What do you believe in the “Photoshop era”

The Birthers movement has surfaced a Kenyan birth certificate issued before Kenya existed. This was to refute the testimony and documentation of Hawaii government officials and newspapers. Who do you believe?

The truth is that it is extremely easy to create fake documentation these days, Just ask Dan Rather who still thinks he had official National Guard documents despite the modern fonts. Jamais Cascio describes Five New Rules for the Photoshop Era that an put a perspective on how to consider the authenticity of documentation you may encounter that is offered to support some position or other.

hacks don’t have to convince skeptics–they only need to strengthen believers. Faked materials just need to be convincing enough to cause doubt in the minds of people already inclined to believe a lie. For people trying to undermine political opponents, uncertainty is both easy and useful.

What the five rules boil down to is that you should look at sources, provenance and redundancy as criteria to judge the authenticity of documentation. Anonymous and single source documents, such as with the Kenyan birth certificate and the National Guard memos, should be highly suspect. Multiple sources are better such as the newspaper notices of a birth or the Swiftboat veterans’ testimony. The old newspaper accounts have an additional benefit as they had no axe to grind in publishing their notices at that time.

This all relates to why you may need to show an ID or provide certain special information in using credit card payment methods. The issue isn’t the documentation as much as it is some assurance that it is you that is making to deal. Much of business works this way. The documentation such as contracts and agreements are fine but it is the deal between people face to face that really counts.

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