50/50 : Colin Berry’s Most Outlandish Proposal

imageHe writes in his blog:

But can it hope to tell us much more, even with more up-to-date technology, if restricted to non-destructive sampling, or those pussy-footing "sticky tape" samples? . . . There is a solution to this, but it requires grasping a nettle.

It’s time for a quid pro quo, or returning of a favour. Interest in the TS has been greatly increased by the application of modern science and photography since 1898, and while the radiocarbon dating has failed to support authenticity, the response of the 3 labs to the onslaught of criticism and abuse has been dignified (and I expect will remain so). I believe the time has come for the Shroud’s custodians to do the decent thing, and make a gift to science.  I’m sure they know what I mean, without me having to spell it out. OK, so it’s 50% of the total but it’s the less attractive 50%. Once definitive answers have been obtained, leaving most curiosity sated, what remains of that less than 50% could be displayed far from Turin, far from the prime 50%, say in an Italian science museum. There would then be twin centres for the TS – one restricted to occasional displays only, the other for permanent display. How about the Museo Galileo, in Florence?

30 thoughts on “50/50 : Colin Berry’s Most Outlandish Proposal”

  1. Here’s what Dan Porter said in November 2012 in connection with the radiocarbon dating:

    “No, Colin, you won’t see much of that. But there are many who will object because they feel that the Resurrection changed the effective age of the cloth.”

    Well, that puts religious belief (or at any rate, a particular theological strain thereof) in direct conflict with science.

    On the one hand we are asked to believe that science has failed to account for the macroscopic and microscopic features of the Shroud. On the other, when put to a critical test that failed to support authenticity, we’re then told that science has to take a back seat. And why may we ask? Because a supernatural event kicked in, you see (shame we weren’t told that initially)

    Sorry, but it’s high time this perverse kind of “heads I win, tails you lose” nonsense was put to rest.

    Either one plays by the rules of science, or one dispenses entirely with the scientific method. There’s no room for compromise (or fudge).

    If you think the radiocarbon dating got it wrong on grounds of sampling variation, then give the scientists the less photogenic 50% of the TS to sample at will.

    The Shroud now belongs as much to science as it does to religion. Divide it equally between the two, for preserving or probing as desired (might one assume that’s the purpose of the little man with the scissors?).

    No, not an outlandish idea, Dan Porter, just a heartfelt appeal to sanity.

    1. “The Shroud now belongs as much to science as it does to religion.” Says who? You?

      I want to know the ‘truth’ as much as the next Shroudie but I’m quite willing to go to my grave not knowing the answers (I’ll have them in the next life God willing) rather than do exactly what the Jesus executioners did — cast lots for his clothes.

      Nobody is owed an answer to this enigma.

      1. “Nobody is owed an answer to this enigma.”

        Oh yes they are, David. Scientists are. Why? Because we see our science and the scientific method being abused, indeed trashed, on a daily basis. It’s not just the cherry picking of results designed to sustain year after year the agenda-driven narrative. It’s the industrial-scale spraying of defoliant on those results that don’t fit their agenda (like superficial thermal imprints capable of creating Shroud-like negative images etc etc). This is ugly beyond words.

        Shroudolology is for the most part a cynical and shameless dumping of pseudoscience into the mainstream media. Beware the snake oil merchants of shroudology, the majority being engineers posing as scientists, not that I have anything against engineers generally who create useful things, as distinct from inventing ‘new ‘physics’ on the hoof – like (wait for it) ” collimated air-attenuated radiation (unspecified wavelength) that can project across air gaps to produce an image, provided the gaps are less than 3.7cm”. This is not just unbelievable. It is ludicrous, totally, TOTALLY ludicrous Mickey Mouse so-called science.

        Something needs to be done. These people need to be sent packing. I’m doing my best.

        1. I have no problem with your crusade against junk science. I also have no use for the wingnuts of Shroud pseudo-science. But I’m not about to cut off my nose to spite my face.

          If scientists can produce a method of investigation that is non-destructive then I might agree they are owed an opportunity to use that science on the Shroud. But until then, science will just have to grow a pair and live with the terrible indignation of seeing idiots usurp the scientific canons.

          Your proposal is nothing more than a provocation allowing you to vent your spleen. Your frustration I can at least appreciate, but the proposal itself…preposterous.

        2. There is nothing preposterous about dividing an artefact, of probable medieval
          manufacture, between those who see it as an icon supportive of faith, and those who see it as a scientific and/or artistic enigma. Why should the first block access to the second? Or is it an attempt to celebrate and force-feed a narrative, while preventing that narrative from being critically tested?

          It’s time the Roman Catholic church stopped insulting the intelligence of those of us who see the TS primarily as an interesting medieval artefact, with absolutely no hard evidence to suggest it is otherwise. The Vatican and Turin custodians are playing a dishonorable cat and mouse game. It’s time to lift the blockade, and allow scientists and other specialist scholars free access to the less photogenic half of the TS.

          If it’s subsequently proved genuine, then display the ‘vandalized’ half in a science museum to serve as a permanent monument to the arrogance of science. Somehow I can’t see that happening. The TS was a brilliantly successful attempt by medieval artisans (probably well-remunerated) to simulate a whole-body version of the Veil of Veronica, i.e. a post-crucifixion sweat imprint.

          How many folk here recall “sweat imprint” being mentioned in the late 70s, when Ian Wilson and the Rolfe documentary were hyping up the “scientific basis” for Shroud authenticity? Encoded 3D information anyone? (What today we would call click-bait).

        3. Your proposal is highly dramatic – “permanent monument to the arrogance of science” – and that chutzpah I actually like. Go big or go home. But to subject the icon to this kind of gambit to satisfy our egos (in the name of science or religion) is ultimately selfish of us. Why should this icon ‘suffer’ because those who obsess over it demand clarity today.

          Put it to the test? I’m reminded of Ian McShane as Judas in Jesus of Nazareth. He too wanted clarity for all the right reasons. He put Jesus to the test before the Sanhedrin. It did not play out as he’d hoped. A warning to us perhaps.

        4. It appears that you assume that the shroud is forgery. What is your evidence for that? You and tens other others like you have tried to reproduce it with the technology of today and as far as I can see no one has done it so far and hot medal statue idea makes zero sense, but that’s for another post.

          I agree that there is no evidence for a supernatural event, but why can’t it be a natural event? Maybe it was a natural thermo chemical process with a human body.

          It seems that you started with a conclusion and are working backwards to support it. And a supernatural event is not any stranger than a Quantum event. I mean science makes up all type of crap to cover holes in their theories.

          Hawkins tries to explain away the universe with M theory (ZERO Evidence for M theory) and multiple universes (ZERO Evidence for universes). Other people in science just toss in multiple universes to solve the problems they can’t explain, the multiple universes did it, multiple universes of the gap.

          So tell me the what is the direct evidence for forgery.

          I’m an agnostic (eastern mystic wannabe) so I don’t have a dog in this fight.

          PS A great book to read is “Quantum Questions-Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists” edited by Ken Wilber.

        5. Reply to John Green: this researcher first became interested in the TS through reading wild claims in the media from so-called scientists, maintaining that the TS could never have been man-made. (Googling quickly revealed that most, perhaps all these self-appointed “scientists” were in fact engineers by training, but never mind),

          The closer one looked at their arguments, the more it became clear that they all had one thing in common: a profound ignorance (or contempt for) the most elementary and basic scientific principles. I got into trouble on this site for making references to “Mickey Mouse scientists” – but that is still my position.

        6. Not really, you get into trouble when you have to answer to Thibault Heimburger’s specific questions, stop victimizing yourself, this is boring.

        7. If someone else cares to make that claim, without the psychobabble, I’ll respond with links. But not here, not now. Why not? Because I NEVER feed trolls on internet sites.

  2. An example of “Good Science” to whom 50% of the relic might be bestowed:
    Draw your conclusions from chief spokesman Oxford’s Professor Hall’s published statement:
    “There was a multi-million-pound business in making forgeries during the fourteenth century. Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it.”
    And article in Nature magazine under joint authorship of all 21 scientists who had participated in the C-14 testing: “… conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud is medieval”.
    So it is claimed that conclusive evidence on the whole artifact may be obtained from one unrepresentative sample taken from a soiled contaminated corner! But no other testing of the sample is to be permitted! And the world in general is expected to accept this as the epitome of good professional science! Twenty-one scientists and three separate laboratories have so testified!

    It is only too evident why the Turin guardians and other Church authorities have been reluctant to permit direct access for any further testing. It is prudent to await some later date when Science might have achieved some internal self-discipline, recognition of its own limitations, and further advances in testing may be more revelatory than can be achieved using methods currently available.

    The Catholic Church may be the legal owner of the relic, but it ought to recognise that it also has a custodial responsibility, not merely to Science interests, but to the broad spectrum of Christianity at large, and even to the world in general. A cavalier approach in disposing of the relic merely to suit casual disinterested curiosity could never be condoned.

    Meantime the excesses of pseudo-science, poseurs working beyond their own limitations, and the doubts of skeptics, must needs be tolerated. But they need not be taken too seriously!

    1. “It is prudent to await some later date when Science might have achieved some internal self-discipline, recognition of its own limitations, and further advances in testing may be more revelatory than can be achieved using methods currently available”

      Meanwhile the time-warp medieval circus continues as if there had never been a radiocarbon dating, questionable results or otherwise.

      Message from the Custodian of the Shroud

      Presentation of the event of an extraordinary exhibition of the Shroud in 2015

      … The exhibition will be held in a period of about 45 days between the Easter season (from mid-April 2015) and the closing celebrations of the bicentenary (August 16th, 2015). We are confident that on this occasion Pope Francis may come to pray before the sacred Linen and to honor St. John Bosco, sealing an extraordinary year for our ecclesial and civil communities.

      And later:

      The Shroud in this time of crisis, therefore, can give strength and hope to so many persons, families and communities, to anyone who knows how to contemplate and worship it with faith and love and is committed in living it.

      Cesare Nosiglia
      Archbishop of Turin
      Papal Custodian of the Shroud
      (undated, but the file was “modified” on 17 April 2014


      Note the references to “sacred Linen” and the “worship” of said exhibit.

      The three labs did not choose a ‘soiled contaminated corner’. They were fobbed off with it (and yes, should have walked away). But that corner was “soiled” in more ways than one, metaphorically speaking, given that Turin’s own chosen science advisor had covertly removed threads from the centre of the sampled area. Later, much later, they ended up in the hands of a then authenticity-promoting member of the STURP team with no doubts as to a 1st century provenance (citing Pliny to support his tendentious unsupported mish-mash of chemistry) .He, beavering away at home with his microscope was able to declare the whole to be an unrepresentative sample, despite working himself with an arguably unrepresentative sample, itself from an allegedly unrepresentative sample (to say nothing of a big uncertainty re the gap in the chain of custody). What a master class in compounding an error!

      What we are seeing is not just the stitching up of science, but a cynical attempt to ridicule and debunk.

      What caused Romans to turn into Italians? Was it something in the water?

      1. Colin, I think I can agree with about 70% of your comment. The general consensus was that Ray Rogers had no religious agenda, but came to his views on authenticity from his practice of Science. Some practitioners have concluded differently. His early supposition on the allegations of Marino and Benford was that it was fairyland woo-woo but his investigation of the sample revealed good reasons why the C14 finding was suspect. All professions including scientists make their mistakes and this is part of the human condition.

        What caused Romans to turn into Italians? I should say 2000 years of history including invasions by Visigoths, Huns and Ostrogoths, more latterly the Austro-Hungarians and Napoleon, concluding with the Nazi occupation.

        1. Things might have been very different if there had been a plant biologist on the STURP team. He or she could have pointed out to the chemists and physicists that the flax fibre is not 100% cellulose, that its most superficial layer, the primary cell wall (PCW) comprises mainly hemicelluloses that are chemically far more reactive than cellulose

          It’s a huge pity that Raymond Rogers’ thoughts turned immediately to impurity coatings (starch and reducing sugars) on discovering the image layer was both highly superficial and easily detachable.That imaginary plant biologist, if consulted, would probably have advised Rogers to rule out the PCW first.

          Result: we now have a legacy of “Maillard hypothesis” etc clogging up the literature, with scarcely a single supporting fact to back it up. What’s more, no one seems bothered about turning Rogers’ guesstimated 200nm thick image coating into experimental fact. Yet somehow conference organizers seem able to fill their programmes with speakers who seem ignorant of or indifferent to the most basic questions regarding image location and thickness. Yet they are all able to instantly dismiss thermal imprinting of medieval provenance on the basis that it could never result in an image as superficial as the Shroud’s. Evidence? Experience with model scorches? Don’t ask – we’re talking about exciting shroudology – not boring old science.

        2. That’s true Dave. Actually, all of Rogers’ discoveries (the strongly anomalous cotton content, the dye and, last but not least, the vanillin tests) were performed on several threads coming from the Raes sample adjacent to the C14 samples. Those Raes threads were given to STURP (in fact Rogers) on the order of Card. Ballestrero himself. No secret here.

          Since the Raes sample and the C14 samples necessarily shared at least some threads, Rogers thought that the entire Raes/C14 corner was not representative of the bulk of the TS. However, as a true scientist, he wanted to verify specifically this point.

          Later, he could obtain 2 tiny pieces of threads coming from the center of the C14 dated sample. He could confirm the presence of dye as well as the very high amount of cotton in these 2 threads. To my knowledge, for some reasons (lack of time or smallness of the samples or..) he did not perform the test for the vanillin on these C14 pieces of thread.

          Shortly, Rogers’s discoveries re the anomalous characteristics of the Raes/C14 corner came from the detailed study of an arguably representative genuine sample (Raes piece 1). He confirmed them on 2 small pieces from the center of the C14 sample. Those pieces were truly from the center of the C14 sample and there is a clear “chain of custody”, although unpublished for understandable reasons.
          One can discuss endless each of his observations but taking them together they point to the only scientifically acceptable contestation of the C14 results.

          I agree that it’s difficult to accept knowing the opposite conclusions of the textile experts (F.Testore, G. Vial and M. Flury-Lemberg).
          But read carefully what follows:
          My friend journalist Brice Perrier, after a detailed investigation wrote a book in 2011: “Qui a peur du Saint Suaire ?” (in French, Ed. Florent Massot, 2011). This is simply the best serious investigation that includes many interviews of most people (pro and cons) involved in the TS.

          He wrote (p.126):
          “I went to see one who was recommended to me by both archaeologists and Lyon textile museum experts as the best expert in ancient fabrics, Christophe Moulherat.”
          Brice told me that, at the time, Moulherat did not know that the C14 samples came from a single location rather than from three different locations as he thought. He was shocked and added (p.242): “for this kind of fabric, I would have at least chosen to test separately warp and weft threads coming from at least two different locations”

          Brice: “I asked him if there were actually invisible repairs.
          [Moulherat’s answer]:
          ‘No, they can be seen if you have the means to see them. Just do a thorough analysis. But for that, you must have access to the fabric and do not look to the naked eye because there you’ll see nothing (..).You need microscopes.
          If one has tampered threads with the desire to hide something, you have to think about that before and you have to be equipped to see that. Otherwise, if the repair is well done you can miss it. You really need a detailed analysis’.

          G. Vial and F. Testore are/were beyond any doubt competent textile experts but the conditions of the C14 sampling were far from those necessary to detect a repair.

        3. “My friend journalist Brice Perrier, after a detailed investigation wrote a book in 2011: “Qui a peur du Saint Suaire ?” (in French, Ed. Florent Massot, 2011). This is simply the best serious investigation that includes many interviews of most people (pro and cons) involved in the TS.”

          I don’t know if it was in his book (very accurate indeed), but Brice Perrier said Dr Jacques Di Costanzo who “reproduced” the suaire for “science et vie” in 2005 had been censored by the same magazine when he raised doubts on the forgery (and actually these doubts don’t appear in the file).

          Did you contact him (the forger) when you wrote an anwser to his reproduction ?

        4. As I understood Thibault’s articles on the Rogers’ threads, he found a very small proportion of cotton fibres. I have failed to understand the argument here as the cotton in itself does not seem to be in sufficient quantities to sway the date significantly. Rogers certainly does not explain this. He seems to suggest that all the reweaving is cotton although I must say I find his article annoyingly imprecise. Perhaps Thibault can help out here.

        5. Cotton is a “heads I win, tails you lose” debating ploy for the pro-authenticity tendency.

          If you find traces of cotton in the main part of the TS, you say cotton was not used in Europe before 1350, so therefore the TS is older than the radiocarbon dating. But when you find cotton in the radiocarbon sample, you then change tack, and say there’s “no cotton worth speaking of” in the main TS, so therefore the sample is a repair patch, invisible weave bla bla.

          Better still, show photographs of “end-to-end splices” that don’t show anything of the sort, ones in fact where any comparison between the two ends is impossible, given that one end is intact thread, and the other end an explosion of separate teased-out fibres.

        6. But there were vast quantities of imported cotton in Europe from 1200 and the weavers/spinners often used both together e.g. in fustians. See Maureen Mazzaoui’s excellent The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, 1100-1600, Cambridge 1981. After all it was Raes who claimed that cotton and linen were often woven in the same workshops although for some reason he seemed to believe that this happened in Roman times when, as Mazzaoui shows, it was far more prevalent in the Middle Ages, both in Italy and southern Germany.

        7. Charles: I was in fact quoting Ray Rogers from his pdf with Arnoldi:

          “I cannot confirm the identification of the cotton variety; however, I can confirm the presence of cotton in the Raes sample. The cotton is important. Cotton was almost unknown in Europe until about AD 1350 [ref 9], when “there was widespread belief that it was the fleece of miniature sheep that lived in trees.” Crusaders helped spread knowledge of cotton through Europe. There were still legal disputes over whether cotton was a kind of linen as late as AD 1631″

          The same paper is the source of that dubious, or at any rate unsupported claim for end-to-end splicing. Shame the photograph did not demonstrate that and indeed could not do so, failing as it did to compare like with like, i.e. intact v intact, or teased v teased opposite ends.

        8. “Cotton is a “heads I win, tails you lose” debating ploy for the pro-authenticity tendency.”

          We’ve already discussed about this, but hey, i don’t want to get you into trouble…

          There is a search button at the top of the page.

        9. Cotton was imported in large quantities ( as Mazzaoui’s title suggests from1100)- everyone knew how it grew, the problem was that the European climate was too temperate for it succeed there. Rogers was quite frankly misleading.

        10. “Rogers was quite frankly misleading.”

          Not for the first, or last time. May he rest in peace, along with some quirkier (or as some still maintain, ingenious) notions of his.

  3. “… doubts of skeptics need not be taken too seriously ! ” . No doubt that we should take “shoudies” beliefs very seriously …

  4. Actually the doubts, of either authenticists or non-authenticists, are exactly what should be taken seriously. It is the overweening confidence of the completely closed mind, either of the Teddy Halls or the Stephen E Joneses, that needs to be taken with a tolerant chuckle and a moving on to more fruitful discussion.

    1. There are degrees of doubt. Doubts for good reason are sound. Doubts for no good reason betrays a lack of confidence and inability to come to a decision. Doubts despite evidence may be irrational. Fence sitting provides a most uncomfortable seat and one is likely to fall off. Perhaps my initiating comment was more directed at “the excesses of pseudo-science, poseurs working beyond their own limitations,” and irrational doubts, rather than doubts for good reason. But we’re blogging here, not creating doctoral theses.

  5. Anoxie
    No, I did’nt try to contact Di Costanzo.
    Brice did it and all what you wrote is true (this is in Brice’s book).

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: