Last summer, a group of researchers in Italy claimed in a paper that the controversial Shroud of Turin appeared to contain evidence of “great suffering” and “violence” for the bearer of the funeral cloth — purportedly Jesus Christ. But now the journal that published the paper, PLOS ONE, is retracting the article after agreeing with critics who said the research hung on too thin a thread. Literally. The authors based their assertions on an analysis of a single, 1-millimeter shred of the shroud — a bit like trying to describe the demise of the whaling ship Essex from a shard of its hull. What’s more, they didn’t rule out the possibility that what they claimed was human blood on the fragment of linen in fact came from an animal, or was even ink. The researchers remain undaunted, however, and stand by their article. The leader of the group, Elvio Carlino, says critics should not carry on “a crusade” against his findings.