Mathematical Proof that Birthers are Fools (and Jerome Corsi is a Con-artist)

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Jerome Corsi is a right-wing writer, known mainly for writing hatchet-job books about Democrats. His Swift-Boater opus “Unfit for Command” was a important factor in John Kerry’s loss to GW Bush. It was completely discredited too late.

His latest book tries to “prove” President Obama’s short-form birth certificate is a fake. Since the book came out within days of Obama released his long-form birth certificate, and Corsi still has a paperback edition to sell, to continue his quest to separate gullible Tea-Partiers from their money, he now has to attack that.

To that end, he’s posted in his column on WorldNetDaily Mathematical ‘proof’ Obama birth certificate a forgery.

In the article, Corsi quotes “a prominent software engineer who works as a high-level programmer for a state government”, who refuses to be named because he fears he’ll lose his job — which I think is a legitimate concern, since publicly slandering someone with obviously manufactured evidence is frequently a firing offense.

So, I am also a “prominent software engineer” who is, however, willing to be named (James Curran, in case you missed the masthead) and can even prove his prominence with a resume of top-level jobs, magazine articles, user group talks, and industry awards. And I going to prove that Corsi and his fanciful “prominent software engineer” are liars.

Much of the start of Corsi’s article deals with the multiple layers in the PDF file which shows their ignorance of how PDFs deal with scanned documents, but that can be explained as merely a matter of stupidity, not deceit, and has been dealt with by others

The real fraud comes when they they get to the meat of the article, when they analysis Obama’s mother’s signature. Here, the “unnamed prominent software engineer” (hereafter UPSE - feel free to pronounce it “oopsie”) claim that by “zooming into the maximum”, the letters in the signature are shown “in perfect alignment across the bottom, exactly one pixel from the bottom line” – something that “No person can write with mathematical perfection”.

The problem here is that the images which show that - exhibits 3 & 4 in Corsi’s article - were deliberately manipulated specifically to create that illusion.

It easy to see for yourself the manipulation - just look at the images Corsi gives us. Below are directly from the WND article (follow the link & see for yourself).


This, which Corsi refers to as “Exhibit 5”, is a slightly zoomed selection from the PDF released by the White House.


This, which Corsi refers to as “Exhibit 4”, is what UPSE alleges is a selection of the above, zoomed even further and is what shows the alignment he claims.

So, how do we know that “Exhibit 4” is a fraud? Well, the first clue can be seen just by looking at the two images UPSE gives us. Look at the first “a” in “Obama” in the top image. You’ll notice some white in the middle of it. But, if you look at the same letter in the lower image, that white space it gone. Similarly, the end stroke of the capital “O” has a little hook in it in the first image, but that’s gone in the second. How could the zoomed-in image have less detail? (As a side note, it’s rather silly of UPSE to be talking about the “mathematical precision” of the signature, when “Exhibit 5” clearly shows three completely distinct lower-case “a”s.)

To see the truth, let’s make our own zoomed image. Right-click on the top image (I’m going to assume you are using Windows; You’ll have to adapt if you are using a Mac). You can use either the image above or the one on WND - they are the same. From the Context menu, choose “Copy” (or “Copy Image” if you’re use Chrome or Firefox). Then open a graphic editor. Anyone will do. I’ll use Windows Paint here, because I know everyone has it. So, click Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Paint. Click the “Paste” icon on the toolbar, click twice on the (+) in the lower right to zoom the image to 300%, and it’ll look much like this:


This is what “Exhibit 4” should look like if Corsi & UPSE weren’t lying. Of course, this image completely disproves UPSE’s point: It’s quite obvious that the letters are NOT “in perfect alignment across the bottom, exactly one pixel from the bottom line”. The upper points of the “m” extend above the top of the first “a”, but are below the top of the second “a”, while the “b” and the lower points of the “m” extend below either “a”.

So, how did UPSE fake the images used for Exhibit 3 & 4: Again, simple enough to do, and while most graphics editors can handle the task, Windows Paint can’t. So, I’ll use the excellent freeware app, “Paint.Net” (warning that page has several ads which also contain the word “Download” - the one you want is in the upper right). Install if necessary & launch it. The image should still be on your clipboard, so just choose “Edit -> Paste in to New Image” (If that didn’t work, you may have to do the right-click/copy from the browser image again). Zoom the image to 300% by clicking the (+) on the toolbar twice. You should see our friendly large scale image we have above. Now comes the fun part : Choose “Effects -> Distort -> Pixelate”. Set the cell size to “5” and click OK. What you get looks remarkably like UPSE “zoomed” image:


So, what is done when you “Pixelate”? Well, the fact that it’s in the “Distort” category of effects should tell you a lot. Basically what happens, is the graphics editor takes 25 pixels (a 5 by 5 block), and replaces them with one big solid color block which is the average of all the pixel that were there. We are left with 1/25th the information in the original. In other words, UPSE was only able to “prove” his lies by throwing away 96% of the detail in the image.

And I think that should be our new slogan for Jerome Corsi and WorldNetDaily: “4% truth and 96% lies”

[Update 16-Jun-2016, I’ve recently learned that that UPSE is most likely Mara Zebest, who is Corsi’s favorite “expert” on these matters. She is a graphic artist and contributor to the book Inside Photoshop for editions prior to 2003. Which means a) she’s not really a “software engineer” as the term is used, b) she clearly knows enough about Photoshop to distort the image as I described, and c) she clearly knew that she was distorting the image, not enhancing it. But I do apologize for using the wrong pronoun for her.]