Sunday, November 15, 2020

My reply to Prof. Nicholas Allen (assumed)

© Stephen E. Jones[1]

On 15 November I received an anonymous comment under my 16 June 2019 post, "Allen, N: Turin Shroud Encyclo-pedia," which from its tone (I have had comments from Prof. Allen before) and its subject matter, I assume can only be from Prof. Nicholas Allen [Right[2]] himself! According to my long-standing stated policy:

"Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. I reserve the right to respond to any comment as a separate blog post."
I am replying to Prof. Allen's comment here as a separate post. His words are bold to distinguish them from mine. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated. See also 13Jul07, 07Aug16 and 16Jun19.

Anonymous said... I regard it as significant that Prof. Allen does not give his name but hides behind a cloak (albeit see-through!) of anonymity.

Nicholas Allen never lived in Zimbabwe....when he lived there it was called Rhodesia.. I have now added "(then Rhodesia)" to that part of my 2019 post which I presume Allen is referring to:

"Allen's first exposure to the Shroud was in 1969, as a 13 year-old, when he saw a photograph of the Shroud face on the wall of the Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) home of his parish priest, Fr. Philip Foster."

Allen has conducted tests with synthetic and natural quartz...he also ensured that his synthetic quartz lenses had the same qualities as natural quartz. Thanks to Prof. Allen for conceding my main point, which is that if he did not use only medieval materials and technology, then he cannot truthfully claim that he has produced a "medieval photograph" explanation of the Shroud image! As I pointed out in my 2019 post, quoting Mark Antonacci, "For Allen to show that `a very large [180 mm = 7 inch diameter[3]], accurately ground high-quality biconvex [quartz] lens of long focal length" ... could have been used by his `medieval photographer,' Allen would need to replicate it using only medieval materials and technology":

"For Allen's purposes, he needs a very large, transparent, rock-crystal-quality quartz, which is very rare, just to begin his process. The largest and most abundant of these are found in the Western hemisphere, which certainly did not export them in medieval times. Once our medieval forger had obtained this unlikely stone he would have to form a perfectly circular lens, with smooth, equal curves around each side of the complete circle. The convex curves of each side would have to match perfectly. If our medieval forger is off a fraction of a degree anywhere, it will throw off the highly resolved and focused image. In addition, he cannot have imperfections of any kind on the perfectly curved surfaces anywhere on the entire lens. There is absolutely no history of such skill or such a product in medieval times. Our medieval forger would most likely have had to have done this perfect job with only his hands and a piece of cloth with some sand on it ... Allen does not inform us where he acquired his lens, but it is extremely doubtful that he chiseled and hand-ground it from natural stone. Since optical-quality quartz lenses do not appear historically until the nineteenth century, Allen has the burden of demonstrating how a seven-inch, optical-quality, biconvex quartz-crystal lens without any imperfections could be made"[4].
Allen himself has made this point that his "primitive photography" theory requires that only "technology readily available to medieval cultures" be employed:
"... the inferences of the author's recent investigation into shroud-like image formation techniques employing technology readily available to medieval cultures as far back as the eleventh century strongly suggests that the negative image as found on the Shroud of Turin was the product of a form of primitive photography employing either silver nitrate or silver sulphate as a light sensitive agent"[5].
Antonacci made a telling observation:
"Ironically, among his very valid criticisms of Picknett and Prince's [who plagiarised Prof. Allen's medieval photography theory - see 07Aug16] book and experiments, Allen does not criticize their use of lenses and apertures from cameras and slide projectors. Perhaps that is because he himself is using a type of lens that was not available until the nineteenth or twentieth century"[6].
The point being that it is not possible to make a shroud image with glass lens which cuts out the uv spectrum necessary for the chemical reaction with silver nitrate or silver sulphate. The "uv spectrum," i.e. ultraviolet light, was only discovered in 1801 by the German physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter (1776-1810)[7], so "no one in medieval times knew about ultraviolet light at all, much less what materials would or would not transmit it":
"A lens made of regular glass will not transmit ultraviolet light, the portion of the EM [electromagnetic] spectrum that makes the image on Allen's treated cloth. Of course, no one in medieval times knew about ultraviolet light at all, much less what materials would or would not transmit it"[8].
I find it incredible that people who have never bothered to read his many scientific articles and books ... It is "incredible" in the sense of not credible! As is obvious from my references in my many posts about Allen's `medieval photography' theory (see 13Jul07, 07Aug16, 05Sep16, 14Mar17, 05Nov17, 21Aug18 and the very post Allen commented under 16Jun19a), I have indeed "bothered to read" Allen's "many scientific articles and books" on his `medieval photography' theory of the formation of the Shroud image. Except I have not yet bought and read Allen's 2017 book, "Turin Shroud: Testament to a Lost Technology" because its price on Advanced Book Exchange to Australia is A$223.03! However, I have just discovered it sells for A$65.64 from The Book Depository, so I will probably buy it eventually.

... still get his contributions so wrong ... If Allen really believed that I am wrong about his `medieval photography' theory, he would have jumped at the chance to point out on my blog, where I am wrong! And, as far as I am aware, no leading Shroud anti-authenticist agrees with Allen's `medieval photography' theory. Joe Nickell, for example, called Allen's theory "astonishingly absurd":

"... the astonishingly absurd notion of an art historian named Nicholas Allen that the image was "the world's first photograph." (The technique was supposedly invented to make a fake shroud and then conveniently lost for subsequent centuries!)"[9].
... and even feel that they have the right to make quite libellous comments on this blog. I presume Allen is referring to my alleging that he is guilty of scientific dishonesty in:

• Not having tested his theory that a corpse[10] was hung out in full sunlight for eight days ("four days" each side[11]) by hanging a dead pig out in the sun for even few days and seeing what happened to its image in his `medieval camera'[16Jun19b]; and

• Titling his book, "The Turin Shroud and the Crystal Lens" [Left [12]] when hidden deep within it, not mentioned in the index, Allen admitted indirectly that he had used a piece of synthetic quartz to make his 180 mm lens, not a natural quartz crystal [16Jun19c]:

"Through the kindness of my institution I was made a loan with which I purchased a blank piece of high grade quartz. After many months of waiting, a blank sent from Switzerland, finally arrived in South Africa, where through the sterling efforts of both Derek Griffith and Dan van Staaden, it was ground and polished into a bi-convex lens"[13].
Plagiarizing an expert's life work and employing it for blogs as though you had done all the necessary research is the height of arrogance. Allen needs to check the dictionary definition of "plagiarism." According to the online Oxford dictionary it is:
"The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own"[14].
And I definitely wouldn't want to pass off Allen's `medieval photography' ideas as if they were my own! Indeed I meticulously cited footnotes to Allen's works to show that they are his ideas. Nor do I claim that I had done the primary research that Allen has, which I give him credit for. But what I don't give Allen credit for is his not being honest and admitting that his "life's work" in seeking to discredit the Shroud as a `medieval photograph" has failed. Because: 1) Allen did not use only medieval materials and technology in making his 180 cm = 7 inch optical quality quartz lens; 2) Allen did not test (or if he did he conncealed the result) of what would happen to a human corpse (using an animal substitute) if hung out in full sunlight for eight days; and 3) Allen does not admit that his photographic `replication' of the Shroud image fails because it is obviously directional in recording the sun's

[Above (enlarge)[16Jun19d]: Comparison of Allen's photographic `replication' of the Shroud image (left) and the Shroud image itself (right). As can be seen, Allen's image of a white plaster bodycast strongly shows the directional movement of the sun overhead, but the Shroud image does not show any directionality whatsoever. The white patches on the Shroudman's side, wrist, arms and feet are dark blood which is white in a photographic negative, and the other white patches are dark burns from the 1532 fire.]

repeated passage over it[15], but Allen had previously correctly stated that the Shroud's image is "non-directional":

"Directionless: The process that formed the image operated in a non-directional fashion. It was not generated according to any directional pattern as it would have been if applied by hand. A painting, for example, shows strong directionality, that is, the direction by which the medium was applied is evident from the brush strokes"[16].
As Ian Wilson pointed out, the value of Allen's contribution to sindonology is that he demonstrated that the Shroud image really is a photograph, and not a painting as claimed by most anti-authenticists, led by Walter McCrone (1916-2002):
"Now it can also be said unreservedly of Professor Allen that more than anyone else before him he has demonstrated that the Shroud's image really is photographic in character. This is in fact something that those in favour of the Shroud's authenticity have been saying for years and is certainly bad news for Walter McCrone and others"[17].
But not a `medieval photograph' using only medieval materials and technology (because they exist only in Nicholas Allen's imagination), but rather, as Wilson put it, a "`snapshot' of the Resurrection" of Jesus!:
"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant ... its image ... becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection"[18]!

Notes
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. "CurriculumVitae: Nicholas P L Allen, North-West University," Academia.edu. Accessed 15 November 2020. [return]
3. Allen, N.P.L., 1995, "Verification of the Nature and Causes of the Photonegative Images on the Shroud of Lirey-Chambery-Turin," De Arte 51, Pretoria, UNISA, pp.21-35; Ware, M., 1997, "On Proto-photography and the Shroud of Turin," History of Photography, Vol. 21, No. 4, Winter, pp.261-269, 264; Allen, N.P.L., 1998, "The Turin Shroud and the Crystal Lens: Testament to a Lost Technology," Empowerment Technologies: Port Elizabeth, South Africa, pp.92, 100; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.92; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.140-. [return]
4. Antonacci, 2000, pp.91-92. [return]
5. Allen, 1995. [return]
6. Antonacci, 2000, p.91. [return]
7. "Ultraviolet: Discovery," Wikipedia, 16 November 2020. [return]
8. Antonacci, 2000, p.91. [return]
9. Nickell, J., 2004, "PBS `Secrets of the Dead' Buries the Truth About Turin Shroud," Skeptical Inquirer, April 9. [return]
10. Allen, 1998, p.93; 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.260. [return]
11. Allen, 1995; Allen, 1998, pp.93, 100; Schwortz, B.M., 2000, "Is The Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph?: A Critical Examination of the Theory," Shroud.com. [return]
12. My scan of the font cover of my copy of Allen's 1998 book. [return]
13. Allen, 1998, p.100. [return]
14. "Plagiarism," Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com, 2020. [return]
15. Schwortz, 2000. [return]
16. Allen, 1995. [return]
17. Wilson, 1998, p.216. [return]
18. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.251; Wilson, 1998, p..234. [return]

Posted: 15 November 2020. Updated: 17 December 2020.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Stephen Jones

Enjoyed reading this great post, nevertheless I think I can add two important facts that also dismiss Professor Allen's theory of a fake Shroud.
1-Besides directionality, Professor Allen's image lacks real 3D encoding
2-STURP chemical analysis of the Shroud's samples did not demonstrate the presence of silver or silver salts and neither did X-Ray fluorescence or Mass Spectrometry, on image and non image fibers.
The only silver traces on the Shroud were found near the burn holes, and this finding is easilly explained by the melting reliquary silver during 1532 Chambery's fire that damaged the Shroud
Regards
Antero de Frias Moreira
(Centro Português de Sindonologia)

Stephen E. Jones said...

Antero

>Dear Dr. Stephen Jones

Again it's plain Mr.

>Enjoyed reading this great post, nevertheless I think I can add two important facts that also dismiss Professor Allen's theory of a fake Shroud.

I was not trying to cover every problem with Allen's medieval photography theory. In the post above I have given links to my previous posts where I had more comprehensively refuted Allen's theory.

>1-Besides directionality, Professor Allen's image lacks real 3D encoding

Thanks. See 07Aug16 where I covered that.

>2-STURP chemical analysis of the Shroud's samples did not demonstrate the presence of silver or silver salts and neither did X-Ray fluorescence or Mass Spectrometry, on image and non image fibers.

Ditto. Allen claims, most implausibly, that it was all washed away!

The only silver traces on the Shroud were found near the burn holes, and this finding is easilly explained by the melting reliquary silver during 1532 Chambery's fire that damaged the Shroud

That silver traces were found near the burned areas, shows that if there was any silver left from Allen's claimed silver salts, it would have been found.

>Regards
Antero de Frias Moreira
(Centro Português de Sindonologia)

Regards to you.

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 current post can be on any one Shroud-related topic without being off-topic. To avoid time-wasting debate, I normally allow only one comment per individual under each one of my posts. I reserve the right to respond to any comment as a separate blog post.