“If so, then this itself was a form of scientific fraud,
or at least scientific dishonesty.” Surely, you’re joking, Mr. Jones.
“The AMS system is clearly designed so that if there was a problem with the dating process at a laboratory, then its target (Shroud) and control sample dates would wrongly agree together, and disagree together with the correct Shroud and control samples dates of the other two laboratories.” Again, surely …
Okay, I know the subject is over-reported. But I like the quotation by Richard Feynman. It’s a quotation I have always liked, never thought much about, and now am seeing again in the context of the shroud. It is from his famous book, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself-and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.
It did strike me as odd that Stephen Jones would use this quotation in his never-ending quest to convince skeptics of the shroud’s authenticity and non-skeptics alike that the results of the 1987 carbon dating of the shroud were the product of a computer program planted in all three AMS labs by a computer hacker, possibly on behalf of the Soviet Union’s KGB.
Is it that Stephen’s theory is preposterous or is it that it seems preposterous and we’re all of us fools? It’s fair, I guess, to ask, given what Feynman said. But then, too, we might think a little introspection by Stephen may be in order.
This part of the theory may be new to you. Stephen writes in his blog, The 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Turin Shroud was the result of a computer hacking #4. It makes for interesting reading:
The uncalibrated dates of sample 1 (the Shroud) in Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper are widely different. As can be seen in Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper (see above), sample 1 (the Shroud)’s average uncalibrated radiocarbon date by each laboratory was widely different, unlike the non-Shroud samples (2, 3 and 4). Prof. Gove criticised the 1989 Nature paper for having been, “opaquely written” and “difficult to comprehend … even by experts in the field“:
“On 27th February the 16 February 1989 issue of the British journal Nature (volume 337) finally reached the library in my lab. On pages 611-615 appeared the article titled ‘Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin’ by P E Damon et al. … The article was rather opaquely written-difficult to comprehend in complete detail even by experts in the field …”
Presumably this was deliberate so as to conceal the inexplicable fact that the Shroud sample dates between the three laboratories were widely different. If so, then this itself was a form of scientific fraud, or at least scientific dishonesty.
So says Stephen. Now, dear reader, figure this out:
As stated above the process was fully “under computer control” so human error cannot have intervened in the process, to cause the Shroud sample dates at each laboratory to disagree widely (as they did-see next), while the control samples dates had “exceptionally good agreement. The AMS system is clearly designed so that if there was a problem with the dating process at a laboratory, then its target (Shroud) and control sample dates would wrongly agree together, and disagree together with the correct Shroud and control samples dates of the other two laboratories. Otherwise AMS radiocarbon dating in general would be unreliable and this “mediaeval … AD 1260-1390” AMS radiocarbon date of the Shroud would have to be disregarded anyway (as it should have been)!
So again it is inexplicable if the Shroud sample dates were real (and not computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Timothy W. Linick‘s) program in this fully computerised process), for “the agreement among the three laboratories for [control] samples 2, 3 and 4” to be “exceptionally good,” yet the “spread of the measurements for sample 1[the Shroud]” to be somewhat greater than would be expected (my emphasis).
He does provide a nice graph to help us see this*:
Anyway, I like Feynman’s quote. I may find a way to feature it on every page of my own blog. It is useful. You can invoke it, probably, for every argument you have about the shroud. It makes for great ad hominem slinging, too. Just make sure you are not the person who has fooled himself.
*The image of the graph is inline from Stephen’s site so he can’t complain that I’m copying his material.