In October of 2009, Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia in Italy, created an image that looked a lot like the Shroud. It was a combination of body rubbing and bas-relief rubbing using a pigment laced with acid. The acid formed an etched image in the cloth’s fibers that became noticeable after the pigment was washed away. However, it too, failed to reproduce the complex image on the Shroud. Nonetheless, in each instance, the media reported that the Shroud had finally been reproduced. They failed to note that they had previously reported the same thing. They repeated the story line that until now no one had been able to explain how the images might have been formed. Rebuttal to these claims, no matter how scientifically or logically justified, got scant attention.
When Garlaschelli’s attempt was reported in the press, a mild explosion happened in a corner of the Internet. In blogs, chat rooms and Twitter tweets, skeptics and proponents of authenticity verbally slugged it out for a few days. Fans of each attempt to explain how a forger did it surfaced, but not so much to defend a favorite theory but to disprove all the other theories. They succeeded admirably. It resembled a circular firing squad; no one was left standing. But bloggers, like cats and monsters in video games, have many lives. We can expect the same thing the next time someone shows how a forger created the images.