Daily Mail: Is Turin Shroud Genuine?

April 11, 2009 at 10:22 pm (Media, Religion) (, )

Excellent – a possible example of Dr* T’s First Theory in the Daily Fail. The Daily Mail is allowing itself to be used in order to promote the Discovery Channel’s programme tomorrow night.

One thing that struck me about the Mail’s coverage was this:

Now one of the scientists who first studied 12 foot-long sheet has spoken – from beyond the grave – of how he came to believe that it could be genuine.

A video made shortly before Raymond Rogers died in 2005 has been discovered, in which the U.S. chemist reveals his own tests show the relic to be much older – dating back to between 1,300 and 3,000 years ago.

In MailWorld, someone speaking to you from beyond the grave is the same thing as you watching a video they made before they died. Good stuff. And I am now going to start telling people that Humphrey Bogart and James Dean are speaking to me from beyond the grave. I’ve seen their movies – it’s the same thing.

The evidence in favour of the shroud being genuine is apparently that Rogers found “traces of tanning products, likely used by medieval weavers to match the colour of the original weave when performing repairs” (Wikipedia). I don’t know how much emphasis should be put on evidence of the presence of tanning products because I don’t know how significant this would be if true – are there alternative explanations to that proposed by Rogers? Perhaps the shroud had traces of tanning products because they were used at the time of the production of the shroud between 1260 and 1390 (or shortly thereafter, during repair of the item)? As far as I am aware, tanning products were being used in the 13th Century and the Shroud of Turin has been dated as being produced “between 1260 and 1390”. So I’m not even sure that Rogers’ anomaly is an anomaly.

What other evidence is there in relation to the shroud apart from the radiocarbon dating and the evidence of Rogers (seemingly compatible with a date between 1260 and 1390)? Well, the earliest record of the shroud’s existence is 1353. This fits with the radiocarbon dating findings. This is too boring to be mentioned. Facts have no place in newspapers like the Fail.

They make one more claim I’m interested in: “Last week, evidence was published that the shroud had been secretly guarded by the Knights Templar following the sacking of Byzantium, now Istanbul, in 1204, until it resurfaced in Lirey, France, 150 years later.” They don’t seem to say where this evidence was published, but I’m guessing that this story tells us the relevant researcher – Times story. It’s Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives.

Another thing: the claims of Dr Rogers are from 2005. They are not new – they are simply being publicised at this time because Discovery have a show to promote and beacause the idea that the shroud may be genuine is deemed to be a sufficiently good story for the Fail to recycle. This is not new information (the common definition of “news”). It is old. And it may not be information. This is a story that has been mislabelled as “news” when it is no such thing. But then, this is typical for the Daily Fail.

2 Comments

  1. Sarah said,

    You (deliberately?) left out one important detail – that the repair (which you seem to insinuate can only be detected by the apparent use of tanning products) was made using cotton fibres, while the rest of the original cloth was linen.
    The presence of tannic products was used to colour the cotton threads to look the same as the (presumably) much older linen.
    I don’t know what to make of it either. But the fact that you don’t think it worth mentioning is interesting.

  2. jdc325 said,

    Sorry, perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. To clarify: I suggested that the tanning products could have dated from either the date of production or the date of repair, but neglected to mention the different materials (simply because it wasn’t in the passage I was quoting).
    It’s still the case that the earliest record of the shroud’s existence is over 1,000 years after the death of Jesus Christ (about 1200 years if we accept the claims of the Vatican Secret Archives researcher and over 1300 years if we use the date that is generally accepted as the earliest record). The dates of the earliest records of the shroud’s existence are compatible with the results of the radiocarbon testing – and neither the existence of these records of the shroud’s existence nor the radiocarbon dating support the idea that the shroud is genuine.

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