If you want to jump ahead, I have with the help of a blog commenter come upon an article in which author Karen Leibowitcz that implies (actually, seems quite certain) that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the love child of the late Cuban premier Fidel Castro. I am going to take issue with that based on my own knowledge and experience in studying faces. But before doing that, I want to offer up a defense of the technology that I developed and use, and will use for Trudeau and Castro, called face splitting, or face chopping.
Quite some years ago I learned that in our late teens our skulls are fully formed, and will remain in that shape for the rest of our lives. The only exception that I have seen to this rule (there are probably others) is that ALS can cause skull deformities. Miles Mathis wrote a paper (dated 4/17/15 – it is a PDF and I am unable to link, so search for a paper titled Stephen Hawking Died and Has Been Replaced) claiming that Stephen Hawking died in 1985 based on the following language in Wikipedia:
During a visit to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research on the border of France and Switzerland in mid-1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia, which in his condition was life-threatening; he was so ill that Jane was asked if life support should be terminated. She refused but the consequence was a tracheotomy, which would require round-the-clock nursing care, and remove what remained of his speech. [ 55] [ 56] The National Health Service would pay for a nursing home, but Jane was determined that he would live at home. The cost of the care was funded by an American foundation. [ 57] [ 58] Nurses were hired for the three shifts required to provide the round-the-clock support he required. One of those employed was Elaine Mason, who was to become Hawking’s second wife.
Mathis speculates that Hawking died at that time, and was replaced by an impostor. I thought this a great opportunity to use my face splitting technique to show that the original and the replacement Hawking were two different people. However, because Hawking’s skull had been so misshapen by his ALS, I could not even compare him to the younger and real Stephen Hawking, and therefore had no basis on which to draw any conclusions. The replacement (impostor) was usually shown with a scrunched and distorted face. I do believe that Mathis was right, as Hawking’s longevity placed him far on the outer reaches of the Bell Curve, only one person surviving longer. That seemed unlikely. Far more likely he survived the disease for 22 years after diagnosis, dying in 1985, that itself a good long survival time. Why they kept him alive in the public mind is a different subject, and won’t be discussed today.
I was attacked in my early uses of the technique by a fellow known as JC, who likened me to be a John Candy impostor based not on on my technique, but rather just by gazing at photos, as most people do. It was a humor piece, and I accepted it in good grace, but wondered at that time if I could use my own photo over time to give evidence that the technique works. I happened to have a photo of me in my late 20s and another taken in 2016, age 66. In each I was looking directly at the camera and smiling, my head angle the same. (It is not unusual for people to assume the same poses and expressions over time.) Below is the result of that face split:
My ear lobes have lengthened, I have better teeth now than then, and of course the hairline has receded. But otherwise all features align precisely. I did nothing except place the pupils at common distance in both photos. I do not cheat or fudge on this stuff, ever.
What follows are some criticisms of my work, followed by one of my own.
Head angles cause distortion. This is true, and affects mostly the ears. A very slight inclination or declination of the head causes a disproportionate apparent movement of the ears. However, the other features remain aligned. The solution to this real problem is never to over-rely on the ears, and always be aware of the problem.
People often look enough alike, so that we can easily be fooled into thinking they are the same. Far more accurate is to say that faces are like snowflakes. No two are the same. In all my years of doing this, thousands of photos, I have seen the kind of precise alignment seen with my own face split above in two people I knew to be mere relatives. It was a father and daughter that I knew via Facebook. That just once, ever.
Family members often look much alike. We can usually tell that siblings are related. Twins can be identical, but still will not be precise match-ups. The most famous twins I have worked with (I cannot be sure they are identical) are the McCartney twins, Paul and Mike, seen below. Remember, these are supposed to be photos of the same guy, two years apart.
So, as noted above, for each boy I used MS Paint to shrink or enlarge the photos so that they are each set with pupil distance one inch apart. (I have also tilted the photo on the right so that the eyes are level.) I then chopped the face in half, and overlaid one on the other, again making sure the eyes are level and spaced one inch apart. Here’s the result:
It’s not even close. These two boys, claimed to be the same person by Joelle Steele in her book Face to Face: Analysis and Comparison of Facial Features to Authenticate Identities of People in Photographs (where I got the photos) are two different people. Oddly, Steele is considered and expert in facial analysis, and is even called as a expert witness on occasion. See with my photo above that my features, thirty years apart, align precisely. Neither the nose, mouth or chin align here. The differences here are not caused by angular distortion – we can see the ears align. If an expert like Steele can be fooled, I don’t hold much hope that the public will ever see this.
Remember that children Mike and Paul were dressed alike and looked to be the same age, as seen below (The yellow arrow points at a cowlick, a feature that would be with Mike throughout his life. It was inserted in another blog post.):
I suggest that this conclusively shows that Mike and Paul McCartney, using childhood photos, are twins, whether identical or fraternal I cannot tell. It also shows that the photos taken in 1957 and 1959, said to be two images of the same boy, two years apart, are in fact two different people.
Internet photos cannot be relied upon. They are often retouched. That is true. The photos used have to be from the Internet, as I have no other source. And, it’s a judgement call. I gather the photos used above have not been retouched, as no one ever thought some guy would come poking around sixty years later, looking for twins. They could remove the photos, but that serves no purpose as I have them downloaded on my computer.
I have done a lot of work with many different photos of many types. I’ve found that the more current the photo, the more famous the person, the less trust to place in a given photo. For instance, below is said to be Taylor Swift and her mom, walking side by side down the sidewalk:
My judgement: That is not Taylor Swift. It is a mannequin inserted in the photo via Photoshop. Look closely at the shiny pallor. I have no idea what’s up here. It’s just weird. [Similarly, I have found that Jim Morrison, John Denver, and Janis Joplin were artificially inserted in family photographs. In other words, they were musically gifted kids assigned to prominent families, but not real family members. I take that to mean they were under control, following orders.]
The very first photograph taken in 1826 or 1827 was probably left alone, but I would bet the second one taken was doctored. They’ve been doing so, monkeying with photos, since. Very little in the history of war is reliable photography. There is so much chicanery around events like 911 that the whole of the photojournalism around that day can be chucked. Keep in mind that with a famous person there will be hundreds if not thousands of photos online. They cannot retouch them all.
So how do I know that the photo I am using is genuine? I have to rely on my judgment and experience, and step back and fess up when I get taken for a ride. Short of that, am I to travel to the homes of the people in question and ask them to pose?
Different lenses create distortions … true enough. However, most photos will be taken with common equipment, often enough today, mobile phones. Also, there is a different type of equipment used in professional studio photography, and indeed that might create differences. Again, it is a judgement call. That is all I can say. Anyway, my eye pupil technique when doing comparisons will not work if there is lens distortion, so I can draw no conclusions, and won’t bother working with the photos. It’s either there or it is not, and when not, I walk away.
Finally, “I don’t see it.” I will bet that if I approach a stranger with my work on the McCartney twins above, that person will honestly look at the work and not be able to see the difference I highlight. This has to do with reliance on authority, the most common shortcoming in perhaps 99% of the American public. Their eyes will see what authority figures tell them they see. I cannot do a thing about that. This is perhaps another reason why the McCartney childhood photos are still online. Who’s gonna look, and even if they do, will they see what is hidden in plain sight?
My own idea of a fatal flaw: By setting pupils at a common distance, I can often tell that two people look alike, but more often that they do not. When there is a claim up front that photos are of the same person, my technique is legitimate. After all, it is not me making the claim, and if it is a true claim, then the results will show it. If the claim is false, the results will show that as well. But to take two people who look alike, whose facial features line up with precision, and claim that they are replicas, or Bokanovsky Brats, is less sure. I would need to place them side by side in photos to be sure that the head sizes are the same. So Tom Brady and Matt Damon look alike, and their facial features align precisely. But are their head sizes the same? I cannot be sure. That is indeed a flaw, one that no one else has spotted.
Here is the link I mentioned at the beginning. This is the one where the claim is being made that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the love child of the late Cuban Premier Fidel Castro. Below are two photos taken from the article. Both appear to be studio stills, so buyer beware.
Leibowitcz relies on side-by-side analysis. I have seen that technique fail countless times, as with Joelle Steele and the McCartney’s above. What is needed is a little more rigor, and face splitting, despite its flaws, can and does convey useful information. So I did the usual, leveled the eyes, placed the pupils one inch apart, and overlaid one half of one face over the other. Here is the result:
The features, eyes, nose, lips, chin, skull shape all line up precisely. Even the ears, the least reliable feature, line up. What to make of it? They were born 45 years apart, and so are obviously not the same person. Leibowitcz wants us to believe they are father son, and indeed the timing might be right. But parents do not produce replicas! Do you look exactly like your siblings? Your mother or father? I have three brothers, and people can easily see we are brothers, but they can also easily see we all differ significantly in appearance. Justin Trudeau had not only a father, but a mother from whom he got half of his DNA.
What to make of it? Are we being f***** with? Always a possibility. This might be someone’s idea of a joke, a prank, some lower-down Intel agent with too much time. If someone were to look at the genealogy of both these men, there might be common ancestry. But still, that does not mean replicas happen.
On this blog we have found scores of what I call “Bokanovsky Brats,” or movie stars who not just resemble one another, but look exactly alike with every facial feature aligning, along with the hair line. If you want to have some fun, place an image of Pierce Brosnan next to one of Charlie Sheen. I don’t expect you to do a face split, but just look at them, the hair, the hairlines, the eyes, nose and mouth and skull shape. They are virtually identical. My face split says so too.
What is going on with Trudeau of Castro? I have two answers: One, we are being pranked. Two, I have no clue.