One man’s jaundiced view of the aftermath of the ’88 radiocarbon dating.

sabotage-your-dietThe blame for this entire imbroglio rests fair and square with the Shroud’s custodians. One does NOT specify a particular day and hour for sample collection, and then say “OK, that’s it, lads and lasses, off you go off with your token specimen from the corner, the one we keep for  the Doubting Thomases,  and never darken our doorstep again”.

In any case, have we not read that the textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg was allowed back with a microscope, and in fact continued to assert there was no detectable signs of allegedly “invisible reweaving ” in the radiocarbon corner. (Ah yes, “invisible” reweaving. They would say that, wouldn’t they, those who shamelessly attempt to con the gullible, to keep their particular show on the road despite the evidence?).

Why only that one specialist? Why do the Shroud’s custodians allow the dark insinuations of collusion and result-fixing to  be made with monotonous regularity on The Other Site. There we have the recriminations of the surviving ex-monkish partner of  previous man-and-wife pair of religious zealots (one sadly no longer with us)  gifted amateurs maybe,  but with no real scientific credentials,  with all-too-obvious pro-authenticity leanings  protesting the rejection by “Radiocarbon”  of their attempts to find flaws in the radiocarbon dating,.  That rested partly on (wait for it) statistical trend analysis across the diagonal of a 7cmx 1cm strip of linen, despite it having been subdivided for three different labs to work on using their non-identical clean up procedures.  Something clearly went amiss in their statistical training methinks, like the need for randomised sampling before even considering chi-squared  or other statistical tests of the presence or absence of systematic bias in the data.  Meanwhile the Shroud’s custodians  fail to take the sensible initiative, i.e. to propose a return visit  to address unfinished business re  the dubious  and some might say agenda-serving claim for invisible reweaving.

I’m starting to think some quite uncharitable thoughts – that certain individuals secretly relish the sight of science and scientists being harried, libelled and humiliated when the real “crime”  was the foisting on the three labs of  last-minute departures from the initially agreed protocol.  When you see the terms  “world view”,  “agnostic”, “atheist” etc being bandied around, you can be pretty certain as to the real agenda of those making  sustained vitriolic attacks on the integrity of the scientists.

Let  New York lawyer John Klotz bang on as much as he likes about what radiocarbon scientists have written in their memoirs, and try to make that out as some kind of de facto admission of  guilt.  I have not read their books (as yet) but at least Sox and Gove were candid as to their innermost thoughts re the STURP team etc (which need have no bearing on the quality of anyone’s science, that being judged on the quality of the data and their interpretation). What a pity some of those shadowy occasionally furtive ‘special scientific advisers’  exercising real power  at the 11th hour,  whose names did NOT appear on the 1989 Nature paper did not get round to writing their memoirs too, and tell us what was going through their minds, allowing a shrewd assessment as to how it may have  influenced their subsequent actions (our having nothing else by way of Shroud-related research with which to judge them). Ah yes, what was it Kipling said about power without responsibility? Or the one about “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

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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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