“Hany Farid’s Pixelated Illusions” by Copernicus

In this nice blog, “Brane Space”, a scientist with a broad background across multiple disciplines who goes by the user name “Copernicus” offers a critique of the attempt by computer scientist Hany Farid to vouch for the backyard photographs of Lee Oswald, one of which was used to convict him in the mind of the public by its publication on the cover of LIFE magazine. As Jim Marrs and I have explained in our previous blog about this matter, Farid focused on one of a multiplicity of indications of fakery. Here, Copernicus demonstrates that Farid was not even competent in his analysis of the one feature that he studied, the nose shadows.

This raises serious questions about his (Farid’s) involvement in this entire matter, since he appears to have had no understanding of the issues involved nor to have conducted a proper search of the literature, which is the first step in standard scientific inquiries. Copernicus may have put his finger on the matter with his observation, “Farid’s lab is part funded by the FBI, known to be one of the main agents of evidence tampering and abuse in the wake of the JFK assassination”, which makes it less surprising. Indeed, Copernicus has offered the following astute observation:

“Interested people may also wish to process that, in 1995, after President Clinton ordered release of most of the pertinent files to do with the JFK case (as requested by the Assassinations Archives Review Board) the FBI immediately filed an appeal to prevent the release of any files. One is therefore left to wonder why now, they would be so eager to cooperate – since obviously they’d have had to supply Farid with his source photos for analysis.”

In my opinion, it was not simple incompetence that led a Dartmouth professor to publish unjustifiable conclusions but an effort to create additional confusion in the mind of the public in relation to what can be known about the death of our 35th president. I would like to thank Judyth Vary Baker for bringing this study to my attention. For Judyth’s own blog on this matter, visit her web site at oswald-framed.blogspot.com.

JFK AND THE UNSPEAKABLE – James Douglass interviewed on “The Real Deal” with Jim Fetzer (15 April 2009)


Hany Farid’s Pixelated Illusions
By Copernicus

As we remember the JFK assassination (Nov. 22, 1963), there remains a formidable assault on the truth of what happened that day, coming from various quarters. These interests and their lackeys and abettors never rest and are part of the “unspeakable” written about by James Douglass in his ‘JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters’. Most skeptics and conspiracy deniers, as Douglass notes, are unable to confront the unspeakable: they are more than happy to give it cover by their denial, and tendentious obfuscations, misdirections.

Among the more egregious recent examples has been German film maker Wilfried Huismann who claims to have done three years of research and exposed the Cuban government as the planners and funding source for the hit. He claims to have talked to “former KGB and Cuban agents”. Of course, this is abject nonsense. As Douglass makes clear (p. 227), the claimed letter from Oswald to the Soviet Embassy implicating associations with the KGB’s Valery Vladimirovich Kostikov – the chief of assassinations in the W. Hemisphere – was a fake, designed to set up the USSR, as well as its client state, Cuba, as the actual perps. In fact, as later Soviet documents show, the Russians did everything they could to stop the assassination, making use of a double agent – Richard Case Nagell. Nagell’s story is well told in Dick Russell’s exceptional book, ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’.

Sophisticated technological misdirection also abounds under the name of some profound mathematical or scientific formulations. Google the name “Hany Farid” and you will bring up about 5,000 pages on the Dartmouth computer software scientist – from almost as many news sources – all parroting that he has “proven the Oswald backyard rifle photo is genuine.” (One begins to wonder from this if the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird” is still going on.)

Fig 1a (left) and 1b (right): two of the Oswald backyard photos found

For those who may not know, this is the infamous photo taken in the Oswalds’ backyard on Neeley Street in Dallas, sometime in March, 1963 (as documented from FBI files by Mark North in his ‘Act of Treason’) . One of the photos is shown above at left (Fig. 1a) , another version at right(Fig. 1b). It was one of the major pieces of “evidence” purportedly tying Oswald to the Kennedy assassination, as a pro-Castro, Commie kook – out for vengeance.

Meanwhile, all the millions of red-blooded, Right wing extremist Kennedy haters – especially in Dallas- were ignored. See, for example, the ‘Wanted for Treason’ poster put up all lover Big D on the day. Newsweek columnist Kenneth Crawford in his article ‘The Enemies He Made’ pointedly noted the irony of a “lone pro-Castro gunman being fingered in a known citadel of right wing hate and extremism”.

But to most of us who’ve seriously researched the assassination, it merely discloses how well Oswald was perfectly set up as the patsy. The CIA actually has a word for it: “sheep dipping”. Military Science Prof John Newman actually documented a well–known case of it (prior to Oswald) in his book, ‘Oswald and the CIA’. The poor guy, Eldon Henson, didn’t even have a remote clue he was being steered and manipulated to perdition.

A much more disturbing aspect of the whole thing is that we know Farid’s lab is part funded by the FBI, known to be one of the main agents of evidence tampering and abuse in the wake of the JFK assassination. For example, long time researcher Harold Weisberg has documented how – when he inquired for the spectrographic evidence associated with the curb struck by a bullet near witness James Tague- he was told it was “destroyed”. The whole curb itself was removed after the impact dent from the bullet was manipulated and smoothed over. It was then sent back to FBI HQ in D.C. Why is this so critical? Because it constitutes evidence for a clear and separate shot which would wreck the Warren Commission’s specious “single bullet theory”, on which the lone assassin bunkum rests. Readers can see a video pertaining to this issue by using the link below:


Interested people may also wish to process that, in 1995, after President Clinton ordered release of most of the pertinent files to do with the JFK case (as requested by the Assassinations Archives Review Board) the FBI immediately filed an appeal to prevent the release of any files. One is therefore left to wonder why now, they would be so eager to cooperate – since obviously they’d have had to supply Farid with his source photos for analysis.

In Farid’s case, one is left to wonder what exact photo he has proven genuine – since there were four in all. One of those featured small irregularities including that the telescopic scope was absent, because a technician had accidentally retouched it. WHY has Farid not picked it up with this elite software, when it was openly admitted by the management of LIFE magazine? Or, was Farid not given the retouched photo? If not, why not? Perhaps to prevent him from saying that ONE photo at least was a fake?

Fig. 2: Oswald “Ghost” photo – found at Dallas PD Headquarters

Then there is the “Oswald ghost” photo recovered at Dallas PD headquarters some time after the assassination. It is shown above, next to another backyard photo. As one can discern, the “ghost” is a cutout into which another image can be pasted-superposed. The cutout image, many of us conclude, was obtained using a Dallas cop stand –in, which photo was also found in Dallas Police files, along with the ghost image. That photo is also shown (Fig. 2). As noted by researcher Jim Marrs (Crossfire, p. 452) photo specialist Robert Hester was called on 22 November, 1963 to help process assassination -related photos for the FBI and Dallas police. Hester reported (and his wife Patricia confirmed) that he saw an FBI agent with a color transparency of one of the backyard photos with NO figure in the picture. This has to be the same Fig. 2. Was the FBI in on the manipulation of images and photos? We don’t know, but given Farid’s connection to the FBI in funding his lab, can we really trust his work? Can we trust he analyzed the actual source photo? And if so – which?

Now, I am not implying here that Farid faked the photos used for his work, so we are clear. However, he had to obtain the backyard photos he used from someplace and most plausibly it was from the FBI -which funded his lab along with the Justice Dept. We already are well aware of the record of the FBI’s chicanery in JFK assassination –related evidence tampering: for example as noted earlier, and also when FBI special agent Richard Harrison (equipped with finger print ink and Oswald’s alleged rifle) went to Miller’s Funeral Home where the slain Oswald lay, in order to get ex post facto fingerprints which weren’t there originally[1]. (As Walt Brown notes, the Dallas PD never bothered to print him, like they never bothered to take detailed notes of his answers to questions[2]). So, why on Earth believe now that these guys have somehow become paragons of truth, virtue and openness now? It makes no sense.

Conceptual Spaces Analysis:

Consider a frame (rectangular) metric space d(x,y) which can be resolved into successive “shell frames” or concentric rectangular frames: d1(x1, y1), d2(x2,y2)……..dn(xn, yn) with the nth shell nearest the outermost limit of the photographic field.

The 3D visualization and modelling given by Farid’s computer modelling is found not to be the most natural one from a perceptual point of view, and we know a genuine conceptual space approach there must be both phenomenal and scientific aspects. While the latter interpretation is based on a structure of accepted dimension from say an optical or computed scientific theory, the phenomenal invokes the psychological structure of the perceptions of humans.

Let us generically examine the scientific aspects of the photo.

In numerous tests, given the metric space sequence above, if the photo is slowly expanded shell frame by shell frame toward the limit dn(xn,yn) it is found that subjects do not focus at the center of the generating field but at extreme points in the horizontal and vertical directions. These expansion rates for the purported Oswald photo might be described:

D(y’) = D(y) + D(z) – 1

D(x’) = D(x) + D(z) -1

Transformations and hence weights for respective dimensions (defined for specific pixel distributions) would be subject to Stevens’ power law such that:

d’(x) = wH×(d(x)^bH)

d’(y) = wV×(d(y)^bV)

where: D(y) ( (d(y)b)

and :

D(x) ( (d(x)b)

Technically speaking, since a (1963) emulsion of silver iodide will tend to displace or migrate over time (as anyone with old photos can attest) one actually needs to deal properly with D(x) and D(y) using fractional calculus for computations, such that:

D_t(x^b) = G(b + 1) / G[b – t + 1]^x(b – t)


D_t(y^b) = G(b + 1) / G[b – t + 1]^y(b – t)

Where the G –functions are Euler Gamma functions (see previous blog entry on these from two years ago)

The use of D_t(x^b) and D_t(y^b) make the reasonable assumption that any transformation from specular dots on silver iodide based emulsions will undergo some drift in rectangular coordinates such that: d’(x) = wH×(d(x)^bH) and d’(y) = wV×(d(y)^bV).

Fig. 3: Regions near right eye in 2 photos and the fractional pixel deviations

An illustration of applying the parameters d'(x) and d'(y) to respective pixel sub-frames is shown in Fig. 3. These measure fractal deviations in pixel density from one Oswald photo (1a) to the other (1b), and from which the weighted error in the conceptual space may be computed:

d_r (x,y) = { [(d'(y2) – d'(y1))]^2 + [(d'(x2) – d'(x1)]^2}1/2

where d_r(x,y) is the fractal resultant for the respective pixel distribution densities. This is critical in determining the ‘salience” of a dimension[3].

In addition to the above cautionary points, the deviation of optical density for solar radiation falling at an angle of incidence i exhibits only minor difference on such (silver iodide) film negatives. Indeed, for years when teaching introductory astronomy courses, it was precisely this property that allowed me to show my students how to use the old b&w film negatives to view the Sun during partial eclipse without risk of blindness. One can’t do that with the emulsions used today – assuming one uses old fashioned cameras! Hence, Farid’s counting on computer processed pixel re-transformations of old (presumed) silver iodide films today to affirm fakeness is akin to me looking at old home movies on dvd format and trying to ascertain where the exact point of editing occurred. Ain’t gonna happen.

In 1977, Canadian Defense Dept. Photographic specialist Maj. John Pickard noted the 99% probability the LIFE cover photo was a fake and noted each photo was taken from a slightly different angle. When superpositions of the images are performed, e.g. one photo laid atop another in succession, it is found that nothing matches exactly. As Pickard observed:

“Yet, impossibly, while one body is bigger – the heads match perfectly.”

Again, this can be explained using the same “spliced out head”.

It is incredible Farid has not performed this simple test, but then that would mean divorcing himself from his computer- which he obviously believes to be the next thing to an Oracle.
I myself have used an ordinary computer program, nothing fancy, to show that different solar insolations created the shadow inconsistencies, which again, can be extracted fractally using the above identified fractional transformation formula based on the Euler Gamma function. To make a long story short, and skip to the chase, the differential fractional calculus transformations disclose that the V-shaped shadow under Oswald’s nose is essentially identical in all photos (excepting the Oswald ghost, obviously), despite the fact the photos were taken at different times and hence some shadow frame deviation (d_s(nx)’) ought to be visible.

The one feasible exception to this would be if the photos were all taken near noon local time (CST) and within no more than about 5 minutes of elapsed time. The minimal shadow length at noon for a location is given by:

L_m = H/ tan (ALT)

where H is the height of the object (e.g. man) and ALT is the solar altitude at meridian transit for the latitude. As it turns out, on March 31, 1963 (the documented date from Warren Commission files for the backyard photo), one can compute (using a specialized computer program) the maximum solar altitude on the local meridian at noon (for lat. 32 deg 47’ 09” for Dallas, TX) as 57.o deg.

This means that if the photo is legit, and conforms to the correct solar meridian crossing on that date, Oswald’s shadow (given his recorded height on his draft card of 5′ 9″ or 1.74m) can be no longer than 1.12m (3.7′), which sets limits on how far he can be located from the picket fence. My own computer software program that transforms a 2D perspective into a 3D one to obtain projected shadow lengths, shows that the actual length of shadow was more like 2.1 m (6.9′). This shows that at least two of the photos could not have been taken on the same day, if taken at all. Indeed, the massive discrepancy shows fakery ….but which Farid’s seemingly superb software can’t catch.

Speaking of software, I once worked (3.5 yrs.) for a radiotherapy software corporation, which included preparing technical and regulatory (FDA) draft documents for advanced treatment systems – once of which included three dimensional human head simulations/constructions for stereotactic radio-surgery. What I found as I went into the work was that even a tiny, innocuous assumption in the wrong place could translate into a significant aberration or displacement of the ‘head model’ and disrupt the stereotactic field (e.g throw the planning field off markedly from the real 3D head target region). Meanwhile, we have Farid – in his re-creation of a 3D “virtual Oswald head” – tied to the suspicious photographs, making assumptions galore. At no point does he quantify those in terms of standard errors, or even standard deviations – and as I showed fractional calculus has to be used for this. In addition, he doesn’t inform us how specific sub-modules of his program interact. Again, he assumes that what he generates as data is useful, but is it?

In my program runs of the sub-modules for the stereotactic software I also originally made assumptions that interfacing modules wouldn’t be affected. I was wrong. Even a small, inconsequential error of the order of a single pixel in an accepted stereotactic image often resulted in deviations, displacements many times greater. Many of these sort of internal software deviations can be traced directly to the modularity applicable to a given software program. Modularization allows the software designer to decompose a system into functional units, to impose hierarchical ordering on function usage, implement data abstractions and develop independently useful subsystems. As I discovered on further examination of the modules, there occurred some breakdowns in mutual exclusion – an attribute necessary to preserve modularity. Basically, “ME” is needed to ensure multiple processes don’t attempt to update the same components of the shared processing state at the same time.

Most of the 3D image problems associated with the pixel distributions were resolved once I had collaborated with a fellow worker to arrive at a verification plan, specifically to verify projections in spherical geometry from the center of the head outward. To do this a sound test plan had to be drawn up. The test plan when run through and yielding its output must conform to the precise design specifications. For some mock patient “P1” – at the time this program was developed, one had to ensure the 3D virtual coordinates X,Y,Z fit accurately to the actual 3D head. Even a 1 mm deviation would produce inaccurate targets.

This was nothing to trifle with considering that – unlike Farid’s innocuous pursuits to do with photo-shopped fake images- one might elicit major damage to healthy brain tissue via a linac (linear accelerator beam), a proton beam or highly focused gamma rays.

Basically, my experience with highly sophisticated computer software was never ever to trust its output fully without doing perception-based counter checks- including using counter-models which attempted to falsify the output or results. This is also why conceptual space analyses are critical. As a presumptive cognitive scientist would also point out, one must exercise extreme caution in transitioning from one form of representation (say phenomenal) to another (say, scientific). Peter Gärdenfors makes this abundantly clear[4]:

“..when the goal is to explain cognitive processes, their geometrical structure should not be derived from scientific theories that attempt to give a ‘realistic’ description of the world, but from psycho-physical measurements that determine how our phenomenal spaces are structured.”

In the above context, I am convinced that Farid’s preoccupation with statistical disparities or deviations in pixel density is only useful provided he knows the full and complete history of the object-film-photographic emulsion he is investigating. In particular, what criteria has he to implicitly trust the source photo? As my brother, a former photographic specialist with the Air Force in the 1960s also pointed out to me:

“First of all he’d have to have had the original photo of Oswald, not a copy, which I doubt very much he had, since the Feds confiscated it and only allowed reprints. Secondly, in those old photos there were no pixels to measure since all photos of that period were taken with film type cameras and no pixels were on them to measure. The photos looked the same as a painted picture, smooth and even.”

To add to what he said, I do admit Farid could have generated pixels from the old photos, but also – as I pointed out – he had to use fractional calculus at all intercomparison points between all photos to be assured of a faithful reproduction or representation following any transformations of media.

One final point that may be worth noting, Marina Oswald Porter in three separate interviews (one of which I have on tape with Tom Brokaw, the others to assassination researchers Robert Groden (‘The Killing of a President‘) and H.L. Livingstone (‘Killing the Truth‘) averred she only took TWO photographs with the Imperial Reflex camera, neither of which was facing the stairwell – but rather were taken standing adjacent to the stairwell (where Lee is in the shown photos). Something to ponder!

[1] Walt Brown: 1995, Treachery in Dallas, Carroll & Graf Publishers, p. 332.

[2] W. Brown, ibid.

[3] Peter Gärdenfors, 2000, Conceptual Spaces, MIT Press, p. 20.

[4] Gärdenfors, P. :op. cit., MIT Press, p. 9.

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