Stephen Jones Wants BSTS to Remove Hugh Farey as Editor of the Newsletter

that is, the British Society for the Turin Shroud

imageClearly angry, Stephen Jones responds to comments by Hugh Farey, who is pictured here as the editor of BSTS Newsletter.

1) First read what Hugh wrote in Around the Internet in the newsletter.

2) Then read Stephen Jones’ blog posting, My reply to the anti-authenticist editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, Hugh Farey 

Hugh’s comments are correct.  If you want to understand more about what Stephen is thinking, read all of his blog entries for April of this year although the above mentioned posting should be enough. If you want even more and want to see what I and others have been saying, read A String of “Jones” Postings in this blog.

As for the Vignon Markings discussion mentioned by Hugh. You might want to start with Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2 (Vignon markings) in Stephen’s blog. Then read the following postings in this blog:

Stephen wraps up with a call to have Hugh Farey removed:

In my opinion the British Society for the Turin Shroud should remove the anti-authenticist Hugh Farey from being Editor of its Newsletter, or else he will use it as a vehicle to promote his anti-authenticism, as he is doing in this attack on me. The BSTS has always been open to having non-Christians in its membership, and even its leadership, like the late Rodney Hoare, a BSTS past Chairman, who believed the Shroud was authentic but that it shows that Jesus was taken down alive from the cross. But the BSTS has in the past rejected anti-authenticists like David Sox from having a leadership role. It is a contradiction, which I predict will prove fatal if it continues, having an ANTI-authenticist Editor of the British Society FOR the Turin Shroud!

Stephen unfortunately sees the world in pro-authenticity and anti-authenticity terms; you are a good guy or a bad guy. you wear a white hat or a black hat. Whatever happened to being pro-truth whatever it may turn out to be?  If the BSTS should be so foolish as to listen to Stephen it would have no credibility at all.

From where does Stephen’s pro-authenticity thinking stem? Try this out from January 2 of this year:

So I for one do not believe that the Risen Lord Jesus, who sits at the Father’s right hand and controls everything (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 22:69; Acts 2:33, 5:31;7:55-56; Rom 8:34; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22) would allow such a convincing fake as the Shroud would then be, to exist. . . . I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us Shroud pro-authenticists in 2014?

76 thoughts on “Stephen Jones Wants BSTS to Remove Hugh Farey as Editor of the Newsletter”

  1. Hugh: in order to dissuade Stephen Jones from entertaining these false illusions as to the remit of the BSTS, could you not simply rechristen it as the “British Shroud of Turin Society”, which still abbreviates to … BSTS.

    Let’s show Jones that we Poms are still masters of the art of compromise (when it suits us, ho ho)…

  2. Great choice of photo. Among my pursuits is that of amateur actor..

    I suppose by my own values I ought simply to chuckle tolerantly and move on, but, as Thomas More points out in ‘A Man For All Seasons,’ “Qui tacet consentire” so I fear it behoves me to reply to Stephen’s comments.

    From the top:
    1) Actually, from revisiting the radiocarbon dates, I am increasingly inclined towards a late 13th century date for the Shroud. It’s to do with the kink in the calibration curve that occurs between about 1325 and 1375, and will be further explored in the next Newsletter.

    2) By “accidentally,” an adverb which has already caused much hilarity in authenticist circles, I do not mean that the image appeared as fortuitously as it has on pieces of toast, pizzas and so on. I think that the image we see now is the inadvertent result of some other intention, not a deliberate attempt to produce the very vague, superficial, scorch-like appearance it has now. Perhaps along the lines of an epitaphios, altar cloth, reredos, or simple object of devotion rather than a deliberate fraud, and the original principle medium has disappeared, leaving what we have now. As to what this medium might have been, I agree that the non-authenticists are no nearer confirming that than the authenticists are with their radiation or vapour hypotheses.

    3) Is it petty of me not to like Stephen’s term ‘anti-authenticist’? It implies an antagonism towards ‘authenticists’ which I simply don’t feel. Although there are extremists on both sides of the debate, I feel that most of the commenters here are respectful of all the evidence for and against, and their convictions one way or the other do not prevent them from admitting that there are objections to them which have not been decisively refuted.

    4) I did not know that Stephen had helped put all the early BSTS Newsletters online as well as the ongoing Shroud Spectrum project. Regardless of his views, this is a tedious and time consuming job which has produced the most enormous benefit to Shroud researchers and will continue to do so as long as the internet exists. I have no hesitation whatever in thanking him sincerely for his achievement.

    5) Stephen denies that he thinks the Shroud is “incontrovertibly authentic” (my words), although he has also claimed that the evidence in favour of it is so “overwhelming” that anyone, including the Catholic Church, who does not accept it is under Satanic influence.
    “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)!” (October 2013, quoted without permission). I stand by my statement.

    6) I say Stephen discourages comments. He says he only discourages comments which are off-topic, offensive, sub-standard, interminable, time-wasting, getting nowhere or debating. I stand by my statement.

    7) Stephen re-iterates his misunderstanding of Harry Gove’s statistical statement about astronomical odds, and again misapplies his misinterpretation to the inverse of its meaning. I have discussed this in detail elsewhere.

    The rest of his post is a re-iteration of his hacking ideas which need not concern us until he produces rather more than the loosest of circumstantial evidence.

    1. “I think that the image we see now is the inadvertent result of some other intention, not a deliberate attempt to produce the very vague, superficial, scorch-like appearance it has now. Perhaps along the lines of an epitaphios, altar cloth, reredos, or simple object of devotion rather than a deliberate fraud, and the original principle medium has disappeared, leaving what we have now.”

      I find that hard to buy Hugh, for a number of reasons.
      Firstly what was the medium of creation, that then left the shady remains we have now?
      Evidence suggests paint isn’t an option.

      Secondly, why the display of buttocks? I’m sorry, but that remains a massive problem for your theory. There is very little chance that an item for public devotion would have showed the buttocks, rather than the usual modesty protecting loin cloth.

      Thirdly, assuming your theory of late 1200s creation, the current image must have faded hugely over just a couple of centuries. Clearly by the time of the Lier copy it was already a shadowy image, although hard to know if it was any ‘firmer’ than it is now.

  3. Sorry Colin, our posts must have crossed. I do not consider that the word “for” means, or was ever intended to mean “in favour of the authenticity of.” That has never been the BSTS’s position anyway. For the study of, or for the promotion of – that’s what I think it means, and I’m happy with that.

  4. Sometimes tension is a healthy thing; sometimes not. Shroud debate seems to be moving more and more to the ‘not’. For the sake of peace, the Church (aka the custodian) should allow a new round of direct (but non-destructive) investigations of the icon. The Truth will set you free.

  5. I do not understand why you you lose so much time to comment things, usually meaningless, that Jones writes. It is a mystery to me. By the way, I think he did a good job with the scans of the newsletters, but unfortunately missing something fundamental: the page numbers of the original. So his work, for quoting with scientific purposes, it is useless, because it is necessary in any case to check on the printed copy.

  6. I have a read a few of the articles written by Hugh Farey in the BSTS newsletter. I strongly disagree with his anti-authenticist position, but do not find his views at all unduly intrusive in the newsletter. I think our knowledge about the Shroud is all the better for examining the various claims made for it closely and debunking those claims which by closer examination prove to be specious.

    Even in the case of the article on the Frei tapes, there still seemed to be a significant residue of pollens sufficient to maintain a Jerusalem provenance. Frei himself was I believe not merely a criminalogist, presumably with a track record of securing convictions based on his own evidence, but also a botanist by training. I am uninformed about Hugh’s own training in botany.

    The debates will continue until such time as the present custodians permit further testing. This is unlikely to occur in the present climate of contention, and only too apparent agenda driven positions of both sides of the authenticity divide. We are likely to have to wait until a later generation of scientists come up with more definitive and reliable means of testing than seem currently available.

    1. Daveb – I agree. I also strongly disagree with some of Hugh’s views, as well as those of many pro-authenticists.

      It’s not necessarily a black and white argument.

  7. Hi Dave,
    How could scientists’ supposedly anti-authenticist opinions have an impact on another carbon dating test in the first place ? The main argument of authenticists is that the sample was taken from a medieval patch woven into the shroud . Fair enough, then let the scientists perform a new test with one or more sample(s) . Barry and his friends who so eagerly say now that the chosen sample used in 1988 was the worst possible one could choose and cut the new chosen sample(s).

    1. If you’ve read any of the papers dealing with the setting up of the 1988 C-14 dating you would know just how incompetent everyone was, from the Cardinal custodian, the Church and Turin scientists, protocols set aside, the on-site arguing as to “where to take THE sample”, the decision to confine testing to the new untried AMS method, the refusal to allow any other testing on the samples, the labs’ acceptance of a non-representative sample, and so on. If it weren’t so tragic, it could be the basis of a Monty Python script! I can’t see that scientific discipline among all concerned would be all that much better today. There are still the same agendas, the same lack of understanding as to what “representative sampling” means, the same personal ambitions to make a name, and so on. I would guess that better methods of testing lie waiting in the wings, and a much more serious disciplined approach is needed. I think we need to know a great deal more about the cloth itself, before resorting to any more destructive sampling processes.

      1. Dave,
        Anyone who read your posts will be impressed by your general knowledge level. An open-minded, well educated intellectual indeed. But many will also think that when you defend the shroud’s authenticity , you make a striking, eye-catching about-turn . I suggest that you read your above post again.

      2. Daveb: ‘I think we need to know a great deal more about the cloth itself.’

        I could not agree more.Let’s start with involving someone who knows about ancient and medieval weaving who can tell us what kind of loom could or could not produce a herringbone three in one linen cloth.

        1. It is known that extremely complex weaves were made in various places in ancient times. However the 3 in 1 weave in linen of a cloth the size of the Shroud seems to be unique. The suggestion has been made that the Shroud may even have come from a larger bolt of cloth because of the sewing on of the opposite selvedge edge. Maybe they found it so difficult to do in linen, that they only ever did it once. I think I recall that you’ve previously mentioned that the three treadle loom seems to have been a Chinese invention which only came to the West quite late.

        2. As 99.9999 per cent or more of ancient textiles ( and these included all clothing) are lost, it is hard to say anything more than that the Shroud, if it is indeed first century, is a unique SURVIVAL. I am more interested in knowing about the looms ,ancient or medieval, that could have produced it and I am aware that this is a highly specialist area and I would defer to expert opinion.

          Still there is much basic work to be done. Contrary to what Ian Wilson tells us ,the Shroud is not a particularly fine linen cloth. Examples of linen with 40 to 70 warp and weft threads per cm are known from Egypt, Palestine and Syria in this period, much greater quality than the Shroud. (See the good article on weaving in the ancient eastern Mediterranean in the Cambridge History of Western textiles ( p, 110 for the figures).

          Again if one looks at examples such as the Ramesses Girdle, now in Liverpool, of c. 1200 BC, which, even with computer help, has proved almost impossible to reweave, the Shroud is not especially complicated.

          So when one says that the Shroud is unique, it does not mean that one should say it is something special as a cloth so long as much finer and more complicated cloths from the ancient Mediterranean are known to exist.
          For me, the key problem is survival. Although I believe that the Shroud is medieval, if a first century date does come up on a radiocarbon redating, I would assume that it was kept somewhere among the large and vibrant early Christian communities of Egypt where the damp would not have got at it. I am frustrated by the way so-called Shroud researchers are not prepared to look outside the Edessa/Constantinople route, when there are so many alternatives to it to explore. The Shroud would not have survived long cooped up in a brick wall in damp 9 even subject to flooding0 Edessa!!

        3. Well, our friend Gary Habermas seems to have already got a first century radiocarbon dating for the Shroud- see his lecture and the comments on it.

  8. Some months ago I wrote in my blog ( :

    “I hope that Hugh Farey can stay long time in front of BSTS Newsletter. He is an atypical sindonologist (I wouldn’t call him “sceptic”) and his sincerity, though necessarily limited, is interesting in a scene where fans abound”.

    I am not sure if expressing here my solidarity with Hugh Farey is convenient. Hugh has said he is not an “anti-authenticist” but I am one. I think I know why Hugh doesn’t like to be called so. He has his beliefs about the Shroud that are similar to mines in some respects. But he is a lot more scrupulous than I am. Despite his beliefs he likes to maintain a neutral point of view at all costs.

    I confess I am not perfectly satisfied with this neutralism at all cost. But I suppose that it is an honourable position in this scene where some fanatics demand your head when you scarcely dissents of their immutable Truths.

    P.S: My “anti-authenticist” position refers only to the Shroud. I have not any unfriendly feeling towards the “autheticists” persons. I wouldn’t call myself “anti-autenticist”. Just I am not a sindonist.

    1. It’s not neutralism, but relativism.

      Is Hugh Ducan’s article science or art work ? Does Hugh’s editorial help putting Hugh Ducan’s work in perspective or does it mix things up ?

      1. You are free to call it as you like, but when you find difficult to categorically resolve a problem and you limit yourself to account the points pro and counter, you are a prudent man, not a relativist.

        Perhaps you find more concluding some evidences than others. I also find so, although in a different way of yours (I think). But I find no reason to blame Hugh to doing in a different way than me.

        I think the methodical scepticism of Hugh is useful here if someone wants to pay more attention to disputable evidences than established Truths.

        1. Let’s be clear, it is not to be prudent or neutral to present Hugh Duncan’s article as “back to the scientific side”.

      2. Yes, I too was left somewhat nonplussed by Hugh Duncan’s piece. For a start it was not original research – Irene Corgiat produced facsimiles of the TS some years ago with her electric pyrotool.

        What stuck in this craw was Hugh’s comment that he was not attempting to show how the TS was made, “since it’s been shown not to be a burn”.

        Maybe I’ve missed something? Who showed that? Link please, Hugh, or anyone for that matter.

        To anyone tempted to cite the recent research of Thibault Heimburger, prominently displayed on Dan’s side bar (the April 2014 pdf being currently top of the heap AND highlighted in red), I hit on a simple method today for looking at scorched linen under a low power microscope in cross-section. The result confirmed my earlier results. There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in TH’s claim that it is impossible to scorch one side of a linen thread only.

        Here’s a direct link to my own photograph, hot from the press:

        I have added that and other photographs to the end of an earlier posting.

        Those who claim that contact scorches can never be as superficial as the TS image are substituting fantasy or wishful thinking for hard facts. It’s time this mis- or disinformation ceased.

        1. To the best of my knowledge the only objection to the image being a scorch/burn is that burns fluoresce under UV light but the Shroud image doesn’t. I have done many experiments myself to confirm this. When linen is heated at a range of different temperatures it invariably produces bright fluorescence even before any mark is clearly visible by ordinary light. At increasing temperatures the linen turns yellow, but without inhibiting the fluorescence, and then brown, when it stops, although the burns still have a bright fluorescent border. My earlier experiments were based on over-contrasty photos of the Shroud: I heated my linen till it went brown, and sure enough the brown areas did not fluoresce, and I thought the image could therefore be a scorch. When I realised that the image was actually yellow, and therefore equivalent to a lower temperature, fluorescence producing heat, I realised that some other mechanism than simple scorching must be involved, hence my further concentration on chemical rather than thermal degradation of the surface of the linen.

          There are, however, reasonable objections to claiming that modern experiments disprove the burn hypothesis. For a start, the whole shroud fluoresces quite brightly, even in places where there is neither scorch nor image, and it could be that whatever produced the image inhibited, rather than enhanced this background fluorescence, producing the UV image we see today. There are others…

        2. When you shine uv light on the products of a chemical reaction e.g. a thermal scorch, you are seeing only a tiny number of end-products, perhaps only one of two out of dozens, that just happen to have the property of fluorescence. The latter is rather rare, and often due to polycyclic aromatic compounds with a planar rigid structure, though that’s not necessarily the case for pyrolysis products of linen. So there’s a sense in which one is making oneself a hostage to fortune if using a uv lamp to decide whether one system accurately models another, especially when one was produced a minute ago, and the other many centuries earlier, the latter having endured all kinds of chemical insults – from fires to thymol vapour. (Let’s not forget the phenomenon of fluorescence quenching).

          So please don’t be offended when I say that I for one cannot get terribly worked up over the non-fluorescence of the TS image. What I would like to do in an ideal world, given the facilities, would be to isolate and identify the chemical species responsible for the fluorescence of a model scorch, and then decide whether the “problem” of the Shroud’s non-fluorescent body image (or loss of an initial fluorescence?) is more apparent than real.

          Incidentally, I wasted the best part of an entire year in Philadelphia, chasing up a yellow-green fluorescent species allegedly specific to phototherapy bile, or so I was told on arrival, which in 1970 was billed as the holy grail of bilirubinology. It turned out to be plain old riboflavin, i.e. Vitamin B2, of which there was just as much in control bile too. And I only discovered that by accident, through noticing yellow-green fluorescent gels in the lab next door, due to its routine use of riboflavin to photo-catalyse the polymerisation of its gels for protein separation.

          Not for nothing is the Royal Society’s motto: “Nullius in verba”. (Take nobody’s word for it).

        3. Thank you Colin,

          I have to understand your experiment (some diagrammatic drawing should be useful) and to test again my samples.

        4. Thank you for the prompt response, Thibault. However, I hardly think diagrams are needed, given I have supplied step-by-step photos. All I did was to scorch linen by contact with a hot metal template, to pull out individual threads, to ‘unspin’ them by rolling the ends between thumb and finger so as to separate the fibres, then look for scorched and unscorched fibres under the microscope. There were relatively few scorched fibres, even for quite intense scorch imprints. For faint imprints, the scorched fibres were there, but somewhat difficult to find.

          So how can you maintain that scorching is an all-or-nothing effect at thread level, colouring all its fibres (typically 50-200)? It’s simply not the case. Scorching by brief contact with a template is or can be a highly superficial process, and I think I now know why (pyrolysis being endothermic, withdrawing substantial amounts of heat from the template, protecting underlying fibres).

          It’s time to demolish the myth that a contact scorch can never be as superficial as the TS image. Anyone can disprove that for themselves at home, with little more than a piece of linen, a lump of metal, a hotplate, tweezers and a hand lens.

        5. Colin,

          Obviously, I disagree with you.

          For the moment I have not enough time to answer to your claims.
          Moreover it’s very difficult since they are scattered in your blog.

          Another thing: you wrote on your blog:
          “Whether they will silence those who continue to disseminate mis- and disinformation about the thermal imprint, aka contact scorch hypothesis is another matter”
          “I say it’s time shroudology stopped making duff claims it cannot back up with experimental evidence. In the two instances where experimental ‘evidence’ has been proferred, the authors of those inappropriately-designed and/or misinterpreted experiments, made in both instances on Dan Porter’s should do the decent thing and withdraw their claims.(…) If they fail to do so, then Dan Porter ought in my view to take the initiative, and excise their misinformation from his blog. That’s assuming he has no wish for his site to be seen as a repository of fatally-flawed so-called science, supposedly mounting a robust defence of authenticity while in reality finding entirely imaginary errors in the opposition case”.

          “DUFF claims” (!!), “mis AND DISINFORMATION”,…
          I am supposed to do “the decent thing and withdraw my claims” ? Otherwise Dan Porter “is supposed to take this initiative…”

          Are you dreaming?

          Are you able to accept a precise discussion based on my own experiments and your own experiments, without using such words?
          I wonder…

          More later (Hopefully,before the end of the week).

        6. Thibault: your claim that scorching a linen thread is an all-or-nothing process is neither credible nor demonstrable, at least where brief contact (a second or two) between template and linen is concerned.

          As I said earlier, folk can if they wish try repeating for themselves the quick and simple experiment described in the above link.

          There’s no need for a microscope – a hand lens should suffice. It’s only a minority of fibres that are coloured, even in a highly scorched linen thread..

          Frankly, I think it is wrong that your pdf (s) should be prominently displayed in Dan’s sidebar when at least one person – this retired laboratory scientist – is unable to reproduce your key claim, and which is highly improbable anyway, simply on commonsense grounds. I have also objected strongly to the claim you made in a previous pdf that a scorch imprint always has excessive contrast (now regrettably picked up and cited in the wiki entry on the TS). I pointed out your use of an inappropriate template with sunken relief that virtually guaranteed you would see excessive contrast. To this day, you have failed to respond to that criticism. Again, that paper should be retracted, attempting as it does to show contact scorching in the worst possible light.

          The same happened back in Feb 2012, when Paolo Di Lazzaro came onto this site, describing another one-off experiment with a heated coin that was set up as a “worst case scenario” (excessive temperature and application time). He too failed to respond to criticism from me and others here.

          Scorching by brief contact (with a heated template to leave a faint OR intense imprint is highly superficial at the thread level, as my results show, thus matching an important image characteristic of the Turin Shroud. Those are the FACTS Thibault. You will not succeed in browbeating me into submission on matters of FACT.

        7. What does mean “NUTS” ?
          Synonyms: Crazy, barmy, cracked

          In French it means (from my Harrap’s dictionnary as well as from Google’s translation tool): “maboul”, “dingue” which are, in French, true insults. I repeat: insults.

          If I am right (I am?), I am demanding an apology.

          Incidentally, once again, CB did not answer to David’s question: ” I can’t imagine that artisan making upteen attempts, ensuring the scorch was at the surface level of the threads. No one had microscopes back then, who would have been able to tell if it was a man-made scorch?”


  9. PHPL: “But many will also think that when you defend the shroud’s authenticity , you make a striking, eye-catching about-turn .”

    I’m sorry, I don’t catch your meaning. We do not KNOW if the shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Christ or not. On the basis of what evidence there is, I am of the opinion that it very likely is that, and I’m happy to defend that proposition as well as I can. I just find it too incredible to assert that it was man-made. It is just not a good fit for the times, the artistic genres of any pre-Renaissance art forms, the technologies available, what it depicts, the anatomical exactitude, the lack of any clear motive for a deliberate intention, the lack of a track record and its uniqueness, no trace of any failed attempts, the unavailability of crucifixion victims after the 4th century, and I could go on. We still don’t know how it was done, or how the image was produced. The totality of the circumstantial evidence persuades me. I think that’s how most reasonable people come to their decisions. Others prefer to play mind games, or strain at gnats while swallowing camels, or are incapable of coming to a decision at all. It may have been an as yet unknown natural process under exceptional conditions, or it may have been miraculous. But I don’t believe it is some man-made artifact.

    1. Charles if you are frustrated with the lack of research direction where you think it is necessary…why don’t you drive some yourself? You are a professional historian – unlike most or all us here – so would seem well placed.
      I think your ideas are interesting and I think it would be a pity if they weren’t advanced.

      1. Thomas. If I believed that there was sufficient evidence that the Shroud was first century , I might decide to take the time out to plot the various routes that a first century cloth might have reached northern France- either direct from the Holy Land with other relics known to have come from the ‘Lord’s Tomb’ in the first millennium, or via Egypt where the problem of the preservation of the Shroud would have been ameliorated by the climate. Both important avenues of research that might provide some evidence that even I would accept as possibly supporting authenticity.
        However, I have to earn my living which is why my energy this year has been concentrated on getting the third edition of my Egypt, Greece and Rome onto the market and setting up tours in the Mediterranean. Besides, one really has to be an expert in Greek to analyse the primary sources from Egypt and early Christianity in general. I am just surprised that authenticists, many of whom, unlike myself, seem to spend their lives full time on the Shroud, have accepted the Edessa/Constantinople route for so long without considering the alternatives. There is the massive problem of getting the Shroud to Edessa where Christianity developed quite late when we have very early Christian communities in Egypt who might well have taken it in IF they had considered relics important.
        Perhaps Hugh can dig out some scholars who have the expertise and linguistic skills to do the research!

        1. P.S. Tradition says that Christianity in Alexandria was founded by the evangelist Mark in AD 33 (and ,of course, his supposed tomb was preserved there until the Venetians stole the body). Almost certainly too early but it reflects a tradition that the foundation was very early and why not take the Shroud there to a climate where it would have been safe from damp?
          Worth looking at, don’t you think?

        2. P.P.S. As many of you will know first and second century Christian texts (some papyrus) have been found in Egypt, confirming not only that Christianity was very early here but that early documents were preserved.
          Come on, I am not an authenticist but I have no problems in telling those of you who are where to start looking!!

  10. “Let’s be clear, it is not to be prudent or neutral to present Hugh Duncan’s article as “back to the scientific side”.


    It depends what you mean with “scientific”. In my opinion it is not more or less scientific that many articles included in precedent numbers of BSTS Newsletters. And I don’t think that a Newsletter is the most suitable place to do advanced scientific research.

    But if your criticism is aimed to the quality of Duncan’s article this is a different subject matter. I don’t like to give my opinion about scientific issues, but my impression is that this is an exercise of “homemade” science. Yes, it is not very impressive nor conclusive. But other “scientific enquiries” with a lot of sophisticated technology and supposed years of investigation were so inconclusive as Duncan’s modest experiences. And more expensive. Have you heard of a certain Italian scientist who played with laser rays?

    But all this has never to do with the neutrality, but with the quality.

    1. You’re are biased David, ask the question the other way round: presenting Colin Berry’s work as art work and not science, would it be neutral ?

      Hugh Duncan’s article is art work, not science, the author himself doesn’t claim otherwise. Hugh editorial is misleading.

      1. Maybe. Not everybody can be so exquisitely impartial (as you?). But I think that your accusations are as doing a mountain of a grain of sand. Borders between art and technic are not rigidly precise. Do you know the classical Greek meaning of “art” – techné-in Plato and others?

      2. Hi anoxie. I’m sorry you found my comment misleading. Luckily, others didn’t find it so. I think perhaps you interpreted the word ‘scientific’ more scrupulously than the context demanded. Compared to the exegetical, metaphysical and historical papers that preceded it, Duncan’s paper is indeed scientific, and I’m certain that the English speaking readers of the British Society for the Turin Shroud were not misled by my epithet.

        1. Sorry to disagree, Hugh, but replicating something, no matter how well, is no more scientific than running off a photocopy on a Xerox machine. It’s technology, not science, of which I have no beef whatsoever, this comment coming to you thanks to 20th century technology, for which I’m eternally grateful.

          Sadly, it does not stop there. The prefacing comment* from Hugh Duncan was not technology, nor was it merely non-scientific. It was in my candid opinion anti-scientific, and I have to say I’m surprised and disappointed you let it through.

          * ” It has already been shown that the image is not
          a burn, plus I don’t think 14th century France had access to electrical soldering irons. However the image looks similar to a burn and I just want to make a replica that appears to be like the original. I would like it to also share the same photo negative properties of the original and even the 3D properties if possible.”

          Did it not occur to Hugh Duncan that an image-forming mechanism, i.e. “burning” aka thermal imprinting or contact-scorching, that can account for both “photo negative properties” and 3D properties and iwhich has been shown to model both those two otherwise unexplained key defining features, should not be lightly dismissed. Is he aware of any rival scientifically-viable explanation that can account for those two properties, excluding miraculous flashes of collimated air-attenuated radiation of undefined wavelength, as yet unmodelled, with little prospect of that ever happening?

          However, my real beef is not primarily with Hugh Duncan, who may or may not be au fait with current controversies re image-forming mechanisms. My real beef right now is with the anti-scorch so-called science that has appeared on this site from Dr.Paolo Di Lazzaro and Dr. Thibault Heimburger, the subject of another posting this morning on my sciencebuzz site. I shan’t give a link, since I’m merely dotting i’s and crossing t’s on what I’ve been saying for 30 months. I’m just astonished that both the named gentlemen have made claims re scorching (correction – uncontrollable runaway scorching in their hands) that I find totally bizarre.Their findings are quite simply WRONG and TOTALLY MISLEADING. A scorch can be as superficial as one wishes, right down to the level of individual linen fibres. Hugh Duncan is a saint by comparison.

        2. Whatever, an editor doesn’t have to be neutral. But to go further on science and “contact-scorching” a few links pointing to Thibault Heimburger’s and Colin Berry’s views may have been informative.

  11. Hold on a second, Colin. I like your scorch experiment but when you claim, “It’s time to demolish the myth that a contact scorch can never be as superficial as the TS image. Anyone can disprove that for themselves at home, with little more than a piece of linen, a lump of metal, a hotplate, tweezers and a hand lens,” this is slightly misleading.

    Your scorches were done with a model far smaller than the one that would have been needed to produce the TS. It’s one thing to prove that one can create a superficial scorch that matches what we’ve seen on the TS, but it’s quite another to produce an image of the scale of the TS.

    Don’t fall into the trap of overstatement that you so passionately revile in others.

    1. Certainly there are some scientific issues regarding scaling up, like the decrease in ratio of body area to volume, which affects rate of heat loss and cooling by radiation. (It’s the reason why a mouse needs to eat several times its body weight each day, while an elephant doesn’t). That could have some practical consequences that might require making modifications to one’s imprinting technology, but that shows up the crucial difference between science and technology. Science is governed by immutable laws, whereas technology can generally be altered to fine tune a desired outcome.

      Those who attempt to assume or impose a radiation model are ignoring one of those cussed and immutable law of science – namely the First Law of Photochemistry. It states that radiation has first to be absorbed before there can be a chemical reaction. How can that be with a white shroud? What kind of radiation is absorbed by white linen that would not be immediately re-radiated, ie. with nett absorption close to zero? Until those radiationists can get over that hurdle (and they don’t seem to be making much of an effort) then I say they have a nerve claiming that scorching by contact is impossible in practical terms. It’s not, and I’ve demonstrated that, and am now beginning to understand why it can be restricted to discrete fibres, and highly superficial ones to boot.

      As I say, the important thing is to get the science right first. That task is not made any easier when folk keep popping up, claiming that contact-scorching was ruled out of contention years or decades ago, or that it has this or that fatal flaw. It wasn’t and it doesn’t (respectively). If the truth be told (for once) my preferred model, the one that accounts for so many features of the TS image has been the target of a systematic hit job, and still is, to this very day. It’s all about keeping a certain show on the road, one that is backed by some powerful interests.

      Irrespective, I do not see scaling-up as presenting major obstacles. Do you, and if so, why?

      1. I like your answer. As to your question at the end. I do see the scaling up as a problem because, though it is likely doable (given time and resources I’m confident you could achieve it), it wasn’t necessary. By that I mean the TS – if a scorch – is one of amazing precision. To replicate it today has proven quite a task. There was no need for a medieval artisan to be that precise. If he could affect a reasonable facsimile of a sweat imprint, as per your theory, then he had it made in the shade. I can’t imagine that artisan making upteen attempts, ensuring the scorch was at the surface level of the threads. No one had microscopes back then, who would have been able to tell if it was a man-made scorch?

        I applaud your work because you are challenging some sacred cows: only the Shroud has 3D properties, the Shroud could not be a scorch, etc. You are forcing Shroudies (the good ones) to think and rethink. Whether your Templar theory is correct or not, your work in trying to support it is having a positive impact on other chains of thought. That, to me, is superb science.

        I actually think that your demonstrating that the Shroud’s properties are not so unique makes the icon more unique. Say what? Well, if it does not have that many unique properties then one should expect to see other examples of this kind of object. We are presented with an ordinary piece of linen, marked with an ordinary image (it’s just a man) that could be explained by an ordinary mechanism (contact scorch, biochemical reaction) and found in an ordinary context (medieval relic). And yet we have only one such Shroud — extraordinary!

        1. Thanks again for the appreciative comments, David.

          Naturally one’s eye is drawn to the entirely healthy attempt on your part to seek out the flaws, so the chief one at any rate must be addressed before I return to domestic chores.

          “I can’t imagine that artisan making upteen attempts, ensuring the scorch was at the surface level of the threads. No one had microscopes back then, who would have been able to tell if it was a man-made scorch?”

          You have put your finger on one of the chief misconceptions re scorching, one that has been aided, indeed promulgated, I regret to say by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Thibault Heimburger and others with their experimental protocols that “prove” scorching to be hopelessly non-superficial. Yes, it’s an uncontrolalble, runaway, all or nothing process we are told, one that quickly produces reverse-side scorching (PDL) or in which colours every single fibre in a thread (TH). To which I say NUTS.

          What we see there are travesties of the truth, as I’ve said repeatedly, but I shan’t waste a second more of my time with those fantasies, based as they are on deeply flawed experimental techniques. Once again I invite folk here to check those claims for themselves by doing my quick and simple experiment at home. Even intense scorches from brief contact with a hot metal template affect a few surface fibres only.

          Maybe Dan too would oblige, and then re-think his policy of showcasing pdfs in his sidebar that promulgate false notions re contact-scorching. Come to think of it, PDL and TH should be invited, nay urged, to do my experiment and report what they see, here on this site, or risk having their unverified claims edited-out from the sidebar (along with that misleading reference to Richard Dawkins too).

          Science is not just about making new discoveries. It’s about others being able to reproduce those findings. If others are unable to do that, then it’s time methinks for some essential spring-cleaning on this site. That’s how science progresses – by trial and error. Errors have to be flagged up. One cannot remain silent when one knows that unverified counterclaims are creeping into the public domain, being picked up and linked to elsewhere ( especially when it’s via the backdoor of non-refereed pdfs that provide no facility for leaving a comment, or if they do (PDL posting, Dec 2011, not 2012 as my previous comment) failing to acknowledge or respond to comments).

          It is totally against the spirit of science to snipe from cover. If one is minded to attack my thinking, PDL and TH, then fine, bring it on, but don’t then run away as soon as I put YOUR so-called findings under the microscope, revealing the major indeed mind-boggling errors of experimental design or of observation and interpretation.

          What about my previous suggestion that any pdf, showcased ones like TH’s especially, be accompanied by a posting here for logging comments, with cross-links between the two? Didn’t you say you would give it serious consideration Dan?

  12. PS to David: TH says I have failed to respond to your point re image superficiality:

    “I can’t imagine that artisan making upteen attempts, ensuring the scorch was at the surface level of the threads. No one had microscopes back then, who would have been able to tell if it was a man-made scorch?”

    Imagine if you will that someone has set out to create a whole body version of the Veil of Veronica, i.e. a simulated sweat imprint, and has decided that a faint heat scorch from a 3D template (“statue”) might serve the purpose, especially as scorch and sweat imprints both record prominences only, or what today we would call negative character. How would he set out about the task so as to ensure success on first attempt (linen being expensive).

    The first thing to realize is that thermometers, microscopes etc are not needed. The aim is simply to produce an image, with no need to submit a write-up to shroudstory.manuscript. In other words. the exercise is entirely empirical, requiring no theoretical knowledge whatsoever.

    Modus operandi? Have several small squares of linen available for testing the ability of the template to produce a faint scorch. One heats the template, testing with strips, and removing from heat when scorches are a little more intense than one wishes. One then removes from the heat, and continues testing until after cooling one can be certain of obtaining a scorch of the desired intensity for a given application time, which might be seconds, or even minutes, depending on the technology one has chosen. If pressing hot template down forcibly into linen spread over damp sand, or sacking say, then the chosen application time might be short, say a couple of seconds, due to high impaction pressure. If linen is spread on top of the template, and damp sacking placed on top, with light manual moulding of fabric to 3D relief, ti.e low impaction pressure, hen the application time might be longer, say two minutes or more, given the ability of the damp overlay to act as a heat sink AND to allow temperature sensing through one’s fingertips.
    (I have previously suggested that both LUWU and LOTTO configurations were used to imprint dorsal and frontal sides in the same session, where LUWU is short for Linen Underneath With Underlay and LOTTO short for Linen On Top Then Overlay.

    OK, so centuries later, scientists come along and discover that the image is highly superficial, confined to the crowns of the threads, and possibly no deeper than the primary cell wall of flax fibres, approx 200nm thickness (or so we are told, though I have yet to see hard data on either that the TS image thickness). Our artisan did not need to know that, far less need special equipment or skills to follow those specifications. He was content to produce an image of the optimum intensity. The physics and chemistry of carbohydrate pyrolysis did the rest. It doesn’t matter how much complexity there is in the image at the microscopic level, it being something over which the artisan had no control, but more importantly had no need to control.

    There are different ways of cooking eggs – poaching, frying, boiling, omelettes etc. Nobody planned for those different offerings to look or taste the way they do. Their distinctive characteristics are the result of adopting simple operations with the eggs. Physics and chemistry does the rest.

    The TS image is likely to be end-result of following a simple routine with prudent use of small scale temperature probes (test strips of linen) to minimise risk of under- or over-scorching. It is NOT the end-result of a controlled laboratory experiment designed to effect certain changes at the microscopic level. To anyone who thinks otherwise I would simply say this. NUTS.

    1. So what you’re saying here, making sure I have it right, is that a medieval artisan was not trying to make a uniform scorch of upper thread depth. If the TS has a uniform scorch it’s because whatever process created the image — uniformity was a by-product of it to begin with. In other words, the uniform superficiality is an accident of the image process, not an intended characteristic.

  13. Colin has called two things “nuts.” One is the belief that it is impossible to scorch only one side of a linen thread, and the other is the belief that a knowledge of the precise physics and chemistry of a procedure is necessary in order to produce an intended effect. I agree with him.

    1. Thanks Hugh (Welcome back btw. Sounds like an interesting trip. School or private?).

      One thing I forgot to mention, though I flagged it up some months ago: the thermal imprinting scenario offers an explanation for the use of an upmarket 3/1 herringbone weave. Why go to that trouble or expense (unless one is Joseph of Arimathea, with an eye for quality, though carelessly omitting to check the label for C-14 content)?

      It may have been discovered through initial experimentation that the 3/1 weave gave a better end-result than a simple 1/1. Why? Because having w1 threads pass over three of the w2 (I can never remember which is weft or warp) avoids ending up with a less visually appealing ‘pointillist’ image, but until I see some 3/1 weave linen in the shops or online, it’s not something I can confirm by experimentation.

      Sorry about the several typos in my previous comment.

      1. Personal trip, given added interest by watching Tibetan carpet makers using a four-heddle loom to weave 3/1 twill (not herringbone though), and a renewed aquaintance with hirudinae.

  14. Off topic, but on my mind….
    I still find the “blood belt” really curious.
    I think it’s problematic for both pro and anti authenticity positions, possibly more problematic for the latter.
    Why on earth would someone create that? Doesn’t have any biblical or art history context.

    1. It is curious, I agree, but artistically, if I may be so bold, it is of a piece with almost all the other so called ‘flows’ in that it doesn’t have any obvious direction of travel. It looks, as do the flows on the arms, the back of the head, and the spear wound, as it if it has been dribbled over the cloth with a pipette. In earlier times I have seen it described as a reference to the rope which tied Christ to the Scourging Pillar, which it may have been intended to represent. Attempts to represent it as a real blood flow, usually a continuation of the spear wound flow, either directly onto the cloth as the body was laid in place, or over the body and then transferred to the cloth, or as spillage from some part of the cleaning/washing process, have not gained consensus even among authenticists.

    1. Aren’t we forgetting something, Matthias (like the Lirey pilgrim’s badge, aka Cluny medal, which in my book is the earliest depiction of the Turin Shroud).

      Yes, I know that Ian Wilson referred to the badge’s “blood belt”. But it’s odd, don’t you think, that none of the other blood motifs were shown (the small size need not have been an obstacle to showing nail holes, scourge marks etc). Might that not suggest that the badge-maker had interpreted the “blood belt” as something very different, especially as it’s shown as a thick coil.

      Some of us (well, one anyway) see parallels with the potent imagery employed by extanct and earlier artists to depict the sufferings of St.Lawrence of Rome, slow-roasted in 258, with a variety of restraining devices, including a rope or chain around the waist, with the subject spread-eagled over the grid iron, occasionally with crossed hands as per TS. Oh, and there are those images of the Templars at the stake in 1314, some with a securing chain around the waist.

      Methinks it’s somewhat premature to assume that it really is a Wilsonian “blood belt”, especially as there’s no obvious lance wound on the Lirey badge. Conversely, the Lier copy (1516) of the TS shows a lance wound but NOT a “blood belt”.

      At the risk of stirring a hornet’s nest, one could be provocative (oh, let’s) and suggest there had been a puzzling feature of the Mark 1 TS, one that resembled a chain or coiled rope (which may or may not have provided a clue as to how the rest of the image was to be interpreted) and that later custodians simply covered up the problematical region with blood (or blood substitute). That would or indeed should be the cue for thinking the unthinkable – or as I maintain eminently thinkable – namely that there might be body image UNDER blood stains that needs to be unmasked, maybe with the kind of X-ray technology that has shown long-lost Rembrandts lurking underneath bucolic 19th century landscapes.

      1. Mmmm interesting…but still curious don’t you think that none of the depictions from the 1500s – that I know of at least – show the “blood belt”? It’s such a conspicuous feature.
        Maybe they painted what they wanted to see – in accordance with tradition – rather than what they did see. After all most of the depictions show a loin cloth.

    1. Have we seen this kind of effect (uniformity of superficiality) elsewhere? In art methods? In nature? In food preparation? In a Chinese laundry where the irons run hot? Has anyone even looked for it outside of Shroudology?

      1. I understand your reasons for asking, but have to say that your question is not one for the focused scientist. It’s too general, too vague and seems unlikely to generate any useful or testable hypotheses.

        Why not treat each phenomenon, natural of man-induced, as a one-off? For example, oil spreads on water of its own accord, the film finally becoming uniformly so thin as to cause chromatic dispersion of white light (rainbow colours). But the mechanism that leads to thin oil films will be entirely different from that which produces thin superficial scorches. Another example is aluminium, which is protected from progressive oxidation by a thin, invisible film of its own oxide, a mere 10nm thick as I recall.

        The forces at play in these different examples- physical, chemical or both – are entirely different, despite the end result – uniformly thin layers – being the same.

        1. The first priority of a certain R.R. should have been to demonstrate a uniform coating of starch on the TS. The second priority should have been to show how that starch could then degrade uniformly to reducing sugar, since it’s the latter, not intact starch, that is required for a Maillard reaction.

          Sadly, and inexplicably, a certain R.R. failed to do either, being content to claim sightings of starch traces (not reducing sugar) that could be described as little more than anecdotal.

          I have described a certain a gifted chemist, but have refused to put him up on a pedestal as some on this site do, having discovered far too many contradictions and blind spots in his image-formation theories.

        2. I mean of the natural of man induced phenomenon you’ve mentionned:

          first one – is in Rogers’ theory

          second one – i’m still looking for a thin layer/surface of aluminium not man induced

          have another try to illustrate your point.

        3. Aluminium the metal does not exist in nature. But as soon as one produces it in molten form by electrolysis of aluminium oxide in molten cryolite and allows it cool and solidify, then that surface film of oxide forms quickly and spontaneously, so that latter process is NOT man made.

          One can demonstrate the importance of the protective oxide film by rubbing aluminium with liquid mercury, or a solution of mercury salt. The mercury forms an amalgam with the aluminium that then lifts off the oxide film, allowing oxygen unimpeded access to fresh metal surface. Within a matter of minutes the aluminium becomes hot, sprouting feathery outgrowths of oxide, and within an hour or so, one is left with a heap of white oxide. The mercury experiment allows one to appreciate that aluminium is in fact high up in the reactivity/electrochemical series of metals, and would be useless in everyday life, were it not for that amazingly thin adherent film of oxide that blocks further oxidation.

        4. Ok then, light hitting a photographic plate is a natural, not man induced, phenomenon.

          One has just to produce aluminium, or a photographic plate, or… whatever.

        5. When we say that elemental aluminum does not occur in nature, it is generally taken to mean the environmental conditions that we are familiar with, i.e. on planet Earth. But one should not assume that elemental aluminium does not exist anywhere in the Universe. It does – in stars – because it was formed in stars from lighter elements by nuclear capture of protons and electrons. The conditions are those of a high temperature plasma, which allows no chemical combinations, i.e. the aluminium would be present as aluminium atoms or ions, not as ionic associations with other elements, not even ion pairs (the temperature being too high). What we do with our electric current in aluminium smelters is to reverse the process that led to stellar aluminium atoms cooling by degrees to become chemically-stable aluminium compounds in the Earth’s crust, That process required restoring electrons to aluminum ions, Al +++, converting them to Al atoms. the latter being electrically neutral with equal numbers of protons and electrons.

          It’s somewhat pointless (at least in the context of the TS) to get too spellbound about an ultra-thin image layer when thin layers are commonplace in the world around us, albeit for very different mechanistic processes. It then becomes equally pointless but additionally tedious if one’s examples are then challenged for being ‘man-made’ rather than natural. That’s especially the case with the example I cited of aluminium, where the distinction between natural and man-made depends on whether one takes a planetary perspective, or that of the entire Universe with most places much hotter than Planet Earth.

          What we see here now is opportunist sniping verging (yet again) on trolling. But there’s some compensation this time, since I never pass up an opportunity to talk about the subject that has given me immense enjoyment for well over half a century – the chemical elements and their compounds – of which we ourselves are made, and our ability to rearrange atoms to concoct a wealth of fascinating compounds (or return the latter to their separate elements).

          Takeaway message: the thinness of a scorch image is no big deal, but if it were, then take comfort (or alarm) from the fact that there are potentially scores of other big deals around us in the form of ultra-thin layers.

          As I’ve said before, medieval man was skilfully manipulating an ultra-thin material, comparable to the alleged thickness (200nm) of the TS image layer each time he illuminated a manuscript – with hammered out gold leaf.

  15. Ok, so you’ve just stalled on aluminium.

    Or should we interprete the gold leaf as the third candidate to a thin layer “natural of man induced phenomenon” ?

    1. Anoxie, you are very good at reading other people’s hands, but never seem to lay your own cards on the table. You can’t lose the hand that way, of course, but neither can you win it.

  16. Leaving aside the small matter of my typo (which should have read “natural OR man-induced phenomenon”, a single word should suffice to sign off from this unwelcome feline attention.

    Meiow. (Also “meiow” in French).

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