As previously advised, I had decided to terminate my, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" series.
[Above: Prof. E. Hall (Oxford), Dr. M. Tite (British Museum) and Dr. R. Hedges (Oxford) announcing on 13 October 1988 that the Shroud of Turin had been radiocarbon dated to "1260-1390!".]
See my last post in that series, "Revised #5," for the background to this new series. I will continue documenting the historical evidence for the Shroud's existence from the 13th to the 1st century in my "The Shroud of Turin" series when I get to "4. History of the Shroud" and "5. Art and the Shroud. I am now prepared to call my proposal a theory.
1. THE 1988 RADIOCARBON DATING OF THE SHROUD AS "AD 1260-1390." From 6 May-6 August 1988, the Shroud of Turin was radiocarbon dated by laboratories at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford. Their results, published on 16 February 1989, in the scientific journal Nature, claimed that "the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390":
"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. ... The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390..."• The midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 ±65 years. The midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 plus or minus 65 years. Which `just happens' to be 25-30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France in the 1350s. But according to Prof. Jacques Evin, then Director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory at the University of Lyon, who contributed a 13th century control sample for the dating, it is not possible for radiocarbon dating to be "closer than a span of 200 years":
"Many people expect the carbon 14 dating of the Shroud to be very precise. One must immediately undeceive them and make it clear that in the best of conditions and after averaging the three results given by the laboratories, there can be nothing closer than a span of 200 years. It will not be possible to pinpoint where the exact age of the Shroud can be situated within the span ...".• The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud of Turin is authentic. For example, building on the work of others, I presented historical and artistic evidence in my posts, "Revised #1," "Revised #2 (Vignon markings)," "Revised #3" and "Revised #4 which proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud existed in the early 13th century (c. 1225) to the mid-10th century (c. 950), well before its earliest 1260 radiocarbon date.
• Therefore the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as AD 1260-1390 was wrong. The claim was therefore wrong that the results of the 1988 radiocarbon dating "provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390." Even Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, who as "C.R. Bronk" was a signatory to that 1989 Nature paper, has admitted that, there is a lot of other evidence that suggests that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow:
"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information".Philip Ball, an editor for the journal Nature (the same journal which in 1989 claimed the Shroud was "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1389) admitted in 2005 that, "the shroud is a remarkable artefact ... It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made" (my emphasis):
"And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made. It does not seem to have been painted, at least with any known historical pigments".And again in 2008, Ball wrote, "despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever" (my emphasis):
"It's fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling".• But the improbability that the Shroud being 1st century has a radiocarbon date of 13th/14th century is "astronomical":
"... on Thursday, 13 October  in the British Museum's Press Room ... were ... Dr Michael Tite, with the Oxford radiocarbon-dating laboratory's Professor Edward Hall and Hall's chief technician, Dr Robert Hedges. ... their only `prop' was a blackboard behind them on which someone had rather crudely scrawled: `1260-1390!' ... as Dr Tite explained, these numbers represented radiocarbon dating's calculation, to a ninety-five per cent degree of probability, of the upper and lower dates of when the Shroud's flax had been harvested. Representing an average of the laboratories' findings ... they indicated that the Shroud's raw flax had most likely been made into linen on or about the year AD 1325, give or take sixty-five years either way ... The Shroud simply could not possibly be any true shroud of the historical Jesus. For as those on the platform collectively insisted, the odds against this were now `astronomical'".This was confirmed by Prof. Harry Gove, leader of the Shroud's radiocarbon dating project, who pointed out that the probability that the Shroud's radiocarbon date is between 1260 and 1390, yet it's actual date is the first century, 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".Indeed, Prof. Hall stated that it is "totally impossible" (his emphasis) that the Shroud has a radiocarbon date of "1260-1390" and yet its actual date is "AD 100" (or less):
"Professor Edward Hall, who was responsible for the Oxford laboratory's dating, says in a letter in answer to my enquiry about these earlier dates:• Conventional explanations of the discrepancy don't work. Attempts by Shroud pro-authenticists to explain away the discrepancy between the Shroud being 1st century, yet its radiocarbon date is 1260-1390, don't work. For example, as Prof. Gove pointed out, all contamination theories fail because the amount of additional new carbon required to change the radiocarbon date of a 1st century Shroud to one that dates from 1325 ±65 years, would be about 79% of the Shroud's carbon, which is "preposterous":`It is all a matter of statistics! There is a five per cent chance of the date lying outside the 1260-1390 bracket. 1237 (for example) would indeed be possible but only a one in fifty chance. It is when you get to dates of AD 100 where it becomes totally impossible'".
"How much organic carbon contamination was required to change 0 AD to 1325 AD? The answer, mentioned previously in this chapter, was that if the contamination occurred as a result of the fire in 1532, then 79% of the shroud would have been composed of such carbon contamination and only 21% would have been actual carbon from the shroud linen. Such a possibility is preposterous, as anyone viewing the shroud samples before they were cleaned can attest".Similarly, Benford and Marino's invisible reweave repair theory requires that the repair be "60 percent of the C-14 sample" (my emphasis):
"The exact ratio of patch versus original threads is not determinable by photographic analysis alone; however, a well-supported estimate, based upon weave-pattern changes, has been posited reflecting approximately 60 percent of the C-14 sample consisting of 16th Century threads while approximately 40 percent were 1st Century in origin"The Oxford radiocarbon laboratory did find some old cotton threads in their sample, as reported in the December 1988 issue of the journal Textile Horizons, but they were only "two or three fibres". The then Director of the laboratory, Prof. Edward Hall, in a letter published in the January 1990 issue of Textile Horizons, estimated that it would require "65 per cent of the mass of the shroud ... to give a date of 1350 to a fabric originally dating from the time of Christ" but his estimate was there was "less than 0.1 per cent" of all such contamination in the Shroud (my emphasis):
"Calculations show that a modern contamination amounting to 65 per cent of the mass of the shroud would be necessary to give a date of 1350 to a fabric originally dating from the time of Christ ... We believe that any such contamination would have been less than 0.1 per cent".Benford and Marino claimed (or implied) that the different colour of the Shroud sample area in the "Blue Quad Mosaic" photograph supported their theory that the sample area was 60% 16th century cotton.
But as can be seen, the wrinkles in the Shroud and the radiocarbon dating sample area are the same green colour. And as Benford and Marino candidly admitted, "it is possible that the Quad Mosaic's chemical-color signature ... may represent carbon" (my emphasis):
"As such, it is possible that the Quad Mosaic's chemical-color signature reflecting the medium to very dark green on the charred portions of the linen Shroud may represent carbon".But "carbon" includes all contamination with younger carbon, not only cotton threads. And since the wrinkles in the Shroud fabric are the same green colour as the Shroud sample area, it is likely both are the result of ordinary contamination by carbon-containing grime, sweat, oils, etc. Particularly since this corner is among the most contaminated parts of the Shroud, it being one of the corners from which the cloth was held by "hundreds of sweaty hands" at Shroud expositions down the centuries. Benford and Marino concluded with another frank admission that, "it is impossible to quantify the amount of surface carbon, other contaminates, and/or intruded newer material in the radiocarbon sampling area based upon the Quad Mosaic" (my emphasis):
"In conclusion, it is impossible to quantify the amount of surface carbon, other contaminates, and/or intruded newer material in the radiocarbon sampling area based upon the Quad Mosaic or other data presented in this paper. Similarly, it is impossible to determine if either the surface carbon, or the manipulation it represents, had any impact on the 1988 radiocarbon dating".So absent fraud, which includes "making results appear just a little ... more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit":
"The term `scientific fraud' is often assumed to mean the wholesale invention of data. But this is almost certainly the rarest kind of fabrication. Those who falsify scientific data probably start and succeed with the much lesser crime of improving upon existing results. Minor and seemingly trivial instances of data manipulation-such as making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit the case-are probably far from unusual in science. But there is only a difference in degree between `cooking' the data and inventing a whole experiment out of thin air".it would be a miracle if the Shroud being first century `just happened', by a combination of chance factors, like contamination and medieval repairs, etc, to have a radiocarbon date of 1325 +/- 65, only 25-30 years before the Shroud's first appearance in undisputed history.
- Each of the three laboratories' AMS control console computer was hacked, so as to replace the Shroud's first (or early because of contamination) century date, with bogus dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325.
- The hacker was allegedly Arizona laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), who with self-confessed KGB hacker Karl Koch (1965–1989), were both allegedly working for the KGB to hack the laboratories' AMS control console computers, and the KGB allegedly executed them both to prevent them talking, within days of each other, if not on the same day.
Being a theory, not a fact, I may need to modify my theory (including abandoning it altogether as false) as new information comes to light. I am still using the term "hacker" (singular) instead of "hackers" (plural) because Linick was allegedly the primary hacker and Koch's role was only secondary, to allegedly physically access the Zurich and Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratories' AMS control console computers and run a program supplied by Linick. And also, Koch's role is not essential to my theory. If it turned out that Koch could not possibly have personally travelled to Zurich and Oxford to access their radiocarbon laboratories computers, it would not falsify my theory. My theory includes Koch because of the striking coincidence that they were both allegedly hackers working for the KGB and both allegedly committed suicide within days of each other, if not on the same day.
Continued in part #2
1. This post is copyright. No one may copy from this post or any of my posts on this my The Shroud of Turin blog without them first asking and receiving my written permission. Except that I grant permission, without having to ask me, for anyone to copy the title and one paragraph only (including one associated graphic) of any of my posts, provided that if they repost it on the Internet a link to my post from which it came is included. See my post of May 8, 2014. [return]
2. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.7 & pl.3b. [return]
3. Guerrera, V., 2000, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.131. [return]
4. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
5. Wilson, 1998, p.7. [return]
6. Wilson, 1998, p.7. [return]
7. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.3. [return]
8. Evin, J., 1988, "In anticipation of carbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 27, June. [return]
9. Wilson, 1991, p.3. [return]
10. "Contacts," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 2 May 2014. [return]
11. Ramsey, C.B., 2008, "Shroud of Turin," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March. [return]
12. Ball, P., 2005, "To know a veil," Nature news, 28 January. [return]
13. Ball, P., 2008, "Material witness: Shrouded in mystery," Nature Materials, Vol. 7, No. 5, May, p.349. [return]
14. Wilson, 1998, pp.6-7. [return]
15. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.303. [return]
16. Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, pp.114-115. Emphasis original. [return]
17. Gove, 1996, p.303. [return]
18. Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G., 2008, "Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin Shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol. 26, No. 4, July-August. [return]
19. "Rogue fibres found in the Shroud," Textile Horizons, December 1988, p.13. [return]
20. Hall, E.T., 1990, "Letter to Textile Horizons, January, in Wilson, 1991, p.177. [return]
21. Benford & Marino, 2008. [return]
22. Benford & Marino, 2008, pp.1 & 4. [return]
23. Benford & Marino, 2008, p.7. [return]
24. Wilson, 1998, pp.191-192. [return]
25. Benford & Marino, 2008, p.22. [return]
26. Broad, W.A. & Wade, N.J., 1982, "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science," Simon and Schuster: New York NY, p.20. [return]
Posted: 24 May 2014. Updated: 20 September 2016.