The latest attempt on shroudstory.com to put words into other people’s mouths, words they have not used…

The title is a reference to the posting that has just appeared on shroudstory.com from Kelly Kearse PhD, immunologist, someone I was quick to praise when he summarised the difficulties of applying ABO blood grouping to Shroud bloodstains.

To say that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then would be an understatement.

He’s done a posting on John H Heller RIP of STURP. From the first paragraph he wants the reader to know that Heller’s memory and specific contributions to Shroud science, blood especially, are being unfairly attacked by Shroud sceptics (nothing could be further from the truth) and one phrase in particular indicates that he has me firmly in his sights. It’s the one that describes Heller’s colleague, Alan D.Adler as having been described by sceptics as a “mere” porphyrin specialist.  Yes, I described Adler recently as a “porphyrin specialist” but I did  not use the word “mere”. I was responding to the description by STERA President Barrie M Schwortz of Adler in a recent TV interview as being a “world-renowned blood expert”. No he was not, I said. He was not a blood anything.  He was a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in porphyrins. Note the absence of the word “mere”. To suggest I would describe a fellow science specialist as a “mere” anything  in the opening paragraph of a defence of STURP scientists is dirty pool.  (Though  Adler and Heller’s right to be classified as part of the STURP team is questionable given that  neither went to Turin in 1978 and did their work on specimens supplied to them which they had not seen and selected themselves in situ). Are you reading this Kelly Kearse? If you are, then here’s some advice, Kelly Kearse. Quit the dirty pool. (Oh, and kindly stop sniping at my scientific reasoning on the absence of “blood” potassium by the way – you do yourself no credit whatsoever. If there’s little or no potassium there, how can it be described as blood?  Even Adler and Heller did not describe it as whole blood – being forced to use ‘ serum exudate of retracted blood clots’, an attempt to explain away in an authenticity-promoting manner what was NOT there (red blood cells, potassium etc)  thus elevating their brainstorming pseudo-science to Shroudie World received wisdom).

This posting will not just set the record straight on John H Heller and Alan D Adler, and why this particular sceptic has felt the need to research and describe their backgrounds and qualifications, but more importantly the tactics that are now being adopted on shroudstory.com, either by its owner, or by certain of its more assertive commentators, to misrepresent sceptics like myself.  As I said a few days ago, the gloves are now off. Dirty tactics are being  deployed, and dirty tactics will be mercilessly exposed  to the light of day (HERE!). Yes,  I shall do that on this (resurrected) site, set up deliberately for just this purpose of confronting polemics and propaganda, rather than sully my main site which addresses the science.

I shall spend the next 24 hours or so explaining why I felt it necessary  to describe Alan D Adler as “porphyrin specialist” without the “mere” anything (given scientific progress depends on the labours of specialists) and why it then became necessary to research the background of his partner John H Heller. John Klotz on shroudstory.com knows the reason why. It’s to do with his grubby internet tactics that in an ideal world should have got him slung off shroudstory.com for obsessive tracking and trolling.

But here’s a clue to the line I am taking – namely stating the facts. Kelly Kearse claims Heller wrote  a “textbook” on the reticuloendothelial system. No he did not. He edited a multi-author bound volume,  one that at first glance might look like a textbook, but was not.  Textbooks can remain useful for years, decades even. Multi-author volumes of extant research  are bitty and lack flow, and can look dated very quickly, and can involve little effort from the editor apart from selection and foreword, and a short paper or two of his own, none of it peer-reviewed if as usually the case it’s merely a record of symposium proceedings (as was the case with the 1960 bound volume).  Fancy Kelly Kearse not bothering to distinguish between the two.

Update: here’s a link to Kelly Kearse’s response.

He’s clearly missed the point about his decision to insert the word “mere”, and chooses instead, for reasons best known to himself, to concentrate on my use of quotation marks, as here, intended on my part to ensure it was not read as part of my sentence. Forgive me folks if I don’t get drawn into his world of obfuscation and evasion. There are better more edifying ways of wasting time.

As for his tacit acknowledgement  that Heller’s volume was not a textbook, but instead an edited collection of conference papers, with the all-too common perception that being Editor confers high regard and status in one’s field (which I too could claim on that basis, but won’t, since it was an imposed chore) note the difference in modus operandi. Kelly looks to see the way that the book is listed (author or editor) on US versus UK sites.  How did I suss out that Heller was not a textbook author? First I looked at his research publications in Google Scholar, and found scarcely any on aspects of the reticuloendothelial system.  How could he possibly write an authoritative textbook?  So I then put his name and “reticuloendothelial” into Google and began searching both text and images. I quickly found a entry for someone in Google books who had had his conference submission published in Heller’s book. It was then a easy matter to find entries and images that showed Heller was the editor, basically a collator, an intermediary between symposium and publishers, and NOT a textbook author. So, regardless as to who has the greater clout (I say the author, usually) Kelly Kearse was wrong to boost Heller’s credentials by crediting him as the author of a textbook.

More to come tomorrow. But I shall not be content to set the record straight. I shall be exposing this and all future attempts on the part of shroudstory.com to make the record ‘unstraight’. It’s been almost two years since I first ventured onto that site, and its modus operandi is abundantly clear. Its business is promoting a narrative, an agenda that says the radiocarbon dating was wrong, that the Shroud “probably” is authentic, and anyone seen to be off-message is perceived and targeted as fair game for baiting and discrediting. Sorry guys, but I don’t bait easily – and my scientific credentials stand up to closer scrutiny than anything you are capable of bringing to bear with your skin-deep acquisition of basic physics, chemistry and biology. Even Kelly Kearse PhD appears at times to be struggling outside of his specialist expertise in immunology, like not appreciating that while potassium is not a specific marker for blood or any tissue, it still has to be there as part of the inventory. If it’s not, then one cannot confidently describe a red stain as being real whole blood, much less 1st century or even medieval blood.

Further update: Thibault Heimburger MD has just posted this comment:

He says that between the, Adler and Heller showed it was “real blood” based on the methaemoglobin presence.

Firstly, the methaemoglobin was detected primarily by a peak in a spectrum – hardly the most definitive test on something that is a red (some have said too red) stain on linen. But that’s not the crucial issue, which is that something missing two key ingredients (red blood cells and potassium) cannot be described as “real blood”. One can only conclude that some constituents of blood were present but curiously not others. What one does not do, in a scientific paper, is then proceed to describe the blood fraction as a “serum exudate of retracted blood clots”, and claim its anomalous red colour is due to trauma (read crucifixion)-related  bilirubin and an exotic species of methaemoglobin without providing more detailed experimental confirmation, and to do all this in a manner that can be seen as playing to a gallery, namely the gallery desperate for assurance that is not just blood, but the blood of the crucified Jesus. What we see here is not science. The speculation goes far beyond that provided by the facts, and in fact distracts from the anomalies that question whether the stains were real blood, as distinct from some handy substitute. I’ve said all this before, and will go on saying it. It is shameless of Barrie Schwortz to proselytize that bilirubin/red blood story as being STURP-based science when in reality it was the fanciful narrative-friendly conjecturing of a porphyrin specialist operating out of area (synthetic chemistry) and posturing as an expert in post-traumatic physiology. As for John Heller, it is Barrie Schwortz and other who constantly invoke the name of Alan Adler, with  scarcely a mention if at all of John Heller. I only became interested in the latter when told I was a poodle barking at a Great Dane., to which I say, check Google Scholar, and open your eyes to the facts.

The more I think about the more appalled I am by Kearse’s language. “dismissed by some as a mere porphyrin specialist” is such an distortion of the words I used as to make one very wary of attempting in future to engage with him as a scientist.  Repeat: it was Schwortz’s hyping of Adler as a “world-renowned blood expert” that was the target, not Adler’s specialization in porphyrin chemistry – which has only limited relevance to Shroud blood unless there is physical isolation and fingerprinting of porphyrin, which Adler and Heller omitted to do. His choice of graphics for the pdf is also highly questionable, some might say begging the question:

kearse graphic croppedEven if from Heller’s own book (left) a picture of ordinary blood with RBC (red) and WBC (blue)  and, presumably, platelets (yellow) is highly misleading, since nothing like it was seen on the Shroud. As for the diagram of RBC breakdown inside phagocytes to bilirubin., what is that but an attempt to give respectability to wild imaginings about the Shroud blood and bilirubin, the kind promulgated yet again recently by Barrie Schwortz (bilirubin keeps Shroud blood bright red, and the bilirubin was due to trauma, see). Yuk. This is Mickey Mouse science, pseudo-science and lots of other impolite things.  It is frankly disgraceful that these fantasies are still being disseminated in the name of religion. Mostof the problems re the Shroud seem to go back to Barrie M.Schwortz. It is ludicrous that STURP’s Documenting Photographer (or one of them) should be pronouncing on matters of detailed science that tax the best specialist minds, yet trip glibly off his tongue in homespun fashion. Likeable banter maybe, but he’s the one who sports the title “President of the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association” and who regards himself the continuing embodiment of STURP research, including matters of chemistry etc. that he is simply not equipped to deal with and discuss. He also needs to allow Google to place all STURP findings on the internet, open-access.

Update: Monday am. Have just placed this comment on Dan Porter’s shroudstory.com site:

December 2, 2013 at 2:45 am | #10

“The endless controversy is meaningless”.

For the President of STERA to continue citing that permanently crimson (?)Shroud blood as being due to trauma-induced bilirubin, whether attributed solely to Adler, or by others to both Adler and Heller jointly, is not a meaningless controversy. It is a never-ending scandal that damages the reputation of science. What we see is Shroud authenticity being promoted on the back of phoney science where imagination, a narrative-friendly imagination, substitutes for hard facts, and it’s STURP science, or perhaps post-STURP free-enterprise shoddy science that is being used to give an aura of respectability. It’s so flagrant a scandal that it now needs to be tackled head on, naming and shaming all those responsible for perverting the truth, and being prepared to blow the whistle whether the perpetrators of the phoney New Age science are alive or dead.

I shall use my resurrected strawshredder site to help put the record straight once and for all, and only appear here to challenge blatant misrepresentations and untruths, or to flag up new postings on the other site.

Final reminder: this sceptic has never tried to dismiss Alan Adler as a mere porphyrin specialist. What he has felt necessary was to challenge (yet again) Barrie Schwortz’s repeated description of him as a world-renowned blood expert. No, he was not. He was a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in porphyrins. He was not a blood anything, except that a particular porphyrin, protoporphyrin IX, is part of human haemoglobin, but neither Adler nor Heller took the trouble to confirm whether the atypical spectrum of the putative porphyrin in Shroud bloodstains was or was not protoporphyrin IX. These distinctions matter in science. They are not meaningless controversies.

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About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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