Computer Hacking Theory for Carbon Dating Continues

“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 …



imageOkay, 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 …”[20]

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.

12 thoughts on “Computer Hacking Theory for Carbon Dating Continues”

  1. Oh, dearie me. In case there is anybody new to this blog, you should know that this is the 35th post on this subject in Stephen Jones’s blog, each one of which appeared in numerous ‘instalments’. They nearly all say the same thing, they have nearly all been objected to in detail, and the objections have nearly all been ignored.

    The ‘nice graph’ above is misleading, but also acts as good evidence against Stephen’s own hacker hypothesis, in that the genius who decided to make the dates conveniently fit his own pre-decided conclusion was very unlikely to make Oxford’s result as anomalous as Jones insists it was.

    In fact, of course, by using uncalibrated dates, Jones demonstrates his ignorance of the way the calibration curve fluctuates between 1200 and 1400, and does not realise that in fact the dates do overlap. To what extent the dates demonstrate ‘agreement’ or not is somewhat subjective. If three random numbers between 1 and 200 had a range of 100 or so, we would not think them in close agreement, but if three random numbers between 1 and 2000 had the same spread, we might think that they were.

    Here are all the dates discovered by the three laboratories. Readers can make up their own minds about whether the groups of dates agree with each other or not.

    1. Stephen has now published the fifth instalment of his 35th post on the hacking of the radiocarbon computer, including the calibrated dates. By attempting to read the details from the tiny chart published with the Nature paper, he gets them wrong.

      From the Nature Paper, the BP (Before Present) dates are:
      Arizona: 646 +/- 31
      Oxford: 750 +/- 30
      Zurich: 676 +/- 24

      Jones convert these into Calendar dates as:
      Arizona: 1285-1314
      Oxford: 1264-1275
      Zurich: 1285-1293

      However, feeding the dates into OxCal, the Oxford University Radiocarbon Unit’s calibration calculator, we get:
      Arizona: 1281-1396
      Oxford: 1222-1287
      Zurich: 1275-1388

      The significance is that Jones sets much store on the lack of overlap between the Oxford dates and those of Arizona and Zurich. But there is overlap, as we can see, and his comments irrelevant.

  2. Oxford will stand by the 1988 results, as we have learnt from Professor Christopher Ramsey. It has now opened a centre to study relics and the priest who wrote the report mentioned the Shroud in passing.
    Of the five relics to be studied, one is certainly a fake. I can vouch for one because my paternal uncle, who was the dean of a medical college, examined it and delivered his report to both Church and State and had it published in the journal of an European academy of sciences:

    1. Oxford is stubbornly wrong in its assertion. They had financial interests and gained substantially with their false assertion. There’s nothing scientific about the 1988 carbon dating.

      1. I wouldn’t be that harsh with them. Professor Ramsey is a practising Christian and is willing to throw the doors of his laboratory open for a fresh round of radiocarbon dating, however he has warned that there should be a consensus when it comes to a hypothesis about why the 1988 results would have been skewed. He is correct. He does not want “Shroudies” to come with other hypotheses if something goes wrong.

        Not even Turin and Rome seem to believe what Shroud scientists are saying, if we remember what PAS Chancellor Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo said last year. A further problem is that the Church has its hands tied:it has learnt from the blunders committed by Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero.

  3. Ignorance of Mr. Jones. Rather than results he must concentrate on sampling procedure.

  4. Can I clarify Dcn Andy’s view? In order to obtain a one million pound donation, the Oxford radiocarbon laboratory deliberately falsified their results, and made a 1st century artefact date to the 14th century. Is that correct? Either they did not carry out the tests at all, or they did carry out the tests but ignored the 1st century date and replaced it with a 14th century one. Is that what he thinks happened? Was Prof. Ramsey a party to this deception? Is Prof. Ramsey concealing the truth? What about Hall, Hedges, Housley, Law and Perry, the other Oxford authors of the Nature paper. Have they all lived a lie, and kept their secret, some of them, to the grave? “They had financial interests and gained substantially with their false assertion.” So Dcn Andy thinks they’re all liars.

    And was there another donation to the Tucson laboratory, and another to Willy Wolfli in Zurich? All 21 authors of the Nature paper have been bribed to falsify the truth? Is that Dcn Andy’s real position?

    I’d just like to be clear.

  5. The biblical scholars and archaeologists based in Israel I have spoken to do not believe in the authenticity of the Shroud, and among these is an eminent Catholic biblical scholar. Archaeologists there tend to believe in the efficacy of carbon dating, two examples being when it was used to date the cloths found in Masada and the wrappings used to cover the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    Last month I had the opportunity to meet, talk to and interview Professor Israel Finkelstein, Israel’s most prominent and also quite controversial archaeologist. He has never hesitated to rely on C14 for his chronology and even when it goes against many of the things we read in the Old Testament:
    If “Shroudies” want to challenge the 1988 results they should change their approach in order to convince Rome and Turin that there should be another test, and perhaps how it should be done.

  6. It’s funny that Hugh Farey , a Shroud skeptic, went to the recent Shroud exhibition and that Stephen E. Jones , a serious contender to ” The world’s most passionate, most vociferous Shroudie ” title didn’t .

    A short message to Dan : There is no need for you to ask Jones to visit your website . Despite his claims, he is perfectly aware of what’s being posted here everyday.

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