Shroudie-Alert: Day 9. Is it real human blood on the Shroud? A reply to Richard Savage, aka Jabba.


23:45: Here’s another quote from TOS (yesterday, re the ‘blood first’ dogma):

“I don’t think any high definition picture could distinguish definitely blood from image.
In the meantime, does Colin see image under serum ?”

Here’s my response – apologies for its length.

First sentence: Why not? Colour differences remain under light microscopy. It’s only when one gets to the level of scanning electron microscopy that one loses colour.

Second sentence: Do I see image under serum?  Sorry to sound pedantic, but “image” is not precise enough, image being too diffuse in close-up photographs (e.g. Shroud Scope intermediate to highest magnification) to discern anatomical differences, even between flesh and hair. I suppose one could substitute ‘image coloration’ for image.  That’s the semantics. Re the science:  No, I don’t think the technique of looking at regions where blood appears to have flaked-off allows one to draw any hard and fast conclusions. As I have pointed out, flaking off still leaves a pinkish coloration that would make it impossible to see pure image coloration that one might expect to see in an image first/blood second scenario. But some might say that the burden of proof lies with those whose claim that there is no body image under the blood stains rests upon a single wet-enzymatic technique with protease enzyme that is not only non-quantitative, and for which there seems to be no photographic record, at least in the public domain. So one is entitled to infer  that inevitable age-dependent flaking-off should leave a residual colour  that is different and distinctive from that of body image coloration. That is not what one sees.  There is a somewhat muddy look to the residual pink, It can’t be due to image colour overlying pink, since even if image were formed on the surface of blood  or even charring Jackson’s  charring – see below- it would detach along with blood. The muddy colour, neither pure pink nor that peculiar grey-brown of body image (caveat:  in my edited high-contrast images) only suggests that there is body image under bloodstain, and indeed there may well be if one is not tied to a dogma, but that’s as far as one can go. Sorry about the wordiness.

As I’ve said before, my misgivings are with the way that the blood- first dogma is all to often invoked as if it were a trump card for closing down a debate, as when John Jackson  attempted to dismiss scorching*. If the dogma is to be maintained, then it must surely be founded upon more than one quickie, visual, subjective result. The failure to corroborate by independent means is worrying – giving the impression that the protease test is viewed by those promoting Shroud authenticity as a ‘trophy result’. That is not how science is supposed to operate. Science is not about building up dossiers to support a particular case, one on which religion belief intrudes first into the argument and then into the experimental approaches and interpretation. That’s why I looked closely at the Shroud Scope images, and I have to say found them wanting as far as supporting that blood-first dogma is concerned.

* In fact John Jackson’s argument appeared to contradict any mechanism of image imprinting, his own incomprehensible radiation one included, in his preferred blood-first scenario   (my bolding). (Unless I’ve missed a subtlety somewhere, Jackson  appears to have missed the point that in a bas-relief scorching model there would be no charring of blood, given that the latter can be added in all the ‘right places’ after image -imprinting)

“There is, however, another problem against using a hot statue or hot bas relief to create a Shroud-like image.  The STURP examination showed in several ways that the blood stains occurred physically on the Shroud BEFORE the body image.  Blood is considerably more thermally sensitive than cloth.  My experiments many years ago showed that whenever one creates a scorch discoloration on cloth, the blood material on that cloth would be unavoidably charred and obliterated by the heat.  Since such effects are not at all seen in the blood stains, I have concluded that the hot bas-relief hypothesis is unacceptable.”

20:00:  Oh, by the way, here’s another comment that appeared on TOS yesterday regarding that ‘blood first, body image second’ dogma:

“… bloodstains and image are out of stereoregister. So looking at an image under those bloodstains is looking at the wrong place.”

Let’s be charitable, and  start by taking all the underlying assumptions at face value, namely that the TS man suddenly began to emit  radiation of unspecified wavelength that resulted in an image of himself being formed on a blood-stained cloth, and that because that image was somehow projected in some favoured direction (orthogonally, collimated bla bla) then because of 3D->planar distortion effects, the image of some hair formed on the “wrong place” of the Shroud, i.e. a blood-stained region of face and forehead  ( I trust I have got that right, but do not claim to be an expert in theophysics)

Whether ‘out of stereoregister’ or not , if blood appears to be on the hair, then  the blood is still underneath the image, if you buy into the blood-first dogma. So the ‘out-of-register’ argument is totally and utterly irrelevant.

But that’s nothing as compared with the assumption that the image was formed by radiation of unspecified wavelength, failing to explain how it could pyrolyse linen, and how it could form an image.  That’s what is known technically among the cognescenti in such arcane matters as “junk science”.

The quotation continues with this gem:

This is explained by John Jackson’s Cloth Collapse Theory, as being due to the Shroud around Jesus’ head flattening out as it fell into the source of radiation where Jesus’ resurrected body had been.

That’s not just junk science. It’s Junk Science, from the Colorado Shroud Center of Junk Science.

19:30: That Other Site is a never-ending source of morale-boosting, uplifting comment. like this comment yesterday:

This is a good question. I do think Colin is assuming too much about flaking and is maybe taking advantage of not having high definition images in order to jump to conclusions. Of course, none of us have the high definition images we need.

“Taking advantage” eh? Yes, I fear the day when Barrie M.Schwortz  is persuaded to release his grip on HD images in that squirrelled away, copyrighted, royalties-generating archive of his. Then I will be exposed for the charlatan that I am, polluting the Shroudosphere with misleading low(ish) -resolution Durante 2002 images, like ones that ask “Where’s the white space under flaked-off bloodstains if blood really came first?”.

However, I don’t think my mischievous campaign of disinformation will be exposed any time soon, not while Barrie M. Schwortz is forever criss-crossing the USA, or swanning off round the globe, proselytizing Shroud authenticity,. Meanwhile, back at base,  his  STERA Inc website makes clear that he, STURP’s official co-opted documenting photographer,  didn’t just take the pictures, allegedly on behalf  of science (“trying to understand how the image was formed”) but in fact owns them – and has no intention whatsoever of letting the world  through its internet connection see them any time soon.

schwortz HD images internet

However, one can be sure that fee-paying book publishers may be treated more favourably.

Clink, clink…

Only in America!

15:2o  UK time:  Richard Savage, aka Jabba on the James Randi forum and earnest advocate of  Shroud authenticity, asked yesterday on The Other Site whether I thought it was real blood on the Shroud. I try to avoid placing comments on  Daniel Porter’s “Daily Pep Talk and Mutual Support for Shroudie True Believers” given my Public Enemy No.1 status over there, but out of courtesy asked what he meant by ‘real blood’? I think he thought I was being a little pedantic, but no, it’s important to get the semantics right.

There is no way of knowing whether  it was  real blood from a recently-deceased corpse. Why not?  Answer: on account of the extensive degradation – physical, chemical, probably microbiological over the centuries, which is why statements like “STURP showed it to be real blood” are largely meaningless. Scientifically speaking, one should ask if the stains are consistent with their being extensively-degraded human blood (EDHB). But then one has to agree on what the markers are for EDHB. What would be the state of the original haemoglobin in the red blood cells, for example? Intact haemoglobin – improbable, even as (oxidized) methaemoglobin  with iron(III) , or  free haems, i.e.non-proteinaceous  iron-complexed porphyrins (more likely, but with what ligand?  Jackson’s CO? Pull the other one) or  iron-free porphyrins (even more likely), end-stage  iron oxide, Fe2O3 or Fe3O4  (possibly). Why did Alan Adler give up on porphyrins (despite them being his speciality) after finding atypical uv/vis spectra, and then go ape, invoking fanciful ideas about complexes with trauma-induced bilirubin, and  claiming they could explain the bright red colour of Shroud blood? Why do people buy into all that  junk science, or describe him as they did yesterday as world-famous expert  (he wasn’t – he was a run-of-the-mill porphyrin specialist* who failed to characterize  the porphyrins of Shroud blood).

* This seems to be the paper he’s best known for:

A. D. Adler, F. R. Longo, J. D. Finarelli, J. Goldmacher, J. Assour and L. Korsakoff (1967). “A simplified synthesis for meso-tetraphenylporphine“. J. Org. Chem. 32 (2): 476–476

But what about the serum, about which we read so much, poorly documented and mainly  speculative as far as I can see. What would be the intermediate and/or end-stages of serum degradation? Ah, now we can get more specific. Serum is rich in physiological mineral ions (sodium , potassium etc) which are chemically stable. Any putative serum stain should have those ions, regardless of how degraded it is. But try googling (shroud turin sodium) and one of the first returns you will get is the sillybeliefs site, and then one of mine, both  pointing out that there is virtually no potassium or sodium worth speaking of on the Shroud (Alan Adler performed mental contortions in trying to explain away their absence, inventing an entirely new  discipline that I call crucifictional science.

So what might have some of the markers of EDHB or EDHS, but lack the key ones, like sodium and potassium that have to be there –  no matter how degraded? I have proposed an answer – it is off the wall, so to speak, but began by asking what a medieval monk may have used if wanting to paint “blood” onto the Shroud in strategic locations.

Here’s  are  links to my postings ( someone, possibly Pakeha, posted one of them to that James Randi forum of yours Richard – did you perhaps miss it?)


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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