Home > Carbon 14 Dating > Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis

Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis

March 9, 2014

Does this put an end to it, once and for all?

imageHugh Farey comments on the posting, Stephen Jones Persists with the Hacker Theory.

I have recently received an email from Timothy Jull, regarding the hacking hypothesis. Its text, in its entirety, runs:

“This is impossible. In our case, the software for the calculations is offline. In any case, the calculation does NOT require software, it was done offline and plotted on a graph, as I recall.

Indeed, in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.

Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t.”

Does this put an end to it, once and for all?

Picture is of A. J. Timothy Jull, director of the University of Arizona’s Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Laboratory. (Wikipedia Link Provided)

Categories: Carbon 14 Dating
  1. Mike M
    March 9, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Thanks Hugh.. I think that should “put an end to it, once and for all?”

  2. Dover Soul
    March 9, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Mr. Jones should put a message at the top of each of his four posts to indicate that the hypothesis has been proven wrong. We certainly don’t want some journalist saying that pro-authenticity folk think that … you get the idea. There are lessons in this for all us. Do more research. Ask for opinions from each other. Avoid conspiracy theory. Having said that I applaud Mr. Jones for intellectual imagination and creativity in trying to find solutions.

  3. March 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    No, Jull’s email does NOT refute my hacking hypothesis, First, it is clear from my quote of Gove, the final calibration was done offline by Donahue: “The ratio was compared with the OX sample and THE RADIOCARBON TIME SCALE CALIBRATION WAS APPLIED BY DOUG DONAHUE.”

    But it was the computer at the end of the AMS C-14 dating system that supplied the “OX sample”‘s raw years which Donahue calibrated.

    I allowed for that: “… a KGB agent hacked into the AMS system control console computer at each of the three C-14 labs and inserted a program which, when each test was run, replaced the Shroud’s 1st or early century c-14 date, WITH DATES WHICH WHEN CALIBRATED, would yield years clustering around AD 1325, just before the Shroud’s appearance in undisputed history in the 1350s.”

    Second, Jull’s “…in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.” I did not say it was the “Internet”. What I said was: “… in the 1980s university computers were all interconnected by ARPANET, THE PRECURSOR TO THE INTERNET …”.

    Jull’s “quite restricted” does not mention that Arpanet was originally restricted but was expanded to universities, and in particular to “research laboratories in the US:

    “ARPANET … was one of the world’s first operational packet switching networks, the first network to implement TCP/IP, and the progenitor of what was to become the global Internet. The network was initially funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later DARPA) within the U.S. Department of Defense for use by its projects at universities and RESEARCH LABORATORIES IN THE US.” (Wikipedia)

    A Google search of “Arpanet” and “University of Arizona” shows that Arpanet was at the University of Arizona by 1984.

    Jull’s “Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t”, is ambiguous. If he means by “machine” the AMS machine itself, I don’t claim that machine was attached to Arpanet. But if Jull means by “machine” the COMPUTER which processed the data coming from the AMS machine, then I doubt that is true, although Jull may believe it to be true. Stoll’s book makes clear that all university computers in the 1980s were connectable to Arpanet, and most were, especially laboratories.

    But if it can be proven that Arizona, Zurich and Oxford’s AMS control console computers were not ever connected to Arpanet, then that does not mean that a hacker could not have inserted a program into those computers, as he could have done it manually. Stoll’s book (and he did his PhD at the University of Arizona) makes it clear that physical security at universities in the 1980s was also poor. You and your commenters may scoff at the idea that the KGB would have as one of its goals to discredit the Shroud, but you fail to consider what a perceived threat it would be to the Soviet Union if the Shroud was dated to the first or early centuries.

    Dan, your commenters, and you, can try to denigrate me personally by calling my proposal a “conspiracy theory” with all its negative connotations. The One whose image is on the Shroud will be my and their Judge (Mt 16:27; 25:31-32; Ac 10:42; 2Cor 5:10; 2Tim 4:1, 1Pet 4:5). But they, and you, are not facing up to the fact that if the Shroud is authentic (as all the evidence apart from the C-14 dating indicates), then it would be “a remarkable coincidence” (to put it mildly) that its C-14 date was 1325 +/- 65 years, just before “the Shroud’s historical debut”, as the agnostic Thomas de Wesselow saw clearly:

    “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 [of] … 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, T., 2012, “The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection,” p.170).

    My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud to convert a 1st century actual date of the Shroud into the too good to be true 1325 ± 65 years date. Harry Grove’s worries before the test that at least one of the AMS labs would return an outlier date, and the 1989 Intercomparison Test in which the AMS labs fared badly, makes it difficult to believe (again to put it mildly) that all three AMS labs independently dated the Shroud “flawlessly,” as Gove later assumed they would have to have done, to date the Shroud so accurately, to within 25-30 years of the Shroud’s appearance at Lirey in the 1350s.

    My proposal that the labs were duped by a computer hacker fits all the facts (Jull’s ambiguous email notwithstanding), and it allows for Ian Wilson’s assurance that the lab leaders were basically honest. I am hopeful that now my proposal is in the public domain, it will eventually be confirmed by someone in a position to know.

    • Hugh Farey
      March 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      No; this is verging on obsession. I warned Prof. Jull that no amount of contradiction would affect the most hardened conspiracy theorists, but it is clear that the entire AMS unit was not then nor is not now attached to any wider communication device. Its results were connected electronically to a calculator, but not a computer in our sense of the term, and certainly not to the ARPANET or any similar interconnected system.

      Jones’s idea that the Soviet Union gave tuppence about the date of the shroud, or that they thought discrediting it would destroy Christianity is absurd. It would appear, after all, that their fiendish plan to affect the AMS machines worked succesfully – and what has been the result? The fall of the Vatican? The end of Christianity? Or the fall of the Berlin Wall (a year later) and the end of Soviet supremacy?

      Once again, Stephen’s fanaticism is triggered by his amazement that the C-14 date corresponds reasonably accurately to a period shortly before it is first mentioned historically. I’m afraid I believe that this simply means that the shroud was actually manufactured at about that time, in which case, of course, it’s not amazing at all. Even if it were genuine, however, and the C-14 date represents an admixture of contamination, a 14th century date would not be very astonishing. Depending on the amount and the date, and an acceptable range of 100 years or so, the chances of the date matching a predetermined estimate are about 1 in 10, which would be surprising, but hardly breathtaking.

  4. Mike M
    March 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    “My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud”

    That’s backward science. You start with the conclusion and end up with the hypothesis. I have no doubt the shroud is authentic but I don’t believe there was fraud. I think the case you make is very weak and it hurts the overall case for the shroud’s authenticity. In that regard I agree that, one day, you too will have to answer to the man in the shroud.

    • EGM
      March 11, 2014 at 3:46 am

      “That’s backward science”

      Jones can speak for himself of course, but it’s not backward if say for instance you originally start with honest skepticism then investigate the Shroud and discover it’s authenticity is backed up in spades save an anomalous C14 test that, upon investigating beyond the compliant mainstream news with headlines plastering the world over yearly, points to sabotage from the inside to discredit the Shroud. Then you can move to the next level after arriving at the Shroud’s authenticity and attempt to explore how widespread the fraud really is which some don’t want to be discussed it seems. It’s naturally going to lead into colluding elements if that’s what really happened, possibly strange bed fellows as well, that’s human nature I’m afraid, you don’t get to claim it debunked just because it sounds strange, absurd, ridiculous, etc to your (hopefully not closed) mind. Reality is absurd and ridiculous and over the top sometimes. If hacking the labs is really so off base as some would like to paint it, then it should easily be debunked with verified facts and the world will continue. So far there seems to be only more questions raised and clarifications needed from the responses from representatives of two of the three labs involved in the 1988 C14 tests.

      • Hugh Farey
        March 11, 2014 at 4:22 am

        No. It’s not only backward science; it’s poor logic. Even if the Shroud were irrefutably genuine, the corollary that the C-14 dates “HAD to be some form of fraud,” is unjustified. “MAY have been,” would have been better, and less controversial.

      • Mike M
        March 11, 2014 at 7:20 am

        “If hacking the labs is really so off base as some would like to paint it, then it should easily be debunked with verified facts”
        Debunk what? The onus is on Stephen to prove his case. So far I’ve not seen any evidence for that claim, have you?

      • March 11, 2014 at 11:24 am

        >it’s not backward if say for instance you originally start with honest skepticism then investigate the Shroud and discover it’s authenticity is backed up in spades save an anomalous C14 test that, upon investigating … points to sabotage from the inside to discredit the Shroud.

        A belated thanks to EGM for his support.

        It is a stereotypical myth of science, that it is “backward science” to “start with the conclusion and end up with the hypothesis”. Science in fact DOES start from a previous conclusion, and proposes new hypotheses based on that conclusion.

        >Then you can move to the next level after arriving at the Shroud’s authenticity and attempt to explore how widespread the fraud really is which some don’t want to be discussed it seems.

        Yes, slogans like “conspiracy theory” are excuses not to think about the problem: if the Shroud is 1st century, then why did it date to 1325, just before the Shroud’s historical debut in the 1350s?

        >It’s naturally going to lead into colluding elements if that’s what really happened, possibly strange bed fellows as well, that’s human nature I’m afraid,

        My `the C-14 labs were duped by a computer hacker’ proposal is an attempt to explain how there could have been fraud, yet the lab leaders were basically honest.

        If Hugh and his ilk could remove the naturalistic scales from their eyes they would see I am not a conspiracy theorist, because the latter all to date have accused the laboratories leaders of outright fraud in switching samples, etc.

        The worst that I have in the past proposed is that the C-14 labs were guilty of “making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best’ data for publication and ignoring those that don’t fit” which respected science journalists Broad and Wade state is “probably far from unusual in science” (Broad, W.A. & Wade, N.J., 1982, “Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and
        Deceit in the Halls of Science,” p.20).

        My new theory is an attempt to explore a way that the labs could be basically honest, yet a fraud did occur, not by the labs but by a computer hacker.

        If it was confirmed to be what happened, then it would make the laboratories look GULLIBLE, but they would not then be guilty of fraud..

        >you don’t get to claim it debunked just because it sounds strange, absurd, ridiculous, etc to your (hopefully not closed) mind. Reality is absurd and ridiculous and over the top sometimes.

        Agreed. But it is not even “absurd and ridiculous and over the top” that the Arizona, Zurich and Oxford’s C-14 lab’s computers were hacked into in 1988. The fact is that university computers DID get hacked back in the 1980s.

        The hacker that Stoll caught DID hack into Berkeley University Livermore Lab’s computer system, so he could from that system hack into about 400 MILITARY computers which were more secure than university computers, the latter which, as Stoll records, were not very secure at all.

        >If hacking the labs is really so off base as some would like to paint it, then it should easily be debunked with verified facts and the world will continue.

        Yes. I found Jull’s email curiously ambiguous, and indeed FALSE:

        >>This is impossible. In our case, the software for the calculations is offline. In any case, the calculation does NOT require software, it was done offline and plotted on a graph, as I recall.

        But Gove and Sox’s accounts show that the results were displayed on Arizona’s AMS computer’ screen, and it was evident from that screen that the Shroud was not first century, even thought the years on the screen needed to be calibrated.

        >>Indeed, in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.

        This is disingenuous. Jull must know that by 1988 Arpanet connected most USA universities, and in particular their research laboratories.

        >>Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t.”.

        Again ambiguity by Jull. Is “machine” the AMS system or the COMPUTER receiving C-14 dating data from the AMS system and via a program displaying that C-14 data’s uncalibrated dates?

        If the AMS machines COMPUTER was connected to Arpanet, would Jull be aware of it? It would be convenient for the company which supplied the AMS system to be able to log into the AMS system’s comouter via Arpanet and update its software.

        But, as I previously wrote, if it could be proved (and I mean independently of the C-14 labs) that the AMS system computers at the three C-14 labs were not online, nevertheless they were still computers which were operated by a program, which in turn could be hacked locally, e.g. by “someone posing as a technician”.

        >So far there seems to be only more questions raised and clarifications needed from the responses from representatives of two of the three labs involved in the 1988 C14 tests.

        Agreed. But of course if it has just now dawned on the labs, after all these years, that they may have been the victim of a hacking, in such an important C-14 dating as that of the Shroud, they would hardly be likely to welcome investigations into it. Rather they would be defensive as Jull’s email seems to be.

        I thank Dan for his “Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis.” And to Hugh for contacting Jull. No doubt they both thought “this [would] put an end to it, once and for all” but the genie of my proposal is now, thanks to them, out of the bottle.

        And as my replies have shown, it is not as simple as they thought, to dismiss my proposal by ad hominems and half-truths. .

  5. March 9, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    As an IT guy, I find this preposterous. I don’t have the time for this.

  6. Hugh Farey
    March 10, 2014 at 4:32 am

    I have recently received an email from Prof. Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory regarding the hacking hypothesis. The text in its entirety runs:

    “Yes – I agree with all that Tim says. This would seem to be a suggestion from someone who does not know what computers were like in the 1980s.

    In the case of Oxford the AMS had no connection to any network (and indeed even today our AMS control computers have no network connections). The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS.”

    I don’t suppose Stephen Jones will accept this as a sensible rebuttal of his claim, and I’m sorry about that, because his current stance, coupled to his earlier Satanic allegations about Pope Francis, render his absolutist convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud, which I originally found quite noble (albeit wrong), utterly worthless.

  7. March 10, 2014 at 5:35 am

    >Its results were connected electronically to a calculator, but not a computer in our sense of the term,

    Not according to Gove’s eyewitness account, published in 1996:

    “The first sample run was OX1. Then followed one of the controls. Each run consisted of a 10 second measurement of the carbon-13 current and a 50 second measurement of the carbon-14 counts. This is repeated nine more times and an average carbon-14/carbon-13 ratio calculated. All this was UNDER COMPUTER CONTROL and the CALCULATIONS PRODUCED BY THE COMPUTER were displayed on a cathode ray screen.” (Gove, H.E., 1996, “Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud,” p.264).

    Nor according to Sox’s 1988 account, evidently obtained from Gove, since Sox wasn’t there:

    “The CALCULATIONS WERE PRODUCED ON THE COMPUTER, AND DISPLAYED ON THE SCREEN. Even the dendrochronological correction was immediately available. All eyes were on the screen. The date would be when the flax used for the linen relic was harvested. Gove would be taking cowboy boots back to Rochester.” (Sox, H.D., 1988, “The Shroud Unmasked,” p.147).

    Even in 1988 a computer was a COMPUTER, not a calculator. I bought my first personal computer in 1980 and it was called a COMPUTER even then, not a calculator.

    Despite the ad hominem personal attacks: “obsession…. hardened conspiracy theorists … fanaticism” of Hugh, I stand by my PROPOSAL that the three AMS radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker, who either remotely via Arpanet, or manually at each laboratory, inserted a program into each of the lab’s COMPUTERS, which received the uncalibrated radiocarbon dates from their AMS radiocarbon dating machines and displayed them upon each of their screens. The inserted program replaced the Shroud’s first century (or early) C-14 dates coming from the labs’ AMS machines with random dates which clustered around 1325, just before the Shroud’s historical debut in the 1350s.

    I realise that my proposal is unnecessary for those, like Hugh, who believe (against all the other evidence) that the Shroud is a 14th century fake. But I note that none of those who believe the Shroud to be authentic attempt to explain how the Shroud can be 1st century, yet radiocarbon date to 1325 +/- 65.

    And indeed the very first run of C-14 dates of the Shroud, displayed on Arizona lab’s computer screen, was “1350 AD … the time its historic record began”:

    “The age of the control sample could have been calculated on a small pocket calculator but was not-everyone was waiting for the next sample-the Shroud of Turin! At 9:50 am 6 May 1988, Arizona time, the first of the ten measurements appeared on the screen. We all waited breathlessly. The ratio was compared with the OX sample and the radiocarbon time scale calibration was applied by Doug Donahue. His face became instantly drawn and pale. At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. It had taken me eleven years to arrange for a measurement that took only ten minutes to accomplish! Based on these 10 one minute runs, with the calibration correction applied, THE YEAR THE FLAX HAD BEEN HARVESTED THAT FORMED ITS LINEN THREADS WAS 1350 AD-the shroud was only 640 years old! It was certainly not Christ’s burial cloth but DATED FROM THE TIME ITS HISTORIC RECORD BEGAN.” (Gove, 1996, p.264).

    What is the likelihood of that? It means the Shroud would have had to be harvested, woven into linen, and the the Shroud’s image added, all in less than 5-10 years. And while the Shroud was owned by the noblest Christian knight in France, Geoffroi de Charny (c.1300-1356).

    Even on Benford & Marino’s theory that the Shroud sample was a mixture of 1st century original linen and 16th century repairs, it would be an AMAZING COINCIDENCE (absent some degree of fraud, i.e. ” making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best’ data for publication and ignoring those that don’t fit” – Broad & Wade) that the Shroud `just happened’ to C-14 date to just before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in c. 1355.

    I note in passing the inconsistency (to put it mildly) of Dan who was worried that the Shroud.com could be hacked by a bogus technician:

    “Barrie Schwortz’ shroud.com is an irreplaceable treasure. Could it disappear tomorrow because of hackers? It deals with a highly controversial topic that is unavoidably an affront to atheists and many religious people. As such it is a natural target for idealists or extremists of all kinds and particularly a group of hackers who call themselves “Anonymous.” They could probably take down the website in a few minutes. Would they also destroy backup copies of the website’s contents? … How much damage could someone posing as Barrie do? I imagine it would be 100%. Only files stored on third party systems or on dismounted DVD media would be safe. And how much damage could someone posing as a technician of the hosting company do in just a few minutes? Just as much.” (“They don’t do it just for the credit card numbers,” January 9, 2014).

    If “shroud.com is an … an affront to atheists” and so “a natural target for idealists or extremists of all kinds” then why was the 1988 C-14 dating of the Shroud ITSELF not “an affront to atheists,” and “a natural target for” the KGB?

    And if in this day and age, a quarter of a century later, when we are much more conscious of computer security than they were in the 1980s, a hacker “posing as a technician of the hosting company” for Shroud.com could “in just a few minutes” destroy Shroud.com, yet in 1988, a hacker “posing as a technician of the” AMS C-14 dating system company” could not insert a program in the AMS C-14 dating system at each lab, which would replace the Shroud’s dates with 1325 +/- 65 dates?

    Isn’t groupthink interesting? Andy, who “As an IT guy” found my proposal “preposterous” apparently did not find Dan’s proposal also “preposterous”!

    I thank the lone commenter Dover who had the courage to swim against the tide of groupthink on Dan’s blog, for at least applauding me “for intellectual imagination and creativity in trying to find solutions.”

    • March 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      >I have recently received an email from Prof. Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory regarding the hacking hypothesis. The text in its entirety runs:

      “Yes – I agree with all that Tim says. This would seem to be a suggestion from someone who does not know what computers were like in the 1980s.

      No. I was one of the first to have a personal computer in 1980, I pioneered the introduction of computers into Health Department of WA hospital computers in the mid-to late 1980s and in the late 1980s/early 1990s,I was the Systems Administrator of a network of 7 hospitals UNIX systems.

      And also I have read Stoll’s 1989 book, “The Cuckoo’s Egg” which relates how easy it was to hack into university computers in the 1980s.

      >In the case of Oxford the AMS had no connection to any network (and indeed even today our AMS control computers have no network connections).

      Thanks to Prof. Ramsey for this unambiguous statement.

      >The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS.”

      Nevertheless, it WAS “software” on each lab’s AMS control computer, which outputted “counts of 14C” which were, according to Gove’s eyewitness account, displayed on the AMS control computer’s screen:

      “The first sample run was OX1. Then followed one of the controls. Each run consisted of a 10 second measurement of the carbon-13 current and a 50 second measurement of the carbon-14 counts. This is repeated nine more times and an average carbon-14/carbon-13 ratio calculated. All this was under computer control and THE CALCULATIONS PRODUCED BY THE COMPUTER WERE DISPLAYED ON A CATHODE RAY SCREEN. The age of the control sample could have been calculated on a small pocket calculator but was not-everyone was waiting for the next sample-the Shroud of Turin! At 9:50 am 6 May 1988, Arizona time, the first of the ten measurements appeared on the screen. We all waited breathlessly. The ratio was compared with the OX sample and the radiocarbon time scale calibration was applied by Doug Donahue. His face became instantly drawn and pale. At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. It had taken me eleven years to arrange for a measurement that took only ten minutes to accomplish! Based on these 10 one minute runs, with the calibration correction applied, the year the flax had been harvested that formed its linen threads was 1350 AD-the shroud was only 640 years old! It was certainly not Christ’s burial cloth but dated from the time its historic record began.” (Gove, H.E., 1996, “Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud,” p.264).

      It is those calculations which when calibrated, yielded a date of “1350 AD”. So all that a hacker would have to do is modify the program which displayed those “counts of 14C” to replace those coming from the Shroud samples with “counts of 14C” which when calibrated, yielded the TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE date of “1350 AD”.

      >I don’t suppose Stephen Jones will accept this as a sensible rebuttal of his claim,

      I do accept it as face value as a rebuttal of my original proposal that the hacker logged in remotely via Arpanet. But it is not a rebuttal of my subsequent proposal that a hacker logged into the three C-14 dating laboratories locally, e.g. “posing as a technician” or after hours.

      >and I’m sorry about that, because his current stance, coupled to his earlier Satanic allegations about Pope Francis,

      `Poisoning the well’ allegation noted:

      “Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say…” (Wikipedia)

      I made NO “Satanic allegations about Pope Francis”. All I wrote in my “2013 Favs: New Tests Date the Shroud from the Time of Christ” post was:

      “But if the Shroud is a deliberate fraud, then it would almost certainly be a work of Satan, and no Church that calls itself Christian should be promoting a deliberate fraud (much less a work of Satan)!”

      Note the all-important conditional “IF”. I don’t think that “the Shroud is a deliberate fraud” and my argument is that neither does the Vatican. My point was simply to highlight the inconsistency of the Vatican’s current policy of neither confirming nor denying the Shroud is authentic, yet spending the equivalent of many millions of dollars protecting the Shroud and also of exhibiting it with increasing regularity to millions of people.

      >render his absolutist convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud, which I originally found quite noble (albeit wrong), utterly worthless.

      Another attempt to `poison the well’ by Prof. Ramsey. I don’t have “absolutist convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud,” As my blog’s masthead states: “I am PERSUADED BY THE EVIDENCE that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ and bears His crucified and resurrected image.”

      On a previous post several years ago, I wrote something like: `I was a Christian for nearly 40 years before I became persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud is authentic. And if it were proven to be false, I would still be the same Christian that I was before I accepted that the Shroud was authentic.’

      And even if my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker turns out to be wrong, that does not make my other “convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud … utterly worthless.”

      The Shroud could still be authentic, as all the evidence except for the C-14 date of 1325 +/- 65 years indicates, and only my above proposal be wrong.

      But then there still would be the problem of explaining how the Shroud could be 1st century, yet its C-14 date is 1325 +/- 65 years, just before the Shroud’s historical debut in the 1350s. As the agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow pointed out:

      “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 … 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.” e Wesselow, T., 2012, “The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection,”, p.170. My emphasis).

      Indeed, I find it strange that a scientist of Prof. Ramsey’s eminence would even THINK, let alone say, such an illogical thing. That if I am wrong on ONE THING in favour of the Shroud’s authenticity, then EVERYTHING ELSE I say in defense of the Shroud’s authenticity is “utterly worthless.”

      Prof. Ramsey seems very keen to `poison the well’ against me personally, so no one will take any notice of what I say. That suggests, to me at least, that maybe Prof. Ramsey has something to hide in respect of my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker?

      • Dan
        March 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        Hi Stephen. That last paragraph is close to being an allegation of intellectual dishonesty. To suggest that Hugh is anti-authenticity seems to be a similar charge. I think he and I are both pro-truth even as we disagree in our beliefs about authenticity for now. Let’s all of us try to not make this so personal.

  8. Hugh Farey
    March 10, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I do apologise if any of my critiques of Stephen Jones’s ideas appear to be attacks on him personally. Given the statements of both Timothy Jull and Christopher Ramsey, I find the idea of a Soviet hacker preposterous and conspiratorial, and the continued attempt to defend it obsessive. Mr Jones himself may be none of things – indeed, he may be playing a game for all I know – and I would be delighted to have him as a colleague.

    I too had a computer in 1988. I bought my first in 1980 actually, the Sinclair ZX80, with its 1 kilobyte of RAM and 4kb of storage. By 1988 my school had been through a Commodore phase and, thanks to a massive government initiative, was running BBC Micros with 64kb of RAM. The term Megabyte was used exclusively for wish fulfilment.

    The term computer has changed its meaning over the years, and all those early models would be better described as programable calculators than computers, which is why I used that term. Indeed, my current programmable calculator has a bigger memory than any of them.

    The shroud is open to a great many hypotheses, and there is nothing wrong with floating them, from Bruno Bonnet-Eymard’s secret swapping of samples in the vestry in Turin, to Izabel Piczek’s body and shroud hovering in the air, or even Andy’s recent roast-one-side-and-then-turn-over-to-roast-the-other idea. However, before terms like “very possible,” “likely,” or “real probability” can be used, they need considerably more than unsubstantiated speculation to back them up.

    And, yes, if you don’t like the C-14 dates, it is very much the Shroud pro-authenticists’ problem to work out what went wrong with them. Otherwise, they stand unrefuted.

  9. Hugh Farey
    March 10, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Erratum. “none of THESE things”

    • daveb of wellington nz
      March 10, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Erratum! They only stand unrefuted in terms of the particularly unrepresentative sample that was taken!

      Hugh knows very well that there has already been extensive dicussion on this blog concerning the cotton contamination identified as early as 1973 by Gilbert Raes, that in 1978 STURP searched and found no other significant cotton elsewhere, that Riggi and whoever else were abysmally careless in persisting in taking the C14 sample from the Raes area, that Benford / Marino / Rogers have written extensively on the topic. I dare say that Hugh himself would never accept such results as being scientifically conclusive from any such unrepresentative sampling, nor would he allow the design of such an unrepresentative sampling regime in any kind of experiment carried out by his High School students!?? Or Would he?

      • Hugh Farey
        March 11, 2014 at 4:31 am

        That’s my point. If you don’t, or can’t, attempt to explain why an idea you don’t like is wrong, then it stands as a flaw in the inviolability of your argument. Daveb recognises this, and so do Joe and Sue and even, although he denies it, Stephen with his hacking hypothesis. Simply to say that a contradictory opinion is not your problem only serves to weaken your own argument.

    • March 11, 2014 at 9:46 am

      >I find the idea of a Soviet hacker preposterous and conspiratorial, and the continued attempt to defend it obsessive.

      As I wrote: “I realise that my proposal is unnecessary for those, like Hugh, who believe (against all the other evidence) that the Shroud is a 14th century fake.”

      That is, it is only a problem of explaining why the Shroud is 1st century, yet has a 1325 C-14 date, to those who on the basis of all the other evidence, are persuaded that the Shroud is authentic and so is 1st century.

      But Hugh and his anti-authenticist ilk have the FAR GREATER PROBLEM of proposing a comprehensive and coherent forgery theory which: 1) negatively, plausibly explains away all the evidence that the Shroud is authentic; and 2) positively plausibly explains how the Shroud was faked, who faked it, when it was faked and why it was faked.

      That there is no such comprehensive and coherent forgery theory of the Shroud on the table shows that such a theory, if it had ever been attempted, was found to have so many holes that it was quietly shelved.

      So all that the Shroud anti-authenticists like Hugh can do is snipe away at Shroud pro-authenticists (like me), including `poisoning of the well’ character assassinations, as we attempt to strengthen our comprehensive and coherent Shroud pro-authenticist theory.

      But to paraphrase Alfred Lord Tennyson, in science, “‘Tis better to have theorised and lost than never to have theorised at all.”

      At least my theory is FALSIFIABLE and so could yet be proven wrong. But Hugh’s NON-theory, as it presently stands, is “not EVEN wrong”!

      I note that no one has responded to the points I made above, but instead they have repeated ad hominems and/or changed the subject. Therefore I regard my `the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker’ proposal as to date unrefuted.

      I meant to thank Dan for his: “shroud.com [sic] is … an affront to atheists and .. As such it is a natural target for idealists or extremists of all kinds.” And also for his scenario of “someone posing as a technician” obtaining access to the computer where Shroud.com’s is hosted and backed up, and destroying it “100%”.

      So if that is true of a Shroud WEBSITE, how much more is it true of the Shroud ITSELF? That is, even if it wasn’t the KGB, on Dan’s own reasoning there would have been “ATHEISTS” and “idealists or extremists OF ALL KINDS” to whom a C-14 dating of the Shroud to the 1st, or an early, century, would be “a NATURAL TARGET”.

      And in 1988 at a university, it wouldn’t even have to be “someone posing as a technician.” As Stoll (who did his PhD at the University of Arizona) wrote in 1989:

      “Every few months, I’d hear a rumour about someone else’s system being invaded; usually this was at universities, and it was often blamed on students or teenagers. … Sure, it’s EASY TO MUCK AROUND COMPUTERS AT UNIVERSITIES where NO SECURITY WAS NEEDED. After all, colleges SELDOM EVEN LOCK THE DOORS TO THEIR BUILDINGS.” (Stoll, C., 1989, “The Cuckoo’s Egg,” p.12).

      So, applying what Stoll wrote to the Arizona, Zurich and Oxford universities’ radiocarbon labs in 1988, it would be “easy” to hack into their AMS C-14 dating computers because back then “no security was needed” and the labs may not have even bothered to “lock the doors to their buildings.”

  10. Charles Freeman
    March 11, 2014 at 5:14 am

    ‘in 1978 STURP searched and found no other significant cotton elsewhere’. Daveb – do you have a reference for that? It seems to be stated as such by Rogers without any reference but perhaps it is in the Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud article somewhere. STURP only had the samples the team took back to the US and if, as Rogers seems to argue, the cotton was embedded in the main weave of the Shroud and then dyed, there is no reason why any cotton should have got onto the STURP samples or, if so, only by chance. Did STURP have time to look specifically for cotton on the rest of the Shroud in 1978? If not where does this statement about a search come from?

    • daveb of wellington nz
      March 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Hello Charles: A you know the matter has been frequently debated here. Entering “cotton” on Dan’s search engine above brings up several separate postings, all hotly discussed. The latest seems to have been last October 22, which notched up 36 comments including several by both you and Colin.

      I also searched on shroud.com, also with a large number of results, and I don’t have time to spare on canvassing them all. Barrie Schwortz was of course part of the STURP team and often asserts that there was no other interwoven cotton. The “sticky tapes” are not the only reason for this assertion. The STURP scientists are known to have examined the whole cloth microscopically, there are several photos of their doing so. Cotton was not then the issue it became post-1988, but it is asserted that their examination revealed no interwoven cotton. There are of course traces of cotton as debris, as with several other types of particles. I’m prepared to accept this assertion as being sufficently authoritative.

      I note that the final comment on the 22-Oct-13 posting makes the rather telling observation by one “sw”:
      “The average weight of the Shroud linen ranges between 20-25 mg per square centimeter. The weight of the carbon14 sample is 42 mg per square centimeter.” However the source for this is not stated. Perhaps someone else has the time to be able to corroborate it.

      I also note that I had asserted there that the deliberate mixing of cotton and linen for separate warp and weft threads for making fustian began in Egypt about 200AD, spread through North Africa not reaching Spain until the 13th century.

      In 1973 Gilbert Raes of course had found cotton in one of his samples (adjacent to the C14 site), but none at all in the other.

      I think I had sufficient grounds for asserting that there was no interwoven cotton found by the STURP team in 1978, even after they had microscopically examined the cloth.

      If there was a first century Gallic origin for the cloth, as a result of trade or military occupation, there could of course be no cotton at all.

  11. Hugh Farey
    March 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I should make clear that although I asked for an authoritative rebuttal against a hypothesis held by a man of some influence in shroud circles, I did not give Stephen’s name to either Prof. Ramsey or Prof. Jull. Unless they are readers of this blog or have been informed by some other source, they can have no personal antagonism to him, nor any cause to want to blacken his name personally.

  12. Hugh Farey
    March 11, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    “I note that no one has responded to the points I made above.”

    Sorry about that. Now let’s see.

    “A KGB agent hacked into the AMS system control console computer at each of the three C-14 labs and inserted a program which … would yield years clustering around AD 1325, just before the Shroud’s appearance in undisputed history in the 1350s.” Response: I consider that any agency capable of doing that was capable of hacking into a great many far more important things than an archaeological dating, and probably extending the cold war far into the 21st century. I think the writing of the ‘fake’ program and its physical replacement in the AMS calculating machine would require a detailed knowledge of the system, and could not be done by somebody popping in one evening. I think the likelihood of this happening three times is, to use a well-worn expression “overwhelmingly” improbable.

    “You fail to consider what a perceived threat it would be to the Soviet Union if the Shroud was dated to the first or early centuries.” I don’t believe the dating of the Shroud was anything but trivial to the Soviet Union. Not only did the announcement of the 14th century date have absolutely no effect on the Catholic or any other Christian Church, if it did anything to the Soviet Union it simply accelerated its downfall, which occurred very soon afterwards.

    “You denigrate me personally by calling my proposal a “conspiracy theory” with all its negative connotations.” A plot by the KGB to subvert workers in three different laboratories in three different countries so that they wrote, taped and replaced a minor calculation program in an archaeological laboratory to attempt to discredit Christianity by misdating one of its relics, without any evidence for such a plot whatever, is a conspiracy theory by any standards. Such theories often have negative connotations because, as there is no evidence for them, the evidence cannot be examined or disproved. A conspiracy theory for which there is some evidence has no negative connotations.

    “My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud to convert a 1st century actual date of the Shroud into the too good to be true 1325 ± 65 years date.” Quite. That there is no room for doubt in Stephen’s mind that the shroud is authentic is fair enough, but to claim that a logical consequence of the shroud’s authenticity is that there HAD to be some sort of fraud, is simply non-sense.

    “My proposal that the labs were duped by a computer hacker fits all the facts.” No, it doesn’t. The facts, about the staff at the laboratories, the nature of the calculator program, the plans of the KGB, how the KGB communicated to its agents, the means of replacing the old program with the new and how such a replacement went undetected have not been considered or presented. Your proposal is not contradicted by the very few facts to hand, which is a very different thing. Such facts as have been discovered, by people who have tried to examine the facts supporting your theories rather more than you have yourself, have wholly discredited the ‘single computer hacker’ theory.

    “Yes, slogans like “conspiracy theory” are excuses not to think about the problem.” How I wish that were true. Unlike, I suspect, its author, I have thought about it in detail since it was proposed. I wrote to the laboratories involved for evidence, I considered the effect the successful execution of this theory actually had on Christianity and on the Soviet Union. Did he?

    “I made NO ‘Satanic allegations about Pope Francis’. All I wrote … was:
    “But if the Shroud is a deliberate fraud, then it would almost certainly be a work of Satan, and no Church that calls itself Christian should be promoting a deliberate fraud (much less a work of Satan)!” This is disingenuous. the rest of your quote is: “But if the Shroud is authentic (as the evidence is overwhelming that it is), then Jesus whose image would then be on the Shroud, who commanded His followers: ‘Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Mt 5:37) would presumably not be pleased with the Roman Catholic Church’s duplicitous official position on His burial shroud.” As the church refuses to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ then your own quotation declares the church’s attitude to ‘come from evil.’

    “And even if my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker turns out to be wrong, that does not make my other ‘convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud … utterly worthless.’” Sadly, it does. And I agree that that’s very unfair. But that’s the trouble with extremism. However, toning things down a little may help to re-establish credibility. “I am PERSUADED BY THE EVIDENCE that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ and bears His crucified and resurrected image.” That’s a very good start. “Since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud.” That’s extremism.

    “I note that no one has responded to the points I made above, but instead they have repeated ad hominems and/or changed the subject.” Well I hope that’s all sorted out now.

    Best wishes in Christ.

  13. March 11, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    >That last paragraph is close to being an allegation of intellectual dishonesty.

    I did not use the word “dishonest”. My last paragraph was:

    “Prof. Ramsey seems very keen to `poison the well’ against me personally, so no one will take any notice of what I say. That suggests, to me at least, that maybe Prof. Ramsey has something to hide in respect of my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker?”

    I explained what I meant by `poisoning the well’:

    “Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say…” (Wikipedia)

    I stand by my claim that Prof. Ramsey’s false claim that I made “Satanic allegations about Pope Francis”:

    >>I don’t suppose Stephen Jones will accept this as a sensible rebuttal of his claim, and I’m sorry about that, because his current stance, coupled to his earlier Satanic allegations about Pope Francis,

    I made NO such claim (see above).

    And his false claim that I have “absolutist convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud”:

    >>render his absolutist convictions about the authenticity of the Shroud,

    and his illogical claim that because (in his view) I am wrong about ONE thing in favour of the Shroud, that the C-14 labs may have been duped by a computer hacker, therefore EVERYTHING I write in defense of the authenticity of the Shroud is “utterly worthless”:

    >>which I originally found quite noble (albeit wrong), utterly worthless.

    That is, in my opinion, an attempt by Prof. Ramsey to poison the well against me, so that no one will heed my proposal that the C-14 labs may have been duped by a computer hacker.

    That DOES suggest “to me at least, that maybe Prof. Ramsey has something to hide in respect of my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker?”

    I hasten to clarify that I don’t claim that if a hacker did hack into the three C-14 laboratories and modify the AMS console computer program to replace the Shroud sample’s 1st or early century’s date with dates which clustered around 1325, the Prof. Ramsey has anything to do with that.

    What I meant was that, as I wrote in my reply to Prof. Jull, it seems overly defensive. As though it has just dawned on the C-14 labs after all these years that they may have been duped by a hacker.

    >To suggest that Hugh is anti-authenticity seems to be a similar charge.

    Hugh wrote in his latest BSTS editorial:

    “Unlike my predecessors, whom I think are more or less committed to a pro-authenticity point of view, I myself currently incline more towards an accidental 14th century origin for the cloth now preserved in Turin.”

    That makes Hugh by his own admission, anti-authenticity.

    >Let’s all of us try to not make this so personal.

    Thanks to Dan for his belated concern for the many personal attacks on me, to which he didn’t lift a finger!

    I am going to now respond to Prof. Jull and Prof. Ramsey’s emails on my own blog.

    • Hugh Farey
      March 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Stepen, this is absurd. Professor Ramsey said nothing about your Satanic allegations. That was me, and I have explained why above. Ramsey’s email to me was clearly delineated in inverted commas, and my comment about your insult to the Catholic Church is clearly both after they close and in a different paragraph.

      • March 12, 2014 at 4:59 am

        Thanks to Hugh for the clarification. In the wee small hours I misread your comment. I withdraw that part of my reply to Prof. Ramsey with an apology and apply them to you.

        In preparing my response on my blog to Dr. Jull and Prof. Ramsey’s emails, I found the only post which mentioned both “Pope Francis” and “Satan”:

        —————————————————————————–
        Shroud of Turin News, October 2013” ….]

        “This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest and yet, at the same time, the face in the shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty.” – Pope Francis on Easter Saturday, 2013.

        ….

        If the Shroud of Turin is a deliberate fraud, then it would almost certainly be a work of Satan “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 12:9), and no Church that calls itself Christian should be promoting a deliberate fraud (let alone a work of Satan)!
        —————————————————————————–

        If readers bother to follow the link, they will see that I made
        NO “Satanic allegations about Pope Francis.” The part of my post about Pope Francis is COMPLETELY SEPARATE from the part about “Satan”.

        And again, In the context, it was a CONDITIONAL “IF”. My entire criticism of the Vatican for its duplicity, is based on my assumption that it, like me, regards the Shroud as authentic, and NOT “a deliberate fraud” and therefore NOT “a work of Satan”.

        Hugh is REALLY scraping the bottom of the barrel in an attempt to discredit me. But in doing so, he only discredits himself!

  14. Hugh Farey
    March 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    As for me being anti-authenticity, I think that as usual you are being too extreme. There are several cogent arguments in favour of authenticity which I neither deny nor ignore. I make no secret of the fact that at present I cannot refute the radiocarbon dating, but then I cannot refute some of Max Frei’s pollen findings, and even the aragonite evidence, however weak, is a real argument for authenticity. But the Shroud is not on trial, and I am not a judge. I do not have to put my head on the block or my money on the nail. At present, as I have said before, I am persuaded that the Shroud is 13th century. If you would stick to your statement that you are persuaded that the Shroud is 1st century, without condemning those who disagree or saying that there is no other possibility, then the discussion about how the image appeared can continue to make progress.

  15. March 12, 2014 at 5:34 am

    >As for me being anti-authenticity, I think that as usual you are being too extreme.

    Continued `poisoning of the well’ attempt by Hugh, “as usual you are being too extreme” noted.

    No, again in his latest BSTS Newsletter Editorial, Hugh wrote that his position is “UNLIKE” that of his “predecessors” as BSTS Newsletter Editor (Ian Wilson and Mark Guscin), who WERE (not “more or less”)” committed to a pro-authenticity point of view, and that Hugh “incline[s] more towards an accidental 14th century origin” of the Shroud and that his is “a HERETICAL opinion”:

    “Unlike my predecessors, whom I think are more or less committed to a pro-authenticity point of view, I myself currently incline more towards an accidental 14th century origin for the cloth now preserved in Turin. I say this somewhat tentatively, as I’m well aware that in some internet forums such a statement is tantamount to proclaiming oneself the Anti-Christ, and even the more moderate ones have commenters who doubt that it is possible to be a good Christian, let alone a Catholic, and hold such a heretical opinion.”

    As one who holds the same committed pro-authenticity position as Hugh’s predecessors, Wilson and Guscin, I regard Hugh’s position as ANTI-authenticity.

    And it clear from Hugh’s personal attacks on me for arguing for the pro-authenticity position that he is more STRONGLY anti-authenticity than his, “I myself currently incline more towards an accidental 14th century origin” of the Shroud would have Hugh’s BSTS Newsletter readers believe.

  16. Hugh Farey
    March 12, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Well, that’s OK, I think. If the Catholic Church is not being duplicitous, or ‘coming from evil,’ then that’s good enough for me. As for how strongly I hold my current inclination, circumspice, as it says on Christopher Wren’s tomb in St Pauls.

  17. PHPL
    March 13, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Sad to see how someone as intelligent as Mr Stephen E. Jones has turned out …

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