Several reports suggest that images of the Shroud of Turin contain faint religious inscriptions that support the view that the Shroud has special religious significance. Against this background, we investigated effects of contextual information on detecting religious inscriptions using an image of plain modern linen with no religious provenance and containing no writing. The image was viewed in three contexts: In the Neutral Context, participants were told that the image was of a simple piece of linen; in the Religious Context, participants were told that the image was of an important religious artifact; and in the Religious Context + Options condition, participants were also given plausible word options. Very few words were detected in the Neutral Context, significantly more in the Religious Context, and most in the Religious Context+Options condition. Some implications of these findings for reports of inscriptions in the context-laden conditions surrounding the Shroud of Turin are discussed.
Sheen, M., & Jordan, T. R. (2015). Effects of Contextual Information on Seeing Pareidolic Religious Inscriptions on an Artifact: Implications for the Shroud of Turin. Perception, 44(12), 1427-1430. https://doi.org/10.1177/0301006615607156