imageYesterday, Colin Berry, in one of his updates to his seemingly always evolving and meandering long postings, tells us what he would have done had he been refereeing Rogers’ and Arnoldi’s paper, “THE SHROUD OF TURIN: AN AMINO-CARBONYL REACTION (MAILLARD REACTION) MAY EXPLAIN THE IMAGE FORMATION”, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Melanoidins:

Had the paper come to me for refereeing… it would have been rejected out of hand.

I’d have appended the following specific comments to the author and journal Editor:

1. Do not go citing Pliny the Elder out of the blue, begging the question re Shroud authenticity, implying that the radiocarbon dating can be safely ignored.  Oh no it cannot. The author might think it invalid, based on his examination of a few threads illicitly removed from the radiocarbon sample, with a subsequent gap in the chain of custody. But he cannot expect others to take his rejection as the consensus position in science. It’s not. Indeed, the manner in which Pliny has been insinuated into the above text suggests strongly that Raymond N.Rogers was not strictly neutral and disinterested on the subject of authenticity when he penned the above paper, making it worryingly possible that he was not  neutral at the time he worked with STURP in 1978. It’s my belief that Rogers was a closet authenticist. If he considered the radiocarbon dating, then he as STURP’s chemical team leader should have been the one to press for a repeat dating – not to go tacitly assuming authenticity. Science has to be totally objective in its written PEER-REVIEWED publications.

2.The presence of starch "confirmed" with a reagent that designed to test for something entirely different? The correct reagent for detecting starch is a solution of iodine in potassium iodide, which gives a blue-black inky colour with starch. A solution of iodine in sodium azide, intended to detect sulphoproteins, one that gives a totally different colour (red), CANNOT be assumed to be testing for starch UNLESS VALIDATING TESTS ARE REPORTED.  They were not. We are asked to accept that iodine/azide is a dual purpose reagent. Who says? Neither does it inspire confidence to see a reference to "amilose", it being AMYLOSE needless to say. Secondly the differentiation between amylose (straight chain starch) and the unmentioned amylopectin (branched chain starch) simply cannot be inserted into a scientific account without a word of explanation. In nay case, the two components of starch were not properly recognized as distinct chemical entities until the 1940s. Their relevance to colorimetric tests for starch is highly questionable to say the least, unless dealing with genetic variants of wheat that are enriched in one or the other (e.g. waxy maize starches that are almost entirely amylopectin, which gives a red or purple colour with iodine/potassium iodide). What we see here is at best sloppy and imprecise unscientific reporting that should never have got past the referees.

3. There is no conclusive evidence that starch or other polysaccharides and/or sugars are  present on the Shroud, and even if the red colour with iodine/azide were admissible evidence, for which no assurance is offered, the evidence for that was from Adler and Heller. One CANNOT GO BASING MAJOR CLAIMS (as Roger’s "starch fraction/Maillard hypothesis" has become a major claim) on evidence from other workers, in other laboratories, that is little more than anecdotal.