Some thoughts on the St. Louis conference announcement

imageSo we have a conference in St. Louis followed in three weeks by coming five weeks after an IEEE workshop in Bari, Italy sponsored by the Technical University of Bari and the International Center for the Turin Shroud Studies.  Is this not insane?

Maybe!

So who is sponsoring the conference in St. Louis? It is worrisome.  First there is Mark Antonacci’s Resurrection of the Shroud Foundation. After that there is a faith and values video production company, Salt River Production Group, that talks up Antonacci wanting to prove the resurrection on the company website. You might recall Paper Chase: Mark Antonacci’s Hypothesis on this blog.

I went clicking on the announcement I got as an email from Barrie Schwortz.

One Click: What is the first thing I see when I click on Antonacci’s Resurrection of the Shroud Foundation?

Sophisticated, Nuclear Technology Applied to the Shroud of Turin Could Definitively Disprove its Current Radiocarbon Dating Theory, and Prove, Irrefutably, the Source of its Images and its Many Other Unique Properties – Thereby Unraveling the Secrets of One of Life’s Greatest Mysteries.

Three More Clicks: The Salt River Production Group tells us:

This is what Mark Antonacci has to say.  He is a friend of mine and one of the world’s leading experts on the Shroud of Turin.

[ . . . ]

Many other medical and scientific findings from the Shroud clearly demonstrate that it wrapped a tortured, crucified corpse, whose unprecedented frontal and dorsal body images resulted from radiation. This scientific and medical evidence also shows that the source of this radiation was necessarily the length, width and even depth of the dead body wrapped within this burial shroud. The new tests and experiments along with prior scientific, medical and archaeological results would prove that after Jesus incurred all of the wounds of the passion, and was crucified, killed and buried in Jerusalem, his corpse gave off particle radiation while it was wrapped in his burial garment. This event is not only consistent with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it left unfakable evidence of its occurrence throughout the cloth. . . .

Perhaps this conference could have been announced in a way that didn’t focus so much on the sponsors. Perhaps Antonacci could have redesigned his home page before the announcement. Rightly or wrongly, one gets the sense of a poorly disguised agenda for the conference.  And it’s not that there aren’t plenty of people who think the International Center for the Turin Shroud Studies has an agenda. Will we have repeats of the atmosphere of suspicion about the paper selection process for Dallas 2005?  It is worrisome.

42 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the St. Louis conference announcement”

  1. The Bari conference may not have an agenda because there are non-Christian authorities who will be there. Not even CIS has authenticated the relic, preferring to wait till more studies are made.

  2. …his corpse gave off particle radiation while it was wrapped in his burial garment …

    Does anyone know precisely what kind of particle radiation Mark Antonacci (“attorney and historian”) has in mind? Is it ionized atoms or molecules, as in corona discharges, or entire nuclei (e.g. alpha particles aka helium nuclei) or individual protons, neutrons or electrons? Or is the term particle radiation used loosely to include electromagnetic radiation? If so, what frequency range? Infrared? Visible? Ultraviolet? X-ray? Gamma ray?

    One can hardly begin to evaluate a radiation model unless one knows the specifics. A quick search has failed to turn up clues as to what kind of beam is envisaged (it would have to be a remarkable one to produce an image by self- or mysteriously-assisted collimation, i.e.travelling from body to linen in strictly parallel trajectories requiring no lens or other focusing system).

    1. Magic you say? How can you be so dismissive, Hugh, so uncharitable?

      If you’re right, a possibility not to be lightly rejected, you being a physicist an’ all, then it should perhaps have been planned as a magical mystery tour. That way the showman stays on the move, like the snake oil salesman, if only to keep one step ahead of disenchanted customers, enchantment being (in this instance) the commodity that is expected and demanded… ;-)

  3. But in all fairness, what other new developments have occured in recent years pertaining to the Shroud?

    1. Hi Giorgio, you have asked the right question. There will be some news for you shortly, which will show that developments are difficult, and that there is a lot of speculation.

  4. Joe Marino who helped organize the 2008 Ohio conference will be very involved in refereeing the papers selected. I am confident his involvement will make for a solid conference.

    1. You could not have anyone better than Joe Marino. Agree. But Joe is one person. Can he alone prevent the suspicion created by such unscientific Gobbledygook on the sponsorship sites. Look at the Bari site. Eighteen people are on the committee along with their associations. Who is behind St. Louis? You get the impression that it is really only Antonacci and his foundation. If they want to avoid suspicion they have to redesign this conference and fast. Joe did a great job with Ohio 2008 and could tell them how.

      1. Since 2 of the committee members had websites and since a conference needs sponsorship, it only seemed natural to have them co-sponsor. Internally, we haven’t put a lot of focus on that. We’re just people who are interested in the Shroud and interested in spreading information about it. Ours is a U.S. style conference and not similar to the higher-end professionally-sponsored conference that many European conferences are. who attended the 1991 St. Louis conference and the 2008 Columbus conference seemed to enjoy those and I’m confident that the 2014 St. Louis conference will also be a great experience. Several STURP members, including Barrie Schwortz and John Jackson are planning to attend. We’re also hoping that Ken Stevenson, Tom D’Muhala, and John “Dee” German will come. Bob Villarreal of the Los Alamos National Laboratories will likely present. Various other scientists have expressed preliminary interest in coming. There’s already too much politics in sindonology. I wish it wasn’t being added to a conference barely off the ground. We’re hoping to add some new blood to sindonology. We would like to just share Shroud information, see old friends, meet new ones and feel that this conference is a good way to do that. The sponsorship is an important issue, but it should not be overblown.

  5. Further to # 1, now that Dallas 2005 has been mentioned again, one has to reiterate that the message of Benedict XVI read out by the Kevin Vann, Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas fell on deaf ears. It is better to not even approach Pope Francis, because, blunt-spoken as he is, he will say things that many will not like. Perhaps something like what was posted on this blog by an Oxford scholar who was forced to leave the scene, shocked with personal attacks? But then, even Shroudies admit that there are no Christians in the realm of Shroud studies….

  6. Will they be filming real scientists giving talks, grabbing bites and making them look like they are part of some dematerialization dog and pony show?

  7. If people are looking to the TS to believe in the Resurrection, they are on the wrong track. For Christians it should be the other way round, as it is for many in various denominations.

  8. I may be wrong about this, but I think Mark Antonacci is dismissive of the Benford-Marino-Rogers patch hypothesis. Therefore, one might expect that the presentations at the conference are not going to be in lock step with anyone’s particular agenda.

    In doing some research this morning I ran across some interesting items that may even be of interest to Colin.

    One of the items was a Randy Foundation report on its website of Michael Minor’s controversial press release of 2005-01-19 seeming to take credit by AMSTAR for Rogers’ work, What followed was criticism by the skeptical readers of the Randi forum which I would hope even Colin might find at least some absurd – including a plea for information from the redoubtable scientific genius Joe Nickell’s – I kid you not!!!!

    See for yourself. It begins with a complete copy of the Michael Minor press release on Rogers’ findings.
    http://forums.randi.org/archive/index.php/t-33828.html

  9. Giorgio, please wait for some days. One line of research has reached a dead end, but it would probably not help much because of late dating. As you know, one has to use filters to eliminate nonsense. I have more hopes in another line, but it will take more than a year or so to publish something because I depend on permission from government authorities.

  10. Hugh Farey :
    Have a look at the top photo on this page: http://www.resurrectionoftheshroud.com/research.html. it shows the shroud from end to end. Look what’s happened to the radiocarbon sample area. Magic!

    Yup, wonderful these photoediting clone tools.

    What concerns me more are the two references to “particle or neutron” irradiation (that magically or even non-magically produces the extra C-14 to confound 20th century radiocarbon dating). Why bother to make the distinction, given that a neutron is a particle with essentially the same mass as a hydrogen atom?

    It hardly inspires confidence…

    1. I think that Antonacci’s image is very confusing. There’s always a left-right mirror-non-mirror image problem when describing the Shroud. I wonder if the cut-out portion at the bottom of the page is in fact the Raes-C14 sampling area. That would mean that the image is not a mirror image (or visa-versa). One of the problems with the 2002 “restoration” may have been the removal of the area altogether thereby arguably protecting the C14 results from further challenge, although I really believe the C14 is a dead issue for a host of reasons we need not discus in this thread.

      As far as Antonacci’s theory, while I may differ from Rogers on the ultimate answer to image, realizing that the solution is still beyond the horizon (that’s a pun but I what explain it now) I am not ready to accept some people who insist on the truth of their various theories and express disdain for those who disagree. That’s different from disdain for a specific theory because it doesn’t work but the critic admits not having a lock on the image process himself. That actually Rogers position even as he criticizes others if you read him carefully. He knocks down other theories while admitting his is incomplete.

      We don’t have the theory that answer to the mystery of image creation yet. However we may have a direction.

      1. What can we ‘pseudo-skeptics’ usefully say that won’t be misrepresented and maligned as pursuit of an undeclared agenda?

        There’s no point in striving for points of contact, far less agreement, if or when semantic hand grenades designed purely to rough up the opposition get tossed into the debate.

  11. The St. Louis conference is actually after the Bari conference, not before and it’s almost 5 weeks difference, not 3. Although it’s unfortunate that they’re close together, I think most Americans at least would prefer to attend a conference in the USA instead of Italy. I’m not sure why there’s an impression that there is a focus on the co-sponsors. We simply announced who the co-sponsors are and links were listed as part of the basic information. I’m also not sure why it’s felt there may be an agenda. Although the title points to the science/faith intersection of the Shroud, that’s always a given, and it was announced that topics for papers are open to any major aspect of sindonology. I was involved in planning both the 1991 St. Louis conference and the 2008 Columbus conference. One of the reasons the Columbus conference was held was that I was upset at the way the 2005 Dallas conference was held and also because of some restrictions that were going to be in place for another conference that was never actually held. The Columbus conference had a paper by a Spanish doctor who held that the Shroud image shows that the man in the Shroud was not dead. Although I am only one of 6 committee members for the 2014 St. Louis conference, I intend to push for complete openness and fairness in terms of papers that will be presented. I can tell you that in our many conference calls, other committee members expressed their willingness to have papers by Shroud critics to be presented. It’s unfortunate that this sort of cloud is being cast over the St. Louis conference.

  12. I wrote my initial response to Dan’s posting direct from the email I received before seeing the other posted commments.

    John wrote, “I may be wrong about this, but I think Mark Antonacci is dismissive of the Benford-Marino-Rogers patch hypothesis. Therefore, one might expect that the presentations at the conference are not going to be in lock step with anyone’s particular agenda.”

    You are right John, Mark does not buy into the patch hypothesis. The fact that 2 committee members do have conflicting views should be an indication there is no agenda.

    Russ wrote, “Joe Marino who helped organize the 2008 Ohio conference will be very involved in refereeing the papers selected. I am confident his involvement will make for a solid conference.”

    Thanks for the support, Russ.

    1. I think it is important that there be no “litmus test” that decides a priori what is acceptable and not acceptable as a hypothesis. You only get a real dialogue going when the only rules are competency and honesty. Investigators, especially investigating something as mysterious as the Shroud of Turin, will disagree and ought to be heard out and any decision made on the basis of the strength of the evidence.

      Science is always a work in progress and often what was accepted at one point in time proves to be unsatisfactory in the light of new evidence. The conference in 2008 was a model of openness I thought and a very interesting conference. I have every reason to believe that St. Louis will be as well.

      Regards, Ray

  13. One of the items was a Randy Foundation report on its website of Michael Minor’s controversial press release of 2005-01-19 seeming to take credit by AMSTAR for Rogers’ work,

    There is some truth to that statement.

  14. Why the emphasis on the sponsors? Because the links were provided as part of the conference announcement. The first thing Mark should do is revise his home page. And Paulette raises a good question about filming. Will a video in support of Mark’s hypothesis or his petition to the pope be prepared and include filmed clips from the conference. I wouldn’t want to part of that under any circumstance. You need a good conference website with links maybe in a contact page. And paper selection needs to be carefully explained.

  15. One must wait to see the results both conferences will produce, only then will there be real grounds for judgements. Bari will have two authorities from Israel, in geological survey and textiles respectively, and one from Sri Lanka (Uppsala University, Sweden), who is an expert in lightning.

  16. Who wouldn’t click on those URLs if interested in the conference and not be horrified. There is a big disconnect between Marino’s vision for a conference and what was announced by Schwartz.

    1. Paulette wrote: “Who wouldn’t click on those URLs if interested in the conference and not be horrified. There is a big disconnect between Marino’s vision for a conference and what was announced by Schwartz.”

      I actually wrote the piece that was published by Schwortz. Please focus on the vision as I expressed it in my comments and not your interpretation of the basic announcement.

  17. Dan wrote, “Will a video in support of Mark’s hypothesis or his petition to the pope be prepared and include filmed clips from the conference. I wouldn’t want to part of that under any circumstance. You need a good conference website with links maybe in a contact page. And paper selection needs to be carefully explained.

    Mark is actually working on a Press Release right now to propose new testing, which includes a short video. There is no video planned in the scenario you painted. More information will be added to the conference site as we get off the ground.

    Going back to Paulette’s comment about who wouldn’t be horrified regarding the links, there are other factors to consider besides who the official sponsors of the conference are. If certain people don’t attend just because of those, we’ll just have to live with that.

  18. In my research, I am now at the Dallas 2005 conference disaster. What is clear to me is that no individual is so knowledgeable as to set either the agenda or the tone of the meeting. A conference to work as to be open to conflicting ideas. I trust Joe is, even though he is one of the authors patch hypothesis which even today is vigorously disputed by some (like Antonacci) even though it is not incompatible with his thesis. If he’s right the patch is irrelevant.

    As far as following so close on Bari, I suspect that if you fear control by people with an agenda then Bari will be less your cup of tea than St. Louis. Also, I suspect that St. Louis will be more economically feasible for many people.

    Hey guys and gals, lighten up. Save your energy and your spleen for the conference.

  19. It’s not quite at the midway point between Bari and St.Louis, but I know a good pub in central London with an upstairs room for hire (we used to use it for monthly meetings of the London Lipid Club). It’s called the Museum Tavern, and is directly opposite the British Museum… Oops.

  20. Drinks and historical research don’t mix, unless one is invited to a pub and has to forget the latter for a while. There are two other good ones, one near St. James Palace and the other not from Embankment.

    1. Listening to a slide presentation while supping a pint (after hours), as I used to at the London Lipid Club, never hurt anyone’s mental faculties, probably the contrary in fact. Look where Watson and Crick made a bee line for as the venue for announcing “the secret of life” – the Eagle pub in Cambridge. (It has a plaque on the wall, claiming – wrongly – that ‘s where the two announced the “discovery of DNA”, overlooking to mention the double helix).

      As for your suggestion that there are (only?) two other noteworthy pubs in London, words fail me. Once the shops and offices close up, London is one giant pub scene, lunchtimes too, with patrons overflowing onto the pavement outside, though maybe not this time of year, with a giant storm now heading in from the Atlantic.

      1. Fully agreed, it is only that I mentioned two pubs where I was invited to drink some beer, the rest had to be kept for the nights, with a dose of whisky to relax. By the way, with no offence intended, both invitations to sip at pubs were not after but during office hours and I heard a friend saying that the Germans were more hardworking then the English! The city is nice but expensive and real big shots can afford to eat at the best restaurants. Remember Lucian Freud, who always dined at the same table at the Wolseley?

  21. This will be the first US conference in 6 years. Regardless of who is speaking, whether you agree with their particular paper or not, it will be a wonderful time for all involved to connect or connect again. Some of my fondest memories dating all the way back to the Paris conference in 1989 are simply making new friends and then reconnecting at subsequent conferences. It is a time of wonderful camaraderie and fellowship. Stop worrying about the minutia. There will be papers you agree with and those you won’t. But the relationships you build and cultivate will be priceless. Mealtime get togethers and late night cocktails with old friends and new–that is what I look forward to. With the right attitude, we can all help make this a great conference–even if we don’t all agree.

Comments are closed.