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Keyword: ‘Pareidolia’

Pareidolia Again

December 27, 2013 10 comments

imageFrom an announcement:

Pareidolia: New Works by Donald Fortescue

OPENS January 16, 6:30-8PM, Artist Reception

EXHIBITS January 16 – February 22, 2014

Oakland Art Murmur Celebration on February 7, 6-9PM

Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612, 510 893 8800

Gallery Hours:  Tuesday through Saturday, 11-6PM

You are cordially invited to join us as we kick off the New Year with the new and exciting solo show “Pareidolia: New Works by Donald Fortescue.”

And then there is this:

”Pareidolia” is the psychological phenomenon whereby a vague or random stimulus (often an image or sound) is perceived as significant or having recognizable form – classical examples being seeing the “man” in the moon (or the “rabbit pounding rice” if you are Japanese), the Shroud of Turin, and the “face” in the Cydonia region of Mars.

The face on Mars (pictured)? Yes, of course. And the man in the moon. But not the Shroud of Turin, not the man on the shroud. It is ludicrous to suggest that

Is the pareidolia on the shroud? I certainly think so. It includes, in my opinion, the images of coins, lettering, flowers and plants, and the appearance of teeth. But the image[s] of the man on the shroud are not and certainly cannot be pareidolia.

Categories: Art, Pareidolia

This Will Go On Forever, and Ever: More Jesus Pareidolia in the News

November 6, 2013 3 comments

imageJoe Marino passes along some more Jesus pareidolia from a WND article,  Google photo: Jesus just spotted in sky? As Joe points out the Kit Kat photo, mentioned in the article is old stuff; see, Jesus in Toledo by way of a piece of candy in January, 2011.

Mention images of Jesus these days and the shroud gets mentioned. WND reports:

Dr. Paul Lakeland, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, says visualizing the Creator of all things in everyday objects has become a way for people to bring their beliefs to reality, as they desperately want to see signs and wonders.

“Everyone’s religious life is connected to their imagination,” Lakeland told the Hour. “But I’ve seen this before. Someone has a bagel that looks like it has an image of the Virgin Mary on it … I do scoff at the sort of thing, but it doesn’t do anyone harm. However, they (the McCaffreys) shouldn’t have people line up at their home to see the ink blot.”

He indicated the Catholic Church often downplays any credence to similar sightings.

“There is a reason to be a bit skeptical because there are very few (images) that have seen the level of credibility as say, the Shroud of Turin,” Lakeland said. “But, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.”

Pareidolia is a big deal when it comes to things some claim to see on the shroud like coins, flowers and inscriptions.

Categories: News & Views, Pareidolia

The Phoenix Pareidolia: But the most famous apparition of Jesus is the Shroud of Turin – a piece of 14th century linen

June 22, 2013 4 comments

imageAre we talking about a 14th century apparition, or what? Leave it to The Sun:

A FLOOR tile said to feature an image of Jesus Christ on its surface has seen visitors flock to an American airport.

The apparition in Terminal 3 of the busy transport hub in Phoenix, Arizona, has disciples returning regularly to marvel at its resemblance to the son of God.

image[ . . . ]

Unemployed dental hygienist Becky Martin — who has been to visit the site every day for the last TWO WEEKS — told Phoenix New Times: “It’s definitely Our Lord Jesus Christ.

“He appears to us from time to time in ordinary places, to remind us that He is here with us always, being our spiritual guide.”

And when Becky was asked whether it might be easier for Him to just send a telegram, she replied: “No, if He did everyone would just think it was a fake.

[ . . . ]

Catholic priest Father John Shelter warned believers against getting too carried away.

He said: “The Church doesn’t automatically put its seal of approval on every apparition.

“They typically wait a few years before weighing in on its significance.

[ . . . ]

The most famous apparition of Jesus is thought to be the Shroud of Turin – a piece of fourteenth century linen said to bear the image of Christ which is housed in northern Italy.

It is still the subject of intense debate and speculation to this day.

Keep it simple; just call it a piece of 14th century linen.

Categories: News & Views, Pareidolia

The Latest in Pareidolia: Face In Tumour

November 5, 2011 1 comment

Yes, there are still some people who think the image on the Shroud is mere Pareidolia. But this is. From the Huffington Post on Nov 2:

imageAs reported by The Toronto Star, Canadian doctors were shocked when they looked at an ultrasound image of a testicular tumour (see image above).

“It was very ghoulish, like a man screaming in pain,” Doctor Naji Touma, who works at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., told The Star about the picture taken in 2009.

Dr. Touma and Greg Roberts wrote in their paper submitted to the journal Urology that they saw a “…man’s face staring up out of the image, his mouth agape as if the face seen on the ultrasound scan itself.”

Their Urology abstract notes:

"A brief debate ensued on whether the image could have been a sign from a deity (perhaps ‘Min’ the Egyptian god of male virility); however, the consensus deemed it a mere coincidental occurrence rather than a divine proclamation."

Source and full article:Face In Tumour: Testicular Growth Shocks Doctors After Ultrasound – The Huffington Post

Categories: Pareidolia

Another Pareidolia Story: Face of Jesus in bark of handmade cross

September 2, 2011 Comments off

Paul Crawley for Channel 11 in Atlanta reports another pareidolia story, this one with a shroud aspect. Even if you don’t believe in these images (I don’t), it’s a nice story, nicely told:

imageThe sudden interest is because many see the face of Jesus embedded in the natural pattern of the bark, right where it should be.

Perry made it for his recently baptized nephew, Michael Bloodworth, but it was Bloodworth’s 80-year-old Baptist minister grandfather who first noticed it.

"The first thought was that it favored the picture on the Shroud of Turin," said Rev. Jack Bloodworth.

NEWNAN: Face of Jesus in bark of handmade cross? | 11alive.com

Categories: Pareidolia

Pareidolia and the Shroud of Turin: Yes and No

August 29, 2011 1 comment

image

Definitely, Victor Tran has a wonderful quotable quote:

The face of Jesus on a burnt tortilla. Now why would the most influential figure to the Christian community manifest itself on a tortilla wrap and a burnt one at that.

I posted what follows this paragraph back in November of 2010 under the title, “I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin.” Now, a blog posting, by Victor Tran, Pareidolia – WTC, Jesus, Devil faces in random objects in Ambitious Mindsets suggest to me that I should repeat the posting with a couple of additions in red. So here we go:

"I think I see the light coming to me, coming through me giving me a second sight." Those are words from the song, "I Think I See," by Cat Stevens, written years before Yusuf Islam, as he is now called, converted to Islam. It was, some said, a metaphor for the promised land. Maybe!

"And sometimes the light [I think I see] at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey," Jon Stewart said at the "Rally to Restore Sanity," not meaning, of course, to criticize Yusuf Islam who was at the rally to sing his more famous song, "Peace Train."

In Shroud circles, when you hear the four-word phrase, "I think I see" you immediately think of Ray Rogers. "I think I see, won’t do," he wrote concerning one person’s observation that was pretty much only one person’s observation. "I think I see is not a scientific statement," he wrote often. To me, in an email, he wrote: "tests and measurements will always have more credibility than ‘I think I see.’"

What others said they saw, Rogers said he thought they merely thought they saw. I agree.

image One day, I was astonished to receive an email from someone who claimed that we only think we see an image of a face on the Shroud. What we think is an image, he told me, is merely the happenstance accumulation of smudges and stains on the cloth. It is no different than an imaginary image of Jesus on a burned slice of toast. It is a pareidolia, an apophenia. I had never heard of either of these words. Now I have. As far as I can see, they mean the same thing. According to my Merriam-Webster dictionary apophenia is "the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data." Pareidolia is defined as apophenia.

I wrote back. "The image is too detailed. It is too realistic and too complex to not be the real face of a man. When I say real, I mean by any means. Absent other evidence this includes painting, photograph or something else that we don’t understand."

But he persisted. His mind was made up. "You can’t prove it," he wrote back. "It could be pure coincidence and you don’t know for a fact that it isn’t. What is the threshold for perceiving an image? What are the criteria for saying that the image is of a man? Are you an expert on the human face?"

And then I read today in Victor’s posting:

However, Pareidolia does provide a psychological explanation for many delusions based on sense perception such as UFO sightings, the Shroud of Turin, and messages on records played backwards (backmasking).

Technically, he is correct; correct if he is referring to images of flowers and coins and lettering and all manner of things like nails and brooms.  But Victor is not correct if he means the face. And the way he wrote his blog entry and the way he focused in facial images, I think that is what he meant.

I suspect that there is a rather fuzzy swath of undecidedness between certainty that an image is of a face and is not. Given the setting and circumstance and a measure of sanity in whatever our worldview may dictate to us, we can usually avoid undecidedness. If I see a face in the clouds, I know it is a phantasm (another cool word), an illusion, an apparition of sorts. I am sure most of us think the same thing if we see a face on a piece of toast or in a smudge of a windowpane. It should be easy to know what we see for any given context. If I see a face in a Picasso, even if it looks less like a face than what I see on my morning toast, I know it is an image of a face because of the context. But what about the face on the shroud? It is a face? The context is clear. There is an entire body there – admittedly, at the risk of being declared incompetent, maybe a pareidolia. I don’t know how the face got there but it is a face.

The folks at the Harvard Law School are very much interested in this subject, as one might imagine they would be. In an interesting article on a fascinating blog they maintain called The Situationist, they explore the subject. They begin by pointing out that Carl Sagan once wrote:

As soon as the infant can see, it recognizes faces, and we now know that this skill is hardwired in our brains. Those infants who a million years ago were unable to recognize a face smiled back less, were less likely to win the hearts of their parents, and less likely to prosper. These days, nearly every infant is quick to identify a human face, and to respond with a goony grin.

Victor repeats what Carl Sagan wrote that I had posted above. Do look at his blog entry. And what follows is why he is technically correct beyond the subject of faces (which is much more fun).

But it need not just be faces. Takeo Watanabe, a neuroscientist at Boston University, "suggest[s] that subliminally learning something ‘too well’ interferes with perceptions of reality." The blog article continues:

[P]eople have gotten so used to seeing faces everywhere that sensitivity to them is high enough to produce constant false positives. This tendency to become hyperattuned to common stimuli may represent a survival advantage. "If you lived in primeval times, for instance," Dr. Watanabe said, "it would be good to be very sensitized to tigers."

z-Martian_face_viking_cropp A famous example is the giant face on Mars from a NASA photograph. In 2001, Michael Malin, the president and chief scientist at Malin Space Science Systems, wrote an article entitled "Unmasking the Face on Mars." It is published on NASA’s official website. In it he wrote:

Twenty five years ago something funny happened around Mars. NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft was circling the planet, snapping photos of possible landing sites for its sister ship Viking 2, when it spotted the shadowy likeness of a human face. An enormous head nearly two miles from end to end seemed to be staring back at the cameras from a region of the Red Planet called Cydonia.

There must have been a degree of surprise among mission controllers back at the Jet Propulsion Lab when the face appeared on their monitors. But the sensation was short lived. Scientists figured it was just another Martian mesa, common enough around Cydonia, only this one had unusual shadows that made it look like an Egyptian Pharaoh.

Indeed—and we should not be surprised by this—many people were convinced that this was a gigantic monument of some sort created by humans or human-like aliens who once lived on Mars. NASA re-photographed the mesa from different angles. They used the same ray tracing technology (think VP8) that is used to show the 3D image of the face on the shroud to show that the Martian face was not a face at all. Had it been, the results would have been similar to the results obtained from the face on the shroud. The face was a pareidolic image. But some people, not unlike flat-earthers, remain convinced that it is a face.

The images of a person, certainly a man if we look closely, exists on the shroud. Many well pronounced features are part of that image. But there may be other parts of the image that some people claim to see that are probably pareidolic perceptions.

Takeo Watanabe’s views "that subliminally learning something ‘too well’" results in false positives may explain many reported images and features of the shroud image. A botanist may see images of flowers and plants. A numismaticist may see images of ancient coins. A dentist may see what looks like teeth. It would be totally unfair to say that this is what happened when such experts saw these things. But it would be unfair to not suggest the possibility.

The shroud is dirty, creased and wrinkled. It has been exposed to dust, moisture, smoke from fire and almost certainly candles and incense. It has been exposed to moisture and there are clear water stains in places. It has been folded different ways and rolled up for storage. Folding causes creases. It has been held aloft and probably hung in ways that over time caused stretching. The cloth was woven on a hand loom with handspun thread that is not perfectly uniform. All of this contributes to visual information and visual misinformation.

coins.23 So does the banding patterns, the variegated appearance of the cloth. We know that it alters the appearance of the face very dramatically. It certainly must contribute to what some say they see on the shroud. For instance, if you look closely, you are likely to see what looks like teeth behind the man’s lips, as though somehow the image contains x-ray qualities. But vertical banding lines may be the reason we see teeth. Clear banding lines extend well beyond the teeth, beyond the face even, and seemingly for the length of the cloth.

Photography also introduces visual noise. Different films have different contrast characteristics that can significantly change the appearance of faint details. Lighting may create small shadows between threads and among wrinkles and creases. Even the color temperature of lighting can have an effect because different films are subject to different colors being reflected from the cloth. What we perceive in a photograph of the shroud may not be what we see if we look at the cloth with our own eyes.

People have seen coins over the eyes; and not just coins but enough details to identify them as specific coins minted by Romans for Jewish use around the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. People have identified flowers and plants that are specific to the environs of Jerusalem. The list of things seen goes on and on. There are, supposedly, a hammer, a nail, a fluffy shaped sponge tied to a reed, a coil of rope, a pair of dice and part of a plaque with enough lettering in Greek, Latin and possibly Hebrew to identify it as saying, "Jesus of Nazareth." But are these things really imaged on the cloth? Are there criteria for deciding?

Consensus among people who closely study the images on the shroud is valid so long as that study is as completely objective as possible. Worldview nullification must be avoided at all cost. It is not proper to reject these images because you don’t believe the shroud is real. But it is fair to be skeptical, as in the case of the flowers, teeth, coins and lettering because there is identifiable noise such as the banding, wrinkles and crinkles and whatnots.

"’I see’ said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw," so goes the excruciatingly ridiculous old English ditty. "I see flowers, I see teeth . . ." You get the idea.

flower8 I would like to see the flowers. I see something that looks like two flowers. I’m not convinced they are flowers. I’m not trained enough in botany to know many other types of flowers to look for. I’ve read the books. Studied the charts and diagrams. Looked at pictures through gadgets. I don’t see the flowers. I want to see. Show me. Show me that these images are not pareidolias or apophenias or phantasms or I-think-I-sees. Show me that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t New Jersey.

I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin « Shroud of Turin Blog

The Best Shroud of Turin Pareidolia?

October 11, 2010 Comments off

As humans, we have a very natural ability to see images in random patterns. Frequently, people see patterns with which they are most familiar. Faces are common and hence people often see images of Jesus or Mary on tortillas and grilled cheese sandwiches, in wood grain, in patterns of smudges of all sorts.

This one is particularly shroud-like. Was it graphically enhanced? I wonder. If not, it is a great example of pareidolia.

image 

You can find several examples at http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/20-jesus-sightings

Categories: Art, Pareidolia

Pareidolia

February 7, 2009 Comments off

Yes, it is amazing. But the detail in the shroud images goes well beyond pareidolia. I am afraid, however, that there is a problem with pareidolia when people see things on the shroud that probably aren’t there; for instance coins and lettering, etc.

Isn’t it wonderful how the human mind works? Apparently we have a knack of recognizing faces in every day objects. That phenomenon is called pareidolia . Most famous of course are the shroud of Turin, or when people see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in a peace of toast or some dirt on a window. That’s called acheiropoieta (yeah I looked that up). One of the most stunning examples I came across lately is this vintage photo of a child sitting on a man’s lap. You actually have to look hard to see beyond the face to see the actual picture.

 

Thanks to Fingermaze: He’s all around us.

Categories: Image Theory, Pareidolia

Pareidolia

February 6, 2009 Comments off

Yes, it is amazing. But the detail in the shroud images goes well beyond pareidolia. I am afraid, however, that there is a problem with pareidolia when people see things on the shroud that probably aren’t there; for instance coins and lettering, etc.

Isn’t it wonderful how the human mind works? Apparently we have a knack of recognizing faces in every day objects. That phenomenon is called pareidolia . Most famous of course are the shroud of Turin, or when people see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in a peace of toast or some dirt on a window. That’s called acheiropoieta (yeah I looked that up). One of the most stunning examples I came across lately is this vintage photo of a child sitting on a man’s lap. You actually have to look hard to see beyond the face to see the actual picture.

 

Thanks to Fingermaze: He’s all around us.

Categories: Image Theory

Thank You, Everyone

December 15, 2015 218 comments

imageThis is my last posting. I’m retiring from blogging. I need to. It’s time to move on. I’m now more involved in the community where I live and I want to become more active in the church.

I’ll let commenting continue for a few days and then shut down comments for good by years’ end. I’ll keep the blog up for future research and reading.

Thank you, everyone!

If you want to take over in some way, write to me and we’ll try to figure out something.


imageI started this experiment seven years ago with the hope of beginning an ongoing conversation about any and all topics related to the shroud. The slow pace of papers and the length of time between conferences, very much the time-tested way, was too slow for my temperament. There was the Shroud Science Group conducting discussions in private by email. I enjoyed that. But its membership was restricted. It reminded me of the proverbial boyhood tree house with the sign that read, “No Girls Allowed.”

Maybe that’s unfair: You had to be nominated. You had to be invited. No one was ever turned away although a couple of people were eventually kicked out of the group for email misbehaving. If there had been a sign and someplace to hang it, it would have read, “No Skeptics Allowed.” At least, it felt that way.

Skepticism is the healthiest of attitudes with all things having to do with religion. I believed that. For instance, a Christian should never fear new discoveries in science and history. There can be no better test of the strength and truth of one’s faith than to face the questions posed by new views of reality.

We needed to be tempted, not by going into the desert but into the jostling crowd. It took a long time. Thank, God, for Colin Berry and all the others.

At first I didn’t do blogging correctly and this blog didn’t catch on. Eventually, I learned to say less and encouraged others to become the center of the discussion, something I’m not good at. In doing so I created an opportunity to learn a lot from skeptics and non-skeptics alike. I hope this has been true for others because this blog was never intended for my benefit alone.

This blog has exceeded all my expectations. Lately, I have been posting almost every day, sometimes two or three times a day. Comments pour in. They are good comments, not those meaningless short comments you see in so many blogs. There has been a lot of constructive discussion.

In looking back over seven years, I realize that my overall views on the shroud have not changed significantly. You’ll note that in the right hand column of every page, I say, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.” I used to say it probably is instead of may be. I still gut-think it is probably authentic but in all honesty I can’t defend the word probably with real-world science and objective history.

Belief is a less cautious word than knowing. I can say with more honesty that from all the evidence discussed here, with everyone’s input considered, I believe the shroud is indeed authentic. But I can’t say I know it.

As I leave blogging about the shroud, I want to leave a few thoughts behind. This is today’s list. I may awake to a new list tomorrow but I won’t go back and change it. I’m really out of here.

On Overwhelming Evidence: From time to time, people have tried to convince me that the evidence in favor of authenticity is overwhelming. Similarly, others have tried to convince me that the evidence against authenticity – particularly the carbon dating – is overwhelming. No, it is not. It is underwhelming. That is why this blog has over 4000 postings with a total of more than 46,000 comments. That is why this blog has accumulated 3.3 million page views. That is why 790 people subscribe to receive email copies of every posting.

Redo the Carbon Dating: Of course.

On Seeing Things on the Shroud: I don’t think there are any images of ancient coins, plants, teeth or written messages in Greek, Latin or Hebrew; all these are wishful misperceptions or pareidolia. See: I Don’t See Flowers and Coins and Teeth on the Shroud of Turin

On 3D Encoding: I think the ability to plot a 3D representation of the body from the image of a man on the shroud with tools like the VP8 Image Analyzer or ImageJ is a valid image characteristic. However, I don’t think that the data – essentially greyscale values of the image – necessarily represents cloth to body distance. To think so requires the assumption that the shroud covered the body. It probably did if the cloth is authentic, but we are not there yet. Nonetheless, I’ve listened to others preposterously trying to prove the authenticity of the cloth from the facts and measurements derived from this assumption.

Moreover, it is often said that it is impossible to plot 3D information from paintings and ordinary photographs. Bill Meacham wrote:

Unlike ordinary photographs or paintings, the Shroud image converted into an undistorted three-dimensional figure, a phenomenon which suggested that the image-forming process acted uniformly through space over the body, front and back, and did not depend on contact of cloth with body at every point.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold up. See: It is really, really time to rethink what we think about 3D

Exaggerations: NASA did not analyze the shroud. Ray Rogers was not a general In the Air Force, America’s greatest scientists did not study the shroud, and so-and-so was not a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Drop the exaggerations. They only weaken the truth.

Dematerialization: The suggestion that the image was formed by a cloth falling through a dematerializing body is unfortunate. Permit me to quote Hugh Farey here:

… The trouble with the fall-through hypothesis is that, being imaginary, its parameters can be adjusted so that it fits whatever observations we want. If a critic were to say that the instantaneous disappearance of 70kg of mass would create a sudden large vacuum which would suck the shroud into a screwed up ball in the middle, then we simply have to invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen. If he says that the energy emitted by such a disappearance would exceed that produced by several megatons of nuclear bomb, vaporising the Shroud and most of Jerusalem with it, we simply invent a physics in which that doesn’t happen either. All we need is for a “body wrapped in the Shroud to become volumetrically radiant […] and simultaneously mechanically transparent, thus offering time-decreasing resistance to the cloth as it collapsed through the body space.” Simples. Made-up physics can explain anything.

See: The Process of Resurrection and Dematerialization 101

Sindonology: To quote Colin Berry, because in this I think he is right:

. . . There is no such thing as an expert in the field of sindonology (or shroudology as I prefer to call it. We are all beginners. Some begin better than others. The TS is a test of our ability to separate the wishful thinking that comes with appealing imagery from that of cold hard reality. Sadly there is no part of the human mind that is devoted to detecting CHR. The human mind is programmed to respond on a more immediate like/dislike response to what it sees. It’s part and parcel of the human condition to instantly add layers of fancy to what cunningly or otherwise seduces, or attempts to seduce the eye.

 

Some of my other favorite postings:

Maybe the devil made them post this

It Was A Single Procedural Screw-Up. No Other Area Was Sampled. Is That Enough?

Why do we think the Resurrection was a process? What if it was not?

The Best Shroud of Turin Pareidolia?

Paper Chase: Why There Are Probably No Images of Coins, Lettering, Flowers and Whatnots on the Shroud of Turin

The Pollen Scam?

Why the images and bloodstains were not painted on

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer?

A Masterly Demolition of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

A Pointless Discussion of the Hungarian Pray Manuscript?

The Curious ‘a’ in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript

Discussion about the Pray Codex and its relation to the Shroud is over?

Get Thee Upset! Or Not: Thomas de Wesselow’s New Book on the Shroud

Hymn of the Pearl: Description of the Shroud of Turin?

 


A final note:

 

When I first started this blog someone told me. “The Shroud of Turin is a Catholic relic. As an Episcopalian you have no right to comment on it.”

I wrote a reply and never posted it. This is my last chance:

It’s true; I’m an Episcopalian. Episcopalians are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Maybe I should explain what sort of Episcopalian I am. I’m High Church – all smells and bells, some say. Every Sunday it’s Solemn High Mass with a priest, deacon and sub-deacon, plenty of incense, holy water, chimes, chanting and recitation of The Angeles (“Hail Mary, full of grace…”). To some, should they visit a service, it might seem a lot like the Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass of old. There are differences, however. There is little or no Latin. Look closely and you will see wedding rings on most of our priests and bishops. That is because most of them are married. Many of our priests and even a few bishops are women; so girls are allowed. Generally speaking, we Episcopalians think most Christian denominations or traditions are part of one universal church, one body of Christ. One expression of this is our practice of open communion. We welcome all baptized Christians to participate in the Eucharist. (Personally, I would do away with the requirement of baptism. I would welcome anyone to the “Lord’s Table” regardless of belief or anything else – let God sort these things out, not men and women).

Okay, so I’m an Episcopalian. So what? Would it be any different if I was Methodist or Presbyterian or Greek Orthodox? You say it is a Catholic relic. Is it? Why is that? If the history of the shroud is right, was it not a possession of the Church in Constantinople before 1204? Early on, perhaps it was a relic of the Nestorians or the Syriac Church or even the Church in India. We don’t know is the point. Today, to my way of thinking it is an item (an icon or a relic) for all Christians. The Pope is its current legal custodian and the leader of perhaps its most interested Christian tradition. Beyond that, let God sort it out, not men and women.

Thank you, everyone!

Categories: News & Views

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 …

image


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

Posting For a Slow News Day

July 28, 2015 13 comments

Psychosis set in when the radiocarbon dating results for the Shroud of Turin were
announced, or when the due date of the Mayan apocalypse came and went.

imageIt is about apophenia and pareidolia: the short essay, Beware of the Man in the Ashtray by Neels Blom appearing in Business Day (BDlive of South Africa). Well, no, not really. It is about politics. Well, no, not really. Well maybe if you lived in South Africa you might think so.

Oh, did I mention the Shroud of Turin is mentioned. But it is not about that.  Fly fishing? Pluto?

It is entertaining. And if is very well written. And it is not an essay. It’s and Op Ed. That’s enough.

By-the-way, we’ve discussed apophenia and pareidolia many times in the blog (those are links to pages in this blog). We discussed fishing once.  Well, no, not really.

Categories: Uncategorized

Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro

April 14, 2015 14 comments

In the website of our laboratory is the web page where you can find all the results,
works, publications, interviews and films related to the Shroud studies conducted at ENEA.

From a Google translation of an interview conducted by Maria Margherita Peracchino in L’Indro, Shroud: the image impossible according to the ENEA: Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory of the Center Excimer ENEA Frascati:

Among the most recent studies, there is one made by the Laboratory of the Center Excimer ENEA Frascati. "Our laboratory has tried a new approach," says Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory of ENEA Frascati, "trying to play a Shroud-like coloration of linen fabrics through photochemical effects induced by ultraviolet light, which in principle has the characteristics needed to get at least two of the characteristics of the Shroud image, which is the low temperature of formation and coloring extremely superficial, limited to a thin film sub micrometer. "

Lazarus, we explain the work you have carried out on the Shroud and the fundamental results to which you have come?

Since 2005 the Laboratory of Excimer ENEA Frascati Centre carried out a large number of irradiation of ultraviolet laser light on linen fabrics woven in the years between 1930 and 1950 never used and never washed with detergent, in order to avoid the presence of bleaching chemicals that can alter the optical properties of the tissue. By radiation means sending laser pulses on the fabric, which alter the chemical bonds of the same tissue, which in turn changes its surface properties and appearance. The main purpose of irradiations was to verify whether an intense ultraviolet radiation was able to create a linen coloration with characteristics similar to those of the body image on the Shroud of Turin. After numerous irradiation and with great difficulty we managed to find the right combination of laser parameters (pulse duration, intensity, energy density and number of shots) that allows a color-like shroud. We got a shade of color, a superficial staining, an effect of alternating colored fibers and not colored, the negativity of the image that are similar to those measured on the Shroud of Turin by STURP. Based on our thirty years of experience of irradiation and interaction of light with many materials, was the first time that we have found a range of values ​​so critical to get the desired effect: during the irradiation of the fabric is in fact sufficient to vary by a few percentage points one only the laser parameters mentioned above to stop getting any coloration of linen. Really amazing.

In addition to the experiments of laser irradiation and coloration of linen, more recently you have faced the problem of different written and invisible images that some scholars fail to highlight after a digital processing of the contrast and brightness of the photographs of the Shroud.

Yes. And our results suggest that in some cases (the alleged written, the alleged face on the back) is probably illusory perceptual effects related to the phenomena of psychological Gestalt and pareidolia well known to scholars of human perception and optical illusions. Our results have been presented in detail in several articles published in international scientific journals of great prestige and impact, and therefore are available to all interested scientists to reproduce our results and maybe get better. In the website of our laboratory is the web page where you can find all the results , works, publications, interviews and films related to the Shroud studies conducted at ENEA.

Paul Maloney’s St. Louis Paper (The Shroud is not a painting)

December 8, 2014 1 comment

This list, then, and the complexity it represents, itself becomes a powerful argument
against the position that the Shroud was a painting.
No artist ever painted such a complex depiction of the Crucified.

imageMUST READ:  You are not going to be able to read this in twenty minutes. You can’t even skim it that quickly. This 81-and=then-some page paper, Joseph M. Gambescia, M.D. and the Position of the Feet on the Shroud of Turin. The History of an Investigation  by Paul C. Maloney is too important and two informative to to not be read carefully including the endnotes. Here is a sampling:

Page 4:

It was a dreary, rainy afternoon, April 7, 1980. I should have had the light on in my study but I didn’t because I was in a melancholy mood. Then the phone rang. I recognized that baritone voice on the other end of the line and knew I was talking to Hershel Shanks, founder and editor of the world’s largest circulating biblical archaeology magazine, The Biblical Archaeology Review, calling from Washington, D.C.

Hershel wanted me to write an article on the Shroud for the magazine. “But, Hershel, I don’t know anything about the Shroud of Turin!”

Page 9:

It is important here to insert here that Dr. Gambescia was not rejecting the work of the French physician, Dr. Pierre Barbet; he was actually building upon Barbet’s work. Neither was Dr. Gambescia rejecting the special interpretation of the arms and their attendant blood flows proposed by the late Mons. Giulio Ricci. His proposal, however, does suggest an interpretation different from that proposed for the blood flows for the feet than that offered by Mons. Giulio Ricci. It is this new interpretation that we are introducing for further research by the medical profession to be discussed alongside the earlier discussions for the feet. . . .

Pages 80 and 81:

A List of the Shroud’s Anomalies: Problems with the Painting Hypothesis

Finally, if it is argued that an artist did paint the original Shroud—as this view has most forcefully been argued by the late Dr. Walter C. McCrone in so many of his publications—the Shroud now becomes most unique. We may therefore conclude this paper with a convenient list of anomalies, as they would become if a singular artist painted the original:

1. Artists down through the ages have presented the Crucified wearing a crown of thorns. The Shroud shows the Man of the Shroud with a “cap” of thorns.

2. Artists have always depicted the Man of the Shroud with no rope holding the torso against the stipes of the Cross. The Shroud appears to support the view that a rope pulled the torso back to hold it against the upright (stipes) of the cross.

3. Artists have traditionally rendered the Crucified with nails through the palms of the hands. The Shroud shows them to be through the wrists.

4. Artists have long painted the Crucified showing the arms in a “Y” type of stance. But Mons. Giulio Ricci, who studied this in detail, shows that the right arm was likely bent at a right angle, whereas the left was in the “Y” position.

5. Artists have followed several different paths in rendering the feet. Sometimes they show the feet (especially in crucifixes) with the right foot up against the stipes of the cross, and the left nailed atop the right—all with one nail. At other times they have depicted the left against the stipes with the right atop the left foot—again, all with one nail. And sometimes the two feet are nailed side-by-side on a slanted platform (suppedaneum). This latter view is common in Eastern Byzantine, Greek, and Russian Orthodox crucifixes. Gambescia’s view would require two nails, one going through front of the ankle of the right foot to anchor it directly to the stipes, with the left foot nailed atop the center of the right using a single nail leaving the left foot free to swivel.

This list, then, and the complexity it represents, itself becomes a powerful argument against the position that the Shroud was a painting. No artist ever painted such a complex depiction of the Crucified. Yet, students of the history of art—interested especially in cladistics—can now actually see the Shroud as the beginning of a “tree of descent” where one can study just how the many painted views of the Crucified diverged over the centuries, influenced by various translations of the New Testament in conjunction with markings on the Shroud itself and the heavy pressure of tradition in numerous different geographical locales. But that would be the subject of another paper.

Taking comfort in significant endnotes:

Nevertheless, my request to Dr. Adler was precisely because of my concern regarding pareidolia. In my case, I wanted to be absolutely certain that the features discussed in this paper could be seen easily by the human eye. This problem is well illustrated in Ray Rogers review of Mark Antonacci’s book, Resurrection of the Shroud wherein he states:

With regard to other images on the Shroud, few of us can see them. "I think I can see" is not a substitute for an observation, and observations must be confirmed. When Fr. Francis Filas (deceased) claimed he saw the coins, lituus and all, he was looking at specific photographic prints. He had many prints produced at increasing contrast. Finally, all that was left was strings of dots. It took a numismatist who was familiar with ancient Roman coins weeks to "see" the lituus in those photographs. Your mind tries to make sense out of any "patterns" your eye can see. Psychologists have a lot of effort invested in studying such phenomena… It is dangerous to build a scientific theory on such shaky foundations. Your mind tends to see what it expects and/or wants to see. (Rogers’ review, p. 15, available at: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/rogers.pdf).

The ever present danger of pareidolia and other related issues covered in this extensive endnote (including such problems associated with photo-lithography in the publication process; photo flipflopping [see 13.a below]; cropping, [see 13.a below] etc.) promoted my extreme caution when I asked of Dr. Adler this special favor to examine the Shroud in person in June 1997 to verify whether or not the markings that had been digitally enhanced were there and could be seen without digital enhancement. This footnote, then, not only covers pareidolia, but also other problems that are not technically defined as pareidolia.

Paper Chase: The Second Face Defended

December 4, 2014 9 comments

Realizing how easily I had accepted the second image of a face discovery
and eventually realizing the need for questioning such discoveries
was one of the reasons  I decided to actively blog.

imageThe paper in question from the St. Louis Conference is About the Second Image of Face Detected on the Turin Shroud  by Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo (Read by Joseph G. Marino).

    Maybe if Giulio had been there or maybe if there had been a PowerPoint it might have been more interesting. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the paper; there isn’t. It’s just that . . . let’s let an ellipses-for-adjectives abstract of the abstract explain why:

A second faint image of the face of the Turin Shroud has been discovered in 2004 . . .  but a recent paper has questioned . . . its presence. . .  . it explained those patterns with pareidolia and Gestalt effects of the human perception . . .  in a not proper way. This paper both discusses these results showing why the image processing used in that paper seems not proper to sustain its thesis and presents additional image processing for pattern recognition.

imageIn other words the 2004 discovery of a second face on the backside of the cloth had been shot down in a peer reviewed journal paper, Pattern recognition after image processing of low-contrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra and Barrie Schwortz. The paper is sadly behind a pay wall at Science Direct but we have the abstract and some highlights:

Abstract:

We discuss the potentially misleading effect of software techniques for elaborating low-contrast images. In particular, we present the example of the stains embedded into one of the most studied archeological objects in history, the Shroud of Turin. We show for the first time that image processing of both old and recent photographs of the Shroud may lead some researchers to perceive inscriptions and patterns that do not actually exist, confirming that there is a narrow boundary between image enhancement and manipulation.

Highlights

► The limited static contrast of our eyes may render problematic the perception of low-contrast images.

► Brain’s ability to retrieve incomplete information interpret false image pixels after image processing.

► Image processing of Shroud photographs leads to perceive patterns that do not actually exist.

► There is a narrow line between enhancement and manipulation of low-contrast images.

Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo are fighting back or at least asking us to reserve judgment for awhile:

Before to reach a conclusion in agreement to Ref. [10] it will necessary a sure and objective demonstration that the second fainter face detected in Ref. [1] is really a trick of the human perception. Meanwhile, in agreement with various TS experts, see Refs. [23 – 26], we consider credible the presence of a second image of face on the back side of the TS. The analysis of the UV photo of face made by Turin Archdiocese in 2002 and not yet made available to the scientific community will help to confirm this fact.

Those references being:

-1. G. Fanti, R. Maggiolo: The double superficiality of the frontal image of the Turin Shroud, (J. of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, volume 6, issue 6, 2004, pages 491- 503, April 2004).

-10. P. Di Lazzaro, D. Murra, B. Schwortz , Pattern recognition after image processing of lowcontrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin, (Pattern Recognition J., available online 31 December 2012).

-23. J. P. Jackson, Does the Shroud of Turin show us the Resurrection?, (Biblia y Fé, 1998).

-24. G. Fanti, et al. (24 authors): Evidences for Testing Hypotheses about the Body Image Formation of The Turin Shroud, (III Int. Conf. on the Shroud of Turin: Dallas, Texas, 2005), http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/doclist.pdf accessed January 31, 2013.

-25. G. Fanti, J.A. Botella, F. Crosilla, F. Lattarulo, N. Svensson, R. Schneider, A.D. Whanger, List of Evidences of the Turin Shroud, (Int. Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy, (2010).

-26. O. Scheuermann, Turiner Tuschbold aufgestrahlt?, (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrucken Deutchland, 2007).

Hello Mr. Zias

September 29, 2014 225 comments

A Guest Posting by Yannick Clément
An Exchange of Emails with Joe Zias (Wikipedia Entry)

Hello everyone!

imageHere, I would simply like to share some precious and very pertinent informations I got from a real expert in ancient Jewish burial rituals who’s name is Joe Zias. Mr. Zias [Pictured]  is a well-known and well-respected Jewish archaeologist who also was the former curator of Archaeology and Anthropology for the prestigious Israel Antiquities Authority. I reached him recently via email to discuss with him about some topics related to the Shroud of Turin.

The first subject I wanted to talk with him concerns two hypotheses that have been proposed over the years concerning the possible use of flowers and/or plants during the burial of the Shroud man. These hypotheses propose that these botanical species would have been laid on the Shroud man’s body before the end of the burial procedure.

The first hypothesis is well known in the Shroud world and propose that some images of flowers are visible on the Shroud and that these flowers would have been present inside the cloth at the moment of the body image formation and, for an unknown reason (most probably related to the image formation process itself), would have been also reprinted on the cloth’s surface along with the body of the Shroud man.

The second hypothesis is less known, but have been proposed recently by the archaeologist Paul Maloney in a paper that was published on this blog. It is related to various microscopic debris of plants and flowers that he found in good quantity in some of Max Frei’s pollen samples. Mr. Maloney proposes the idea that these debris would have been left on the Shroud after the deposit of these botanical species on the body of the Shroud man before he was completely enveloped in the Shroud.

I always been very suspicious about the first hypothesis concerning the images of flowers on the Shroud (for the main reason that I don’t see how a natural image formation process could, at the same time, produce a body image AND some images of flowers on a linen cloth) and, after some reflection, I felt the same concerning Mr. Maloney’s own hypothesis.

But in order to better judge the potential validity of these two hypotheses, I decided to contact Mr. Zias (with who I have exchange some emails in the past) and ask him a pertinent question on the subject.

Here’s the email I sent him: “Hello Mr. Zias!

Recently, I read a hypothesis about the Shroud of Turin that I consider truly irrational and I just want you to confirm to me that my reasonning about that is correct.
Mr. Paul Maloney, a Professional archaeologist who study the Shroud since the 1980s and who is in possession of the Max Frei’ collection of sticky tape samples he collected from the Shroud in 1978, propose the idea that the fact that there are a high concentration of microscopic debris of plants and flowers in some samples, this means that they must have come from some deposits of plants and flowers directly on the Shroud at some time during its history.  So far, I have no reason to doubt such a reflection.  But the thing is that Mr. Maloney propose that such a direct deposit of plants and flowers on the Shroud could have happened during the burial ritual of the Shroud man…

That’s where I disagree, because I really think that the deposit of plants and/or flowers WAS NOT part of the common ancient Jewish burial ritual of the Second temple period.
Question for you:  Am I right about that fact?  I’m sure you know the answer!  Thanks in advance for taking 2 minutes to confirm me that I’m right about the fact that there was no deposit of plants and/or flowers on the corpse and/or Inside the burial shroud during the common Jewish burial ritual that was perform in Antiquity.  I know that this is still the case in modern orthodox Jewish burials, but I want to be certain that this was already the case in Antiquity…”

And here’s his short reply: “Shalom, you are absolutely correct on that point. Joe Zias”

Interesting don’t you think? As I said at the beginning of my post, the only goal I seek here is to share these precious information with all of you, because I know that they are very pertinent and come from someone who have no bias on the subject. After reading the confirmation of Mr. Zias that plants and/or flowers were not part of ancient Jewish burials, it’s now up to you to make up your mind about the 2 hypotheses related to the presence of plants and/or flowers inside the Shroud with the body. Personally, I’m now more convinced than ever that there was absolutely no botanical species present inside the Shroud and that all that was there was the bloody and unwashed corpse of the Shroud man and nothing else… If I’m right, this would be in total sync with a real partial burial done in haste, which would correspond exactly with the Gospel accounts! In sum, I can say that what seems to be flower images to some people is most probably a good example of the pareidolia phenomenon that has been described by Barrie Schwortz and Paolo Di Lazzaro in this paper.

And when it comes to Mr. Maloney’s hypothesis, I think the alternative hypothesis he mentioned in his paper, which have been proposed by a palinologist named A. Orville Dahl, is much more rational and viable! This scientist proposed the idea that these debris of flowers and plants came from an event that has not been documented and that could be related to a liturgical ceremony in which the Shroud could have been used as the Sacred cloth on the altar of a church. It is during that kind of ceremony that flowers and plants would have been laid on it and would have left some microscopic debris. Personally, I think it’s truly possible that such a religious event could have happened while the cloth was kept in Constantinople and it is even possible to assume that this could have been the inspiration for the “epitaphios” cloths used during Easter time by the Orthodox Church, which started to appear in the Byzantine capital around 1200 A.D. I also think that it’s also possible to link such a liturgical event with the L-shaped burn holes on the cloth, which could well have been produced during that kind of liturgical ceremony in which the Shroud could have been used as an altar cloth folded in 4 equal pieces. Effectively, the nature and the appearance of the burn holes makes it possible that they were produced by some small drops of a corrosive liquid (note: Al Alder thought this was the most probable scenario to explain these burn holes), maybe coming from the use of incense, or produced by some small drops of very hot wax coming from a candle.

Here, I must say to those who would still be tempted to believe in the presence of images of flowers on the Shroud or to believe in Mr. Maloney’s hypothesis that, if these proposal would be true, then we would have a good reason to seriously doubt the authenticity of the Shroud as the real burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, because we know FOR A FACT that, historically, flowers and/or plants were NOT part of a common Jewish burial during the First century A.D.! And think about it : If the use of flowers and/or plants was not part of the normal Jewish burial ritual during the time of Christ, how in the world this would have been the case for his own burial, which was obviously done very partially and in haste?

Personally, I even doubts that some burial substances like aloes and myrrh (which traces has never been found by Adler or Rogers’ chemical investigations) could have been present inside the Shroud with the body, except maybe in solid form (maybe in powder). If that’s the case, it’s possible that this powder would have been placed inside some cloths (used as « bags ») and then disposed all around the Shroud man’s corpse inside the Shroud, which is an interesting hypothesis that was first proposed by doctor Pierre Barbet in his book about the Shroud and which, according to Barbet, would have been done basically for two reasons: 1- To retard a bit the decomposition process of the corpse. And 2- To remove bad smelling inside the tomb. And of course, this would have been done because those who did the incomplete burial of the Shroud man (this is a FACT) would have been well aware that they had to come back to the tomb later on to finish the job properly with a real anointment of the body. That was most certainly the main reason why the women needed to open Jesus tomb on Easter morning and the reason why they get there in a hurry very early was obviously to avoid facing a decomposed body and the very bad smelling that goes with it. But beside this possible presence of aloes and myrrh in powder inside the Shroud at the time of the image formation (which is a hypothesis that will probably never proven), I seriously doubt that there was any other thing, except for the dead and unwashed body of the Shroud man, still covered with blood and serum stains…

Now, after having exchanged some emails with Mr. Zias concerning the idea of flowers and/or plants that could have been used during the burial of the Shroud man, I decided to go further by asking him some questions in link with another well-known hypothesis concerning the possible presence of coins (often mentioned as being authentic « Pilatus coins » from Jesus era) over the eyes of the Shroud man.

Again, here’s parts of our exchange:

First, I send him this email: “Hello Mr. Zias!

Again, I need your knowledge on ancient Jewish burial practice! Along with the so-called images of flowers that some pro-Shroud guys said having seen on the cloth, they also claim that there would be images of coins over both eyes of the Shroud man and many of them goes further by pretending that these coins are Roman coins!

The only thing I would like to know is this : Does it was a common Jewish practice to put coins over the eyes of their deads during the burial ritual?“

And here’s the message he sent me: “It was never a Jewish custom and those coins that were found in the skull in Jericho were probably placed within the mouth, non Jewish Roman practice but in order to cover all bets we find it on rare occasion. Secondly, coins of Pontious Pilatis, sound like Monty Python. Joe Zias.”

Then, I send him the email: “In the case of the few coins that were found in ancient Jewish tombs, don’t you think, like me, that this is probably a pagan ritual done by some Hellenized Jews of that time?”
And here’s what he said to me: “Def. a roman pagan practice in which on occasion, Jews, in order to cover ‘all their bets’ placed coins in the mouth of the deceased.”

Then, I sent him this message: “Since we know that some Jews (many being from the upper class) were hellenized at the time of Christ, it’s not very surprising that archaeologists could find coins in Jewish tombs from time to time but, as you said well, this was surely not a common practice among Jews of that time…  I think it’s fair to say that, when it comes to ancient Jewish burial ritual, the use of coins is the exception that confirms the rule, right?”

And here is reply: “Absolutely correct, in most cases when coins were found colleagues believed they simply fell out of the pockets of those visiting or preparing the tomb. only exceptions were Jericho and the Caiaphas tomb where they were found in situ, the latter is a clear case of hypocracy as this was the tomb of the family of the high priest.”

Then, I asked him one more question: “1- Beside coins, was it a common Jewish burial practice in the time of Christ to cover the eyes of their dead with other things like buttons, pieces of ceramic, pieces of potery, etc. ?”

And here’s his answer: “During the period in question, Jews never used anything to cover the eyes of the deceased as the head was wrapped in a shroud.”

Again, as I said at the beginning of my post, the only goal I seek here is to share these precious information with all of you. And after reading what Mr. Zias had to say about that, it’s now up to you to make up your mind about the idea of a possible presence of coins or some other thing over the eyes of the Shroud man. Personally, I’m now more convinced than ever that there was absolutely nothing present over his eyes at the end of the partial burial procedure… And if the eyes seems to pop-up on the 3D photos, this could simply be due to one of these two natural reasons : 1- For some unknown reason, there would have been a release of a greater quantity of « energy » (which could well be post-mortem gases) in the region of the eyes versus the surrounding area, which would have caused a very high concentration of yellowed fibers there. Or 2- The eyes of the Shroud man were simply very swollen, maybe due to the intense beating he received (which is an hypothesis that have been retained by Mel Gibson when he shoot his movie The Passion of the Christ). This pathological state would have caused a direct contact between the eyes and the cloth, thus causing a very high concentration of yellowed fibers there.

In conclusion, to illustrate better my thoughts on these controversial subjects, I propose you a fictive interview I would make with a reporter:

First question : Do you think there are images of flowers on the Shroud?

My answer : Since the data coming from the Shroud convinces me of the authenticity of the cloth, I’m also convinced that there is no such thing on the cloth, because we know for a fact that, historically, flowers or plants were not part of the common Jewish burial ritual in the days of Christ. And since the burial of the Shroud man was done very partially and in haste, I don’t see why the people who did it would have lose time picking flowers outside the tomb! In sum, I would say that it’s not because some people are seeing some images of flowers that these things are really there on the cloth…

Second question : Do you think there are images of coins on the Shroud over the eyes of the Shroud man?

My answer : Same thing! Since the data coming from the Shroud convinces me of the authenticity of the cloth, I’m also convinced that there is no such thing on the cloth, because we know for a fact that, historically, the use of coins in ancient Jewish burial was truly exceptional and happened only in the case of Jews that were very hellenized, which was obviously not the case for Christ and his followers who were all pious Jews. So much in fact that, even after the Resurrection, they were still going in the Temple of Jerusalem and in synagogues to preach! We also know that, in pagan burial rituals, only one coin was normally used and placed inside the mouth of the dead person and not over his eyes. And we also know that because the dead Jews were all placed inside burial shrouds, there was no need for the use of some other material (like a piece of ceramic or something like this) to cover the eyes of the dead in the case they would open after death. In sum, since the burial cloth was already covering the entire body of the person, there was no need to put something else over the eyes to cover them! Again, it’s not because some people are seeing some images of coins on the Shroud that this is really what’s there…

I hope this post of mine will help some people to make up their minds better regarding these topics! That’s all for the moment… Stay tuned for more! J

imageYannick Clément, independent Shroud researcher, Louiseville, Québec, Canada

P.S.: I really think that those who have proposed these obviously wrong hypotheses should have done the same kind of “homework” I did before proposing them publicly! By getting in touch with a real expert in ancient Jewish burials, they would probably have come, just like me, to the evident conclusion that if the Shroud is authentic, there was most certainly no plants, no flowers, no coins and no other things like that present over the body or the eyes of the Shroud man when he was enveloped in that cloth… Interesting note on this subject: This is exactly what Ray Rogers did when he analyzed the nature of the image chromophore, which proves once again his high level of professionalism! Effectively, during his research on the subject, Rogers got in touch with Anna Maria Donadoni, who was a Conservator at the Turin’s Museum of Egyptology, in order to learn about the most common ancient method of manufacturing linen cloths and if such a technique could really produced a thin layer of carbohydrate impurities on the cloth’s surface, which would include traces of starch like the one detected by McCrone and by himself later on. It’s only AFTER having made this important check-up that he was confident enough to publicly propose an important change in STURP conclusion about the image chromophore, which is, as he said, probably not located inside the structure of the fiber itself but only in this kind of carbohydrate coating which is probably resting over a good portion of the topmost fibers on the cloth’s surface. That’s how good science is done! Obviously, in the cases of the 3 hypotheses I discussed in this post, we cannot talk about “good” science, but much more about “good” imagination!

You would think someone at LiveScience would know better by now

August 12, 2014 4 comments

pareidolia again and again and again

imageIn a LiveScience article Man in the Comet: Why We See Faces Everywhere we read:

Though the face on the comet, with its shadowy profile, looks almost sinister, it is far from unique: Humans are wired to see faces everywhere.

In fact, the phenomenon is so common that it even has a name: Pareidolia, which in Greek means, in essence, "faulty image."

"Your brain is constantly trying to make the most out of just the tiniest thing," said David Huber, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who has studied the phenomenon. "You’re sort of in overdrive on imagining from limited information that there is a face."

Faces, faces everywhere

From the Shroud of Turin, thought to carry the imprint of the crucified Jesus’ face and body, to faces in the clouds and the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, people have always seen faces in everyday objects. Even the faintest hint of eyes, nose and a mouth in roughly the right places will often trigger the brain’s facial recognition system, Huber said.

[ . . . ]

Brain processing

When people see faces in images, a brain area called the fusiform face region lights up in brain scans, said Kang Lee, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, in Canada, who has worked with Huber on several studies of how people process faces.

This brain region is likely a key junction point where low-level visual information is processed to say "Aha! It’s a face," Huber said.

The distance between facial features seems to play a key role in the brain’s ability to spot and uniquely identify different faces.

As I pointed out back in December of 2012, LiveScience carried this bit of insanity then and that posting was called LiveScience Goofs Again:

A prime example of pareidolia and its connection to religious images is the Shroud of Turin, a cloth bearing the image of a man — which some believe to be Jesus — who appears to have suffered trauma consistent with crucifixion. The negative image was first observed in 1898, on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral.

Are there no editors at this magazine? In the three short paragraphs just above the paragraph I just quoted, Zimmermann very correctly and very clearly defined pareidolia as follows:

imageThe psychological phenomenon that causes some people to see or hear a vague or random image or sound as something significant is known as pareidolia (par-i-DOH-lee-a).

The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, which is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data.

Some common examples are seeing a likeness of Jesus in the clouds or an image of a man on the surface of the moon.

The picture of a man on the Shroud of Turin is not at all mere random data. It is unmistakably a picture of a man. It might be a yet unexplained work of art. It might even be a photograph by Leonardo da Vinci.  (Humor me, I’m just trying to make a point). It might be the product of some natural phenomenon. Or it might be a miraculous acheiropoieton, an image not created by human hands. But it is not a pattern of random data that just so happens to look like a man. That would be so extraordinary and so statistically implausible as to be truly miraculous. It is not a pareidolia.

Whatever anyone may think about the shroud’s authenticity, there is one thing everyone should agree about: the image of a man with a well-featured face on the shroud is not a pareidolia.  Here is a handy search of this blog on the subject.

Categories: Pareidolia Tags: ,

What has Joe Nickell Been Up To Lately?

July 17, 2014 3 comments

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Lately? This page at CSI offers a quick review over the past year or so. I see nothing related to the Shroud. My favorite is his investigation of the Florida Skunk Ape. Here is a picture of him taking a picture of nothing in order to prove that skunk apes do not exist. I think I see an alligator just behind him about to eat him. Or is that just a pareidolia formed by swamp grass?

He writes in CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer:

Behavior. The Skunk Ape’s behavior is typically similar to that of Bigfoot everywhere. It is frequently seen standing among trees, crossing a road (and occasionally being hit by a car), rummaging in garbage, drinking water or catching fish from a lake or stream, visiting campsites, standing to peer into windows, and so on. It typically vocalizes by growling, grunting, grumbling, or producing “stressed breathing” and, at least once, “clicking sounds,” among others (although at times there is no sighting and so no certainty that the sound was that of a Skunk Ape) (Jenkins 2010, 111, 117, 123).

Picture Credit: See article.

Max thinks I’m a half-blind arch-skeptic

May 24, 2013 53 comments

clip_image001Max-Patrick Hamon writes to me in a comment and an email:

By way of reply to a most unfortunate and desinformative posting of yours entitled “Dear Stephen E. Jones » (May 12, 2013) that triggered Paulette’s most vehement and blind criticism, (“The myth of the coin must end”) and a whole series of biased opinions by a few gullible arch-sceptics, please find here attached, [the paper below].

Although I don’t share Stephen Jones ‘half-blind’ arch-advocacy as far as the coin-over-eye issue is concerned, I must confess I just cannot buy into your ‘half-blind’ arch-scepticism either.

For the sake of good archaeology and fairness of debate, thank you therefore for publishing it in your blog.

And here it is:

Coins over eyes PART ONE: ARE ARCH-SCEPTICS THE VICTIMS
OF THE ‘I THINK I SEE NOTHING BUT’ SYNDROME?
By Max Patrick HAMON

Read more…

Categories: News & Views

Dear Stephen E. Jones

May 12, 2013 16 comments

I noticed that you have responded to my criticism of your posting, The Shroud of Turin: 2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over eyes, with an inline addendum. You begin:

Response to Dan Porter In a post, "The Forger and the Coins: One in a Gazillion with 13 Zeroes," Dan Porter, owner of the Shroud of Turin Blog, has criticised my post above, dismissing the evidence for the coins over the eyes of the man on the Shroud as "pure pareidolia":

"… But this is so only if you believe that the images of coins are there. I’ve spent years considering this question; I don’t believe they’re there. What people see, I think, is pure pareidolia.

But pareidolia is (my emphasis):

"…a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant … Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds …"[126]

"… the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features"[127].

Stephen, if you don’t like the term pareidolia – and I still do – then how about visual noise?

You continue:

However, in this Porter is simply ignoring the evidence above, for example, that Jackson, et al. found on their VP-8 Image Analyzer three-dimensional `relief map’ of the Shroud, images of two, round, flat objects over the eyes, which were the same size and shape of Pontius Pilate leptons.

Round flat objects? Let’s look at several images:

image1) This is perhaps the most famous of the images. It is a VP8 image prepared by Jackson. One might say the images over the eyes seem like flat disks. There might be something there. It’s hard to tell. Barrie Schwortz says,

I do not argue that there appears to be something on the eyes of the man of the Shroud, and it may well be coins or potshards . . .

But, I’m not even sure of that.

clip_image0012) In the photo Stephen, you provide, seemingly (I agree with you on this) sourced from Giovanni Tamburelli of the Centro Studie Laboratori Telecomunicazioni S.p.A., Turin, Italy, we see, as you put it, “small, round, raised, object over each eye.” These certainly don’t appear like, “two, round, flat objects.” These could very well simply be eyelids.

You continue:

They did not "imagine" them-the images really are there. And this was confirmed by others using different three-dimensional computer processing. Even if the details on the face of those two objects could not be seen, it would still be a reasonable conclusion that they are Pontius Pilate leptons.

Look! How can this possibly be a reasonable conclusion? Potshards? Um, maybe. Nothing but the normal curvature of eyes, perhaps swollen eyes? It seems so.

3) The History Channel provides an image prepared by Ray Downing during the making of the Real Face of Jesus. I think this provides good confirmation that “two, round, flat objects” ARE NOT clearly (conclusively) there.

image

If anything, the 3D images, and there are others as well, argue against the presence of coins over the eyes.

But Stephen, you continue:

And Porter is simply ignoring the improbability that a lituus shape and even one letter, in the correct order and angle of rotation around the lituus (both of which can be clearly seen on the Shroud – see above) `just happen’ to be chance patterns in the Shroud weave, which `just happen’ to be over the eye of the man on the Shroud, is of the order of 1 in 1.1216 x 1015. Not to mention that the `chance patterns’ are three-dimensional, round and flat!

If I thought that what constituted particular shapes and letters was completely or mostly the same chemical product that constitutes the image of the man on the shroud, I might think the statistical argument has merit. But I don’t think so.

imageThe statistic that you refer to were based on observations made on the 1931 Giuseppe Enrie photographs, beautiful and detailed, technically wonderful and absolutely wrong for this kind of analysis of small details. Why? Because the film was high resolution orthochromatic film. The problem was compounded when Enrie coupled this film choice with near-raking light thus creating countless miniscule patterns and shapes from the shadows between threads of the weave. Since orthochromatic film basically only records black or white, any mid-tone grays that existed on the cloth as image, background banding patterns in the ancient the linen, and accumulations of centuries’ worth of dirt particles caused more miniscule imaging.

The picture on the right is an approximation of banding found in the face area. The dark horizontal band about a quarter of the way down goes right through the eyes. Vertical banding lines also go through both eyes. Before you can do any statistics you must adjust for the banding noise, shadow noise and visible contamination noise.

It helps to quote from something Barrie Schwortz wrote in 2009:

. . . the high resolution orthochromatic film used by Enrie, coupled with the extreme raking light he used when making the photographs, created an infinite number of patterns and shapes everywhere on the Shroud. Since orthochromatic film basically only records black or white, any mid-tone grays of the Shroud image were inherently altered or changed to only black or only white, in essence discarding much data and CHANGING the rest.

The grain structure of orthochromatic film itself is distinctive: It is not homogenous and consists of clumps and clusters of grain of different sizes that appear as an infinite myriad of shapes when magnified. It is easy to find anything you are looking for if you magnify and further duplicate the image onto additional generations of orthochromatic film, thus creating even more of these shapes.

Although Enrie’s images are superb for general views of the Shroud (they look great), they contain only a small part of the data that is actually on the Shroud so they are much less reliable for imaging research purposes and have a tendency to lead to "I think I see…" statements. I would feel much more confident if these claims were based on the full color images of the Shroud which contain ALL the data available.

As I used to try and explain to Fr. Francis Filas, who first "discovered" the rather dubious coin inscriptions over the eyes and who had enlarged and duplicated the Enrie images (through at least five generations – and always onto orthochromatic film), there is a fine line between enhancement and manipulation. Fr. Filas first presented his findings to the STURP team in 1979 and frankly, not one of the STURP imaging scientists accepted his claims.

And now Stephen, you suggest something that just isn’t true.

From other things Porter has written, for example, his preferring a naturalistic explanation of the Shroud’s image, I assume that he does not want there to be images of coins over the Shroud man’s eyes because that would be more problems for a naturalistic explanation of the Shroud’s image, and further evidence for a supernaturalistic explanation of it.

No. No. I don’t “prefer” a naturalistic explanation. I only prefer a true explanation. Less than a month ago I posted So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer? in which I wrote:

I consider any image caused by radiation, of any kind, naturalistic. The only question is where the very natural radiation came from. I remain totally unconvinced from any evidence or by any argument so far presented that miracles produce energetic byproducts.

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer? None!

Let me repeat what I said: None!

Actually, I have a gut feeling that the image is miraculous in ways none of us have yet imagined (supernatural if you prefer that term). How is not something I am ready or able to articulate. I doubt the image was caused by the resurrection or by any energetic byproduct of the resurrection just as much as I doubt it is the accidental product of a pre/non-resurrection chemical reaction. 

Stephen, you conclude:

Therefore Porter blithely dismisses all the evidence above that there are Pontius Pilate coins over the eyes of the man on the Shroud with the `magic’ word "pareidolia"! But in so doing he goes far beyond what the word "pareidolia" means. However, Porter is welcome to his beliefs and I don’t see my role as convincing him, or anyone, but just presenting the evidence and letting my readers make up their own minds.

Blithely? You mean, lacking due thought or consideration? Talk about going beyond the meaning of a word.

I know there are still a few people who think there are images of coins over the eyes. That’s unfortunate.

The Forger and the Coins: One in a Gazillion with 13 Zeroes

May 11, 2013 11 comments

clip_image001Yesterday, in his blog, Stephen Jones revisited the topic in a posting entitled, The Shroud of Turin: 2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over eyes. He concludes:

Finally, this is yet another problem for the forgery theory[§14]. A medieval, or earlier, forger would have had to imprint the tiny letters 1.3 mm (1/32 inch), four of which are barely visible, and the rest invisible to the naked eye, on linen, in photographic negative[123], when the very concept of photographic negativity did not exist until the early 19th century[124]. Moreover, these leptons were not identified as being coined by Pontius Pilate until the early 1800s[125], so even in the unlikely event the 14th century or earlier forger knew of these coins, he would have no reason to think they were significant.

But this is so only if you believe that the images of coins are there. I’ve spent years considering this question; I don’t believe they’re there. What people see, I think, is pure pareidolia. (see: Paper Chase: Why There Are Probably No Images of Coins, Lettering, Flowers and Whatnots on the Shroud of Turin). Unless Jones can prove the images of coins are there, he cannot legitimately say that a forger would need to “imprint the tiny letters.”

Jones, to his credit, tries to prove it. He is thorough. His posting is comprehensive with extensive notes and citations. Maybe its me. Can someone explain this to me?

Fifth, the probability that there is a lituus and one letter in the correct position over one of the eyes of the man on the Shroud is 1 in 1.827 x 106 x 6.1389 x 108[122] = 1.1216 x 1015, i.e. 121 with 13 zeroes after it. Therefore the evidence is very strong that there is an image of a Pontius Pilate dilepton minted between AD 29-32 over the right eye of the Shroud. This is true irrespective of whether there is over the left eye the image of one or two Julia leptons, minted by Pontius Pilate in AD 29; and despite the mistake of Filas and Whanger in not realising that since the lituus on the image of the coin in an Enrie 1931 negative photograph over the right eye of the Shroud has a reversed question mark shape, then the Pontius Pilate lepton coin which was the basis of that image must have a question mark shape.

Categories: Other Blogs, Pareidolia

And Now the Flowers

April 10, 2013 4 comments

clip_image001“Here is ‘2.6’,” writes Stephen Jones as he continues his series . . .

. . . The other marks (4): Plant images", which is part 15 of my series, "The Shroud of Turin." The previous post in this series was part 14, "2.6. The other marks (3): Dirt on foot and limestone." See the Contents page (part 1) for more information about this series.

As many of you know, I’m not a big believer in the plant images. I’m not saying they aren’t there; I’m saying I’m not convinced. I think they are a form of pareidolia.

I do think there are at least two “marks,” to use Stephen’s terminology, that look like petal flowers, above and to the right and left of the face — marks that artists might have interpreted as flowers.

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Categories: Other Blogs, Pareidolia
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