Draft document discovered in the paper-skip at my local recycling centre: “Ten killer arguments for opposing any re-run of the radiocarbon dating.”

Once a month I put all the junk mail into a bin liner and walk it to the recycling centre that is just a handy 1 and 3/4 miles away. (Well, we all have to do our bit for the environment, and since most of the junk mail boasts of being recycled paper, I feel a civic duty to return it whence it came on foot instead of using the car). Of course, I always try to avoid reading other people’s unshredded post when I get to the paper skip, like that  stapled sheaf of animated correspondence between the headmaster of  a nearby secondary school and his Board of Governors on what he considered a right and proper salary settlement for the coming year, pointing out that he had had no proper pay increase the last three years, and thought that all had been forgiven and forgotten re a certain incident. No, I would never dream of taking a casual glance at what lies on top of that bin, or maybe in the top 12 inches or so, not wishing to be privy to other people’s secrets.

 So the only reason I publish the following transcript from a sheet of A4 with spidery handwriting is because of my over-riding sense of civic duty. The writer – clearly an opinion former of the highest standing in society – had clearly not intended to discard so well-thought out a document. One of his (or her) office cleaning staff must have seen it on the carpet next to the employer’s desk and assumed it was intended for the waste-paper bin. So if anyone reading this blog recognises these words as their own, then fortune smiles – you have a back-up copy.

“Re-run of the carbon dating?  No way. Fight it tooth and nail…  Say:

1.   Before considering any re-run, we need first to conclude the post-mortem and apportionment of blame for the 1988 testing fiasco by the three totally incompetent laboratories. We need to uncover all the conspiracies (worth a few more documentaries at least). That could take time – a few years, decades  even-  at least until the cash registers stop ringing..

2.  Any answer (except the right one) is bound to be wrong due to multiple contamination issues. Scientists, as we know, are incapable of detecting contaminants, even with the most modern analytical techniques. Scientists are arrogant people who need to be put in their place. To those scientists who say you only need to extract and purify ONE component of linen, e.g. cellulose,  to 99.9% purity, we say go boil your head, correction, don’t you get clever with me, boyo…

3. It might give the same answer as before, but with greater statistical precision

4.  The 1532 fire released carbon monoxide, CO, which was bound to react with linen to give the wrong answer (but would have had a negligible effect if the answer had been the right one).  CO is a dangerous poison. It attaches to haemoglobin. Anything that is capable of attaching itself to blood haemoglobin is bound to combine with linen as well, right? Why? Do I have to give you a chemistry lesson? Haemoglobin has an iron centre  (wikipedia) right? And we’ve all seen linen being ironed to get rid of the creases. That makes it attract carbon monoxide…. the iron.  God, some people are so slow…

5.  Speaking of Whom: He will always see that the scientists who mess with the Shroud will arrive at the wrong answer. God made the physical laws, so can change them at a whim, just to show the scientists who is boss, and/or wrong-foot them. (They hate it when you say that)

6.  There will always be a sampling error, no matter how many samples one takes. But multiple samples will gradually destroy the Shroud so there’s finally nothing left.  So there’s no point in repeating the sampling. Ya boo sucks to you.

7.  It’s a well known fact that carbon dating does not work on linen. It only works on paper, papyrus, wood, straw, amber, charcoal, horn, hide, blood, bone, hair and wool.   So there’s no point in trying to date the Shroud.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ….

8.  The results will always be wrong because of the bioplastic film (i.e. microorganisms unknown to conventional science)  that can grow on the linen, messing up the radiocarbon dating.   They do so with no obvious or credible carbon source, no chlorophyll and no energy source.  In other words they are  unique and highly specialized organisms that are only capable of growing and reproducing on the Shroud of Turin and other holy relics. You only know they are there when you get the wrong answer in carbon dating.

9.   Thymol* has recently been used to fumigate the reliquary in which is housed the Shroud. Thymol is a phenolic. Phenolics are chemically reactive. Thymol might not mess up C-dating, but no scientist can say for certain that it does not. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

10.   If all else fails one can say that Resurrection messed up the isotopic ratios  (C-14 to C-12) on which carbon dating depends. Resurrection tends to do that. It’s a proven fact. Well, maybe not proven, but fiendishly difficult for any scientist to disprove. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha


😉  Were you able to spot what was fiction?  Answer – ALL of it  needless to say (except  the bit about the correspondence on a local headteacher’s salary negotiations being dumped at my recycling centre!)

*  Some 24 hours after my posting this yesterday, this comment (right on cue, well almost, some might say) has appeared on Daniel Porter’s shroudstory.com site:

November 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm | #9

I am not referring to the contamination from the fires (there were at least two in 1531 & 1998). I am referring to the encasement of the Shroud with thymol which, according to Chemist Ray Rogers has completely contaminated the Shroud.

Has this chemically not completely contaminated the Shroud? We need a world class chemist and Ray Rogers has unfortunately passed on. Know any world class chemists? Until I hear from one contradicting the veracity, Ray’s chemistry is beyond reproach.

Now it’s my turn to go:  ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha…   😉

And I am not laughing (this time) at the description of a now sadly deceased chemist’s science as “beyond reproach” when it is anything but.



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.
This entry was posted in Shroud of Turin and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Draft document discovered in the paper-skip at my local recycling centre: “Ten killer arguments for opposing any re-run of the radiocarbon dating.”

  1. Thibault HEIMBURGER says:


    just a question:
    What do you mean exactly (ha, ha, aha…) with regard to Andy’s comment ?
    I simply don’t understand.


  2. colinsberry says:

    “Playing the thymol card” (as I call it) is rapidly becoming a standard part of the authenticist’s repertory, or should that be armoury? “There’s no point in repeating the radiocarbon dating” they intone, “because thymol will have contaminated the linen with modern carbon”.

    I saw that one coming, Thibault, and, sure enough, right on cue, Andy Weiss pops up, playing guess what? Yup, the thymol card.


    Why don’t the strident authenticists like Andy Weiss simply admit the real reason why they don’t want another round of radiocarbon dating – which has little if anything to do with genuine concerns over thymol or any other scientific detail for that matter? It’s because they are afraid it will deliver the same medieval result as before, but with improved statistical precision. That’s assuming that a reasonable number and distribution of samples were to be taken next time around, assuming there is a next time. Andy Weiss and some others on Dan Porter’s site are clearly determined there should be no next time, and can be relied upon to provide an endless stream of (pseudo) scientific objections to support their line, one that makes a mockery of genuine detached science, because it is simply intended for one purpose, and one purpose only, i.e. to OBSTRUCT scientific progress.

    I have already proposed a solution to contamination by thymol or any other modern carbon compounds. Purify the cellulose to 99.9% purity or thereabouts by solubilising and regenerating, e.g. using the cuprammonium (Shirley’s) reagent as used for rayon thread manufacture. Then it would not matter if there were still a trace of thymol etc -since a mere 0.1% contamination by weight due to unknown contaminants would not be sufficient to affect the result by (probably) more than a year or two…

    • Andy Weiss says:

      Wow, I wasn’t aware you were paying my comments that much attention, Colin. Thank you. If you want to talk about carbon dating, perhaps you ought to ring up Bill Meachem. He has extensive experience and is an expert on this as you surely know. What Ray Rogers did for us, among many things, is give us an alternate dating technique in the absence of vanillian. His testing indicates the Shroud is between 2000-3000 years old. Do you have a derogatory comment to make about this work as well? It just seems like you simply do not like Ray Rogers, his work or the fact that he was a preeminent scientist.

  3. Piero Iacazio says:

    I remember that Dr. Ray N. Rogers indicated us the fact that
    the wood reliquary can take a certain amount of thymol and
    then this quantity will be released after a certain amount of time.
    So … the first question seems to be the following :
    What are the exact quantities involved ?
    (but, unfortunately, Riggi is dead since months …)
    and the second question is :
    The presumed thymol contamination can change the 14C results ?
    This question seems to be strange … There is a little amount of C, so there is not the great change, but (in my opinion) this is not the true problem.
    The problem is the 14C in itself. We cannot destroy a relic using the 14C (or another destructive analysis) on that ancient cloth.
    There are the SPM analyses and then we have to use this new way in order to discover the truth about the true epoch.
    Do you agree with me about this simple SPM idea ?
    If you agree on that new way (to observe the material) perhaps
    we can discuss how to improve the analyses avoiding the destructions.
    There is a lot of work to do using the SPM analyses, included the question
    of the detection of thymol contamination on linen fibrils.
    But, before to start with the controls on linen fibrils coming from the Shroud,
    we have to try to do some interesting experiments about the contaminations
    (on linen samples) to improve the knowledges before to waste the time
    (perhaps) in useless analyses…

  4. colinsberry says:

    Hello Piero

    While I would agree that a purely physical non-destructive method is to be preferred, even if one were fairly confident as I am that the Shroud is of medieval provenance, one has to ask precisely what is being measured in each scanning method, and whether that provides unequivocal answers.

    Personally I think there is no substitute for a purification of cellulose, followed by gravimetric analysis to confirm it is 99.9% glucose. Then one does not need to know what the contaminants are, whether thymol or something else, nor their age, PROVIDED one has taken enough samples from enough locations to be able to dismiss any possibility, largely theoretical, of wholesale invisible reweaving. If there were areas of re-weaving that that would surely reveal itself in large sample-to-sample variation.

    What objection can there be to destructive testing, if it were confined to non-image areas of the less important dorsal side? Those areas could be ‘invisibly’ mended could they not? If that was possible in the 16th century, resulting in an allegedly false answer for the 1988 dating, then why not now?

    • Piero (Piedmont) says:

      Personally I think at the Shroud as the authentic relic (2000 years old)
      that permits to see something about the Holy Face of Jesus.
      But this is only a personal idea (then this is the reason about the true
      epoch to demonstrate, through the adequate controls !).
      In any case I don’t believe in your destructive way to proceed ! It’s too
      destructive, IMO.
      Instead, using the SPMs (= Scanning Probe Microscopies) we can try to
      estimate the cellulosic degree of polymerization (= cellulosic DP) and
      also try to observe what is the amount of different kind of contaminants,
      included the thymol (… molecules !!!).
      I want to add that (in my opinion) perhaps the Raman analyses of the year
      2002 (in Turin, by Renishaw) were not published because they testified
      the previous thymol contaminations. Am I wrong in this hard conjecture ?
      Have you found another more simple explanation about this
      lack of communication (= ten years !) about the Raman controls ?
      What is your opinion ?
      So …
      We have to choose to do the right controls on right areas.
      At least we have to ask for new controls using the advanced controls
      (= AFM or AFM-Raman techniques applied in a careful manner) on linen
      fibrils taken from the Holy Shroud in the past (= before the thymol treatment)
      and on linen fibrils taken after the thymol treatment. This is an interesting
      scientific argument (for a paper).
      I believe these useful linen samples are already taken and kept apart.
      Then there is the necessity for an adequate request about the inherent new
      (and open ?) scientific Committee.
      Do you agree on that idea ?
      — —
      Recently I tried to search for other ways, for example : the ptychographic
      electron diffractive imaging at atomic resolution, permitting identification
      of structures …
      If I am right a STEM (= scanning transmission electron microscope)
      and the X-rays are used to work …
      The STEM permits a more deep control with respect the AFM
      techniques (= superficial controls).
      But the STEM was an old way with respect the AFM and the CFM.
      I have not a great knowledge in this interesting field and (u
      nfortunately) in my mind these ways seemed to be more feasible
      in the mineral world … I had some doubt.
      — —
      There is another way : the scanning X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM).
      This a particularly useful method for studying the spatial distribution
      of trace metals (= Sr, etc.) in biological samples. In my idea this is a possible
      way to work in order to search the Strontium (that an interesting geographical signature).
      But (if I am right) this way has a “low” precision (near 30 nm)…
      The quantitative elemental maps are also interesting for the
      analysis of the pollen.
      Do you know the X-ray fluorescence micro-computed tomography ?
      In the Web there is some document about the X-ray Fluorescence
      Microscopy for Biology and Bionanotechnology.
      Try to see … I don’t want to be too boring, here.
      — —
      What is your idea ?
      What will be the choice of the future scientific Commission ?
      What is your prevision ?
      How to make credible forecasts without the work on the Labs
      using the adequate tools ?
      — —

      • colinsberry says:

        Without knowing precisely what your probes are intended to measure, and how that measure can provided unequivocal evidence one way or the other, I cannot usefully comment. Piero. For example, it’s possible I suppose that a probe could provide information on the DP of cellulose (quite how is not obvious to me, but never mind), and other things being equal, the older the linen, the smaller the DP. But that cannot provide an absolute scale of dating, in the way that radioactive decay can, since progressive breakage of glucose-glucose links in cellulose could be influenced by any number of environmental factors, unlike radioactive C-14 decay which follows a mathematical logarithmic decay curve, with a constant half-life etc. These considerations apply to the rather similar kind of chemical approach adopted by Raymond Rogers with his vanillin. Personally, I prefer good physics to bad chemistry.

        Yes, the sampling protocol I propose will damage the Shroud, but only the linen with the dorsal image, and then only the non-image areas. The damage could be made good with that ‘invisible reweaving’ which we are told is undetectable to the most expert eye. The frontal image would remain TOTALLY untouched.

      • Piero (Piedmont, Italy) says:

        Dear Colin,
        In the case of cellulosic materials (=Cotton, linen, paper, etc.)
        the measurement of the cellulosic DP is an interesting way to know
        the true epoch for that ancient linen sheet and this method
        (the detection of the cellulosic degree of polym. for the cellulosic chains)
        is very interesting … and that … not only in my opinion !
        See, for example the previous studies by Diana and Marinelli.
        In 1997 during the Symposium of the CIELT (in Nice, France) and also
        previously they indicated that way …
        Unfortunately they indicated a wrong system (using the presumed proper
        apparel) for the right analyses about the Holy Shroud :
        the viscometric measurement.
        This way requires a lot of material with respect the very little amount
        of linen fibrils (… obviously here … I speak in a rough manner. Thus : taking
        apart the problems connected with the Applied Statistics … and the calculations
        inherent the exact amount of material required to obtain a decent and
        incontrovertible work with the fibrils) in the case of the AFM measurements !
        Another problem is due to the effect of the past fungal attacks.
        Then the inherent areas involved in these degradation are to avoid
        during the controls (of the cellulosic DP).
        And now (= after this simple attempt to explain the scientific question) :
        What is your idea ?
        — —
        You can try to improve your knowledges about the degradation of the
        cellulose (and the cellulosic DP) and the degradation evolution equation
        of cellulose, reading the following paper :

        Author response to the comments by P. Calvini regarding the article “On the degradation evolution equations of cellulose” by H.-Z. Ding and Z. D. Wang

        Source :
        the review
        April 2008, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 229-237
        — —
        I guess that in your reply you point another time
        the attention about the (presumed) unsolved problem
        of the absolute scale of dating …
        But we can try to obtain the useful scale measuring the ancient and old
        cellulosic materials.
        See for example the recent dating for the portrait of Bianca Sforza
        (by Leonardo da Vinci). They used a spectral method. But, in my idea,
        we can try to do something using the measurement of the cellulosic DP.
        Do you agree ?
        In the past our common friend Dan Porter indicated the book by
        Peter Silverman (who, the january 30, 1998, was curious about the painting
        by Leonard) and then the portrait of the belle princesse (Bianca Sforza
        passed away at 13 years old !) was an interesting challenge, an argument
        to use in order to show what is possible to obtain with the SPM dating
        versus the 14C test.
        Despite the fact that dating of the portrait to 1496 and the identification
        of the sitter as Bianca were confirmed to a high level of probabily, the
        idea to obtain the SPM confirmation can be interesting to develope
        because this will show the level of precision for the SPM tests.
        — —
        The similar SPM analyses can be applied for the well known ancient
        documents coming from the sites of Qumran …
        — —
        If you want to improve some control there is the CFM (= Chemical Force
        Microscopy). So, you can hope to detect also the few molecules of thymol.
        The CFM can distinguish between distinct chemical regions on a surface.
        Chemical force microscopy provides quantitative information on the interactions between chemically modified tips and the surface.
        — —
        I hope in your answer.
        — * —
        Happy New Year 2013 !

      • colinsberry says:

        Hello again Piero

        It’s interesting you raise the issue of cellulose integrity – and its presumed tendency to fragment with time to polymers of progressively lower DP – at this particular time. I’m presently preparing a post for tomorrow that will focus on the issue of differences in mechanical strength, especially fracture-resistance- between image and non-image-bearing fibres. Whether that has any bearing on age-related changes is anyone’s guess, but all I would say for the moment is this: while cellulose is the major component of flax and linen fibres, it is by no means the one that is central to image-capturing or age-related changes. One needs to look at the structure of the elementary flax fibres at a higher level of organization. Tomorrow’s post will focus on those nodes that are a feature of linen but absent in cotton.. Admittedly I don’t know a lot about them at present, but the little I do says their interesting component is lignin rather than cellulose. Hugh will be interested I’m sure. Beyond that I can’t comment further at present, lacking as I do detailed information on the nodes compared with inter-nodal regions. I’m hoping that someone will be able to help. Oh, and a Happy New Year to you too.

        PS: There was (inexplicably) no reply tab on your comment, so I have had to find one on an earlier comment of yours.

  5. Hugh Farey says:

    I notice in one of Ray Rogers’s articles (on shroud.it – ‘Studies on the radiocarbon sample’…” that he advocates using the charred, almost pure carbon, bits of scorch that were cut off during the 2002 restoration, as washing them in concentrated nitric acid would remove all the thymol (among other contaminants) applied in 1988.

  6. colinsberry says:

    That was a good idea on Ray Rogers’ part, at least in principle. But it has a fatal flaw, correction, two fatal flaws. One – it is non-quantitative. Two – it asks the sceptics to take something on trust.
    I’m sticking with solubilising and regenerating pure cellulose, using glucose assay to establish the purity of the cellulose.

  7. Andy Weiss says:

    Thank you, Colin S. Berry. Very nice of you.

  8. Thibault HEIMBURGER says:

    Colin, you wrote:
    “Beyond that I can’t comment further at present, lacking as I do detailed information on the nodes compared with inter-nodal regions. I’m hoping that someone will be able to help. ”

    Perhaps I can help. I have a wide scientific documentation about this topic.

    Bonne année 2013 ( because I now know that your French is perfect !!)


  9. colinsberry says:

    I’ll be more than happy to take you up on that offer, Thibault. The literature on flax fibre structure – at any rate that which is searchable online – is somewhat fragmentary and confusing.
    Regarding the French: I have high-powered back-up – ça s’appelle une femme multi-lingue….

  10. colinsberry says:

    There’s quite a number of things on which I need clarification, Thibault. I’ll try writing a posting tomorrow and flag up the problematical areas as and when they become apparent. Thanks for the offer of help.

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