Monday, August 6, 2018

3 July 1988: On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud

© Stephen E. Jones[1]

This is the sixth and final installment of part #12, "3 July 1988," of my series, "On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud." For more information about this series, see part #1. I am still over a month behind, but I will catch up (since the next day is 13 October 1988) and then post each day in the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as near to its 30th anniversary as possible. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated.

[Index #1] [Previous: 06May88 #11] [Next: 13Oct88 #13]

3 July 1988 In his column in the London Sunday Telegraph, hist-orian Kenneth Rose (1924-214) wrote of the

[Right (enlarge)[2]: The late Kenneth Rose, who "never married"[3], was the first to leak on 3 July 1988 that the carbon dating of the Shroud would be "medieval"[4].]

radiocarbon dating of the Shroud[5], "In spite of the intense secrecy surrounding the investigation I hear signs that the linen cloth has been proved to be mediaeval"[6]. But only Arizona laboratory had completed its dating[7] and Oxford had not even started[8]. The story was repeated by other news media around the world that radiocarbon dating had shown that the Shroud was "medieval" and therefore a "fraud"[9].

On 8 June Arizona laboratory completed its dating of the Shroud and forwarded its results to Dr. Michael Tite of the British Museum[10]. Tite received Zurich laboratory's results on 22 July[11]. Then on 8 August Oxford laboratory completed its dating and sent its results to Tite[12]. So Oxford had ample time to learn the results from the other two labs and/or the British Museum[13], and adjust its measurements accordingly. Which was possible:

"In another interview Hall ... added: `Having only three labs doesn't undermine the validity of the dating. I think it was absolutely the right decision. You only need one lab to get it badly wrong to confuse everything, and the chances of that are higher with seven than with three. That was hardly the way the unchosen saw the matter, and privately they were saying the three [Arizona, Zurich and Oxford] were going to make certain they agreed - no matter how long it took"[14].

"On 25 April at 11 am, Harbottle called. He had learned from Otlet that the shroud samples had been removed on 21 April 1988 ... He said that, according to Otlet, there was no possibility this time of any outliers because the three labs would consult together so the answers would come out the same. I must say I thought that Otlet was being either paranoid or surprisingly cynical"[15].
Especially when considering that riding on a "medieval" carbon dating result was a million pounds donation to the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory[16] [see future "24 March 1989"]!

Table 2 of the 1989 Nature paper showed that Oxford's results were much older than those of the other two laboratories[17], and if Oxford's results had been consistent with theirs the result would have overlapped even more the first appearance of the Shroud in undisputed history at Lirey, France in c.1355:

"Father Peter Rinaldi ... was also disturbed by the inconsistencies of the 1988 results as published in Nature in 1989. The Arizona and Switzerland lab dates gave a later age (late 14th century) than the final published results. The Oxford lab dates came in late and conveniently low enough to skew the average of the three labs to an early 14th century date instead of a late 14th century date. Had the Oxford lab been consistent with the other two labs, the late 14th century results would clearly have made the whole procedure erroneous since we know that the Holy Shroud had to have been in existence in the early 14th Century since it was exhibited in 1355 in France"[18]!
See my three laboratories' year-dates bar chart below, based on Table 2 and Figure 1 in the 1989 Nature paper [see 18Nov15]:

[Above (enlarge): As can be seen above, Oxford's year-dates of the Shroud are much older than those of Arizona and Zurich. These years are from Table 2 (e.g. Arizona 646±31, i.e. 1950-646 = 1304 -31 = 1273 and 1304 + 31 = 1335) but it is not clear how Tite obtained "1260-1390" from them.]

in which it is clear that if Oxford's dates had been more consistent with those of Arizona and Zurich, then the Shroud would have dated much more recent than 1260-1390, which range already exceeded the Shroud's first undisputed appearance at Lirey in c.1355 by ~35 years!

Sox completed his book, "The Shroud Unmasked" [Right [19].] in "August 1988," according to the date in its Introduction[20]. In the book Sox quoted "Timothy Linick," the alleged leaker to Sox of Arizona's first "1350" date [see 22Feb16a and below], and the alleged primary hacker of the Shroud's radiocarbon dating [see 22Feb16b]:

"Timothy Linick, a University of Arizona research scientist, said: `If we show the material to be medieval that would definitely mean that it is not authentic. If we date it back 2000 years, of course, that still leaves room for argument. It would be the right age - but is it the real thing?'"[21].
That was despite Linick (along with all those present at Arizona's first dating on 6 May 1988) having signed a confidentiality agreement:
"... not to communicate the results to anyone-spouse, children, friends, press, etc., until that time when results are generally available to the public"[22].
On the same page (147 - see below) of his book, Sox (who wasn't there) described Arizona's AMS radiocarbon dating process as fully computerised and that Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009), the co-inventor of AMS radiocarbon dating[23] and the unofficial leader of the project[24] had a bet with his partner Shirley Brignall (who also wasn't there at the dating), that the Shroud would date closer to 1000 years than 2000 years old:
"So was Shirley Brignall ["going for 2000 years"]. She and Gove had a bet. Gove said 1000 years although he hoped for twice that age. Whoever lost was to buy the other a pair of cowboy boots. The calculations were produced on the computer, and displayed on the screen. Even the dendrochronological correction was immediately available. All eyes were on the screen. The date would be when the flax used for the linen relic was harvested. Gove would be taking cowboy boots back to Rochester"[25].
Gove, who was present as a guest at Arizona's first dating of the Shroud, and had signed the same confidentiality agreement as Linick, admitted that he breached that agreement and told Brignall that the Shroud had dated "1350"[26]. Moreover, on the last page of his book Sox had stated:
"Section XIX Most of the observations in this section come from Harry Gove"[27].
But that section (or chapter) begins on page 143 with the arrival of Gove and his partner Shirley Brignall in Tucson the day before Arizona laboratory's first dating of the Shroud on 6 May 1988, and ends on page 147 with the AMS computer's calculations of the Shroud's age having been displayed on the computer's screen and that Gove won his bet with Brignall that the Shroud's age was nearer his 1000 years old against her 2000 years old (see below). So Gove had also broken his confidentiality by telling Sox, in effect, that the Shroud's radiocarbon age was medieval. However, Gove had not told Sox that the Shroud had dated "1350" (see below).

On 26 August the London Evening Standard ran as its front-page story, "Shroud of Turin Really is a Fake"[28], with an accompanying article by a Cambridge University librarian Richard Luckett, who stated

[Right (enlarge): "Dr Richard Luckett has been the Pepys Librarian at Magdalene College, Cambridge, since 1982 ... He says: `I'll just be having a quiet dinner with a friend on my birthday'"[29]. Note that Luckett's birthday is 1 July and Rose's article was two days later on 3 July! That is, Rose and Luckett allegedly heard from Sox [see below] at Luckett's birthday party on 1 July 1988 that the Shroud's radiocarbon date was "1350" and therefore "medieval." [see below and 15Aug17] that "a possible connection between Sox, Rose and Luckett was that they were part of an informal network of homosexuals").]

of the Shroud's radiocarbon dating that, "a probable date of about 1350 looks likely"[30] and that "laboratories are rather leaky institutions"[31]. This generated another worldwide round of media stories[32], yet no one involved in the Shroud's radiocarbon dating had even heard of Luckett[33], nor knew how he had obtained his information[34]. When Ian Wilson phoned Luckett and I asked him whether the Rev. David Sox had been his source, Luckett "hastily changed the subject"[35]!

On 9 September an Associated Press story appeared in Gove's local Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, which quoted Luckett, "I had an absolutely marvellous leak from one of the laboratories and it wasn't Oxford"[36]. Up to then Gove had assumed, along with others[37], that Cambridge's Luckett had learned his "1350" date from someone at Oxford laboratory[38]. But Oxford's Prof. Hall was quoted in the same article, to the effect that "1350" was not Oxford's date[39]. That, and Luckett's statement that the "1350" leak did not come from Oxford, made Gove realise that "it might have come from someone who was present at Arizona during the first measurement" as Linick had been:

"I must say I wondered about Luckett's date of 1350 because it was the date Donahue announced to me when I was present at the first radiocarbon measurement on the shroud in 6 May 1988 ... I still assumed Luckett had said he got the number from Oxford. When I read that he claimed he got it from one of the other two labs I worried that it might have come from someone who was present at Arizona during the first measurement"[40].
But when Gove read page 147 of Sox's book, after its official launch on 15 October (see future "15 October 1988"), he would have realised that

[Right (enlarge): Page 147 of Sox's 1988 book which described the AMS dating of the Shroud as being fully computerised (lower), and also where Sox quoted "Timothy Linick, a University of Arizona ... scientist" (upper).]

Linick was the leaker to Sox of Arizona's first "1350" date. So in his book published eight years later in 1996, Gove (as well as the other laboratory leaders - see 29Mar16) was covering up that Linick was the leaker of that "1350" date! If not them also covering up that Linick was the hacker whose program had generated the Shroud's bogus "1260-1390" radiocarbon date!

Then on 18 September the London Sunday Times published a front-page story with the headline: "Official: The Turin Shroud is a Fake"[41]. The article claimed that, "all three labs had independently placed the age of the linen in the same period of medieval history" and it concluded that, "The shroud is undoubtedly the work of a brilliant medieval hoaxer"[42]. After Wilson:

"... complained to the Sunday Times Editor with particular regard to the `official' headline. This prompted a conciliatory phone call from the Science Correspondent who when challenged directly, admitted that his source had been the Revd. David Sox. He said he had in front of him the Revd Sox's already complete book about the Shroud's mediaeval date, awaiting publication the moment this news becomes formally released"[43]!
So on 23 September in a letter to British Society for the Turin Shroud members, Wilson publicly concluded that Sox was the secondary source of all the leaks of the Shroud's "medieval" and "1350" dates, and that "his `inside' information ... can only have come from Arizona or Zurich" laboratories
"It seems clear that ... the true source of possibly all the leaks is the single non-English clerical gentleman [the American Rev. David Sox] whose identity will now be self-evident. This individual's means of obtaining his `inside' information (which can only have come from Arizona or Zurich), and his motives for flouting the confidentiality that all others have respected, can only be guessed at. His only explanation to me was that he `thinks' he knows the result by a `fluke'. Not being party to the same source(s), I can neither confirm nor deny the information's truth, only deplore the insidious and underhand means by which it has been disseminated"[44].
On that same day, 23 September, Sox phoned Gove to complain that Wilson had charged him with being the source of all the leaks, which Sox denied[45]. But tellingly Gove did not write that he believed Sox[46], On the contrary Gove wrote that Arizona's Doug Donahue and Paul Damon, as well as Turin's Luigi Gonella, had each come to the conclusion that "Sox was the source of the leaks"[47]. The next day, 24 September, in La Stampa, Sox was quoted as admitting he was partly to blame for the leaks: "May I be damned if I were to let the entire blame fall on myself"[48].

However, in a letter of 12 October 1988 to Fr Peter Rinaldi, copied to Gove, Sox stated that, neither Woelfli, the Director of Zurich laboratory, nor Gove, had told him "the results" (i.e. Arizona's "1350" date)[49]. But again (see above), when Gove read page 147 of Sox's book, he would have realised that it was, "Timothy Linick, a University of Arizona research scientist" who had leaked Arizona's "1350" date to Sox. But Gove concealed that from the readers of his 1996 book. That is, Gove (and presumably the other laboratory leaders), were (and are) involved in a cover up, that Linick was the leaker of Arizona's first "1350" date to Sox! If not also involved in a cover up that Linick was the hacker whose program, installed on Arizona, Zurich and Oxford's AMS computers, had generated the Shroud's false "1260-1390" radiocarbon date!

To be continued in the next part #13 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to quote from any part of it (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page. [return]
2. "Kenneth Rose - obituary," The Telegraph, 29 January 2014. [return]
3. Shawcross, W., 2014, "Kenneth Rose: we'll miss his wit, warmth and wry sense of humour," Telegraph, 1 February. [return]
4. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, pp.272-273; Garza-Valdes, L.A., 1998, "The DNA of God?," Hodder & Stoughton: London, p.181. [return]
5. Gove, 1996, p.273. [return]
6. Wilson, I., 1988, "On the Recent `Leaks'," British Society for the Turin Shroud, 23 September, pp.1-2, 1; Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.90; Ruffin, C.B., 1999, "The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church's Controversial Relic," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.118. [return]
7. Gove, 1996, p.273; 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.310. [return]
8. Wilson, 1988, p.1; Gove, 1996, pp.272. [return]
9. Gove, 1996, p.272. [return]
10. Wilson, 1998, p.310. [return]
11. Wilson, 1998, p.310; Gove, 1996, p.274. [return]
12. Gove, 1996, p.277; Wilson, 1998, p.310; Guerrera, V., 2001, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.131. [return]
13. Guerrera, 2001, p.131. [return]
14. Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," The Canterbury Press: Scoresby, VIC Australia, pp.134-135. [return]
15. Gove, 1996, p.252. [return]
16. Wilson, 1998, p.311; Wilson, 2010, p.89. [return]
17. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, 613. [return]
18. de Vincenzo, V., 1994, "12 reasons why I cannot accept the carbon-14 test results on the Holy Shroud of Turin," Shroud News, No 82, April, pp.3-13, 11 (typos corrected). [return]
19. Sox, 1988, front cover. [return]
20. Sox, 1988, p.6. [return]
21. Sox, 1988, p.147. [return]
22. Gove, 1996, p.262. [return]
23. Gove, 1996, p.314. [return]
24. Sox, 1988, p.95; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, pp.192-193. [return]
25. Sox, 1988, p.147. [return]
26. Gove, 1996, p.265. [return]
27. Sox, 1988, p.160. [return]
28. Wilson, 1988, p.1; Wilson, 1998, p.310; Ruffin, 1999, p.118; Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.89. [return]
29. "Birthdays: Dr Richard Luckett," The Times, 1 July 2010. [return]
30. Wilson, 1988, p.1; "Newspaper Story Stirs New Furor Over Shroud of Turin," Los Angeles Times, August 27, 1988; Gove, 1996, pp.276-277; Wilson, 1998, p.310; Ruffin, 1999, p.118; Wilson, 2010, p.89; Radford, T., 2015, "From the archive, 27 August 1988: Turin Shroud leak starts unholy row," The Guardian, 27 August. [return]
31. Wilson, 1988, p.1; Gove, 1996, p.277; Wilson, 2010, p.89; Radford, 2015. [return]
32. Wilson, 1988, p.1. [return]
33. Wilson, 1988, p.1; Morgan, R., 1988, "World Reaction to Carbon Dating a Farce," Shroud News, No 49, October, pp.3-18, 7; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.92; Wilson, 1998, p.310; Wilson, 2010, p.89. [return]
34. Wilson, 1988, p.1. [return]
35. Wilson, 1988, p.1. [return]
36. Gove, 1996, p.272. [return]
37. Gove, 1996, p.277; Radford, 2015. [return]
38. Gove, 1996, p.277. [return]
39. Ibid. [return]
40. Ibid. [return]
41. Wilson, 1988, pp.1-2; Wilson, 1998, p.310. [return]
42. Gove, 1996, p.282. [return]
43. Wilson, 1988, p.2. [return]
44. Ibid. [return]
45. Gove, 1996, p.281. [return]
46. Ibid. [return]
47. Ibid. [return]
48. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.95. [return]
49. Gove, 1996, p.283. [return]

Posted: 6 August 2018. Updated: 11 August 2018.

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