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Guest Posting on the Thermochimica Acta Editorial

September 17, 2015

O.K., a frequent participant in this forum, writes:

Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi editorial exposed

imageIn the beginning, I want to say that this response to the editorial of Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi editorial in Thermochimica Acta (TCA, freely available until 30th October 2015) is not focused about mass spectrometry, pyrolysis, nor any of the purely scientific issues regarding it. Those issues will be addressed in much more comprehensive response to TCA, being prepared by Thibault Heimburger. It is not about whether Rogers was right or wrong in his paper. Nor it is not about authenticity of the Shroud. It is mainly about style (and the ethics) presented in that editorial, which is enough to discredit it as a scientific publication, and prove it to be actually a manipulation of the reader. This response is based purely on the text of that editorial, Rogers article, and Marco Bella comments in the thread Editorial in Thermochimica Acta by Bella, Garlaschelli and Samperi on Rogers’ 2005 Article on https://shroudstory.com/.

One fundamental rule: in scientific publications the text must be as precise as possible. No vague, or ambiguous terms.

Having that in mind, let’s look at the title of the editorial:

There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending”

Why not simply:

There is no evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending” ?

Why did they need to insert those two bolded words?

Because, as we will see, the two bolded words change the meaning of the title diametrically.

Nevertheless, Marco Bella wrote in a comment (September 8, 2015 at 2:48 am):

Dear Tristan,

You might be right that the word “medieval” is not fully appropriate in the title. It might give the impression of not ruling out the possibility that the mending has been executed at another time, while there is actually no evidence of whatsoever mending. […] Since they first used this term to describe their theory, I feel it is correct to keep it, even if there is no evidence at all to support this pseudoscientific hypothesis and the term might be not fully appropriate. -my emphasis.

So no evidence, or no mass spectrometry evidence? Because the two phrases mean two entirely different things!

Rogers wrote in the abstract of his paper:

Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud. -my emphasis.

And also on pg. 193 (this can be treated as a sort of conclusions of that paper):

The combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms proves that the material from the radiocarbon area of the shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth. The radiocarbon sample was thus not part of the original cloth and is invalid for determining the age of the shroud.-my emphasis.

While Rogers based his reasoning on combination of observations, data and measurements, in contrast Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi concentrate only on mass spectrometry (which was not the only, nor even principal method Rogers used)- According to the Author, however, the key evidence to support his thesis is the analysis of two pyrolysis spectra(pg. 170 of Editorial ) dismissing all other evidence as the unspecific qualitative chemical tests presented by Rogers (pg. 171). In general the editorial is full of insinuations, weasel phrases, and derogatory terms -extremely bad style for scientific publication. But it lacks a very key element. Rogers wrote The combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms


Therefore writing There is no mass spectrometry evidence, instead of no evidence is misleading people -especially coupled with concluding remark Therefore, none of the presented data supports the conclusion by Rogers. As we have seen, the authors did not analyze nor address fully Rogers claims. Writing There is no mass spectrometry evidence is de facto admitting that there is some other evidence for invisible mending -of which even the authors in their apparent desire to debunk Rogers had apparently forgotten.

The word “cotton” is the SMOKING GUN that the editorial of Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi is at least a manipulation of the reader.

Objections that the cotton issue will be addressed elsewhere? Not allowed: Marco Bella himself wrote in a comment (September 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm):

When evaluating a scientific paper, the analysis must be limited to what is actually written or referenced in the paper. The “ideas” of the author written somewhere else (specifically, a book which did not pass any peer-review) are of no significance for our editorial. I just focus on the reported data in Rogers’ TA paper This is how science works.

So be it -with regards to Bella as well!

The main question for Bella et al., given all what Rogers wrote, and what Bella et. al wrote (and nothing else) –is there any evidence for invisible mending? YES OR NO?

This editorial is not only below any scientific, but moreover below any ethical standards -and as such, it should have been not allowed for publication.

Categories: Paper Chase
  1. Sampath Fernando
    September 17, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks OK.

    When you have an Agenda then you have to ignore Ethics.

  2. Louis
    September 18, 2015 at 7:41 am

    It all depends on when lack of objectivity can be related to unethical stands. If we go right to the bottom we observe that the question of the Turin Shroud is generally linked, but not by the Church, to the question about whether God exists, whether Jesus rose from the dead, and so what meaning can we give to our lives in a chaotic world.
    There have been scientists who have realised that their research have led to dead ends, failing to answer questions about what exactly we mean by supernatural. One such scientist was Carl Sagan. See the introduction;
    His colleague Stephen Jay Gould was also honest in his approach, leaving the door open for what religion had to say:
    But what about the chaos that we see in the world and what sense can be made of it? This question has reached recent literature:

  3. Louis
    September 18, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Further to the above, there are scientists who know about what is going on in the field of academic biblical studies and can only detect confusion and conflicting views there. That is because biblical scholars can, consciously or unconsciously, also be influenced by what discoveries in science can tell us.
    There is also the problem of interpreting what goes on in the world. Freud’s quest went beyond psychoanalysis and some bits of philosophy to speculation on monotheism. I believe that it was not only his view of human nature but also the rise of Hitler that made him write “Moses and Monotheism”: It was like asking why God had the pharaoh defeated to save the Israelites and did not do the same with the German dictator before the damage was done.
    So, are we to to become deists? Cardinal Avery Dulles made a sort of apologia for Abraham Lincoln by calling him a “Christian deist”. However, natural theology is no solution, on the contrary it can be misleading. It led Richard Swinburne to concentrate on the synoptics and ignore the Gospel according to John, which is the deepest, the most complete of the four gospels.
    If Freud was a son of the so-called Enlightenment, so was the ex-seminarian Renan, but only to a certain extent:
    Biblical studies today are slowly changing direction. It is important to understand that Jesus did not really behave as though he agreed with the messianic expectations during his time, he assumed more than one role. It had nothing to do with the somewhat common belief that a messianic king would throw the Romans out of Palestine, much less with the imaginary eschatological army of the Essenes, with the “Sons of Light” fighting the “Sons of Darkness”.
    It is not possible to diminish his role as the central figure of history objectively, as that would be trampling on ethics. What exactly that role signifies is still a matter of debate and will have to involve a convincing systematic theology. If God seems to have a “little voice” nowadays, that is no reason to deny his existence: https://www.academia.edu/12851672/The_Historical_Jesus_The_view_of_Professor_Geza_Vermes
    The parables have not been sufficiently understood.

  4. Thibault HEIMBURGER
    September 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    I agree with OK.

    The title of the paper “There is no mass spectroscopy evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending” is truly misleading.

    ” He [Rogers] tests for the presence of vanillin, giving insufficient details to enable the reproduction of this analysis besides observing a change of color. He could not detect any vanillin on the main Shroud but apparently he could detect “some” vanillin in the Raes sample”.
    That’s all.
    But Rogers gave several details in his paper.

    “He [Rogers] analyzes the Raes sample ..and C14 sample .. with a microscope, supposedly identifying a pigment, alizarin, by means of its change of solubility by pH variations.”
    “On the basis of solubility tests, Rogers hypothesizes the presence of pentosans rather than cellulose on the Raes samples (sample c)”

    Again,this is a completely biased reading of Rogers’ TCA paper.

    Finally, the only interesting part of this paper is based on the interpretation of the MS spectrum of the Raes sample by Rogers.
    Rogers interpretation of this spectrum could be true or not.

    As a proof that Rogers is wrong in his interpretation of the MS spectrum, the authors write that ” the mass spectra from the Raes sample ..shows the characteristic peak pattern derived from the fragmentation of a molecule with a long hydrocarbon moiety”.
    That’s true, except that there are several other molecules showing the same “peak pattern”.

  5. piero
    September 22, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I noticed an error between the paper
    by Rogers and the postumous book…
    In the paper paper by Rogers (“Pyrolysis/Mass
    Spectrometry applied to the Shroud of Turin”)
    the Figures 3 and 4 had the same title :
    “A mass/scan/concentration map of the pyrolisis
    products from tape sample 1EB, the image of
    the back of the ankle” (and this was a proper caption
    only for the Figure 3).
    Instead the book is correct and shows the difference
    (an obviously exact difference between the two Figures:
    “1EB” and “Raes#3”).

    In any case I am curious about the peak 69
    because there is the (vague) possibility to identify
    this peak with squalene (as I previously wrote on this blog,
    indicating the “prenyl units” fragmentation = peak at 69),
    a key-substance …and following what wrote Rogers on
    that chemical product you can better understand
    the meaning (of what i am writing).

    • piero
      September 22, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Intensity for peak 69 (“1EB”), abundance = near 98
      Intensity for peak 69 (“Raes#3”), abundance = near 65

      What is the meaning for that?
      Is it right to claim that “1EB” shows the presence of squalene?
      We already know that for “Raes#3” Bella claimed (56?)-69-83-97 as being part of the fragments coming from “polyethylene olygomers”, but he never shown an useful mass spectrometric proof for that claim…
      At same time I vaguely indicated the peak at 69
      as another possible “squalene peak”
      (= prenyl unit = -C5H9). But, in this case:
      What is the meaning of the other (56-83-97 and 131)
      “unsolved peaks”?
      Are these 56-69-83-97 peaks the proof for
      “a mixture with natural gum” (and a strange “sewing oil”)???

  1. October 8, 2015 at 5:56 am
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