July 30, 1994

Dear Mr. Tort,

Once again, I proffer my profound apology for being so tardy in reply. Especially since I’m much indebted to you for sending me a copy of the paper by Craig and Bresee.[1] If it hadn’t been for you, I probably would not yet have learned of this important work, which may eventually prove to be of pivotal importance in solving the mystery posed by that famous image. Certainly Wiech, the arch advocate of authenticity, would never send me anything which was not supportive of a first-century origin. He falls far short of scholarly—not to mention scientific—objectivity. But, of course, so does Nickell at the opposite end of the sindonological spectrum—although not as badly. (More about the fascinating Craig-Bresee work later.)

Also thanks for your “Second Thoughts…” article, which was well done all-in-all. I much admire the courage and integrity you displayed in publishing the retraction.

I expect (and hope) that you learned a valuable lesson from this experience: paranormal and/or supernatural “explanations” for apparent mysteries should never be put forth until all naturalistic possibilities have been excluded—which exclusion has not yet happened in four centuries of modern science. (Compare with what I wrote in my 1982 S.I. [Skeptical Inquirer] article.)

What I haven’t told you is that while I’m a fusion (or plasma) physicist by profession, I’m an epistemologist (generally) and a philosopher of science (particularly) by avocation. This interest in science-based philosophy has persisted for nearly half a century (I’ll be 66 in two more months) and has led me into many diverse fields of learning. Some year I would like to write a book on the complexly interdependent synergism among hypothesis, theories, observations, and facts—particularly concentrating on how hypotheses become theories and how theories slowly, very slowly, eventually come to be accepted as facts if all continues to go well. (For example, the Big Bang theory may, decades from now, be regarded as fact, not theory.) Most laymen, and some scientists, do no have a good conceptual grasp of these important matters.

Parenthetically, I was surprised to learn that English is not your mother tongue! Congratulations on learning to write a foreign language with so little “accent” that you could pass as native. (This is not something that everyone could do, even if they tried hard.) Only in hindsight could I go back to reread some of your writings and detect a few subtle malapropisms here and there. But you do get most of the tricky shades of meaning right. (I could not imagine myself doing the same in Spanish.)

I was favorably impressed and pleasantly surprised by the Craig-Bresee paper. (I have long complained about the difficulty of getting skeptics to do the tedious nitty-gritty work necessary to address the image question scientifically. There is little motivation for mainstream scientists because it would not advance, and could hamper, their research careers; however, for all I know, Craig and Bresee could be in one of the contemporary disciplines, such as image processing, where such effort might well be regarded as germane.)

Whatever this motivation, I’m pleased they did the job in what seems to be a credibly scientific manner. And, contrary to McCrone, Nickell, and a host of others (including many of the old STURP members), they do not seem to claim more than can be defended based on their results. In other words, they act like scientists. How refreshing!

Their dust-transfer method has some elements in common with both the McCrone and Nickell techniques, but without resembling either much. (However, it has considerably more in common with McCrone than Nickell.) Based on my former writings, you could easily surmise that what surprises me the most is that the skill of an artist is sufficient to pass the Jackson-Jumper 3-D test, or some more up-to-date variant of it. I had guessed that it would take a sophisticated (perhaps even iteratively-attained) reduced-relief along with a powder-imprinting method to turn the trick.
 
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[1] Emily A. Craig and Randall R. Bresee: “Image Formation and the Shroud of Turin.” Journal of Imaging Science and Technology (Vol. 34, Nº 1, 1994). The paper can be read: here.

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5 Sept. 1994

By now, some five weeks after the above was written, I feel mortified almost to the point of self-flagellation. In hindsight, what I should have done is to have just mailed you the aborted letter of July 30, and not have waited to finish it. This was inexcusable, and I am profoundly sorry!

Now, to return to the aborted train-of-thought: What I did not believe was that, by imagining the cloth-to-body distances as he “painted”, an artist could import 3-D information to the drawing of sufficient tonal-gradating self-consistency (both local and global) to pass the procrustean 3-D test. Indeed, had I believed this, then I would likely have thought of this dry-dust transfer method (essentially McCrone’s method sans water) as early as 1979 or 1980; as it was, I don’t believe any of McCrone’s paintings were put to the 3-D test, which might be regrettable in hindsight. This still boggles my mind a bit (probably because, as I’ve long said, I know very little about artistic technique at the hands-on level).

Nonetheless, I retain a tinge of skepticism toward this claim until it is independently replicated. After that, I’ll consider the mystery of the Shroud image to have been largely solved, unless other serious objections are raised. The blood spots (and perhaps the flagellation marks as well) remain to be explained—particularly since I see evidence that the blood spots are consistent with having been applied from a full relief (body?). But why no smearing at the spot edges? But I’d most like to see a public demonstration of this artist’s 3-D skills. Also, maybe STURP 3-D emphasis should be tried.

All in all, I consider Craig-Bresee paper to be well-done and to be completely scientific. It is a real credit to those authors! I particularly liked the care they took in studying the topology of iron-oxide deposition on the linen fibers, and, demonstrating, that Pellicori was basically in error in his determination of the threshold of iron-oxide visibility amounted to a tour de force!

So, in summary, I find no obvious errors or overstatements in the Craig-Bresee paper. A neat twist was the additional step of transferring the “painted” image from paper to linen. This makes good sense also from the logistic standpoint that linen was very expensive in the Middle Ages, so the artist would obviously prefer to make mistakes on paper instead of the final linen. By the way, that artist would have had to have had [sic] fairly detailed knowledge of crucifixion traumata; but such knowledge, given what we know of medieval events (as well as rumors), could have well been possible—particularly since he probably had an unusual degree of interest in crucifixions as well as gravecloths. (Again, what about those bloodspots?)

One minor, nit-picking carp I have with the Craig-Bresee paper is the last paragraph on their first page. First, although McCrone did precede Nickell in time, saying that “McCrone’s technique was modified by Nickell’s” is misleading since the two have ferric oxide in common—all else is different. Also, their second sentence is not at all established, and a lot more work would be needed to establish it—if indeed it proves to be true. The truth is no one really studied rubbing from a bas-relief in any detail—particularly in regard to the 3-D test. All we know is what Nickell’s (and, later, STURP’s) rubbings flunked the tests—but many variations are possible and remain unstudied.

Finally, I would like to address an issue raised in the paragraph before this conclusion. There are, indeed, fairly persuasive historical arguments that the Turin shroud was brought to France via the Crusades from the Middle East. While the case falls far short of being compelling, I have long believed it hangs together well enough to be taken seriously. Without taking the time to give all the supporting reasons (which, in the aggregate, are rather complex) I would like to tell you of the educated guess I made concerning the provenance of the Shroud long ago (about 1982, I think). While I never take guesses too seriously—even well-studied ones—if I were forced to wager on the Shroud’s provenance, my 1982 scenario is the one I would bet on today even though it does not quite agree with the 1988 14C-dating window (1260 to 1390 AD).

As to background, let me say that Joe Nickell and I carried out extensive, frequent correspondence from about late ’78 (?) to about 1985, becoming less frequent after mid-’83. My letters, some of which I saved but have not done the archeology in the boxes to recover, averaged probably about a dozen scrawled pages—with a few exceeding thirty pages! (In those days, I obviously had more free time!) I was motivated to do this—usually detailed, rather technical discussions—by my general interest coupled with the realization that Joe Nickell, who was challenging the thirty-some scientists of STURP, had no scientific background at all and needed therefore much help with the scientific facts, methodology, and (above all) the interpretations. In other words, for seven years or so, I became Nickell’s scientific mentor. In so doing, I became personally involved in the worldwide Shroud controversy and thereby became the only mainstream research scientist to be active on the skeptical side of the controversy. (McCrone is a forensic scientist.) Indeed, to my knowledge (which largely ended six or seven years ago) this might still be true worldwide. It’s incredible that, although nearly all mainstream research scientists were skeptical of the Shroud at the beginning, almost none become active.

Although I know several sciences, as well as the Philosophy of Science, pretty well, I’m very limited in my knowledge of artistic techniques, history, etc.; and in these matters Joe was most helpful. And, best of all, he had lots more time for book writing, etc. Anyhow, with the slow aid of my detailed letters, I was instrumental in changing his mind on several important issues—e.g. his early view that the image had to have been done with iron oxide and nothing else. My early published writings—including lengthy newspaper articles as well as those you probably have seen in magazines and books—were effective in getting STURP to desist from making scientifically irresponsible statements and to settle into responsible scientific research. Indeed, after 1982, I have had no general quarrel with either STURP’s research or its reporting of it. Joe, however, refused to relent in his attacks on STURP and persisted in ignoring those research results (such as the VP-8 tests) which made him uncomfortable. This rather arbitrary picking and choosing which results to ignore smacks more of pseudoscience than science, and finally led to a strained relationship.

As a last-resort way of getting at the truth of these imaging issues, I appealed to CSICOP (in Jan. ’88 I believe) to form a panel of respected scientists and imaging experts to hear the arguments of Joe and me and make a decision. CSICOP did nothing.

So there! I’ve finally given you what lay behind by crack about “a large organization of skeptics” in my first letter to you (Easter Sunday, 1990). However, in general, I admire and respect CSICOP and their work. Also, if anything, the Skeptical Inquirer has gotten better over the years—particularly in desisting from repeatedly flaying dead horses such as UFOs, and generally by emphasizing epistemology more. (I think I agree with Paul Kurtz nearly or completely on just about everything he writes about.) I also think that Joe Nickell does a laudably excellent job of detective work and investigative reporting generally. The world could use many more of his type! (I believe he has become more cautious and scholarly—relatively—than he was a dozen or more years ago, and would not now, for example, entitle an article, “The Shroud of Turin—Solved”, as he did in 1979. We all learn by living and making mistakes.) In summary, I feel that my type of epistemologically-based skepticism (informed physics and chemistry) is less needed to keep STURP and CSICOP toeing the line now than was the case in the late seventies and early eighties. This, plus being so unreasonably busy late in life, is what lay behind my statement in my first letter to you: “However, I have little desire to again become involved in these studies”. Nevertheless, if you see me as being useful, don’t hesitate to ask me anytime.

That behind us, let me return to my attempt at a most probable scenario for the provenance of the Shroud. I won’t try here to give all my reasons and the supporting evidence. For one thing, I’ve probably forgotten many things I wrote Joe in 1982; for another (besides a shortage of time) I don’t care much whether I convince you or not. (The only other one I’ve presented such arguments to (Joe) did not buy the scenario.) So, I’ll just expediently point you in the direction of justification and, if you have sufficient interest and time, let you look up the historical sources and judge for yourself the plausibility of my nonconformist scenario. (I’ve always had a rebellious streak in me—even in my work on physics—and regarded “party lines” as something to be challenged.)

First, is the fact that the Shroud image just doesn’t seem plausible as a product of Northern France in any era, and I believe most art historians would agree with this. (Of course, such intuitive feelings could well be wrong, and far stronger things happen in history.) By contrast, the Middle East (particularly Constantinople) has for over a millennium been a interface and crossroads between the Orient and the Occident, and has consequently been a place where the exotic or the simply strange seem commonplace, with little of the provincialism of N. France.

Second, the artist or artists surely had to know an awful lot about how crucified bodies look, and such experience seems (from scant historical references) much more likely in the Middle East in the first couple of centuries of this millennium than in fourteenth-century France. Briefly, in the Middle East (particularly the well-off Constantinople area) in those early second-millennium centuries there was a conjunction of powerful Christian influence, exotic (by Western standards) techniques, and the powerful (as well as wealthy) Catholic-derived Order of the Knights Templar, whose influence in politics and religion once extended from the Middle East (principally Constantinople) to Italy and France. (If you have the time, you should become acquainted with this fascinating story.)

Third, the Knights Templar would not only have had a strong motive to commission a gravecloth-type of artwork, they had the wealth to hire as many artists for as long as needed. (My guess is that fraud may not have been intended originally, and that what was intended was to create a visual-aid to worship for Passion-related rituals or services.) During the first few centuries of this millennium, (scant) historical references tell of midnight Passion rituals using images on cloth.

By the way, that uniquely double-sided (dorsal as well as ventral) full-size image could possible be related to the practice in early churches of displaying artwork “banners” over horizontal poles above (and, I guess, mostly in front of) the worshipers. That way, the Shroud would have simultaneously a backside as well as a front, much as a sculpture. While references cite the Passion images on cloth propped up during Templar rituals, I know of nothing on their possible use of banner poles, however. Nonetheless, it’s tempting to speculate that the Shroud’s origin was associated with a powerful Christian organization with a known probable motive for commissioning a gravecloth artwork. (But, pre-Gutenberg, the historical records are like fossil-records: sparse and more or less random.)

So, were I forced to bet on it, the scenario I would bet on is the Constantinople area in the time window from the late twelfth to the early thirteenth century. Of course, I know that my probability of being right is not large; however, I regard the probability that the standard scenario (France in the early fourteenth century) is correct to be even smaller. And of course I’m well aware of the obvious immediate objections to my scenario: that celebrated letter to the Pope of the late fourteenth century and the ever-more celebrated 14C dating of late twentieth.

____________

Note of C.T.: Mueller did not send the letter immediately. He continued to write to me, as we shall see in the next entry.

Oct. 9, 1994

This letter, or rather my pathetic attempts at writing a letter, has by now degenerated into a farce—or possibly a fiasco. This is the most time-segmented (as well as the tardiest) letter I’ve ever written.

Let me now try to pick up the thread of discourse dropped at the bottom of p. 13.[1]

Relative to that late-fourteenth-century letter to the Pope: that period in Europe was so marked by mendacity in the service of intense and pervasive political maneuverings—both within and without the Church. Hence, absent other corroborating evidence, I regard the letter’s credibility to be suspect—particularly in view of the lapse of many decades between the reported event and the first written report of it.

In this regard, there is a parallel between this and the circumstances of the life of Jesus of Nazareth as reported many decades later by the Gospel writers. In both cases the writers probably had conscious, as well as unconscious, motivations for distorting the truth as they knew it—and, most likely of all, they only knew hearsay versions of the putative events to start with.

As to that 1988 14C dating, let me expand somewhat on what I wrote about in my preface (Dec.) of the published version of my April, 1990 letter to you. While I’m no expert in 14C dating itself, I do have general expertise (and a lifetime experience) in the analysis and interpretation of scientific measurements in general.

In drawing conclusions from a data sample (set of numbers obtained from measurements), the two sources of uncertainty are statistical (due to the finite number of data as well as to their spread over some range) and systematic (which includes everything else: from unknown or at least uncontrollable fluctuations of experimental conditions; to unknown or unaccounted for physical processes influencing the data, to unaccounted for human or instrumental errors). By far the largest probability of error usually (but not always) stems from systematic errors (usually due to causes unknown at the time to the experimenters)—as the history of science well documents. Except for the most painstaking and thorough studies (as in the determination of physical constants), scientific history documents that the usually-quoted windows of uncertainty (e.g. x ± y) are much too optimistic because they usually ignore systematic errors, which eventually (and commonly) turn out to be much bigger.

In other words, unless they state otherwise, when scientists quote an experimental result as x ± y, the 2y window of uncertainty only refers to statistical errors, which are pretty easy to estimate, and not to systematic errors—which usually (barring extreme thoroughness) cannot be estimated at all. (I’ve wrestled with this issue many times in my life.)

Now to return to that 1988 14C dating: Their result is (as I recall) 1325 ± 65 at the 95% confidence level. Scientists and statisticians know how to interpret this as a statement of precision (that is, how much the data from the three labs. scattered) not a statement of accuracy (how certain science is that the actual date that the flax was harvested falls between 1260 and 1390 AD). The accuracy cannot be known unless and until all possible sources of systematic error have been exhaustively studied. Such studies are usually prohibitively expensive in both time and money.

However, the history of science (here I’m mainly discussing physics—the science I know best) can serve as a rough (but very uncertain) guide to the overall uncertainty to be expected when only the precision (statistical uncertainty) is given. Usually (but not always by any means) the total uncertainly (statistic + systematic) eventually (over a long span of time) turns out to be no more than three times the originally-stated statistical uncertainty unless the experimenters made a real goof. In other words, if the original result is stated as x ± y, where y is purely statistical, in most cases the “true value” of x will eventually turn out to lie in the range between x (stated) ± 3y. Applied to the Shroud dating, this would just put the “true” value most probably between 1125 and 1525 AD. (Obviously, this particular upper limit is negated by historical references to the Shroud no later than 1357 AD.) But, again obviously, if some really huge effect skewing the 14C dating had been overlooked, the “true” date could be much older than 1125 AD—the authenticity advocates would say as old as the first century!

Anyhow, for what little it may be worth, this error-experience guesstimate of the actual window of uncertainty of that 14C dating, rather comfortably includes—even without invoking a real goof—my 1982 prediction of a most probable date in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. Hence, my point is made that my earlier estimate is not really inconsistent with the 1988 14C results.

Anyhow, a month ago I received a letter (copy enclosed) from Ben Wiech about recent experimental results by the Russian 14C expert, Dr. Kouznetsov.[2] It all is starting to sound impressive and. To my (limited) knowledge of the chemical process involved, actually appears plausible. Which is not to say, however, that it is correct—much more work by others in detailed criticism and, above all, experimental replication will be necessary before the steam effect can be considered to be a major source of systematic error.

However, because of its intrinsic plausibility in terms of known science, as a scientist (in contradistinction to the lawyer-type advocacy of several leading members of both STURP and CSICOP) I have no choice but to take the steam effect on 14C dating seriously until it is called into serious question by further work. However, I’m very skeptical of Kouznetsov’s statement that the “real age could be close to the 1st or 2nd century AD.” What is going on, I think, is that K. (like most Russian scientists at this time) is at starvation’s door, and sees such a claim as a way for loosing the purse strings of Christians across the U.S.A. to support further research by him. In this, K. is correct, and (in my understanding) current research by him is currently being supported by Christian groups across the land.

So, quite obviously, his work needs to be replicated by others before it be regarded as factual.

Very best wishes,

Marvin Mueller

__________________

Notes of César Tort:

[1] Dr. Mueller accumulated twenty sheets of hand-written paper before sending it all to my address. Above he refers to the previous page #13. The one I am citing here #14.

[2] Three years after Mueller’s letter, Kouznetsov (a believer of creationism) was arrested in 1997 on American soil under allegations of accepting bribes by magazine editors to produce manufactured evidence and false reports.

P. S.

I would much appreciate if you would be so kind as to pen a few lines informing me of the responses of others (like Nickell, McCrone, etc.) to that very interesting paper of Craig and Bresee.

By the way, have you found out anything about their backgrounds (scientific, engineering, or artistic) or the source of their interest and motivations? I’m most pleased that some people outside of STURP became motivated to carry out the tedious work involved in seriously trying to resolve the mystery of the image.

In any case, it certainly seems that the Shroud controversy is heating up again. It could become exciting.

Again, please accept my apology for being so tardy in responding.

M3

I have moved my criticism of what the Mexican Father Brambila said about the Shroud of Turin to my site Ex Libris, here (in Spanish).

Below this entry…

May 14, 2018

articles deal with child abuse.

“Narcissist parents lie, cheat, delude themselves and even murder their offspring’s souls to project and maintain a false image of themselves, because admission of responsibility would threaten their false self-image.”

Just today I discovered the videos of Steven Franssen about Daniel Mackler. Those who have been following what in this blog I say of Mackler, should not miss Franssen’s article here.

Franssen corroborates what I already knew: as a good New York Jew, Daniel Mackler (pic left) does not deliver his anti-natalist message to those populations with fewer resources that mistreat their children. He takes his message to what another New Yorker, Lloyd deMause, calls the “helping mode” of childrearing! That is to say, Mackler delivers his anti-natalist message to those who need it the least, which makes his (((motivations))) suspicious.

The Jewish Problem (Jewish authors):

Larry Auster’s unpublished chapter

Excerpts of Esau’s Tears

The Jewish Problem (non-Jewish authors):

Definition of anti-Semitism

The Culture of Critique’s Preface

Below this entry,​ the texts date from 2012 back​ to 2005.

Adam Lanza

December 17, 2012

Lanza“I guess I’m in the minority of not having a clue what set this kid off,” I have just read in the comments section of a pro-white site.

The answer is so obvious for those familiar with the legacy of Alice Miller that I’ll not even try to hint at it here.

Those visitors who know only pro-white literature and are as clueless as the above commenter as to what could have motivated Adam to kill his mother (and the kids) ought to take this opportunity to become familiar with the other side of the story here at Fallen Leaves.

New leaves

September 25, 2012

Directly or indirectly, Fallen Leaves [Note of 2018: the former title of this site] has dealt with child abuse as a subject.

But I am about to embark on a project that extensively quotes for this blog excerpts from two books about the history of the white race. Why?

Those familiar with Fallen Leaves may know that a couple of years ago I parted ways with my former friends: the fans of Alice Miller who claim to side the child during conflicts with their parents. It always bothered me that these people were incapable of honestly discussing my interpretation of psychohistory, which main finding is that non-western cultures treat their children worse than we westerners do. If my former friends truly sided the child, they would make an effort to approach psychohistory either to refute my interpretation of it, or, conversely, to use the findings of psychohistory to expand their worldview.

The do neither. And the question is why.

It is my belief that present-day westerners are plugged in a thought-controlling matrix. It all started right after the Second World War with a barrage of ubiquitous, malicious propaganda directed against Germany. The truth is that, whatever sins the Germans committed during the war, the Allied forces surpassed them in times of peace, from 1945 to 1947 (see e.g., my quotations of Hellstorm).

The same goes with the Jews and their holocaust. When Hitler became chancellor a Jew named Yagoda, the chief of the Soviet Union’s intelligence agency, killed more civilians than the later killings attributed to Himmler, and precisely for ethnic reasons. Never before had an entire white nation been ruled mostly by Jewry, and just see what happened in Russia. Hitler and the Nazis merely reacted against such killing.

These historical facts move me to think that Germany continues to be dishonestly demonized by an ongoing, twenty-four hours a day campaign of enumeration of her crimes. Demonized I say because the comparatively larger crimes of the Allies have been hidden from the public view in the soft totalitarian System we are living in.

I call this socio-political scheme a mind-controlling matrix, a prison for the mind. Not only the crimes committed by the Allies are taboo. As an unwritten law, after the Second World War race studies also became forbidden in the mainstream media and the academia—with the exception of the continuing demonization of the Reich and, through intellectual fads of “historical grievances,” even the entire West. And not only the previous, perfectly respectable field of racial studies is now considered beyond the pale. An entire school of charlatanic thought, Boasian anthropology, has become axiomatic in the academia. Presently it is considered heretical to state the obvious: that there are cultures more primitive than others. Just one example: academicians are not even allowed to condemn the Amazonian tribes that still bury their children alive.

For the sake of using a handy word, let us call “liberalism” the religion that the leftist elites have been imposing on us after the Second World War. It is the perspective that comes after this knowledge—the exposé of a new civil religion that has been imposed upon the white psyche—what explains why I have distanced myself from my former friends. Consciously or unconsciously, these people are liberals first and child advocates second. Their true religion is liberalism, not child advocacy. (For a formal definition of the meta-ethical axiom in this secular religion, the “non-discriminatory principle,” see here.) If they prioritized child interests, they would side the children in cases of parental abuse among non-Caucasian immigrants, who, according to the data collected by psychohistory, are more serious abusers than white families.

They do nothing of the sort. The sole mention of “race,” “inferior cultures” or “psycho-classes” freaks them out and shun any frank discussion on the subject.

In other words, the followers of the late Alice Miller are deceiving themselves. Despite claims to the contrary they do not always side the children against their surrounding culture. If you are a Miller fan and believe I am wrong, you are invited to challenge my approach to psychohistory in any of these discussion threads.

I predict, notwithstanding, that this challenge will fall on deaf ears. By experience I know that Miller’s fans are no men of honor. They are too coward, and dishonest, to discuss psychohistory’s most relevant finding: the grim consequences for child interests after the ongoing, massive non-white immigration in their respective countries—at the same time that the peoples of European origin are dwarfing their birthrates!

Following the metaphor I used in “Those who stayed behind,” in the coming entries I will be reproducing excerpts from two historical books for the benefit of the inhabitants of the country N, not of those left behind in country M, still trapped in the matrix of political correctness.

Solzhenitsyn

September 17, 2012

Quoted in my last post of the West’s Darkest Hour:

Prison causes the profound rebirth of a human being… profound pondering over his own “I”… Here all the trivia and fuss have decreased. I have experienced a turning point. Here you harken to that voice deep inside you, which amid the surfeit and vanity used to be stifled by the roar from outside…

Your soul, which formerly was dry, now ripens from suffering…