Friday, May 9, 2014

Suddenly, it's discovered that one of "Jesus's" arms on the Turin Shroud is dislocated. Now there's a surprise.

Man on the Turin Shroud (photographic negative): spot the dislocated right arm (your left)

Yes. The right arm of the Man on the TS is now declared to be too long (or maybe too short -   please, let's not quibble over details).  So it  must have been dislocated  from its joint with the shoulder. Any objections?  You have only a few seconds in which to voice your objections. No?  OK. So let's continue.

Links? Nope, can't be bothered. Most folk should know by now the internet site(s) that propagate this kind of stuff.  Why give them free publicity? Googling ' shroud of turin' will take you  there, if so inclined. But be warned. Repetitious tedium awaits you dear reader, to say nothing of obsessive tendencies. (And be warned - there be trolls as well, those that fake IDs so as to get in few ad hom insults before departing).

Biblical narrative? No sweat. The dislocation  must have happened while the founder of Christianity was carrying his cross to the site of execution.

Hold on a minute. I thought the shoulders of the Man on the TS had been  obliterated by those burn holes acquired in that 1532 fire, patched up some two or so years later by those industrious nuns. I thought there was no point looking for details of the region where arm meets shoulder.

Ah, well that's where you are wrong dear reader. There are those who can still discern original imagery under burn holes where we ordinary mortals give up in despair. It helps of course if one is a sindonologist, preferably employed by an Italian centre of excellence, so as to be able to spot these fine details. If you are just a retired science bod, as I am, lacking the magic eye, then simply don't bother. You are out of your league, my friend, amico mio.

Can this anatomical "I spy a dislocated shoulder"  be made to to fit the biblical account?  Why yes, no problem, none whatsoever,  It explains why that decent fella Simon of Cyrenia felt the need to step in so as as to relieve the condemned of his burden, having spotted the sudden loss of motor function in that over-burdened, indeed crippled shoulder joint.

Yes, it all adds up now, doesn't it?

Where would be be without the Turin Shroud to fill the gaps in the biblical account?

Alternative narrative? This blogger suggested many moons ago that the TS image was imprinted as a scorch onto linen by a medieval-era artisan from a heated life-sized bronze of the crucified Christ. But there was a problem. The arms of  the latter were still in crucifixion mode. They  needed to to be sawn off and re-positioned, hands over groin, to make the image look respectably post-mortem, modesty-protecting, those hands acting fig-leaf fashion  'down there' so as not to offend the ladies.

Crucified Christ? Maybe. Or there again, maybe a latter-day Templar knight, like, hint, hint, a falsely-condemned martyr  (Jacques de Molay? Geoffroi de Charney?), liquidated in Philip IV of France's purge of the order, involving initially the  lengthy imprisonment (7 years), spasmodic  torture and - finally - execution on a  Seine island in the centre of gay Paree by slow-roasting over coals in 1314.

If one's to be considered a scientist (as distinct from an agenda-driven apologist for the Christian faith - or at any rate one variant thereof) one cannot ignore alternative scenarios, least of all those that fit the radiocarbon dating (1260-1390).

My title ("Now there's a surprise"). What made our sindonologist friends suddenly discover a "dislocated arm at the shoulder"? Not by any chance the suggestion that one or both arms of an existing bronze template had been detached and re-positioned so as to make a more convincing template?

Afterthought. How many times have we read that this or other peculiarity of the TS image (missing parts, neck too small etc etc) is down to rigor mortis*, which may even have set in while the supposed victim was still nailed to a cross with outstretched arms. When asked how the same subject can still show rigor mortis  in the image on the shroud, yet have hands compactly placed over groin, we are airily told that the arms must have been forcibly wrenched into their new position. So why the talk now about dislocation, and a convenient 'Passion' narrative involving a slip on the road to Calvary with no mention of the older attempt to accommodate rigor mortis into story? Nothing betrays pseudo-science faster than an incoherent narrative that fails the test of internal consistency.

*  Example: see this (my bolding) from STURP's Robert Bucklin MD, JD, the preamble to his astonishing 'autopsy' on the man on the TS (I say "astonishing" given that  it is based on an "imprint" with no sure knowledge as to how the imprint was generated, or even whether the imprint was that from a real human being, dead or alive, as distinct from inanimate effigy):

"In the case of the image on the Shroud, it can be stated that the deceased person is and adult male measuring 71 inches from crown to heel and weighing an estimated 175 pounds. The body structure is anatomically normal, representing a well-developed and well-nourished individual with clearly identifiable head, trunk, and extremities. The body appears to be in a state of rigor mortis which is evidenced by an overall stiffness as well as specific alterations in the appearance of the lower extremities from the posterior aspect. The imprint of the right calf is much more distinct than that of the left indicating that at the time of death the left leg was rotated in such a way that the sole of the left foot rested on the ventral surface of the right foot with resultant slight flexion of the left knee. That position was maintained after rigor mortis had developed."

Update: 10 May, 14:25

I see that Robert Bucklin has been quoted elsewhere, apparently to suggest that the pathologist was quick to have spotted some lesions in the shoulder region:

“An interesting finding is noted over the shoulder blade area on the right and left sides. This consists of an abrasion or denuding of the skin surfaces, consistent with a heavy object, like a beam. Resting over the shoulder blades and producing a rubbing effect on the skin surfaces.”

 How can Bucklin have seen something suggestive of skin lesions when:

(a) the evidence for major wounds (lance in side, nails in wrist) and minor ones (scourge marks) rests entirely on blood stains (which could have been added, notwithstanding the less-than-conclusive 'blood first/image second' claims,  indeed mantra, with nothing that can be discerned as the site of a wound(s) in the basal body image per se, reinforced by the fact that: 

(b) there is in my view nothing in the fine structure of the TS image to permit a  distinction between hair and skin (surely one of the most neglected aspects of the image analysis). The identification of hair has been  done purely on the basis of "that's where one expects to see hair; thus any image density in that location must represent hair".

 If there is no distinguishing  between textures as different as hair and skin, then what price the likelihood of distinguishing between damaged and undamaged skin?

The fact that hair and skin are indistinguishable must surely rank as a priori evidence that the TS image was imprinted from a bronze template or similar.

I personally think Luigi Garlaschelli was correct when he suggested that the image of the head was not obtained by his 'rubbing' technique, as per torso, from a fully 3D subject, ie. student volunteer, (or, as I would prefer, scorch imprinting off an effigy), but from a bas relief, for reasons that can be discussed another time.

Yet another afterthought:  

Do you see clear, unequivocal evidence of shoulder-dislocation, dear reader? I've added some extra contrast to the Durante 2002/ShroudScope image in an attempt to make your task easier.

I don't, unless I make what I consider a somewhat arbitrary decision as to where to draw a line that delineates image from non-image area (not easy when the background is also a sepia colour, same as image but of lower intensity AND the encroaching scorch marks from the 1532 fire).

Were it a photograph, one would say it was the subject's right shoulder that was the lower of the two. But it's an imprint (think of it as left by a face-down-into-linen operation) so it's the subject's left shoulder that is lower.. BUT IT'S SAID TO BE THE RIGHT SHOULDER THAT IS LOWER THAN THE LEFT!

Are the "dislocationists" assuming image cut-off where I have added some yellow dashes )? If so, methinks that's an arbitrary decision too far.... Might some folk being seeing what they want to see?

Here's the corresponding dorsal views:

And here next is where the 'dislocationists' are presumably making the separation between image and non-image:

This time, think of an imprint being taken from a back-down-into-linen subject, with face poiting outwards. It's the subject's right shouder that is lower. (!)

Er, Houston, we have a problem. It's the subject's left shoulder that is lower in the frontal view, if one takes account of the 'sense' of imprinting.  But it's the right shoulder that is lower in the dorsal view.

And where's the evidence for some kind of lesion affecting one shoulder and not the other?

My position, leaving aside that tiny anomaly and/or lack of indisputable detail: if you don't know for certain precisely how the image was imprinted, and from whom or what, then you have no secure basis on which to go drawing anatomical or injury-related conclusions. One cannot base major anatomical conclusions purely on some apparent asymmetry in the Shroud image around its midline. Other corroborating evidence is needed.


aljones909 said...

Colin, I don't see it. It reminds me of the american researchers who brought a mini sub to Loch Ness (I'm going back 30 odd years), The sonar equipment was primitive (I think it was sonar) but if you kept playing with the contrast you eventually got a shape which our pattern seeking brains could turn into nessie. Total bs. Are there any serious doubts over the C14 dating that are based in reality rather than special pleading?

sciencebod said...

Yes, it's odd the way some ideas acquire an almost black-hole like quality in their ability to swallow up those who investigate too closely...