Reason To Doubt – C-14 dating

Reason To Doubt has several videos on the Turin Shroud. Of course, they don’t believe the shroud is authentic.

Their first video:

The Shroud of Turin is Fake! || Radiometric dating & invisible patches

Welcome to another episode of Reason To Doubt with Jordan and Jared your source for all things skeptical. I’m Jordan
and this is Jared on the other side today we’re going to be talking about the Shroud of Turin.

The topic they discuss in this episode is the C-14 dating.

They mention the maximum anything can be dated using C-14 is 60,000 years, which I agree.

Best for things that are 50,000 years or less. If you get a really good sample with pristine conditions you could might
be able to push it back to 60,000 years. There’s just not very much carbon 14 left after that amount of time but for
something like this, which is at most 2000 years old.

They acknowledge there were discrepencies in the 1988 C-14 data.

To be fair, there were some discrepancies to be found. So if you look at the original paper while they do give that date range of 1260 to 1390, it makes it represent all the labs came with that. But actually that’s not the case.

The important thing to take away is Zurich and Arizona overlap. Oxford does not. It’s a little bit off to the side. So this was noticed right away and people were wondering that for a long time. In 2012 the paper of Regression Analysis With Partially Labeled Regressors Carbon Dating Of The Shroud Of Turin (great title very catchy) was published in Statistics and Computing by Riani et al. And the researchers there used very fancy math to show that the results between the labs were heterogeneous which means they don’t match as opposed to homogeneous. So their results said there was a systemic bias between the labs, which is bad you don’t want systemic bias.

Interestingly as kind of a prop up to their method, the paper didn’t the paper they were examining the one in nature didn’t say where like all of these samples these measurements were from. The labs later released all of their raw data so now that is known. But at the time Riani was doing the work that was not known. And so they did a bunch of modeling to like figure out where all the measurements were taken on the Shroud samples and as they were looking at it they were like wait a minute it looks like Arizona only tested one of their two samples, which is a surprise because everyone just kind of assumed that they used everything they were given. They never said they didn’t or like it wasn’t in the paper or anything and after they had done their research. They like reached out to someone who had a sample and they said yes in fact Arizona only did do one so it was kind reported a systemic bias between the different labs, which means that there was something actually wrong with the analysis. It wasn’t just the normal variation you get there was some kind of error of some sort. So if you’re somebody who’s trying to hold on to the first century dating this would be good stuff for you right for sure I mean and it definitely shows that the results are questionable.

I’ll have to give much credit to Riani to be able to reverse engineer the 1989 report and determine there was data manipulation, even when the C-14 report did not disclose all their data and tried to keep it a secret.

To account for the discrepencies, Jordan and Jared propose an ad hoc explanation that they were not adequately cleaned and thus contaminants still existed.

It wouldn’t take much contamination to make these results not match up. If you added 88 years of age which is not a big jump, it would bring them completely in line, but just 10 years of age added to Oxford would remove the heterogeneity. So they would have slightly different so 88 years makes them completely overlap. 10 years makes them overlap enough that they’d be in agreement.

In order to nudge the ages just that little bit also they noted there was a difference in cleaning procedures between Oxford and the other two labs, specifically Oxford used petroleum ether in their pre-cleaning and Zurich in Arizona did not.

They add that it doesn’t really matter there were discrepencies because even with the discrepencies, it would not push the shroud date to 1st century.

It’s like you can’t use these results if it’s 1260 versus 1280. We need to narrow it down to is it first century or not first century and he said it’s not first century. The amount of contamination you would need completely off the charts. Here so like with the radiometric date results that we have we can’t confidently state where in that 1260 to 1300 range it is. I’m inclined to think probably um closer to 1260 because it seems like Oxford did a better job. But you know whatever we can’t say what decade but we can definitely say from this that the thing they tested was not first century.

However, that’s not the point. If the sample was medieval, why would the labs have to manipulate the data? To make sure the dating is not first century? No, they did it to avoid invalidating their entire C-14 testing. They had tried to hide it by keeping the raw data a secret, but after it was finally revealed 27 years later (through pressure from a lawsuit), we discover they did not use all their data in their report. If they had used all their data, it would’ve been out of tolerance to consider their sample homogeneous. So, they threw out samples in order for their analysis to pass statistical tolerance and not invalidate the entire dating.

So, the question next is, if it’s a heterogeneous sample, why is it heterogeneous? The proposal they discussed is the Benford and Marino invisible reweave theory.

So the idea there’d be a patch is obviously not crazy. There are patches on it. Sue Benford who is a nurse and her husband Joseph Marino who holds a Bachelor’s of Arts and Theological studies and he calls himself a sindonologist, which I had to look up, that means someone who studies the Shroud of Turin.

They concluded or asserted at least after looking at images pictures so you didn’t have the Shroud in front of them to look at pictures jpegs from when the STURP team did their work and they decided this is a patch. And so the patch itself is Medieval.

I think they said 16th century so like from the fire right and so since the patch was medieval and they tested the patch or some mixture of patch and not patch that yielded and erroneously old or young age when in fact it is a first century cloth.

Ray Rogers, lead chemist of STURP, published a peer-reviewed journal confirming the sample was heterogeneous.

So the paper is titled Studies On The Radiocarbon Sample From The Shroud of Turin. And in it Rogers argues for two main points. First the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original shroud, so it was a patch. Right and secondly the Shroud itself he gave a test to determine that the Shroud itself away from the place where the sample was done is old, older than the radiocarbon age.

They bring up another “paper” that critiques Rogers’ paper.

In 2015 a paper was published in that same Journal Thermochimica Acta by Bella et al. And it was titled There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending”. That’s the title of the paper so you don’t even need to read it kind of kind of giving away the clue.

A correction, it was an editorial, not a paper. See: … 3115003093

They note it makes claims with accusations which is unusual for a paper.

Bella concludes, “the work of the late Dr Rogers has been exploited to support a pseudoscientific hypothesis which is in no way confirmed by the reported data. Regardless of the debate on the hypothetical authenticity of the Shroud, the scientific community and the general public can only be misled by this paper.” Pretty blatant which is unusual in a peer-reviewed paper.

Since it was an editorial, and not a paper, it’s more permissable to make hyperbolic statements like this.

They next discuss an Arizona reserve being examined when dye was applied to the linen.

Pieces of the Shroud that were left over from dating so like we mentioned there was the reserve Arizona but more importantly Arizona didn’t test their second piece right. And so they looked at that at the pieces they had which had a clear chain of custody all the way from when they were kept in 1988.

Rogers did not hypothesize a dye was applied to linen, but to cotton. The purpose of the dye was to make the cotton that was new match the existing linen color.

Our sample is a fragment cut on the arrival of the Arizona sample in Tucson and held in custody by Jewel Summary of the “Patch” claim.

Since they have the reserve sample, actually all they have to do to counter the dating issue is to do another C-14 testing on their reserve sample. However, this time they need to make sure there are no contaminants in the sample, including any cotton.

Niche field found examined the tapestry work the the linen under a microscope looked at everything and said there’s no evidence of a patch whatsoever. It can be difficult to prove a negative sometimes so perhaps there’s a patch that’s just like so amazingly good.

I think a better test would be a chemical test, not just a visual observation. A test should be done to see if any cotton is in the sample. If there are not any, then another C-14 test should be done on it.

Before the radiocarbon dating literally nobody said anything about a patch including like textile experts who had examined the Shroud in person. For decades absolutely nobody thought that this area had was subject to a patch.

That might be true, but people knew ahead of time this was one of the most handled and contaminated sections of the entire shroud. But they still went ahead and used this section.

Also, since nobody was thinking there was a patch there, nobody was really looking for one. So, this is a reason the patch had escaped everyone’s notice, until Sue Benford noticed the weave differences.

The nuns who had access to this patching technology when it was near the
image and like more central and therefore more important they did like the crappy slap job patches but they got like the da Vinci of patching.

It’s not likely the Poor Clare nuns did the invisible reweave. As they noted, the patches that we know they did for the 1532 fire damage was very rudimentary.

Then they discuss Rogers’ proposed dating using vanillin.

Basically the point he was trying to make is there’s no vanillin everywhere and a fire would have impacted things unevenly but if the fire was such that it got rid of all of it then it would all be gone.

Actually, I do not believe the widely claimed theory that the burn marks are caused by molten silver. See:

They summarize their arguments why there are discrepencies in the 1988 C-14 dating.

So to summarize this whole thing with the radiocarbon dating. The radiocarbon dating does have discrepancies. That it definitely does the radiocarbon dating results in the 80s have discrepancies they have a systemic bias between different labs. That appears to be because of a difference in procedure with one of the labs versus the other two, because the other two lads match very well one of the labs doesn’t quite match but the difference is very small and so with just a tiny bit of contamination that one lab was better at getting rid of than the other that would be enough to explain the differences.
The invisible patch hypothesis doesn’t hold up to scrutiny it has all the hallmarks of an ad hoc assertion just thrown out there in order to save it from this method.

They don’t see their double standard when they also have made ad hoc assertions that the discrepencies are a result of contamination, which they have no evidence of.

They mention the WAXS dating and compare it to C-14 dating.

In 2019 in the Journal Heritage there was an article called X-ray Dating of ancient linen fabrics by Dicaro et al and they were proposing a new method of testing old linen.

So one new method that’s brand new not tested we’ve got that on one hand and then we’ve got radiocarbon dating which has been used for decades by labs all across the world.

The science of C-14 dating is not in dispute. Properly used, it can give a reliable date. But, obviously if you fiddle with the data, then it is not properly used.

They conclude that skeptics should hold all conclusions lightly. However, it is obvious many skeptics do not hold to the TS being a fake lightly.

We’re not saying that this method couldn’t be feasible or couldn’t give a record. We just don’t have enough information at this point and their track record is leaning more towards like right. So as skeptics it’s important to hold all our conclusions lightly.