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?
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.