September 12, 2004

More concerning story that 60 Minutes documents on Bush may be fake

I continue to find the CBS fake? memos story absolutely fascinating, from all sorts of angles. It's also a reminder as to why I'm of the scientist mindset and not a politician. This incident covers all sorts of issues:

Who do you trust? Which evidence do you believe? How do you find the truth amid a minefield of conflicting partisan claims and paid liars? Remember, in general, I believe there is objective truth, and that it matters deeply (which is why I'm so bad at politics :-().

If someone tells a blatant lie, then blows smoke about the lie (deny, deny, deny), do they automatically win at least halfway? (Petty bickering! Old news! Food fight! - on and on). The trivial answer is to ignore the problem, and that then favors the dishonest. Note truth is not in the middle - the documents can't be a little bit forged.

To me, people who say the forged document analysis is all about typographic trivia, are like someone who dismisses fingerprints as inconsequential grease-spots : What's all this about patterns in dirty smudges? How can we be expected to deprive someone of liberty, or even their life, based on some geek mutterings about whirls and ridges? Wow, those techs are really concerned with nonsense, building up a huge features database for comparison and arguing over whether something is a good match - what nerds! (Real men determine truth by running at each other with spears on horseback).

I was shocked that Dan Rather's defense compared the small-font superscript 'th' of the 1973 forged? memo with something like the obviously different 'th-bar' character of the service record (see second line). In fact, the latter shows what a custom-key really does look like. It's on the same line (i.e. not raised), and has a bar underneath for apparent typographic emphasis. The memo printing is extremely different. But what is truth ...

I find this under-linked (and not right-wing) source interesting:

For those who want my opinion...the documents appear to be done in Word, and then copied repeatedly to make them "fuzzy". They use features that were not available on office typewriters the 1970s, specifically the combination of proportional spacing with superscript font. The IBM Executive has proportional spacing, but used fixed type bars. The Selectric has changeable type elements, but fixed spacing (some models could be selected at 10 or 12 pitch, but that's all). The Selectric Composer was not an office typewriter, but apparently did use proportional spacing. These were very expensive machines, used by printing offices, not administrative offices.

Also note:

Update: Documents May Be Forgeries 09.10.2004

Serious questions have been raised about the authenticity of four documents that CBS News said it had obtained from the personal files of Bush's former squadron commander in the Texas Air National Guard. We are removing reference to them in our September. 8 article on the "Texans for Truth" ad until these questions are settled to our satisfaction.

So it's not just a "freeper/wingnut" issue.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in politics | on September 12, 2004 12:35 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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