Checklists – easy things to cut-and-paste – but is the inquisitor genuinely interested in one’s answers?


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:



I generally ignore requests to answer lengthy checklists, unless I’m fairly certain that the enquirer is genuinely interested in the responses given, and not using them merely to impress and/or intimidate.

The following checklist was served on me a couple of days ago with a preamble that was both scornful and supercilious – so I chose to ignore it. But since Dan Porter is pressing me to respond, I shall reluctantly do so, but if folk wish to have further amplification or clarification of points, I will now insist that they post their question to me here on my own site. New comment that appears on Porter’s will be read, but I shan’t go out of my way to respond immediately unless as I say posted here.


1. The image does not penetrate below the topmost two or three fibrils of the yarn

If the sepia-coloured Shroud image does not penetrate below two or three fibrils of yarn, as we are told (and which I have no reason to disbelieve) then why should a sepia-coloured scorch image, also faint and scarcely visible, not have the same superficiality?

I have shown that one can scorch just one side of a thread (see this morning’s posting) comprising probably scores of fibrils, without scorching the opposite side. That is what one might describe as superficiality at a macroscopic level, an essential first step.

Lacking as I do a microscope, I cannot check for superficiality at a microscopic level, but I see no reason why a scorch image should not show the same superficiality, especially as it represents pyrolysis from the outside of the fibrils/fibres initially which is the first-encountered location of those sensitive hemicelluloses of the primary cell wall that are more prone to pyrolysis than the highly crystalline celluloses of the secondary cell wall.

If anyone who has a microscope disagrees, then they are at liberty to check that assumption. All I would ask is that they check across a serial series of thermal imprints, starting with easily visible, right down to scarcely visible, and not report on any one single image (not that anyone would ever dream of selecting data that just happen to support their argument)

Prediction:  the faintest images will not penetrate the topmost two or three fibrils of yarn. Repeat:  a scorch can be as faint or superficial as one wishes, at least down to atomic and molecular dimensions ( 1 to 10nm say).

2. The discoloration of the fibrils themselves, presumably from dehydration and oxidation, is between 200 and 600 nanometers thick (billionths of a meter/metre).

No, that is not a fair summary of the scientific facts, implying as it does a spurious degree of accuracy and precision. That figure is based on STURP members having stripped the image layer off the Shroud and finding it was too small to resolve under a light microscope. 200-600nm is the presumed upper range.  I have no difficulty with that range, since it is the same ballpark as the thickness of the primary cell wall of plants, which would seem to me to be sufficient on which to imprint an easily visible image. (I have shown that a single layer of colourless epidermal cells from onion can take an intense scorch image without an underlying sheet of linen being affected – and it might, just might,  be the outer cell wall  (200nm?) that was acquiring that image.

3. The medulla of the fiber/fibre is clear in both image and non-image fibrils

That merely indicates that the crystalline cellulose in the interior of the fibril can be unaffected at temperatures that produce a scorch on the PCW hemicelluloses. That should not occasion surprise. Cellulose is far more resistant to pyrolysis than the chemically more reactive hemicelluloses.

Again, I invite those with a microscope to repeat the STURP studies on scorched linen fibres, checking the entire range of image intensity.

Prediction: it will be possible to produce faint scorch marks on linen, comparable in intensity to the Shroud image, without appreciably affecting the cellulose of the medullas of the fibres.

4. The image can be removed from a fibril with adhesive tape.

But was that true when the Shroud image was first formed?  Who is to say that ageing and other insults have not reduced the adhesion of the image layer?  Personally I know little about the interface/transition zone between primary and secondary cell wall at the molecular level, but would predict that ageing would weaken rather than strengthen it, having some acquaintance with flaking paint, flaking stucco, flaking gilt … the technical term is “delamination” as I recall…

5. The image doesn’t fluoresce in UV light.

Sorry, but unless you know why the 1532 burn marks fluoresce under uv then you cannot invoke that as evidence against the Shroud image being a scorch. In any case, there are large chemical differences between intensely charred linen and faint scorches, the presence or absence of (fluorescent) benzenoid aromatics – the precursors of microcrystalline graphite, aka carbonised linen  –  being one of them. See my earlier posting on the subject of fluorescence, and why it is little more than a  ‘pseudo-scientific’ mumbo jumbo to play that fluorescence card.

6. The halftone effect evident in the image is from striated color/colour patterns.

The halftone effect may be associated with striated colour patterns, but one cannot assume a cause-and-effect relationship. Both may be manifestations of a third unindentified factor. I have proposed elsewhere an hypothesis that accounts at least for the half-tone effect in terms of exothermic, self-sustaining pyrolysis of hemicelluloses (the pyrolysis of celluloses not only having a higher activation energy, requiring a higher temperature to initiate, but is said to be endothermic and thus not self-sustaining).


There now. That’s another chore completed.

But what makes me think I’ll have the same checklist dropped on me in a month or two, or  six months time, probably by someone else deploying cut-and-paste, also trying to look terribly well clued up in Shroudological polemics, but probably not in the slightest bit interested in the answers one gives?  Uncharitable thought? You betcha, but not as uncharitable as the steady stream of corrosive comment that emanates from The Other Site by those who resent hearing the authenticity of the Shroud challenged,  who routinely fall back on  dog-eared, hand-me-down checklists,  like the one above, bereft of any original thought or observation – in an attempt to score cheap debating points at the expense of the opponent.


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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