Dan Porter and his 2002 Long Bet,10 years on. Was he right? I say NO.Time has proved him spectacularly WRONG…


Late addition (July 2019)

Please forgive this postscript, correction, “prescript”,  correction, intrusion, added many years later – based on some 350 and more postings here and elsewhere.

That’s including some 7 years of my hands-on investigation into image-forming techniques, chosen to be credible with simple, indeed crude, medieval (14th century) technology etc etc.

(Oh, and yes, I accept the radiocarbon dating, despite it being restricted to a single non-random corner sample, making all the oh-so-dismissive, oh-so-derogatory statistics-based sniping totally irrelevant – a ranging shot being just that me dears- a single ranging shot, albeit subdivided into three for Arizona, Oxford and Zurich).
Sindonology (i.e. the “science” , read pseudoscience – of the so-called “Shroud ” of Turin) can be simply summed up. It’s a re-branding exercise, one designed to pretend that the prized Turin possession is not just J of A’s “fine linen”, described in the biblical account as used to transport a crucified body from cross to tomb.

Oh no, it goes further, much further, way way beyond the biblical account. How? By making out that it was the SAME linen as that described in the Gospel of John, deployed as final “burial clothes”. Thus the description “Shroud” for the Turin Linen, usually with the addition “burial shroud”. Why the elision of two different linens, deployed for entirely different purposes (transport first, then final interment)? 
Go figure! Key words to consider are: authentic relic v manufactured medieval icon; mystique, peaceful death-repose, unlimited opportunity for proposing new and ever more improbable image-formation mechanisms etc. How much easier it is to attach the label “Holy” to Shroud if seen as final burial clothes, in final at-peace repose – prior to Resurrection- as distinct from a means of temporary swaying side-to-side transport in an improvised makeshift stretcher !
As I say, a rebranding exercise (transport to final burial shroud) and a very smart and subtle one at that . Not for nothing did that angry local Bishop of Troyes suddenly refer to a “sleight of hand” after allegedly accepting it when first displayed. Seems the script was altered, or as some might say, tampered with! It might also explain why there were two Lirey badges, not just one. Entire books could be written on which of the two came first… I think I know which, with its allusion (?) to the Veil of Veronica… yes, there are alternative views (the face above “SUAIRE” a visual link to the face-only display of the Linen as the “Image of Edessa” or as that on the then current “Shroud” per se.



Face shown  (left) on mid- 14th century Machy Mould (recently discovered variant of the Lirey Pilgrim Badge) above the word “SUAIRE” (allegedly meaning “shroud”). Inset image on the right: one version among many of the fabled “Veil of Veronica” image.  I say the two are related, and deliberately so, but this is not the time or place to go into detail.

No, NOT  a resurrectional selfie, but instead a full size version of, wait for it,  the legendary VEIL OF VERONICA , product of inital body contact – no air gaps- between body and fabric, but with one important difference. The Turin image was intended to look more realistic, less artistic.

How? By displaying a negative tone-reversed image implying IMPRINT (unless, that is, you’re a modern day sindonologist, in which case ‘resurrectional proto-photographic selfie” becomes the preferred, nay, vigorously proferred explanation assisted by unrestrained imagination, creation of endless pseudoscience etc etc, with resort to laser beams, corona discharges, nuclear physics, elementary particles, earthquakes etc etc – the list is seemingly endless! 
Welcome to modern day sindonology. 
Personally, I prefer no-nonsense feet-on-the-ground hypothesis-testing science, aided by lashings of, wait for it, plain down-to-earth common sense.

Start of original posting:

From the Long Bets site that I stumbled upon this morning:

Yup, I don’t know if you can read it (CLICK TO ENLARGE) , but it’s a  ‘long bet’ made by Dan Porter in 2002 (my capitalization of NOT) .

(ed: I see btw that I am the subject of his latest post, which I have only briefly glanced at so far*, and will read later with interest.)

By 2012 scientists will NOT have developed an explanation for how images on the Shroud of Turin came to be on the cloth -an explanation that satisfies all of the physical and chemical properties of the images and does not violate basic laws of physics.

If you look below, you will find my tally (August 2012, with just 4 months remaining) for a mechanism based on thermal imprinting onto linen, aka branding, using a heated metal or ceramic template(s) to produce a faint sepia-coloured scorch. Apologies if I have overlooked any major “criteria”. I shall shamelessly insert more as and when they come to mind, this being a ranging-shot kind of blog. Apols btw for the makeshift tick boxes: I can’t  spare the time needed to  master  “How to insert a check box in Microsoft Office Word  😦


Extreme superficiality           

Only on thread crowns        

Negative image                         

Photogenic positive                

Encoded 3D information    


Here, listed below, are more that may one day be future ticks in boxes.  But for the non-objective focus of virtually all Shroud research – STURP’s and current research included – on any mechanism, wacky ones included  (corona discharges, uv laser beams, intracorporeal merging of cloth/body, collimated radiation etc etc ), indeed ANY mechanism  that does NOT  involve scorching from a template – the latter being seen as scurrilously anti-1st century provenance –  there might today, August 21 2012, have been more ticks in more boxes.  Incidentally, I exclude John Jackson’s splendid modelling from 3D artefacts from the above condemnation for scientific foot-dragging and avoidance of no-go areas: though shame that he dropped that line of enquiry like the proverbial hot chestnut – just as it was starting to give acceptable 3D imaging.  That work of his demolished the claim – still current- that encoded 3D information is unique to the Shroud’s image. Not so: almost any quick outline sketch with minimal shading can be 3D enhanced in ImageJ and similar software, even Mickey Mouse cartoons, as I have shown previously.

Half-tone effect and 360 degree coloration of fibril circumference?  Possible (exothermic pyrolysis of hemicelluloses in primary cell walls of flax fibres)

Lack of fluorescence? Keep temperature low to avoid formation of late-stage aromatics.

Bleaching by diimide?  Did anyone ever check it out on a scorch? It seems highly probable that a light scorch is bleachable with so highly powerful a reducing agent (H-N=N-H).

Alleged faint obverse side image?  Let’s first see evidence that it is a real image, and not merely a virtual image created by digital filtering and enhancement of a faintly visible frontal side image….

Lateral distortion?  Often claimed that a thermal imprint would inevitably show this effect (emphatically not so if template were a shallow bas-relief). But lateral distortion is in any case conveniently invoked in Shroudology to explain away improbable blood trickles on hair which “were really on skin, you know, but transposed to hair by  … guess what? Yup, lateral distortion (dressed up as “orthogonal projection”).

Strippable with adhesive tape:  scorching weakens the fibres mechanically. In any case, since we are all agreed that the image layer is highly superficial, it is hardly surprising that it separates easily. No need to invoke Rogers’  “surface impurities” and hypothetical Maillard reactions involving  advanced putrefaction amines that so fixate the  Shroudie sites, Dan Porter’s especially, a highly tendentious  theory hypothesis  that Dan Porter  himself is at pains to promote on that slick but clearly agenda-driven “shroudof turin4journalists” site of his  (about which I shall be saying more in due course).

Comments welcome, but please keep them civil. This blogger/retired science bod  is only here for the science (while freely admitting to waging a one-man campaign against so much of Shroudie pseudo-science that masquerades as science).

* Have now read and digested the message. Once again, the response is mainly to things I have not said. I did not say that I regarded this site as struggling or unsuccessful – I am not dissatisfied with having  50 hits a day from all across the world, with the WordPress flag counter giving me a fairly good idea who is following it, even if they rarely if ever comment here (knowing they prefer to do so on The Other Site, which is their prerogative). My specific complaint is that my blog is largely invisible to  ‘new custom’  via Google and other search engines from those who search simply under “Shroud of Turin” without adding an additional specific term. That’s because I have been unable to acquire the critical mass of crosslinks needed to make an impression on the search algorithms. That’s because I am under their radar, and that’s because my content is being quickly, indeed instantly  hoovered up by The Other Site with MY titles or parts thereof appearing under ITS Google listings.

I read The Other Site with interest, even if I despair of certain of the commentators’ hang-ups on display there.  But that site is more a hindrance than a help when it addresses the issues that I raise here through its resort to ‘cover versions’: it is misleading the search engines’ crawlers and depriving me of the kind of traffic that can come spasmodically but importantly through influential people who simply google “Shroud of Turin”.

Yes, I could get extra hits by inserting links to social networking sites, but I doubt if they would translate into long term growth. How can the Shroud be usefully discussed with Twitter’s 140 character limit?  Digg? I ventured onto that site briefly and quickly beat a retreat.

Yes, this is a specialist blog – so I did not expect spectacular growth. My first blog, which I shall refer to simply as D&D was generalist, and topics I wrote about quickly became listed on the first page or two of Google returns of those subjects bar the blockbuster headline issues, so I do know something about the dos and dont’s of minority-interest blogging. I used to meet strangers on holiday who had come across my D&D site, probably because of the sheer range of topical issues that I addressed in the course of a typical ‘working week’.

I’ve listened to Dan Porter lectures on ‘netiquette’. Perhaps he will now listen to one of mine. Kindly stop doing those instant cover versions of my postings that appear in hours, sometimes minutes. Kindly stop quoting so much of my posts that nobody on his site feels the slightest need to visit mine. A link does not translate to visibility on Google radar if nobody clicks on it.  Here’s thanking him in advance…

Current ranking under simple Shroud of Turin search with no additional descriptors:

Page 23 of listings: Bing;  page 52 of listings: Google

(That’s despite nearly 70 postings on this site alone covering most of the scientific controversies).

Colin Berry   21st August 2012


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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9 Responses to Dan Porter and his 2002 Long Bet,10 years on. Was he right? I say NO.Time has proved him spectacularly WRONG…

  1. Dan says:

    The link to my site seem to not work.

  2. Joao says:

    I am a brazilian computer programmer whose interest in the historical aspects of the Shroud dilemma led me to find Colin’s blog.
    All I have to say is that I consider Colin’s work in the matter, up to now, as possessing an invaluable scientific value. Before his appearence, a real scientific approach (meaning that only the evidences have to be evaluated, pure faith should be kept apart) had rarely if ever been used.
    So all I have to say is: Keep up the excellent job, Colin. I’ll be looking up for new posts in a daily basis, trying to keep it parallel to my own studies of the theme.
    Thank you for your desire to arrive to the actual truth about this intricate ancient “mystery”.

  3. colinsberry says:

    Hi there Joao. Good to hear from you again.

    Yup, I shall continue to plough my lonely science furrow for as long as there are folk like you who are open to new ideas and willing to spend a few minutes hearing what I have to say,
    If you find any other kindred spirits out there, please let me know. I tried to register with that James Randi ‘professional sceptical’ site of yours, but immediately ran into difficulties, getting an email that said my registration had been deleted even before it had been activated. I remonstrated, a particular lady who administers the site did not care for my tone – end of story. I may try again later, since a lot of the comment there is exceedingly-well argued and well-informed. Thanks for letting that forum know of my existence.

  4. Matthias says:

    Good thoughts.
    Being agnostic on the shroud, I keep an open mind either way.
    However, whilst you might be getting there in terms of the science, there are a number of historical oddities that are not so easily explained away:
    – If the Shroud is not indeed the Shroud that wrapped Jesus’s dead body, why would its creator create an image that did not protect Jesus’s modesty, when almost exclusively in the history of art Jesus is shown with at least a loin cloth, and certainly buttocks are not displayed?
    – Similarly, why would its creator have shown the would in one wrist (As opposed to two palms, which is the historical artistic norm?) Surely the creator, if he was wishing to profiteer from public display and / or sale of the creation, would have met the artistic norms / expectations of Jesus of the time and indeed through history?
    – How about the existence of epitaphios from Greece circa 1200 – 1300AD that show Jesus’s body, complete with body-wide wounds similar to those on the shroud, lying on a herringbone weave shroud (and the art of the time universally otherwise shows Jesus with only modest wounds in the palms, on the side of the torso)

    Also, with regard to the science, do you have any plans to test your scorching theory on a full size statue? One could argue that theorising as you have done is one thing, but to reproduce the full body characteristics of the shroud convincingly is another. Also, how do you explain the flagrum marks etc.

    • colinsberry says:

      Hello Matthias

      Looking at the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge, I think it somewhat improbable that the body image on the Shroud, as displayed around 1355, was that of Christ. If you mentally subtract the bloodstains one sees on the present Shroud (there being no obvious blood on the Lirey man), then there is nothing to suggest it was that of a crucified man, and indeed I have previously developed others’ suggestions that it was a Knight Templar (Jacques de Molay? Geofffroi de Charney?), and a scorched-on image was initially intended as a tribute to Templar martyrs who were finally burned, or rather slow-roasted, at the stake. De Molay was in fact crucified too as part of the long torture he endured for some 7 years, but survived, no doubt to be allowed to recover and face more torture.

      So that’s why there is no loin cloth. In fact it’s said that the final roasting was done in as sadistic a manner as possible, so the naked figure on the Lirey badge may well be portrayed as attempting to protect his genitals.

      I suspect that the Lirey Shroud gradually morphed into the present one through additions, notably of bloodstains in all the biblically-relevant places. Remember- there are no wounds on the basal body image – contrary to great deal of misinformation from some who should know better. Scourge marks are also simply bloodstains – with dumb-bell shaped markings etc – but no real evidence for broken skin. The 1532 fire may have provided cover for some major tinkering – thus the scepticism that resulted in an enquiry by 3 bishops and 10 noblemen no less to rule on whether the post-fire Shroud was the original.
      I don’t intend to do any more modelling myself, being content to test feasibility in principle. Have you seen my latest post, in which I propose that the template for the original body image may have been a death mask, with similar castings for the limbs and torso.
      It’s those who push the fluorescence argument (or rather lack of fluorescence) as
      evidence in favour of authenticity who need to do their homework. All they have to do is to produce a range of scorches at progressively higher temperatures. I predict that the low temperature scorches, comparable to the Shroud in terms of superficiality, will be non-fluorescent, whilst high temperature scorches, comparable to those produced in the 1532 fire, will fluoresce on account of benzenoid aromatic ring systems. I’ll have to leave it there, since I’m away from home, but hope this somewhat terse reply to your points will do for now.

      • Matthias says:

        Questions, Colin:
        – doesn’t the rear image of the shroud display braided hair characteristic of Jews of Jesus’s time?
        – scorching the image on to a cloth seems a somewhat odd tribute to martyrs. I’m not saying its impossible, as odd things have happened over history. But it seems the whole process is a big one for a tribute
        – Isn’t there evidence that the templars started ceremonies in the late 1200s venerating a cloth with Jesus’s image on it?
        – Thoughts on your theories versus the existence of Greek epitaphios circa 1200 / 1300 AD with Jesus laid on a herringbone weave cloth, with body wide wounds generally consistent with those on the shroud?
        – was not the Lirey public display done in the context of the shroud being the Shroud of Jesus?

  5. Matthias says:

    Also Colin when will you be testing the fluorescence matter – I think this is critical. There must be skeptical scientists out there with the required equipment who would be more than happy to test this if asked????
    I don’t think you’ve fully failed Porter’s bet unless you can put this issue to bed

  6. colinsberry says:

    Hello again Matthias

    That’s quite a number of points you raise. I’ll make a start now, taking breaks to check on sources, and use the Edit facility to keep my answers within this one reply.

    First, re the “braided hair”. I think it is a matter of individual interpretation as to whether there is a representation of long braided hair in the dorsal view. Yes, I know Bucklin described it thus, but it’s always been a mystery how someone accustomed to viewing cadavers on mortuary slabs could be quite so categorical in what he saw, or thought he saw, on the faint Shroud image.

    A couple of key points: firstly, there is nothing to differentiate hair from body image in the frontal view. The so-called hair shows no strands etc. Given that the Shroud image is not a painting, and that no one is absolutely certain how the image was formed, we have to be very careful to distinguish between a “representation” of hair and real hair.

    Secondly, I have looked at the head in dorsal view very carefully with Shroud Scope, and am far from convinced that the “braid” is even a representation of hair. Its colour under my optimised contrast/brightness settings is different from the rest of the head “hair”, being more grey, less yellowish-brown. It looks more like the imprint of a spine (cervical region) than hair if you ask me.

    I have done a screen grab of my Scope picture, and can attach it to one of my Shroud Scope series if you wish and provide a link. I say that the evidence for a braid of hair seems somewhat impressionistic to say the least.

    Re you second point: suppose the Man in the Shroud was intended initially to serve as an ambiguous tribute to Jacques de Molay. He was after all a major personage – last of the Templar Grand Masters – figurehead of an immensely wealthy chivalrous order at least until stripped of its wealth by Philp IV of France, aided and abetted by the Church’s charges of heresy. What kind of tribute is possible when the individual in question has been slow-roasted to death and then reduced to ashes? I think there is a clear rationale for producing a scorched-on image of de Molay on a burial shroud, serving a a metaphor for his death by slow-barbecue, and perhaps deliberately incorporating hints of a Christ-like fate at the hands of tormentors, false witnesses etc. It may have been that same ambiguity that allowed the original Shroud to morph into that of Christ’s burial Shroud, with the LATER addition of blood in strategic locations to convey the idea of a death by crucifixion. I say the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge captured the Shroud in a period of transition – from medieval Templar to New Testament-faithful holy relic….

    Re Templar ceremonies in the late 1200s, I have a complete open mind as to the existence of Shroud forerunners, proto-Shrouds if you like. I have read of Barbara Frale’s discoveries in the Vatican secret archives, e.g.


    and I have seen the Vatican’s questionable endorsement of her idea that the Templars venerated an allegedly-like Shroud like image. But Frale forfeited her credibility in my humble opinion with that ridiculous “complete burial certificate” of “Jesus of Nazareth” written on the very fabric of the Shroud – but too faint for anyone else to discern. But let’s not throw baby out with the bathwater: the Shroud we see today may indeed be the product of a gradual evolution of the Shroud as a Holy Relic, one endowed with magical properties – the occupant de-materialising to leave just a scorch – introducing yet another layer of ambiguity re the scorch. Was it made by a living OR dead person… if living, a craftsman fashioning a grim memento, but if dead, a victim of execution who was miraculously resurrected…

    “Thoughts on your theories versus the existence of Greek epitaphios circa 1200 / 1300 AD with Jesus laid on a herringbone weave cloth, with body wide wounds generally consistent with those on the shroud?”

    First, let’s be clear about one thing. There are no images of wounds on the Shroud body image. There are plenty of (so-called?) scientists who will tell you there are wounds, and even ring them in red to show their supposed location, but I repeat, there are NO wounds, or should one say ‘unequivocal’ wounds. What are described as wounds are bloodstains. So we have all the hullabaloo about the wrist “wound” when in fact it is just a bloodstain on the wrist. Do any of your precursor Shrouds show a wrist wound? Or do they show a reversed 3 on the forehead? I doubt it. “Being consistent” is simply not good enough as definitive tests go – there should be replication of those crucial hallmark features. Anything else is just wishful thinking…

    As for the herringbone weave, I would imagine that medieval artists seized upon it with glee, even if as I suspect it was of medieval invention and thus anachronistic in portrayals of the Biblical tomb scene. Why? Because it allowed artists to clearly differentiate for the viewer’s benefit the linen of the Shroud from other plain or patterned surfaces.

    In short, the herringbone weave became an artistic device or convention to flag up that there was a very important burial Shroud in the picture – but whether it was Christ’s or of someone else has to be a matter of conjecture, especially as regards the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge with it highly ornate representation of the herringbone weave.

    “Was not the Lirey public display done in the context of the shroud being the Shroud of Jesus?” Maybe, maybe not. it could have been made deliberately ambiguous, along the lines of “Some say it’s a Templar knight who was crucified or barbecued or both (both in the case of Jacques de Molay), but some believe it to be the actual burial Shroud of Christ that was in the possession of the Templars and used to make a point. One thing’s for certain – the creator of Lirey Pilgrim’s badge did not go out of his way to convey an image of the crucified Christ, or even of the present Turin Shroud for that matter – no reversed 3, no visible wounds or blood on hand or feet, no scourge marks, no crown of thorns. Instead there is the peculiar chain-like feature across the waist, looking for all the world like the chain used to secure victims at the stake for burning. Yes, I know that Ian Wilson interprets it as blood from the spear wound, but why would it gush laterally in spirals from BOTH sides of the torso.

    Thanks for you interest, and taking the trouble to comment.

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