If you are not a regular reader of Stephen’s blog, Timothy Linick (pictured) of Arizona was one of the signatories of the Nature report on the dating of the Shroud of Turin. Stephen Jones blames Linick along with the KGB for hacking computers connected to AMS equipment in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona and thus faking a medieval date for the shroud.
The problem is that it may only be a matter of time before we read in the media that people who think the shroud is authentic believe that the carbon dating of the shroud was hacked by computer hackers.
All too many people think that the members of the press pay attention to academic credentials, read peer reviewed journals and even check out citations in technical papers. They do not. They take the quickest approach when faced with constant deadlines. They go to the web. They go to Wikipedia. They go to top listed websites and blogs.
Thankfully, Wikipedia has a strict policy against publishing original thinking; all material must be attributable to reliable, published sources. Wikipedia does not want original research (a matter of no small consternation to shroud researcher Colin Berry in his [m]essage to wikipedia: do stop taking yourself so seriously). They don’t want his theories in their encyclopedia. But, I digress.
Today, according to the Alexa’s web rating service, Stephen Jone’s Shroud of Turin blog is the most popular blog dedicated to the shroud (but Google ranks it second to this blog). If you ignore the distinction that it is only a blog, it is the third most popular website dedicated to information about the shroud. The top four in order, so says Alexa, are 1) sindone.org, 2) shroud.com, 3) Stephen’s blog, 4) this blog. Google has different ideas. It includes John Jackson’s site and Charles Freeman’s it-is-a-painting article in History Today in the ranks of the top ten go-to sites about the shroud. And of course Stephen’s blog, with his really wild and wooly conspiracy theory about the carbon dating being hacked, is also being listed as a go-to site. (Your mileage may vary; Google is like that).
It was an email, yesterday, from Stephen Jones that prompted me to write this posting. Apparently, when Stephen previously posted a Wikipedia definition of conspiracy theory he omitted the part of the definition that said that “belief in conspiracy theories can be rational and that the skepticism of conspiracy theorising (the generation of conspiracy theories) is akin to a modern day superstition.” He wanted me to know that.
Oh, well! So much for Wikipedia definitions. But then again this is not original thinking for I see that it is attributable to some really good sounding Oxford-ish and Cambridge-ish sources (I didn’t read the citations). The big deal is that maybe Stephen Jones is finally realizing that his speculation is really conspiracy theory. Now if he would only issue a warning to that effect.
Here are some highlights of his latest well-read posting (the bold emphasis is not mine).
If you are not a regular reader of Stephen’s blog, Timothy Linick of Arizona was one of the signatories of the Nature report on the dating of the Shroud of Turin. Stephen Jones blames Linick along with the KGB for hacking computers connected to AMS equipment in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona and thus faking a medieval date for the shroud. Karl Koch as a computer hacker in the 1980s who may have been involved in espionage.
10. THE SOVIET UNION HAD A MOTIVE TO DISCREDIT THE SHROUD AND THROUGH THE KGB KILL KOCH AND LINICK
• The Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse in the 1980s.
• A first century radiocarbon date of the Shroud would have been a threat to the atheist USSR. The Soviet Union was an atheist State. Yet, despite its attempts to eradicate religion since the 1917 revolution, the USSR continued to have a large Christian population. In the 1980s, three Christian denominations alone, had a total of about 56.5 million adherents…. So a first-century radiocarbon date of the Shroud of Turin would have been perceived as a huge threat by the embattled Soviet leadership.
• If Timothy W. Linick had offered the Soviets a 14th century carbon-date of the Shroud they would have accepted it. So if Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory physicist, Timothy W. Linick (see #10(7)) had approached the Soviet Union (through for example the Soviet consulate in San Francisco….
• Linick was found dead of suspected suicide on 4 June 1989 … in Tucson, Arizona….
• Koch and Linick were allegedly killed by the KGB to prevent them confessing the Soviets Union’s hacking of the Shroud’s radiocarbon dating.
[…] With the publication of the Nature paper of 16 February 1989, which claimed that the Shroud was "mediaeval … 1260-1390", Koch would (according to my theory) have realised what his hacking into the Oxford and Zurich university computers and running a program on them had done, as he had since "embrace[d] … conventional religion" .
That Koch had started to talk about his hacking for the USSR of the Shroud’s radiocarbon dating is supported by his fellow hacker Pengo (Hans Hübner), complaining that Koch was "talking of nothing but conspiracies and [was] having religious hallucinations".
Oh, yes. Lot’s of citations. Citations, whatever they are, look good at the bottom of webpages. Maybe Stephen’s conspiracy theory will get into Wikipedia. Maybe it will get into the press if there are any column inches left over after the journalists tell us that Charles Freeman’s thinks that the shroud was a painting.
But remember, the press won’t say the computer dating was hacked, only that that is what those whacky shroudies think.
that is, the British Society for the Turin Shroud
1) First read what Hugh wrote in Around the Internet in the newsletter.
2) Then read Stephen Jones’ blog posting, My reply to the anti-authenticist editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, Hugh Farey
Hugh’s comments are correct. If you want to understand more about what Stephen is thinking, read all of his blog entries for April of this year although the above mentioned posting should be enough. If you want even more and want to see what I and others have been saying, read A String of “Jones” Postings in this blog.
As for the Vignon Markings discussion mentioned by Hugh. You might want to start with Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2 (Vignon markings) in Stephen’s blog. Then read the following postings in this blog:
- How Valid are the Vignon Markings?
- More on How Valid are the Vignon Markings?
- Vignon Was Wrong But We’ll Carry On
- The Vignon Markings Issue: A Promoted Comment
Stephen wraps up with a call to have Hugh Farey removed:
In my opinion the British Society for the Turin Shroud should remove the anti-authenticist Hugh Farey from being Editor of its Newsletter, or else he will use it as a vehicle to promote his anti-authenticism, as he is doing in this attack on me. The BSTS has always been open to having non-Christians in its membership, and even its leadership, like the late Rodney Hoare, a BSTS past Chairman, who believed the Shroud was authentic but that it shows that Jesus was taken down alive from the cross. But the BSTS has in the past rejected anti-authenticists like David Sox from having a leadership role. It is a contradiction, which I predict will prove fatal if it continues, having an ANTI-authenticist Editor of the British Society FOR the Turin Shroud!
Stephen unfortunately sees the world in pro-authenticity and anti-authenticity terms; you are a good guy or a bad guy. you wear a white hat or a black hat. Whatever happened to being pro-truth whatever it may turn out to be? If the BSTS should be so foolish as to listen to Stephen it would have no credibility at all.
From where does Stephen’s pro-authenticity thinking stem? Try this out from January 2 of this year:
So I for one do not believe that the Risen Lord Jesus, who sits at the Father’s right hand and controls everything (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 22:69; Acts 2:33, 5:31;7:55-56; Rom 8:34; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22) would allow such a convincing fake as the Shroud would then be, to exist. . . . I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us Shroud pro-authenticists in 2014?
How many times can you use allegedly in a single paragraph? Stephen Jones continues with his theory in this latest installment of allegation that Arizona’s Timothy Linick was the alleged hacker who rigged the computerized consoles of all three AMS systems.
As part of my evidence that Arizona radiocarbon laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick(1946-4 June 1989) was allegedly the primary hacker, who: 1) allegedly wrote and installed on Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory’s AMS control console computer a program which ensured that the Shroud of Turin samples’ actual radiocarbon dates would be replaced by dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325; and 2) allegedly passed that program on to the KGB, for which he was allegedly working, to be installed by confessed KGB hacker Karl Koch (1965–3 June 1989) on the AMS control console computers at Zurich and Oxford’s radiocarbon dating laboratories; here is my evidence that Linick allegedly leaked Arizona’s 1350 radiocarbon date of the Shroud to the Rev. H. David Sox, an American Episcopalian (sic) priest, teaching at the American school in London. And that Sox in turn leaked that date to the media through Luckett and others, well before the official announcement on 13 October 1988.
Not that it matters all that much, that I can see.
Anyway, Hugh Farey recently and significantly commented about Stephen’s previous posting:
Stop Press: A little while ago Stephen either read this blog, or someone told him of the post above, and he inserted a comment into his latest posting to the effect that he realised his dates and chart with its non-overlapping bands were based on BP dates and needed calibrating. This he has now done, and amended his blog to show a new set of dates and a new chart which, curiously, still shows that the Oxford dates do not overlap either of the others. By using the tiny calibration diagram published in the Nature paper rather than an established calibration program, he has enabled himself to reinforce his convictions. This cannot be allowed to go uncriticised.
It is not clear that Stephen really understands the calibrating process, particularly when it comes to how to deal with quoted errors. Actually anybody can do it by using OxCal, which is online, easy to access, easy to use, and free. Stephen tried to do it using the tiny published calibration chart in the Nature paper, deriving his dates simply by adding and subtracting the error from the mean as published in the Nature paper, and attempting to read off the calendar date.
His results, and those from OxCal (to 95.4% probability) are as follows:
Arizona BP dates: 646 ± 31
Stephen’s calibration: 1290 – 1317
OxCal’s calibration: 1281 – 1396
Oxford BP dates: 750 ± 30
Stephen’s calibration: 1214 – 1266
OxCal’s calibration: 1222 – 1287
Zurich BP dates: 676 ± 24
Stephen’s calibration: 1286 – 1293
OxCal’s calibration: 1275 – 1388
Well, it’s only a few years here and there, what does it matter? But Stephen is a great pains to point out that by his calculation the Oxford dates still do not overlap either of the other two – which of course is untrue, and that the Arizona and Zurich dates only overlap by 25 years, which is also untrue. His finding of a minimum Oxford date of 1214 is grotesquely inaccurate and must surely be a typo, but his even more inaccurate maximum misreading has a serious effect on his later argument – I wonder if it could be deliberate fraud?
Stephen blazes on. It doesn’t matter. A target date will do nicely. It seems, if I’ve understood Stephen correctly, Linick was not a mere anti-authenticist, he was an extreme anti-authenticist unlike Gove and Hall who were non-extreme anti-authenticists. In other words, Linick was like McCrone who had written (extremely, I guess), "A date significantly later than the first century would be conclusive evidence the `Shroud’ is not genuine. A date placing the linen cloth in the first century, though not conclusive in proving the cloth to be the Shroud of Christ…":
Linick, you see, said something similar. He said: “If we show the material to be medieval that would definitely mean that it is not authentic. If we date it back 2000 years, of course, that still leaves room for argument. It would be the right age – but is it the real thing?’"
This is evidence, Stephen says. Linick agreed with what McCrone stated eight years earlier. So, because McCrone had theorized that the cloth was painted about 1355, Linick can use that as a target date. Almost. To be more plausible, the date had to be “well before” 1355 to account for harvesting of the flax. 1350 will do nicely.
After this there is a lot of who knew who or talked to who. I’m reminded of the Monte Carlo simulations in the 1960s and 70s trying to prove that every individual in the world was connected to another by no more than six degrees of separation. At one point, Stephen tells us that he has been told privately of a possible connection between three anti-something-or-others, Sox, Luckett and Rose. But he is not free to tell us that. He just did, of course. He just won’t tell you who told him.
In the end he tells us it is an irresistible inference, Linick leaked the 1350 date to Sox. Okay. And the point is?
Stay tuned. There is another installment coming next week.
You can read the latest, [Stephen Jones’] theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #5. I don’t know what to say.
Even though my theory at this early stage is entirely circumstantial, lacking as yet a `smoking gun’, by a process of elimination of "the impossible," my theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker, "however improbable" it may seem to be, "must be the truth" . . .
Stephen then goes on to explain that the Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-1989) may not have necessarily worked with a former KGB agent named Karl Koch by explaining he could have issued a software update to the other labs in Oxford and Zurich or (presumably for he doesn’t really say) another KGB agent could have entered the laboratories clandestinely to install the code in the control console computers. He then promises more in installment number 6 (which because some confusing reorganizing of his original posting is probably by now installment 14 or 15).
There is some interesting material about the carbon dating tests.
Stephen Jones has posted another article attempting to advance his conspiracy theory that the carbon dating results were manipulated at all three labs by computer hackers. Over and over he has charged one of the Arizona physicist with being part of a KGB led conspiracy to fake the results and make the shroud appear medieval.
Today is as close as he has gotten to providing evidence: He tells us that a skeptic, Dennis Dutton, in 1986 “predicted that if the cloth ever were to be dated using radiocarbon dating it would be shown to have been from about 1335, give or take 30 years.” Moreover, Walter McCrone in 1981 suggested that the cloth wasd from about 1355.
And so Stephen writes in a very long rambling posting:
So a hacker would know what date to `give’ the Shroud for maximum effect: shortly before 1335-1355! And, as we shall see, there is evidence that Linick was at least familiar with McCrone’s prediction.
Linick was at least familiar with McCrone’s prediction. No, there is no more yet. Anyway, you might want to read it.
To be continued in part 5, he tells us. I can hardly wait.
I don’t think Stephen Jones understands the the repair theory at all when he writes today in another installment:
Pro-authenticist explanations of the discrepancy (e.g. contamination with newer carbon, invisible repairs with 16th century cotton) don’t work.
Why don’t the explanations work? Stephen doesn’t explain why. So far he has relied mainly on statements by Hall and Gove that have no bearing on the subject of reweaving. And he has questioned the quad mosaic, which is questionable anyway. The fact of the matter is that if there is reweaving in the quantities that are being proposed, the “[p]ro-authenticist explanations” will work. They cannot fail to work. He doesn’t realize this. This is the danger of working alone, refusing to read anything that goes against one’s own presuppositions, and refusing to allow dialogue.
Beyond that, this hacking stuff: Read Stephen’s posting. So, what is the difference between evidence and conspiracy theory?
It is not even good conspiracy theory
He tells us in a new blog posting today that each AMS control console – that would be at Oxford, Zurich and Tucson – was hacked. This was done so that an elicit software routine could replace first century or earlier date measurements with dates that ‘cluster’ around 1325.
He specifically tells us:
The hacker was allegedly Arizona laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), who with self-confessed KGB hacker Karl Koch (1965–1989), were both allegedly working for the KGB to hack the laboratories’ AMS control console computers, and the KGB allegedly executed them both to prevent them talking, within days of each other, if not on the same day.
Stephen then waffles a bit. It’s not a fact, he tells us, but a theory. And he might need to abandon his theory should new information arise.
How does he arrive at this? Well so far it is this:
- He claims to have proven the shroud is authentic by historical means. It doesn’t matter that others might disagree; I certainly do. He has used flimsy arguments such as The Letter from Alexius Comnenus and The Slanted Footrest of the Orthodox Cross. He is convinced and that’s good enough for him.
- He disagrees with any and all possible explanations as to why the 1988 carbon dating of the shroud could be wrong. He can’t think of anything else. He assumes, therefore, that it must be fraud. Moreover, he assumes it must be hacking.
For many weeks now he has been saying that Timothy W. Linick and Karl Koch are the hackers. I assume that he will present us with some evidence someday. It is not up to anyone else to provide new information that might lead him to abandon his theory. It is up to him to provide supporting information. Until then this is amateurish rumor-mongering. It is nutty.