Joe Nickell reacts to CNN’s “Finding Jesus”: Disingenuous Look at Turin “Shroud” over at the Center for Inquiry website:
… The first episode of the TV series (but curiously the last chapter of the book) was about the “Shroud” of Turin. Easter after Easter, this alleged burial cloth of Jesus is trotted out like a ghost story at Halloween, typically with the same shoddy standards.
This TV presentation was no exception. It was replete with pseudohistory and pseudoscience to such an extent that—if one is not to question the producers’ motives— one must accuse them of gross incompetence. To show why, this review necessarily focuses as much on what is left out as it does on what makes the cut. The program is thus revealed as an hour-long example of confirmation bias—by which one begins with the desired answer and works backward to the evidence, picking and choosing. The usual formula to such crocumentaries is to spend, say, half to two-thirds of the time building up the claim at hand, then bring in some skepticism—or “skepticism”— and finally attack the contrary points, so as to end on a note of mystery. The implication is that science cannot explain the image on the “shroud,” so it appears to be something beyond science. This is a type of faulty logic called an argument from ignorance.
Nickell is particularly upset with the inclusion of Nicholas Allen’s hypothesis in the show. So was just about everyone, it seems, but for different reasons. Nickell’s perspective is, well, a crock of something or other:
With his absurd “explanation” of the shroud’s image, Nicholas Allen has played into the hands of shroud propagandists. They use him to endorse the falsehood that the image is a photographic negative, then allow his farfetched notion to make skeptics look ridiculous in their desperation. The result is to make religion seem to trump science. Shroud activists are no doubt laughing all the way to the cathedral.
Note: Photograph of Joe Nickell is a press photo from www.joenickell.com