Forbes Editors Need to Polish Up Their Headline Writing

imageThe latest Forbes/Science article by Kristina Killgrove is headlined: Mysteries Of The Black Death, Shroud Of Turin, And Origins of Early Americans Solved With DNA

Solved?  She had written:

Of course, since the shroud has been recognized since the Middle Ages as a possible religious relic, it has been handled and moved about for centuries.  There is unfortunately nothing in the new research to suggest a Medieval origin for the shroud and subsequent handling by people over the centuries is unreasonable.  The question of whether the shroud is indeed a 1st century AD artifact or a Medieval artifact is not solved by the new analysis.

The question of the origin of the Shroud of Turin may yet be solved in our lifetimes, particularly as DNA analysis is getting more reliable, faster, less expensive, and less destructive. But I suspect that there will always be believers on both sides of the authentication argument, no matter what the results show.

She didn’t say solved.

Proof of the Resurrection?

imageJoe Marino was kind enough to send me a clear text version of the press release for Mark Antonacci’s new book. It was much easier to read than the fuzzy one in my previous posting. (I’ve put a copy below the fold).

Anyway, I was reading the release and I noticed this:

[Antonacci] contends that we now live in a singular moment of history. These new scientific test results, combined with previous unparalleled evidence, would confirm that the passion, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ were actual events in history.

Really? Proof of the Resurrection?

Glancing over my desk, I saw Critical Summary 3.0 sitting on my iPad. What was it that it said on this matter?

The "Fall-Through" hypothesis is strictly data driven and is not intended to offer a "proof" of the Resurrection. To the contrary, Jackson does  not think the Resurrection can ever be "proven". The philosophy of science includes the stipulation to work to "disprove" rather than to "prove". 

— page 83

Got to go with Jackson et al. on this one.

New Press Release:

LE Press, LLC: Mark Antonacci, world-renowned expert on the Shroud of Turin, has just released his second book on the Shroud entitled “Test the Shroud,” a captivating read which reviews and thoroughly explains all of the evidence discovered to date on this unique burial cloth, and confidently proposes further specific testing methods that could prove the Shroud’s authenticity as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and answer all of its outstanding questions.

Antonacci, an attorney, has studied the evidence acquired from this burial cloth for almost 34 years. He gave the keynote address at the International Shroud Conference held in conjunction with the cloth’s exhibition in 2010, and his leading hypothesis has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. His accurate description of all of the unique features on the Shroud of Turin allows him to convincingly argue that this is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Written in a way that is easy to comprehend, whether a scientist or someone simply fascinated with this one-of-a-kind burial garment and its evidence, Antonacci takes the reader on a journey throughout history, describing every aspect of the Shroud and its unprecedented features. He presents a very testable hypothesis that particle radiation emanating from the dead, crucified body wrapped within the Shroud caused its unprecedented, full-length body images, its still-red blood marks, its erroneous carbon dating and so many other unforgeable features. Antonacci further describes advanced scientific testing techniques that could be applied to the cloth (and its human bloodstains) at the atomic and molecular levels. These sophisticated techniques could demonstrate whether this miraculous event actually occurred to the corpse wrapped within it, and if so, when it happened, where this happened, the actual age of the burial cloth and the identity of the victim.

He contends that we now live in a singular moment of history. These new scientific test results, combined with previous unparalleled evidence, would confirm that the passion, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ were actual events in history.

To place an order, visit or email

Test the Shroud will be available soon on as well as other fine bookstores.

Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things

Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned
anywhere in the Critical Summary.

clip_image001Bob Rucker (pictured) posted what follows as a comment last evening. I have added a link to a previous comment by Bob and some links to more information.

It is my opinion that enough evidence has accumulated that we should now realize that there was no invisible repair/reweave in the C14 sample area, and that the solution to the C14 dating problem is what I presented at the St. Louis conference in 2014. I showed that MCNP nuclear analysis calculations indicate that if 3.0 x 10^18 neutrons are emitted uniformly in the body while it was in the shroud in the tomb, then three mysteries related to C14 dating are solved:

1) Neutron absorption in N14 in the shroud creates new C14 in the shroud that is identical to the original C14 in the shroud so that the C14 date is shifted from 30 AD to 1260 AD. The dating laboratories, not realizing that the shroud had been through a neutron absorption event, would have misinterpreted their result by assuming the wrong C14 decay curve.

2) The results reported by the three dating laboratories were not in good agreement with each other. Statistical analysis indicates only a 5% chance that their results were within their measurement uncertainty, so that the differences were probably (95% probability?) caused by something. Plotting their results as a function of the distance from the end of the shroud indicates that there is a slope or gradient of 42 to 57 years per cm across their data depending on the sampling done in Tucson. This slope in the C14 dates from the three laboratories agrees with the MCNP nuclear analysis calculations, which calculate that a uniform neutron emission in the body causes a neutron distribution in the tomb which produces just this range in the C14 dates across the sample region, so that the disagreement between the laboratory values is the result of the slope of the neutron distribution at the sample location resulting from homogeneous emission of neutrons in the body.

image3) These same MCNP calculations predict that a piece of cloth placed on the side bench about a foot in front of the back bench where the body in the shroud was located would date to about 700 AD. This location in the tomb is a natural location for the person working on the body in the tomb to lay the face/head cloth. According to tradition, the Sudarium of Oviedo is the face/head cloth of Jesus. It was C14 dated to 700 AD, in excellent agreement with the MCNP results.

We should realize the importance of not making the common a priori presupposition of naturalism, so that we not automatically rule out anything that is beyond the laws of science as we currently understand them, so that we can follow the scientific evidence where it leads. When this is done, I believe that the scientific evidence indicates that the solution to the enigma of the shroud is that a burst of radiation occurred within the body that did three things: 1) It caused the image, perhaps either by protons or ultraviolet based on experiments. 2) It thrust the blood off of the body, heated it turning it into a liquid, and thrust it against and into the fibers of the shroud, and 3) It caused the shift in the C14 date from 30 to 1260 AD and the slope in the C14 dates as discussed above. Bob Rucker

I’ve noticed that as you age, you learn that when the morning coffee isn’t yet ready, the mind wanders somewhere between wakefulness and wackiness. Hey, I thought in this state, what does the Critical Summary have to say about this. Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned anywhere in the Critical Summary. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was too early in the morning to find such stuff.  But then I did find this interesting paragraph on page 82:

Neutron Flux: In the same issue of Nature that reported the 1988 radiocarbon testing results there was an important letter to the editor. This letter rings out today with possibly more force than when It was first written. It causes one again to ponder and adopt a position of caution. The correspondence was with Thomas J. Phillips of the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Harvard University. Phillips suggested that the Shroud might be a fundamentally altered fabric with respect to its C-14 content due its possible witness to some unexplained event, possibly in the tomb of Jesus. He hypothesized that such an unexplained event, which itself cannot be the subject of scientific inquiry, may have had an effect on the Shroud that can be studied scientifically. The unknown event may have generated a flux of neutrons that could have skewed the C-14 / C-12 ratio of the linen doth…..

I met Bob in St. Louis. Nice guy. Undeniably brilliant. Maybe he is on to something. But I’m just not there yet in being able to accept this or any other hypothesis, at least when it comes to how the image was formed. To restate with a bit of on-the-fly-rewrting of what I’ve said before, I say …

With regard to the image I’m stuck in the “it is inexplicable” camp.

You don’t like that? Well then you can consider Bob Rucker’s radiation, John Jackson’s cloth falling through a mechanically transparent body whatever that means, Tipler’s sphaleron quantum tunneling, Giulio Fanti’s corona discharge, Paolo Di Lazzaro’s ultraviolet (with or without the cloth falling through the body, Rogers’ Maillard reactions (quite natural if it could work but requiring every bit as much of a miraculous manipulation to produce such an image as any of the other byproduct of a miracle hypotheses would), Charles Freeman’s it’s-not-a-fraud painting (if STURP and Colin Berry are wrong) and Colin Berry’s fraud-by-Maillard if everyone else is wrong (which is not unreasonable to suppose).  Or think of something else.

As for the C14 question, I’m also stuck in the “so far inexplicable” camp.

Here are some resources for understanding and thinking about Bob’s ideas.

Another Comment by Bob Rucker: Reaction to Ray Rogers’ Paper on Radiation

Abstract for the Following Paper

MCNP Analysis of Neutrons Released from Jesus’ Body in the Resurrection (54 Slides)

Notes for the 54 Slides

Video of the Presentation in St. Louis (1 Hour)

Battle of the Chemists

Updated since posting:  Try Battle of the Chemists. This is a download of the Power Point.

imageIn the past two days there have been some comments about Adler, Heller and McCrone in the posting, It’s the Curmudgeon in Me.

Here is a link to a PPT presentation Russ Breault did for the American Chemical Society many years ago.  It compares McCrone’s findings and methodology with that of Heller and Adler.

Note: With Windows 10 I can only view the presentation with Google Chrome. Microsoft Edge fails to format correctly. I have not tried any other browsers.

Here is the Table of Contents:

  1. The Shroud of Turin
  2. McCrone
  3. Battle of the Chemists  -  Whose science is better?
  4. The Chemistry Controversy
  5. Adler and Heller Summarized
  6. Procedures
  7. Controls
  8. Incidental Debris
  9. Question
  10. Microscopic Characteristics
  11. More on Iron Oxide
  12. Organic Pigments?
  13. The Body Image
  14. Similar chemistry to a light scorch
  15. Blood Images
  16. Characteristics
  17. Control Samples
  18. Blood Chemistry
  19. Red Particles
  20. Iron Particles
  21. Why Iron Oxide?
  22. Random Particles
  23. Summary
  24. Last Word on McCrone

Splish Splash

Thomas writes:

The Shroud is just so mysterious! So compelling!

Lying in the bath tonight with my 187m tall, 200 lb frame (similar to the Shroud Man) I jiggled around with different lying postures and thought this:

Surely a medieval artisan, if creating the Shroud image, would have shown Jesus with legs together and flat, if portraying the image of a dead and buried Christ …eg. like this:


The apparently bent legs – amongst other things – just make so little sense in the medieval artisan theory!


Ye Denizens of Shroudsponge

“You can prove anything with the Bible.”

— My Grandmother*

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Just About Everyone Who Ever Lived

* I looked long and hard for the original author of the phrase about proving anything with the Bible. Not finding anything in cyberspace, I concluded that my grandmother thought this up all by herself.

And if you need an example, Colin Berry, just a couple of days ago, offered this afterthought in a long multi-topic  blog post titled, Might flour-power have been used create the enigmatic “Shroud” of Turin body image? A retired FMBRA flour scientist says … (the ellipsis are his and the following reference to the “denizens of the shroudsponge” is certainly a reference to the readers of this blog):

Hard though it is to believe, the denizens of the shroudsponge site are STILL returning again and again to what are seen as allegedly conflicting NT accounts re burial garments. (oh no they’re not).

As stated here before, MANY, MANY TIMES, there is no conflict whatsoever between the “sindon” (single large linen sheet) supplied to the cross by Joseph of Arimathea (as per 3 synoptic gospels), intended for discreet transport of a naked or near-naked body to the nearby tomb, and the “othonia”, assumed to be a narrow winding strip (or strips) supplied by Nicodemus and taken direct to the tomb, along with that 100lbs of myrrh and aloes.

Even those 12th century Hungarian monks charged with providing simple pen-drawn illustrations for the Pray Codex had no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling those two separate sources of linen, providing us with a ‘snapshot’ of one replacing the other!

You may click on the image to see it on Colin’s website. The caption for the image reads:

Hungarian Pray Codex (1192). Note the presence of TWO separate linens – Joseph of Arimathea’s beneath the corpse, having served its transport function, and the narrow winding strip in readiness as the permanent burial shroud. (Whether the medieval mind was correct in assuming ‘othonia’ to represent a narrow bandage-like winding is an entirely separate issue from that of TWO separate linens (sensible interpretation) v the self-serving notion prevailing in sindonology that J of A’s linen was somehow intended to be dual-purpose, thereby air-brushing out John’s testimony re Nicodemus having supplied additional linen replacing J of A’s transport linen, to serve as final burial shroud).

Banding Proves Cloth Was Not Repaired?

A Guest Posting by Richard Savage

imageI’m debating the Shroud with the skeptics at International Skeptics Forum (Thread 299015).   If you haven’t noticed me on Dan’s blog before, I’ve been doing this for a long time (over 3 years).  We’re now on our 4th sub-thread, and ‘going strong’ (17,000 replies, and 788,000 visits altogether) – though, getting nowhere…

No one I’ve told about my hobby can understand my persistence — and really, neither can I — but, for some reason, I’m enjoying myself, and still have hopes.  Maybe it has something to do with trying to love my enemies…  I don’t know.

But then, my memory is easing down that slippery slope, and I could use a lot of help…

I’m trying to address one sub-sub-etc-issue at a time (there must be thousands of them) with the skeptics, and feel like I’m finally getting somewhere — very slowly.  I’ve done a lot of reading and studying about the shroud over the past 35 years, but my memory for specifics has never been that good (I can’t tell a joke), and as my memory of generalities gets worse, so does my memory for specifics, only worse.

But mostly, I haven’t done a good job of keeping track of citations.  There’s more to this story, but I’ll spare you the details and just say that I’m looking for some needles in a lot of haystacks — and need some help from people who have kept better track of the same, and more, needles.  This blog seems full of such people, and if I can just interest you guys in my plight, I’m sure that I can get a lot of help — and gain some real speed and substance when answering the skeptics.

Without further ado, here’s my first question.  My opponents claim that the banding proves that there has been no repair (or, something similar).  What’s our best argument(s) otherwise?

It’s the Curmudgeon in Me

clip_image001A reader in the charming Village of Fishkill, New York,  writes:

Why are you so upset about the Critical Summary document?  What is wrong with Jackson’s Fall Through proposal? It is the only one that works with the data.

Actually, I think Critical Summary 3.0 is a step in the right direction – maybe a couple of steps.  Far from being upset, I am excited about the prospects of debating the data it contains. And maybe with input from others the Critical Summary will improve. It is only at 3.0, after all.

I blog not to upset the apple cart but to seek the truth.  That means taking a bite out of each apple in the cart to see how it tastes (wow, that’s a scary metaphor if you’re a Genesis 2:17 literalist). 

For instance, I have had some concerns about the reliability of the image characteristic B7.0 on page 62 that reads:

No image can be found under the bloodstains.

Comment:  The areas at the boundary between the colored image-bearing fibers and bloodstains, wounds and associated serum retraction rings were carefully studied by STURP, and the relationship at this boundary was found to be complex and fine-tuned. For example, experiments were performed employing enzymatic removal of the blood from blood-coated fiber samples. These experiments revealed that there was no image beneath the blood or beneath the blood serum at the boundary of the tested bloodstains. The image color was found to terminate consistently at the boundary of the bloodstains and/or serum retraction rings. …

Have we resolved the matter? Maybe. I’m okay with it if we say that it is probably true (I hate to be such a curmudgeon). Maybe we can say, “No image has been found.” You have to read Hugh Farey on the possibility of image color under bloodstains along with all of the comments, especially those by Kelly Kearse, Thibault Hiemburger and Hugh.

Maybe on Page 73 I’d want to recommend a small x under Contact (F1.0) and maybe I’d like to count this whole row as more important than the Bone Structure row. That’s just me being difficult.

And if the picture above is blood on the face (is it? – See A Guest Posting by O.K. : Blood on the face of TSM? ) then how can we comfortably say there is no image under bloodstains? Just asking.

And I don’t have a problem with Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis, per se (unless I try to say per se because then I do). It is ingenious. I’m just not ready to accept it based on what I see. And something in my gut still tells me that images don’t get caught on camera, so to speak, by energetic byproducts of miracles. It’s the curmudgeon in me. That’s a subject for another day.

No, I’m not upset.

I should add, while I think the shroud is probably real, I am not prepared to accept any of the hypotheses discussed in Critical Summary based on image characteristics.

Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.

imageIn response to A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender, Dan Spicer writes:

Look at p. 14 in our paper from St. Louis. We have a simple explanation.

That would be Electric Charge Separation as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin: A Natural Mechanism by D.S. Spicer and E .T. Toton (Revised 23 May 2015) as found at

Before turning to page 14, it might help to look at an extract of the abstract that amplifies the meaning of the title and nicely explains the mechanism:

We advance the hypothesis that a constant, or slowly varying electric field was present in the tomb and that the two stated facts provide the underlying mechanism for formation of an image with vertical displacement information: the revealed surface charges on the Shroud serve as collection sites for polar gas molecules or ions emanating from the body or from the aloe and myrrh that had been applied before entombment, substances that could serve as oxidizers or other active species for inducing visual surface alterations, and the extension of the electric field in the vicinity of the surface of the body out to distances away from the body would provide mapping of surface features of the body onto the non-conforming (tented) portions of the Shroud.

… and the conclusion from the paper, here quoted from a posting last December in this blog, A Gedankened Image Forming Process:

As should be clear, our hypothesis depends on a completely natural mechanism. It does not conflate the image formation mechanism with the Resurrection, nor should it. The image is not the recording of the Resurrection but it is an image capture of the body of a crucified man consistent with the historical records of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That no hitherto satisfying mechanism for image formation has been discovered is not proof that a supernatural explanation must be the only other choice, nor does the discovery of a credible mechanism of image formation impugn the belief in the reality of the Resurrection. If it were possible to take a photo of the Ascension-where is the miracle? Is it the Ascension or the photo of it? We believe that the Shroud Image is indeed the image of Jesus Christ’s lifeless body only and it strengthens the historical argument for His existence, death, and His Resurrection.

And now the simple explanation on page 14:

Observers of the ventral side of the Shroud often comment on the detail in the hands and how long the fingers appear to be. Our mechanism for image formation explains this in a very natural way. First of all, there had to be considerable trauma to the hands and arms as a result of the crucifixion. They were elevated considerably above the rest of the body throughout the crucifixion and the arms must have been severely traumatized by having to manage the full body weight. Circulation had to be compromised and it would certainly be the case that the hands and forearms would have been considerably dehydrated due to profuse sweating, which would lead to a desiccated state for both the hand and forearm tissues, which, as a result, would reveal the underlying bones. In addition, this would have been much more pronounced than anywhere else on the body, with the possible exception of the mouth and lips. As a result of the desiccation state of both the hand and forearm tissues, the bones making up the hands and forearms would form prominences so that the surface charge density would naturally be greater on these body features, leading to sharper and high contrast images.

imageWhen in the full light of the day, a paper is examined under a magnifying glass, that light, focused on one spot, may ignite the whole paper. That maybe will happen with Critical Summary 3.0.* The spot is the chart on page 73, Image Characteristics vs. Image Formation Hypotheses, that attempts to claim that only John Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis “is judged capable of satisfying image characteristics” – that is, seventeen image characteristics selected by the paper’s authors.

Dan Spicer offers an alternative, one that to me seems more realistic than a cloth falling through a body as a function or accident of resurrection. Moreover, Colin Berry’s explanation in support of contact imprinting must also be considered. And we must consider O.K.’s argument that the appearance of metacarpals in the image is possibly perfectly natural. As O.K. writes in a comment:

The maximum range for imaging is in my opinion (based on analysis of distances of my facial features), as well as Vignon’s no more than 1-2 cm (Jackson & Jumper 3.7 cm is clearly untenable). Based on 3D plot we see that the metacarpal gaps have a greyscale intensity of ~ 90-100 (they are white), while metacarpals, and fingers are about 150-160 (green-yellow). This would indicate level difference of maybe ~5 mm. Quite possible, especially for dehydrated hands. No X-ray is needed here.

The authors of Critical Summary carefully use the word judgment. That’s appropriate. But we must realize that this is the judgment of a small team in Colorado, albeit a distinguished scientific team that understands the shroud. It is not the judgment of the wider community that studies, ponders and debates how the images on shroud were formed. I think that much, if not most, of the larger community disagrees with or is ambivalent towards the falling cloth hypothesis. The page 73 chart does little or nothing to change anything in this regard.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?


The paper is A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses by Bob Siefker, Keith Propp, Dave Fornof, Ares Koumis, Rebecca Jackson and John Jackson. It can be downloaded to your computer or any cloud space you use. You can extract a working copy of page 73 by changing your destination printer to PDF file and printing only one page of what is effectively page 75. In Windows 10, you can copy the page into a Notebook tab.

See:  Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

That Sindonology Band is Back in Town

clip_image001Over on one of his blogs, Colin Berry has let us know his “next posting has a provisional title: ‘76 mistruths about the Turin Shroud’.”

That should be fun.

Colin goes on to suggest, parenthetically, that “One could almost set that to music, featuring massed trombones.”

“Don’t expect anything soon,” he tells us, however, “… end November is a possibility.”

The title for this post are his words from his blog. Even that picture of a marching band comes from his blog; well, not originally. That picture is of the Davis High School Marching Band of Kaysville, Utah. Here is another picture.


A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender

Colin Berry:  “Personally I think the boniness is prima facie evidence for imprinting by a contact process.”

And O.K. with a short presentation with his hands, Shroud Scope and no comment …


imageOne really very smart bartender who is something of amateur shroudie:  What’ll it be today?

Me: Bud Light  and a Chili Colorado, no pun intended.  Did you have a chance to look at the CS that we talked about?

Bartender:  Yes. I went to the chart you told me about [on page 73]. I picked the last item, Bone Structure [item B9.1]. It was one of only two items [out of 17] that the Colorado folk reckoned could not be produced by any other hypothesis other than Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis that, by definition, is not a hypothesis. It can’t be tested. 

Note to readers: Bone Structure is listed in CS 3.0 as “Class 1 Evidence: This rating is given to items of evidence that are firmly supported by empirical and/ or forensic research. To receive this rating there must be multiple corroborating research sources.”  Personally, I have my doubts as this conversation, which is a reconstruction and not a transcript, unfolds. The above schematic of a hand is for me and others who are not as knowledgeable about the hand as this bartender is. A Chili Colorado at this establishment is a plate of sirloin tips in spicy red sauce wrapped in corn tortillas. Colorado, after all, means red.

Me: Let’s go through the bone structure item from the beginning. The description reads, “There are indicated images of finger bones all the way to the wrist on the left hand of the Shroud body.”

Bartender: In other words, “I think I see.”

Me: Or perhaps in the case of the CS you could say, “We think we see.”

Bartender: Right. Go on.

imageMe: It reads:

… The TSC research team has studied a broad spectrum of photographs of the Shroud hand area executed with different lighting approaches and technical equipment. The team has judged from their extensive studies, joining others who have reached the same conclusion, that the metacarpal bones & the left hand of the body can be observed extending all of the way to the wrist area….

Bartender: A wordy way of saying “We think we see.”  And it has that “4 out of 5 doctors agree” like spiel you find in herbal remedy ads. There is no there-there in the statement.

Me: I agree. You could say the same thing about those NASA pictures of a big face on Mars.  It is opinion based on visual observation. Many people have reached the same conclusion, too. Now continuing:

… These metacarpal bones are hard to observe in front-lit positive and negative photographs of the Shroud. They are somewhat easier to detect in ultraviolet photographs, backlit photographs and contrast enhanced images….

Bartender: Why is that?  Without the why this means nothing. Without why it argues for a pareidolia explanation. 

Me:  It would be nice to see all these photographs in a convenient array so I could see if I agree. You have to admit these two photographs in the CS look convincing.

Bartender: Not really. Hold your hand up there over your laptop keyboard, palm facing down. Now look at the top of your hand in the light of the screen. That’s a bit of raking light there and you can see the metacarpals all the way to the wrist. I can’t say an artist wouldn’t paint this. Nor would I say it isn’t something you’d get with one of Colin Berry’s contact imprinting methods* or even something that might not show up in an unknown ancient photographic technique. There is something going on here but it doesn’t mean it applies to only one rather wild and crazy scheme of a cloth falling through a dematerializing body. The Xs on the chart are highly subjective, highly debatable, highly counter-argumentative.

imageMe: Let’s go on with the description:

… Perhaps the metacarpal bones are easiest to observe in edge-enhanced photographs. The work of Dr. Alan Whanger and Mary Whanger has made a significant contribution in this area. The Whangers used a technique of image-edge enhancement for the hand images that show the metacarpal bones quite clearly (see References for a full-length book published by the Whangers and a paper published in Applied Optics that document the Whanger methodology)….

Bartender: The only reference in the CS that I could see was for their polarized overlay method [on page 116]. Was that also about edge enhancement? Hmm?  [That would be “Alan D. Whanger and Mary Whanger, Polarized image overlay technique: a new image comparison method and its application", Applied Optics, Vol 24, No.6 (15 Mardi 1985): 766-772.” as detailed in page 116 of theCS]

Me:   It’s been years since I read it.

imageBartender: Edge enhancement is pretty iffy stuff. The picture [above in yellow] looks like a pseudo-3D made by offsetting negatives on top of one another or maybe using PhotoShop edge methods.  [see Wikipedia on Edge Enhancement]. It generates artifacts.  Yes that is a pretty convincing when looking at the picture in an unquestioning way. Why do people only ever show the pictures that seem to support their theories and never all the pictures that don’t. Rub your fingertips across the metacarpal bones on your hand. Can you imagine some rubbing technique that would bring them out in a picture? Easily, right? Or look at photos of hands. They really are part of the visual feature. It doesn’t take a cloth falling through a body to make them part of the image. 

Me: Good point. Let’s finish up. The description includes this:

… Similar techniques employed by the Whangers have suggested facial bones and images of teeth can be identified In the Shroud facial image.

Bartender: Yeah, right. And nails, part of a spear, a sponge tied to a reed, and one of those scroll thingies [phylactery] on the forehead. Give me a break. [See Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin]

* What Colin wrote almost two years ago:

Personally I think the boniness is prima facie evidence for imprinting by a contact process [rather] than one by radiation. With a contact process, it is just those parts of each finger that are approximately in the plane of the linen (i.e parallel) that make best contact, especially if there is applied pressure, and that is the top surface. One has only to go a few mm below that topmost plane, and the curvature of the finger means progressively less contact and pressure. There is also the likelihood of a tenting effect across the fingers that means poor imaging between the fingers. Now look at the Shroud image and you will see precisely the kind of shadowing one would expect.

Postings from the past that warrant attention include:

A Guest Posting by O.K. on the Allegedly Too-Long Fingers (including 16 comments)

Guest Posting: The Shroud of Turin – An X-Ray?

So, what do you think?

And now you have something to do this weekend

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from
an innate doubt that God would work in this way…

image image Joe Marino uncovered a weekend’s worth of reading and reflection, specifically a blog posting and two papers:

Posting:  The Turin Shroud: fake or genuine? by Eric Hatfield (pictured in white shirt)

Main Paper:  The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik (pictured in striped shirt)

Supporting Paper:  Excursuses to the Article "The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment" by Atle Ottesen Søvik

Joe’s email to me reads:

Hi Dan,

I came across this interesting article at the "Is there a God" blog (from June 2015):

It references 2 substantial Shroud articles on, one of which Barrie mentioned on his site back in 2014:

The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik – (This article is a translation of the article “Likkledet i Torino – en kritisk vurdering," published in Teologisk Tidsskrift (Journal of Theology), no 3, 2013: 266-294). The author holds a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and teaches at MF Norwegian School of Theology. You can follow Atle and read some of his other papers (many in English) on We have also added a permanent link to the article on the Scientific Papers & Articles and Website Library pages of the site. Here is the abstract:

This article discusses the question of whether the Shroud of Turin is the real burial cloth of Jesus, and it consists of four parts. First I present facts about the Shroud. Then I discuss whether the image comes from a corpse or is artificially produced another way, and conclude that it comes from a corpse. This means that if it is a forgery, a corpse was used to create the image. After that, I briefly discuss whether it may be the burial cloth of an unknown crucified man, and argue that it must be the burial cloth of Jesus or a forgery meant to resemble Jesus. Finally, I discuss the crucial question of when the image was formed: is it a forgery from the fourteenth century or is it the real burial cloth of Jesus from AD 30?

The author of the blog article states:

I was fortunate to come across a 2013 review of both sides of the argument by Atle Søvik, a Norwegian Philosopher of Religion and Professor of Theology. His review is based mainly on published peer-reviewed papers, and is found in a main paper and a supporting paper.

It may be thought that a Professor of Theology isn’t an impartial observer, but I believe this is the most balanced assessment I have come across, because he is an academic, he seems impartial and reliable, it is in a peer-reviewed journal, he is not Catholic and he is likely a liberal Christian who isn’t as strongly biased towards supernatural explanations as a naturalist would be biased against them. I am strengthened in this conclusion after brief correspondence with a sceptical member of his review team.

The link for the "main paper" is what Barrie posted.  However, Barrie apparently didn’t post the "supporting paper," which is actually 2 pages longer than the main paper.  Funny, I don’t even remember seeing the main paper from when Barrie posted it–I must have somehow missed it.  I’m getting more senior moments than I used to.  I did a search on your blog for article name and author and didn’t see anything.  Both articles are impressive.

I GO TO CONCLUSLIONS:  It is a bad habit of mine.  But then I do go back and read. Here is Eric Hatfield’s conclusion from his blog site:

It seems to be a case of the carbon dating vs the rest of the evidence. Søvik cautiously concludes that the evidence for a first century date is slightly stronger, but I think neither side has proved their case or shown the other side to be wrong. The sceptical case relies on a few old papers and a lot of bluster, but the case for authenticity stumbles on the radiocarbon dating. I don’t think we can be confident either way. (I’m sorry to have to sit on the fence.)

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from an innate doubt that God would work in this way – after all, Jesus refused to use spectacular signs to authenticate himself. I cannot remove from my mind the many other relics, some of which are quite impossible, and some of which (e.g. non-decaying saints) seem quite superstitious.

If only the radiocarbon and vanillin testing could be re-done by agreed best methods, we might get a better answer. In the meantime, both believers and sceptics would do well to avoid making over-strong claims.

Bravo!  I have always had a bit of that gut-over-brain skepticism. 

And thanks, Joe.

Comment Promoted: The Punch Card Chart

imageRobert W. Siefker comments about posting, Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

Dan, the “punch card chart” is not aimed at being “scientific” analysis. As clearly stated at the top of the chart with the word “judged”, this is TSC’s analysis. We have included only 17 image characteristics because we think that these seventeen, in and of themselves, can be used to evaluate image formation hypotheses that have gained at least some traction through the years. The chart itself does not stand alone. Appendix 1 gives our reasoning for each mark. Again it is judgment and if the image characteristics are indeed true, as we judge them to be, understandable to anyone. We also state that the The fall-through hypothesis cannot be tested or proven. In fact it is a very “unscientific” explanation as we acknowledge in its description and in the Conclusion. It just fits the data. Read it. Think about it in the context of the whole body of Shroud evidence.

Fair enough.  I stand corrected. I was probably unfair. We still need to crawl through the details, however.

Proof that art experts are not always right

imageDramatic Irony Award In Blogging:

It should go without saying that scientists aren’t always right. Neither are art experts. In 1978, chemist Walter C. McCrone, a leading expert on art forgeries McCrone performed radiocarbon tests on the shroud and concluded that the burial cloth wasn’t old enough to be the real thing. But other scientists disagreed. Raymond Rogers, Science Fellow of the University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, dated the shroud to the 1st century, saying that the material that McCrone carbon dated was not the original fabric, but rather a part of the shroud that had been rewoven after a fire in the Middle Ages.

Of course, Walter McCrone never “performed radiocarbon tests on the shroud.” Nor did Rogers date the shroud to the 1st century. So it turns out, neither are art experts always write while righting blogs posts about writing wrongs.

Pictured, Walter McCrone looking right.

Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses
 by Bob Siefker, Keith Propp, Dave Fornof, Ares Koumis, Rebecca Jackson
and John Jackson.

imageClick on the image to the right or type … 

… to download a copy.  This is big and may be slow so I suggest saving the PDF on your own computer’s drive or to a cloud server. 

Pictured:  Version 3.o in my iPad on a coffee table
downloaded from Google Drive.

Smile You can print the 118 pages.

Smile You can search this document using Chrome, Microsoft’s New Edge browser, etc.

Rolling on the floor laughing I was not able to put the document into Kindle because of its size. Amazon will only load PDF files that are smaller than 50 MB and Critical Summary clocks in at 106 MB. What you can do is print the first 40 pages as a PDF, the second 40, and then the rest of the document. Give different names to each segment and then send them off to Kindle services at Amazon. Think of it as a book in three volumes.

Coffee cup I was, however, able to upload Critical Summary to Google Drive. This means I can read it on an iPad at Starbucks.  Google Drive is pretty fast.  I was able to upload the whole document in less than three minutes and subsequently open the document on my iPad in less than a minute. 

Steaming mad One thing you cannot do (by authors’ choice) is copy and paste.  This is just plain silly.  I use Microsoft Notebook to get around this taboo-like limitation against fair use quoting: how not to win friends and not influence people. 

Here is the preface copied and pasted via Microsoft Notebook:


The purpose of the Critical Summary is to provide a synthesis of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado ([SC) thinking about the Shroud of Turin and to make that synthesis available to the serious inquirer. Our evaluation of scientific, medical forensic and historical hypotheses presented here is based on TSC’s internal research, Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) data, and other published research.

The Critical Summary synthesis is not intended to present new research findings. With the exception of our comments all information presented has been published elsewhere, and we have endeavored to provide references for all included data. The ratings given to data items presented in the empirical data sections of the Critical Summary are based on TSC’s judgment of what constitutes class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 evidence, as explained in the Introduction.

We wish to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of several persons and organizations. First, we would like to acknowledge Dan Spicer, PhD in Physics, and Dave Fornof for their contributions in the construction of Version 1.0 of the Critical Summary. We are grateful to Mary Ann Siefker and Mary Snapp for proofreading efforts. We also are very grateful to Barrie Schwortz ( and the STERA organization for their permission to include photographs from their database of STURP Shroud photographs. Barrie served as a lead photographer during the STURP expedition to Turin to study the Shroud and today is recognized worldwide as the founder and administrator of the important Shroud research repository site

imageAll Shroud photographs are ©1978 STERA Inc. unless otherwise noted.

We welcome comments, but we can only consider those that are substantive and that are emailed directly to our website (via the Shroud Data tab).

Thumbs down Oh, and yes. The punch card chart aiming to be scientific analysis showing that John Jackson’s fall through hypothesis is the only workable hypothesis is still in Version 3.0 (on page 73).  Ridiculous.  More on that later.

Messenger The authors want comments but only those “that are substantive and that are emailed directly to [their] website.”  I, on the other hand, think that open no-holds-barred discussion is the only way to go. We’ll do that.

New Book by Mark Antonacci is Available

imageMark Antonacci just sent me a press release for his newest book, Test the Shroud. A copy is included below.

A page on Mark’s website, Books by Mark, provides a summary and two reviews, one by Giulio Fanti and one by Joe Marino. There is also a PayPal button on the page allowing you to order a copy. Here is what the page says:

Mark Antonacci makes compelling arguments about many prominent points in Test the Shroud.  His accurate description of all the unique features on the Shroud of Turin allows him to convincingly argue that this is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ.  He presents a very testable hypothesis that particle radiation emanating from the dead, crucified body wrapped within this burial cloth caused its unprecedented, full-length body images, its still-red blood marks, its erroneous carbon dating and so many other unforgeable features.  He even describes advanced scientific testing techniques that could be applied to this burial cloth and its human bloodstains that could demonstrate whether a miraculous event actually occurred; when it happened; where it happened; the actual age of the burial cloth and its bloodstains, and the identity of the victim.

He contends that we live in a singular moment of history.  These new scientific test results combined with previous unparalled (sic) evidence would prove that the passion, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ were actual events in history.


Giulio Fanti, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Thermal Measurement, University of Padua, ItalyThis book gives a wide overview of the Shroud of Turin furnishing many interesting details of the most important relic of Christianity, both from the scientific and historical points of view, while reporting results from studies of many scholars.  After clarifying why the body image is not scientifically explainable, nor technically repeoducible (sic), Antonacci furnishes an hypothesis how it could have been formed, based on particle radiation capable, according to him, of explaining both the image we see on the relic and the C-14 enrichment that produced a medieval date during the 1988 radiocarbon dating.

Joe Marino, Theologin (sic), Sindinologist (sic)Test the Shroud is a gold mine of information on the controversial Shroud of Turin.  Antonacci has followed up his 2000 book, The Resurrection of the Shroud, with another scholarly work that is also written with the non-scholar in mind.  Heavily footnoted and lavishly illustrated, Antonacci, with the detailed eyes of an attorney, covers all aspects of the study of the Shroud, including history, theology and science.  The author is petitioning the Vatican to allow new scientific examinations that will test all the latest hypotheses regarding image-formation and problems with C-14 dating.

The home page on Mark’s site adds this information:

This book even lays out a series of sophisticated testing that could be performed on the Shroud linen and blood marks and on limestone from Jesus’ reputed burial tombs.  This testing would provide countless more items of information yet to be acquired from this cloth.  This testing could provide millions of items of unfakable (sic) evidence that would prove that:

  1. the entire Shroud was irradiated with particle radiation;
  2. the amount of particle radiation each part of it received;
  3. the Shroud’s radiocarbon dating is erroneous;
  4. the Shroud is from the 1st century;
  5. the radiating event happened in the 1st century;
  6. the source of the radiation was the length, width and depth of the dead body wrapped within it;
  7. all of the events that occurred to the man happened in the 1stcentury;
  8. the events occurred in Jerusalem;
  9. under all of the surrounding circumstances as described in the Gospels; and
  10. this man was the historical Jesus Christ.

Note:  I normally don’t do sics.  It is snarky and besides I make such mistakes all the time in this blog.  But this was too much. I got carried away.  Google tells me, in 0.24 seconds, that unparalleled is used 36,800,000 times on the world wide web.  Even so, unparalled, the incorrect spelling, is used 408,000 times. And Edgar Allan Poe misspelled the word in a book title, so they say. So I can forgive unparalled. But who can forgive Sindinologist?

Mark sent the press release as an inline, scrunched down, fuzzy image file of an otherwise normal page. I can’t find a better copy anywhere on the Internet, even on Mark’s Test the Shroud website.  I didn’t want to delay getting it to you, so I trimmed the page margins and put it below.



Numerous Plant Species and Human Lineages Identified. Now What?

imageA caller asked me (please use email or blog comments):

Have you taken a careful look at the two color-coded charts from the Nature paper? Now what?

I don’t know.  I think this paragraph from the paper, Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud helps somewhat.

DNA extracted from dust particles that were vacuumed from the Turin Shroud shows sequence profiles that identify numerous plant species and correspond to several distinct human mtDNA haplogroups. These results not only confirm that plant fibers and pollen grains are present on TS, as previously reported by optical microscopy, but also reveal that multiple human individuals touched or otherwise left traces of their DNA on the relic linen. The detection of such a variety of DNA sources is extremely valuable in assessing whether there are possible parallelisms between the areas of origin and distribution of identified land plant species and human mtDNA haplogroups and the temporal and spatial paths associated with the two alternative scenarios that have been proposed to explain the TS origin.

Is there more that we can know or assume from this data?

Click on each of these charts for bigger, easier to read versions.



Coming Soon from Colorado: Critical Summary 3.0

Maybe this time we should crawl through the document, item by item, day by day, pointing back in some cases to discussions we have already had like questioning the validity of the VP8 results, and passing along some suggestions for Version 4.0 someday.

imageI’m hearing that we should see an updated version of A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses: Version 2.1, by Bob Siefker, Keith Propp, Ares Koumis, Rebecca Jackson and John Jackson. The updated version, as I understand it will be Version 3.0.

Based on URL details, it is quite possible that the old version 2.1 will be overwritten. If you want to keep a copy (I have one in my personal cloud space), you should probably go after it now.  I want it so I can make comparisons when the new version pops – DIFFPDF is a great tool for this. The current Google short URL is:

I wonder if that blatantly ridiculous chart of 17 image characteristics versus several image hypothesis will stick around. I imagine it will. What else, maybe?

I wrote what follows in December, last year.  It will be interesting to see what has been improved this time.

A response to the Critical Summary presentation

December 7, 2014

A reader writes:

I was wondering if you were there when Robert Siefker dumped on you and your blog during his presentation in St. Louis. Do you have a response?

I was there. It was no big deal. It was friendly. I do have a couple of things to say, however,

Transcript (Bob Siefker):

If I tell [someone] about the Pray Manuscript or somebody just casually mentions it as evidence for the shroud . . . [he] goes to where to find out? Where would he go? He’d go to the Internet. And how many potential hits will he get on the Internet? When you pull up Google it says I’ve got how many articles related to this inquiry Go do Pray Manuscript.  There’s 2,300,000 different potential sites you can go to or indexes in their database for the Pray Manuscript. . . . Does that tell you maybe there’s controversy?

Two million, what? Going online a little while later, I got the following page counts from Google: 1,340 pages for Pray Manuscript and 3,840 for Pray Codex (with or without Hungarian thrown in). Remembering that the French call it Le Codex Pray, I realized the need to consider other languages. Overall, I got about 5,600 pages scattered among less than one thousand websites. That’s a far cry from 2,300,000. That’s not to say there isn’t controversy. There is. But Google counts are NOT indicative of it. Where did that idea come from? There are, after all, 13,100,000 pages about chicken soup.  Controversy?  Well, yes: noodles versus rice.

But, yes, there is real controversy about the Pray Manuscript. We know this from reading my blog.

Back to the transcript (Bob Siefker):

And then you start drilling down. And then you go to Dan. Forgive me Dan, for a second. Then you go to Dan Porter’s blog and you say oh good, here’s a trusted source. I’ll inquire on Pray Manuscript and you get nine different articles or blog entries, and over 1100  postings, comments. And you start reading them. You’re going to go all over the board. And now you are a shroud neophyte. And now you are a shroud skeptic.  Because you can’t find any answers.

Skeptic? Is that bad? Sad? What? I was a shroud skeptic at one time and I’m glad I was. I remain a skeptic when it comes to many topics pertaining to the shroud, like the claims some make of seeing images of flowers on the cloth. Is that bad?

It should be clear to everyone who reads my introduction in the right-hand column of every one of my blog pages that I think the shroud is probably authentic. Moreover, if you read my postings about the Pray Manuscript you should see that I think it is an artistic interpretation of the burial and resurrection of Christ based on the shroud and the Gospel narratives. As such, I feel that the Pray Manuscript (Codex) is convincing evidence of the shroud’s existence more than a century before its first documented appearance in Western Europe. It is thus, also, convincing evidence that the shroud is older than the earliest date determined by carbon dating. But – and this is very important – in reading the comments of others, it should also be clear that some people disagree. Many who write those comments are well informed and highly qualified. There is a rational basis for their opinions. The fact that there is controversy is something that everyone learning about the shroud should be aware of when they weigh the evidence for themselves.

“Because you can’t find any answers,” Bob wrote as criticism.  Fair enough. Blogs aren’t logical to everyone. They are not like our familiar libraries with their now-electronic old-fashioned card catalogs. They are not like the books that fill those buildings. Nor are they like the online encyclopedias we have come to love and hate. Blogs don’t have the tables of contents or indexes that we are used to. But blogs can be very useful if we use search engines and take the time to read what people are writing.

“And now you are a shroud skeptic,” said Bob.  Really? I give people more credit than that. People don’t become skeptics because they can’t find answers. If anything it’s the other way around; people will believe all manner of things because of a lack of information.

Transcript continued (Bob Siefker):

So there should be a credible way. Dan’s blog provides a tremendous resource for the shroud community and those who have a grounding of some basis, but don’t ever tell a first person that you’ve talked about the shroud, oh go to Dan’s blog and you’ll learn about the Pray Manuscript. You just can’t do it.

imageWell, yes, you can. But it doesn’t happen. The reality of the Internet, like it or not, is that most people will go directly to Wikipedia. Or they may search for “Pray Manuscript” in a search engine and, surprise-surprise, they encounter Wikipedia’s article at the top of the results page. If they are a neophyte, that is where they will most likely begin. They will begin withWikipedia.

It’s illustrative to see what Wikipedia says in the single paragraph that deals with the Shroud of Turin:

One of the five illustrations within the Codex shows the burial of Jesus. It is sometimes claimed that the display shows remarkable similarities with the Shroud of Turin: that Jesus is shown entirely naked with the arms on the pelvis, just like in the body image of the Shroud of Turin, that the supposed fabric shows a herringbone pattern, identical to the weaving pattern of the Shroud of Turin, that the four tiny circles on the lower image, which appear to form a letter L, “perfectly reproduce four apparent “poker holes” on the Turin Shroud”, which likewise appear to form a letter L. The Codex Pray illustration may serve as evidence for the existence of the Shroud of Turin prior to 1260–1390 AD, the alleged fabrication date established in the radiocarbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin in 1988.  (emphasis mine)

That’s it. And, actually, it is quite accurate and economically informative. It is not, however, sufficiently detailed for a careful evidentiary analysis. Moreover, the phrases “sometimes claimed” and “may serve as evidence” imply uncertainty. The phrase “supposed fabric” addresses a point of controversy with regrettably no elaboration. Indeed, we might say, all three phrases tell us there’s controversy.

There is controversy. That is a fact! Shouldn’t the neophyte know about that? Shouldn’t everyone know there is controversy?  Are some of us so afraid of someone becoming a skeptic that we don’t want them to see both sides of the story? The page about the Pray Manuscript in the Critical Summary suggests that there is no controversy whatsoever.

That, in part, is why I cannot recommend the Critical Summary to someone just learning about the shroud. It is inadequate for the task of introducing anyone to the codex. Don’t get me wrong; this document contains an excellent write up about it. I’m convinced that much of it is correct. But there are points I don’t agree with like Mechthild Flury-Lemberg’s opinion that the painter of the illustration in the codex  must have seen the shroud.

I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to know what others think. I’m sure that I’m not alone in wanting to know more.  The Critical Summary ignores that. The Critical Summary is simply too elementary and too much of a one-perspective proselytizing document. Go back to what Bob said in the first minute or so of his talk.

I didn’t become a skeptic because I couldn’t find the answers. I became convinced of the legitimacy of the Pray Codex and its importance as evidence of the shroud’s earlier provenance only after I examined both sides of the questions about the codex illustrations. The blog helps me do that.

Back to the transcript (Bob Siefker):

Barrie, that’s where you want your people to go next if we haven’t told the story about the Pray Manuscript in our document maybe.

I would like to agree. The problem with Barrie’s site ( is that it doesn’t contain many of the latest papers. It doesn’t contain any real discussion about the topic. That is not a criticism. It is a statement about the changing nature of the internet.  Other sites, such as have become increasingly popular with authors because they can self-publish when they want to, revise papers without having to wait for update schedules and use social media. There are discussion facilities and direct connections to Twitter and Facebook.

Many other papers are published on conference sites or in journals.   It would be nice if could be the one go-to site because it is a great site. More and more so, it doesn’t really matter where papers are archived.  It is all about how they are found and accessed.

Try this in Google:  < “pray codex” OR “pray manuscript” filetype:pdf>.  Now try it without the site specific limitation. The counts are 34 and 506 respectively. has 27 papers on just the Pray Manuscript. Why would you not want to at least consider those? (Note: OR must be uppercase).

There is another consideration. It pertains to peer review and the trend towards better review systems. But that’s a subject for another day.

When it comes to the shroud, I believe that every fact and observation, every ancient picture and document, every hypothesis and speculation, everything we think we know and think we don’t know must be questioned.

On the day after the conference I noted that one of the attendees had written to to this blog:

Dr. Siefker’s chart [in his paper] evaluates ten hypotheses against a short list of only seventeen image characteristics. Dr. Siefker said of his paper [it] was a utility for all of us. No it is not. It is a biased defense of Jackson’s theory and nothing more. Do you think people will find it methodically suspicious that only Jackson’s cloth falling hypothesis matches 100% of all image characteristics and that no other hypothesis comes close?

(click on image to see chart)

I went on to add:

The folks at Colorado Springs want feedback. The second page of the summary states: “We welcome comments, but we can only consider those that are substantive and that are emailed directly to our website (via the Shroud Data tab).” But that tab merely asks people to send comments to an email address,

If the goal is progress in our understanding of the shroud, whatever the truth may be, then transparency and open dialog is called for. Today, newspapers, magazines and even highly respected journals welcome online comments in the clear. Authors mix it up with readers and offer clarifications. Readers mix it up with each other and many people benefit from the opinions of others.

If, on the other hand, the objective is controlled marketing of an idea then, fine, we-welcome-comments-but-we-can-only-consider-those-that-are-substantive-and-that-are emailed-directly-to-our-website will work for the authors of this paper.

[ . . . ]

The paper is a locked up PDF so you can’t easily quote from it which is not a good idea for promoting ideas in this day and age. If you want to do some fair use quoting you will need to retype the material or OCR it (Microsoft Notebook works perfectly on whole pages). . . .

For these many other reasons, as well, I cannot recommend the Critical Summary to anyone, particularly “a shroud neophyte.”  But do have a look and try to keep an open mind.

Maybe this time we should crawl through the document, item by item, pointing back in some cases to discussions we have already had like questioning the validity of the VP8 results, and passing along some suggestions for Version 4.0 someday.

News About the Shroud. Pass It On. Well, Most of It.

imageOn October 6th, I posted Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin. I was reporting that Nature had just the previous day published Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri and Antonio Torroni.

On October 14th, I followed with Linen from India? after getting a prompting email from a reader.

Now the MSM may be catching on. There is a story here, after all.

Nothing yet in the biggies or on the major news services.

HEADLINES AND LEDES DEPARTMENT: (yes LEDE is the correct spelling), the Daily Mail may have gotten it best. No, really, the Daily Mail:


imageONE TRACK MINDS OFF THE RAILS DEPARTMENT:   Stephen Jones, in re-captioning this diagram from Nature, tries to tell us:

… this is further evidence against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud … and evidence for that the 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date was computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick’s) program.

Click on diagram to enlarge.

The Amazing Parts

People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity.

imageNews from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas (bold emphasis is mine):

“The most amazing part of the Shroud is the majesty of the face.”

That statement from Jim Bertrand, a Shroud expert affiliated with the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, rang true for Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding communities who saw his presentation, along with a life-sized replica of the Shroud, on the Atchison campus on October 8.


Bertrand has been studying the Shroud for more than 30 years and has been affiliated with the Shroud Center of Colorado since 2014. He talked about the history of the Shroud and the scientific evidence surrounding its authenticity, including new peer-reviewed scientific information regarding the dating of the Holy Shroud, which has been the subject of much debate.

“As a presenter of the Shroud, my mission is to unite Truth with the human heart,” he said. “People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity. Whether a relic or an icon, the Shroud is a sacramental, leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Bertrand presented a wealth of scientific evidence that supported the Shroud’s existence in 1st century Jerusalem. He noted botanical evidence of pollen from plants native to the area. He talked about geological evidence of soil found around the image’s feet, knees and nose that is of a particular type of rock only found in Jerusalem. He noted the biological studies of the blood stains, including the fact that they are still bright red due to the body’s release of bilirubin caused by a massive loss of blood, which supports Biblical accounts of Christ’s Passion.

He also talked about the 1978 carbon dating that placed the Shroud’s origin around 1250. The section tested turns out to have been from a corner of the Shroud repaired in Medieval times and containing cotton, satin and other fibers not found in the rest of the linen Shroud. There is also resin present that was used to join cotton threads to linen threads.

“It turned out to be the worst possible place to sample,” Bertrand said. He went on to show three other recent datings of the Shroud using chemical and mechanical tests. All three had wide ranges of dates for their results, but they all crossed the 1st century.

Reasoned judgment is fine. It’s the way it should be. But there is a real problem with the most updated scientific evidence.  Much of it is controversial. It is often not updated. And frequently not really so scientific as we make it out to be.  How good is that botanical evidence?  Is bilirubin really why the blood is still red? Was that corner repaired? Are those three other dating methods even valid?

The most amazing parts of the Shroud is how much we don’t know. I can’t make a reasoned judgment on the scientific evidence.

Emanuela Marinelli to receive the International Prize for Catholic Culture

… Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud. Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world.

imageWe learn from the Amici della Sindone (Friends of the Shroud) Facebook page (as automatically translated from Italian to English in Google Chrome):

The International Prize for Catholic Culture will be delivered to sindonologa Emanuela Marinelli (pictured) on October 23 at 20.30, in a solemn ceremony at the Theatre Remondinis of Bassano del Grappa. Professor Marinelli, Roman, takes care of the Shroud for 38 years and has written 17 books on the subject and held hundreds of conferences in various countries around the world; He was also the coordinator of the organizing committee of the World Congress "Sindone 2000" in Orvieto. Recognition Bassano, run by the local Catholic school culture and come to the XXXIII edition, went among others to personalities like Joseph Ratzinger, Krysztof Zanussi, Angelo Scola, Riccardo Muti, Camillo Ruini, Ugo Amaldi, Michael Novak, Divo Barsotti, Cornelius Fabro, Augusto Del Noce …

In 1977, the Swiss botanist Max Frei made public the results of a search on the pollen of which had found no trace on the Shroud: over 58 types, 38 belonged to plants of Palestine that does not exist in Europe. The most frequent pollen were identical to those found in the sediments of the Sea of ​​Galilee. In Emanuela Marinelli, then a young graduate in Natural Sciences and Geology at the "Sapienza" of Rome, the discovery sparked a deep interest. Pollen from Palestine, as a signature on the relic that since 1933 was not exposed to the public. The Marinelli knocked Centre Roman Sindonology Monsignor Giulio Ricci, began to study. He learned that at the heel of the stranger wrapped in the cloth was no sign of a kind of aragonite, the same as that found in the caves of Jerusalem. And Emanuela Marinelli fell in love with the Shroud.Tough love: nearly forty years of study. And 17 books, hundreds of articles, thousands of conferences, from Indonesia to Kazakhstan to Burkina Faso: long journeys, sometimes dangerous, always with a copy of the Shroud folded into the suitcase, to go on to explain, the ends of the world. For this passionate outreach activities Professor receives 23 October in Bassano del Grappa the prestigious International Award for Culture Cattolica.La we meet in a cafe in Rome. Youthful, lively, the way he talks it is clear that falling in love for the Holy Shroud continues, since that distant day when, say, a copy before she found herself without words: "It seemed to me – he says – a Gospel written in blood." But it was 1988, the year of the famous test using carbon 14 on a piece of cloth: the Shroud, or so it was said, to the test of science. From the laboratories of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich came the verdict: the sheet went back to the Middle Ages. A trenchant outcome, which seemed to sweep away centuries of hopes to have, still, a material trace of the passage of Christ on earth. Almost everyone at that point, as he wrote Vittorio Messori, bowed, devout, in "St. C14." Not everyone, however. Emanuela Marinelli: "The angle of the sheet material to be analyzed turned out to have been manipulated, patched, polluted by fungi and bacteria. If the sample was contaminated, the date could refer to the tracks left by dust and manipulation. " They supported him then, moreover, distinguished scholars like Gove. The shadow that science seemed to have dissipated, actually remained.Although, says Marinelli, "he is felt a desire to deny the historicity of the Shroud, regardless of any element emerged from the research. An ideologically motivated denial: perhaps because, as Cardinal Biffi said, if the Shroud is false for a Christian does not change anything, but if the shroud is real, for atheists change many things … ".The ‘truth’ absolute sentenced by Carbon 14 was for Marinelli, who had a degree in Natural Sciences with a thesis on the radioactivity of uranium, a challenge to study again. That was when he published the first of his 17 books, exploring every search, every word spoken on the Shroud. Because much yet, according to her, it was not clear. "The fabric – he says – shows a selvedge and seam details, and is comparable to the tissues found years ago at Masada, and dating back to the first century after Christ. The analyzes show that there is blood in your wound; other analyzes show that a body lay in the towel for 36/40 hours. But there is no trace of the drag that should appear, if the body had been removed. " "He knows what scholars, although atheists and ‘deniers’, admit that the Shroud was wrapped a man? Doctors and artists: the first because they recognize that this is blood, the latter because they understand that this is not painting. The experiment more significant, however, was conducted in Italy, Enea. An excimer laser was focused on a tissue, and the effect is the closest thing we have to the image of the Shroud. The fabric is yellowed, as had been crossed by a fortissimaluce. " The faith does not affect his studies? We ask. Her calm: "No. Pollens, aragonite, the selvage of the fabric, are all facts. Today we can say that the test of carbon 14 is not enough to deny the authenticity of the Shroud. " You can, in your opinion, conduct new tests reliable? "I’m afraid not, because the fire which escaped the cloth closed in a box, in 1532 in Chambéry, it can still contaminated, and this will alter the results of the carbon." The Shroud, then, is it for you? "An image still unexplained, leaving us on the threshold of an enigma. How Arpino wrote: ‘In a world that is bulging of monuments, pyramids, coliseums, triumphal arches, equestrian statues, temples untouched or corroded by mold and neglect, on this planet only a linen cloth, with quell’Orma preserves its mystery ‘. But this, in his poverty, continues to call men. The Shroud is an icon of human suffering. People, when I go to talk, I listen to is everywhere: in the most distant regions of the world, in schools, in prisons. " But one evening an elderly woman, after the conference, got up from the floor. It was modest Southern Italy, with his hands spoiled from family work. "Professor – he said – I did not understand much of the carbon 14, however, one thing I realized. I understand that we must become like the Shroud, we stamparci into the image of that suffering face, to take him to those we meet. " And that time was the teacher, moved, to remain silent.

That doesn’t make sense …

image… writes Andrew, who follows this blog while taking the train into work in the morning. Based on the shroud …

… does Jesus have blond or white hair?  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if he was Jewish. Although there are no descriptions of what Jesus looked like in the New Testament, I think this would have stood out so much it would have been mentioned.

Maybe. I don’t know. We can only speculate. What are the odds?  This is from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia under the subject of Hair (there may be something more current):

The true explanation of the existence of Jewish blonds has been the subject of lively discussions among anthropologists. Some believe that it is due to climate and environment (Pruner, Bey, Pritchard, Jacobs), while others attribute it to racial intermixture, particularly to the admission of Aryan blood into modern Jewry (Broca, Virchow, Schimmer, Ripley, and others). Elkind shows that the color of the hair is independent of the cranial index. Virchow’s investigations show that in the eastern or darkest provinces of Germany the proportion of blond types among Jews does not decrease; whereas in the Prussian provinces, which are predominantly blond, the Jews show the highestproportion of brunettes, and in Silesia, where the non-Jewish population is of very dark complexion, the Jews have a high percentage of blonds. The same has been shown by Schimmer to be the case in Austria. Andree ("Zur Volkskunde der Juden," pp. 34-40) points out that the fact that red and blond Jews are found in North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Persia, etc., is proof that intermarriage has had little to do with the production of the blond type in eastern Europe. He is of the opinion that there were blonds among the ancient Hebrews, and that the modern red and blond Jews are their descendants. Luschan agrees in this view. Jacobs attributes the erythrism of the Jews to defective nutrition, and shows that it is present not only among the European Jews, but also among those in Algiers, Tunis, Bosnia, Constantinople, Smyrna, and Bokhara, where the presence of Aryan blood could not be admitted.

Another thought:  Ray Rogers and Anna Arnoldi in, Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin: A Review, wrote:

imageHowever, it has long been recognized that the images of the hair, moustache, and beard are anomalous. Figure 26 (sic, should be 27, shown here) shows a slightly contrast-enhanced view of the area of the face and hair. The density of the image is greatest in those areas. That can easily be explained by the inhibition of vapor diffusion through a mat of hair. Ammonia is first evolved from the lungs; therefore, amine concentrations would have been highest in the vicinity of the nose and mouth (moustache and beard).

Of course, this is assuming a diffusion model or something similar – a natural phenomenon.