Brief message to Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, re your hijacked posting on pseudoscience and the Turin Shroud

Postscript (correction: ‘prescript‘) added July 2019:

You have arrived at a 2014 posting. That was the year in which this investigator finally abandoned the notion of the body image being made by direct scorch off a heated metal template (despite many attractions, like negative image, 3D response etc. But hear later: orchestral DA DA!  Yup, still there with the revised technology! DA DA! ).

In its place came two stage image production.

Stage 1: sprinkle white wheaten flour or suchlike vertically onto human subject from head to foot, front and rear  (ideally with initial smear of oil to act as weak adhesive). Shake off excess flour, then cover the lightly coated subject with wet linen. Press down VERTICALLY and firmly (thus avoiding sides of subject). Then (and here’s the key step):

Stage 2: suspend the linen horizontally over glowing charcoal embers and roast gently until the desired degree of coloration, thus ‘developing’ the flour imprint, so as to simulate a sweat-generated body image that has become yellowed with centuries of ageing.

The novel two-stage “flour-imprinting’ technology was unveiled initially on my generalist “sciencebuzz” site. (Warning: one has to search assiduously to find it, and it still uses a metal template, albeit unheated,  as distinct from human anatomy):


sbuzz oct 24, 14 flour 1


So it’s still thermal development of sorts, but with a key difference. One can take imprints off human anatomy (dead or alive!).

A final wash of the roasted flour imprint with soap and water yields a straw-coloured nebulous image, i.e. with fuzzy, poorly defined edges. It’s still a negative (tone-reversed) image that responds to 3D-rendering software, notably the splendid freely-downloadable ImageJ.  (Ring any bells? Better still, orchestral accompaniment – see , correction HEAR earlier – DA DA!))

This 2014 “prescript” replaces the one used for my earlier 2012/2013 postings, deploying abandoned ‘direct scorch’ technology.

Thank you for your patience and forbearance. Here’s where the original posting started:

Original posting starts here:

Colin Berry
Er, haven’t you fellas not got a chatroom you can go to?What’s the point of inserting a link to earlier (RELEVANT!) comments on the TS if all folk find when they get here is boarding school dormitory chat?Joel – what do you think about the hijacking of your site, blocking further discussion of the serious issues you have raised (pseudoscience and an uncritical MSM being two of my bugbears too)?

Now up to 1563 comments, most of them off-topic.


Progress update: here’s the new tweaked version of my flow chart.

final flow chart for TS with latest Veronic addition

Click on image to enlarge.  Alternatively, retreat to 10 metres and view through binoculars.

Note the addition of red text in the  Mk 2 Lirey badge  box, the grounds for which (previously enigmatic face of Jesus on Machy mould for Lirey Badge Mk2 being the subject of the postings  immediately preceding this one).


Back to the posting:

Response to my comment, 7:42 London, UK  time:

7:12 AM GMT
Thanks to the new software, you can rearrange the conversation to “Oldest First”, which will turn up a bunch of relevant comments.Yes, it might be worthwhile to set up a divided comment section, on-kit to the left, off-kit to the right.
Colin Berry
7:38 AM GMT
Good thinking Batman…I’m inviting comment on my own site too, having rarely encountered so egregious a takeover of a broadsheet comments facility! (Except on the UK’s Torygraph).
(Inserted link to this posting)
Afterthought: here’s my initial comment to the WP. Try clicking on the hyperlink time stamp for a shortcut.(Yup, tested – it works!). One response in particular was most encouraging: “Thanks, Colin! That actually makes some sense”

Colin Berry

2:02 PM GMT

There is an alternative kind of ‘shroudie’, one who eschews the sensationalism and pseudoscience, and in the case of this retired scientist is patiently exploring alternatives ones that might explain how that length of linen with its scorch-like image appeared in medieval France when it did.

I’ve been at it for some two years, but only recently, after experimentation with different types of heat scorch (contact, radiation) have the pieces of the jigsaw begun to assemble into some kind of pattern.

Briefly, here'[s the current working hypothesis: Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Knights Templar and his closest associates, e.g. Geoffroi de Charney, were all slow-roasted on the same day in Paris 1314. The method of execution closely mirrored that of the martyred St. Lawrence, for which there is much very Shroud like devotional artwork showing a naked or near-naked man forced down onto a grid iron. The surviving Templars wanted to create a tribute or memorial, and having an existing penchant for images on cloth (see Barbara Frale’s finding in the Vatican secret archive) decided to scorch a double front and back image onto linen, as if a ‘hot Templar’ had been wrapped in a shroud. But what to use as a hot template? Here’s where the ambiguity began – they chose a recycled bronze of the crucified Christ, i.e. a life-sized crucifix, which was heated and then had linen pressed against it, with damp overlay, to leave a faint, superficial NEGATIVE image. Maybe they thought that no one would be able to say, looking at a light/dark reversed negative:”Hey that’s Jesus”. Or maybe they wanted folk to make a connection with Jesus, or maybe St.Lawrence.

A few decades later, that shroud is now in the hands of the Lord of Lirey, one Geoffroi de Charny, probably de Charney’s nephew (see above) and the possibilities were quickly spotted and realized for morphing the scorched-on image with that of the crucified Jesus. The rest as they say is history. More? Just ask.

Update: Tuesday pm. That flow chart needs another box or two. Any extra box or two would be inserted between  (1) the Shroud image being imprinted as a heat scorch –  a tribute to a roasted-alive Templar (suffering the same fate as St. Lawrence) and…

(2) the promotion of the  Shroud as a “suaire”, ie. imprint derived from bodily perspiration (sweat).

So how (or might) a scorch become a sweat imprint? Was that the problem that faced those who were seeking extra mileage from the Mark 1 shroud?

All kinds of interesting possibilities come to mind (like a clever and subtle rebranding exercise).   Pure speculation? Maybe, but an attempt is being made  to  accommodate  hypothesis within  known historical facts  (especially tangible objects like badges and moulds for the making thereof)  that would otherwise be difficult to rationalize. Methinks another post is coming on.

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.

23 Responses to Brief message to Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, re your hijacked posting on pseudoscience and the Turin Shroud

  1. yellojkt says:

    Nice blog you have hear. It’s a shame a couple of dozen random strangers never show up and talk about cabbages and kings and such.

    Frankly, anyone obsessing over a 700 year old forged religious relic has some time management issues. Not that I don’t, I just have different obsessions.

  2. Curmudgeon2013 says:

    Dear Colin:

    You parachuted into the Achenblog site, with which you seem to be completely unfamiliar, left a couple of ignorant and/or rude remarks, pimped your own blog, and departed no wiser than when you arrived. As it happens, that crowd of commenters on the Achenblog site have been posting various and sundry off-topic comments FOR NINE YEARS. Do ya hear me, Colin? NINE YEARS. Yes, I’m raising my voice at you, buddy, for jumping to conclusions and making vastly unwarranted assumptions. You’re no better than a Shroud believer with that kind of behavior.

    You asked what Joel thinks about the “hijacking” of his site. He’s perfectly happy with it. Next, time, do your homework.

    Don’t bother coming back, unless your next post begins with an apology to the resident commenters.

    • pelicancrest says:

      This individual is probably most responsible for driving away people who post for the first time at the Achenblog. As if the commenters “own” the site. The site is owned and maintained by the Washington Post. I don’t think this individual speaks for the Washington Post.

  3. GherkinCat says:

    Colin, best wishes for an enjoyable day. As I’m sure you are aware, today is Yoko Ono’s 81st birthday. As he late husband suggested “Give Peace a Chance” !

  4. Not everyone was put on this earth to cater to your sad little obsession, dear. The Archenblog commenters consists of a group of people who are free to make any remarks they wish, on any topic they wish, and Joel likes it. Perhaps you could click on this link, which shows a happy Joel with some of the Boodle members:

    Anyone who is of good will is welcome to join us. Grotty little ill-bred twits with more hair than wit are welcome to hike off.

    • pelicancrest says:

      These individuals have been socializing for a number of years at various watering holes around D.C. Nothing wrong with that. But every time they meet, other people who post at the Achenblog are deluged with pictures of the members of the clique mugging the camera. That they would interest a reporter at the Washington Post as covering them as news–well, it really begs the question of what journalism means, especially from such an established East Coast newspaper.

      • msjs0315 says:

        Clicking the links to an occasional photo or two is voluntary and is in no way a deluge.

        Your concern about journalistic integrity is laughable. Remember the published author who caught you plagiarizing her work on the A-blog? She called you out after three days of your nonsense, right there for the rest of us to see. If you want to ponder what journalism means, ponder that.

        • pelicancrest says:

          I sincerely believe that the Catholic yellojkt “turned me in” to this author. Your facts aren’t quite correct. I was very wrong in not putting the author’s name into the first paragraph, the very first time. Instead, I hid her real name under the moniker Lisa, as a not-too-veiled reference to Mona Lisa, the crux of Dan Brown’s fictional The Da Vinci Code. I was working towards a slow reveal, as I explained, and the very, very Catholic Achenblog got very antsy with my repeated posts (the week before Easter that particular year) about the sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, not to mention the work this author had done uncovering the sex abuses Catholic priests unleashed on children hundreds of years ago. I had no intention of taking credit for this material–but was going to reveal her work at that week’s end. My shame is not mentioning her name from the get-go. I did apologize to her,

          Let’s hope that the Washington Post can come up with a better commenting system, other than one which is based on worth by the number of clicks–quantity rather than any meaningful sense of quantity. Why not take the issue to the top–to new owner and head of Jeff Bezos?

        • pelicancrest says:

          The number of photos posted over the past few years of this group socializing over drinks is a deluge. And to legitimize them as news…or newsworthy…

  5. colinsberry says:

    Have been travelling today since posting my bilious comment to the WP (now in France). I have to decide whether to be conciliatory, and smooth a lot of ruffled feathers, or whether to be my usual crotchety self, and maybe crank up the rhetoric.

    First I shall have a long beer from a fridge that’s only just been re-started. Warm beer – always guaranteed to put me in a foul mood, but we shall see, we shall see. Maybe a late life personality change will transform me in the next half hour into a warm and wonderful human being . (You see, I DETEST cliques who squat on MSM web forums and attempt to dictate the ethos. Been there, done it, got no more time for it (moi, je suis un seedcorn member of both My Telegraph and Independent Minds in the UK, going back to Spring 2007 (and other forums before that, producing my (lapsed) Dreams and Daemons site by way of spin off. Sorry guys – pulling rank on me won’t work.

  6. You could have some merry humour at the Achenblog at the Washington Post. You might want to consider it the next time Joel Achenbach changes the subject/ topic (known as the Kit). Under the Report button, one of the choices is “Off-Topic.” I wonder if the few (sometimes, if any) individual who monitors the posts would do anything about numerous off-topic posts, but it would be a hoot to see everyone’s post that is off-topic as “reported.”

    I’m all for breaking up the clique (and the many nasty comments aimed my way).

    • colinsberry says:

      Thanks pelican. It’s nice to know there’s at least one kindred spirit out there where the irksome issue of clique-squats on the MSM is concerned.
      Why do newspapers proprietors, or their website managers, tolerate it? I guess it’s to do with that handy term that Joel deployed – “click-bait”. A clique ensures lots of clicks – the paper not caring a hoot about content. Click bait/clique bait – it’s two sides of the same coin.
      PS: I see the clique is now filibustering its own squat so as to (intentionally) push the comments total past the 2000 mark. Bless.

      • msjs0315 says:

        Pelican and Colin, I wish you both well, I really do. I don’t understand why community bothers you so. Pelican was once part of the A-blog community (and was as off-topic and chatty as anyone), and Colin could become part of it still.

        WaPo already knows about the A-blog’s off-topic tendencies and is OK with them. There are other WaPo blogs that do the same thing, btw. For better or worse, that’s how it is. WaPo wants to keep all of them going. If you disagree, contact Marty Baron,

        Community blogs exist at other media outlets as well and proprietors often welcome them. If it doesn’t resonate with you, that’s your prerogative. I hope you find what you seek elsewhere.

  7. colinsberry says:

    Yes, I’ve said all I wanted to say, no there’s no sense in dwelling on this issue. All I’d say is this: Some years ago, 2006 to be precise, a particular journalist/staff blogger for the Telegraph on French affairs attracted a francophile following to his blogs, myself included. When he was “let go” by his employers, many of us abandoned the DT staff blogs altogether, and did two things: we set up our own blogs (mine being Dreams and Daemons) and commented freely on the ex-staffer’s blog (“Salut!”) and others within the circle.

    Whether prompted by that or not I don’t know, but the DT responded the following year by setting up the award-winning and innovative MyTelegraph (I was involved along with a few others in beta-testing). That site allows anyone to post their own blogs and receive comments.

    Maybe that’s a possible model for those on the Washington Post to have a hived-off community site, one which does not slow down or drown out serious on-topic comment. Having said that, MyTelegraph (which I abandoned a while ago for reasons we don’t need to go into) now has a hard core following of probably no more than 30 or 40 regulars, is not promoted by the management, and probably seems cliquish to anyone who stumbles on it by accident.

    It’s a possible way forward. There are others. But I must now get back to that TS – a microcosm of the battle between disinterested science (still leaving room for playing one’s hunches, provided they are testable) and agenda-driven pseudoscience. I have another site (“sciencebuzz”) that was set up to address the media reporting of hot topic science in general, but now focus my attention almost exclusively on the TS, given I’ve developed my own angle on how it came into existence and why, in the aftermath of the State-enforced liquidation of the Templar order in France. My most recent posting to sciencebuzz was early last year, with a theory as to why the Texas fertilizer plant explosion created that massive fireball, while the ingredients are either non-flammable (liquid ammonia) or prone to instantaneous detonation (ammonium nitrate). I suggested an interaction between the two (roasting NH4NO3 producing N2O – aka laughing gas- which can act like pure oxygen to support highly exothermic ammonia combustion.

    • pelicancrest says:

      Two subjects of interest to me:
      Philip the Fair (IV) is a distant great-grandfather. His daughter Isabelle married Edward II. I’m of Plantagenet descent-with a very rare genetic disorder to boot.

      The West, Texas fertilizer plant is just up the road, so to speak, from our (husband and I) home in San Antonio.

      Best wishes for your blogging efforts.

      • colinsberry says:

        Were you at home when it blew? That must have been some sight.

        • pelicancrest says:

          Yes, technically, both my husband, who works from home, and I were at home when it blew. However, one must realize that Texas is the largest state in the Lower 48. “The sun rises and the sun sets and we ain’t out of Texas yet.” There’s a whole lot of real estate between San Antonio and West, Texas, up Interstate 35–New Braunfels (formerly Neu Braunfels), San Marcos, Austin, Round Rock, and so on. The explosion received a lot of press coverage in the Dallas-Ft. Worth paper, the Austin newspaper, our San Antonio-Express News. National media came to Texas, but another bigger story grabbed national attention (I forget the issue, and would have to look it up), and the cable and major news networks weren’t on-site in Texas for too long a time. That, plus, the national media outlets are primarily on the East Coast and Atlanta. An Austin-based writer, Stephen Harrigan, wrote recently a great deal about West, but his topic was the Czech community and the Texas gas station kolache wars.

          The explosion was a sight, since some individuals in West captured the video on their cameras and cell phones. The after photos were pretty awful, too.

  8. Johne632 says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100 positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks cdfgbkebgdaf

  9. Colin Berry says:

    Is your comment genuine? It looks dubious, if you don’t mind my saying, especially the use of a jumble of letters for signing off to say nothing of the time lag…

    Assuming you’re genuine, then as regards your question, it’s a simple matter to set up a blog. Just go to WordPress or Google’s Blogger Blogspot for details. Each has its pros and cons – neither is perfect. But at least they are free, unless you need the optional extras.

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