Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Testing the Shroud of Turin

When we started out with Lovemarks, I couldn’t resist having a go at metric maniacs who dismiss every idea unless it is nailed to the floor with facts. In fact I so disliked the way they sucked out emotion, I called them 'research vampires'. To their faces. What is it about people that they want to reduce everything to numbers? Last week Jack Welch said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Good!! Look, I can count as well as the next guy and I do appreciate that gravity is here to stay, but sometimes measurement just blinds you to what’s important.

That’s why I was astonished to see that science is having yet another probe at the Turin Shroud. Now I don’t think it matters whether you are a believer or not, the Shroud of Turin is a remarkable icon. Millions of people believe that it is the cloth that wrapped Jesus Christ when he was buried and that the image is a representation of him. Over the years, the Shroud has not just attracted believers but it has drawn scientists. They just can’t let this bone go. They test, they measure, they analyze, and now they photograph to bring this icon down to size. The first photograph was taken in 1898 and the latest effort is a 12.8 billion-pixel job cobbled together from 1,600 high-definition images. The conclusion from the Oxford lab was that the Shroud was a fake. Again. It was what science resolved 20 years ago and yet in 2000, when it was last displayed, three million people saw it. This is about emotion and faith, not about reason. Testing the Shroud to prove it is real is just as silly as trying to show it’s a twelfth century con job. As long as people feel such a passionate connection with it, all the photographs, measurements and carbon dating won’t make a scrap of difference. Millions will make the pilgrimage to see the Shroud the next time it is displayed publicly in 2025. Let it go guys.


Susan Plunkett said...

Hmmmmm. (That is a thought expression not a 'yum' one).

Part of what makes the human experience unique is the propensity to have faith when no facts exist to support that.

Another part of what makes the human experience unique is investigating - being, if you will, myth busters or myth provers.

I'm not sure that ongoing attempts to 'prove' the credibility of the shroud actually matters that much. It certainly won't overly matter to the vast majority who will, as you suggest, make the pilgrimage.

But some people simple love to investigate and I suspect its as important to allow them the room to do that, as it is to allow people with simple faith to have their experience.

In terms of the metric maniacs. Kevin, when Saatchi or other organisations hire people - certainly at particular levels or job areas - what sort of things do they look at? Isn't the experiential background of people so often equated into dollars part of that? Aren't creative ideas et al so often boiled down to what revenue they generated and so on?

Sense making Kevin..sense making. Whether it be by faith or numbers..but I can betcha bottom dollar (no pun intended) that in many organisational processes, numbers are more important than faith ever will be because faith is a risk void that most boards will not entertain; not for core business tho they may for philanthropy.

Susan Plunkett said...

I realised after I clicked submit how often I've raised here the interplay between emotion and reason. You tend to separate them Kevin; I tend to want to look at both or consider both as equal players in what constitutes say a Lovemark. I Lovemark X wine because I love the taste, I can describe it in a comparative way. It's not just a fluffy mysterious cloudy response; it's based on reason as well as enjoyment. I may not consider the reason often but the reason comes out when I go to talk about a consumer or client choice.

You've always spoken about Lovemarks as if people don't apply reason to their choices and I have consistently come back to the table and challenged this. Buying without reason is a luxury most people don't have. Or, this is my view of the world.

An odd little example. I pull up at a particular set of lights quite often and always wave away the bloke who wants to wash my windows. He's never rude, never assumes a negative expression. The other day I watched him being turned away car after car and I rolled my window down and called..hey mate and waved him over. I poured some change into his hand and said..this is because you never bother me and I appreciate that.

Now, to me that is a response - both emotion and reason. I drove away feeling really good about what I did - more emotion than reason but reason was still there.

If I Lovemarked the window washer there would be reason and emotion there also.

Dean Calin said...

I was shocked to read that a majority of Americans, products of a mandatory educational system in place for over 100 years, do NOT believe in evolution. Most of these DO believe in UFOs, Bigfoot and ghosts. I'm not sure what this says, but I am shocked and disappointed all the same.