Archive for the ‘Paper Chase’ Category

And now you have something to do this weekend

October 24, 2015 12 comments

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from
an innate doubt that God would work in this way…

image image Joe Marino uncovered a weekend’s worth of reading and reflection, specifically a blog posting and two papers:

Posting:  The Turin Shroud: fake or genuine? by Eric Hatfield (pictured in white shirt)

Main Paper:  The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik (pictured in striped shirt)

Supporting Paper:  Excursuses to the Article "The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment" by Atle Ottesen Søvik

Joe’s email to me reads:

Hi Dan,

I came across this interesting article at the "Is there a God" blog (from June 2015):

It references 2 substantial Shroud articles on, one of which Barrie mentioned on his site back in 2014:

The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik – (This article is a translation of the article “Likkledet i Torino – en kritisk vurdering," published in Teologisk Tidsskrift (Journal of Theology), no 3, 2013: 266-294). The author holds a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and teaches at MF Norwegian School of Theology. You can follow Atle and read some of his other papers (many in English) on We have also added a permanent link to the article on the Scientific Papers & Articles and Website Library pages of the site. Here is the abstract:

This article discusses the question of whether the Shroud of Turin is the real burial cloth of Jesus, and it consists of four parts. First I present facts about the Shroud. Then I discuss whether the image comes from a corpse or is artificially produced another way, and conclude that it comes from a corpse. This means that if it is a forgery, a corpse was used to create the image. After that, I briefly discuss whether it may be the burial cloth of an unknown crucified man, and argue that it must be the burial cloth of Jesus or a forgery meant to resemble Jesus. Finally, I discuss the crucial question of when the image was formed: is it a forgery from the fourteenth century or is it the real burial cloth of Jesus from AD 30?

The author of the blog article states:

I was fortunate to come across a 2013 review of both sides of the argument by Atle Søvik, a Norwegian Philosopher of Religion and Professor of Theology. His review is based mainly on published peer-reviewed papers, and is found in a main paper and a supporting paper.

It may be thought that a Professor of Theology isn’t an impartial observer, but I believe this is the most balanced assessment I have come across, because he is an academic, he seems impartial and reliable, it is in a peer-reviewed journal, he is not Catholic and he is likely a liberal Christian who isn’t as strongly biased towards supernatural explanations as a naturalist would be biased against them. I am strengthened in this conclusion after brief correspondence with a sceptical member of his review team.

The link for the "main paper" is what Barrie posted.  However, Barrie apparently didn’t post the "supporting paper," which is actually 2 pages longer than the main paper.  Funny, I don’t even remember seeing the main paper from when Barrie posted it–I must have somehow missed it.  I’m getting more senior moments than I used to.  I did a search on your blog for article name and author and didn’t see anything.  Both articles are impressive.

I GO TO CONCLUSLIONS:  It is a bad habit of mine.  But then I do go back and read. Here is Eric Hatfield’s conclusion from his blog site:

It seems to be a case of the carbon dating vs the rest of the evidence. Søvik cautiously concludes that the evidence for a first century date is slightly stronger, but I think neither side has proved their case or shown the other side to be wrong. The sceptical case relies on a few old papers and a lot of bluster, but the case for authenticity stumbles on the radiocarbon dating. I don’t think we can be confident either way. (I’m sorry to have to sit on the fence.)

I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from an innate doubt that God would work in this way – after all, Jesus refused to use spectacular signs to authenticate himself. I cannot remove from my mind the many other relics, some of which are quite impossible, and some of which (e.g. non-decaying saints) seem quite superstitious.

If only the radiocarbon and vanillin testing could be re-done by agreed best methods, we might get a better answer. In the meantime, both believers and sceptics would do well to avoid making over-strong claims.

Bravo!  I have always had a bit of that gut-over-brain skepticism. 

And thanks, Joe.

Categories: Other Blogs, Paper Chase

Guest Posting on the Thermochimica Acta Editorial

September 17, 2015 7 comments

O.K., a frequent participant in this forum, writes:

Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi editorial exposed

imageIn the beginning, I want to say that this response to the editorial of Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi editorial in Thermochimica Acta (TCA, freely available until 30th October 2015) is not focused about mass spectrometry, pyrolysis, nor any of the purely scientific issues regarding it. Those issues will be addressed in much more comprehensive response to TCA, being prepared by Thibault Heimburger. It is not about whether Rogers was right or wrong in his paper. Nor it is not about authenticity of the Shroud. It is mainly about style (and the ethics) presented in that editorial, which is enough to discredit it as a scientific publication, and prove it to be actually a manipulation of the reader. This response is based purely on the text of that editorial, Rogers article, and Marco Bella comments in the thread Editorial in Thermochimica Acta by Bella, Garlaschelli and Samperi on Rogers’ 2005 Article on

One fundamental rule: in scientific publications the text must be as precise as possible. No vague, or ambiguous terms.

Having that in mind, let’s look at the title of the editorial:

There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending”

Why not simply:

There is no evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending” ?

Why did they need to insert those two bolded words?

Because, as we will see, the two bolded words change the meaning of the title diametrically.

Nevertheless, Marco Bella wrote in a comment (September 8, 2015 at 2:48 am):

Dear Tristan,

You might be right that the word “medieval” is not fully appropriate in the title. It might give the impression of not ruling out the possibility that the mending has been executed at another time, while there is actually no evidence of whatsoever mending. […] Since they first used this term to describe their theory, I feel it is correct to keep it, even if there is no evidence at all to support this pseudoscientific hypothesis and the term might be not fully appropriate. -my emphasis.

So no evidence, or no mass spectrometry evidence? Because the two phrases mean two entirely different things!

Rogers wrote in the abstract of his paper:

Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud. -my emphasis.

And also on pg. 193 (this can be treated as a sort of conclusions of that paper):

The combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms proves that the material from the radiocarbon area of the shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth. The radiocarbon sample was thus not part of the original cloth and is invalid for determining the age of the shroud.-my emphasis.

While Rogers based his reasoning on combination of observations, data and measurements, in contrast Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi concentrate only on mass spectrometry (which was not the only, nor even principal method Rogers used)- According to the Author, however, the key evidence to support his thesis is the analysis of two pyrolysis spectra(pg. 170 of Editorial ) dismissing all other evidence as the unspecific qualitative chemical tests presented by Rogers (pg. 171). In general the editorial is full of insinuations, weasel phrases, and derogatory terms -extremely bad style for scientific publication. But it lacks a very key element. Rogers wrote The combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms


Therefore writing There is no mass spectrometry evidence, instead of no evidence is misleading people -especially coupled with concluding remark Therefore, none of the presented data supports the conclusion by Rogers. As we have seen, the authors did not analyze nor address fully Rogers claims. Writing There is no mass spectrometry evidence is de facto admitting that there is some other evidence for invisible mending -of which even the authors in their apparent desire to debunk Rogers had apparently forgotten.

The word “cotton” is the SMOKING GUN that the editorial of Bella, Garlaschelli & Samperi is at least a manipulation of the reader.

Objections that the cotton issue will be addressed elsewhere? Not allowed: Marco Bella himself wrote in a comment (September 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm):

When evaluating a scientific paper, the analysis must be limited to what is actually written or referenced in the paper. The “ideas” of the author written somewhere else (specifically, a book which did not pass any peer-review) are of no significance for our editorial. I just focus on the reported data in Rogers’ TA paper This is how science works.

So be it -with regards to Bella as well!

The main question for Bella et al., given all what Rogers wrote, and what Bella et. al wrote (and nothing else) –is there any evidence for invisible mending? YES OR NO?

This editorial is not only below any scientific, but moreover below any ethical standards -and as such, it should have been not allowed for publication.

Categories: Paper Chase

Faint Images: The Case of the Shroud of Arquata

September 16, 2015 61 comments

imageOver at, Paolo Di Lazzarro has posted an uncorrected proof of a paper, Non invasive analyses of low-contrast images on ancient textiles: the case of the shroud of Arquata by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Massimiliano Guarneri, Daniele Murra, Valeria Spizzichino, Alessandro Danielis, Arianna Mencattini, Veronica Piraccini and Mauro Missori. The paper is to be published late this year in in the Journal of Cultural Heritage

Here is the abstract:

We present the results of the first in-depth measurements of the linen cloth of the shroud of Arquata, a precious copy of the Shroud of Turin, which dates back to 1653. The measurements aimed at finding the nature of the faint and low-contrast body impressions on the linen cloth, which are not produced by drawings or paintings as in the other copies of the Shroud of Turin. In general, the optical analysis and the imaging of low-contrast stains on ancient textile is a complex task, due to the irregular surface and the influence of spectrum, position and uniformity of the illuminating source on colour accuracy and rendition, A correct evaluation requires a multidisciplinary approach. We used noninvasive technologies. including imaging topological radar, laser induced fluorescence, absolute diffused reflectance and absorption spectra, which were previously used to study frescoes, paintings, antique papers, but were never exploited on ancient textiles. The combined results of our measurements and data elaboration allowed identifying the origins of the body impressions. of the stains simulating blood and of the other marks embedded on the linen cloth. Our results can be used to plan the proper long-seem conservation of the linen cloth and of marks on it.

Categories: Image Theory, Paper Chase

Free Link to Thermochimica Acta Editorial Until October 30

September 11, 2015 1 comment

image Marco Bella has kindly provided me with a free link to the final paper, There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending” 

<< >>

(Please Read Guest User Guidelines)

Based on the following in an email to Marco from ScienceDirect …

… You are also welcome to email the link to your co-authors and colleagues, or post the link on your own homepage, Facebook, Google+, Twitter or other social media profile, to tell your network about your new publication.  Anyone who clicks on the link until October 30, 2015, will be taken to the final version of your article on ScienceDirect for free. No sign up or registration is needed – just click and read!

As an author, you may use your article for a wide range of scholarly, non-commercial purposes, and share and post your article online in a variety of ways….

… I am posting that link. My interpretation of that email is that I may do so, ethically and legally.

Thank you, Marco.

Note:  Please direct any comments to Editorial in Thermochimica Acta by Bella, Garlaschelli and Samperi on Rogers’ 2005 Article or Significant Response to the Preview of the Thermochimica Acta Editorial

Categories: Paper Chase

Why Not Luigi Garlaschelli?

August 19, 2015 4 comments

What is that on Luigi Garlaschelli’s left shoulder?

imageA reader writes from the “front porch of my old Kentucky home:”

In reading through some of the newly published material on the STuRP (sic*) site, I found the paper by Paolo Di Lazzaro interesting for its introduction. We read on the first page, “none of techniques tested can simultaneously reproduce its main features, from the 3-D property to the coloration depth, to the resolution of the spatial details. The conclusion was that the image on the Shroud of Turin is not the result of the work of an artist or forger.”

Time, however, did not stand still. The latest testing was by Professor Luigi Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia. According to Reuters, Garlaschelli, claimed that he and his team “have shown it is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud.”

You would think that would be mentioned in the paper.

Well, no.  The examples were fine for the purpose of the paper. And Garlaschelli didn’t come all that close, anyway.  But maybe his method came closer than many of the methods mentioned by Jackson, Jumper and Ercoline and listed by Paolo; for that is who and what Paolo is talking about in his paper.

Maybe Colin Berry should be mentioned as well.  Scroll down a few postings to Colin Berry’s Long Running Investigation of the Shroud. You can also click on the picture of coloration by Colin to access Colin’s blog. Compare that to the coloration photograph in Paolo’s paper.


For the record, here is a relevant extract from Paolo’s Shroud-like coloration of linen by ultraviolet radiation:

In 1984, two organizers of the STuRP (Shroud of Turin Research Project), Jackson and Jumper, along with Ercoline published a paper entitled "Correlation of image intensity on the Turin Shroud with the 3-D structure of a human body shape" [1]. In this long paper (26 pages!) that I consider one of the most important works published by STuRP members, the authors describe in meticulous detail the creation of a gallery of images on linen fabrics using all the techniques potentially able to create a Shroud-like image. Note that this paper was published four years before the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, and the authors, unaware that the cloth was woven in the Middle Ages, tested all the possible techniques, ancient and modern, not only those potentially available to the alleged medieval forger.

A list of techniques tested in this article include:

o Direct contact (a statue and a person coloured by inks, or chemicals, or powders, then draped by a linen cloth);

o Thermal colouration (bas reliefs heated in a furnace and placed in contact on both dry and wet linen); o Visible light (faces covered with phosphorescent paints imaged on contoured sheets of a photographic film);

o Electrostatic field; o Vapourgraphy (ammonia vapours on plaster face diffused on linen);

o Artists (professional artists, certified forensic with documented experience in realistic monotone imagery shade a Shroud-like face on linen, first free hand, then with anchor points);

o Hybrid mechanisms (different combinations of two or more techniques among those mentioned).

Jackson, Jumper and Ercoline compared the results of the above attempts with the macroscopic and microscopic features of the Shroud image, and argued that none of techniques tested can simultaneously reproduce its main features, from the 3-D property to the coloration depth, to the resolution of the spatial details. The conclusion was that the image on the Shroud of Turin is not the result of the work of an artist or forger.

* That would be the STERA site, more commonly known as 

Categories: Paper Chase

Paper Chase: Offensive Coins? Heads or Tails?

June 19, 2015 48 comments

… nothing but a numismatic and pseudosindonological myth

imageMax-Patrick Hamon writes:

Please find attached in pdf format ‘Part One’ (OFFENSIVE COINS? HEADS OR TAILS? Or the Stauffer pseudo- numismatic evidence) of a longer paper (I wrote in 2008, updated in 2011 and not yet published) entitled: Turin Shroud: Coin Over Eyes And Die-Hard Misinformation.

I uploaded it. So, just click on the above title or on the image of the first page shown here.

Categories: Paper Chase

A Treasure of Reading Material

May 26, 2015 21 comments

Thank you, Enrico Simonato

imageWe have received copies of six handouts from the International Centre of Sindonology May 2nd meeting that have been translated into English. These have been provided to us by Enrico  Simonato, the organization’s secretary:



Shroud-like coloration of linen by ultraviolet radiation by Paolo Di Lazzaro Chief of research, ENEA ENEA Research Centre, via E. Fermi 45, 00044 Frascati (Rome, Italy)

Palynology: instrument of research for the relics of the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo by Marzia Boi

The role of historical research within the Shroud studies by Gianmaria Zaccone


There are two more handouts that are still to be translated.  I’ll post those when they arrive.

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