I’ll try to keep an open mind for now.

imageStephen Jones is inching forward with the second part of Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker?  (Here is part 1).

After stoking the fires of his incredulity a bit more, Stephen tells us  that Denis Dutton, a shroud skeptic, publicly predicted that if the Shroud was radiocarbon dated it would date to "A.D. 1335, plus or minus 30 years"

“So,” Stephen tells us, “a fraudster would know what date to aim for!” Then . . .

Agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, who believes the Shroud is authentic but Jesus did not rise from the dead, on the basis of the art history evidence considers that the fourteenth-century radiocarbon date of the Shroud to be the equivalent of claiming that "the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliens":

"Given credence, the carbon-dating result effectively raises the Shroud to the status of a miracle, an object that defies, if not a law of nature, a law of culture. All artefacts are linked to the art and technology of the society in which they originate. Something that cannot be explained in terms of its (presumed) cultural context invites a supernatural explanation. As far as I am aware, no one has yet argued that the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliensThere is no better explanation, though, for a fourteenth-century Shroud." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," pp.167-168. My emphasis).

Therefore de Wesselow considers fraud to be a real possibility for the Shroud’s "1325 ± 65 years" radiocarbon date, and indeedbecause of it:

"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. Some, like Ian Wilson, refuse to contemplate such `unworthy’ accusations. However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware. … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ‘1325 ± 65 years’ is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, 2012, p.170. My emphasis).

To be continued (and hopefully concluded) in. "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3)".

In fairness to Stephen, check out Timeline of computer security hacker history on Wikipedia. Scroll down to 1988 and thereabouts.

I’ll try to keep an open mind for now. I believe Stephen will address the hacking at some point soon; for unless Stephen is right – he could be –  I’d hate to see this speculation become another well established rumor, e. g., Shroudies believe that the labs were hacked.


Unrelated tidbit: in 1989, the year the carbon dating was announced, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at CERN, created the world’s public first web page and the World Wide Web was born.

Jerry Coyne Pounces on the Earthquake Hypothesis

does anyone buy the earthquake thing?

imageJerry Coyne has jumped into the earthquake fray with an article, The Shroud of Turin: why religion is a pseudoscience, which he posted on his blog named for his best selling book, Why Evolution is True (A New York Times Best Seller).

The book was one of the best I read on the subject of evolution. The article on why religion is a pseudoscience, well, interesting, anyway. Too much attitude. There is this:

But as real science arose in the 15th and 16th centuries, and began eroding religion’s claims, religion began turning into a pseudoscience. That is, it still made empirical claims, but immunized itself against refutation of those claims using a variety of devices—the same devices used by other forms of pseudoscience like ESP, UFOlogy, homeopathy, and astrology. These include arguing that the propositions themselves are untestable, using poor standards of evidence (including reliance on “revelation” as a “way of knowing”), reliance on a priori personal biases that are not to be tested but merely confirmed, refusing to consider alternative hypotheses, and engaging in special pleading when religious tenets are disconfirmed.

We can see all of these—but especially in the last—in a paper by A. Carpinteri et al. on the Shroud of Turin, a paper that’s gotten a lot of publicity. It’s an attempt to defend scientific radio-carbon dating of the Shroud, which showed it to be a medieval forgery, by special pleading invoking earthquakes.

imageCoyne puts forth four argument against the earthquake hypothesis, arguments that I think are perfectly valid:

1. The evidence for an earthquake is thin. . . .

2. There is no evidence that neutron emission during an earthquake could alter the C-14 content of a shroud. . . .

3. The alteration of the amount of C14 in the shroud would have to be sufficient to make it look sufficiently pre-modern, but not too young. . . .

4. There is no known way that an earthquake could, by neutron emission, produce an image of a body on a shroud. . . .

The Carpinteri paper is thus a confection of unlikely and untested hypotheses, all assembled to try to save the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as the true burial cloth of Jesus. It is not a piece of science, but a piece of apologetics.

Coyne points out:

Indeed, even Wikipedia does a better job than the popular press, and points out something that Ms. Knapton should have known: Carpinteri is the editor of the journal that published this flawed paper. What does thatsay about the review process? As Wikipedia notes:

A team of researchers from the Politecnico di Torino, led by Professor Alberto Carpinteri (and published in the journal Meccanica, where same Alberto Carpinteri is currently the acting Editor-in-Chief, believe that if a magnitude 8.2 earthquake occurred in Jerusalem in 33 AD, it may have released sufficient radiation to have increased the level of carbon-14 isotopes in the shroud, which could skew carbon dating results, making the shroud appear younger.This hypothesis has been questioned by other scientists, including a radiocarbon-dating expert. The underlying science is widely disputed, and funding for the underlying research has been withdrawn by the Italian government after protests and pressure from more than 1000 Italian and international scientists. Dr REM Hedges, of the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit of the University of Oxford, states that “the likelihood that [neutron irradiation] influenced the date in the way proposed is in my view so exceedingly remote that it beggars scientific credulity.” Raymond N. Rogers conducted various tests on linen fibers, and concluded that “the current evidence suggests that all radiation-based hypotheses for image formation will ultimately be rejected.”

But he mistakenly assumes that he understands “the faithful.” It suggests to me that he has not taken the time to understand the shroud and the people who study it before writing about it.

Of course none of this counterevidence will shake the faithful, who will still see the Shroud as authentic, and will come in droves to pay homage when the Shroud has one of its rare showings. Like believers in homeopathy or ESP (or, now, Adam and Eve), they continue to hold their faith despite all scientific counterevidence.

That and the first paragraph show how little he understands religion. But do read the full article, The Shroud of Turin: why religion is a pseudoscience and see if you agree.

YouTube of Barrie Schwortz on Coast to Coast AM

Hat tips to several people including Kelly, Paulette and an old, friend, Fr. Howard for this link to the YouTube featuring Barrie. The radio interview (audio only) with Barrie starts at the 1:16:00 so you may want to set the slider to that point. And no, the picture of the paratroopers firing at who-knows-what has nothing to do with the interview:

Here is a short summary from “Malc” on a site called The One Truth, a site also linking to the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoaxxNf7qdA#t=4619)

In the latter half, researcher and photographer Barrie Schwortz talked about the Shroud of Turin, said to be the burial cloth of Jesus, and reacted to new research that connects the Shroud’s creation to an ancient earthquake around 32 AD. According to the latest researchers’ theory, the powerful quake could have released neutron emissions that might have interacted with the fibers of the linen burial cloth, inducing the chemical reaction that created the unique facial image. Their research is problematic in several ways, including an overestimation of the magnitude strength of quakes in the Dead Sea, he noted. Further, the radiation hypothesis (which has previously been proposed to explain the Shroud numerous times) was explored by (the late) Raymond Rogers, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and he did not find evidence for it in his testing of samples.

While scientific tests have shown that the Shroud is neither a painting or a photograph, it still remains a mystery even after all the chemistry, physics, and spectrometry that have been applied, Schwortz remarked, adding that perhaps as technology continues to advance, new methods of testing may yield answers. He also shared details about his personal experiences studying and photographing the Shroud, and how his faith and religious views were affected by it.

Mixing Believers, Scientists and Many Who Are Both.

imageAs reported by Religion News Service (here via the Huffington Post):

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and its Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program released a major research project on Sunday (Feb. 16), at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago, and announced an upcoming series of conferences mixing believers, scientists and many who are both.

The massive survey of views on God, religion, and science included 10,241 respondents and took a particularly close look at the views of evangelicals and people in science-related occupations.

The concern is not whether “science and religion can co-exist. They already do,” said lead researcher Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist and director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program. “The question is how to do it well.”

Interesting statistics:

Among the findings of the study, “Religious Understandings of Science”:

* Nearly 36 percent of scientists have no doubt about God’s existence.
* 18 percent of scientists attended weekly religious services (compared with 20 percent of the overall U.S. population).
* 17 percent of scientists consider themselves evangelical.
* 15 percent of scientists consider themselves “very religious” (19 percent of the overall population).
* 13.5 percent of scientists read religious texts weekly (17 percent overall).


“If you are looking for conflict, there’s a place to find it in the data,” Ecklund pointed out in a live online chat for AAAS’ “Science” magazine. The study reports:

* 22 percent of scientists and 20 percent of the general population think most religious people are hostile to science.
* 22 percent of the general population thinks scientists are hostile to religion.
* 27 percent of Americans feel that science and religion are in conflict.
* Of those who feel science and religion are in conflict, 52 percent sided with religion.

Barrie Schwortz at St. John’s University Queens Campus February 24

clip_image001We learn from STERA’s Facebook page:

Publisher William Lauto and his wife, Professor Belenna M. Lauto, Interim Chair of the Department of Art and Design, have organized a Shroud presentation at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, at 7:00pm on February 24, 2014. In addition, Professor Lauto has organized and produced a gallery exhibit of a large selection of my photographs from the 1978 STURP examination that will be on display with the presentation. The lecture is open to the public and admission is free, however reservations are as seating is limited. For Reservations and more information call 718-990-6250 before Feburary 19, 2014 or visit the Registration Page of St. John’s Website at http://www.stjohns.edu/form/shroud-turin-science-faith-artifact-event-registration. I hope to see some of you there!

Details from the website of St. John’s University:


Cleveland Area Presentation, March 12

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is announcing:

Dave Onesko of Middleburg Heights stands alongside these 8 feet "Shroud of Turin" murals at the Grace Fellowship Church where he will be giving a presentation. (Kyle Lanzer/Sun News)HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — David Onysko, who has done extensive research and speaking on the Shroud of Turin, will give a multi-media presentation about evidence of the shroud’s authenticity, "Where Science Meets Faith,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12 at Highland Sixth Presbyterian Church, 5632 Wilson Mills Road, Highland Heights.

The event is free. For more information, call 440-442-6441 or visit Onysko’s website, manintheshroud.org.

The shroud, believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, bears the faint image of a bearded, crucified man along with a pattern of what are said to be bloodstains.

CLICK HERE to view a 91-slide presentation on David’s website.

From Fraud to Computer Hacking in Carbon Dating the Shroud of Turin

imageA little over a month ago, Stephen Jones, created a posting with a title that read, The case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud #1: Introduction. To make the introduction, Stephen lead off by quoting Thomas de Wesselow:

I had for a long time been thinking of posting on this topic, and was prompted to do so by reading recently what the agnostic Shroud pro-authenticist, art historian Thomas de Wesselow, wrote:

"The third possibility [why "the 1988 result … conflicts with all the evidence that points to the Shroud having been in existence long before 1260"] is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. … However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ‘1325 ± 65 years'[3] is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve" (my emphasis)[4].

“I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation,” he tells us:

.  .  I cannot prove that there was scientific fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, although I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation. All that I can do is to set out the evidence for: 1) what went wrong in that dating; 2) the anti-Christian bias and/or dishonesty of some of those involved in the dating; and 3) suggest various ways that scientific fraud could have occurred in that dating. And then leave it to the `men and women of the jury’, my readers, to make up their own minds, based on that evidence.

Six postings were to follow:

. . . #2: "Difficulties of radiocarbon dating"; #3: "Conflicts of the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud with other evidence"; #4: "What went wrong in the dating of the Shroud"; #5. "Bias and/or dishonesty of some involved in that dating"; #6: "Possible fraud scenarios in the dating of the Shroud"; and #7: "Conclusion"

Stephen is incredulous when it comes to the carbon dating. So am I. But I have not joined the ranks of those who might think it is fraud. I don’t see sufficient evidence for that. What there is is circumstantial at best. And I can’t see that fraud can be the “only viable explanation.” I did want to see what Stephen would say, however. I waited. A month of silence followed. Then on February 5, Stephen inserted the following note into his posting:

Note. I have now realised that this topic is going to require a lot of research, which will distract me further from my series " The Shroud of Turin." So I am putting it on the backburner . . . .

Damn! Other topics ensued.  Sooner or later, I knew, Stephen would tell us why, in his opinion, fraud was the only viable explanation. Thus I was surprised when Stephen posted: Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (1)

Another viable explanation?

This latest posting is only part one. And it says absolutely nothing whatsoever about the subject. I read it. I reread it. I searched on the word hacker. Nothing! I searched on comuter? Nothing! There is a picture of a book; Clifford Stoll’s 1989, "The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage." What was this about? What did Stephen uncover?

Fearing another long wait for a part two I bought the book. No, I have not read it yet. But I did search for some key words (isn’t Kindle great?): I searched for Shroud? Nada! I looked for Turin? Not Found! Arizona? Nope! Oxford? Nope! Linen? Only a reference to someone in white linen pants. Carbon dating, radiocarbon, C14? No! No! No!

I can hardly wait for part two.