10 Famous Paranormal Hoaxes

The Shroud of Turin
Roman Catholic Father Christopher stands in front of a replica of the Shroud of Turin in the Notre Dame de France Hospice, Jerusalem. Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images)

Many faithful believers exalt the Shroud of Turin as the very same "clean linen cloth" in which the crucified Jesus Christ was wrapped before rising on the third day from his tomb. The yellowed piece of cloth, roughly 14 feet by 4 feet, (4 by 1 meters) bears the faint, but unmistakable imprint of a bearded man marked with wounds consistent with that of crucifixion [sources: Thurston, Squires].

The relic resides in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. But centuries of controversy have cast serious doubts on the shroud's authenticity.

Catholic Church documents dating from 1389 show the presiding French bishop petitioning the pope to put an end to the "scandal" surrounding the shroud at Lirey, France [source: Thurston]. The object was well-known to be the work of a local artist, who created it not as a hoax, but as part of an Easter celebration. Once displayed, the adoring crowds mistook it for the real thing, stained with the very sweat and blood of the Savior. The relic passed through several hands before arriving in Turin in 1578 [source: Knapton].

Carbon dating has never successfully linked the fibers of the cloth to the time of Christ, although Italian scientists published a new theory in 2014. Apparently, a powerful earthquake in 33 C.E. could have released enough radioactive emissions to not only imprint the image of Christ on the cloth, but alter the molecular structure of its fibers in such a way as to produce incorrect carbon dating results [source: Knapton].

Anything's possible.