Friday, April 18, 2014

"Okay, we will need to wait several weeks": My response to Dan Porter

Following numerous instances of Dan Porter on his blog allowing defamatory comments to be

[Right: Dan Porter:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus" (my emphasis).
As can be seen above, Porter's stated position on the Shroud's authenticity is neither pro- nor anti- but `sitting on the fence.']

made about me by some of his members, without him lifting a finger to protect me or moderate the defamers, I left Porter's blog with the final comment that I would no longer post comments under his posts, or even read those comments. But that I would, where I felt it warranted, respond to any of Porter's further posts about me, as a post on my blog.

This is my response to Porter's post of April 16, 2014, "Okay, we will need to wait several weeks". Porter's and my quoted words are in bold.

Stephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:

I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .

I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything.

I have figured Porter out. He is not against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" per se. He is against any closure of any issue, pro- or anti-authenticity. That way he can have endless debate, maximising the views and comments to his blog, which he regularly boasts about.

It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?

See what I mean? Porter relishes the opportunity to debate each point endlessly, rarely, if ever, coming to a definite conclusion about any one of them. Because otherwise Porter could not maintain his:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus" (my emphasis)
`Mr Facing-Both-Ways' position.

He is an example of those whom the Apostle Paul criticised as:

"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2Tim 3:7 (KJV)

Stephen continues.

. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"

Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?

Proving my point. Porter is not interested in converging on the truth, only in debating endless "possibilities".

I pointed out to Porter when I was on his blog that, according to Prof. Harry Gove, the leader of the 1988 radiocarbon dating project, the probability that the Shroud is 1st century, yet its radiocarbon date is 1260-1390, is "about one in a thousand trillion":

"The other question that has been asked is: if the statistical probability that the shroud dates between 1260 and 1390 is 95%, what is the probability that it could date to the first century? The answer is about one in a thousand trillion, i.e. vanishingly small." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.303).
But Porter doesn't get it, or doesn't want to get it, because that would be closing off endless "possibilities" for debate.

Even the agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, understands that if the Shroud is authentic, then fraud is a real possibility in the carbon dating of it to "1325 ± 65 years," because it would then be "a remarkable coincidence" (to put it mildly) that the "carbon-dating error was accidental," yet it `just happened' to be ~25 years before "the Shroud's historical debut" in ~1350, at Lirey, France:

"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated, that genuine Shroud samples were deliberately swapped with cloth of a later date... Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. Some, like Ian Wilson, refuse to contemplate such `unworthy' accusations. However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware ... One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date [of] ... the Shroud's historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn't be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, '1325 ± 65 years' is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," p.170. My emphasis).

For those others who don't like or understand Gove's "about one in a thousand trillion" number, the Oxford physicists who carbon-dated the Shroud stated that "the odds were ... astronomical" that the Shroud could be 1st century, yet its carbon-14 date be 1260-1390:

"As the world now knows, the Turin Shroud has been 'proved' a fake. On Thursday 13 October [1988] ... it was officially announced that the radiocarbon laboratories of Oxford, Arizona and Zurich had dated samples of the Shroud's linen `with 95% certainty' to somewhere between the years 1260 and 1390. At a British Museum press conference Dr. Michael Tite, together with fellow-physicists Professor Edward Hall and Dr. Robert Hedges of the Oxford laboratory, declared that the odds were now `ASTRONOMICAL' against the Shroud genuinely dating from around the time of Christ." (Ian Wilson, 1988, "The carbon dating results: Is this now the end?" BSTS Newsletter, No. 20, October, p.2. My emphasis).

. . . I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right?

More divergent "possibilities"! What I mean is in cases of scientific plagiarism where a science journal article by a scientist has a significant amount of text that is identical, or very similar, to text in an earlier dated journal article by a different scientist. Then if the accused plagiarist claims it is just a coincidence, there is an established legal precedent that, if the courts find that the coincidence is too improbable, they will find the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of plagiarism on improbability grounds alone.

By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?

No I mean law courts, where cases of claimed plagiarism are ultimately decided.

And then:

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.

Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named?

Porter is here telling a FALSEHOOD, as part of his continued attempts to "poison the well" against me:
"Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say." ("Poisoning the well," Wikipedia, 10 December 2013).
I ALWAYS made it clear on Porter's blog that I did not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS the hacker. For example, in my post, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," in a part of which is what I posted as a comment on Porter's blog, I stated:
"While I do not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS a hacker, nor that his untimely death WAS suicide, let alone an execution by the KGB designed to look like suicide, it nevertheless is worth keeping in mind as a possible piece of the jigsaw." (emphasis original)

So, as Porter KNOWS, my claim has ALWAYS been TENTATIVE that Timothy W. Linick was the computer hacker, or one of the computer hackers, who according to my proposal duped the three radiocarbon dating laboratories at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford by modifying the program in each of the three AMS control console computers, so as to substitute the Shroud's first or early century radiocarbon date, with bogus dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325, only ~25 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. And absent a "smoking gun," such as an admission or confession by someone in a position to know, my claims that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) that Linick was that hacker (or one of the hackers), might always have to remain tentative.

Evidence, this time?

Porter is here telling another FALSEHOOD in a further attempt to discredit me. In my comment(s) that I posted to his blog (see above post), I provided some EVIDENCE (albeit not proof) that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (or one of the hackers).

And I have since found more EVIDENCE (albeit not proof) that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (or one of the hackers).

But I am waiting to the end of this series to post that additional evidence. Firstly, because it is a more logical development of my argument to produce the evidence that there was a hacker (or hackers) before producing the evidence which identifies the hacker (or hackers); and secondly, I am hoping that more evidence comes to light which either further points to, or eliminates, Timothy W. Linick being the hacker (or one of the hackers); or indeed falsifies my entire "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" proposal.

However, even if I do prove, beyond reasonable doubt: 1) that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong; 2) that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65; 3) that the fraud was perpetrated by a computer hacker (or hackers); and 4) the hacker (or one of the hackers) was Timothy W. Linick; I do not expect Porter to accept it. He is, I believe, philosophically, and/or psychologically, unable to accept any evidence that would close off debate on the endless "possibilities" bearing on the authenticity or otherwise of the Turin Shroud!

My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it. On his blog Porter bent over backwards to be favourable towards anti-authenticists but was unfavourable towards unequivocal pro-authenticists like me.

That included allowing members of his blog to defame me continually, without him lifting a finger to protect me or admonish the defamers. One of my professors at university ~40 years ago gave me some wise advice which I have never forgotten:

"Don't believe what people SAY, but only what they DO."
And what Dan Porter DOES is effectively anti-authenticist. That's OK, as long as his readers are aware of it. And since there are many anti-authenticists on Porter's blog, who rarely argue with him, it seems those anti-authenticists at least, are aware of it!

In my last comment on Porter's blog, I said that if anyone (including Porter) wants to post a comment on my blog responding on behalf of Porter, or critical of Porter, they can do so. However, unlike Porter, it is part of my long-standing, stated policies that I do not to allow offensive or sub-standard comments. This includes offensive comments against Porter.

Also, unlike Porter, it is part of those policies not to allow extensive debate on my blog, but to normally only allow one comment per person under a particular post. I see my blog as more like a newspaper allowing letters to the editor, one letter per reader per issue, than a discussion board, allowing multiple `letters' on any one issue from individual readers. See "What are the Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs?"

2 comments:

Steve Calovich said...

Mr Porter should rename his blog, "The X Files".

Stephen E. Jones said...

Steve

>Mr Porter should rename his blog, "The X Files".

You may not be aware that since November 4, 2014 it has been my policy that:

"... mentioning of Dan Porter, and his blog, and his blog's members in connection with Porter's blog, is henceforth off-topic on my blog."

I further advised of this policy in my comments of: November 14, 2014; November 16, 2014; and May 31, 2015

My reason is given in my November 16 comment that I don't want to provide `grist for the mill' of Porter's blog:

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"As I have stated ... it is my policy ... that: `... mentioning of Dan Porter, and his blog, and his blog's members in connection with Porter's blog, is henceforth off-topic on my blog.' ... This includes you [Porter] , or your members, making comments on my blog for the purpose of providing `grist for the mill' of your blog.
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Which in turn is based on my objection stated in my post, of May 8, 2014: "`The Letter from Alexius Comnenus': My response to Dan Porter," that "Porter is a pirate who steals the hard work and intellectual property of others" including me:

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"Again Porter has scavenged my work, rather than do original work of his own. As I have said before, ... Porter is a pirate who steals the hard work and intellectual property of others ... But Porter is evidently untroubled by the ethics of parasiting off the work of others, despite it being against their expressed wishes, to feed his `gossip column' blog."
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My policy above is aimed at preventing Porter and his readers from starting a comments debate on my blog and then cross-posting it to Porter's blog, to provide `grist for its mill'.

Stephen E. Jones
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MY POLICIES Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. Except that comments under my latest post can be on any Shroud-related topic without being off-topic. I normally allow only one comment per individual under each one of my posts.