Fake Photos Alter Real Memories

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  • #1
Evo
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It's been done already, it makes you wonder how widespread it is. Just posting a photo out of context can completely change the reality of a situation, it doesn't even need to be "doctored".

Some researchers are worried that digitally altered photos could alter our perceptions and memories of public events.


To test what effect doctored photos might have, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Padua in Italy showed 299 people aged 19 to 84 either an actual photo or an altered photo of two historical events, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and the 2003 anti-war protest in Rome.


The original Tiananmen Square image was altered to show a crowd watching at the sidelines as a lone man stands in front of a row of tanks. The Rome anti-war protest photograph was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among the crowd of demonstrators.


When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20071126/sc_livescience/fakephotosalterrealmemories [Broken]
 
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  • #2
ZapperZ
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It is also a further evidence on why anecdotal evidence is different than scientific evidence. We know our minds can play tricks on us. That is why science has a methodology to make it produce a more rigorous evidence than simply someone claiming to observe something.

The exact reference to this work is:

Dario L. M. Sacchi et al., Applied Cognitive Psychology v.21, p.1005 (2007).

This also isn't unusual. Many other studies have http://mydisneymania.blogspot.com/2007/09/bugs-bunny-at-disneyland.html" [Broken], with the same effect.

Zz.
 
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  • #3
Evo
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That's cute about Bugs Bunny.
 
  • #4
russ_watters
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The same problem applies in prosecuting criminals and the police (and lawyers) are keenly aware of it.
 
  • #5
Evo
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It's why hoaxes and internet conspiracy theories flourish on the internet.
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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It is also a further evidence on why anecdotal evidence is different than scientific evidence. We know our minds can play tricks on us. That is why science has a methodology to make it produce a more rigorous evidence than simply someone claiming to observe something.

I don't think that anyone doubts that. However, this does not suggest that all anecdotal evidence is unreliable. It means that it must be treated differently than scientific evidence. And even science does not depend on one piece of evidence to justify conclusions. The requirement for repeatability shows that scientific evidence can be in error as well.

The fact that memories of events can vary so greatly suggests that when we find good agreement about the facts among many witnesses to an event or events, the agreed upon information is likely reliable. Of course it is also important to separate the perception of the facts, from the facts. Perhaps a well designed questionnaire may have yielded different results in the studies above.
 
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ZapperZ
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I don't think that anyone doubts that. However, this does not suggest that all anecdotal evidence is unreliable. It means that it must be treated differently than scientific evidence. And even science does not depend on one piece of evidence to justify conclusions. The requirement for repeatability shows that scientific evidence can be in error as well.

Er.. no. Initial results and yet-unverified results are not considered as "scientific evidence". Scientific evidence is considered as that AFTER the rigorous testing and scrutiny.

Anecdotal evidence CAN become scientific evidence. That isn't the argument here. The argument here is the issue of RELYING solely on anecdotal evidence as the primary source. That is what has been done for pseudosciences. And when something is stuck at first base for so many years relying only on anecdotal evidence, then all the warning bells should be ringing very loudly.

The fact that memories of events can vary so greatly suggests that when we find good agreement about the facts among many witnesses to an event or events, the agreed upon information is likely reliable. Of course it is also important to separate the perception of the facts, from the facts. Perhaps a well designed questionnaire may have yielded different results in the studies above.

The point here is that memory CAN be faulty, not that memory IS faulty.

Zz.
 
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  • #9
Ivan Seeking
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Er.. no. Initial results and yet-unverified results are not considered as "scientific evidence". Scientific evidence is considered as that AFTER the rigorous testing and scrutiny.

Interesting. So then what do we call it before review? Either way, scientific evidence can be and often is refuted later.

Anecdotal evidence CAN become scientific evidence. That isn't the argument here. The argument here is the issue of RELYING solely on anecdotal evidence as the primary source. That is what has been done for pseudosciences. And when something is stuck at first base for so many years relying only on anecdotal evidence, then all the warning bells should be ringing very loudly.

The real goal of any respectable scientist is to obtain scientific evidence for a phenomenon. The problem is that not all phenomena lend themselves easily to providing the kind of evidence that science requires. For example, consider ghost claims. What would you like; Casper in a bottle? People get videos and audio recording and temperature readings and EM field disturbances and pictures etc etc etc. The problem is that without Casper in a bottle, its difficult to study specific events or claims. This sends up no warning flags at all for me because this is a common problem with known phenomena as well. Most any phenomenon that is transient and seemingly random, is difficult to study. And then there are other problems with providing the evidence required.

I remember one case where a team from UCLA studied an allegedly haunted house [whatever that means]. When they produced what they claimed to be legitimate film footage taken under controlled conditions that showed a toy car moving around an empty room by itself, they were accused of fraud by some, and by most it was assumed that someone had rigged the experiment. However, AFAIK, no one else attempted to study the house.

Consider also the case of UFOs and what Sturrock has to say about it.

The definitive resolution of the UFO enigma will not come about unless and until the problem is subjected to open and extensive scientific study by the normal procedures of established science. This requires a change in attitude primarily on the part of scientists and administrators in universities." (Sturrock, Peter A., Report on a Survey of the American Astronomical Society concerning the UFO Phenomenon, Stanford University Report SUIPR 68IR, 1977.)

"Although... the scientific community has tended to minimize the significance of the UFO phenomenon, certain individual scientists have argued that the phenomenon is both real and significant. Such views have been presented in the Hearings of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics [and elsewhere]. It is also notable that one major national scientific society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, set up a subcommittee in 1967 to 'gain a fresh and objective perspective on the UFO phenomenon.'

In their public statements (but not necessarily in their private statements), scientists express a generally negative attitude towards the UFO problem, and it is interesting to try to understand this attitude. Most scientists have never had the occasion to confront evidence concerning the UFO phenomenon. To a scientist, the main source of hard information (other than his own experiments' observations) is provided by the scientific journals. With rare exceptions, scientific journals do not publish reports of UFO observations. The decision not to publish is made by the editor acting on the advice of reviewers. This process is self-reinforcing: the apparent lack of data confirms the view that there is nothing to the UFO phenomenon, and this view works against the presentation of relevant data." (Sturrock, Peter A., "An Analysis of the Condon Report on the Colorado UFO Project," Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1987.)"

-- Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, Professor of Space Science and Astrophysics and Deputy Director of the Center for Space Sciences and Astrophysics at Stanford University; Director of the Skylab Workshop on Solar Flares in 1977


At the same time, it seems that it only took one series of photographs to usher in the age of earthquake lights.

Was this scientific evidence because it was published? How many photos of UFOs [flying saucers] would you like to see?

Earthquake Lights
Article #83
by T. Neil Davis

This column is provided as a public service by the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, in cooperation with the UAF research community. T. Neil Davis is a seismologist at the institute.

When scientists are skeptical about the existence of reported phenomena, they often try to cover up under a layer of humor. Such an attempt by one seismologist led him to remark that "the chapter on earthquake lights is the darkest in seismology."

No longer does this subject lurk in the shadows of scientific skepticism. Among the more illuminating observations that have brought this topic out into the scientific light of day are those acquired by a Japanese dentist. He managed to photograph earthquake lights occurring during a ten-year earthquake swarm starting in 1965.

While seismologists are not yet certain of the cause of earthquake lights, they now are highly interested. Not only is it certain that earthquakes can cause lights in the sky; it seems possible that the lights sometimes occur before earthquakes and so serve as warning precursors.

One of the more logical explanations of the cause of earthquake lights is the piezoelectric effect. Certain materials, including quartz, respond to changes in pressure by changes in electrical voltage across their surfaces. The idea is that, as quartz-bearing rocks are stressed, they might produce such high voltages that lightning-like discharges could occur in the air above.

Earthquake lights have been described as looking like auroral streamers diverging from a point on the horizon. Beams like those from a searchlight have been reported. Other reports describe sheets or circular glowing regions, either touching the ground or in detached clouds above ground.

The lights seem to show up best during the time of the main shock of an earthquake and also before and after. From a practical viewpoint, the lights before an earthquake seem most interesting since they shed light on the occurrence of the next large earthquake.

So far, no earthquake lights have been reported in Alaska.

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF0/083.html

Anyway, there is nothing pseudoscientific about collecting anecdotal evidence as a pointer for future study. I think where people get into trouble is when they try to use that evidence to arrive at specific conclusions. However, by considering anecdotal evidence, exotic claims can often be dismissed even if we take the claim completely at face value.

If ten people that you know to be respectable tell you that someone stole your car, you would surely check your parking space. Unfortunately, not all claims are so easy to verify or dismiss.
 
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  • #10
ZapperZ
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I don't treat all anecdotal claims the same way. And again, the point here isn't the dismissal of anecdotal evidence. The point here is that people often CONFUSE anecdotal evidence as being on the same footing as scientific evidence, or any other valid evidence. I've lost count on how many times, whenever I point to how insufficiently-verified a phenomenon is, that I've been given an anecdotal evidence as "proof", as IF that's enough! Do I pay attention to anecdotal evidence? Nope. But then again, I also don't pay attention to crackpot theories or ideas that never make it into any peer-reviewed journals. I have enough more well-verified evidence and papers to read that I don't have the time nor the patience to give my undivided attention to something that can't be shown to have the potential to be valid.

This is what I've been trying to get across. One can take such anecdotal evidence and tries to get stronger evidence to make it more convincing, but one should not fool oneself into thinking that one has SUFFICIENT evidence to be convincing.

If ghosts are difficult to capture and study, so be it. Maybe it is going to forever be that way. But until it CAN be verified to the same degree of certainty as scientific evidence, then one should accepts the fact that it isn't going to be accepted to be valid, the same way one has accepted that it is only going to forever be a transient phenomenon. However, if that's the case, then I'd better not see anyone claiming to be able to use ghosts and other contacts with the dead, because such ability clearly contradicts the claim that these are transients and can't be captured in a bottle. You can't have both and get away with it.

Zz.
 
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  • #11
J77
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Reminds me of when they made the actual photo of pulling down Saddam's statue; ie. it looked like a mass crowd but the camera was focused on apparently rehearsed action.
It's why hoaxes and internet conspiracy theories flourish on the internet.
I guess the lesson is to take everything on the internet with a grain of salt.
 
  • #12
Ivan Seeking
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I don't treat all anecdotal claims the same way. And again, the point here isn't the dismissal of anecdotal evidence. The point here is that people often CONFUSE anecdotal evidence as being on the same footing as scientific evidence, or any other valid evidence. I've lost count on how many times, whenever I point to how insufficiently-verified a phenomenon is, that I've been given an anecdotal evidence as "proof", as IF that's enough! Do I pay attention to anecdotal evidence? Nope. But then again, I also don't pay attention to crackpot theories or ideas that never make it into any peer-reviewed journals. I have enough more well-verified evidence and papers to read that I don't have the time nor the patience to give my undivided attention to something that can't be shown to have the potential to be valid.

This is what I've been trying to get across. One can take such anecdotal evidence and tries to get stronger evidence to make it more convincing, but one should not fool oneself into thinking that one has SUFFICIENT evidence to be convincing.

If ghosts are difficult to capture and study, so be it. Maybe it is going to forever be that way. But until it CAN be verified to the same degree of certainty as scientific evidence, then one should accepts the fact that it isn't going to be accepted to be valid, the same way one has accepted that it is only going to forever be a transient phenomenon. However, if that's the case, then I'd better not see anyone claiming to be able to use ghosts and other contacts with the dead, because such ability clearly contradicts the claim that these are transients and can't be captured in a bottle. You can't have both and get away with it.

Zz.

We agree completely. As for mediums, yes, their claims can be tested. One caveat is that perhaps there are legitimate "hauntings" [whatever that means] that have nothing to do with ghosts. People [esp believers] do tend to use names like "ghosts" to describe what may be many different [alleged] phenomena. So it may not always be fair to link claims that appear to be closely related.

But again, I agree. Many people just don't understand that anecdotal evidence can never be used for science. This is a common mistake. Ironically, some or many of these same people also seem to assume that science is far less reliable than in fact because they don't understand the rigor of the scientific method. I am often amazed at the objections made in regards to scientific theories by people who have little to no exposure to science. They may not know it, but because of their lack of understanding of how science works, many people perceive that scientists are effectively philosophers. They really don't know the difference.
 
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  • #13
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0
I remember several years ago CNN ran stories about SARS. Toronto had an outbreak at that time. The story was about Toronto but the video was shot in china showing thousands of people in masks. It was done in such a way as to portray the shots as Toronto when in fact they were not. It was just implied. The Toronto tourist industry took years to recover from this misleading video.
 
  • #14
It is also a further evidence on why anecdotal evidence is different than scientific evidence. We know our minds can play tricks on us. That is why science has a methodology to make it produce a more rigorous evidence than simply someone claiming to observe something.

What is that methodology? Because any type of data collection entails an observer, and any type of data to be collected requires someone to make a decision of what to collect and what not to collect. And you mean to say in that whole process our minds can't play tricks on us?
 
  • #15
Makes you wonder how accurately you remember your own history and experiences.

According to psychology studies, you forget 50% of the events and details of events that transpired in a given day when you go to sleep, and the number grows exponentially larger each day. So how do we remember? Our minds fill the gaps with other concepts floating in our brains.
 
  • #16
I don't think that anyone doubts that. However, this does not suggest that all anecdotal evidence is unreliable. It means that it must be treated differently than scientific evidence. And even science does not depend on one piece of evidence to justify conclusions. The requirement for repeatability shows that scientific evidence can be in error as well.

Agreed.

The fact that memories of events can vary so greatly suggests that when we find good agreement about the facts among many witnesses to an event or events, the agreed upon information is likely reliable.

In the Federalist Papers, Madison may have called this argument, tyranny of the majority.

Of course it is also important to separate the perception of the facts, from the facts. Perhaps a well designed questionnaire may have yielded different results in the studies above.

Who decides that a questionnaire is well designed? Who collects the data? How many errors are made in entering the data? Is the data ever fudged? etc.
 
  • #17
Anecdotal evidence CAN become scientific evidence. That isn't the argument here. The argument here is the issue of RELYING solely on anecdotal evidence as the primary source. That is what has been done for pseudosciences. And when something is stuck at first base for so many years relying only on anecdotal evidence, then all the warning bells should be ringing very loudly.

And what are these supposed pseudo-sciences? If you are referring to something like anthropology, which uses participant-observation to gather empirical data, it is more accurate at description and elucidating mechanisms and producing testable hypotheses than experiments or regressions, which only test relationships and have no conception of the mechanisms behind the relationships.
 
  • #18
I don't treat all anecdotal claims the same way. And again, the point here isn't the dismissal of anecdotal evidence. The point here is that people often CONFUSE anecdotal evidence as being on the same footing as scientific evidence, or any other valid evidence. I've lost count on how many times, whenever I point to how insufficiently-verified a phenomenon is, that I've been given an anecdotal evidence as "proof", as IF that's enough! Do I pay attention to anecdotal evidence? Nope. But then again, I also don't pay attention to crackpot theories or ideas that never make it into any peer-reviewed journals. I have enough more well-verified evidence and papers to read that I don't have the time nor the patience to give my undivided attention to something that can't be shown to have the potential to be valid.

Hmm... But arm chair theorizing is OK? All the mathematical models we come up with that have no evidence? Do you spend any time on those?

Don't forget the crime many empiricists commit and never attest to: fitting their data into theories so they can publish. As Einstein said: "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."

I like layman's theories when they are testable. And if they have evidence, the stronger their theory is. The burden is on you to disconfirm their theories. If you can't do it, then maybe you don't have strong enough scientific facts to do so?

Just because a layman does not have a PhD does not give you an excuse to treat them as irrelevant. A PhD is part of a community of scientists only because there are a set of human rites of passage and institutional rules that give that PhD the authority to speak with greater status than the layman. But that does not invalidate the layman's theory. It only makes the scientist's theory better because it has been deemed acceptable by a community of peers. This is how the mob justifies murders too, by the way. Every community has specialized knowledge about their trade but that does not make it better or worse than another person's knowledge.
 
  • #19
Reminds me of when they made the actual photo of pulling down Saddam's statue; ie. it looked like a mass crowd but the camera was focused on apparently rehearsed action.I guess the lesson is to take everything on the internet with a grain of salt.

But how can any scientists see the forest and the trees at the same time? And what forest do we look at? And which trees? Who makes these decisions?
 
  • #20
Many people just don't understand that anecdotal evidence can never be used for science. This is a common mistake. Ironically, some or many of these same people also seem to assume that science is far less reliable than in fact because they don't understand the rigor of the scientific method. I am often amazed at the objections made in regards to scientific theories by people who have little to no exposure to science. They may not know it, but because of their lack of understanding of how science works, many people perceive that scientists are effectively philosophers. They really don't know the difference.

I agree completely. But how can we ever be sure we know the truth and have revealed through the scientific method? Our knowledge is only as good as our instruments. There was a time when people were thought to be crazy for proposing the Earth went around the Sun, or that there were invisible creatures called microbes responsible for disease.
 
  • #21
DrClapeyron
Is that why these images affected my decision to not vote for the guY?

http://toole.blogspot.com/football.jpg

http://communistsforkerry.com/images/peekahike.jpg [Broken]

Well, maybe those weren't doctored, but does the same go for political cartoons? If so then it would seem like old information with new context.

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/H/v/1/political_card_tricks.jpg [Broken]
 
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