Archive for October, 2015

It’s the Curmudgeon in Me

October 27, 2015 49 comments

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.

Categories: Critical Summary

Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.

October 26, 2015 20 comments

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

Categories: Critical Summary

That Sindonology Band is Back in Town

October 25, 2015 Comments off

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.


Categories: Other Blogs

A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender

October 25, 2015 16 comments

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?

Categories: Critical Summary

And now you have something to do this weekend

October 24, 2015 12 comments

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.

Categories: Other Blogs, Paper Chase

Comment Promoted: The Punch Card Chart

October 23, 2015 1 comment

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.

Categories: Image Theory, Science

Proof that art experts are not always right

October 23, 2015 5 comments

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.

Categories: Other Blogs
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