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Paper Chase (NEW): The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses

January 29, 2013 5 comments

imageAs Gabriel recently noted in a comment:

The Colorado center has just made public a very interesting document ” The Shroud A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses ” with many of the things we customarily discuss in this blog.

Here is what the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado is reporting:

The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses

Use this link [or click on the picture of the cover page shown here] to view the above titled PDF document. This is a large document so it will take a minute to download: View PDF . The document includes all of the important scientific observations from the STURP expedition. In addition, the most important data from research conducted by our TSC scientific team, other scientists, forensic and historical researchers, both before and after STURP, is included along with our comments and evaluation. We will maintain this document on a continuous basis. The document is designed to be revised over time to include all important new research findings and thinking on the Shroud. All changes will be documented in a formal log of changes to help support the user stay up to date on the Shroud. The document includes detailed references to source research material.

imageThe Critical Summary is a copyrighted document but you are given permission to print it for private and for non-profit educational purposes.

If you have comments or suggestions regarding this document please send them to us by Email here(

It is 44 pages long including title material and end notes. Here is the description at the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado

Categories: News & Views, Science

Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

October 22, 2015 24 comments

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.

Categories: Critical Summary

Coming Soon from Colorado: Critical Summary 3.0

October 21, 2015 Comments off

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.

Categories: Critical Summary

Should we be rethinking the VP8 and 3D images?

December 9, 2014 104 comments

Todd, a reader of this blog, just yesterday posted the following quotation from Peter Schumacher. It’s from a 1999 paper by Pete entitled Photogrammetric Responses From The Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin induces a [3D] result through photographic imaging that is unique, compared to all other photographic results taken from other objects of the same acknowledged period as the Shroud, of prior periods, and to the present day. It is the “data” existing on the Shroud of Turin, which induces the unique photographic results. Therefore, the Shroud image, itself, is unlike any other object or image known to exist. (Bracketed “3D” added by me for clarity)

imageThis obvious absence of evidence as evidence fallacy – call it what you want: argumentum ad ignorantiam, the black swan problem – has stood, it seems, since sometime after 1976, when (quoting from A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses – Version 2.1 by Bob Siefker, et. al.):

[John] Jackson, with the help of Eric Jumper (both on active duty and teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy) used a VP-8 analog computer furnished by Pete Schumacher, an engineer with Interpretation Systems, Inc., to make a brightness map of the Shroud image.

Then they tried to do the same thing with photographs of people and objects. Pete tried. Others tried over the years. Everything else was distorted; no real 3D.  There was, among those who understood that a normal painting or photograph of a person or object contained brightness information that was representative of reflected light while the image on the shroud contained brightness information that was not that but rather seemingly spatial data, a sense that the argument was safe. It has been repeated and restated over and over by others.

“OK Hugh [Farey],” wrote Todd, “Maybe you can respond to this quote. I ask again that you provide published evidence to refute this claim.

As long as we continue to think of just regular paintings or photographs of people or normal objects – and we ignore the cries from the fallacy police – we are on pretty safe ground.  It cannot yet be refuted.

But Colin Berry didn’t do what others had done. He made a scorch of an object on cloth. And he found that that scorch behaved like (or pretty much behaved like) the image on the Shroud of Turin. Colin found a black swan and we couldn’t say any longer that all swans are white.

That is published evidence; it is published on Colin’s blog and reshown here. It is not a painting or a photograph of an object; it is a scorch.

If we continue to speak only of normal paintings and photographs we are still on safe ground. But we have to drop the idea that the shroud image is unique.  It isn’t.

Click on the images to see larger versions

While we are at it, maybe we can drop the other fallacy, namely that the 3D data represents body to cloth distance.  That has not been shown to be true.

Anticipating the Conference: Robert Siefker on Observations, Data and Hypotheses

June 27, 2014 3 comments

Robert Siefker  |  12-Oct-2014  |  11:00-11:30 am


In 2013 The Shroud Center of Colorado (TSC) posted Version 1 of a new document on its website entitled The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses.  Version 2, including updates to exiting materials and a new section on Shroud History, should be available by the time of the St. Louis Shroud Conference and it is our desire to present Version 2 at the Conference.  . . .

As an organization TSC has studied the Shroud for literally 10’s of thousands of hours and the publishing of the Critical Summary is part of the effort of the organization to make our understanding of the Shroud available to the serious inquirer. We disclose in the Critical Summary that TSC as an organization holds that a critical assessment of the totality of currently available data on the Shroud supports the judgment that the Shroud of Turin once wrapped the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Nevertheless, we respect the autonomy of each person to formulate his or her own judgment concerning what conclusions the data leads him or her to. Unfortunately, many people make a snap judgment concerning the Shroud based on only one or two pieces of data, the publishing of conflicting hypotheses or simply their inability to get their arms around the large corpus of Shroud “data”. The Critical Summary is a fairly long document, pushing 100 pages, but we believe an individual must spend at least a number of hours in studying the extensive evidence related to the Shroud in order to begin to form his or her own judgments and arguments concerning this fascinating object.

Click on the title to read the full abstract. Click here for the conference home page.

BTW:  Link to Version 1 as a PDF file (which is pictured, above)

Categories: St Louis 2014

One Handed Clapping for Colin Berry’s Criticism of the Colorado Paper

February 18, 2013 10 comments

imageA reader writes:

I just finished reading Dr. Colin Berry’s criticism of the Shroud Center of Colorado and the paper it just published entitled, “The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses,” by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer. With one hand held behind my back I applaud Dr. Berry. Had he done the work he demands of others to advance his own mostly visceral notions about scorching then my applause would have been thunderous and I would have been on my feet.

I should explain something about myself. I am a physicist (and because of my significant position in a large corporation I would prefer that you not publish by name). I am also a theologically liberal Christian. For instance, I believe that the resurrection of Jesus was physical only in the sense that the body was buried in a tomb that was later found empty. Moreover, this was not because of theft or because his followers forgot which tomb it was. Nor was it because Jesus swooned and recovered. To try to add one jot to the story by imagining new scenarios us folly. This includes dematerialization and speculative resurrection products like radiation, light, heat or anything. To try to prove any of this using the shroud and because of the shroud and thus even trying to prove the resurrection is double the folly.

Nonetheless, I am almost certain that the shroud is the genuine burial cloth of Christ. And I am just as convinced that no one yet has even imagined how the image was formed. That is just as true if I a wrong about authenticity.

I should mention that Dr. Berry may have misunderstood the use of “luminance distribution” by Jackson and the Colorado authors. Thus Dr. Berry seems completely confused which leads him into an irrelevant discussion about photochemistry. Luminance, as I think the authors used the word, means the amount of reflected light as measured by a densitometer.  It has nothing to do with how the image was formed. Dr. Berry should correct this or explain why he is not confused. 

I should not be too critical of Dr. Berry for misunderstanding the all too sophomoric Colorado paper. It is confusing. And the bit about KHS and KC, as they say in the Master Card ad, PRICELESS.

BTW. Dr. Berry is every bit as agenda driven as those he accuses. They say it is hard for a scientist to notice this in himself.

Mean and Picayune

February 7, 2013 6 comments

clip_image001A reader wrote:

I think you are being excessively mean. I agree that the [Siefker and Spicer] paper is a bit weak, but what is the point in drumming on day after day with picayune criticisms?

My intention is not to be mean. I think people who know me know this.  The paper is unfortunate.  What makes it appear that I am being mean is that the paper was written by two good people with the best of intentions. Others, I believe, who knew better, and were in a position to do so, should not have published it without some serious editing. The authors also could have sought input from others as they wrote the paper either in the relative privacy of the Shroud Science Group or in a public forum such as this blog where give and take is the norm.

Drumming on, day after day? I think the point was to try to learn from as many people as possible by going through the lists in the paper and hoping for comments. And why not do the same with Fanti’s paper that was published in JIST or Rolfe’s Challenge list from Valencia or Rogers’ FAQ or the infamous SSG List from Dallas 2005? These are all public documents. The idea of a topic of the day was something I had already been thinking about – how many Super Bowl ads can you talk about? – when the Siefker and Spicer paper was published. I announced it without much commentary in Paper Chase (NEW): The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses

By the next day, following some comments by others, in another, more critical posting, Déjà vu or what?, I wrote:

It seems to me that a positive thing to do with this paper over many days and weeks ahead is to take one item at a time, maybe one-a-day or so, and discuss it in this blog (or re-discuss it or choose to ignore it). And there will be no let up on the many other things that get posted like this wonderful new Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse: Distinguishing human blood from that of other species.

The fact of the matter is that the paper is published in a public place. The authors should know it will be criticized. They are welcome to join the discussion. I would love it.

Perhaps calling each days’ item the “teaser” of the day was insensitive. Okay, it will be the topic of the day henceforth.

If I’m mean, I don’t mean to be, so call me out on it when I am.

Here is where we have been. In clicking on a posting in this list, it is important to read the comments. In this blog comments are more important and more informative than postings:

Categories: News & Views

Gripping Comment Promoted thus expanding Teaser of the Day #2

February 1, 2013 6 comments

imageAfter I partially quoted a comment by Hugh Farey in the previous posting, he commented thus: “The rest of my comment is a gripping read too….”

Gripping? Well . . .  Thanks for the laugh. But the comment, in its entirety, is completely worth reading if you missed it the first time around.

And so we ask again, what is right or wrong with Item 2.0 from page 9 of The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer?

Here is the gripping answer:

Article I.2.0.A. The normal tones are reversed. The normal tones of what? Of body parts? I’m not light on the nose and dark in the cheeks.

Article I.2.0.B.The parts of the body closest to the cloth left the darkest marks. Sorry, but from a critical viewpoint you can’t just assume that a body was present to make the marks.
Parts of the body which would have been closest to the cloth if the image was made by a cloth lying over a body? Sorry, can’t allow that either, as the cloth could have been horizontal or draped or wrapped.

Parts of the body lying closest to a theoretical horizontal plane level with the tip of the nose? Sorry, but you need also to specify if the body was also horizontal. Were the knees, for example, higher off the floor than the nose or not?

Parts of the body which would have been closest to a horizontal plane level with the tips of the knees assuming that the body was lying in a slightly knees-up position with the head also slightly raised? Er, no, as the head and particularly the nose is generally assumed to be the darkest area, and the knees would be much more prominent than the hands, for example.
Parts of the body which would have been closest to the cloth if the cloth had been draped over the body? Back of the head? Sides of the hair? Sorry.

Parts of the body which would have been closest to the cloth if the image was made by a cloth lying over a body which draped naturally from head to toe but not at all from side to side? Rather like unrolling a carpet or Venetian blind over the body? I think we may be getting there…

Article I.2.0.C. The image has the characteristics of a photographic negative. Of a monochrome photograph of a person taken full face with a light source directly in front and a black background. Although we are often told that real photographs of people under just those conditions do not look like the shroud, as the 3D image derived from them is unconvincing. If this is true, the shroud does not have all the characteristics of a photographic negative. I concede that it does have some; rather general and rather subjective.

Article I.2.0.D. The contrasting photographs. The negative is clearly not the negative of the positive, but a different photo altogether. It is also printed at a different size. A “true” negative would have the famous “epsilon” blood stain pointing a different way.

Categories: Teaser of the Day

Teaser of the Day: Front and back images show almost the same color intensity. Or do they?

January 31, 2013 3 comments


UPDATE: Hugh Farey sent a couple of screen scrapes from Shroudscope that may help some of see the similarity. They are beneath the fold below.

What is right or wrong with this material from page 9 of The Shroud A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer.

Table I, Item 1.0:

The front and back images of the body show almost the same color intensity (yellow-brown), i.e., at first sight, we cannot appreciate, which image is the more evident, front or back.

Scored: Established


To the naked eye it is difficult to distinguish between the intensity of the frontal and dorsal body images. We believe this observation demonstrates that neither cloth-body contact nor the weight of the body on the cloth significantly affected the image formation process.

End Notes:

  • Eric J. Jumper, Alan D. Adler, John P. Jackson, Samuel F. Pellicori, John H. Heller, James R Druzik, “A Comprehensive Examination of the Various Stains and Images on the Shroud of Turin,” American ChemicalSociety 22 (1984): 451-53. (This was on of the key early papers published by STURP scientists based on their research on the Shroud in Turin in 1978.)
  • L.A. Schwalbe and R.N. Rogers, “Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin, A Summary of the 1978 Investigation, Analytica Chemica Acta, Vol. 135 (1982): 3-49. (This is another of the early STURP Research Papers.)

What doesn’t sit well with me is the blatancy of the assumption that “neither cloth-body contact nor the weight of the body on the cloth significantly affected the image formation process.” If later in the paper certain artistic image forming processes are to be entertained (as they are and rightly so) such as painting, photography and Luigi Garlaschelli’s method, then it is only appropriate to not poison the well with an obvious image of a human body enshrouded. To the authors’ credit, this is limited to a comment. Such rhetorical shenanigans should be avoided. Simply leave off the last sentence of the comment and this item is probably an established fact. Or is it? 

Read more…

Categories: Teaser of the Day

St. Louis Videos

November 26, 2014 17 comments

imageRuss Breault tells us on his Shroud University website:

Experts from around the world met in St. Louis, MO for the first US conference on the Shroud of Turin since 2008. Here are over 40 papers covering aspects of science, medicine, art and history. Hear and see the latest research in streaming video.

imageThe following presentations from the St. Louis Conference can now be found on YouTube.  Links to them, as shown below, are from Russ’s site:

Frederick Baltz, M.D.

A Galatian Sojourn of the Shroud of Turin? Pollen, Paul, and a Public Portrayal of Christ


Emanuela Marinelli

The Shroud and the iconography of Christ


Daniel Spicer, Ph.D. and Edward Toton, Ph.D.

Charge Separations as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the
Shroud of Turin


Robert W. Siefker

The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses Version 2.0


Barrie Schwortz

Remembering Ray Rogers: A Personal Reflections On The Man And His Work


Rev. Peter Schumacher

Study of Shroud Feature Evidence Using Video and Photogrammetric Analysis Methods


Daniel C. Scavone, Ph.D.

Constantinople Documents as Evidence of the Shroud in Edessa


Charles Mader, Ph.D.

The Raymond Rogers Computer Archive


Ivan Polverari

From the Mandylion to the Shroud


Veronica Piraccini

The prodigious painting "From the Impression of Jesus"


Pam Moon

Further evaluation of the radiocarbon samples


Flavia Manservergi and Enrico Morini

The hypothesis about the Roman flagrum: some clarifications


Paul C. Maloney

Joseph M. Gambescia, M.D. and the Position of the Feet on the Shroud of Turin. The History of an Investigation


Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo

About the Second Image of Face Detected on the Turin Shroud


Art Lind, Ph.D. and Mark Antonacci

Hypothesis that Explains the Shroud’s Unique Blood Marks and Several Critical Events in the Gospels


Kelly Kearse

A Critical (re)evaluation of the Shroud of Turin blood data: Strength of evidence in the characterization of the bloodstains

**Due to technical issues we could not capture the conclusion of this talk**


Tony Fleming

Biophotonic Hypothesis of the Turin Shroud


Guilio Fanti

A Dozen Years of Shroud Science Group


Closing Remarks

Closing Remarks; End of Conference


Russ Breault

Theology of the Shroud (7 Secrets of the Sacred Shroud)


Cesar Barta, et al.

New discoveries on the Sudarium of Oviedo


Prof. Bruno Barberis

Shroud, science and : dialogue or conflict?


Petrus Soons, M.D.

The Halo Around the Head in the Image of the Man in the Shroud

Jeffrey Skurka, P.E.

The Enigma of the apparent age of the Shroud of Turin Give the 1988 Radiocarbon Dating


David Onysko

The Shekinah Glory of the Lord and the Shroud of Turin


Robert Villarreal

Spectroscopic Analysis of Fibers from the Shroud of Turin–What Do They Mean? by Jon Schoonover, Ph.D.

The Alpha-Particle Irradiation Hypothesis: Entering John’s Gospel, Solving the Mystery of the Shroud


Andrew Silverman, M.D.

Natural, manufactured or ‘miracle’?


Most Rev. Michael Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs

KEYNOTE: Science and the Mysteries of the Shroud


Barrie Schwortz

Using the Shroud of Turin Website


Raymond Schneider, P.E., Ph.D.

Dating the Shroud of Turin: Weighing All the Evidence


Robert Rucker

MCNP Analysis of Neutrons Released from Jesus’ Body in the Ressurrection


Joseph Accetta, Ph.D.

Speculations on the 14th Century Origins of the Turin Shroud


Jack Markwardt

Modern Scholarship and the History of the Shroud of Turin


Sebastien Cataldo

The Mandylion or the story of a man-made relic



Open forum regarding the future of The Shroud research


Roger Bassett

An Artist Explores The Facial Image of the Shroud of Turin


Diana Fulbright and Paolo DiLazzaro

Earthquake-induced Piezonuclear Reactions and the Inage on the Shroud of Turin: Critical remarks


Mark Antonacci

Science and Semantics


Prof. Bruno Barberis

The Future of research on the Shroud


Jack Markwardt

The Full Length History of the Shroud of Turin


In the Belly of the Beast

October 20, 2014 17 comments

imageI was reminded during Bob Siefker’s presentation in St. Louis that John Jackson and the other authors of A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses – Version 2.1 assign significant importance to the raking light photographs of the shroud. So do I, but far less so. To my way of thinking:

  • the cloth was at times folded
  • the cloth was possibly folded in half along its length three times such that the face, and only the face, appeared on the outside. This, of course, lends credence to the term tetradiplon. It also comports with the idea that the shroud may have been stored folded in a reliquary with a grate, so as to show only the face.
  • the cloth may have been been an inspiration for the Man of Sorrows icons that show Christ rising out of a coffin-like container.

I have been giving this some thought. What did the Critical Summary actually say?

    Quoting from item L6 of the Critical Summary:

One of the tasks undertaken by the STURP team was to take raking light photographs of the Shroud. Linen has poor elasticity, explaining why it wrinkles so easily. Thus, linen cloth has sort of a memory that can reveal how the cloth has been folded (see item H 13.0,2). . . .

Okay. That seems probably so.

Jackson has studied the fold lines, some of which are as sharp as a straight edge and show discoloration as would be expected if folded over the edge of a wooden block or batten, as illustrated as "F” in the diagram below.

Words like “discoloration as would be expected if” sound speculative, not evidentiary. At least, it is not strong evidence.

Jackson’s team developed a computer program that maps prominent folds found on the Shroud related to the Man of Sorrows Icon.

That instantly bothered me. What sort of computer program maps fold marks on the shroud to hand painted icons? In what way? Moreover, to which Man of Sorrow Icon? Without an explanation this unfortunately sounds like the “scientists say” jargon we encounter in television commercials.  It’s like “ a computer programs says.”

Google suggests these icons:



The Critical Summary goes on to say:

These folds have been found to be consistent with the design of a lifting device that could have been used for raising the cloth.

imageConsistent with what design? This is an imagined lifting device. The point of this imagining may be to match the AD 1203 description of what Robert de Clari saw or to fit an account of “The Palace Revolution of John Comnenus by Nicholas Mesarites wherein we find

In [Constantinople’s Pharos] chapel Christ rises again, and the sindon with the burial linens is the clear proof.

I’d like to think there is some connection. I’d like to think this is all true. But the imagined device (click on the image on the right), while illustrative of a possibility, seems far too tentative to be in an evidence table.

So what are the fold marks really evidence of? How good is the evidence?

The authors of the paper have classified this as Class 1 Evidence which they define thus:

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.

Yet when I look at the references I find only one paper by Eric Jumper and two similar popular books by Ian Wilson. Unfortunately Wilson uses material “deduced by Dr. John Jackson.” While not exactly a circular reference, it’s close. There is not much to go on.

Wilson goes on to say, “Although exactly how the cloth was made to rise is necessarily conjectural.” (The Blood and the Shroud page 157). Perhaps anticipating the problem some of us might therefore have, Bob Siefker said in his St. Louis talk:

Some people might not like the fact that we’ve rated this class 1 evidence but we’re in the heart of the belly of the beast. I’ve seen those folds. I’ve seen the marks. I’ve seen the razor thin nature of those folds where the “F” block is. I’m not only rationally convinced that the scheme is right, I’ve seen close evidence and had it very deeply explained to me. I’ve been very lucky to be in the belly of the beast, over here [pointing to], John Jackson.

So? Can I see the folds? Can anyone see the folds?  Are the photographs online? Can we examine the computer program’s logic? Without some illustrative photographs of the folds, without an explanation of what the computer program does, I’m thinking the entire item, L6, should be demoted.  Without some supporting evidence of a cloth-raising device being used, the speculative diagram should be removed. It is evidence of nothing.

What am I missing?

Déjà vu Squared

October 14, 2014 31 comments

imageA reader of this blog who was in St. Louis on Sunday morning to hear Bob Siefker emailed me:

You didn’t provide a link to the [Critical Summary]. Nor did the conference site. I was able to find it by entering “google jackson shroud center.”

Oops! Here it is: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses – Version 2.1

This same conference attendee noted:

Dr. Siefker’s chart evaluates ten hypotheses against a short list of only seventeen image characteristics. Dr. Siefker said of his paper 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?

Suspicious? No. Disappointed in the methodology? Yes! See Déjà vu or what?

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.

Hmmm! Someone could put up a webpage for each characteristic, each hypothesis, each historical item and so forth, with an appropriate explanation, and invite discussion; make the labels match those in the paper so people could look it up in the paper. Hmmm!

The full paper is 106 pages, with lots of tables, making it a bit unwieldy. You might want to save it to your computer or better yet put up a copy on the Google Cloud. I also loaded up a copy on my Kindle. That works pretty well but the page numbers are messed up.

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).

Again, see Déjà vu or what?

Note:  I have corrected the spelling of Bob Siefker’s name in the email above rather than annotate the error with (sic). I carelessly repeated the error in my own comments and have corrected that as well.

Note 2: The URL for the Critical Summary was changed on October 19, 2014. This page has been updated.

The Conference Is Over

October 13, 2014 Comments off

Stuck at Chicago O’Hare. Next, some sleep

The last presentation was Robert Siefker’s excellent explanation of The Shroud: A Critical Summary Of Observations, Data And Hypotheses Version 2.0, a document published by the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado headed up by John Jackson. More on this shortly in another posting.

imageIt was a good conference. All of the presentations were very good. Most we’re excellent. A few were outstanding. Some, to my particular way of seeing things, were particularly notable for one reason or another. I’ve already mentioned Andrew Silverman’s mind consciousness talk and Ray Schneider’s overview of significant evidence in earlier postings. There were others.

Saturday afternoon: When Bob Rucker finished his extended talk, MCNP Analysis Of Neutrons Released From Jesus’ Body In The Resurrection the applause was seismic.  In closing, he mentioned that he had a few handouts of his slides. They were gone in 15 seconds as people all but climbed over tables to grab them. I was approached by several people to see if I would publish his PowerPoint now because nobody wanted to wait until the conference papers were published, probably in December. Bob has given me an electronic copy of 54 of his charts and is writing up notes of what he said. When I get it I’ll post the whole thing here. So watch for it.

imageSunday morning: Nothing will wake you up like a ten foot tall picture of Charles Freeman at 8:00 in the morning (see picture above).  It was one of the slides Jack Markwardt used in his most outstanding special presentation, Modern Scholarship And The History Of The Turin Shroud. This is a big deal. If Jack is right, and indeed he may be, we may need to completely rethink the history of the shroud before it arrived in Western Europe. We may need to reconsider the notion that the cloth was “doubled in fours” or whatever definition we have been using for the word tetradiplon. We may need to reimagine what happened before, during and after AD 944.

Still Sunday morning: Barrie Schwortz gave an eight minute talk about Ray Rogers. Strip away any mention of the shroud, as Rogers did in his work-a-day world, and you find a brilliant and dedicated scientist admired by his peers at Los Alamos. Thanks, Barrie. It needed to be said. For now, and until we can get Barrie’s full presentation, lets not have any comments on Barrie’s talk.

As for comments on Bob Siefker’s presentation, let’s wait for a subsequent posting on the subject, maybe later today. And, as for Jack Marwardt’s new historical theory, let’s wait for the actual paper to be published because this is potentially seminal.

Much more to talk about.

Categories: St Louis 2014

The O.K. Corral Shootout

March 12, 2019 16 comments


O.K. commented in my posting, The Myth of the VP8 and 3D Uniqueness?

A lot of confusion is there. It is perhaps because the common way of lecturing about the Shroud, is a historical approach, in 1898 Pia discovered negativity, in 1970s Jackson & Jumper discovered 3D with VP-8 etc.

This is actually misleading, creates a hype, and in my opinion asks the wrong questions. How to make an image that is a photographic negative, 3 D rendering, without contours, isotropic, etc. ? There is always a way to do it regarding the individual properties -but resulting images have actually nothing in common with the Shroud (besides this single selected characteristic).

In my opinion, the issue should be lectured in more modern, compact way? The problem is: what constitutes the image on the Shroud, what makes it so specific? What are its basic components? And ONLY THEN ask a question: what are derived properties (like negativity or 3D) of such an image.

O.K. may be right. It is certainly a form of discipline that might eliminate the confusion. But the problem is bigger than that.  It’s the “Wild West” nature of shroud research since STURP, a land of scientific lawlessness and tall tales where the closest things to order were the “O.K. Corral” shootouts called conferences.  What did this atmosphere produce?

It produced the “I think I see” world of imagined images of ancient coins along with all manner of bric-a-brac, of plants from ancient Israel, of teeth and ponytails and of written messages in Greek, Latin or Hebrew — all these being wishful misperceptions or pareidolia. There were the dubious pollen charts and the radiocarbon dating fiasco. There were the tall tales: NASA analyzed the shroud, Ray Rogers was a general in the Air Force, America’s greatest scientists studied the shroud, and so-and-so was a Nobel prize-winning physicist. And it produced a lot of good science, too. Often that was overshadowed by the sensational.

There were short declarative decrees. They’re still sitting out there at

This spatial data encoded into the image actually eliminates photography and painting as the possible mechanism for its creation and allows us to conclude that the image was formed while the cloth was draped over an actual human body.

We can examine this in three parts:

spatial data encoded into the image:   Is calling the data spatial not begging the question? Would it not be better to say relative greyscale values of the image that when plotted as relative distances from a planar surface suggest three-dimensionality, suggest spatiality. 

eliminates photography and painting as the possible mechanism for its creation:  That is simply not true, as has been shown on on this blog. One might argue about how difficult or unlikely it would be. But a blanket denial that it is possible is misleading, at best.

allows us to conclude that the image was formed while the cloth was draped over an actual human body: Conclude? How so? Not so if the cloth was draped over a statue or if the image was formed by some unusual photographic or artistic method that produces the right kind of relative greyscale values.

Being precise makes it more difficult to read. But compact imprecision leads to misunderstanding and to the dogmatism.

backscratcherAnd then there is the Wild West’s Colorado Springs, once a place to soak in curative waters, and then a place to pan for gold, and now the home of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado. Here is a brief statement from a document, The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses on the TSC website. I call this the Rube Goldberg miracle; you know, where a miracle happens, that causes a body to become mechanically transparent allowing a cloth to fall through it and get a controlled dose of radiation.

Consistent: [= in context The Fall-through hypothesis is consistent with the 3 Dimension attribute of the image.] The initial draping configuration of the Shroud over a body establishes the initial cloth-body distances. If, then, the Shroud overlying the body falls into the body region, different points on the cloth will intersect the body surface at different times depending upon how far that point was originally away from the body. Thus, each cloth point will receive a radiation dose in proportion to the time that the point is inside the emitting body region. Since that time is inversely proportional to the initial cloth-body distance, it follows that the radiation dose, and hence image intensity, is likewise inversely proportional to the initial cloth-body distance. Correlation of image intensity with cloth-body distance is consistent with the Shroud VP-8 3-dimensional effect.

I was just wondering:  what is the body like at this stage of the miracle?  Is it a liquid that holds it’s once-solid shape or a gas or something specifically miraculous? Does the part of the cloth under the body fall upwards?  What type of radiation works best for resurrection miracles?  What happens after the cloth has finished its fall?  Is a mechanically transparent body able to pass through locked doors yet walk on the road to Emmaus and eat fish?

Those are the questions that come to mind. Silly, perhaps, but they do come to mind. Let me put it this way: I cannot begin to imagine that I will ever believe this.  I believe in the Resurrection and I may believe the shroud is real but I cannot believe one word of Fall-Through hypothesis.

If you haven’t read The Resurrection is Just Too Mysterious to Be Described & A Response to Dr. Colin Berry, you can’t understand where I’m coming from.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Guest Posting by O.K.

November 7, 2015 10 comments

The star with a strange light curve, the aliens, the Shroud
of Turin and Resurrection theories about it’s image



Some reflections about natural and extraordinary (miraculous) explanations about
the Shroud’s image formation, with comparison to extraordinary claims regarding other sciences (here: astronomy).

For some time there is a great hype in the media (see for example Ian O’Neill: Has Kepler Discovered an Alien Megastructure? on or Sarah Kaplan: The strange star that has serious scientists talking about an alien megastructure, Washington Post, October 15) about the star designated as KIC 8462852. The star has been observed by Kepler space telescope, designed to detect extrasolar planets via transit method. Data gathered suggest that this star has a very atypical light curve, which characterize by irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20% level. This is a quote from the paper (submitted, but not yet accepted, to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, one of the most respected peer-reviewed astronomical journals in the world -the preprint is available in arXiv repository) Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 – Where’s the Flux? by T. S. Boyajian et al. which describes the strange behavior of that star. The authors in section 4 give a list of several possible explanations for that phenomena:

     • Instrumental effects or data reduction artifacts?

     • Intrinsic variability?

     • Occultation by circumstellar dust clumps

     • Aftermath of catastrophic collisions in asteroid belt

     • Aftermath of giant impact in planetary system

     • Dust-enshrouded planetesimals

     • A comet family? (this is considered the most likely scenario)

So why the media hype? Because, according to some speculations, the observed light curve is also consistent wit a sci-fi kind scenario, namely the alien-built megastructure Dyson swarm orbiting around the swarm. This is also a kind of “explanation”, which can be tested, but -not surprisingly -the term “aliens” does not even appear in Boyajian et al. paper. Natural hypotheses are preferred first, which is -quite natural, actually. Scientists are rather expected to examine ordinary explanations (instrumental or natural phenomena) for unexpected observations, before going to extraordinary (extraterrestail life and advanced intelligent civilizations) – because as catch phrase says “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Or should we go straightforward to the aliens, and claim that we “discovered” 1 them, citing as proof the atypical light curve of some star, which can be fitted to alien megastructure scenario (and disregard other explanations)?

What all of this has with regards to the Shroud? Simply in sindonology there is a notable camp that claims the image on the Shroud can only be explained via some effect directly associated with Resurrection (John Jackson’s “Fall-Through” hypothesis, Mark Antonacci “Historically Consistent Method”, various other scenarios involving radiation, neutron burst and so on). These claims have been raised again recently -just see entries from the few last days: Proof of the Resurrection?, October 31, Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things, October 30. Plus recent editions of Colorado’s Center Critical Summary 3.0, and Mark Antonacci’s new book.

And I just ask: should we go straightforward to the aliens?

Don’t understand me wrong, I do not deny that those scenarios may be correct. I don’t deny that there indeed may be Dyson swarm around the star KIC 8462852 either. Simply: should we go first to extraordinary “Resurrection effect” explanations, or carefully examine all naturalistic theories first? Primacy of naturalistic explanations does not exclude the Resurrection event. Paul Vignon, for example, was a devout Catholic, but tried to explain the origin of the Shroud image in purely natural terms. He did not succeed, indeed, but this not lead him to accept so easily supernatural explanation, ignoring all more or less plausible natural scenarios. Had astronomers abandoned their attempts to explain atypical light curve of KIC 8462852 via purely natural means, instead jumped right to the aliens theory, everyone would consider them crazy eggheads. But in sindonology, going right on to the supernatural, without carefully considering everything else first, seems quite common, to my dismay.

But of course, the analogy is not fully corresponding. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, yes. But the Shroud is extraordinary on its own. It isn’t just some star, even with the most peculiar light curve. It isn’t just some cloth. It’s a cloth with a image of Man corresponding to what was described in the Gospels -which proclaimed Jesus (suffering the same way as the Man of the Shroud) the Savior and God Incarnate.

So maybe in case of the Shroud a different approach is justified?

Categories: Guest Posting

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

This may be the biggest mystery of all?

November 29, 2013 24 comments

clip_image001A reader, who is a computer graphics expert, writes:

Has anyone ever attempted to create a graph of measured distance between points on a three-dimensional human form (or just a head) and an abstract surface or hypothetical plane using gray-scale tones or luma to represent the data? In other words has anyone produced a heightmap? See

I contend that such a set of measurements would produce a fuzzy, ghost like representation of the body form and not the detailed and realistic image we see on the shroud. This would be true for both linear and curved gray-scales. The image on the shroud does not represent collimated body to cloth distance. The claim that it does is pure fiction. I suggest that the VP-8 Image Analyzer was not used correctly thus leading to a lot of misunderstanding.

What is interesting is that if you apply two-dimensional (xy) Gaussian filters to a digital shroud of Turin image, you create a heightmap equivalent. That gives a good plot. Given that it is mathematically impossible to go the other way, just as you cannot find the dividend and the divisor from the quotient, it would be impossible to produce the actual image on the shroud from the data derived. This may be the biggest mystery of all.

That is hard to understand. However, what follows is an edited reposting from February that may help.

What is right or wrong with the material from page 9 of The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer, which states in Table I, Item 3.0:

The luminance distribution of both front and back images can be correlated to the clearances between the three-dimensional surface of the body and a covering cloth. This is why many state that the Shroud is a 3D image. . . .

imageThe variation in the image density has been analyzed mathematically to render a high resolution 3-dimensional body image.

While a photograph can be either a positive or a negative, there is no correlation in a photograph between the density of the imprint and the distance to the object. Uniquely, the image on the shroud appears denser in the areas where the vertical distance to the body from the cloth surface would logically be shorter. This allows the use of a simple mathematical function to recover the 3-dimensional information about the body. The 3-D characteristics present on the Shroud cannot be recovered with any normal reflected light photograph or painting.

We are being forced to think of this only in terms of a cloth covering a body. While this may be the case, this is an assumption and not an image characteristic. It should be avoided.

A better way to describe this is to use accepted terminology from the world of three-dimensional graphics. The image is a height-field or height-map.

Smoke ring height fieldSmoke ring plotted as craterWith a VP8 Image Analyzer or newer computer software (POV Ray, ImageJ, etc.), the gray scale values at many xy points in the height-field to the left are plotted as elevation or terrain.

The software uses several variables including an altitude scale, a viewing angle and a virtual light source to enable us to visualize the shape.

Face as height fieldFace plottedThe same software with the same viewing angles and artificial lighting produces the apparent elevation in the face. This is true for the entire body of the man imaged on the Shroud of Turin.

It is important to note, as
Siefker and Spicer state, a normal photograph or a painting is a representation of reflected light as detected by a camera or perceived from an artists viewing position. 

There is no useful relationship between the gray scale values in a normal painting or photograph and spatial distance as found in height-fields.

imageVirtual reality and gaming software regularly uses similar height-field images (above left) to produce realistic landscapes. NASA uses them to generate 3D surface representations of the moon and planets. Those height-fields are created by radar and lasers. Google Earth software makes 3D renderings of our planet the same way. NOAA produces 3D images of hurricanes from radar data represented in height-fields. Height-fields are regularly used in new-generation 3D ultrasound sonograms.

Note: Height-field is a convenient term. Gray scale values found in such a dataset are applicable for both vertical and horizontal plots.

Here is an image I prepared using ImageJ. See: Do Your Own VP8-Like 3D Images of the Shroud of Turin

Categories: Image Theory, Science

Reader: Has Jackson come to realize this?

July 6, 2013 4 comments

imageA reader writes:

Picking up on another discussion elsewhere on the internet, my wife and I are thinking, it seems to us that if Jesus’ body had been unwrapped by a person or himself we would not be able to detect this easily on the shroud some 2000 years later. We have often heard that the blood soaked fibers aren’t broken as they would be if someone unwrapped and removed the body. We say this because we think that after 2000 years of rolling and folding the cloth, touching it, maybe brushing it, and holding it aloft outside and in windy cathedrals all of the outermost dried blood would have crumbled, flaked and worn away. There would be no evidence of the original removal of the cloth.

In the past, didn’t Jackson make a big deal about this? I notice that the subject isn’t even mentioned in the latest version of the Siefker and Spicer viewpoint. Has Jackson come to realize this?

That would be (I think), The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses. Version 1.3 (apparently updated online June 4, 2013)

The reader continues:

Understand this does not rule out a miraculous resurrection. It just eliminates a supposedly powerful argument for a dematerializing body. Really, how good was or is this evidence? By whom? STRURP? (sic)

Categories: Blood Studies, Other Blogs

Topic of the Day (#8): The body image disappears at a distance

February 8, 2013 13 comments

imageWhat should we think about this material from The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer.

Table I, Item 6.0:

The body image has a resolution of 4.9±0.5mm but no well-defined contours. This means that that human details such as the nose, lips, and beard are clearly defined, but that the body image seems to disappear if someone looks at it from a distance closer than about 1m.

Scored: Established


The combination of the low contrast between the image and the background and the lack of defined borders makes the image essentially disappear when viewed from a range closer than 1.5 meters. An artist attempting to paint the image would need an assistant to indicate where to paint or an exceedingly long handle on the brush or applicator, scenarios inconsistent with the image’s high resolution.

Unless the image has faded? Or if some other artistic method is used. The fact that the image seems to disappear beyond a meter or so is interesting, but what, if anything, does it really mean?

Categories: Topic for Today

Topic of the Day (#7): Vertical Mapping of a Human Form

February 7, 2013 21 comments

imageWhat do we think about this material from The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer.

Table I, Item 5.2:

There is no image of the top of the head or of the sides of the body.

Scored: Established


If there were side images then the body image, especially the face, would be grotesque. Instead the image shows a largely undistorted front and back of a naked human body. These results suggest a vertical mapping of the frontal image with respect to a body laid out

I agree with this. Can we take a day off from this paper?

Categories: Topic for Today

Teaser of the Day (#6): There are no stars in the sky

February 6, 2013 5 comments

clip_image001What is right or wrong with this material from The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer.

Table I, Item 5.1:

Compared to the frontal image, there is no double superficiality of the dorsal or back image.

Scored: Established


An image formation hypothesis that is able to account for a frontal double superficiality of the face must also be consistent with there being no dorsal double superficiality..

Really? Can we say this? Do we know? We can barely see some image on the reverse side of the cloth for the ventral image. How do we know it wasn’t there for the dorsal image, only too faint to see with the methods used? Is it like saying at mid-morning that there are no stars in the sky? Might we say, “I think I don’t see.”

Categories: Teaser of the Day

Teaser of the Day (#5): Double Superficiality Expialidocious

February 5, 2013 9 comments

imageWhat is right or wrong with this material from page 9 of The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer.

Table I, Item 5.0:

The front image, at least in correspondence of the face, is doubly superficial. This means that the 0.34-mm thick fabric presents a superficial image on one side (about 0.03 mm thick), no image in the middle, and another superficial image on the other side.

Scored: Established


This double superficial image of the face was discovered when the Shroud backing cloth was removed during the 2002 preservation project. This double superficiality is highly significant in relation to the viability of competing image formation hypotheses.

Is this “Established?”  Really? It is interesting to note that the Valencia consensus omits this fact. Why?

Be sure to read Mario Latendresse’s review of The double superficiality of the frontal image of the Turin Shroud by Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo (PDF)

And because we know where Siefker and Spicer are going in this paper, it is fun to consider the fact that Ray Rogers wrote:

When a cloth is dried on a line, impurities concentrate on both evaporating surfaces; however, more impurities will deposit on whichever surface dries faster. Any concentration of impurities can take part in the image-formation reactions. This can explain the "doubly ­superficial" image.

BTW: I really do think I see it. I know. I know. I think I see.

Categories: Teaser of the Day
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