Follow-up to Baba Wawa

I reacted in a negative way yesterday to comments from some sources that were dismissive of my findings regarding Pamela Courson and Barbara Walters. I thought about it in advance, that is, I did not just let them have it, but wanted to discourage them from what they were doing, becoming instant experts at photo analysis. I put somewhere between 15-20 hours into the project (I don’t keep track, in fact, lose track of time), and behind that is thousands of hours these past years doing similar work. For someone to skim the article, pick out an apparent defect, and dismiss the entire body of work is, to say the least, annoying. So I answered them in firm terms, as a warning.

That said, I do not imagine for a second that I am not capable of taking flights of fancy, being subject to confirmation bias, or reading too much into what is before my eyes. I’ll never forget that moment, using Photoshop overlays, that I first realized that Jennifer Aniston is in fact not a set of twins, and that all of the face chopping had produced bad results. My heart sank to my shoes, and a long period of clean-up followed. That was a flight of fancy. Bad technology produced quite a few of those.

I have, however, developed a good sense of photo trickery – last night, watching Jeopardy, the image below flashed on the screen as Alex read the clue, and I said out loud to my wife “That’s a fake!” I  rewound, froze the TV and took a photo, seen below. What do you think?

31D6F2A5-5AC5-4C5E-8F12-97E94BA44A92

This post is not to discuss that photo, though I have to wonder why, if the Selma march was real, the photo is fake. I have a larger purpose in mind.

It is this: When we do our work here, we are human and capable of error. But we all of backgrounds in this stuff – Tyrone grew up around the movie business, Steve is a lifelong environmental activist, and Maarten is a deep and serious researcher. Nothing hits the front page here without a lot of work. In that sense, the drive-by dismissals are not just annoying, but infuriating.

I have an idea about how commenters might better approach us, or me in particular, when you think I have screwed up. I covered some of this in the comments yesterday.

  • Regarding photos, try to duplicate the work yourself, using available tools like Microsoft Paint, available on all PCs, or Photoshop and similar programs if you are like me, wonky. When doing this work I do indeed screw up, but I never deliberately fudge results. Confirmation bias is always shadowing me. If you duplicate the work and get different results, we can move forward together on the same page, and get better at it.
  • If you don’t have access or desire to do that kind of work, don’t simply dismiss the results because they do not agree with your perceptions. Rather, point out the difficulties you are having and ask me to elaborate, to better make my case. This is the very best kind of criticism we can get, to work with us rather than attacking us.
  • My posts tend to be long (as are Maarten’s). I don’t care about that, but blog readers are often passing through and visiting several forums during a busy day. So they seldom get read in their entirety. (Did you think we don’t know that about you?) However, if you are going to take issue with me, I do ask that you take time to read carefully. It was obvious to me yesterday, at least at the outset, that my critics had not read carefully.
  • Finally, understand that if I turn up wrong, the biggest problem I am ever going to have is with that guy in the mirror. In the end, I do self-reflect, and if necessary, even as it is unpleasant, admit error. I hate that.

That’s all. I have met many good and interesting people via this blog, and want that to continue.

28 thoughts on “Follow-up to Baba Wawa

  1. Don’t take that yesterday’s story too deep into your heart, Mark. It’s only about the dead words on your display, worth as much as you make of them yourself. If they don’t ring true, as I can understand from your post and reply to the critique itself, there’s not much left to discuss. So why bother, really? It consumes precious time, which I’d rather see you spending on some new thrilling subject 🙂 On top of it all, I sincerely hope this made you more motivated to create even longer posts. But watch it, you may get accused of writer’s vendetta…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I open up POM to see if there are any new articles, I am extremely happy to find a lengthy one. Relaxing in bed with my pad in my lap and reading POM along with all the comments is one of my favourite pastimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I went to the Mathis conference in 2016, he said he was then focused on writing more and shorter articles. I said I liked the long ones, but the room went with shorter. I like a good long piece, like his Lennon piece, as it takes time and is relaxing to just slowly absorb lots of data.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. My view on these frontal facial comparisons that you do Mark, and I never questioned the amount of work you put into them, is that you are successful in:
    – true negatives – confirming 60s BW =/= 70s BW (there’s no question there; it’s clear they used 2 people for the same role)
    known true positives – confirming that you are you (takes confidence to put that on your blog)

    But that there is a lot of overlap left between true and false positives. People can have similar facial characteristics (distances), so the frontal alignment may look correct, while in reality you compare (and confirm) two different people. In my view that is what you did with Courson vs 70s Walters. Do you have data on how many of those comparisons looked like a match but later were proven false?

    I have put hundreds of hours in things that later appeared to be hoaxes. MH370 for instance. Still, I don’t see that time as lost. It was fun and I learned something and in hindsight even more.

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    1. I do not see it as time lost.

      Ask yourself

      Why was Pamela Courson with Jim Morrison? He was a fake person with a fake name and a fake bio who couldn’t have written the music attributed to him and who faked his death. How do two people who fake their death wind up as fake lovers?

      Why would Pam Courson fake her own death?

      I have seen many fake deaths for many reasons – to traumatize us (JFK, RFK, MLK, Lennon); to cash in on a fading artist (Elvis, Denver, Prince, Karen Carpenter); to close out a project (Morrison and the Doors, Hendrix, Cobain); retirement (Robin Williams, Denver, Jerry Garcia), and reassignment (DeWilde, Fuller, Joplin, Hendrix et al). The only category where I can place Courson is reassignment. Her work with Morrison (beard) was done. If that was all she was going to do, she could easily have merely retired from view, as Patty Hearst did after her public gig. Instead, other things were in store for her, and it was likely a public role, otherwise fake death would not be needed.

      So where did she go? This is the work that consumed us for months. Do you imagine we just stumbled on people? With Joplin we tried many, many people, only to stumble on to the fact that she was twins, which was making it incredibly difficult. Straight finally found her in Amy Goodman, and then located Amy Goodman’s twin. We don’t get much credit for sweat equity, but we sunk many hours into this project, had many false positives, and were on a steep learning curve.

      Courson was my project, my work. What I hear you saying in your “People can have similar facial characteristics (distances), so the frontal alignment may look correct, while in reality you compare (and confirm) two different people” is true of a large universe, but we are dealing with a small one, public figures (we now know but did not then that all famous people in the US are descended from royalty) perhaps 6,000 of them so that an exact facial match as I got with Courson is highly likely to be a real match. Add to that my not being married to frontal alignment, but also using profiles (with Courson and Walters – again, did you read the post?), and ears (that was what sealed the Freddie Mercury/Dr. Phil project).

      What I really hear you saying is what people have said all along about this work … “Why … that just can’t be!” And what you did yesterday was a brief skim and to locate a discrepancy on which to hinge complete dismissal of the work. Now, if you want to say that I am am not being precise enough in the work, which means only that it does not satisfy your naked eye, then again, do as I suggest: Replicate the work, and THEN falsify it.

      If you understood it better, if you understood the work behind it, the narrow field of possibilities for which fake death is used, you would learn that it is not so random as it appears. Courson had to land in a public spot, and I found her. If it were not public, she would not have have had to fake her death.

      I really don’t want to talk about this anymore, as what you did yesterday was a drive-by and I found it offensive. I will let you have the last word, I will read it, but I am done. I don’t think there is any point in doing any further research either. I made my case. If you think it is not Courson, then go find her. She is somewhere in public view, now 71 years old. These fake deaths of young people are not for nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark,
    I just wanted to post a “drive-by” to thank you for adding a disclaimer along with the displayed video that I provided. I didn’t even think to ask for one, so that was very thoughtful of you. You are a class-act Mr. T.

    The disclaimer doesn’t mean that I don’t believe you, or that I doubt your intentions. Your vehement defense of the work attests to its veracity. I’m just aware that I would be out of my element, so any opinion expressed would benefit no one. (Not that that has stopped me before.) 😦 Thanks for your hard work. You’ve certainly given me an intriguing new angle to consider in my future research projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Any study of uncertainty is a threat to the status quo. This is not the same as study that attempts (by design) to overcome it. Researchers do not always recognize their own biases and prejudices. Fewer yet openly disclose those in public view. The ubiquitous critique is usually no match for the honest, transparent researcher, IMO. It is, however, foolish to ignore devilishly clever attacks for what they are. Artists, poets, and researchers (formerly journalists) will always attract fire from the agents (masked or unmasked) of no change.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know about Baba Wawa but thanks for posting that hilariously fake Selma March photo. If I ever get around to starting my own blog I will post my analysis of it.

    Like

    1. Do so here … I will highlight it in a post. For me, I see the sign as a mask and a way of inserting the crowd behind, so that we see close people and far away people, but no one in between. That is because the far people were done in the dark room,and the close people knowingly posed for a fake photo.

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  6. I can’t post a photo analysis here because I need to post large photos and I don’t think the formatting of this blog allows that.

    But, take a look at this large version of the “photo”:

    Look just over the sign at all those hooded figures just behind it. They all look remarkably alike. As if photos of the same person in slightly different positions were cloned and pasted in to fill up the space. Then look to their right at the people walking along the side of the road. They are MUCH taller than the hooded figures which look like a band of dwarfs by comparison. And, there are also people farther back that are even taller. It looks like the “march” was in Middle Earth and consisted of hobbits and giants. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good work! I noticed the same thing with American soldiers marching into Paris .. that famous photo with arch d’triumph in the back ground. People on the street looking at them (there were very few) were larger.

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    2. I noticed the height difference, too, however I had just watched the film ‘Selma’ two nights ago where they show the people in the march kneeling to pray in the bridge scene, and I guess that scene deflected my thought pattern whereby I didn’t asses the photo further. The photo definitely show signs of crowd manipulation as in cut and paste the same people over and over again.

      Like

    3. The white guy holding the sign on the left looks almost like a cardboard cutout. He’s also walking at a 30 degree angle or so from vertical. It’s ridiculous…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That particular Selma march photo has gone through Photoshop. See here:

    http://fotoforensics.com/analysis.php?id=6b3d21b4df01193e506d749c2906f2d51138f938.5711125

    Software Adobe Photoshop CS5 Windows
    Modify Date 2014:03:01 18:05:44
    Artist Library of Congress

    Writer Name Adobe Photoshop
    Reader Name Adobe Photoshop CS5
    Photoshop Quality 12
    Photoshop Format Standard
    Progressive Scans 3 Scans

    And here is the Error Level Analysis (ELA):

    http://fotoforensics.com/analysis.php?id=6b3d21b4df01193e506d749c2906f2d51138f938.5711125&fmt=ela

    Like

    1. Collateral damage. The point, my conscious intent, was to discourage drive-by’s who spout instant expertise, and to offer a forum for open and honest disagreement and development of better techniques.

      There is a question in my mind as to whether the “instant experts” are low-level spooks who are paid to travel the blogs and discredit honest work, or just low-level intellects. It is, however, a distinction without a difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mark, I think you said it best a few weeks back, in the aftermath of a reply by Josh. Something like: “This ain’t a kindergarten classroom.” If Mr. Palmer was put off by this dust-up, as he claims, he should stay off the Internet completely. It’s a rough cyberworld out there.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. First time I’ve been to your site since my comment above, this time just out of curiosity about how you may have responded. Two quick points: one, I am not a one-time commenter – not only have I previously made multiple comments under the name “The Palmer”, but you refused to publish a comment I tried to post on January 18 giving one possible explanation of the photographic anomalies you noticed in the photo of “Walters” and her adopted child; two, the “childish exchange” I referred to above was simply the uninformed, amateurish back-and-forth of you and your readers regarding the Selma march photo on this page.

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          2. You are not the first to bring self-professed expertise to a site where we have been doing photo analysis for years. You want us to step aside, for even though it is the Internet where people can put forth credentials out of whole cloth without any accountability, we are to believe you. I have a set of eyes and a brain and can easily see that the Walters photo you disputed as being real and airbrushed to what … make the baby look overexposed and the mother underexposed … this was the product of darkroom expertise? If so it was crappy work. I am not buying either your credentials or expertise. The photo is easily seen to be fake.

            Like

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