Paper Chase: The Second Face Defended

Realizing how easily I had accepted the second image of a face discovery
and eventually realizing the need for questioning such discoveries
was one of the reasons  I decided to actively blog.

imageThe paper in question from the St. Louis Conference is About the Second Image of Face Detected on the Turin Shroud  by Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo (Read by Joseph G. Marino).

    Maybe if Giulio had been there or maybe if there had been a PowerPoint it might have been more interesting. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the paper; there isn’t. It’s just that . . . let’s let an ellipses-for-adjectives abstract of the abstract explain why:

A second faint image of the face of the Turin Shroud has been discovered in 2004 . . .  but a recent paper has questioned . . . its presence. . .  . it explained those patterns with pareidolia and Gestalt effects of the human perception . . .  in a not proper way. This paper both discusses these results showing why the image processing used in that paper seems not proper to sustain its thesis and presents additional image processing for pattern recognition.

imageIn other words the 2004 discovery of a second face on the backside of the cloth had been shot down in a peer reviewed journal paper, Pattern recognition after image processing of low-contrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra and Barrie Schwortz. The paper is sadly behind a pay wall at Science Direct but we have the abstract and some highlights:


We discuss the potentially misleading effect of software techniques for elaborating low-contrast images. In particular, we present the example of the stains embedded into one of the most studied archeological objects in history, the Shroud of Turin. We show for the first time that image processing of both old and recent photographs of the Shroud may lead some researchers to perceive inscriptions and patterns that do not actually exist, confirming that there is a narrow boundary between image enhancement and manipulation.


► The limited static contrast of our eyes may render problematic the perception of low-contrast images.

► Brain’s ability to retrieve incomplete information interpret false image pixels after image processing.

► Image processing of Shroud photographs leads to perceive patterns that do not actually exist.

► There is a narrow line between enhancement and manipulation of low-contrast images.

Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo are fighting back or at least asking us to reserve judgment for awhile:

Before to reach a conclusion in agreement to Ref. [10] it will necessary a sure and objective demonstration that the second fainter face detected in Ref. [1] is really a trick of the human perception. Meanwhile, in agreement with various TS experts, see Refs. [23 – 26], we consider credible the presence of a second image of face on the back side of the TS. The analysis of the UV photo of face made by Turin Archdiocese in 2002 and not yet made available to the scientific community will help to confirm this fact.

Those references being:

-1. G. Fanti, R. Maggiolo: The double superficiality of the frontal image of the Turin Shroud, (J. of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, volume 6, issue 6, 2004, pages 491- 503, April 2004).

-10. P. Di Lazzaro, D. Murra, B. Schwortz , Pattern recognition after image processing of lowcontrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin, (Pattern Recognition J., available online 31 December 2012).

-23. J. P. Jackson, Does the Shroud of Turin show us the Resurrection?, (Biblia y Fé, 1998).

-24. G. Fanti, et al. (24 authors): Evidences for Testing Hypotheses about the Body Image Formation of The Turin Shroud, (III Int. Conf. on the Shroud of Turin: Dallas, Texas, 2005), accessed January 31, 2013.

-25. G. Fanti, J.A. Botella, F. Crosilla, F. Lattarulo, N. Svensson, R. Schneider, A.D. Whanger, List of Evidences of the Turin Shroud, (Int. Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy, (2010).

-26. O. Scheuermann, Turiner Tuschbold aufgestrahlt?, (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrucken Deutchland, 2007).

9 thoughts on “Paper Chase: The Second Face Defended”

  1. I still have the old interview-article covering part of this topic in pdf and will send it to Dan later, leaving it to him to decide whether it should be uploaded. After having been advised from serious sources in the realm of Shroud studies that there is no second image, the decision was taken to store it for a while.

    The 1 December, 2014 update has put the latest interview-article on the “black list”, together with others that have had no peer review. I make it a point not to be anyone’s mouthpiece and do think that there should be explanations from whoever proffers any paper, whether scientific or historical.

      1. By “black list” I meant those papers listed on as not having been peer-reviewed. Since my interview-article was on the list I presume that is because of the responses, not my questions. If there are any questions about my questions I am willing to thrash things out on this blog.

        Dan has rightly pointed out more than once that peer review is controversial. After all, a peer-reviewed paper is one that merits consideration, it is not gospel truth.

        After years of reviewing books I can state that even academic books can and do contain rubbish, with authors or contributors with PhDs writing rubbish, moved by prejudices, promoting distortions and, worse, even demonstrating hatred.

  2. Dan, I have just sent the interview-article to you. You and readers here may have read it since it is not new. It was ready not long after the peer-reviewed paper was published in “Applied Optics” and dwells on the second face and the corona discharge that is supposed to have been the only process that could produce it.

    Further to what I posted above, Ian Wilson’s last Shroud book says that “some vestiges of a face” could be seen when Professor Giovanni Riggi saw the underside of the relic. The controversy could come to an end if Turin releases at least some of the microphotographs of this site it has in its possession.

  3. This is a storm in a teapot.

    G. Fanti got a massive coverage after publishing his paper, the article should stand by itself without the reader looking for another interview.

    As soon as july 5, 2004 Barrie cautiously added:
    “It is interesting to note that the Turin authorities currently deny the existence of any image on the reverse side of the cloth, in spite of the peer-reviewed work done by Giulio and Roberto. I believe that making the high resolution 2002 images available for further study by qualified researchers would be an excellent means of avoiding further controversy on this issue.”

    And we know how reluctant Turin authorities are to take a stand for a scientific issue…

    1. As far as I know, it is the blogmaster who decides whether any material is worthwhile posting or not.
      It seems that my previous comments have not been read. The interview has a defence of the methodology by the interviewee because the double image is linked to the corona discharge that has been proposed. Other controversies about the Shroud are also discussed.
      Now I will repeat what I said in the previous comments. I am a journalist and there are rules to follow, including listening to other points of view. I will not be anyone’s spokesman, the differences have to be thrashed out in an objective way, avoiding personal attacks, that is ethical conduct. Being so, serious sources in the realm of Shroud have informed me that there is no second image. If Dan uploads the pdf it will be left to readers in general to discuss the matter, although obviously what scientists or those who understand image processing have to say will be more important. There was no direct access to the relic, and the images were scanned from a book.
      Dan has pointed out umpteen times that peer review can also be controversial, in response to the “black list” in the 1 December, 2014 update. As one who has been reviewing books, academic and others, for a number of years I must add that this applies to academic books as well. I have seen prejudice, distortions and hatred in academic books, with essays written by those with PhDs.

  4. Despite reading Fanti and Maggioli’s pdfs several times, I still have difficulty in deciding whether the claim for there being a real reverse side image being on the top few fibrils has really been demonstrated. There’s certainly no colour plate showing sepia coloured fibres on the reverse side, and as far as one can make out the evidence is all indirect. Some of that evidence is questionable in my view (while having no expertise in image analysis). For example, we are told that when one colours up the front side of linen with graphite, one cannot see any black shape when viewing from the opposite side. Ipso facto, we are told, the reverse side image is not merely a weaker penetrating form of the front side image.

    But much depends on the background surface on which the fabric is placed, whether it’s white and reflective or not, as I discovered and reported some time ago.

    Note the faint reverse-side image on the left. It’s entirely artefactual, and is due to bleed through from the reverse side. Examine the faint image through a hand lens and one finds the colour is entirely in the interstices of the weave, which as we know are just holes. How can holes be coloured?

    There’s a simple explanation, as my photograph on the right shows. White lights enters the fabric from the reverse side, and exits from the opposite side as red light, due to abstraction by the marker pen ink of certain non-red frequencies, as ne can see from the patch of red light on the white background. But that red light can be back-reflected, and return to the viewer’s eye through the interstices of the weave, giving rise to that faint reverse side image. However, place the fabric down on a black background, and the reverse side image disappears from view! Why? No more back-reflection!

    Maybe Fanti’s test with the graphite was unfortunate, having chosen a very black substance that would abstract ALL the frequencies of white light, so that back-reflection would be that of modestly attenuated white light that might be difficult to spot, even on a white background. If his background had been dark he could not have expected to see the outline of the graphite at all, at least not via the interstices route described (though I make no claim that is the only path for back-reflected light). He should have chosen something other than black for his penetration test, and looked for colour!

    Speaking of which – colour that is – there’s no substitute for a good colour photograph taken at a hand-lens level of magnification. If someone has those photographs for the reverse side of the TS, minus Holland cloth, then PLEASE let’s be having them…

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