Posts Tagged ‘Joe Nickell’

Colin Berry: Yes, it’s vitally important to match every tiny detail

April 30, 2015 221 comments

Inés San Martín, a Vatican correspondent for Crux has written an interesting article: Is the Shroud of Turin real? Some say it doesn’t matter

Therein we find Joe Nickell saying:

Proponents lack any viable hypothesis for the image formation, and have dismissed re-creations that others have found convincing.

and Barrie Schwortz saying:

Despite being the most studied artifact in history …  modern science is still unable to explain the image or how it was made.

and also saying:

… no one in the past 40 years has been able to duplicate it or create any image with the same chemical and physical properties.

Well, yeah, duh, to what Nickell is saying. In every case there have been problems with the re-creations. It is all about details. That’s why they have been dismissed. 

But then isn’t Barrie’s argument stale. That’s not a criticism of Barrie, it is the situation. Just as we say that no one has figured out how the image was formed – which every student of logic knows is a big fat fallacy – we haven’t figured out anything better to say about the image except what it is not and to keep bringing up those chemical and physical details.


The Rev. Andrew Dalton, a Legionaries of Christ priest who’s a shroud expert, told Crux that although the Church respects the autonomy of the scientific community, there are details that simply couldn’t have been forged centuries ago.

Details like what?

Isn’t Colin Berry trying to figure out how the image was maybe formed by a forger with Thibault Heimburger reminding him about those pesky little details that “that simply couldn’t have been forged centuries ago.” Inés San Martín should be interviewing them. Here, right out of this blog, let’s look at two comments.

Thibault Heimburger (April 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm):


“These aspects of the TS that the new model is supposed to match” are very important.

Your new model, at the end, must match (or at least be compatible with) the fundamental surface distribution properties of the TS: superficiality (at fabric, thread and fiber level), uniformity of the image (no “hot point”, no spot, no “hole”), half tone and fuzzy contours, and bundles of fibers adjacent to uncolored fibers…

Now, if you think that these facts are not proved, despite the many photos you have, I can’t add anything.

If you think that those properties are not important at all, please explain…

The ” ‘scattered colored spots” (also seen in Garlaschelli’s shroud) is only my description of your hand imprint.

I’ll be in Turin until Sunday.

Colin Berry (April 29, 2015 at 10:25 pm):

Yes, it’s vitally important to match every tiny detail of the TS, as it existed when first produced. My new project will attempt to simulate in the kitchen the effect of centuries of subtle degradation on an image of unknown provenance, whether 700 or 2000 years old.

Seriously, TH, one has to recognize the limitations of any attempts at model building. That’s what we scientists, as distinct from physicians, engineers, technologists etc do – we build models. Recognizing the limitations of models, we are concerned primarily with the principles, especially when there are so many who claim for example that a 200nm thick image in unexplainable by conventional science (wrong, it is).

I am not trying to produce a facsimile copy of the TS (forgery Mark 2?) merely to show that its defining characteristics are consistent with medieval forgery. That’s as a counter to those pseudoscientific agenda-pushers who say they are not. (That’s my agenda – anti-pseudoscience). “Defining characteristic” must not turned into a trail (trial?) with no ending.

Hat tip to Joe Marino for sending the Crux article along.

Flat Earth Society, Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and Other Partisans

April 25, 2015 71 comments

imageTwo days ago, Joe NIckell posted an article, Fake Turin Shroud Deceives National Geographic Author, on the CSI website (formerly known as CSICOP but now CSI,  The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry).

Joe begins:

When a great magazine like National Geographic speaks, the world naturally listens. We were especially glad this is so when—for its March 2015 cover article, “The War on Science”—it cited such attacks as those on climate change, evolution, vaccinations, and genetically altered food, as well as the moon landing. “Thanks, National Geographic,” we said (2015) in our magazine, Skeptical Inquirer.

And yet science—and truth—have since come under attack by an online article that bears the imprimatur of National Geographic. Written by Frank Viviano, the article “Why Shroud of Turin’s Secrets Continue to Elude Science” (2015) is so misleading, so replete with falsehoods, so lacking in basic facts about the notorious “shroud” that it is an affront to the proud name of National Geographic.

It is also a glaring example of how not to approach a controversy. Just as one would not get information about the curvature of the Earth from the Flat Earth Society alone, one should not primarily get “facts” about the Turin cloth from The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and other partisans. STURP’s leaders served on the executive council of the Holy Shroud Guild, which is devoted to the “cause” of the reputed relic. Viviano tells us in glowing terms of the “scientific disciplines” covered by STURP, without being aware that it lacked experts in art and forensic chemistry. We shall see presently why this matters, but let’s first look at the shameful portions of the shroud’s history that Viviano shamelessly omits.

And Joe concludes:

Scholarship and science have proven the Turin “shroud” a fake, from its incompatibility with first century burial cloths and procedures, its lack of historical record, and a bishop’s report that the forger had confessed, to the suspicious-looking “blood” that is really tempera paint, pigments making up the body image, and the radiocarbon dating that confirms the cloth originated at the time of its documented appearance in the fourteenth century—when it was fraudulently claimed to the be Holy Shroud of Christ. Such evidence against any secular object would be considered clear proof of inauthenticity.

Frank Viviano’s article is a disservice to science and unworthy to appear under the respected name National Geographic.

Of course, Joe is the model for unbiased information. Visit by clicking on his picture.

Categories: Article, Other Sites Tags: ,


March 9, 2015 9 comments

imageJoe Nickell reacts to CNN’s “Finding Jesus”: Disingenuous Look at Turin “Shroud” over at the Center for Inquiry website:

… The first episode of the TV series (but curiously the last chapter of the book) was about the “Shroud” of Turin. Easter after Easter, this alleged burial cloth of Jesus is trotted out like a ghost story at Halloween, typically with the same shoddy standards.

This TV presentation was no exception. It was replete with pseudohistory and pseudoscience to such an extent that—if one is not to question the producers’ motives— one must accuse them of gross incompetence. To show why, this review necessarily focuses as much on what is left out as it does on what makes the cut. The program is thus revealed as an hour-long example of confirmation bias—by which one begins with the desired answer and works backward to the evidence, picking and choosing. The usual formula to such crocumentaries is to spend, say, half to two-thirds of the time building up the claim at hand, then bring in some skepticism—or “skepticism”— and finally attack the contrary points, so as to end on a note of mystery. The implication is that science cannot explain the image on the “shroud,” so it appears to be something beyond science. This is a type of faulty logic called an argument from ignorance.

Nickell is particularly upset with the inclusion of Nicholas Allen’s hypothesis in the show. So was just about everyone, it seems, but for different reasons. Nickell’s perspective is, well, a crock of something or other:

With his absurd “explanation” of the shroud’s image, Nicholas Allen has played into the hands of shroud propagandists. They use him to endorse the falsehood that the image is a photographic negative, then allow his farfetched notion to make skeptics look ridiculous in their desperation. The result is to make religion seem to trump science. Shroud activists are no doubt laughing all the way to the cathedral.

Note: Photograph of Joe Nickell is a press photo from

Put that in your pipe, Luigi Garlaschelli, and smoke it

October 8, 2014 6 comments

imageA reader from Tel Aviv writes:

. . .  I nominate Colin Berry as the best, most qualified, most creative scientist skeptic in the history of the shroud.

I agree. Put that in your pipe, Luigi Garlaschelli, and smoke it.  What was the name of that Chuck Berry song? “Roll Over McCrone”?  No, Joe Nickell only wears a white lab coat like all the other PhDs in English Lit.

And I’m thankful for Colin’s work. And I’m enjoying his new explorations in the area of Maillard Reactions using lemon juice and milk.

Now, I’m not saying he isn’t wrong about a lot of things. I think he is.

And he can be something of a junk yard dog at times.

And I still think the shroud is the burial shroud of Christ. Who knows, maybe Colin will prove me wrong some day. Maybe he’ll come around to my way of thinking.

No, that is not a picture of Colin. It is Luigi. For a picture of Colin visit Colin’s About Me page in Blogger

Moreover, I trust Colin. He doesn’t want me to quote the following paragraph from his very public blog. But it says a lot, so let him be pissed. It is one reason why I trust him:

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

Maybe he’ll come around to my way of thinking? Probably not, but I think he is honest. Thanks, reader, for writing.

What has Joe Nickell Been Up To Lately?

July 17, 2014 3 comments


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

He writes in CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer:

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

Picture Credit: See article.

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