Maybe I should keep that headline in a file so I wouldn’t have to keep typing it over and over.
The latest in the string of birthers at WorldNetDaily pretending to be document experts is Tom Harrison, someone whose “credentials” indicate no experience with the technical internals of graphic formats or document forensics. His expertise is claimed in graphic design and other non-graphic computer-related topics.
What struck me personally about Mr. Harrison’s report was this:
Grabbed and moved around as objects, the two groups of dots can be placed at the top of the document, giving the appearance of a large butterfly chasing a smaller butterfly, as seen in Exhibit 14.
Do you see any butterflies? I have just been reading Michael Shermer’s book The Believing Brain, where he talks about people who believe weird things, and in particular how the brains of conspiracy theorists are wired to see patterns that aren’t there. Here’s anecdotal evidence that Harrison could be suffering from a wide-open pattern recognition mechanism and an underperforming error discriminator. Usually we don’t get this kind of insight into particular birthers.
One of the hallmarks indicating that the Obama certificate was not constructed by adding text onto security paper background is that the layer under the text doesn’t show the security paper background; it’s white. If I physically print on a patterned background, the background is still there under the type. If, however, I scan that document and then remove the text from the image, there’s nothing under the type, and this is what we see with the Obama long form. It appears as if the document was scanned and PDF optimization separated the black and white text from the colored background, and what we see is that under the text there’s nothing, just white space.
What Harrison says, in a very round about way, is that it’s not just white space under the text, that the following is impossible:
two opaque colors cover each other, something that cannot be the result of a scanned piece of paper, where there can only be one color at any one pixel position.
Well, you say, isn’t that right? If you scan something into one big bitmap and then break it into layers, won’t you indeed only have one thing in one layer and not something different at the same place in other layers?
That might be true if all the layers were bitmaps, but the colored background layer (the green basket weave design) is not a bitmap, but a lossy compressed image. The background layer in the Obama long form is a relatively low resolution image and when one zooms in, the software approximates and smooths the edges, making it appear that some color is underneath the text. Mr. Harrison proves that he’s no expert when it comes to internal graphic formats, but just a birther with an opinion.
I left this comment at WorldNetDaily:
WorldNetDaily could make this all go away.
All they have to do is hire a real document examiner accredited by The American Board of Forensic Document Examiners or the American Society of Questioned Document Experts to look at the Obama long form and give an opinion.
If they said the form was fishy, the birthers would have the ammunition to move forward, and if they said it was OK, then we could all get on with our lives knowing that Barack Obama was proven Hawaiian born.
But no, WND and all of the birthers run away as fast as they can from their only chance to win. WND trots out these self-appointed experts, who by their own admission and the quality of their analysis know next to nothing about what they are talking about. All they do is stir the pot, blow smoke and distract the discussion.
Where’s the document expert?
In all fairness, WorldNetDaily did contact someone who might be considered an expert, as least someone who has testified in court on technology issues, although not precisely in the area we’re dealing with. This expert is Ivan Zatkovich of eComp Consultants. For some reason, WorldNetDaily wrote about Zatkovich’s report, but they did not release the actual report (unlike what they did for their various crank experts). What Zatkovich reportedly said, once you strip all the spin, is that he found nothing inconsistent with manual enhancement of the document to improve readability.