I Tried to Ignore the Carbon Dating Computer Hacking Conspiracy Theory

imageA reader from Hampton, Virginia writes:

I was reading Stephen Jones’s latest blogging on the carbon dating and have come up with a wacky theory.  Jones has it wrong. Computer hacker Karl Koch, thought by Jones to be a KGB stooge, didn’t die at all.  After all as Jones tells it, “German police were alerted of an abandoned car in a forest near Celle. When they went to investigate, they found an abandoned car, that looked like it had been there for years, as it was covered in dust. Near to the car they found a burned corpse (Koch). His shoes were missing and have never been found.”

His shoes have never been found. So how do we know it was Koch?  If you add a few years, a beard and a stocking cap you can plainly see that Koch is probably Chris Roberts who was arrested yesterday for hacking the inflight entertainment system of a flight he was on and supposedly issuing a command to one of the planes’ engines.

Have you read Jones’s latest posting?  It is more off the wall.

Yes.  I always read what Stephen writes.  Sometimes he posts some very useful or interesting information. When I think it warrants attention by others, I mention it.  I’ve pretty much given up discussing his conspiracy theory that the computers used during the carbon dating of the shroud were hacked.  Who knows; maybe someday his hypothesis will be shown to be right. But for now, I see it as wild conjecture without a shred of evidence. And now, for you have sucked me in to it, dear reader, I must quote a couple of paragraphs and a loose sentence to make my point:

If it turned out that Koch could not possibly have been involved, either directly or indirectly, in installing Linick’s program on Zurich and Oxford laboratories’ AMS control console computers, then my theory would not be falsified. In that case I would have to maintain that Linick’s program was installed on those laboratories’ computers by some other way. For example, Linick himself could have flown over to Zurich and Oxford, installed his program clandestinely on their computers, and returned to Arizona, in a few days. This is why my theory always has been "that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker" (singular).


I have included Karl Koch in my theory, despite there being as yet no confirmed link between Koch and Linick, because of: 1) the striking coincidence that both Koch and Linick died of suspected suicide within days of each other … 2) Koch’s death was almost certainly the work of the KGB, or the East German Secret Police (Stasi) at the behest of the KGB; 3) the KGB had no reason to kill Koch unless he had been involved in an entirely different type of hacking for them which they did not want to become public knowledge; 4) Koch’s expertise would have been useful in hacking into Zurich and Oxford’s AMS computers; and 5) Koch’s living in Germany would have made it comparatively easy for him to travel to Zurich and Oxford to install Linick’s program on their computers (although that too is not necessary to my theory as Koch may have only provided expert advice on how to hack into those computers and a KGB operative may have entered the laboratories clandestinely and installed Linick’s program on their AMS computers, or Linick himself may have installed it).

So those who continue to dismiss my theory as merely a "conspiracy theory," in the full knowledge of my above disclaimers, do so dishonestly.

What else would you call it?  This is the epitome of conspiracy theory.

Tweeted Picture for Today: Endless Emotion


The Tweet:   @ sogno93 : Torino @ Sindone2015 endless emotion .

Sergio Mattarella Visit to the Shroud Exposition

Christians of various denominations, believers of other religions and non-believers have come to the Shroud drawn to that image of suffering and hope, but also to witness to a common desire for peace, rejection of violence, and of hope.

imageA statement by the Archbishop of Turin, Monsignor Cesare Nosiglia, on the occasion of the visit of Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italy to the Shroud of Turin exposition (Google Translation):

The visit of the Head of State to the Shroud marks a moment of joy for the Church of Turin. The Italian pilgrims account for over 90% of visitors of the exposition, the passage of the President is an important encouragement, and a recognition of how devotion the Shroud is rooted and widespread in our country.  But this visit makes honor to the entire city and the whole of Piedmont, the "system Torino" who organized and is building the exposition. A system that involves, together with the local church, public institutions and culture, private companies, banking foundations. Around the group of promoters has formed a broad and varied "movement" of cooperation, support, cultural, commercial and service initiatives. The Torino which is building the renaissance has also found in the monstrance a "catalyst" of resources and energy that allows us to hope. Also because the rebirth of the city can not be only economic: we need a new model of social and cultural development, a new ability to relationships solidarity between citizens.

Especially the exhibition of the Shroud enhances quality, that of hospitality, so important to overcome the many divisions that today through the states, peoples and religions. Christians of various denominations, believers of other religions and non-believers have come to the Shroud drawn to that image of suffering and hope, but also to witness to a common desire for peace, rejection of violence, and of hope.

Colin Berry: The Scourge Marks are Frankly Not Credible

When someone is flayed with a Roman flagrum, one expects to see the skin ripped to shreds,
with blood flows to match. One does not expect to see neat imprints

imageIs that so?  Has this idea been investigated?

Colin had written a comment:

The crucial point surely is that there is no imaging of “wounds” or “injuries” as such on the sepia body image of the TS – absolutely none. The evidence for “wounds” and “injuries” rests entirely on the position of bloodstains at various locations. Even the “scourge marks” showing the dumb-bell shapes etc of skin-lacerating or indenting metal or bone tips are (we’re told) solely blood imprints – there’s no corroborating evidence in the body image.

The reliance on bloodstains alone to support the biblical narrative (scourging, crown of thorns, nails wounds, lance wound) with no supporting evidence whatsoever in the body image is entirely consistent with medieval forgery. Indeed, it’s hard to think of an alternative explanation – unless one’s view of the TS is “authentic until proven otherwise” (an authenticity-endorsing or promoting ‘sindonological’ position, as distinct from one that is strictly neutral, dispassionately scientific).

Thibault Heimburger replied:

I never understood what you mean by “imaging of wounds …”  What do you expect to see on a linen on contact with a bloody wound? I would expect to see exactly what we see on the TS.

Can you explain?

Colin then writes:

Maybe nothing. But I’m not the one who constantly refers to “wounds” or “injuries” for which there’s no independent and corroborating evidence in the body image, merely blood that is in locations that fit the biblical narrative. It’s to do with the burden of proof.

When someone is flayed with a Roman flagrum, one expects to see the skin ripped to shreds, with blood flows to match. One does not expect to see neat imprints correspondingly exactly with the shape of the metal or bone pellets, as if all they did was to produce contusions with just the right amount of weeping blood to “imprint” an image, with no surplus to obscure and thus ‘spoil’ the image. The scourge marks are frankly not credible, except as the work of a forger intent on creating over-simplified neat and geometric patterns that lack both realism and credibility.

Christianity in Sharp Decline in the U.S.

imageI hadn’t planned to cover this story: America’s Changing Religious Landscape: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow by the Pew Research Center. It did get a lot of attention. The AP put out a piece that was picked up by news outlets around the world.  Some papers, particularly those with ingrained secular agendas seemed gleeful.

The story was off topic.  But Russ Breault saw it differently. The story made it to the Facebook page for Shroud Encounter. While linking to the AP story on AOL, Russ tells us:

A woman once told me she loves the Shroud because "It makes it real". Apparently more and more people are having a hard time accepting the reality of Christ and the ransom He paid for all of us on the cross. This is not a good trend. Be wary of tipping points. Our culture is fast falling away from its spiritual foundation. Pray that we as a nation return to our first love (Rev 2:4).

For stories like this I like to see what Get Religion is saying. Here is Julia Duin:

Most mainstream reporters took their cue from the report’s headline: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow. They seemed unaware there’s been a ton of books out in the past seven years about increasing numbers of disaffected Christians – especially the young – who are leaving church. More on that old-news angle later.

To sum it up, the "nones" (2012 study found here) are still growing, other religions are up a bit or holding their own and mainline Protestants and Catholics are declining very, very fast. Evangelical Protestants, now the dominant stream of the nation’s Protestants at 55 percent, went down by less than 1 percent, hardly a “sharp” decline. But it took some scribes awhile to arrive at that important distinction.


Some of the headlines were almost celebratory about the nones who now “soar” as the Christians decline. Notice the headline on this RNS story, which gave a pretty evenhanded report on the survey and some good information on the “nones” ….

So what does this have to do with the shroud?  What might it have to do …?

An American Jew in Favor of Authenticity

modern science is still incapable

imageDICI, the communication arm of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX – founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) has an article about Barrie Schwortz’ position on the shroud. The dateline is May 15, 2015, Italy:  An American Jew in favor of the authenticity of the Holy Shroud of Turin:

  Among its fiercest defenders is Barrie Schwortz, and orthodox Jew from Los Angeles. A professional photographer, he was the head of documentary and scientific photography during the first research on the cloth in 1978. He declares that modern science is still incapable of explaining how the image was formed on the cloth. According to him, several factors prove its authenticity.

As a photographer, he considers that the image itself is the most convincing element. “It has properties that I have never seen in any other image,” he insists, recalling that in the last four decades, no one has been able to duplicate or create a print with the same chemical or physical properties.

He also reveals that the counterfeit artists of the Middle Ages were far from having the necessary knowledge to reproduce the anatomical elements revealed by the forensic study of the image, especially the blood flow, which corresponds perfectly with the anatomy and physiology of blood circulation and coagulation.

Barrie Schwortz ends by pointing out that the scientific debates will “probably never be resolved,” partly “because the research is biased by huge ideological implications.”

It goes to word selection. It is probably nothing more than crappy paraphrasing when we read, “modern science is still incapable.”  No, no, of course not. Science isn’t incapable. It is better to report that modern science is still without an answer.

Arvo Pärt’s La Sindone

West Virginia Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR) is reporting that the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra is closing out their 2014-15 season tonight with a concert that features Arvo Pärt’s La Sindone–a deep, mysterious, and emotional journey describing the Shroud of Turin.

There is some interesting discussion (audio) on the webpage and a brief sample of the music at the 3:25 mark.

There is also a wonderful nine minute long rendition of the music on YouTube from  "Pärt: La Sindone" by Tõnu Kaljuste. The same recording is also available at AmazonMP3 (free for Prime members).


The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra is bidding farewell to the 2014-2015 season by performing a series of masterpieces by great composers, both old and new, during their concert on May 15th, 2015 7:30 PM at the Capitol Theater in Wheeling.

This concert features Arvo Pärt’s La Sindone–a deep, mysterious, and emotional journey describing the Shroud of Turin.