Barrie Schwortz will appear on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory

imageBarrie Schwortz has posted the following to the STERA Facebook page:

Are you an insomniac? If so, you can stay up late and catch me live on the Coast to Coast AM radio program with George Noory late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning, February 19th, between 12:00 midnight and 2:00 am Pacific Time. I will be doing the 2nd half of the program and probably discussing the "earthquake" paper that has been in the news recently.

Here is a link to Coast to Coast AM show’s home page. And here is how the show is described on its About page:

Coast to Coast AM airs on more than 560 stations in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico and Guam, and is heard by nearly three million weekly listeners. With hosts George Noory, John B. Wells (weekend), George Knapp (weekend) and Ian Punnett (weekend), it is the most listened to overnight radio program in North America.

A media phenomenon, Coast to Coast AM deals with UFO’s, strange occurrences, life after death, and other unexplained (and often inexplicable) phenomena. Coast to Coast AM is overnight talk radio with daytime ratings.

For the most part, this show is just too weird for me. It loves weird. Glance at the SHOWS tabRemote Viewing, Demonic Imps, Dream Messages, Nostradamus, Ancient American Giants, Wanaque UFOs, etc. But I’ll watch Barrie.

Some of us may have to wait for a YouTube of the segment with Barrie. In the meantime here is an amusing parody of the show:

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On in Jerusalem in 33AD?

maybe there never was an earthquake

clip_image001Onion-peel the cited sources  in the Meccanica paper and . . . “It seems likely that all the evidence for an earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion is probably derived from a single source, the Gospel of Matthew.”

Stephen Jones doubts that Matthew was talking about an earthquake at all. In a comment to a reader of his blog he puts it best:

As I pointed out in my comment above, in Mt 28:2 "it was not actually an earthquake", i.e. a geologically-caused one, "It just FELT like one".

That is because Mt 28:2 says: "… there was a great earthquake [Gk. seismos megas], FOR an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it" (my emphasis). So it was the ANGEL’S descending and/or his rolling back the stone at the tomb’s entrance which was the cause of this "great earthquake", not geological activity.
I also pointed out that the Greek word "seismos means "a shaking" and in Mt 8:24 a "great storm" at sea is exactly the same Gk. words seismos megas translated "great earthquake" in Mt 28:2.

So the `earthquake’ caused by the angel on resurrection day would have been better translated, "And behold, there was a great SHAKING, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it" (my [=Stephen’s] emphasis).

So maybe because of a translation error there never was an earthquake. (If Stephen is right I must rethink my long held assumption that the earthquake was a metaphor).

Referring to the study published in the journal Meccanica Stephen had wondered:

. . . who peer-reviews these Bible-science papers? Did they consult any Bible-believing theologians?


Well, yes, in this case that might have been a good idea. Humor me; the paper hinges on one assumption, that there was an earthquake in AD 33. The paper cites various sources to establish this fact, but they may all hinge on Matthew’s Gospel. Maybe a biblical scholar or two, bible-believing or otherwise, theologian, historian or exegesist would have been a big help. Sounds crazy! After all this is supposed to be a scientific paper in a scientific journal. Unfortunately, it is bible-based more so than a casual reader might think.  

Skeptics Community at the Stack Exchange 

To understand this better, we need to turn to another source, a probing source. That is Skeptics Community at the Stack Exchange. There, prompted by a similar question in the Christianity Community, someone asked: Did a magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit Jerusalem in 33AD?

clip_image001[4]1) First up is Jon Ericson:

The paper that sparked the news story states in its conclusion:

Considering the historical documents attesting the occurrence in the “Old Jerusalem” of a disastrous earthquake in 33 A.D., the authors assume that a seismic event with magnitude ranging from the 8th to the 9th degree in the Richter scale could have produced a thermal neutron flux of up to 1010 cm−2 s−1.

The historical documents cited are:

  • NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center "Significant Earthquake Database"

    While it does list a number of earthquakes in the first century, the evidence for each is widely diverse. The August 24, 79 A.D. Naples earthquake is well documented since it coincided with the eruption of Vesuvius. The 33 A.D. earthquake in Palestine seems to have far less documentation. The two sources indicate:

    33 A.D., Bithynia and Palestine. At the crucifixion. The city of Nisaea was destroyed. (reference #521)

    33 A.D., Palestine, Jerusalem. (reference #1222)


    Catalogue of Recorded Earthquakes from 1606 B.C. to A.D. 1850, Part I, 1606 B.C. to 1755 A.D. Report of the 22nd Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Hull, Sept., 1853, John Murray, London, p. 1-176.


    Historical seismicity of the Arab region. IASPEI/UNESCO Working Group on Historical Seismograms and Earthquakes, August 27-28, 1985, Tokyo; Preliminary Proceedings, p. 59-84.

    It’s not at all clear (without reading those reports) where each got its data. One might expect the second used the first as a baseline. It’s possible the 1853 catalogue used the Gospel accounts.

  • Thallus

    We only have only have fragments of his third book of histories via Sextus Julius AfricanusHistory of the World, which has also been lost. However, Africanus was quoted by George Syncellus, who disputed Thallus’ apparent claim that the darkness reported at the same time was an eclipse. There is some doubt that Thallus was writing about the Crucifixion event at all.

  • The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea

    I’ve had some difficulty finding out much about this document, except that it appears to be legend, not history. In The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations Bart Ehrman and Zlatko Plese date the work between the 4th and 12th century. Therefore, it was likely influenced by Matthew’s accounts.

  • Dante’s Inferno

  • Ambraseys N (2005) Historical earthquakes in Jerusalem: a methodological discussion. J Seismol 9:329–340

    I don’t have access to this myself, but the article helpfully notes:

    Modern writers say that Jerusalem is situated relatively close to the active Dead Sea Fault zone. They accept the occurrence of the Resurrection earthquake, to which they assign the severity of a catastrophic event, characterized by a local magnitude ML = 8.2, as well as of another earthquake that took place in Bithynia, during the same period, that would have had even a greater magnitude.

    (Details of "local scale" may be found on Wikipedia’s Richter magnitude scale article.)

    But the abstract of the paper cited reads in part:

    However, as we go further back in time before our era, the historical record gradually disappears and the archaeological record takes over. Unfortunately, the archaeological record is too coarse and ambiguous, without any precise internal archaeological indicators. Dating is based on, or influenced by the very few historical records, such as in the Bible and inscriptions, which provide an example of how their assumed accuracy may influence archaeologists’ interpretation and dating. Quite often this develops into a circular process in which archaeological assumptions or theories are transformed into facts and used by earth scientists to confirm the dates and size of their proposed events. In this article we discuss the problems that arise when Biblical and archaeological information is used at face value to assess earthquakes in the Holy Land. This combination may produce earthquakes of hypothetical location and of grossly exaggerated magnitude with consequences for the assessment of seismic hazard.

    Therefore the paper used to obtain the oddly specific local magnitude of 8.2 seems to express caution about the evidence for the dates and sizes of earthquake reports like "Old Jerusalem".

  • Summary

It seems likely that all the evidence for an earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion is derived from the Gospel of Matthew. The authors of "Is the Shroud of Turin in relation to the Old Jerusalem historical earthquake?" seem to have over-estimated the strength of evidence for such an event. It is perhaps worthwhile to note that conclusions of the paper depend on the precise timing and strength of the quake. 
[ . . . ]


2) Second up is Jefferson Williams:

The Dead Sea is not thought to be capable of producing a M 8.2 earthquake in Judea. Max I have heard about is M 7.5. There was an earthquake around the time of Jesus’ death but it was much smaller than M 8.2. It was estimated at M 6.0 to M 6.5 and was dated to between 26 and 36 AD. (

It appears that the authors of the Turin Shroud article conflated an earthquake in Northern Anatolia in 29 AD that was associated with a solar eclipse with Matthew’s description of an earthquake in Chapters 27 and 28 and came up with Magnitude 8.2.

A significant amount of early Christian apologetic literature assumes that the Northern Anatolia 29 AD earthquake was what was described by Matthew in chapters 27 and 28 because the Anatolian earthquake was associated with midday darkness (due to the eclipse) and occurred around the right time.

However, this logic was faulty because the crucifixion occurred on 14 or 15 Nisan in the Jewish Calender which is the time of a full moon; meaning a solar eclipse was not possible. Further, earthquakes from northern Anatolia do not produce significant shaking in Jerusalem.
[ . . . ]


Painting is The Angel at the Tomb of Christ by Benjamin West (Brooklyn Museum). I share the position of the Wikimedia foundation that photographs of two-dimensional works of art in the public domain may not be copyrighted by the photographer.

Son of God in Theaters February 28



Official Trailer

About the Film

Home Page


Fox Write Up

This major motion picture event — an experience created to be shared among families and communities across the U.S. — brings the story of Jesus’ life to audiences through compelling cinematic storytelling that is both powerful and inspirational. Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar (R)-winner Hans Zimmer. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays the role of Jesus as the film spans from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection (c) Fox

PG-13, 1 hr. 20 min.

Documentary, Drama, Faith & Spirituality

Directed By: Christopher Spencer

Written By: Richard Bedser,Christopher Spencer

In Theaters: Feb 28, 2014 Wide

20th Century Fox – Official Site External Icon

How true will it be to what we think we know from the Shroud of Turin?

The Shroud of Turin story brings up all the usual issues about click-bait journalism

MUST READ: The Shroud of Turin, pseudoscience, and journalism.
Hat tip: Joe Marino

A friend who is a knee-jerk skeptic of the shroud sent me the story from the Huffington Post, Shroud of Turin Formed by an Earthquake? Scientists Say Face of Jesus Image Caused By Neutron Emissions. (Actually, six people sent it to me, another seven people sent me similar stories).

“Aren’t you guys the least bit embarrassed by believing this crap?”, my friend wrote.

Believing this crap? I don’t believe it. And yes it’s crap. The an-earthquake-did-it story, still spilling printers’ ink by the buckets full, is just the latest crap being said about the shroud by mediocre so-called scientific journals and an irresponsible media. It is disappointing to have friends who think we should be embarrassed. 

imageAnd that brings me to Joel Achenbach and his excellent Washington Post blog article, The Shroud of Turin, pseudoscience, and journalism. If you read only one thing about the earthquake crap read Joel Achenbach:

The story seems to have been sparked by a EurekAlert item placed by someone working for the publishing company Springer, which produces the journal, Meccanica, that ran the shroud paper.

I am not familiar with “Meccanica.” I do not know if it is peer-reviewed or is open-access. But this paper is, to put it delicately, unpersuasive. The author cites as an authority on an earthquake in A.D. 33 the writer Dante, who was born more than 12 centuries later. There’s a reference to a hypothetical earthquake that is an 11 on the Richter Scale. Never mind that, as far as I know, seismologists do not use the term “Richter scale” anymore. The question is: ELEVEN on the Richter Scale? The strongest earthquake ever recorded is a 9.5. This sounds to me like “Spinal Tap” science. “This one goes to 11.”

The hypothesis of a connection between an earthquake and the shroud is based on a nuclear process known as piezonuclear fission, but a cursory examination of the process would lead the skeptical reader to conclude that there’s no such thing. A leading advocate for the existence of piezonuclear fission is the very same professor Carpinteri who wrote the Meccanica paper. [ . . . ]

Good journalism has a subtle feature of reticence. We don’t publish everything we hear. We filter. We curate. The goal of the traditional journalist is to create a reputation for accuracy, fairness, relevance and timeliness, and this requires the willingness to not publish things that are unlikely to be true.

The Shroud of Turin story brings up all the usual issues about click-bait journalism and our current struggle for survival in a highly disrupted news industry. [ . . . ]

There’s nothing at stake here except the survival of credible journalism. For those who are trying to figure out a business model for journalism — and I desperately want these folks to be successful — let me suggest that the ultimate killer app is quality. Quality comes in many forms. In the news business, being fast — ideally first — is a form of quality. Packaging the material in a beautiful way visually is another virtue. But the ultimate virtue in this business is getting it right.

And discerning the truth about the shroud’s authenticity, whatever that may be, is also at stake.

Piezonuclear What?

imageAnd speaking of full disclosure since Alberto Carpinteri’s ‘Earthquate’ theories are now part and parcel of science lore of the shroud . . . thanks to the media.

There is this for starters: Italian Government Slams Brakes on ‘Piezonuclear’ Fission from Science Insider (June 11, 2012)(published by Science):

Italy’s research and education minister Francesco Profumo has heeded the call from more than 1000 Italian scientists not to fund research into a controversial and disputed form of nuclear fission. The scientists had signed an online petition urging Profumo to block research on "piezonuclear" reactions at the National Institute of Metrological Research (INRIM). The petitioners say they are concerned that the institute’s president, Alberto Carpinteri, was prioritizing research on the subject and that Profumo was about to place a second proponent of the research on the institute’s scientific council. But Profumo has told ScienceInsider that he changed his mind about the council nomination and that he has "no intention" of funding piezonuclear research without the backing of the scientific community.

Carpinteri, a civil engineer at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy, has worked on the controversial research with a handful of other Italian scientists since 2008. His collaborators include Fabio Cardone, a physicist at the National Research Council in Rome. The researchers claim that when they crush various kinds of rock, they observe very high emissions of neutrons: 10 times the background level in the case of granite, and 100 times in the case of basalt. They interpret the emissions as being due to the splitting, or fission, of iron atoms in the rock into lighter atoms such as those of aluminum. Unlike the materials used in conventional fission reactions, the crushed rock does not emit ionizing gamma rays or leave behind radioactive waste, the researchers say.

Speaking to ScienceInsider, Carpinteri acknowledged that the group’s conclusion is controversial, as established nuclear physics shows that the compression could not supply the enormous amounts of energy needed to split nuclei. But he argues that several other lines of evidence—including chemical analyses he and his colleagues have carried out on the rock samples before and after compression—indicate that nonstandard fission is indeed taking place. "The classical theory of fission still has a few holes in it," Carpinteri says.

Other researchers, however, remain far from convinced. Three different groups, from Canada, Sweden, and Italy, published papers in 2010 criticizing the rock-compression experiments and similar work by Cardone. And in a paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server on 29 May, nine researchers from INRIM took aim at the chemical analysis carried out on the rock samples. They show that many identical numbers reported in the analysis, which are quoted to two decimal places, are more closely correlated than would be expected from independent measurements—although the paper says nothing about how the correlation might have occurred.

The online petition, started 24 May, urges Profumo not to spend public research money on what it calls projects "without, at least for the moment, any scientific foundation." The petitioners argue that INRIM’s work on piezonuclear reactions would "bring discredit to the whole research system."

[ . . . ]

Full Disclosure: Author of ‘Earthquake’ paper is also editor of journal that published paper

imageA reader from Santa Barbara writes:

Has anyone on your blog or in the wider media noticed that Professor Alberto Carpinteri [pictured], the corresponding author of the paper published in Meccanica is also the Editor-in-Chief of that very same journal. In fact, the same email address is listed in both capacities making one wonder if he corresponds with himself. Another of the paper’s authors is also on the editorial board of the journal. It makes one wonder about how objective this journal is and how well the paper was peer reviewed.

A similar concern arose back in January of 2011 when Professor A. J. Timothy Jull co-authored a paper in Radiocarbon about the dating of the shroud while serving as editor of the journal. At the time, Paolo Di Lazzaro offered this perspective:

It isn’t the first time that an Editor is co-author of a paper submitted to its own journal. And usually the (formal) problem is easily solved by a blind review procedure.

As an example, I faced a similar spot when I submitted two papers for publication in the Proceeding volume of IWSAI (International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos images). I was co-author of two papers and at the same time editor of the Proceedings and responsible for the choice of the Referees.

I solved this problem asking to a colleague to manage the review procedure: select the Referees, receive from each Referee the anonymous review, and send me the same reviews. She received my reply and the corrected paper and she sent it to the Referees for the final response.

In summary, there are simple rules to avoid a conflict of interest. It is likely Jull followed the same method.

I am learning that it is quite common for scientists to publish in journals they edit. I do think, however, that full disclosure is needed. We shouldn’t be left to discover this by turning to “About Us” sections of a journal’s website.

Aftershock of the Maybe-An-Earthquake-Did-It Earthquake

I’m with Barrie on this: you should read The Shroud of Turin: Radiation Effects,
Aging  & Image Formation
by Ray Rogers. Then decide.

imageFor whatever reason, the recent Maybe-An-Earthquake-Did-It proposal to explain the making of the image and a possible error in the carbon 14 dating of the shroud, awakened an otherwise sleepy news media.  Megan Gannon’s syndicated story in LiveScience, Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus? captured prominent headline placement at Yahoo News. The Telegraph, USA Today, Fox News, the Huffington Post and the Christian Post, for whatever reason, gave the story plenty of ink. Some of the earliest coverage, such as that appearing in The Telegraph, was amateurish yet effective (see Breaking News: Another Day, Another Solution to the Image and the Carbon Dating in this blog two days ago).

However, do notice, most top shelf news outlets are ignoring the story. Dip into the archives and you will discover that the earthquake idea and the radiation idea is old news. Read the paper, Is the Shroud of Turin In Relation to the Old Jerusalem Historical Earthquake? in Meccanica and you’ll find little that is new or anything, really, that rises above the level of speculation.

Nonetheless, traffic on this blog exploded yesterday. My inbox filled up quickly. Barrie Schwortz at STERA, in part due to mail volumes, was prompted to post a special update to  Frankly, from what I have seen so far, I think the story has gotten attention out of all proportions to its real significance. I doubt it has much traction. But we will see.

Here is what Barrie wrote on

Once again, the Shroud of Turin is in the news, this time because of a new paper titled, Is the Shroud of Turin In Relation to the Old Jerusalem Historical Earthquake? just published in the journal Meccanica. Authored by A. Carpinteri, G. Lacidogna and O. Borla, the paper asserts that neutron radiation generated by a major earthquake could have been responsible for the Shroud’s image and could have also modified the cloth in a manner that might have skewed the results of the radiocarbon dating. It has long been our policy not to comment on news releases until the claims they make can be properly evaluated by qualified experts in the related disciplines. However, due to the volume of mail we have been receiving and the fact that the entire paper is readily available online, we decided to make a brief comment on the paper until a more in-depth review can be written by an expert in the field and published in our next regular update.

We should first point out that the idea of radiation creating the image on the Shroud or skewing the radiocarbon dating is not a new one. Over the past few decades it has been proposed by a number of Shroud scholars, including Dr. Jean-Baptiste Rinaudo and Mark Antonacci. After reading the article carefully (and reminding you that this is far from my area of expertise), the only apparent new information it includes is the possibility that the proposed neutron radiation was produced as a by-product of a major earthquake. The authors also provide references to credible evidence that such events can and do occur. However, the issue of radiation and the Shroud was addressed in an article titled, The Shroud of Turin: Radiation Effects, Aging & Image Formation, written by Ray Rogers just before his death and published on posthumously in 2005. Rogers was a chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the head of STURP’s chemistry group and an expert in the effects of radiation on a wide variety of materials. He based his conclusions on examining and comparing a number of irradiated flax samples, including actual fibers of the Shroud. Once again, you will have to read the materials and decide how significant they are for yourself. We hope to have more information on this in our next update.

A Magical Medieval Shroud

imageThis has to be the best comment this month, so far. It is from Paulette. While I think it is a response to David Roemer, in this case, it seems it would be applicable to many other hypothetical and speculative proposals lately:

No! The C14 results and the image properties point to the medieval wizard Merlin and his magic wand. End of discussion.

What things would not be known until 800 years into the future?

imageA reader writes:

I read your piece on the Turin Shroud and being quite fascinated by the object I thought that I’d drop you a short note.

By any measure of logic the shroud is a fake.

It turns up in the middle-ages with no satisfactory explanation as to where it had been kept or hidden for the previous 1000 years.

At that particular time there were thousands of bits of the true-cross and crowns of thorns and nails used in the crucifixion etc and forgery of these "relics" was big business.

The shroud was tested and found to be of medieval origin.

It would seem incredible to believe that the scientists who tested the shroud could not differentiate between the original cloth and pieces that had been repaired.

But – and a big but: if it is a forgery then it is the cleverest forgery in history. The forger had to have knowledge of things that would not be known until 800 years into the future.

How was the image put on the cloth and be in the form of a photographic negative etc etc etc.

A real mystery if there ever was one.

What things would not be known until 800 years into the future? Or were they just flukes?

Quote for Today

So many people have asked themselves, how is it that the Holy Shroud of Turin, will be on display again so soon, just five years after the first public exhibit? Well, we could say Don Bosco was able to make it happen.

— The Rev. Roberto Gottardo
Diocesan Commission of the Holy Shroud


Video runs about two minutes. It is worth watching.

Hat tip: Russ Breault

Does it really matter what journalists write about the shroud?

The owner reclassified the video for private use only.

Joe Marino passes this along. Call it homemade reality TV. Watch as a man tells his son that the Shroud has been studied for “30 or 40 years.” Skip the bit about Starbucks and play the segment about the shroud beginning just shy of the three minute mark (2:59).

Breaking News: Another Day, Another Solution to the Image and the Carbon Dating

imageThere is a new paper published in Meccanica February 11, 2014. Open access links to the paper are below.

But first, there is this slapdash account from The Telegraph: An earthquake in Jerusalem in AD 33 may have caused an atomic reaction which created the Turin Shroud and skewed radiocarbon dating results, scientists believe

The Turin Shroud may not be a medieval forgery after all, after scientists discovered it could date from the time of Christ.

The shroud, which is purported to be the burial cloth of Jesus – showing his face and body after the crucifixion – has intrigued scholars and Christians alike.

But radiocarbon dating carried out by Oxford University in 1988 found it was only 728 years old.

However a new study claims than an earthquake in Jerusalem in 33AD may have not only created the image but may also have skewed the dating results.

The Italian team believes the powerful magnitude 8.2 earthquake would have been strong enough to release neutron particles from crushed rock.

This flood of neutrons may have imprinted an X-ray-like image onto the linen burial cloth, say the researches.

In addition, the radiation emissions would have increased the level of carbon-14 isotopes in the Shroud, which would make it appear younger.

Are there no editors at The Telegraph? Or do I not understand what BC means?

Last year scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy dated it to between 300BC and AD400 – still hundreds of years after Christ, who is believed to have died between 30-36AD.

Somehow this got inserted into the story:

Mark Antonacci, a leading expert on the Shroud and president of the Resurrection of the Shroud Foundation, is currently petitioning Pope Francis to allow molecular analysis of the cloth using the latest technology. It is hoped that such an investigation will be able to confirm or rule out the radiation theory.

Again, are there no editors at The Telegraph? What was hotly debated? What does this have to do with the story?

The first, hotly debated, documented reference to the Shroud of Turin dates back to the 14th century when a French knight was said to have had possession of the cloth in the city of Lirey.

Records suggest the Shroud changed hands many times until 1578, when it ended up in its current home, the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

Wait, a minute. The Daily Mail is carrying the same story. Whole paragraphs are identical even though the journalist-author byline names are different. Notice what mainstream papers have not picked up the story.


Megan Gannon, News Editor for LiveScience has sought out reactions from others:

Even if it is theoretically possible for earthquake-generated neutrons to have caused this kind of reaction, the study doesn’t address why this effect hasn’t been seen elsewhere in the archaeological record, Gordon Cook, a professor of environmental geochemistry at the University of Glasgow, explained.

"It would have to be a really local effect not to be measurable elsewhere," Cook told Live Science. "People have been measuring materials of that age for decades now and nobody has ever encountered this."

Christopher Ramsey, director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, had a similar issue with the findings.

"One question that would need to be addressed is why the material here is affected, but other archaeological and geological material in the ground is not," Ramsey wrote in an email. "There are huge numbers of radiocarbon dates from the region for much older archaeological material, which certainly don’t show this type of intense in-situ radiocarbon production (and they would be much more sensitive to any such effects)."

Ramsey added that using radiocarbon dating to study objects from seismically active regions, such as regions like Japan, generally has not been problematic.

It seems unlikely that the new study, published in the journal Meccanica, will settle any of the long-standing disputes about how and when the cloth was made, which depend largely on faith.

"If you want to believe in the Shroud of Turin, you believe in it," Cook said.

Paper published in Meccanica February 11, 2014: Is the Shroud of Turin in relation to the Old Jerusalem historical earthquake? by A. Carpinteri, G. Lacidogna and O. Borla appearing in Meccanica: An International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics

Are We Being Honest With Ourselves?

imageDavid Goulet wrote:

Each of us has boldly claimed that whether the Shroud is authentic or a fake, that it doesn’t really matter as to what we believe about Christ. Looking at our reactions to each other on this blog at times, I think we’re not being honest with ourselves.

Mattias chimed in:

Great point. Many here DO seem to be clinging to Shroud authenticity to support their faith, despite what they say

And Mike M added:

You are absolutely right. By the same token I have also noticed people clinging to fantasies to support their lack of faith, despite what they say( that they are only interested in scientific proofs and so forth).

And then, too, Louis also added:

No one has noticed that there are bloggers who react to other bloggers depending on how yet other bloggers react?

I wonder this every now and then? I think we should ask ourselves if we are being honest with ourselves and others.

Abraham and His Camels & The Shroud of Turin. How did we get here?

imageStephen Jones has posted Off-topic: Archaeologists Carbon-Date Camel Bones, Discover Major Discrepancy In Bible Story? in his blog. He begins nicely and I agree with the way he begins (his text is in bold).

Researchers Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University have discovered what may be a discrepancy in the history laid out in the Bible. Using carbon-dating to determine the age of the oldest-known camel bones, the researchers determined that camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE. This is fallacious. Just because the oldest camel bones that archaeologists have yet found in what today we call Israel (assuming the carbon-dating is correct) are 9th century BC, does not mean that camels were not in Israel before then. . . . That is a version of the fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance: "We haven’t found it, therefore it did not exist"!

But soon it becomes apparent that this is not a posting about carbon dating or camels or logical fallacies. It quickly evolves into a defense of biblical literalism up against “naturalism” that “so dominates the academic world that group-think . . . prevents the Christian, Biblical position from being heard in the secular schools and universities” (AND the Shroud of Turin, according to Stephen is an example). And what specific Christian, biblical position is under attack? That Abraham had camels.

Stephen tells us:

Dr. Robert Harris, an Associate Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, says this [the carbon dating of the camels] shouldn’t come as a shock to the theological community. “While these findings may have been published recently, those of us on the inside have known the essential facts for a generation now," Harris conveyed to HuffPost Religion through associates at JTS. "This is just one of many anachronisms in the Bible, but these do not detract from its sanctity, because it is a spiritual source, not a historical one.”This might be the modern Jewish position but it is not a consistent Christian position. The Christian New Testament states the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, was "breathed out by God":

Wait a minute! I’m a Christian. While I fully respect Stephen’s beliefs in biblical literalism, I don’t agree with his assertion that what Harris says is inconsistent with Christianity. I don’t mind if Genesis is wrong about Abraham having camels. In fact, I rather imagine that Abraham was a composite figure developed as part of the early Jewish history legend about 1500 years after he was supposed to have lived. Stephen should believe what he wants but he should not imply that his specific beliefs define Christianity. (I wouldn’t even get into this discussion but for the fact that he is, for some reason, writing about the Shroud of Turin).’’

He quotes scripture:

2Tim 3:16: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"

It depends. I’m a Christian. I use the Bible. To my way of thinking, using literal words from the Bible to argue that the Bible is literally true is about as big a fallacy as you can have.

Stephen continues:

The real problem is that Naturalism, the philosophy that "nature is all there is-there is no supernatural", so dominates the academic world that group-think . . . prevents the Christian, Biblical position from being heard in the secular schools and universities.

A prime example is the Shroud of Turin. . . .

The Shroud of Turin?  How did we get here?

Stephen continues:

. . . The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud is the very burial sheet of Jesus, bearing the image of his crowned with thorns, crucified, speared in the side, dead, buried and resurrected, body! But the secular world, dominated by Naturalism, rejects it out of hand.

I agree with Stephen’s statement up to the word ‘dead’. It may be an image of Christ’s resurrected body but I don’t think there is any evidence of that. (I believe in the resurrection but am not convinced that the shroud shows that).

Then again, if Stephen and I were to lay out what each of us thinks is the evidence pertaining to the authenticity of the shroud we would differ greatly. He thinks there are images of coins over the eyes. I’m quite certain there are not, and so forth. Can we even agree that the shroud is real if our reasons are different?

If you continue reading Stephen’s posting, he comes to the conclusion that the rejection of biblical literalism and rejection of the shroud’s authenticity tells us that the end is near. I think there is a fallacy in this thinking.

Anatomical Accuracy Chart

image (4)Micheil Morcous sends this along. Click on the picture to see a full size version of the chart:

Further to the current discussion I thought to share this image (a part of my shroud presentation). It shows the anatomical accuracy of the man of the shroud against a standard model. The total length being 8 heads, the 2nd head from top ends at the nipples, 3rd head to the navel, 4th head to the groin, 2 heads further reaches the bottom of the knee and so forth. Also Rigor Mortis is evident in the chest muscles. As you can see they are pulled up as if the arms were raised at time of death. The Rigor would be broken at the shoulder level but the chest muscles stayed stiff in the original raised position.

Shroud Encounter at Minnesota State University in Mankato, February 19

SHROUD ENCOUNTER, with Russ Breault, comes to Minnesota State University in Mankato on Wednesday, February 19th at 7:00 PM in the Student Union Ballroom. Admission is FREE. Sponsored by The Newman Center. A museum quality life-size replica will also be on display.


What might we learn about the Shroud of Turin?

From Lumiere Technology:  Imagine on a huge 165 cm (65 inch) plasma screen, a master-work from your collection revealed  at 240 Mega Pixels definition from UV to Infrareds and compared side by side with the original thanks to the astonishing results of its multispectral digitization ! (Hat Tip to John Klotz)

This technology has been around for about four years and proving useful. What might we learn about the Shroud of Turin?

According to the AFP:

In Poland a team of French experts is studying a picture by Leonardo da Vinci and making some unexpected discoveries. The painting is the Lady with an Ermine in Krakow’s Czartoryski museum. The team has invented a camera which makes it possible to inspect the canvas minutely without touching it and discover details invisible to the naked eye.

The Shroud of Turin Replica Under the Dome in Northern Liberties

Another source of pride for the church is its replica of the Shroud of Turin
– the cloth Jesus was said to have been buried in – which the Philly archbishop
brought to his archeparchy in the late 2000s from Italy.

imageAt, Philadelphia’s leading online news outlet there is an interesting article, Ukranian Catholics can find a dome of their own in Northern Liberties, by Vinny Vella, a Daily News Staff Writer:

EVEN IF you’ve never heard of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northern Liberties, chances are you’ve seen it: Its signature golden dome is easy to pick out on the city’s skyline.

Northern Liberties is a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The assumption above is that if you are reading your live in Philly.

But the church is much more than a pretty facade – it’s one of four major hubs for the Ukrainian Catholic faith in America.

[. . . ]

imageRev. Ivan Demkiv, who’s steered the congregation for more than a decade, explained what happens beneath the church’s brilliant dome. (Full disclosure: Demkiv is the father of one of this reporter’s college friends.)

Who we are: Demkiv oversees a congregation of about 300 families, some of the roughly 20,000 cultural Ukrainians who live in the greater Philadelphia area.

[ . . . ]

Where we worship: Immaculate Conception’s flock gathers in the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a massive edifice built in the Byzantine tradition – it’s modeled after the Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, according to Demkiv.

The structure was built from 1963 to 1966 on Franklin Street near 8th Street. Though its iconic dome – covered in gold-infused Venetian glass tiles – is its claim to fame, the cathedral’s interior is even more magnificent, featuring rich, colorful mosaics of biblical scenes and hand-painted icons of the faith’s saints and prophets.

[ . . . ]

What we believe: Immaculate Conception is a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which follows the Eastern Rite of the Catholic faith. In Roman Catholic parlance, the Vatican and the Ukrainian Catholic Church are said to be in "full communion" – meaning the Ukrainian branch is a member of the larger whole, but with its own distinct cultural identity.

The beliefs are the same, but the way they worship differs slightly. For example, Ukrainian Catholics read from the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom during services, instead of the Bible. Their churches feature painted icons (detailed portraits of holy figures) instead of the statues commonly found in Roman Catholic churches. And their hymns don’t have musical accompaniment – choirs and churchgoers sing without organs or other instruments.

[ . . . ]

Another source of pride for the church is its replica of the Shroud of Turin – the cloth Jesus was said to have been buried in – which the Philly archbishop brought to his archeparchy in the late 2000s from Italy.

[ . . . ]

God is . . . "Infinite power. Through him everything came to be," Demkiv said. "It doesn’t matter your faith, everyone can feel his guidance in their lives."

Russ Breault and Pastor Caspar McCloud Discuss the Shroud

Here is a recently uploaded discussion between Shroud Encounter Presenter Russ Breault and Pastor Caspar McCloud of The Upper Room  & Caspar McCloud Ministries, Inc. (Audio plus pictures, runs just over an hour).

Dear Colin: If you change your mind you are welcome back.

imageFor the past two years, you have been a frequent participant in this blog. You have commented 1,294 times. Most of your comments have been comprehensive, thoughtful, and well written. Many of us disagree with you a lot, and that’s fine. It is only when we start insulting others that things get testy. Yes, you mostly start it. And yes, people return the favor.

You also maintains you own blog, The Shroud of Turin: medieval scorch? Separating the science from the pseudo-science… (formerly entitled, Shroud of Turin Without all the Hype). Oftentimes, I cover your own postings in your blog. I used to cover you more frequently but lately what you have been posting is mostly selected comments that have already appeared in this blog. Maybe that will change because as you wrote:

Firstly, I shall be wasting no more time on the site.

It is simply a mouthpiece (with some very mouthy contributors*) for the pro-authenticity, anti-radiocarbon dating agenda. Its host, Dan Porter,  is almost certainly a front man for a behind-the-scenes organization, probably hard-line Roman Catholic, despite his declaring himself  to be some kind of Anglican (Episcopalian). Or maybe it’s a soft-sell commercial operation. Who knows?

I had no idea. This organization is so behind-the-scenes that they have not told me. Shades of conspiracy thinking, is it?

I think this is the fourth or fifth times you have left vowing never to come back. C’est la vie, I guess. But if  you change your mind you are welcome back.  Really! And don’t stand on principle. None of us around here do.

You also wrote:

I would ask its host [that’s me] NOT to do cover posts on anything I post here in future.

Just as the news media doesn’t work that way, neither does social media. It would be analogous to a politician telling the New York Times not to cover him in the news because he doesn’t like what they write about him. 

There are some things you can do, however. You can customize your blogging template to include the following meta command:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow" />

If you do that, the search engines will eventually drop you from their results. This may take a few months because of the hundreds of comments you have placed in this blog. Google already knows too much about you. You must also stop using the promotional feeds. I see that you use Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit. Tumblr, LinkedIn. No good if you don’t want people to comment on what you write. Finally, you may want to issue user codes and passwords to those people you want to see your blog. If it is  1) in public space, 2) about the shroud and 3) newsworthy, it will or may be covered.

You wrote:

. . .  I’ll still be here,  ploughing my lonely furrow for what I  call genuine untainted  agenda-free science. There will be short shrift to those who continue to malign the radiocarbon dating scientists . . .

Colin, I’m not a scientist. In my world if someone announces and endorse the results of a study, be it scientific, historical, financial, etc., they are quite naturally endorsing the methods used. You can’t get away with saying the scientists in the radiocarbon dating labs merely tested the sample given to them. They knew about anomalies in the sample. If they didn’t know then they were not doing their job. Rogers put it well to Vatican Insider:

Asked whether he [Rogers] thought the authorities at Turin had been aware of such evidence as the 1978 photographs indicating that the corner of the Shroud from which they took the sample was unlike the rest of the cloth, Rogers responded that “it 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.”

The threat of short shrift is noted. I guess you can write about my blog and I’m not supposed to cover yours. Is that it? You can criticize scientists left and right, but I am not supposed to? is that it?

You conclude:

So, time to move on. But to where and how?

I’ve decided to put together a lecture presentation, with no particular audience in mind as yet, one that summarises my thinking about the TS, especially the hot template/hot Templar angle. Yes, it’s all hypothesis, but I try wherever possible to accommodate as much of the available data (hard data that is) while keeping ideas testable in principle.

This is a real-time endeavour, and has been from the start just over 2 years ago. So I will be assembling that lecture in stages, directly underneath here, using my blog essentially as a work area.

That’s the nature of the exercise. I suspect this may be the first time a sustained scientific investigation has been carried out in real time on the internet. . . .

Warning About Likely Email Scam In Shroud Community

If you receive a message from someone you know that reads:

Please view the document i uploaded for you using Google docs.

Click here just sign in with your email to view the document its very important.

Thank you.

I have received one from Mark Antonacci. Google warns about the message as does Norton 360. I will write to Mark to see if it is real. But I doubt it. I suspect Mark’s email has been compromised.

Here is what Google reports:

"This message could be a scam" warning

About this warning

We’ll show you a warning above any message that looks like a phishing scam but comes from an address in your Gmail contacts list. When a suspicious message like this is sent from an email address of someone on your contact list, it’s possible that the person’s email account was compromised and used without their permission to send a malicious message.

What you can do

Read the message and decide if it seems like it was written by the sender. Consider whether it sounds like the person you know, contains suspicious links or content, or asks you to do unusual things like send money or provide personal details.

I recommend against opening it unless you confirm that it is from Mark. I have removed the link in this posting.

How certain are we that the man on the shroud is in rigor mortis?


A reader, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. writes:

Stephen Jones bases much of his argument on the belief that the TSM [=Turin Shroud Man] is in rigor mortis. That may not be true. Michael M. Baden, a board-certified forensic pathologist who was at one time the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, examined the shroud and found no evidence of rigor.

According to Bernard Ruffin in his 1999 book The Shroud of Turin, Baden didn’t say it exactly that way:

Although Baden insisted that he could not tell from his examination of the Shroud photographs whether rigor mortis was present, other medical experts who had looked at the image were able to discern this stiffening of the limbs which is a result of postmortem chemical changes.

It is subtle, but there is a distinct difference in implied meaning between “found no evidence” and “could not tell . . . whether rigor mortis was present”

Joe Nickell, quotes Baden directly, "If I had to go into a courtroom, I could not say there was rigor.”  That seems to me to carry more uncertainty than the phrase “found no evidence.”

So, no; as I see it Baden did not rule out rigor mortis. That may be a moot point, however. The fact of the matter is that many highly qualified people see good evidence of rigor in the photographs of the shroud. Even so, because this is a matter of opinion, there is a good question in what the Georgetown student writes: How certain are we that the man on the shroud is in a state of rigor mortis?

Let’s look at what others have said starting with William Meacham:

. . . Under the direction of Yves Delage, professor of comparative anatomy, a study was undertaken of the physiology and pathology of the apparent body imprint and of the possible manner of its formation. The image was found to be anatomically flawless down to minor details: the characteristic features of rigor mortis, wounds, and blood flows provided conclusive evidence to the anatomists that the image was formed by direct or indirect contact with a corpse, not painted onto the cloth or scorched thereon by a hot statue (two of the current theories). On this point all medical opinion since the time of Delage has been unanimous (notably Hynek 1936; Vignon 1939; Moedder 1949; Caselli 1950; La Cava 1953; Sava 1957; Judica-Cordiglia 1961; Barbet 1963 ; Bucklin 1970; Willis, in Wilson 1978; Cameron 1978; Zugibe, in Murphy 1981). This line of evidence is of great importance in the question of authenticity and is briefly reviewed below.

Rigor mortis is seen in the stiffness of the extremities, the retraction of the thumbs (discussed below), and the distention of the feet. It has frozen an attitude of death while hanging by the arms; the rib cage is abnormally expanded, the large pectoral muscles are in an attitude of extreme inspiration (enlarged and drawn up toward the collarbone and arms), the lower abdomen is distended, and the epigastric hollow is drawn in sharply. The protrusion of the femoral quadriceps and hip muscles is consistent with slow death by hanging, during which the victim must raise his body by exertion of the legs in order to exhale.

Fred Zugibe wrote:

Moreover, most forensic experts agree that the Man of the Shroud shows evidence of rigor mortis because of the bent knees and absence of a neck, therefore indicating that the crucified was dead for some time before being taken down from the cross.

Robert Bucklin wrote:

The body appears to be in a state of rigor mortis which is evidenced by an overall stiffness as well as specific alterations in the appearance of the lower extremities from the posterior aspect. The imprint of the right calf is much more distinct than that of the left indicating that at the time of death the left leg was rotated in such a way that the sole of the left foot rested on the ventral surface of the right foot with resultant slight flexion of the left knee. That position was maintained after rigor mortis had developed.

Barbara Faccini, Emmanuel M. Carreira, Giulio Fanti, Jose de Palacios, Jose Delfin Villalain wrote:

The asymmetrical bending of knees ( and ß angles), the unnatural bending of ankles ( angle) leading to an almost flat position of the right footprint, and the absence of flattening in the buttocks area (which is typical in a lying subject) are remarkable and only compatible with an extreme rigidity in a human body.


This position has been achieved most probably on the cross, where the head was freely hanging down ( angle); it has been fixed by rigor mortis and maintained after deposition, but for the arms,