That described me. I have no significant credentials. I am a jack of all trades. I had once shared Nickell’s skepticism about the shroud, mostly for the same reasons he gives. But, over time, I have changed my mind. Well, mostly. I now think the shroud may be real. Nonetheless, I agree with Nickell that many arguments from some proponents of the shroud’s authenticity cannot be supported by science or history. We will explore these in due course. We are a long way from being able to prove it is real. We may never be able to do so by today’s rigid epistemological standards—how it is that we know things to be true. This is largely due to our very advanced scientific and historical methods.
Nickell’s use of the phrase “sour grapes” is a peculiar choice of words. We can suppose (Nickell’s has a PhD in literature), that he referring to the Aesop Fable in which a fox, after not being able to find a way to reach some grapes on a vine, gives up and declares, “The grapes are sour anyway.” The implication is that scientists who had challenged the 1988 findings were doing the impossible and resorting to comical explanations. It is a peculiar way to characterize what scientists do regularly; that is to question, confirm, amplify or correct the findings of others who came before them.
Nickell does give a few reasons to doubt the validity of various challenges to the carbon 14 dating, but none that are in a sense scientific have anything to do with Rogers’ findings. Consequently, he falls back on one of his oldest argument, the one he has been stating over and over for years; the same argument Dawkins employed, the lack of any history before the 1350s.
It’s a dicey proposition given that the carbon dating was once thought to override any historical claim that the shroud was authentic. Then, given that the carbon dating was challenged, he attempts to bolster it with an absence-of-evidence historical claim.