When a great magazine like National Geographic speaks, the world naturally listens. We were especially glad this is so when—for its March 2015 cover article, “The War on Science”—it cited such attacks as those on climate change, evolution, vaccinations, and genetically altered food, as well as the moon landing. “Thanks, National Geographic,” we said (2015) in our magazine, Skeptical Inquirer.
And yet science—and truth—have since come under attack by an online article that bears the imprimatur of National Geographic. Written by Frank Viviano, the article “Why Shroud of Turin’s Secrets Continue to Elude Science” (2015) is so misleading, so replete with falsehoods, so lacking in basic facts about the notorious “shroud” that it is an affront to the proud name of National Geographic.
It is also a glaring example of how not to approach a controversy. Just as one would not get information about the curvature of the Earth from the Flat Earth Society alone, one should not primarily get “facts” about the Turin cloth from The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and other partisans. STURP’s leaders served on the executive council of the Holy Shroud Guild, which is devoted to the “cause” of the reputed relic. Viviano tells us in glowing terms of the “scientific disciplines” covered by STURP, without being aware that it lacked experts in art and forensic chemistry. We shall see presently why this matters, but let’s first look at the shameful portions of the shroud’s history that Viviano shamelessly omits.
And Joe concludes:
Scholarship and science have proven the Turin “shroud” a fake, from its incompatibility with first century burial cloths and procedures, its lack of historical record, and a bishop’s report that the forger had confessed, to the suspicious-looking “blood” that is really tempera paint, pigments making up the body image, and the radiocarbon dating that confirms the cloth originated at the time of its documented appearance in the fourteenth century—when it was fraudulently claimed to the be Holy Shroud of Christ. Such evidence against any secular object would be considered clear proof of inauthenticity.
Frank Viviano’s article is a disservice to science and unworthy to appear under the respected name National Geographic.
Of course, Joe is the model for unbiased information. Visit joenickell.com by clicking on his picture.