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The Meaning of Solid

July 12, 2015

imageDavid Mo starts out by quoting me:  “I have always wanted to see good solid skeptical thinking about the shroud.”

Then he writes in a comment to my posting, Ignorance with Wings

imageThere is not a wide sceptical bibliography about the shroud, but there is some “solid sceptical thinking”. Joe Nickell’s book is a little “vintage” but I think it is “solid”. And the Italian “sceptics” as Andrea Nicolotti, Gian Marco Rinaldi, Antonio Lombatti and others are very “solid thinkers”.

In Spanish there are some “solid sceptic” blogs. Jose Luis Calvo’s “Escrito desde el páramo” especially.

The problem is what is “solid” for you. In many cases “solid” means “this is what I think”. But you, the shroudies, scarcely never go to a sceptical forum to test the “solidness” of your thinking. You live in a closed loop. So your thinking seems very solid… within the circle.

Fair enough. But at least we try on this blog. Try this out in Google’s search box:

site:shroudstory.com Andrea Nicolotti

Google reports 432 results.  Now try other names. 

I guess it is all about what solid means, isn’t it?  That thought sent me over to David Mo’s website (the one he links to from his nickname in this blog). Then I employed Google translation. I commend the result to your reading.

If you type in an Internet search engine the word shroud, you are going out ten articles on the Shroud of Turin with one that addresses the issue in general. Of those ten, at least nine will be written by sindonistas or will have the sindonismo news as a source. If you type shroud of Christ, things will be even more spectacular. The monopoly in the Network of non-believers of this relic (The Catholic Church has never officially accepted as such) contrasts with the indifference of historians, including Catholics, when not shipped in two words (John D. Crossan) . They do not consider it a serious matter.

I am not naive enough to trust the scientific assumptions of this detachment that can be found among theologians and exegetes. I guess the theme of the relics should cause some discomfort among scholars believers. We would say that is a hindrance when hobnobbing with no religious historians at conferences or journals pedigree. It can also happen that they are convinced of the strict separation between science and beliefs and are uncomfortable with the trappings of pseudo sindonistas.

Good reading!

Categories: Other Blogs
  1. Charles Freeman
    July 12, 2015 at 4:35 am

    David Mo is right in saying that the Shroud is not considered seriously by historians and art historians, largely I suspect because none of them have seen anything to convince them that it is authentic. The failure of the Shroudies to convince any specialist outside their own circles is all too obvious but they don’t really seem to worry about it.
    Why at all these conferences is no space given to how to persuade specialists in the relevant areas? Part of the problem is that the Fantis and Carpinteris get flashes of international publicity but their findings are quickly discredited and the Shroud is not seen as a serious object of research.
    Whenever I do get into conversation with an ancient textile specialist, the Shroud is just assumed to be the typical product of a medieval treadle loom ( the length and width are the give aways), so, I am told, why bother to go further? The late Caroline Villiers, one of the foremost experts on painted linens, simply referred to the Shroud as ‘one of the best-known surviving medieval images on a textile support’. It was not an issue with her and she turned her attention, before her early death, to the painted linens that really interested her.
    I am learning to live with the fact that the real painted linen experts are tied up with the linens whose paintings do survive and they are less interested in ones where the paint has disintegrated, even when they accept that this is what has happened.

    • Thomas
      July 12, 2015 at 4:41 am


      • July 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm

        ‘Yawn’ :exactly what I mean about Shroudies not caring about whether they convince anyone outside their own circle! Sleep on, Thomas!

        • Thomas
          July 12, 2015 at 6:55 pm

          The reason I said yawn is you are a broken record. You have a serious case of confirmation bias and continue to ignore all the scientific evidence that argues against any notion of a painting.
          Despite what you think, some of us here who on balance think the Shroud is authentic still keep an open mind – unlike you, wedded as you are stubbornly to one and only one (flawed) theory. As I’ve said, the image is clearly an imprint and I’m still open to theories as to an artistic imprint creation. Colin B is trying. At least he gets all the science that prohibits any notion of a painting.

        • Charles Freeman
          July 13, 2015 at 3:07 am

          Thomas- your comment does not reflect the feedback I get from my History Today article which you may or may not have read. Lots of others have and find it interesting and convincing.
          We all want new research. The BBC had an interesting programme on a disputed Renoir last night. The latest technology has produced a scanner which can instantly show what pigments make up the paint on any surface so they were able instantly to show whether the painter had used vermillion or not (plus other pigments- but vermillion is the key one for the Shroud as it was the normal pigment used to depict blood). The scanner is so rare that there are long queues to use it ( in Berlin) but no doubt in a few years time it will be standard and would quickly resolve the issue of whether the Shroud was once a painted surface or not.
          Alas, the Church seems to be going quiet on the Shroud and will hide it away until 2025. A lot of progressive Catholics are somewhat embarrassed about it.I don’t know whether this was deliberate editorial policy or not but I could not find the exposition even mentioned in the Tablet (British Catholic journal) for the week that it opened.

        • daveb of wellington nz
          July 13, 2015 at 3:38 am

          So if the scanner didn’t show traces of vermilion on the Shroud, you wouldn’t then say that it must have flaked off??

        • Charles Freeman
          July 13, 2015 at 6:17 am

          I would place whatever the scanner showed alongside the other evidence of the Shroud. If there are any traces of original paint a scanner of this sophistication would be able to pick them up but, unlike most objects of this type, we can’t get access at the moment so this is all hypothetical.
          Obviously if the scanner did pick up traces of the vermillion from the blood areas it would be pretty conclusive- well, nothing would ever be conclusive to some…… but I was pleased to see that Thomas still has an open mind.

    • July 12, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      why do you even bother?

  2. Thomas
    July 12, 2015 at 5:00 am

    De wesselow is a credibly credentialed art historian. No?
    In his book he cites two well known art historians – Hans Belting and Ernst Kitzinger – as arguing that the shroud was in Constantinople around 1200

  3. July 12, 2015 at 5:12 am

    The Google translation is awful. I don’t recognise myself in it. I will tray to do better if I have a little time to do it. (I am really busy now with the end of courses and the burocratic paperwork).

    • Dan
      July 12, 2015 at 5:26 am

      Thank you.

  4. AONU
    July 12, 2015 at 8:59 am

    So when David Mo says he thinks the above skeptics are “solid thinkers” and then defines solid as “this is what I think” surely he means only of others and not himself.

  5. Louis
    July 12, 2015 at 10:43 am

    It does seem that a lot of what was published in Shroud newsletters, infighting, favouritism, personal attacks and so on did not make the realm of Shroud studies interesting to many historians of religion and scientists. There is still time (for this generation of “Shroudies”) to make things more attractive to scholars and scientists.
    I really do not see the need to bring J.D. Crossan into the picture; as I commented a few days ago, if we are to believe what he thinks,there would be no New Testament for him to misinterpret.
    I received his book on the “historical Jesus” for review more than a decade ago. We learn more about Mediteranean culture than about Jesus. How could a sophisticated and learned Jesus be a “Mediterranean peasant”, as he wants us to believe? It is known from archaeological research that Jews migrated from Judaea to Lower Galilee after the Hasmoneans took over and they owned the land. Some became tenant farmers. Further, as Father Joseph A. Fitzmyer tell us, we have no access to the ” historical Jesus”, only to the “Jesus of history” and Msgr. J.P. Meier makes it clear that even the “real Jesus” is not accessible to us. No wonder that even the liberal Protestant scholar Helmut Koester felt that Jesus research should be laid to rest for another hundred years.
    J.D.Crossan was in Jerusalem after the so-called Jesus family tomb documentary and accompanying book was launched. Perhaps he went there thinking that he might have been wrong in writing about what happened to Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. Only, he went to the wrong tomb! That was his second mistake. Why?
    No serious archaeologist or historian, both in and out of Israel, believes that Jesus was not buried in a tomb.

  6. July 13, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Given my English level, it will be better if I don’t translate anything. I will try to explain my position.
    1. I am not scientist. I can not to check out the scientific reliability of some sindonist statements, by Adler or Rogers, for example. I let this matter to more qualified persons here as Colin, Hugh and others.
    2. But I can see some scientific features from the perspective of the sociology and the philosophy of science. Both not too much sophisticated, of course.
    3. From this outlook I consider that a concept becomes scientific when is widely used by the scientific community. More specially, when it is integrated in a theoretical corpus with practical implications. This is the unique way to contrast its evidence.
    4. Some sindonists claim that they have successfully used some innovative technics in certain areas with huge implications. Adler and Heller on detecting ancient blood, Rogers or Fanti on some methods to date ancient textile (vaniline and mechanical), and so on.
    5. If they were truly scientific these methods and its theoretical basis, they would be widely discussed and used by the scientific community in specialised books, congresses and papers. If it would be so, we had a wide series of experiments on their bases. This would allow us, the non-specialist people, to asses if these theories would be scientific or not.
    6. The sindonists’ revolutionary methods are absolutely overlooked by the scientific community. Their theories had a marginal presence in a handful of peer reviewed journals and no more. Despite of its potential importance they hadn’t had any effect on the Archaeometry of the last fifty years.
    7. This is why they cannot be considered as “scientific” from my point of view. (“Pseudoscientific” needs an ulterior explanation).
    8. I have applied this scheme to the historical field that I know better.
    9. If scientifically confirmed, the existence of a more or less miraculous shroud of Jesus would be the radical importance to the problem of the “historical Jesus”. It would be expected that some of the believer historians mentioned it in the context of their debate against the mythicists.
    10. This is not the case. I don’t know any reference in the work of the most relevant historians or exegetes, neither contemporary nor in the past. And I have read enough on the subject: Meier, Brown, Sanders, Dunn, Ehrman, Crossan, Bultmann, Vermes, Winter, Renan, Hurtado, etc., apart from Spanish authors as Piñero, Puente Ojea, Montserrat, Bermejo, etc.
    11. I have provided in my blog two explanatory hypothesis, but I can not explain them now. (Time, time!) I will try to continue tomorrow.

    • Louis
      July 13, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      I can answer for myself and my studies and can say nothing about why scientists in general have not taken up the methodology employed by Shroud scientists. All I can say is that Shroud scientists did their job with seriousness and this should pave the way for others to make their own tests.
      After two decades of writing on biblical archaeology and studies I have noted that controversy is still raging and will not come to an end soon. If Jesus’ resurrection is dismissed as myth or as an event that is beyond the purview of the historian in these circles one can really not expect any interest in a relic that has not yet been authenticated.
      You will read about the reaction to what we have learnt so far from one historian I had occasion to interview:
      In this controversy about what is fact or myth there also appears to be no lack of manufactured evidence, apparently coming from mythicists. The link below is an old article that was published as soon as the James ossuary reached the front pages, around three months before the IAA said that the second part of the inscription was forged:

  7. piero
    July 13, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Trying to do something in order to improve
    the precision of measurements in the field
    of Textile Archaeometry (using AFM, CFM,
    AFM three-point bending tests, AFM-Raman, SNOM, etc.)
    is an extremely important question…
    Where is our Science?
    Only improvements for NASA’s explorations?

    Anyway, now I want to change the discourse, because
    I see nothing of new in your minds (for example:
    I didn’t see any true discussion about ATR-FTIR, the inherent
    depth of penetration on linen fibrils, etc.!) about this basic argument…
    — —
    Today I have a further look at a fine book by an Italian mathematician:
    Odifreddi. In the book we can see the photography of the Face of the
    Shroud compared to the photography of the funeral mask of Agamemnon.
    But, unfortunately, this issue has been (“devilish”, but maybe
    I should write: diabolically, without even use quotes …) reversed
    into the idea that the Shroud is a fake (…because of
    “too much verisimilitude “…)!
    I admit, however, that Geometry is a very important matter
    [see also: PCA (Principal Component Analysis) and differences
    from spectral data…] and that Piergiorgio Odifreddi is a strange
    kind of professor, often funny or original in his scientific speeches
    …but completely wrong with the idea about the Shroud…

    The idea of Odifreddi seems to be the following:
    > Only a bas-relief of little depth can leave an imprint similar.

    But we know that some researchers (and among them …
    now I want to point out a name: Don Gaetano Intrigillo)
    were able to perform some tests demonstrating
    the possibility of obtaining interesting images from
    a body (especially the Face), or from something
    that reproduces it…

    • piero
      July 13, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Analytical Archaeometry can describe linen fibrils of the Holy Shroud
      (involved in B.I.F. or simply being part of that ancient linen cloth)
      in a new and gently manner and this interesting and challenging
      field of research is (or will be) the winning space for new
      Shroud studies (IMHO).

      Have you nothing to reproach to me,
      about the previous words?
      Perhaps I have to study in a better manner
      “Multivariate data analysis methods”, such as
      Principal Component Analysis (=PCA), that are commonly
      used in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of
      spectral data… and other interesting things.
      So, nothing to do with: “sindonists’ revolutionary methods …”
      only Applied Science!

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