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Linguistic analysis expert debunks Obama ghost writer theory

Obama's memoir, Dreams from my FatherPhilocomp.net is an academic website developed by Professor Peter Millican of Oxford University made in support of the “New Degree Programme in Computer Science and Philosophy at Oxford University.” I found the web site through some research on authorship identification software and a discipline called Stylometry. I didn’t have in mind Jack Cashill’s book that claims Bill Ayers is the ghost writer of Obama’s “Dreams from My Father,” but that is certainly within the purview of stylometry and Millican’s expertise.

Professor Millican provides a detailed analysis of Cashill’s claims that technically-inclined readers will certainly want to read, but the summary is this:

I have prepared the following analysis, which will I hope make clear how I see things in regard to the Ayers allegation made by Jack Cashill, an American author. In short, I feel very confident that it is false.

Millican notes that the writing styles of Bill Clinton and Bill Ayers are far more similar than Ayers and Obama.

Old News! Conservative Fact Check retracts birther claim

In a stunning reversal article in December of 2012, Conservative Fact Check, a web site on my Ugly list, said:

Over the holiday break we’ve been taking another look at all the evidence, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the claims that Obama’s birth certificate are just that — claims.

To be clear: it might be fake. And, it might be the case that scientists have genetically engineered a cat that looks, acts, and talks like a dog. Both are possible, but unlikely. If it looks, acts, and barks like a dog, it’s usually a dog.

Why the reversal? Their first reason should be obvious to anyone:

The experts… aren’t.

As for Joe Arpaio and Mike Zullo:

So perhaps TechDude is just a bad apple, right? Perhaps he meant well, and was simply operating under the misguided notion that it was acceptable to fudge here, exaggerate there in pursuit of what he saw as the greater good (as Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s posse was caught doing). There must be efforts by other experts that support the forgery theory, right?

Well… no.

Light fuse and run away: Paul Irey finds another “anomaly”

Paul Irey once more proffers a bogus argument that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, and then leaves the country.

In what he calls an “incomplete study,” Paul Irey, amateur birther image sleuth,  professional typewriter user, and newly minted American expatriate1, has pointed out yet another “anomaly” in Obama’s long form birth certificate that he thinks may be the “best yet.” Irey says:

… I feel that this particular evidence is impossible to refute.

Irey’s argument, in a nutshell, is that comparing Obama’s birth certificate to another example seems to indicate that the security paper pattern on one is a different size than the security paper pattern on the other. For your reference, here is the image Irey made to show his observation (click to enlarge):

The Hawaii Department of Health does not routinely issue birth certificates like the long form supplied to President Obama any more. It requires a special waiver. The “Alan” certificate was reportedly printed in 1998, and it was almost certainly made prior to the Department of Health adopting its 2001 policy to stop issuing photocopied certificates. That means 13 years elapsed between the creation of the two certificates, which hardly qualifies as “from the same period” as Irey describes it. I am not suggesting that the security paper changed in those 13 years because while possible, it is to my mind unlikely; however, the method of photocopying the book onto the paper, the copy machine and its settings are very likely to have changed.

Irey doesn’t actually explain his reasons, why he thinks the security paper in the two images should be the same. It looks like Irey did what I would have done for a first pass, “calibrate” by resizing the images to match up the printed text. If one does that (and I tested it myself), the Obama security paper basket weave pattern does appear smaller than that on the Alan certificate, and I get a result just like what Irey presents. That calibration method is valid if and only if the text used for calibration is the same size on both certificates. It turns out that it isn’t.

Doug Vogt states in Point 5 of his Washington State lawsuit affidavit, that the Obama certificate was reduced to 87.5% size before printing onto the security paper. The Alan certificate was also reduced before printing. I discovered this by taking a sheet of Simpson Design Secure™ paper, the paper that I believe is used by Hawaii to print birth certificates, and simply typing on it. I then scanned that text and adjusted the Alan certificate’s text to the same size. The pattern on the security paper in the Alan certificate appeared much larger than the real typewritten example, showing that the Alan certificate printing was reduced. How much? To get a number, I took the size of the clip of the Alan certificate I was using to match text. The width of the clip was 2774 pixels. Next, I reduced the size of the clip so that its security paper background matched that of the real typewriting on security paper scan, and the clip width became 1926. That is, the Alan image by my calculation was reduced to roughly 70% size before it was printed on security paper.

So naturally when you shrink Obama’s certificate down to match the smaller text of the Alan certificate. the pattern on the security paper background gets shrunk too—what we see in the Irey figure.

Irey doesn’t say how he calibrated his images, but it is clear that the text size ended up being the same for both. Since the Alan certificate was printed smaller than the Obama certificate, we should not expect the background security paper to match when shrunk to make the text the same size.

I haven’t done all the work there is to do on this, specifically trying to use the difference in printing size to see if the security paper background enlargement exactly matches what it should be based on my calculations. I only showed that it changed in the right direction. A thorough job would also verify Vogt’s number for Obama’s certificate.


1For more on Irey leaving the country, see my article: “Disgusted birther leaves country.”

OAS supporters tout fake photo of event

If you do a Google Image Search on the following image, it may be described as a “Tea Party event” perhaps because it has appeared today on the Internet as an Operation American Spring attendance photo.

That copy comes from Before It’s News and linked from Birther Report. That’s quite a crowd! Unfortunately for the OAS folks, it’s not from today or yesterday. That’s really a photo of the 50th Anniversary of the March 8, 2013 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the iconic “I have a dream” speech from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s not cool to fake images and try to mislead people. Tsk, tsk.

Breaking News–recycled from 2012

I noticed something familiar in the Twitter feed that pointed to an article published today at the Resist The Tyranny site. It starts off:

“NEW DISCOVERY: A government document found buried in the online reference section of a Boston Public Library archive bolsters a growing mountain of evidentiary data against Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility to be president.

This is a good example of birther recycling. There’s hardly anything “new” about the story. It’s nothing but an excerpt from an old article at The Last Great Stand, from August of 2013, and it wasn’t a “NEW DISCOVERY” even then.

The story originated at the Daily Pen blog in 2012, one of the birther web sites that intentionally lies about evidence. Indeed, it was through researching that story that I found solid proof in INS statistical reports that the President wasn’t born in Kenya.

You can read my March, 2012 debunking: “US citizen births in Africa – rare in 1961” and the startling follow-up article, one of my all-time favorites: “Born in Africa myth crushed under weight of its complexity.”

Arduini bites Vogt

Tenacious debunker Frank Arduini has sunk his teeth into Douglas Vogt’s Seattle Court filings and come up with a new report in his series of debunking major birther documents,  “20 Shades of Vogt: Digital Document Forensics for Amateurs.”

I started debunking Vogt’s 20 points of forgery, but tired of the effort, plus I never could properly use the word “prolix” in a sentence. Arduini had the endurance and the grammar to pull it off.