imageJoe 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

9 thoughts on “Crocumentaries”

  1. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Knuckles has realized what Barrie Schwortz wrote 15 years ago: the concept of the Shroud being a 14th century photograph is absurd. Nickell thinks CNN gave Allen face time in order to discredit Shroud skepticism. That ignores the fact that CNN also gave Goodacre time to prate about the validity of the carbon dating.

    No Joe, it’s not a plot to validate the Shroud. It’s the stupidity of the producers to present a “balanced” view that went off the tracks.

  2. Well, Mr. Nickell, then tell us!- How did the image get on the Shroud? I realize that armies of scientists with all the tools of the nuclear age available to them have not been able to determine how the image got there after years of study, but YOU, sir, seem to know and insist on not telling the rest of the world.
    Oh, I know, I know. It HAS to be a forgery. Just keep saying “it has to be a forgery” in spite of evidence to the contrary and that takes care of everything.
    Now since it has to be a forgery, could you please tell us how the Medieval forger had the presence of mind to make sure pollen from plants that only grow in or around Jerusalem to take his forgery to Jerusalem in the 14th century in order to expose it to the environment there so the cloth could gather enough pollen that it shows up centuries later? And how do you think the forger traveled to and from Israel? Did he take Air France, Al Italia, or maybe even El Al?
    Now stop toying with us. Tell us everything you know.

  3. Well said Leon re: Mr. Nickell’s tired argument(s). The problem is….what he knows is falsehood….perpetuated time and time again because of intellectual dishonesty! Seekers of truth need to continue moving ahead of disproven ‘naysayers’ whose tired old arguments do little (nothing) to further Shroud study and research.

  4. by not giving a more balanced program, cnn proves it has an agenda….my father always said, it’s not enough to read a history book…you have to know what the authors agenda was when he wrote it….no excuse to have Allen opinion without proper rebuttal….both sides please….but typical cnn

  5. Joe Nickell has been repeating his schtick about a rubbing from a bas-relief for at least 20 years now. You would think in 20 years he should be able to make an image just like the shroud himself, if it is so simple. Isn’t there even a monetary prize offered by someone?

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