Archive

Archive for the ‘Critical Summary’ Category

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:

http://goo.gl/RsVUaa

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 (shroud.com) 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 Academia.edu 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 shroud.com 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:  <site:shroud.com “pray codex” OR “pray manuscript” filetype:pdf>.  Now try it without the site specific limitation. The counts are 34 and 506 respectively.  Academia.edu 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, ShroudFacts@gmail.com.

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

Quick Reaction to In the Belly of the Beast

October 20, 2014 22 comments

“Whoa,” writes a reader in reaction to my Belly of the Beast posting. “Before you go slamming Dr. Jackson you need to look at the YouTube of him explaining the folds and the way the shroud was lifted out of the box. And read Dr. Jackson’s Foldmarks as a Historical Record at shroud.com where you can see the photographs. You dumb s… “

I think I ran into a fan. The part you may want to see starts at about the 11:10 mark and runs to about 18:00.  It is a good explanation.  Watch it! I still believe that the fold marks must be confirmed. I still say it is not class 1 evidence.  (Link to YouTube). And I added in the link to the above mentioned paper.

Categories: Critical Summary Tags:

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:

image

.

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, ShroudFacts@gmail.com.

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.

%d bloggers like this: