Ignorance with Wings

Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed,
it is ignorance with wings.

— Sam Harris, The End of Faith (2004)

imageIn checking around the Atheist slice of the blogosphere, just to see what is being said about the shroud, I came across a recent posting, The Turin Shroud… And Other Medieval Relics in Secular Scarlet, a blog with a masthead splash that proclaims that “Theology Is Ignorance With Wings.” It begins:

The Turin Shroud hits the headlines once again as the Pope has made a visit to see the most famous of alleged relics of Jesus. He spent some time with it in fact and before leaving touched the glass case it is enclosed in.

In a carefully worded announcement . . .

Nothing new, really. The author reminds us that Pope Clement VII said that it was not the true Shroud and that John Calvin said there were many shrouds leading one who wonder if the blog author wondered which one was the it that Clement was talking about.

In a section boldly titled WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE SHROUD the author bullets out:

  • Carbon dating confirms the cloth was created between 1290-1390 AD
  • The tools, inspiration and knowledge to create this were available as early as the 12th Century
  • The style and complexity of the shroud weave itself would confirm a 14th Century cloth
  • The earliest shrouds we have found in Israel date to no earlier than 2nd Century AD

The author reminds us that there was a medieval relic trade and that bones once claimed to belong to Joan of Arc did not belong to her. So what. And the author of the blog wants us to know that these are the …


  1. Shroud of Turin
  2. Blood of San Gennaro
  3. Muhammads Beard
  4. Mary’s Holy Belt
  5. John the Baptists Head
  6. Buddha’s Tooth
  7. Tunic of the Blessed Virgin
  8. The Grapevine Cloth
  9. Footprint of the Prophet Muhammad
  10. The Chains of St Peter

Which list is this from?  There is probably a list of TOP TEN LISTS OF LISTS OF TOP TEN RELIGIOUS RELICS. If there isn’t, there should be.

And to wrap it up he or she tells us

In April of 2014, a University in Italy stated that an earthquake in 33AD may be responsible for the mysterious Turin Shroud image. That a supposed  flood of neutrons could have imprinted the image onto the linen. Taking a stab in the dark, I guess they don’t agree with the carbon dating; I would love to find the miracle that causes a cloth made in the 14th Century to arrive in the 1st Century AD for imprinting.

Fans of Back to the Future will maybe ask Michael J Fox; Whovians,  Peter Capaldi.

I will of course keep you updated on the Earthquake theory.

A university stated that? A university? Not a person but a whole university? Really? And if this blogger is going to keep us updated you might have thought that he would have told us that nobody takes this seriously. There is a lot of updating already. For starters there is:

    I have always wanted to see good solid skeptical thinking about the shroud. Real thinking.  Real criticism. This needs work, still. Too bad. There isn’t even one outbound link in support of anything claimed, even though much of it is correct.
    I caught the thing about ignorance on wings.  Is this you, Sam? “you magnificent bastard I read your BOOK!” – Patton (in an indirect utterance to Rommel) in the movie Patton.

Christian Faith Eroded to the Very Core?

Why does the greatest opposition to the recognition of the authenticity of the shroud of Christ come from those within the Church?

Paul Badde  has a thought provoking piece in The Catholic World Report blog: Turin and Manoppello: "Resurrexit sicut dixit" (the lead is shown above). 

Of, “the most important thing in the most important passages,” Badde writes:

Or, which of us has not heard at least once from our pastor, or our bishop, the phrase "He saw and believed" during the Easter homily? This phrase is a critical passage in the Gospel of John which we have heard since childhood. Yet, in Christian exegesis it becomes almost invisible, as if it weren’t there at all. Like a "third tower" in the Cologne cathedral. This is understandable. After all, what does this phrase mean? The empty tomb, by itself, is not the thing that would bring about believing. A half an hour before, in the same place, Mary Magdalene – according to John – had only seen that “the Lord has been taken away”. Nothing was there for believing.


Being the genius of the language which he was, Luther had clearly seen here in the text that John had not said everything. Therefore he attempted to resolve the apparent contradiction as if it were a damaged parchment — that it was necessary to lightly "mend” this passage and also supplement it. After him, the only comparable cunning was that of Rudolf Bultmann, who, in order to resolve the many contradictions of the Gospels that he could not explain, concluded that here his Rabbi Jeshua was not raised from the dead, but only in the kerygma, i.e. in the preaching of the disciples, they only said that he had risen. In other words, the resurrection of the Son of God made man was in truth a resurrection in Christian preaching. Also in Christian chattering. Please do not laugh! It was not just a crazy idea. The fact should not be overlooked that the same apostolic cowards, who before the death of Jesus had fled (including John), are the same ones who, suddenly, after his death all boldly began to speak of Jesus as the messiah. This should therefore be understood as resurrection – but certainly not an unrealistic resurrection from the dead of Christ who was slain. So if ever the "bones of Jesus" should be found in Jerusalem, the "believing" of Rudolf Bultmann would certainly not be shaken, as he was able to say.

Since that time, in any case, the "empty tomb" no longer has a home in the heart of Christian theology. It can be understood and interpreted seriously only as a kind of religious metaphor. So maybe the last members of the faithful in the church will still want to believe in the simple overcoming of death through Jesus Christ. The (last) eloquent pastors in front of them know better, because, after all it is in their preaching that God is (presumably) risen. But hello! This is the disturbing Kerygma: the greatest mythological theological creature of all time. It’s the unicorn from Tubingen and, of course, a bunch of garbage.

We don’t need to say more than that, in this way, the Christian faith has been eroded to the very core, because, in the wake of this new heretical dogma, most theologians have long been convinced that the reporting in the Gospels cannot generally be considered reliable. And of course this applies in particular to the most incredible miracle of the whole Bible: the resurrection of Jesus (with skin and hair and with wounds healed) from the world of the dead.


Inline image from WCR site. Caption: “The Holy Face of Manoppello, with the hand of Cardinal Koch behind it. (Photo courtesy of author)


Extreme Blogging

“ENEA, effectively demonstrated, by "the scientific method," the miracle
of the Resurrection of Christ!”

“if it’s possible to reproduce the ‘look’ of that image, with its imprint features,
then it almost certainly IS an imprint.”

Two blogs. Two image hypotheses. Two crash-cymbal conclusions just this week past:

FIRST from Colin Berry’s blog posting That Man on the Turin Shroud: the mystery may finally be solved – at least in principle. The image of hands crossed at the wrists was experimentally produced by Colin.

imageHow the image came to be:

Let’s stop beating about the bush shall we ? The image of the man on the Turin Shroud is an imprint (not a painting as Charles Freeman would have us believe), I repeat,  an IMPRINT. It’s a contact imprint, to be more precise (no physical contact, no image)….

This posting focuses on just one feature of the Shroud image which is consistent with the view that the image is a contact imprint. I then make what some will see as a bald assertion, namely that if it’s possible to reproduce the ‘look’ of that image, with its imprint features, then it almost certainly IS an imprint.

The onus would then be on others who think otherwise, who have their own hypotheses, or as often or not fantasies as to how the image was produced, to do what I (with some assistance from my wife)  have done this morning, namely to model their ideas experimentally. If they cannot, or will not do that, then their ideas are unscientific, and need  detain this scientist no further.


… I say the Turin shroud is a medieval fake, produced by a simple two stage procedure: imprinting with an organic substance (which may well have been white flour, which has convenient adhesive properties)followed  by second stage colour development (thermal in this posting, though chemical development is also feasible – see previous postings which used nitric acid or limewater).

Oh! The radiocarbon dating:

… this blogger did not set out with the intention of disproving the Shroud’s authenticity (or proving its non-authenticity). There was no need for that, given he accepts the radiocarbon dating,  warts ‘n’ all, and feeling the onus is on those who reject it to press for re-testing. No, his research, starting December 2011, was a response to Paolo Di Lazzaro and others who claimed that the TS image characteristics, notably superficiality, could or would never be reproduced in a laboratory.

A bit more on why it took so long:

If the model were that simplistic, this retired researcher, who also has a record of research and modest achievement, would not have needed 3.5 years to conceive of it. The trouble with arriving late to an active area of research is the deadweight of ‘received wisdom’ that in many instances has hardened into rock-solid dogma. It’s hard not to be influenced by the big cheeses of Shroudology who descend onto websites to say one is barking up the wrong tree, that such and such was discounted decades ago, that one should "go acquaint oneself with the literature". In fact the current model incorporates many existing ideas – from Ray Rogers, Luigi Garlaschelli, Hugh Farey and Joe Accetta. But the key aspect was the realization that the body imprint was intended to represent ancient yellowed sweat, that it was not intended to represent a product of post-mortem putrefaction, nor a miraculous image imprinted by a flash of highly energetic radiation, of a type unknown to science, a signature of  resurrection, or as some would have us believe, a love-letter to modern man (that being the case, why the ‘wrong’ answer for radiocarbon dating?).

SECOND from Stephen Jones’ blog posting Shroud of Turin News – June 2015

imageHow the image came to be (with a bit of scripture-in-the-lab to help Di Lazzaro):

… There is no evidence that Jesus’ resurrection was a nuclear event, that produced a neutron flux. There is, however evidence, in The Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-2; Mk 9:2-3; Lk 9:28-29), where Jesus’ "face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light," "his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them," that Jesus’ resurrection (implied by Lk 9:30-31 where during The Transfiguration "Moses and Elijah … appeared in glory and spoke of his [Jesus’] departure [Gk. exodus] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem") produced intense light which imprinted His image on the Shroud….ENEA, using "the scientific method," effectively demonstrated that "a miracle" occurred in the imprinting of the image of a "whole human figure," front and back, on the linen of the Shroud! And since the evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud man is Jesus, ENEA, effectively demonstrated, by "the scientific method," the miracle of the Resurrection of Christ!

Oh! The radiocarbon dating:

… 1) the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that the Shroud is authentic, i.e. 1st century; 2) the probability of the Shroud being 1st century, yet having a radiocarbon date of 13th/14th century is "about one in a thousand trillion’"; 3) the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date must be the result of some type of fraud; 4) a form of fraud that was rife in the 1980s was computer hacking; and 5) there is much evidence that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker, allegedly Arizona physicist, Timothy W. Linick….

A bit more on Stephen’s could-have/would-have hacking conspiracy theory:

In 1988 the Shroud was radiocarbon dated by three laboratories in Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, all using the same then new Accelerator Mass Spectroscopy (AMS) method. The very first run of the first laboratory to date the Shroud, Arizona, returned the date "1350 AD," which was uncritically accepted by all those present. That "1350 AD" date was leaked to the media by a Rev. David Sox while the carbon dating was still in progress at the other two laboratories. AMS pioneer Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009, the unofficial leader of the Shroud’s carbon dating, by a process of elimination concluded that the primary leaker was "someone who was present at Arizona during the first measurement." Later it was discovered that "Timothy Linick, a University of Arizona research scientist" was quoted in Sox’s 1988 book on the carbon dating as hard-line anti-authenticist. So Linick must have been in communication with Sox about the carbon-dating, despite having signed a written undertaking "… not to communicate the results to anyone … until that time when results are generally available to the public." So the inference is irresistible that Linick was the source of the leak of Arizona’s very first "1350 AD" date to Sox. In 1989 the journal Nature reported that "the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval … AD 1260-1390". But this must be wrong because the evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud has existed well before 1260 (e.g. the Pray Codex) and indeed all the way back to the 1st century. The midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 ±65 years, and as Shroud sceptics were quick to point out, 1325 `just happens’ to be only just before Bishop d’Arcis [falsely – see above] claimed that the Shroud was painted in the 1350s. But given that all the other evidence overwhelmingly points to the Shroud being authentic and therefore first century, as Prof. Gove pointed out, the probability that the Shroud is first century, yet has a radiocarbon date of between 1260 and 1390, is "about one in a thousand trillion". So the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud must be the result of some form of fraud. A form of fraud which was rife in the 1980s was computer hacking, as documented by Clifford Stoll (1950-) in his 1989 book, "The Cuckoo’s Egg." And according to Gove’s eyewitness account of the AMS radiocarbon dating process of the Shroud at Arizona, and presumably at the other two AMS laboratories, "All this was under computer control and the calculations produced by the computer were displayed on a cathode ray screen." So a hacker, allegedly Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), who on 4 June 1989 was found dead of "suicide in very unclear circumstances," could have written and installed a program on Arizona’s AMS computer, and then had it installed on Zurich and Oxford’s AMS computers (e.g. by the confessed hacker for the KGB, Karl Koch (1965–89)). Linick’s alleged program substituted the Shroud samples’ first (or early because of irremovable contamination) century date for computer-generated dates, which whencalibrated, combined and averaged across the three laboratories, yielded a bogus date about 1325. Which `just happened’ to be about 30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France in c.1355. That the Shroud samples’ dates were computer-generated is supported by Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper, which admitted:

"An initial inspection of Table 2 shows that the agreement among the three laboratories for samples 2, 3 and 4 [non-Shroud controls] is exceptionally good. The spread of the measurements for sample 1 [the Shroud] is somewhat greater than would be expected from the errors quoted."

But this is impossible given that the Shroud and control samples at each laboratory were all on the one ~26 cm (~1 inch) diameter carousel wheel and rotated through the one caesium ion beam within minutes of each other. If there was something technically wrong with the dating process at a laboratory, the controls and Shroud samples at that laboratory would wrongly agree and disagree with the controls and Shroud samples of the other two laboratories. But that the agreement across the three laboratories in the dates of the non-Shroud control samples was "exceptionally good" shows that there was nothing technically wrong with the dating itself, which must mean that the Shroud samples’ dates were not real but computer-generated. Koch is not essential to my theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker, as Linick could have acted alone. But that both Linick and Koch (who need not have known each other) were involved in hacking the Shroud’s radiocarbon date for the KGB is supported by the fact that Linick died of "suicide in mysterious circumstances" on 4 June 1989 and Koch’s inexplicably burnt body which was made to look like suicide, had been publicly identified by the German police only a day earlier on 3 June 1989!

Is there some way to put these two in a room together and tell them they can’t come out until they agree on everything.


imageIf you read it before June 17, Colin Berry’s latest swansong posting, Kindly acknowledge my modest input, you narrative-driven Shroudies. That goes for Thomas de Wesselow especially  you may have missed this late addition:

Late addition (17 June): the video says "4 months ago", which this blogger took to mean as having been recorded 4 months ago. But it would now appear to be much older, being a recording of a lecture given by Dr.Wesselow to the British Shroud of Turin Society on October 21st 2012.  That kind of exonerates Dr.Wesselow of the second of two charges here (both somewhat tongue-in-cheek I hasten to add) that he borrowed an idea of mine re the Veil of Veronica to set up a  "just a body imprint" hypothesis that could then be shot down (but only by equating "imprint" with "negative-like photograph", a spurious comparison). But he did use one of my contrast/brightness enhanced pictures of the scourge marks from Shroud Scope, which he was more than welcome to, though a credit might have been nice.

People have been tweaking the contrast and brightness on photographs of the shroud for years. Much of this was to better see the scourge marks. What makes Colin Berry think that Thomas de Wesselow copied some of his tweaking?  And if he did, so what?  I mean it is not like this is a big deal – I mean ten or fifteen seconds of seat-of-the-pants, guess-and-by-golly tweaking.  It’s like what?  Copying someone’s recipe for making tea with a tea bag?

Yup! Yup! (Bolding in Colin’s words below is mine)

Anyway, I sat through the 60 minutes or so of de Wesselow’s lecture, apparently (from the brief preamble)  brought to us courtesy of David Rolfe and his Performance Films (DR I have to say  not being my favourite shroudologist, having referred to this blogger not so long ago as a "Johnny Come Lately who will always be a Johnny Come Lately").

Be that as it may, I took careful note of the points being made by de Wesselow in his low key but decidedly partisan pro-authenticity presentation, during  which I sat up at two points with what politely might be called deja vu moments. (Not knowing Dr. de Wesselow personally,or having engaged with him on this or other blogsites, I refer to him here by his surname, with no offence or disrespect intended: one does not wish to seem over-familiar).

The first was when he put up an image of the scourge marks. Yup, I’d definitely seen that image somewhere else, like one of, you know,  my own postings from way, way back, in which the somewhat monochrome Shroud Scope offerings, excellent though they are, had been given some extra contrast and brightness in  Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

Yup, it WAS my enhanced Shroud Scope image, the one you see on the left,  that acknowledges the source, with de Wesselow’s slide on the right, one  that is clearly a cropped version of the one on the left. Nope, there’s nothing wrong with using what’s freely available on the internet (I do it all the time).  But some might think that an acknowledgement to Mario Latendresse for his Shroud Scope, and even (arguably) to myself might not have come amiss.

and this too from Colin:

Now listen you guys, I know I said I was resting, but if you access my postings (as was clearly the case with the enhanced Shroud Scope scourge mark images) and arguably the one I did on the likely Veronica connection, then kindly give a credit. It’s how academe is supposed to operate (or did at any rate between 1963 and 1990 when I was ensconced in those ivory towers – or the immediate hinterland thereof.

It’s also called fair play. Thanking you for your (future) cooperation. Yup, I’ll be watching. Detectives, on the case, never cease WATCHING.

Stephen Jones on the Thomas De Wesselow Presentation

“de Wesselow’s Monty Pythonesque explanation”

imageStephen Jones reviews the Thomas De Wesselow Video in his blog. First he praises it:

The AGNOSTIC art historian Thomas De Wesselow is DEVASTATING against the Shroud being a medieval forgery.

He concludes that the Shroud can ONLY be Christ’s burial sheet or someone else crucified in the first (or early) century in imitation of Christ.

But then he goes on to tell us:

Being a non-Christian, de Wesselow cannot accept the Shroud image was caused by Jesus’ resurrection. So he argues for the Shroud body image having been caused by a Maillard reaction, as proposed by STURP chemist Ray Rogers….


But de Wesselow doesn’t mention that that explanation fails on several counts:

“[1] However the potential source for amines required for the reaction is a decomposing body, and no signs of decomposition have been found on the Shroud.

[2] Rogers also notes that their tests revealed that there were no proteins or bodily fluids on the image areas.

[3] Also, the image resolution and the uniform coloration of the linen resolution seem to be incompatible with a mechanism involving diffusion.” (Ibid. My numbers in square brackets) …

[4] there are no Shroud-like images on other burial shrouds, of which there are many Egyptian ones…. This invalidates de Wesselow’s Monty Pythonesque explanation that: “What the apostles were seeing was the image of Jesus on the Shroud, which they then mistook for the real thing. It sounds … as absurd as a scene from a Monty Python film.”

[5] a Maillard reaction would not explain the coin and flower images on the Shroud.

[6] a non-resurrection explanation does not explain how the Shroud was removed from Jesus’ (or another crucified in imitation of Jesus) body with the blood clots that adhered to both His body and the Shroud being intact and not tearing.

[7] Ockham’s Razor again: Jesus is the only person of whom it is credibly claimed that He was resurrected….

imageBUT:   I completely doubt the existence of coin and flower images. I question the nature of intact blood clots after centuries of rolling and folding. I find Stephen’s point about Jesus being “the only person of whom it is credibly claimed that He was resurrected” logically fallacious in this context. In fact, I agree with only one of Stephen’s seven points: the argument that the resolution is incompatible with a mechanism involving gaseous diffusion. And I’m not sure about that.

Too bad.

It helps to read what you cite

imageCan you spot the flaw in yesterday’s posting, Carbon dating and the Shroud of Turin, by John Leonard?

But then a pair of amateur detectives/scientists named Joe Marino and Sue Bedford published a peer-reviewed research paper suggesting that the carbon dating test results for the Shroud of Turin were incorrect — not because the tests were flawed, but because the sample itself was flawed.

Bedford and Marino claimed that the sample that was carbon-dated came from a section of the shroud that had been expertly repaired to be undetectable by the naked eye.

Ray Rogers, one of the lead research scientists involved with STURP, became furious when he found out the integrity of his work product had been challenged by amateurs in a published, peer-reviewed paper. He said the claims of Benford and Marino were absurd and promised to prove they were wrong by testing material from the original sample still in his possession.

Instead, Rogers found powerful evidence suggesting Benford and Marino had been absolutely correct in saying the material for the original carbon dating tests had been taken from a contaminated section of the shroud, identifying cotton fibers in the sample not found in the rest of the shroud.

The paper linked to by John Leonard in his posting, the paper that he says made Rogers furious, refers to the late Ray Rogers.

Recently, additional information has been discovered strongly supporting, if not verifying, the validity of the invisible patch theory. In addition to the recent publication of a peer-reviewed article by former Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) chemist, the late Ray Rogers …

Wrong paper! Leonard might have read WRAPPED UP IN THE SHROUD, Chronicle of a Passion by Joe Marino and gotten the right paper.  In fact, he could have found the citation he needed by just reading the description of Joe’s book on Amazon:

Joseph Marino, a former Benedictine monk, has been studying the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to the burial cloth of Jesus, since 1977. He and his late wife, M. Sue Benford, presented a paper at the Sindone 2000 World Congress in Orvieto, Italy, hypothesizing that the reason the 1988 C-14 dating of the Shroud resulted in a date range of AD 1260-1390 for the cloth was because of a sixteenth-century repair in the sample area. Raymond Rogers, one of the scientists from the Shroud of Turin Research Project who studied the Shroud in 1978, thought the hypothesis was nonsense at first but later concluded that Benford and Marino were probably correct. Other scientists have independently verified Rogers’ findings, which were published in 2005 in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal, Thermochimica Acta.

Dear Colin Berry

imageColin Berry tells us he is moving on.

Change of plan: I’m now terminating all posting on the Shroud of Turin, feeling as I do that I’ve given it my best shot, and that it’s now time to move on. However, I’m still available here to respond to questions, criticism etc as best I can  (see quick link to Comments top right).

Dear Colin:

In your latest blog posting you complain about my use of a picture of a child making hand imprints with finger paint. “Yet another attempt to infantilize,” you write. No it wasn’t that at all. I use pictures the way newspaper editorial pages use cartoons. Yes, to poke fun, but also to express ideas. These two pictures next to each other metaphorically captured his notion of what you refer to as a two-stage technology. Something is applied to the body and then its is applied to the cloth where it can be developed somehow.  You were working with white flour and using nitric acid and limewater as developing agents. Maybe you were onto something. Maybe it is not white flour.

I want to scream at you to lighten up. I was not suggesting that your work was infantile.  Compared to every other skeptic of the shroud, you have shown more erudite imagination than any, ever.  You researched more. You experimented more. You wrote more and you wrote well.

You say at times that I am pro-authenticist. I’m not. I can’t imagine trying to tell anyone that the shroud is real if I don’t believe it. I say the shroud is probably real. I say, on every page of my blog, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.”  Every page!

Probably! May be! Those words mean that I could be wrong. If I’m wrong I want to know it. So first of all I want to thank you as you move on to other things for trying out new avenues that may lead the truth about the shroud no matter what that truth may be. I sincerely mean that.  Thank you.

You have recently advanced the idea that the medieval person who created the image was not thinking of the piece of cloth as a burial cloth but something else all together, like a stretcher. That thought will not go away. Thanks for that.

You advanced many such ideas. Those will not go away. They will be pondered by me and others in years to come.  Thank you.

You have discovered many things. Those will hang it the air among everyone who properly studies the shroud.  Thank you.

You have taught me a lot.  That will stick with me. Thank you.

You have created an important list that skeptics, if they are to be as careful as you, must consider carefully.  With your permission, I’m going to remove the word stoopid and publish it on my blog, maybe with a link in the upper right corner, because it’s a good list. 

The past three of so years have been contentious at times.  There have been times when I would have liked to have reached through the screen and punched you.  I’m sure you felt the same way. But there are times when I would have liked to sit down and had a beer with you.  We could talk about Freeman, perhaps.  Here is a toast to you.

You know, Colin, you could change plans again. You could at least drop by and comment every now and then.  Godspeed. 

Colin Berry’s New Two-Stage Technology

imageColin is upset — or something. He writes in his blog: Reaction to my new and absurdly simple "stick ‘n’ stain" model for the Turin Shroud? So far, one of stunned silence or ill-concealed contempt.

Caption from Colin’s site: “Hand imprints obtained using the new two-stage technology …

Colin guesses why there is stunned silence:

It’s hardly surprising, is it, that a model for the Turin Shroud that starts with  "Mix some plain flour and water 700 years ago" is hardly calculated to set the world of sindonology on fire?

But that’s in essence what was proposed some 6 weeks ago, and to which the response might loosely be described as looks of blank incomprehension from some (well, the internet equivalent thereof) or expressions of derision and contempt from others.

I’m sorry that the model uses so plebeian a commodity as plain flour as imprinting medium. Had I given it more thought, it could so easily have been something more upmarket.  Saffron? From Saffron Walden, Essex,  hopefully to give a UK connection with medieval France, and attract the attention of the Times and the Guardian?  Saffron would certainly give an instant yellow imprint, eliminating the need for that hazardous second-stage development with nitric acid.  But would the sceptics, whether pro- or anti-authenticty,  buy into that story: "TS image is simply a saffron imprint"? I doubt it somehow. Shame. I could have stayed in the cosy well-appointed kitchen laboratory, avoiding the cold confines of my garage had safe old saffron been the answer.

I must also apologize for describing it as the "stick ‘n’ stain" model in my last posting. How utterly common can you get?

But I have this difficulty you see. It’s to do with that serendipity thingy. You know, you start off with a brilliant idea to try this or try that, and along comes something totally unexpected and surprising that one would never have predicted in a million years.

Saffron?  Did you consider finger paint? Actually, here is the picture hot-linked from Colin’s site. 

Again, caption from Colin’s site for this picture hot-linked from Colin’s site: “Hand imprints obtained using the new two-stage technology (white flour imprints developed with nitric acid).

Colin, we have to wait for you to finish posts.  We never really know when you are done.  Now, I can say to everyone, go read Are the peculiar fingers of the Turin Shroud a pointer to medieval forgery? My new imprinting "Stick ‘n’ Stain" model says they are.

And I did link to your previous posting.  You know, Colin, you could tell us with a comment in this blog that you have something you want us to read. I also read emails sent to me.

Any other reasons for stunned silence?

Is Charles Freeman Emerging as the World’s Leading Shroud Skeptic?

“This is a small sample of Charles Freeman’s research on the subject, which should be more widely known so that National Geographic would be embarrassed to take the shroud seriously.”

— Ophelia Benson

clip_image001While Colin complains that the world is ignoring his two-stage imprinting model, Charles Freeman is getting special attention for his painting theory from Ophelia Benson over at Butterflies and Wheels in the well-read Free Thought blogs collection.  Benson is particularly well known for her criticism of pseudoscience and religious fundamentalism. She writes: 

Charles Freeman has an article in History Today about the Shroud of Turin. He tells me the subject is neglected by academics, and “the absurd ideas of the authenticists are given full and virtually unchallenged internet space.” He adds that National Geographic is especially bad on this, maintaining “the idea that there is something inherently mysterious about the Shroud when in fact an afternoon in a conservation lab – which would find the traces of gesso and paint – would probably sort things out.” He gave me carte blanche to use the article, so have a feast.

So have a feast. Or not.

Colin Berry: It’s the negative image with 3D properties, stoopid

The Urban Dictionary defines stoopid as having the quality of being really, really, really, stupid.

My current two-stage imprinting/developing model, which the world of Shroudology
is still largely ignoring …

imageColin tells us on his blog:

Digression: Yup, it’s how real science operates – there is no obligation in model-building to incorporate other people’s assumptions or preconceptions that might not have been given as much prior thought beforehand: science ain’t democratic, and would not have made such speedy progress between the 17th and 20th century if that had been the case. Science is unashamedly elitist, which is why scientists rely on each other via ‘peer-review’ to judge the fitness for publication in respected journals. There is no trial by media where traditional science is concerned. Internet-reporting of science in real time via the internet is a different matter entirely, which is why this blogger is taking the trouble right now to spell out the difference between a painting and an imprint, and will be explaining shortly why the a priori  indications are that the TS image IS an imprint, not merely an artist’s attempt to simulate an imprint, or even a hybrid of painting and imprint, reiterating yet again his amazement that STURP bothered to squander so much time, energy and resources on checking out the depressingly third-rate “just a painting “ hypothesis when there were far more pressing questions to address re the MECHANISM of imprinting.  STURP was supposed to be an elite task force, and should have behaved as such, eliminating non-starters from its model-building assumptions, and indeed should have STARTED WITH A MODEL, instead of thinking one could go in with space-age equipment and simply hoover up the relevant facts, arriving on time at a destination called Truth. Sorry, all you STURP defenders, but that’s not how science (real science, that is) works in the real world. Indeed, it sometimes fails to reach its destination on  time, even using its preferred model building approach. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: experimentally-based model building is the worst form of enquiry, apart from all the others that have been tried from time to time.

So, to the question: why are/were we supposed to see the TS image as an imprint, a real imprint, not just an artist’s impression of an imprint, the answer, correction , answers, are painfully simple:

1. It’s the close correspondence to events leading up to and immediately following Joseph of Arimathea’s arrival at the cross bearing expensive linen for wrapping and transporting a sweat and blood-stained body, likely to leave an imprint, stoopid
2. It’s the up-and-over double image, on high quality linen, stoopid.
3. It’s the life-sized image, stoopid.
4. It’s the negative image with 3D properties, stoopid.
5. It’s the cardboard cut-out look, stoopid, with no imaging of sides, stoopid.
6. It’s the image superficiality, stoopid
7. It’s the real-looking bloodstains, stoopid.
8. It’s the absence of a loin cloth, stoopid.
9. It’s the absence of a crown of thorns, just strategically-sited blood stains in the hair etc, stoopid.
10. It’s those spindly fingers, exactly as expected from real imprinting, stoopid
11. Ten killer clues should be more than enough to be getting on with. If you want more than 10, then it’s the whole darn shebang, stoopid.

To conclude: to those of us who ain’t stoopid, the Turin Shroud IS a real imprint.

The real question is whether the TS could only have been formed by imprinting of the real Jesus onto his burial shroud, as we are repeatedly asked to consider and/or believe by certain self-styled "scientists", OR whether it could have been faked by a medieval artisan.

This retired scientist’s own position, after some 3.5 years of research, albeit in kitchen and garage: of course it could have been faked. My current two-stage imprinting/developing model, which the world of Shroudology is still largely ignoring (Thibault Heimburger MD being a notable  exception) – or maybe has yet to learn of – shows how it could have been accomplished, at least in principle. It ain’t rocket science. Indeed, it’s part kitchen science, starting with plain white flour. Medieval alchemists could have supplied the nitric acid.

Hopefully my model will not turn out to be a damp squib,  the way the STURP Summary was a damp squib, with much pseudo-science following in its wake, much of the latter coming from senior STURP members who, in view of their unique  STURP credentials should  have exercised greater self-restraint, no matter what their particular ‘world view’.

screw·y 1. crazy. 2. ludicrously odd, or inappropriate.

It seems a bit dishonest or it is extremely sloppy work to directly link to Ian Wilson’s
book in a sentence that reads, “Note the further evidence that
Arizona’s first "1350 AD" radiocarbon date of the Shroud was a fraud, perpetrated by a computer hacker, allegedly
Timothy W. Linick 

imageStephen Jones is writing what should be/could be a most helpful and interesting Turin Shroud Dictionary. Wonderful, right? 

It could be. I would like it to be. Here are a couple of samples from an entry for Geoffroy I under G (split in Ga to Gm). Despite being a bit op-ed-ish, there is some interesting stuff here with many hot links that should prove useful to many people:

Geoffroy I owned (or knew he was going to own) the Shroud by 1343. In1343 Geoffroy I applied to Philip VI for funds to build and operate a chapel in Lirey with five chaplains. Geoffroy himself would contribute his inheritance from an great-aunt Alix de Joinville (1256-1336), the mother of Bishop Pierre d’Arcis (c.1300-95), which further explains Bishop d’Arcis later hostility to the exhibition of the Shroud at that same Lirey church (see future). In June that same year, 1343, King Philip donated land with an annual rental value for financing the chapel. In 1349, in a petition to the French Pope at Avignon, Clement VI (1291–1352), Geoffroy advised that he had constructed a chapel at Lirey with five canons (priests), and requested that it be raised to collegiate church. For a tiny village of 50 houses, this is evidence that Geoffroy already had the Shroud in 1343 (or knew he was going to get it), and was planning to exhibit it at that Lirey church. However, due to Geoffroy I’s second imprisonment in England 1349-51, the collegiate status of the church was not proceeded with. Nevertheless, by 1353 the church had six canons, one of whom was Dean, as well as three other clerics. Moreover in that same year, 1353, King John II agreed to a further annual revenue increase. In 1354, Geoffroy renewed his petition to the new Avignon Pope Innocent IV (c. 1195-1254), renewing hisrequest that the Lirey church be raised to collegiate status, which was granted. So from a simple rural chapel in a village of 50 fifty houses,Geoffroy was preparing his Lirey church from 1343, to be a centre of pilgrimage! Clearly the pilgrimages would be to see the Shroud (as happened in c. 1355. So Geoffroy must have owned the Shroud from no later than 1343 (or knew he was going to). And King Phillip VI must have known that Geoffroy had (or was going to get) the Shroud from at least 1343, for him to agree to fund a church with such a disproportionately large number of clergy for such a tiny village. So too must his son King John II to agree to increase funding of the Lirey church in 1353, as well as the French Avignon Popes Clement VI and Innocent IV. This places a 1343 time constraint on theories of when and how Geoffroy I de Charny obtained the Shroud (see next).

More interesting stuff. It seems well researched.

[…] This is actually stated in a 1525 document which was posted at the entrance of the rebuilt Lirey church:

"King Philip of Valois … informed that the count of Charny had got out of prison [in 1342] … sent for him … and so that the church of Lirey would be more revered and honored, he gave him the holy shroud of Our Lord, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ … to be put … in the church that he hoped and proposed to build …. And … gave him leave and permission to give the church, for an endowment, up to the sum of two hundred sixty livres tournois; and afterwards the king John, son of Philip of Valois, also gave the count of Charny power and permission to give and increase the foundation of the church, up to the sum of a hundred livres tournois besides the gift of his father; all in amortized rent without paying any tax, from which he released him by a special grace on account of the great and agreeable services that the count of Charny had done for them" (my emphasis)[10].

This was accepted as reliable by arch-Shroud critic Canon Ulysse Chevalier (1841–1923), and by earlier Shroud pro-authenticists Beecher (1928), Barnes (1934) and Currer-Briggs (1987). But it was rejected on inadequate grounds by both Wilson (1979 & 1998) and Crispino (1988). A sufficient reason for Philip to give Geoffroy the Shroud would be if in the 1341 battle of Angers, Geoffroy saved the life of Philip’s son, the future King John II. That would fit Geoffroy II’s explanation that the Shroud was "freely given" to his father and Geoffroy II’s daughter Marguerite’s explanation that it was "conquis par feu" ("conquered by fire"), i.e. obtained by conquest in battle, by her grandfather Geoffroy I. But there are other plausible explanations of how King Philip VI obtained the Shroud and then gave it to Geoffroy I de Charny [see future "Besançon," "Jeanne de Vergy," and "Philip VI"].

BUT THEN the entry for Geoffroy I goes screwy on us:

Geoffroy I and the Shroud’s "1350 AD" first carbon-date. Note the further evidence that Arizona’s first "1350 AD" radiocarbon date of the Shroud was a fraud, perpetrated by a computer hacker, allegedlyTimothy W. Linick [see future "hacking" and "Linick"], because in 1350 the Shroud was owned (and had been since ~1341) by the "perfect knight," Geoffroy I de Charny, author of three works on chivalry, whowould rather die (and did die) than go back on his word. The implicit claim by the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, made explicit by Oxford’s Prof. Edward Hall (1924–2001):

"`There was a multi-million-pound business in making forgeries during the 14th century," he bluntly told a British Museum press conference. `Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it.’"[12]

that Geoffroy de Charny, was a party to a fraud in either having "faked" the Shroud (while he was almost fully occupied in fighting battles or as a prisoner of war), or paying (despite the fact that he was poor) a forger who "flogged" it to him, is manifestly absurd!

It seems a bit dishonest or it is extremely sloppy work to directly link to Ian Wilson’s book in a sentence that reads, “Note the further evidence that Arizona’s first "1350 AD" radiocarbon date of the Shroud was a fraud, perpetrated by a computer hacker, allegedly Timothy W. Linick

Colin Berry on STURP

imageWhen I finally got around to reading Colin’s latest posting, the words “Rambling Wreck” came to mind.  (Sorry for being so late getting around to Colin’s postings but timing is everything with him – one never knows if he is done or where he is rambling to).

To football fans (that is American football, Colin), the term "Ramblin’ Wreck" refers to Georgia Tech’s mascot, a 1930 Ford. But according to Wikipedia the term…

has been used to refer to students and alumni of Georgia Tech much longer than the car that now bears the name has been in existence. The expression has its origins in the late 19th century and was used originally to refer to the makeshift motorized vehicles constructed by Georgia Tech engineers employed in projects in the jungles of Central America. The Wrecks were constructed from whatever the engineers could find—mostly old tractor and automotive parts—and were kept running by the engineers’ ingenuity and creativity

imageDisabuse yourself of the idea that I am referring to Colin’s rambling wreck style of posting. (To find what he posts go to his blog and then search for the words “Put more simply.”)    I’m thinking more about how he uses an otherwise interesting write up on his experiments, Progress report on my new model for the Turin Shroud. Might the sepia body image be a surface film of nitrated protein derived from wheat glutens? to fire a broadside at STURP.

… Put more simply, the scientist needs to have an inkling of underlying process or mechanism in order to know where to concentrate manpower and resources. Without that inkling he or she could waste years or decades thrashing around for an answer, accumulating masses of data that throw little or no light on the problem.

Folk can probably guess where this is leading – to STURP and its technology-obsessed approach to the Shroud, arriving in Turin with all that hardware, but without a single good idea about where to concentrate resources. Indeed. most of its efforts were focused on testing a dud hypothesis, something that should have been plain to see back in 1978, and indeed in 1898, namely that the Shroud might simply be  ‘just a painting’. How could Secondo Pia’s negative image possibly have been ‘just a painting’. A negative image implies an IMPRINT, one where the template determines the final image, where there is no obligatory artistic free-hand process at the final imprinting stage. One has a master template – a real person, or maybe just a statue or bas relief- that gives a slave imprint – a tone-reversed negative of the master. Why on earth would an ad hoc task force of scientists and engineers bother to focus so much effort in testing for whether the Shroud was ‘just a painting’ when the primary objective should have been to deduce the process that resulted in a negative imprint?

STURP’s prime focus should have been on deducing (a) the nature of the template and (b) the nature of the imprinting process – whether entirely passive or human-aided. In short, the project should have been one about reverse-engineering.


Colin does a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking:

That’s the optics and physics dealt with. Now for the chemistry (and botany): is the image intrinsic to the linen carbohydrates, or is it associated with an extrinsic coating ("impurity layer")? An answer to that question could be (or have been) gained by use of high resolution light or scanning electron microscopy, especially ofcross-sections of TS body image fibres. Various mechanical and/or chemical/enzymatic procedures could have been used to remove a putative impurity coating, to see what was underneath – an intact or degraded fibre, with or with its primary cell wall. (Ah yes: the PCW – an entity that somehow fails to receive a single mention in the 1981 STURP Summary despite being the most superficial part of the linen fibre, and despite having a thickness (200nm) that corresponds, approximately, with Rogers’ estimate of TS body image thickness).

And then he dumps on Rogers, Jackson, Adler and Heller:

Overview of STURP’s damp squib (no big bang, just a handy smokescreen for some)
Why did STURP set up its straw man target (if you’ll pardon the internet lingo), i.e. that it was ‘just a painting’? Given all the effort expended in ruling out what should have been self-evident from an imprinted negative image, why did it end up telling us next to nothing positive about the TS image?

If one looks at the research activity of its demob-happy leading lights subsequent to publication of the 1981 Summary, it’s clear why the latter took the form it did. It left the road clear for   narrative-spinning pro-authenticists to drop any pretence of scientific objectivity, and to go inserting fantasies as if fact into the Shroud literature. I refer to Raymond N.Rogers with his Pliny era special pleading (starch fractions, saponins etc initally, with more later in the pipeline re spliced repair threeads and missing vanillin precursors for challenging the radiocarbon dating), to John Jackson for his  wacky radiation-imaging/collapsing cloth ideas, and to Adler and Heller for their "blood too red /trauma bilirubin" fantasies.  None of that massive self-indulgence, that wholesale retreat from strict scientific objectivity would have been possible if STURP had done its job properly, and focused on the TS as (probably, indeed almost certainly) a simple contact imprint, one requiring manual assistance, and thus consistent with the radiocarbon dating and medieval forgery.

The stultifying STURP project, with no realistic prospect of a return visit to Turin for years, nay decades, had its intended effect – to create a smokescreen-protected frozen conflict, one in which the pro-authenticity pseudo-science tendency could operate with impunity. Thank goodness that STURP’s attempts to oversee the 1988 radiocarbon dating (mixing and matching with a broader-based examination of pre-Lirey "history" was rejected. Just imagine the result: a few pen drawn circles on the Pray Codex  – the coffin lid, not Shroud as we are/were led to believe – would have been produced as a trump card, grounds for rejecting that  oh-so-arrogant  ‘error-prone’ methodology for which an endless source of contaminants can be invoked – new repair threads, bioplastic films, thymol, radiation-induced C-14, carbon monoxide, smoke …

Is the broadside justified?  Contrast Colin’s view a recent comment by John Klotz:

One of the good things that has happened recently is the leadership role now being played by Bruno Barberis at Turin Centro. At one conference he held STURP as a model for future examinations of the Shroud but a “STURP” with true international membership..

There is no question in my mind that John Klotz has carefully studied the work of STURP and understands it. I think Colin is mostly just shooting from the hip, so to speak.

Colin Berry is not Seeing Red

Berry: Where did the story of the too-red blood originate?  Answer: from Adler and Heller

imageYou may have noted a comment by Charles Freeman. 

Well, we just have to disagree on the reality of the human blood. I am an independent scholar, formerly a Senior Examiner of the International Baccalaureate;s critical thinking programme, Theory of Knowledge, and thus used to looking at evidence or asking those who know.

I had the Heller/Adler papers read by a professor emeritus of physiology who said that their claims that this was blood were totally unconvincing. I show the bloodstains to any forensic expert i can find and they all say they have never seen dried blood that red.

So I am not working on the understanding that this is blood.

Why can’t the STURP tests be replicated 37 years on? Have they lost the tapes???

Caption:  Robert Downey Jr. telling Charles Freeman that everything looks too red.

Will we ever learn the name of any of Charles’ many experts du jour. But that isn’t the point.  The point is that Charles is playing the blood-is-too-red card, perhaps too carelessly, something that Colin Berry in one of his overly long, topic-drift postings picked up on. In fact, Colin, is challenging the very notion that the blood is too red.

Let’s see some of what he has to say by clicking in and scrolling down until you spot Charles Freeman’s name for the fourth time:

Er, which photograph(s) of the TS show the blood as "too red"? How come after 3 years of looking at TS photographs, I have yet to see them?

It can’t be the 1931 Enrie photographs, since they are B/W. It can’t be the 2002 Durante pictures, at least those that appear on Mario Latendresse’s Shroud Scope, since the colour of the blood in those  pictures is scarcely distinguishable from the body image, the entire look being a dull plum.

Durante 2002 (from Shroud Scope): blood too red?

(The first thing I do with Shroud Scope pictures is put then into MS Office Picture Manager and adjust brightness/contrast/midtone from 0,0,0 to -7/100/15 in order to get the blood looking redder). So which photos are Charles Freeman showing to his buttonholed experts? Maybe those Halta pictures on the iPad app, recently described (aptly methinks) as mere toys?

Blood too red? …

Or maybe the BBC’s earlier release in 2008 of Halta pictures that do show a rosy hue in places where it’s not expected, but in prominent areas of body image, not blood especially.

Halta image from BBC site (2008). Some pink coloration – but it’s mainly in the beard and other body-image locations.

Finally, let’s not forget the Turin custodians’ own site with a selection of TS views, essentially the same it would appear as those on Shroud Scope.No, the bloodstains do not look too red. Indeed, they do not look red at all.

Where did the story of the too-red blood originate?  Answer: from Adler and Heller, who said in writing the blood was too red, the porphyrin spectrum was atypical, and thus was born the "trauma bilirubin/acid methemoglobin" claim, …

Barrie M.Schwortz has been responsible over the years for proselytising the "blood abnormally red" description, and his admiration for Alan Adler’s pro-authenticity narrative-friendly bilirubin explanation. …

Misleading impression of ‘redness’ created by high magnification/strong illumination? RGB reference standards for comparison? Might the colours also have been digitally adjusted in a manner that accentuated redness?

That still leaves unanswered the question as to which photograph Charles Freeman showed to his forensic experts or emeritus professor of physiology. I shan’t bother asking him directly. I’ve wasted too much time already – putting innumerable points and questions to someone who persistently displays a blissful indifference to the hard facts – and getting back nothing useful in return.

Remember the fun days?  Anyone remember Let’s Talk Red Blood: Bilirubin, Saponaria officinalis and UV?  All those other people believing the blood is too red.  Colin wasn’t questioning it then, was he?

Colin Berry On Rogers and Arnoldi Paper

imageYesterday, Colin Berry, in one of his updates to his seemingly always evolving and meandering long postings, tells us what he would have done had he been refereeing Rogers’ and Arnoldi’s paper, “THE SHROUD OF TURIN: AN AMINO-CARBONYL REACTION (MAILLARD REACTION) MAY EXPLAIN THE IMAGE FORMATION”, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Melanoidins:

Had the paper come to me for refereeing… it would have been rejected out of hand.

I’d have appended the following specific comments to the author and journal Editor:

1. Do not go citing Pliny the Elder out of the blue, begging the question re Shroud authenticity, implying that the radiocarbon dating can be safely ignored.  Oh no it cannot. The author might think it invalid, based on his examination of a few threads illicitly removed from the radiocarbon sample, with a subsequent gap in the chain of custody. But he cannot expect others to take his rejection as the consensus position in science. It’s not. Indeed, the manner in which Pliny has been insinuated into the above text suggests strongly that Raymond N.Rogers was not strictly neutral and disinterested on the subject of authenticity when he penned the above paper, making it worryingly possible that he was not  neutral at the time he worked with STURP in 1978. It’s my belief that Rogers was a closet authenticist. If he considered the radiocarbon dating, then he as STURP’s chemical team leader should have been the one to press for a repeat dating – not to go tacitly assuming authenticity. Science has to be totally objective in its written PEER-REVIEWED publications.

2.The presence of starch "confirmed" with a reagent that designed to test for something entirely different? The correct reagent for detecting starch is a solution of iodine in potassium iodide, which gives a blue-black inky colour with starch. A solution of iodine in sodium azide, intended to detect sulphoproteins, one that gives a totally different colour (red), CANNOT be assumed to be testing for starch UNLESS VALIDATING TESTS ARE REPORTED.  They were not. We are asked to accept that iodine/azide is a dual purpose reagent. Who says? Neither does it inspire confidence to see a reference to "amilose", it being AMYLOSE needless to say. Secondly the differentiation between amylose (straight chain starch) and the unmentioned amylopectin (branched chain starch) simply cannot be inserted into a scientific account without a word of explanation. In nay case, the two components of starch were not properly recognized as distinct chemical entities until the 1940s. Their relevance to colorimetric tests for starch is highly questionable to say the least, unless dealing with genetic variants of wheat that are enriched in one or the other (e.g. waxy maize starches that are almost entirely amylopectin, which gives a red or purple colour with iodine/potassium iodide). What we see here is at best sloppy and imprecise unscientific reporting that should never have got past the referees.

3. There is no conclusive evidence that starch or other polysaccharides and/or sugars are  present on the Shroud, and even if the red colour with iodine/azide were admissible evidence, for which no assurance is offered, the evidence for that was from Adler and Heller. One CANNOT GO BASING MAJOR CLAIMS (as Roger’s "starch fraction/Maillard hypothesis" has become a major claim) on evidence from other workers, in other laboratories, that is little more than anecdotal.


John Klotz, the Blind men, the Elephant and the Shroud of Turin

imageJohn Klotz has posted The Blind men, the Elephant and the Shroud of Turin on his blog. Have a look. He is right, of course:

As I have written, more than once, I find the community skeptical of the Shroud of Turin much like the blind men and the elephant. This morning, exasperated as usual by the "experts," who seek to cram the issue of Shroud authenticity in their area of expertise (like the art historian who claims to have solved the "mystery" of the image) I decided to do a little (very) research. My view is that there are three general disciplines with subgroups that must be addressed and an approach founded on only one or two of them will always come-up short: Religion, History and Science. …


Yet, I can not escape my observation that when I read and participate in discussions and debate about the Shroud, so many are either side of the authenticity side of the argument seem like blind men (and women) arguing about the nature of an elephant. This morning I did a little research on the blind men issue and found on the web via Wikipedia the following couplet which is attributed to Buddha:

"O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing."

Jainism and Buddhism. Udana 68-69:

Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

Picture for Today: Getting Ready for the Shroud Exhibition in 1931


Source:  L’ISOLA DI PATMOS blog

Colin Berry’s Method and 3D Information

it is presumptive to think the 3D information represents cloth-to-body distance.
It is presumptive because you must have a method in mind

clip_image001A reader writes:

Colin Berry’s method may provide synthetic cloth to body information represented by varying color density for close together body features such as fingers beside each other. It cannot provide proper relative spatial information for disparate features related to each other at a distance such as the tip of the nose and the outer edge of each cheek.  Dr. Berry’s method cannot generate the sort of spatial information we see in Petrus Soon’s 3D renditions.

You are possibly right that Colin’s method cannot produce meaningful, relative 3D information for “disparate features related to each other at a distance.”  That seems obvious when looking at his method. But is that 3D information really contained in the shroud image in the sense you suggest? Does it represent reality?

1) I’m still not convinced that the 3D information represents cloth-to-body distance. It works out, it seems to me, to somehow represent body shape but it is presumptive to think the 3D information represents cloth-to-body distance. It is presumptive because you must have a method in mind to even suggest it.

 2)  I certainly have serious reservations about the 3D work undertaken by Petrus Soons.  I suspect that the real 3D information on the shroud is more like what we see with ImageJ, the VP8 and John Jackson’s 3D corrugated cardboard plot exhibited at the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado.

Might Colin’s method produce that kind of 3D data? I don’t think so, “synthetic” or otherwise. But I don’t know that. I think we need to wait and see.

Colin Berry Has It All Figured Out, Sort Of, Maybe

You’ve got to love the experimentation and impressive results so far

imageColin Berry gives this lengthy title to a blog postings over at his Science Buzz blog: The chemical principles behind the iconic Turin Shroud can now be explained. All that remains is to produce a look-alike copy. Then he goes on to say:

It’s taken over 3 years of almost non-stop experimentation, but this blogger/retired science bod is now able to explain how the faint negative image of the Turin Shroud was obtained (as a feat of medieval technology, aided by alchemists).

The task: produce a contact image that could be claimed to be that left by the crucified Jesus on Joseph of Arimathea’s ‘fine linen’.

It’s incredibly simple in principle (why didn’t I think of it sooner?):

1. Paint an adult human male (alive or dead) with an organic paste …

2. Press linen against the subject (or subject against linen) …

3. Develop the image chemically….


So I maintain that the plausible science is established – at least in principle-  so far as producing a negative  sepia 2D image from imprinting off a 3D subjectis concerned.  Whether it matches all the additional or peculiar characteristics of the TS image (extreme superficiality, lack of reverse side image, lack of uv fluorescence, microscopic characteristics etc.) remains to be seen. However,let’s insert a note of caution: not all those listed characteristics were necessarily there immediately after image formation, regardless of age – centuries or millennia. Some of those characteristics may be a result of ageing. At present it seems sensible to adopt a broad-brush approach, attempting to accommodate  only those ‘headline’ characteristics of the TS that have led to its being described as iconic or enigmatic. Where the latter are concerned, the prize for the most ‘iconic’ must surely go to the pioneering 1898 photography by Secondo Pia, which converted the Shroud negative back into a positive (by innocently treating the TS as a positive and convereting to a negative!).

A Folding Method Charles Freeman Might Accept

Click on the image to see how it is done in steps 1 through 5

clip_image001[4]Stephen Jones, back in September of 2012, wrote:

A commenter on Dan Porter’s Shroud of Turin blog pointed out what I had previously realised, but had forgotten, that Dan’s "Tetradiplon" graphic illustrating how the Shroud of Turin, when "four-doubled" (Greek tetradiplon), with Jesus’ face uppermost, results in Jesus’ face only within a rectangle, in landscape aspect (exactly as in the oldest copies of the Image of Edessa), has a flaw in that it only shows three doublings of the Shroud (see above).

Even Ian Wilson’s illustrations of this in his books (e.g. "The Evidence of the Shroud," 1986, p.113; "Holy Faces, Secret Places," 1991, p.142; "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.153; "The Turin Shroud," 2000, p.111; and "The Shroud," 2010, p.141), show the Shroud doubled only three times.

But some months ago I cut out a photo of the Shroud and proved to myself that the Shroud can be doubled four times in such a way that it results in Jesus’ face in a rectangular segment of the cloth, in landscape aspect,exactly as it is in early copies of the Image of Edessa. Here I will show how it can be done, in what is a reasonable way to fold a long cloth, minimising strain at its fold edges.

Stephen goes on to say:

This is consistent with major foldlines at one-eighth intervals, found on the Shroud by Dr John Jackson from raking light photographs of the Shroud taken in 1978 by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP).


Ye shall know them by their photographs


An old friend who just discovered this blog writes:

We keep reading that the Catholic church does not have a position on the shroud. Like they can?  That’s BS!  Look at the picture on their website. It’s a big case of watch what I do and ignore what I say. Do you think all those bishops and priests are ( What’s the word? Venerating? ) what might be a medieval forgery? Give me a break. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Ouch. Not good context. Matthew 7:15&16 (NRSV) reads, “15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.”

Not good context at all.

The above picture that my friend included in his email is in rotation on the official exposition website, sindone.org, and is currently the masthead for the Archdiocese’s official exposition Facebook and Twitter pages.

I get the point but is it valid?  Stephen Jones is saying similar things in his blog, absent the photograph:

As I have stated before, it is duplicitous (i.e. two-faced), of the Vatican to refuse to confirm or deny that the Shroud is authentic. By its actions of spending the equivalent of tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars preserving the Shroud and exhibiting it to millions of people as though it is authentic, the Vatican clearly does believe that the Shroud is authentic, so it should say so. Shroud anti-authenticists cite the Vatican’s refusal to state that the Shroud is authentic as evidence that it is not. I am not being anti-Catholic in this, I am being pro-truth! (italic emphasis is Steven’s)

For what it’s worth, I think the church is saying the right thing and showing the shroud in the right way.

God Does Whatever He Feels Like

Mark Shea is wound up.  Perhaps to much caffeinated chocolate.  Try the carob Mark. But then again, I agree with you.

…not a painting, not a scorch, not a photograph.

imageThat’s cuz it’s the real thing. Challenge to Skeptics: If it’s medieval forgery made by and for primitive suckers then get with the program. We live in the 21st century. There’s nothing technological a medieval could do that we can’t do ten times better and faster. So make another one.  But do it using the 14th century tech you say created this.  And don’t give me this piece of carob on the right…,,,and call it chocolate.  If that thing on the right is a “reproduction” of the Shroud then Justin Bieber is Enrico Caruso.


Not that Catholic faith rests on  the Shroud.  Millions of Christians have lived and died never so much as having heard of, let alone seen, it.  But such grace notes are kindnesses from a God who, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions and despite advice from the finest ideologues money can buy, does whatever he feels like.

With Anyone Interested in Listening

Okay!  No problem with your masthead suasion.  We listen, around here.

imageGary writes at Escaping Christian Fundamentalism, Does the Shroud of Turin prove that Jesus had a Human Father?

One other thing about the Shroud of Turin I find shocking is that believers claim the shroud has blood on it with AB blood type. How is it that Jesus had a recognizable blood type? We each obtain our blood type by receiving one allele from each of our parents. Here is an example:

“How are ABO alleles inherited by our children? Each biological parent donates one of their two ABO alleles to their child. A mother who is blood type O can only pass an O allele to her son or daughter. A father who is blood type AB could pass either an A or a B allele to his son or daughter.”

You can’t obtain both an “A” allele and a “B” allele from your mother! So Jesus would only have one allele, from his mother, as his father was a ghost.

Do ghosts have a blood type???

The Shroud of Turin is either a fake or Jesus had a human father!

Of course, there is always the tried and true fall back: God went “poof” and Jesus was given AB blood by magic.

Okay. Now it is your turn to listen. I count at least 50 postings on the subject of blood type in this blog. That is for starters, just to get you acquainted with the subject. I’m sure we will have something to say about your argument.

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