Shroudie Congresses – places where fantasies are peddled…

As promised on The Other Site, I shall no longer mince my words, This retired science bod grows ever more appalled by the pseudo-science being peddled to support the authenticity of the Shroud as the cloth that was used to wrap the crucified Christ.

The latest egregious example is from the same paper that was the subject of my previous posting, the one by  Barbara Faccini and Giulio Fanti   (“F&F”)at the  International Workshop on the Scientific Approach(sic) on the Acheiropoietos Images (May 2010) .

Their paper makes an extraordinary claim in the Introduction, repeated in the Conclusions, namely that one can discern a time sequence of events by examining the bloodstains on the Shroud – the latter including the scourge marks. They claim that there was a caning first with flexible rods (Type 2 implement) followed by scourging with the Roman flagrum (Type 1) followed by some limited beating of the legs (Type 3) followed finally by the major stains from the nail wounds in the wrists, the spear in the side etc,

I have been through the findings  of their paper. Nowhere do I see any evidence displayed for one type of stain overlaying another. All I see is a brief reference to “overlap”.  The authors state that the “overlap” is seen particularly in scourged areas that impinge on wrist blood and the so-called “blood belt” seen on the dorsal side. But when you look at their map, there are relatively few scourge marks in those areas.

It goes without saying that I have trained the invaluable Shroud Scope on those areas, and while able to discern a few instances in which scourge and major blood stain overlap, in no instance has it been possible to determine which preceded which.

This picture shows most of the “blood belt” on the dorsal side, but there appears to be only two obvious scourge marks, labelled 1 and 2, and the first is the only one to “overlap” (“underlap”?) with the blood belt. Which was imprinted first? The blood belt or the scourge mark? Can you tell? If so, you are a better man than me Gunga Din…

I can display more of those pictures if anyone is interested,

Is it not a nonsense anyway to imagine that the assorted bloodstains would somehow be transferred to the linen in the reverse chronological sequence in which they were acquired? There was no printing from victim to linen after each separate stage of torture. So why would anyone expect  a series of contact prints – all overlaid in the correct time sequence? Reminder – not that it should be needed: the linen was supposedly wrapped around someone who arrived at the tomb with all those blood stains in place, and probably clotted into a congealed smear. How on earth could there be orderly reverse transfer onto cloth of the kind suggested – to create a chronological archive? Yet that claim is made not just once but TWICE. It was clearly intended  to create a frisson of delight – to be the paper’s take-away message.

Since when has it been the role of allegedly scientific congresses to peddle fantasies that are unsupported by data?  Those two authors do a disservice to science (but I note that the second is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, so may not be too bothered about the sensibilities of scientists such as myself).

How much longer must we see science being prostituted in this way purely to serve a Bible-supporting/embellishing  agenda? One has only to read the paper’s observations of the Type 3 scourge marks to appreciate that was the author’s real  agenda, suggesting that some atypical marks on the legs were the final goading cane strokes delivered on the final cross- bearing route to Calvary.Indeed, the use of that Greek term in the  Congress title (Acheiropoietus) is dubious to say the least (“made without hands”) which virtually guarantees there will be much begging of the question re the Shroud authenticity, and many liberties taken with strict scientific objectivity.

You couldn’t make it up. Well, you could  and you probably do – frequently –  if you are  a Shroudie so-called scientist. Yup, someone was clearly intent on getting a  rapturous round of applause at the end of delivering that paper to fellow Shroudies at their so-called ” International Workshop on the Scientific(sic) Approach”.

Methinks that mechanical engineers should stick to doing the things they do best  – like designing and making things –  and leave the science to the scientists…

PS: Dan Porter is free as usual to flag up this paper on his shroudofturin site, but I shall no longer be responding to questions there.

Semantics footnote: I use “begging the question” above in its original sense, not to be confused with “inviting the question”, i.e.

Begging the question” is a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself.

There is, sad to say, an element of begging the question in the crucial terminology employed in the F&F paper. I refer to the introductory description of the Type 2 scourge marks as resembling “elongated furrows”, although to their credit, but much later in the paper, that is corrected to “striations”.  A furrow is a groove – a three-dimensional entity.  What is the evidence if any that the Type 2 scourge marks represent 3D information of any kind, as distinct from mere striations on cloth of provenance that can only be conjectured – and conjectured differently depending on whether the Shroud is an entity  “made without hands” or the work of a hoaxer or forger.  It is yet another instance, all to frequent in Shroudology, to adopt terminology that begs the question.

Here’s an attempt to see  whether there is, in fact, any encoded 3D information in those scourge marks, comparable to that which is perhaps an iconic feature of the Man in the Shroud generally. And not just 3D information: is there any evidence for furrows in any of those scourge marks that might offer some support to the idea they represent something more than mere bloodstains, but areas of indentations that are suggested by that loaded term “furrows”.

The first task is to choose an area of the anatomy with an assortment of scourge marks. The back has been tried first, where there are Type 1 and Type 2 marks (dumb-bell-shaped  and striated respectively). The initial 3D visualisation with ImageJ software will be done with the Durante 2002 HD photographs from Shroud Scope without added contrast or other enhancement.

Here’s the region selected:

A region of the back (inverted) with a high incidence of those “scourge marks” without added contrast.

The next step was to “normalise” settings in ImageJ to ensure they produced realistic transformations of 2D image density to 3D. I used a technique described  previously on my other Shroud site. Here’s the before and after result, with gain controls set a little high:

2D input – before 3D enhancement (thermal imprint, i.e. “scorch” from a horse brass).

After optimized 3D enhancement in ImageJ, producing an image that resembles the 3D appearance of the original brass template. These same settings were then applied to Shroud scourge marks to produce what I term a “normalized” result.

Now let’s apply those same settings to the scourge marks (apart from the scale setting needed to fit all the image to the screen):

Scourge marks after 3D enhancement, using normalised settings

As above, with added contrast

Now there’s a surprise. There is indeed encoded 3D information in those scorch marks. But without exception, ALL the marks have produced convex images, i.e. humps, as distinct from concave “furrows”. Anyone trying to relate those marks to scourging would have to conclude that the images were raised weals, rather than furrows or other indentations caused by whips, whether tipped with metal spheres or not, biting into the skin to leave “furrows”. But this poster offers a simpler explanation: there is no genuine encoded 3D information. The scourge marks are simply surface smears, possibly ancient degraded blood, whose different image densities respond to 3D imaging, in the same way that my 2D scorch mark of King George VI responded to the software.

Here is another set of scourge marks, before and after 3D enhancement, this time from the upper (anatomical) left chest, this time with a preponderance of “Type 2” striations:

Scourge marks, upper left chest, before 3D

As above, after 3D enhancement in ImageJ

One thing seems clear: the so-called scourge marks, if indeed that is what they are, are not furrows or any other kind of indentation in the skin. Any imaging of the aftermath of scourging would have been purely as a consequence of transfer of blood and/or other body exudations onto linen. But how likely is it that such a process could be so precise as to leave those patterns of scourge marks, especially when one considers that the blood would have initially had time to clot, and that the liquefaction for transfer depended on the customized physiology that has been developed in Shroudology to allow imprinting of initially clotted blood, summed up in the term “fibrinolysis”?

There is a much simpler explanation, and recalling Occam’s razor, this retired science bod will always prefer the simpler explanation. There was no imprinting off a subject with scourge and other bloodstains. The scourge marks were simulated, by applying blood or a blood-like fluid directly to linen. They may have been painted on, or more probably printed on, using a small replica of a cane or flagrum. But they were careless with the geometry of the flagrum, as discussed in the previous post: while getting an imprint of the cord between the metal spheres, they failed to get one for the cord leading up to the spheres. F&F were not even able to image that cord between the spheres in their model system using a reconstructed flagrum. That suggests to me that the Type 1 flagrum marks were applied with something resembling a small hand stamp as dsitinct from a flagrum, real or simulates, which might explain the curious distribution  the “scourge marks” on F&F’s map, especially visible on the back. The marks  appear too localised, too clustered especially when applied with a flagrum, i.e. cat-o’-nail tails as we Brits tend to call it, each stroke of which might be expected to damage skin over a wide area, and be impossible to apply in so targeted a fashion.

Note the curious V-shaped distribution of scourge marks on the back. How could so precise a pattern have been achieved with a cane or cat-o’-nine tails, the latter especially? Prima facie evidence for simulated as distinct from actual scourge marks?

While general body imaging is poor in peripheral areas, for reasons that invite much conjecture re the nature of the imaging process (miraculous flashes of light etc) there is no reason for thinking the same  effect should apply to bloodstains on wrap-around linen.

The Shroud is a contrivance, aka forgery/fake.  Those “scourge marks” and indeed the too-perfect  blood trails from wrists, crown of thorns etc are the give-away. I see no reason to reject the carbon-dating.

Afterthought: If you wish to see who’s who in the world of Shroudology, as well as put faces to names, including those of our two scourge-mark specialists, going boldly where no man (and woman) has gone before, then check out this site with its portrait gallery. (Unlike the Ohio conference proceedings reported there, where it was Giulio Fanti who presented Barbara Faccini’s paper, it was the other way round apparently at the Acheirpoietus Workshop in Frascati. I have yet to discover BF’s bio to know her precise background and qualifications, except that it is in the Earth Sciences).

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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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4 Responses to Shroudie Congresses – places where fantasies are peddled…

  1. colinsberry says:

    Speaking of The Other Site, here is a comment that I have just placed on my “Alan Adler” posting:

    This comment has just appeared on Dan Porter’s shroudofturin site. I shall address only key points right now, since I’m busy on other aspects:

    June 22, 2012 at 5:25 am | #22
    Reply | Quote

    To «anoxie»

    If you have any doubts on scientific questions concerning bloodstains my advice is not to ask Dr. Colinsberry because he’ll always provide misleading answers with the aim of discredit the Shroud.
    You had better read previous excellent post on this blog concerning Shroud bloodstains by medical immunologist Dr. Kelly Kearse.
    My husband is a medical doctor and he read all Drs. John Heller and Alan Adler’s papers on blood issue in their book «The Orphaned Manuscript».
    This book contains several papers by these investigators most of them published in «peer reviewed» scientific journals and the conclusion is crystal clear, Shroud red stains are not red ochre and vermillion in a collagen tempera, actually they are blood.
    Inasmuch, Professor Adler and Dr. John Heller did nor perform just the Hydrazine test that Dr Collinberry described in a very confusing way.
    They actually tested not one but several samples from red stains and also studied red stains from human blood on fabrics as controls.
    The finding of hemoglobin characteristic spectra, other spectrometry data, detection of blood proteins, bilirrubin and other blood components enables them to conclude that there is indeed blood on the Shroud.
    Italian forensic investigator Professor Baima Bollone obtained similar results working with material collected from other locations on the Shroud.
    BLOOD ON THE SHROUD IS NOT A GUESS IT IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT.

    kindest regards
    Maria da Glória

    Centro Português de Sindonologia

    My reply: Kelly Kearse’s contribution, which I was the first to commend, was primarily about the methodology of ABO blood testing, it touched only briefly on the protocols used for the Shroud, so who is being misleading here?

    re Alan Adler’s protocols: it’s easy to be impressed by lists of the tests he did perform to confirm “real” blood, albeit degraded. But one has to be a specialist in the area of tetrapyrroles, whether cyclic, like the porphrins, or linear like the bile pigments, to know that uv.visible and fluorescence spectra alone do not provide proof positive. For two years I was a bile pigment specialist, working on Philadelphia on the phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, and teamed up with a then major drug company (SKF) to use state-of-the-art methodology for identifying bilirubin photo-derivatives. key among those were initial thin layer chromatography, followed by derivitization to form volatile TMS-derivatives, followed by mass-spectometry. We were not content to look just for finger-printing fragments – we regarded detection of the molecular ion as our goal.

    That was in 1972, well before the STURP studies, but nowhere have I seen Alan Adler using such rigorous methodology to confirm that he was detecting porphyrins, as distinct form substances with porphyrin-like spectra and fluorescence. Nor have I seen any real evidence for the existence of bilirubin, apart from diazo-reactivity and fluorescence. Why no chromatography? Why no mass spec? Why inflict a quirky conjecture involving a trauma induced bilirubin and “para-hemic” methaemoglobin to explain the permanent red colour of the “blood”? That is not science – that is daydreaming and pure fantasy.

    So sorry, Madam, I am not taking lectures from you or anyone else on scientific methodology and credentials (though I thank you for pointing out that I hold a doctorate) .As for your suggestion that I “always provide misleading answers etc”, it is your own partisan position that is shown up here, not my own, as anyone reading my EXPERIMENTAL postings over the last six months, invariably backed with ample photographic evidence and couched in moderate language should prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

    Colin Berry aka sciencebod

  2. Pingback: Shroud Congresses – Places where fantasies are peddled? « Shroud of Turin Blog

  3. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Meguesses that biochemists & chemists should stick to doing the things they do best (colouring/clouding chemical and biochemical solutions) and leave the archaeological blood pattern analysis to the archaeological blood pattern analysts…

  4. colinsberry says:

    This comment has just appeared on the Other Site, expressing sentiments that I, and no doubt many others, would heartily endorse:

    June 27, 2012 at 3:54 am | #59

    Max says “I am definitely not trying to write a research paper. here. Just passing/bombarding comments in snatches while working….”

    And, as a result, wasting everyone’s time. Is there any way of making it clear to you that no one knows what you are talking about for most of the time and so your comments have no value whatsoever. Please think for yourself: “What am I hoping to achieve by entering all these comments’. “

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