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Answering Charges of Pseudoscience, Bias and More

imageIn Answering a Skeptic, Barrie Schwortz effectively punches back hard on charges of pseudoscience . . .

With all due respect, I believe the extent and diversity of STURP’s research clearly demonstrates the indepth nature and relevance of their testing. Referring to their work as pseudoscience is rather demeaning and petty, considering the time and care they put into planning their experiments, the qualifications of the team members themselves and the respected organizations they represented. Because of the truly unique and controversial nature of the subject matter and its importance to nearly a billion people around the world, they also understood there would be intense public scrutiny, so they had to execute even greater care in every facet of their work. In the end, they also had to break new ground as nothing like this had ever been attempted before.

and bias . . .

As for bias, I am assuming you really mean religious bias, since that is the commonest claim made by skeptics. Never mind that our team included three Jewish members (Al Adler, Don Devan and me), one Mormon, one Evangelical, several Catholics, several Protestants and some avowed atheists and agnostics. Had religion ever been a criterion for membership, most of the STURP team members would never have agreed to participate. Even the Church custodians and the emissary of King Umberto (the owner of the Shroud in 1978) did nothing to interfere with or influence our work. They did not want it to even appear that that might be the case and consequently gave us complete autonomy. The only bias I perceive is your dismissing a wealth of credible scientific data because it disagrees with your friend’s conclusions. No one is infallible, not even Walter McCrone. As I stated before, the bulk of the credible scientific evidence disputes his conclusions. Of course, you are free to dismiss that evidence on any grounds you wish, but I assure you there were no hidden motives or any agenda, other than to honestly try to answer the questions about the Shroud’s image.

I couldn’t agree more with what Barrie said. I might have preferred another title, though: answering an Uninformed Skeptic, perhaps; or, maybe a Naïve Skeptic or a Befuddled Skeptic. It is not that the letter writer to whom Barrie is responding is a skeptic that matters. Most skeptics in the world of shroud studies are not so poorly informed. Many, in fact, contribute greatly. Let’s remember that the editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud is a skeptic sceptic of the shroud’s authenticity. You won’t hear such unsubstantiated blanket statements from him. Hugh Farey’s contributions on this blog are immeasurably important.  So are those of Charles Freeman and Colin Berry, to name two more. Other skeptics, like me, believe the shroud is authentic but by nature are skeptical. Initially, I was an all around skeptic of the shroud, as was Barrie, himself. I am still skeptical of much that is claimed about the shroud. I’m skeptical about the claims of coins and flowers in the images, about the reliability of some of the historical documents and about some of scientific claims like the Blue Quad Mosaics. Enough said. I get to get on my high horse every now and then, even with my good friend Barrie.

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