has found an actual cotton thread? Why use cotton THREADS, if there are any, rather than linen threads to make repairs? My point about Roger’s paper not being secure is that there are too many questions left open and assumptions made without sufficient evidence to evaluate them. Rogers tries to cover a lot of ground but only provides ten references for the whole of his paper. It just left me with questions that are unresolved.

    From: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/thibaultr7part3.pdf

    Except perhaps the amount of cotton, all that I found is consistent with Raes’ claims: Gossypium herbaceum inside the linen thread. However, given the amount of cotton I found, there is another possible hypothesis: the mixture could have been the result of a willful act. The spinner could have spun together flax fibers with some cotton fibers as it was sometimes carried on in the Middle-Ages (and this is still the case today). This would be consistent with Rogers’ finding of a unique dye on Raes/radiocarbon fibers because cotton is known to retain the colors much more easily than linen.

  14. Hugh Farey :
    Arizona seems to have set aside the thinnest piece of the two samples it received, and cut the other one in half. According to Marino and Benford’s patch hypothesis, Figure 2, one of these halves was pure patch, and the other one mostly shroud, with a little bit of patch at the top. One of these halves was set aside (later to be studied by Freer-Waters).

    And do you understand now, why Jull and Freer-Waters claim, that contrary to Rogers, they found no anomalies, no dyes, minimal amount of cotton, in their sample? If this had been the one mostly the original shroud…

  15. Good try, OK! Trouble is, that would make two dated samples pure 16th century, and the other two very close to 16th century, which they aren’t. Sorry, but still no cigar!

    1. But who said that the patch must go into straight line? Hugh, draw the division of the sample, and post it somewhere.

      I still think the patch consists rather of mixed 1st and 16-19th century threads, and the results are average of them. But with little info it is hard to guess how the patch goes.

      1. You’re right, of course. It’s just that all the “experts” looked at their photo and said things like: “It’s patched on the left but not on the right,” and Figure 2 shows the dividing line along the ‘spine’ of the herring-bone.

  16. colinsberry :
    “I hope to be able to publish it before the end of this year.”
    In your position, Thibault, I would feel duty bound to say what I knew back then immediately, and not keep people waiting a day longer for what you knew about an extraordinary abuse of trust and position – the covert removal and sequestration of even a single thread being a gross breach of professional standards in my view…

    I second you on that thought, colinsberry.

  17. O.K. :
    No, just the threads used must resemble original as much as possible, so usually threads from the same fabric are used. But it was not possible in case of the Shroud -repairing one damage would create another in different place of the precious cloth.

    In that case, the patch wouldn’t be invisible, even to the naked eye or touch.

    1. What’s the betting that in the unlikely event of C-14 re-dating from, say, a minimum of 5 or 6 new locations, evidence will be found for 5 or 6 more instances of invisible reweaving? The evidence will be that the radiocarbon dating has again returned too recent a date for all those new locations, that erroneous date conflicting with the overwhelming weight of other evidence. ;-)

      PS: Thanks btw for the moral support in your earlier comment.

  18. Thibault HEIMBURGER :
    Thank you John
    This kind of inquiry needs a lot of time.
    The key question is : how is it possible to understand Rogers’ sentence about his C14 samples.
    Rogers: “HE [Gonella] reported that HE excised the threads from the CENTER of the radiocarbon sample”. (emphasize mine)
    When, how, who received these samples, the “chain of evidence” etc…
    The answer could not be found in a single document.
    I had to read many published and unpublished documents (in Italian and English) coming from Gonella, Riggi, Rogers, Adler…comparing them and trying to understand.
    Now I understand why Rogers could write what he wrote.
    I have some evidence that his radiocarbon samples came truly from the CENTER of the radiocarbon sample. I am just waiting for an important testimony.
    Everybody is able to understand that I have to write a comprehensive report, which is not compatible with partial comments on a blog (even on the very interesting Dan’s blog)

    My original question was to with who knew (at the time) that a sample had been covertly removed from the centre, and Thibault’s reply in his earlier comment seemed to imply that he knew at the time, i.e.1988, or shortly thereafter, that he had been privy to matters that have been ‘succesfully’ kept under wraps for a quarter of a century.

    https://shroudstory.com/2013/10/18/again-joe-marino-sue-benford-and-the-carbon-dating-of-the-shroud-of-turin/#comment-47917

    That interpretation was based on his “Who? Me”.

    It was on the basis that he knew at the time, and had chosen to say nothing all these years while controversy has raged over Rogers’ claims based on that mystery sample that I suggested he should tell us immediately everything he knew, and not keep us in the dark one day longer. I would not have been so insistent if, as now seems possible, he is saying that his knowledge is derived from second hand literature and document researches that are still ongoing.

    I suppose I should apologize for any misunderstanding, but even allowing for the fact that English is not Thibault’s first language, I do think his rather abrupt “Who? Me” made it seem as if he had known from the start about that entire murky business with the covertly retained sample and its uncertain chain of custody, and that he was being less than helpful in announcing he knew the facts while telling the blogosphere that it would have to be patient a while longer. That did not strike me as good netiquette. But if he’s only recently formed some tentative conclusions and feels he needs more time to document them to his satisfaction, then fair enough, I withdraw my initial protest.

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