Please note: this is not my major “Shroudie” site. See also this one, more scientific, less argumentative…
Foreword: this post replaces a brief one I posted yesterday, written in haste as a first reaction to David Rolfe’s control freakery, his attempt to make prescriptions to scientists on what they should be doing. It having received no comments I decided this morning to delete it, not so much for what it said as what it did not say, substituting this one instead. But that deleted post has now appeared this morning as the subject of yet another of Dan Porter’s hugely patronising putdowns of yours truly on The Other Site, which I do not intend to dignify with an answer. But tell me this Dan: what original contributions have you made to Shroud research – not counting the provision of an otherwise useful news-aggregating site? Oh, and here’s a simple experiment reported yesterday on my other site.
You and your STURP associates could and should have done it years, ago, but did not, choosing instead to bang on about the Shroud’s ‘unique’ image properties. Why not Dan? Answer me that… Could it be that you and the world of Shroudology – the kind that assembled recently in Valencia – are only interested in one thing – the kind of “science” that lends further mystery, so will studiously ignore that which de-mystifies? There is NOTHING mysterious about the Shroud image – its strange luminous quality can be reproduced in a few minutes with charcoal, a camera and ImageJ software for light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement. It even works to a degree on a Mickey Mouse cartoon…
End of foreword
Here’s a picture from the latest in the long-running series of Shroud Congresses. It shows the organizers, behind whom, projected on the wall, is 7 point check list of what they must do if they wish to persist with the view, based on C-14 dating, that the Shroud is medieval.
Here’s the same list, after removing the parts this retired science bod does not consider need immediate attention, if at all…
For those who reject the C-dating for having failed to deliver the answer they wanted, here’s a 1-point must-do checklist:
1. Urge the Vatican to get the C-dating repeated, using a pre-agreed sampling and analytical protocol that is made public beforehand, and, most importantly of all, is ADHERED TO.
In the meantime, for those of us who remain vigilant to the use and abuse of science, who consider it time well spent to put a spotlight on pseudo-science, here’s my own “might do” checklist, assuming I had the time and resources, and (improbably) access to Shroud samples. But I am not a control freak, not like some I could mention: the list is purely advisory, is not being imposed on anyone, and is not being promoted as a test of “scientific credentials”. I judge a person’s scientific credentials by their qualifications and their published work, not by whether they see eye to eye on what needs to be done next. For the record, i am a biochemistry PhD, one time Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at a major UK food research association, with some 40 odd years of research and teaching experience.
And David Rolfe? Renowned documentary maker, certainly, but what are his scientific credentials? More to the point, why is he so keen to impose his priorities for research on others? Or is this less to do with research, where it is he who lacks obvious credentials, except what he hears at second hand, and more to do with his fixation with Richard Dawkins and the latter’s supposed atheism. I have previously pointed on The Other Site, criticizing Rolfe’s conflation of the latter with scientific scepticism when he first mooted his Enigma Challenge. (One can be religious, while considering the Shroud to be of medieval origin; one can consider the Shroud once wrapped a 1st century victim of crucifixion, without being religious). It is not the way to ‘win friends and influence people’, I grant you, but that was hardly a reason for him to instantly place a block of comments I tried to place on his site. (He still has not explained how he comes to have high-definition images of the Shroud that he uses as a banner, a resource that should be, or rather should have been available to researchers years ago,in the absence of which we have been assailed with fanciful notions about coins in eyes etc etc, much of it based it would seem on pre-digital silver-salt photography).
Shroud “might do” checklist (still under construction):
1 Are there serious grounds for thinking that the image is not a scorch, e.g. lack of fluorescence under uv light, superficiality (more correctly double-superficiality if there really is a faint obverse side image)? Do the spectral changes that accompany bleaching by powerful reductants, e.g. diimide, match those obtained by bleaching ancient or modern scorch marks?
(ed: see second comment below which addresses this question of reversibility of scorching by diimide, and whether it would be expected to cause a change in visible appearance, as claimed by Rogers in 2004)
2 Are the image characteristics consistent with those of a contact scorch as compared, say, with an at-a-distance radiation scorch, e.g. confinement of image to crowns of fibres, all-or-nothing half-tone effects, 360 degree annular coloration of individual fibrils, obverse-side imaging etc.
3 Is it true, as some persist in saying, that one cannot produce a scorch without it scorching the obverse side as well? That claim needs to be rigorously tested (and probably dismissed) e.g. by suitable control of temperature, time, moisture content, nature of underlay, contact pressure, nature of weave pattern etc?
4 Are there reagents or spectral techniques that can distinguish between the chemical bonding in a Maillard reaction product (sugar-amine reaction) and caramel-like pyrolysis products of linen fibres with no exogenous source of nitrogen that could then be applied to the Shroud, were re-testing to be permitted? Is there evidence for additional nitrogen in the imaged areas that would be required by Rogers’ putrefaction amine hypothesis?
5 Do some model studies with ageing blood, with additions of bilirubin, to see if Adler’s hypothesis is more than just a hunch. The added bilirubin will not only need to produce a bright red colour, preventing the stain from going brown or black, but confer total chemical stability to light, oxygen, moisture etc etc INDEFINITELY…
Expect further additions from time to time…
Like this one (6 May): how exactly was the crucial observation made that there is no image under the (purported) bloodstains? Did that involve simply peeling of the blood and finding non-imaged linen underneath? If so, how can one be certain that the blood was not acting like Rogers’ adhesive tape, and stripping off the image? Had that occurred, I doubt if the stripped image would have been visible if attached to the underside of a blood flake, due to its thinness and/or masking of colour
And this one: Adler said that he found iron in all those bright-red “blood stains”. But his hypothesis for why the blood would still be so red after centuries, with trauma-induced bilirubin playing a key role, is scarcely credible to anyone who knows anything about bilirubin. However there is a blood-red substance that is well known to anyone who has done a course on inorganic analytical chemistry – iron thiocyanate. Did Adler think of testing for thiocyanate? Who’s to say that an overzealous curator has not “cosmetically-enhanced” those supposed bloodstains in one of the lengthy periods when the Shroud is not open for viewing by applying some iron thiocyanate and allowing it to dry and bind onto the fibres.
See YouTube video clip: Make Fake Blood
Afterthought – prompted by David Rolfe’s rationale for pursuing his “consensus mission” at Valencia, despite being persuaded to drop the targeting of any particular individual whom he felt should be challenged with the Shroud as a kind of intellectual battering ram. He’s now using his allegedly ‘scientific ‘criteria as if they were cobbled-together pieces of improvised armour plate – hastily designed to protect against assault from the sceptics. Yup, he’s switched from being the Billy the Kid of Shroudolgy to Ned Kelly, bashing out any old bit of metal that looks like it might deflect bullets…
Further reading (for David Rolfe and others who think that science has to reproduce the Shroud in every detail to prove it is medieval – and in so doing to attempt to shift the burden of proof in spite of the C-dating). Read up on the Piltdown Hoax, which was quickly recognized as such because of details and flaws that ‘simply did not add up’. Nobody felt the need to reproduce it…
Addendum: I am presently on the Other Site, debating that so-called Pray Codex. I’ll do a post at some stage, but there for now is a close up of part of the tomb scene with two alleged patterns of l-shaped “poker holes”, one with 4 circles on the white, and the other with 5 circles on the section with red crosses: