Sunday, October 22, 2017

10 October 1987: On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud

© Stephen E. Jones[1]

This is part #6, "10 October 1987," 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, Index. As explained in part #1, the first few significant days 30 years ago have already passed, but with this post I have almost caught up and when I do I will thereafter publish each day's post as near to its 30th anniversary as possible. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated.

[Index #1] [Previous: 29Jun87 #5] [Next: 18Nov87 #7]

10 October 1987 The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero (r. 1977-1989) [Below right[2].], on the advice of, and presumably written by[3], his scientific adviser, Professor Luigi Gonella (1930–2007)[4], wrote to all the participants in the 1986 Turin Workshop, including the seven laboratories which were to have dated the Shroud [see 27Apr87], advising them that only three of their number: Arizona, Oxford and Zurich, had been chosen to carry out the dating[5]. This confirmed Gonella's statement in La Stampa of 27 April 1987 [see 27Apr87] and Cardinal Casaroli's leaked letter of 21 May 1987 to Cardinal Ballestrero [see 29Jun87].

Now that the seven laboratories using two different methods had been reduced to three laboratories using the one AMS method, the alleged hacker, Arizona laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (see below), would have realised that it was feasible for him to write a program to be installed

[Left: Photo of Linick and report that "He died at the age of forty-two on 4 June 1989, in very unclear circumstances"[6]. In fact Linick "shot himself" (or so it was assumed) but left no suicide note [see 22Feb16]. That was on 4 June 1989, only one day after hacker Karl Koch's burnt body was publicly identified by West German police on 3 June 1989 [see again 22Feb16]. According to my hacker theory, Linick's "suicide," like Koch's, was murder by the KGB made to look like suicide, to prevent them publicly confessing their part in the Soviet sponsored hacking of the Shroud's 1988 radiocarbon dating, which produced the `too good to be true' 1260-1390 = 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date of the authentic first-century Shroud.]

on the AMS computers at the three laboratories (which were effectively clones[7]), that would substitute the Shroud's actual carbon-14 dates with computer-generated dates, which would make the Shroud seem to date from just before it's first appearance in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in c.1355[8]. [See 22Feb16]

The key points of Ballestrero's letter (the text of which is online) were (in bold): ■ It was based on, "positive instructions from the Holy See [Pope John Paul II] personally signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State [Cardinal Casaroli-see again 29Jun87] on how to proceed to the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin"[9]. Prof. Harry Gove's attempts to sideline Turin by getting Rome, in the person of Prof. Carlos Chagas Filho, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, to take full control of the radiocarbon date of the Shroud[10] had utterly failed!

■ The "choice of the three laboratories among the seven ... was made ... on a criterion of internationality and consideration for the specific experience in the field of archaeological radiocarbon dating, taking also into account the required sample size"[11]. On the criterion of "the required sample size", the non-AMS laboratories Harwell and Brookhaven would need two to three times the amount of Shroud sample than the AMS laboratories[12]. From Turin's perspective, "reducing the amount of cloth to be taken was the principal consideration"[13]. for its departure from the 1986 Turin workshop protocol"[14]. This alone eliminated the non-AMS laboratories[15]. By the criterion of "specific experience in the field of archaeological radiocarbon dating," among the remaining AMS laboratories, Gove's Rochester and Gif-sur-Yvette in France had less than Arizona, Oxford and Zurich[16]. And the criterion of "internationality," meant only one laboratory each from the USA, England and Europe, leaving "the following laboratories ... selected: Radiocarbon Laboratory, University of Arizona"; "Research Laboratory for Archaeology, Oxford University"; and "Radiocarbon Laboratory, ETH, Zurich"[17].

■ "Professor Carlos Chagas, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, will be invited to be present at the operation as ... my personal guest"[18]. This meant that Chagas "would play no role at all"[19].

■ It is not "... necessary for representatives of the measurement laboratories to attend the sample-taking operation"[20]. Gove regarded this "as absolutely outrageous" and Sox as "shocking"[21].

■ "The decisions took more time to be worked out than originally wished, owing to ... (the) initiative of some participants in the workshop who stepped out of the radiocarbon field to oppose research proposals in other fields, with implications on the freedom of research of other scientists ..."[22]. Gove admitted that the Archbishop's "thinly veiled accusation that we were attempting to prevent STURP from carrying out its scientific investigations was quite accurate"[23]! [see also 27Apr87, 15Jun87]. But having just admitted that Ballestrero's criticism of him regarding STURP was "quite accurate," in the same paragraph, Gove claimed that they were "false" and he "resented" them: "I had never before been directly or indirectly chastised by a cardinal and I resented the falseness of his charges"[24]!

■ "Besides, when the competent Authorities, advised me they deemed we ought to proceed with three samples ... Not only Turin's Gonella but also "a group of scientific consultants of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences" had advised that, "[c]utting seven pieces would have been too destructive"[25]), "...a concerted initiative was taken to counter the decision, with the outcome of a telegram [see 13Sep17] "... sent to H. E. the Cardinal Secretary of State and myself by some participants in the workshop, a telegram where the meaning of my introductory words at the workshop was heavily misinterpreted"[26]. The telegram sent to Cardinal Ballestrero on 6 July 1987 by Gove on behalf of the seven laboratories [see 29Jun87] quoted from Ballestrero's introductory words at the 1986 Turin workshop:

"Your Eminence, In your opening statements to the delegates of the Turin Workshop on Radiocarbon Dating of the Turin Shroud, you charged us with designing 'a valid and acceptable project for at last carrying out the radiocarbon dating of the shroud cloth'"[27]
Gove commented on this:
"One had to concede that only he could know what he meant to say in his introductory remarks but I think we correctly reported what he actually did say"[28].
But this is another example of the egotistical Gove[29] being blind to the effects of his own words and actions [see 07Jul17]. Clearly by "acceptable" Cardinal Ballestrero meant acceptable to all participants in the workshop: the laboratories, STURP, the Turin Archdiocese and the Rome Pontifical Academy of Science. But by Gove's own account in his book of his words and actions in the workshop, he adopted a confrontational and divide-and-conquer approach, riding roughshod over both STURP and Turin's Gonella, to achieve a result that was acceptable only to the seven laboratories!

■ "After further deliberation and scrutiny of the situation with the Cardinal Secretary of State, we are now proceeding on the already decided terms, that I was just going to write you when I received the above quoted telegram"[30]. Gove further commented that, "It was also clear that the cable we had sent to Ballestrero had really annoyed him intensely"[31]. When he first learned that his laboratory, Rochester, had been excluded, Gove conceded that, he "should probably take a course in diplomacy"[32]. Indeed! In response to Gove's blatant disregard of, and active working against, Cardinal Ballestrero's request for a protocol "acceptable" to all the particpants to emerge from the Turin workshop, Ballestrero would have been will within his rights to suspend the dating until all the participants came back to him with a consensus protocol!

■ "In consideration of the great attention from the public and the press that all of us know that this measurement is attracting, it seems to me worthwhile to stress again what I said in my opening address at the Turin workshop, about the purely scientific character of this enterprise, which does not mean to, nor could, address any issue related to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nor do I mean with this analysis to charge the laboratories that have been selected with the task of 'authenticating' the Shroud of Turin: the analysis is strictly meant to ascertain the radiocarbon date of its cloth as an objective datum of the highest importance for evaluating the complex issues of its authenticity and conservation"[33]. It is true that "the radiocarbon date of its [the Shroud's] cloth," if it turned out to be medieval (as it did), would not "address any issue related to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," since the Shroud could be a fake but Jesus' resurrection be true (as the majority of Christians maintain, including me for ~40 years). But the same does not hold for "'authenticating' the Shroud of Turin." If the Shroud's "radiocarbon date ... as an objective datum" was truly medieval, then the Shroud could not be authentic. But since the evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud is authentic, it is the "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390"[34] radiocarbon date of the Shroud which cannot be "an objective datum"!

■ "As we move on to the executive phase of the project of radiocarbon dating the Shroud of Turin, I would like to thank again all those who brought positive contributions to it, and to offer my heartfelt good wish to those who will undertake it, trusting that they will carry it out with utmost scientific rigour in order to add this important objective datum to the scientific quest that has long been growing on the illustrious image entrusted to my stewardship. Anastasio Cardinal Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin, Pontifical Custodian of the Shroud of Turin"[35]. Not "thanks to all participants" but "thanks to all those who brought positive contributions." Evidently aimed at Gove whose attitude in the 1986 Turin workshop was negative towards STURP and Turin's Gonella[36]. For example:

"At a point later on in the workshop, a list of the participants was passed around for people to correct their addresses or make whatever changes they wanted. Several people did make changes, for example, Professor Alan D Adler of the Chemistry Department, Western Connecticut State University, removed his tame completely ... In the case of Adler, I suspected it was a case of playing hookey"[37].
This further shows Gove's negativity towards STURP, of which Alan D. Adler (1931-2000) was a representative. Adler did later attend the workshop as Gove even mentioned (p.153), so Adler simply may not have been able to attend the opening session and his name had been removed from that session's list by the workshop organisers.
"Dr Robert Dinegar gave as his address USA Shroud of Turin Research Project only, with no location. Finally, the person listed as Professor Steve Lukasik, from the J P Getty Conservation Institute, corrected his tame to Dr Stephen J Lukasik and gave as his address Shroud of Turin Research Project, USA, just as Dinegar had done ... I was a little surprised at the requested changes. Perhaps they reflected a slight embarrassment at indicating a connection between such esteemed organizations such as NASA (Canuto), Los Alamos National Laboratory (Dinegar) and Northrup (Lukasik), and the Turin Shroud"[38].
If Gove had not been so prejudiced against STURP, he might have realised that they were not at the workshop representing their employers but in a private capacity, and so the corrections were more accurate. Besides, "Professor Steve Lukasik, from the J P Getty Conservation Institute" presumably was the organisers' mistake, because there was a James Druzik of the J.P. Getty Museum who was to attend the workshop, as Gove actually mentions in his book (at pages 95 and 113, etc), and Gove knew that Lukasik was from Northrup.
"Lukasik ... is Vice President–Technology of the Northrup Corporation whose headquarters are in Los Angeles, California. Northrup is a manufacturer, among other things, of military aircraft, and supplies one of the fighter planes for the US Air Force. It is interesting that there are several 'warriors', including atom bomb builders from Los Alamos, connected with STURP. Perhaps it is some sort of compensation for their occupation that makes them take an interest in the 'Prince of Peace'" (i.e. Jesus - Isa 9:6)[39]
This is another example of Gove the agnostic's anti-Christian prejudice [see 31May17]. What does it matter, scientifically, that there were Christians at the workshop, who were fully qualified scientists working in the USA's defence industries, and who were also members of STURP? The implication of Gove's attitude is that the Shroud of Turin, a Christian relic, should only be studied by atheist/agnostics like him!

But by far the greatest failing of the workshop, which would completely invalidated it, was that Gove, Chagas and the laboratories completely ignored Gonella's unhappiness with the proposal that seven laboratories were needed, requiring seven samples:

"During much of this part of the discussion, Gonella made incoherent teeth grinding sounds from time to time. He was clearly not in favour of seven samples for seven labs. He was also clearly unhappy about the assumption that all seven labs be involved. Harbottle's statement that four labs would be unacceptably too few bothered him greatly. He asked whether this meant that all dating made on only one archaeological sample should be considered unreliable? ... Chagas tried to sum up by saying that we needed two controls from two different age populations plus a shroud sample for each of the seven labs. Gonella indicated he was very unhappy about this conclusion"[40].
Gonella again stated there was no scientific justification for seven laboratories taking seven samples:
"Gonella [spoke] ... As far as dating the shroud was concerned, Turin could have proceeded like any archaeologist in the field who wanted an object dated - just send shroud samples to a couple of labs of their choice ... But we had decided to proceed differently. He criticized the decision to involve seven labs. He said that 12½ cm2 would be the largest sample ever taken from the shroud. There was no technical justification for this many labs and this much sample. He said he did not understand why the labs had to be present at the sample taking to be able to put the samples in their pockets. Did we not trust the British Museum?"[41]
But again Gonella, representing the Custodian of the Shroud, who would in the end have the final say, was ignored by Chagas, Gove and the laboratories:
"The workshop reconvened at 2:45 pm [on 1 October 1986] and Chagas presented a summary: (1) This was the moment for carbon dating. (2) We would take a minimum amount of cloth to ensure rigorous scientific results and to ensure public credibility but would not include charred material. (3) For statistical purposes it was decided that 7 labs would be involved, 5 accelerator and 2 small-counter labs..."[42]

To be continued in the next part #7 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. "Ballestrero, Anastasio Alberto," Araldica, n.d. [return]
3. Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK, p.116 [return]
4. 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.307. [return]
5. Sox, 1988, p.115; Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.213; Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.40; Wilson, 1998, pp.5-6. 307; Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, p.169; Oxley, M., 2010, "The Challenge of the Shroud: History, Science and the Shroud of Turin," AuthorHouse: Milton Keynes UK, p.223; Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.87; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.166. [return]
6. Bonnet-Eymard, B., 2000, "The Holy Shroud is as Old as the Risen Jesus, IV. Caution! Danger!, The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, No 330, Online edition, May. [return]
7. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.178; Wilson, 2010, p.281. [return]
8. Wilson, 2010, p.222. [return]
9. Sox, 1988, p.115; Gove, 1996, p.213. [return]
10. Gove, 1996, pp.101-102. [return]
11. Sox, 1988, p.116; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.41; Gove, 1996, p.214; Wilson, 1998, p.307; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.179; Wilson, 2010, p.87. [return]
12. Gove, 1996, p.155. [return]
13. Tribbe, 2006, p.169; Gonella, L., "Discussant's contribution," in Scannerini, S. & Savarino, P., eds, 2000, "The Turin Shroud: Past, Present and Future," International scientific symposium, Turin, 2-5 March 2000," Effatà: Cantalupa, p.509. [return]
14. Wilson, 1998, pp.183-184. [return]
15. Antonacci, 2000, pp.178-179. [return]
16. Gove, 1996, pp.156-157; Wilson, 1998, p.183. [return]
17. Gove, 1996, p.214; Wilson, 1998, p.183; Oxley, 2010, p.223; Wilson, 2010, p.87. [return]
18. Sox, 1988, p.115; Gove, 1996, p.214; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.41. [return]
19. Gove, 1996, p.215; Wilson, 1998, pp.183, 307; Wilson, 2010, p.281. [return]
20. Gove, 1996, p.214; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.41. [return]
21. Sox, 1988, p.115; Gove, 1996, p.215. [return]
22. Sox, 1988, p.115; Gove, 1996, p.214; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.42; Antonacci, 2000, p.200. [return]
23. Gove, 1996, p.216; Antonacci, 2000, p.200. [return]
24. Gove, 1996, p.216. [return]
25. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.41. [return]
26. Gove, 1996, pp.214-215; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, pp.42-43. [return]
27. Gove, 1996, p.200. [return]
28. Gove, 1996, pp.215-216. [return]
29. Wilson, I., 1997, "Recent Publications," BSTS Newsletter, No. 45, June/July; de Wesselow, 2012, p.164. [return]
30. Gove, 1996, p.215. [return]
31. Ibid. [return]
32. Gove, 1996, p.213. [return]
33. Gove, 1996, p.215. [return]
34. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, 611. [return]
35. Gove, 1996, p.215. [return]
36. Sox, 1988, p.116; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.43. [return]
37. Gove, 1996, p.147. [return]
38. Ibid. [return]
39. Gove, 1996, p.148. [return]
40. Gove, 1996, pp.156-157. [return]
41. Gove, 1996, pp.170-171. [return]
42. Gove, 1996, p.174. [return]

Posted 22 October 2017. Updated 22 May 2024.

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