Paul Irey and Doug Vogt's Incredible Claims

The discussions on the RC Radio Show the other night provided a sharp contrast between what a real questioned document examiner (QDE) does and how they are trained vs. amateur analysts like Douglas Vogt and Paul Irey. As Linton Mohammed told us, QDE's must undergo 3 to 4 years of apprenticeship under a certified QDE, they must correctly identify test documents and participate in mock trials. They have to pass a certification test conducted by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners.  To be fair Mr. Irey is not claiming to be an expert witness. However, he is accusing President Obama and others of being of a complicit in a crimes and is using his background in typing and graphic arts to lend credibility to his analysis. This is like trying to play both sides of the street. He avoids accountability by stating the obvious that he has no credentials while still upholding himself as having knowledge of typewriters and typography that allow him to make an educated judgment as to the authenticity of the LFBC. (World Net Daily declared Mr. Irey to be an expert and he has not corrected them to my knowledge).  Mr. Vogt is doing the same thing.

Now let's look at Mr. Irey's analysis. He used commercially available software, Adobe Photoshop, to enlarge individual letters of a JPG copy of the LFBC that was published by AP. Mr. Irey claimed this copy had been taken down but a poster, BFB, at the The Fogbow easily located a copy on the Internet:

Mr. Irey produced a photo with the same letters side by side enlarged and claimed that the difference in characteristics of the letter is proof they were not typed with the same typewriter.

When I saw Mr. Irey's analysis I came to exactly the opposite conclusion. I think the similarities in the fonts support the conclusion that they were typed with the the same typewriter. Am I displaying confirmation bias? Possibly. However, I am not the one making extraordinary claims. I know that the responsible officials from the State of Hawaii have vouched for the authenticity of this document. To make the claim Irey makes you have to believe that a large group of officials are flat out lying. Mr. Irey does and he has called Alvin Onaka and Dr. Chiyome Fukino liars to boot.

There are many less than sinister explanations for the random variations in the letters that Mr. Irey found including variation in typing pressure, distortion from an unknown number of times the document had been copied and scanned, and uneven inking from a used typewriter ribbon, just to name a few. We do not need to invent conspiracy driven explanations. 

Just for fun I used the same technique that Mr. Irey used to look at the preprinted letters on the birth certificate. I used a JPG image of the LFBC that Dr. Conspiracy has posted on his website to do this.   Lo and behold I found similar variations in the letters when they were expanded and compared!
 I picked multiple uses of the letter "e" in this example. Look a the differences in the angle of the center part of the letters. Also look at the differences in the length of the "tail"on the e's. Of course I am not the first to debunk Mr. Irey's analysis. A Youtuber named McCainisthroughX used a typewritten document of George W. Bush's military record to do that: (While I do not like the racist label that the author used I think the analysis stands on its own).

I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to the validity of Mr. Irey's analysis. I will offer him a chance to return to my show and defend his opinions. He also has some interesting views on the Kennedy assassination that time precluded us from discussing on the show last Thursday.

What about Mr. Vogt? He has also published a lengthy 28 page report on the LFBC and like Mr. Irey has made serious accusations that the President and others have committed crimes. I have invited Mr. Vogt to come on a future program. While he initially accepted he is having second thoughts. We are still in a discussion about whether he feels comfortable to come on my show.

Douglas Vogt's analysis of the LFBC mostly concentrates on the "layers" he found in the PDF document. This has been pretty thoroughly debunked on the Internet, particularly by Neal Krawetz (of Polarik debunking fame) on The Hacker Factor blog. Even Paul Irey on RC Radio said that he avoided using the PDF because of the compression and layers in the document that were the result of the scanning, compression, and optimization process that produced it.

One part of the Vogt analysis that gets a lot of play is his claim that some of the letters do not follow the curvature of the paper. The curvature is the result of copying the document on a copier/scanner while it was still in the binder. I decided to examine this claim. Mr. Vogt included this image in his 28 page report:

Vogt is obviously trying to intimate that the letters in the typed word "Male" do not follow the curvature of the paper as do the preprinted letters in the word "Sex" above. One thing I immediately noticed is that Mr. Vogt drew the red lines in a deceptive way to enhance what he claims is an anomaly. Let's take a closer look, however. I took the JPG image and copied another "M" from the flat part of the document next to the "M" in "Male". Here is what I found:

The obvious conclusion is that the "M" in "Male" does follow the curvature of the paper after all. Another reason for the optical illusion that the word "Male" doesn't appear to follow curvature of the paper in Mr. Vogt's analysis is that the capital letters on manual typewriters often are misaligned vertically because of the timing of the shifting and the striking of the key to the paper. Anyone who ever used a manual typewriter is familiar with this problem. Fortunately, we can see this effect right on the same photo. Look at the "Ma" in "Maternity".

You can see how the capital "M" in both words is misaligned upward by about the same amount. This is what caused the optical illusion that tricked Mr. Vogt. The "K" in "Kapiolani" is also misaligned higher.

Both Mr. Vogt and Mr. Irey have let their beliefs color their judgment. They have both made incredible claims of fraud based on suspect "evidence". I must assume that confirmation bias played a significant role in both of these cases as it does in other amateur analyses made by Birthers. I have no doubt that untrustworthy sources like World Net Daily will continue to find amateur "experts" with no reputation to lose who ware willing to state various contrived claims of forgery. I do not doubt that Mr. Irey and Mr. Vogt are sincere in their beliefs. However, no one can dispute that when a person has convinced themselves of the existence of an "evil conspiracy" being perpetrated by some poorly defined group of perpetrators like the "evil government" or the "New World Order" crowd, that person can always find proof in the tea leaves, even where many benign explanations exist. Such is the case here.

[Update] I should have linked a debunking article on Mr. Vogt's claims that Dr. Conspiracy published last month. Reply to Douglas Vogt. Doctor Conspiracy also pointed out in this article that the red lines drawn by Vogt to attempt to show the lack of curvature in the word "Male" were drawn deceptively to attempt to bolster his point.


  1. He pulled the same trick with the Ks -- the lines are drawn in such a way as to exaggerate a very minor difference. Using Photoshop, or any photo editing software, one can simply superimpose the Ks (or the As) on top of each other to see that the difference almost completely disappears. What's left is simply the random variations one would expect to see in a document produced on a manual typewriter.

  2. I would be the first to admit I have no particular expertise in document forensics or computer graphics but it doesn't take much expertise to figure out that these two gentlemen are charlatans. It speaks of World Net Daily's lack of journalistic standards that both were trotted out as experts.

  3. The most important difference between the Irey/Vogt "analysis" and real analysis is the complete lack of validation of the methodology. Real analysts first look at a set of real typed documents from the same era to determine what such documents actually look like. Vogt/Irey simply make a set of assumptions regarding what such documents "should" look like. But reality doesn't necessarily conform to what somebody thinks "should" be.

    Looking at a single document and noting supposed "anomalies" tells you nothing, since such "anomalies" may in fact not be anomalous at all, but rather may be quite normal and expected.

  4. @ Anonymous

    You make a good point. I asked Mr. Irey if he had ever done this sort of analysis before and he said no. He said he had asked Mr. Corsi to provide similar documents from the same era and nothing was provided.

    It only took me a few minutes with GIMP to show that similar anomalies could be found in the preprinted letters on the birth certificate form.

  5. That's totally bogus. Irey is supposedly retired (so likely at least 60 years old) which means any of his own personal documents (birth certificate, marriage, parent's death) are likely typed similar to the original 1961 b.c. I not sure why Corsi is necessary to supply such documents.

    Anyway, a competent professional (or even an honest amatuer) doesn't first publish his report and draw definitive conclusions acccusing others of serious crimes and then look around to see about validating his methods after the fact. If you can't find the documents you need to validate your methods beforehand, then you keep your mouth shut until you do.

  6. I predict the Irey thing will go nowhere. Someone should hire a real Forensic Document Examiner to look at this and settle it once and for all.

  7. This is what you should be looking at. I am doing a study with a Hawaiian certificate of the era now. Just anything on a typewriter would not be acceptable. This work speaks for itself. I don't need to defend it. You Obats are totally wrong. Why won't the health dept. let me in? What are they afraid of? It surely is a real authentic birth certificate ... isn't it? Looking at the original should shut me up if you are right. But gee ... what if the letters still won't match? I now have an original xerox of a Aug. 1961 Hawaiian dept. of health birth certificate and it's going to be a benchmark study that will show ... guess what ... the letters match on this one and no white halo around them either. For sure your examples are nothing like mine. Glad you show mine though. Don't you realize that my two "e"s are really different and sharper than yours? In your world the letters can dance the Lambada and it's just distortion, poor reproduction and ink problems. People who have experience with the old style typewriters know better. I ran this by other typographers before I released it and am quite confident that the Obama birth certificate is a very poor forgery.

  8. Oh ... Paul Irey again. Look just above at the last example and notice the two "a"s in Kapiolani. The first one is much wider. I'll bet your going to say that is because the first one is on the curve of the paper. But when type bends away from you on a curve .. it gets more narrow ... not more wide. Just that one thing on the forgery proves my case and I don't have to blow it up more than you have to prove it ... the two 'a"s are so completely different. Remember a typewriter letter is steel and that one just stuck two times very close to each other and made two different shaped letter "a"s. I rest my case. This is a forgery and everything on this page discrediting my evidence is wrong and a lie ..... Paul Irey

  9. Mr. Irey (If you are indeed Paul Irey)

    Could you please post your credentials as a Certified Document Examiner? How many times have you been accepted as an expert witness in a court? How many documents have you successfully identified as forgeries in either controlled tests or in actual cases?

    How do you explain the same anomalies I found in the pre-printed letters on the LFBC photo? Why did you draw the red lines in a deceptive manner in your analysis? Can you state with certainty how many times the document you analyzed had been copied an whether the scanning and copying process could not account for the imagined "anomalies"?

  10. Paul Irey

    One more question: who paid for your trip to Hawaii?

  11. > I'll bet your going to say that is because the first one is on the curve of the paper. But when type bends away from you on a curve .. it gets more narrow ... not more wide.

    If you have an "a" on the topmost point of a curved paper, of course it will be scanned wider, not narrower. How stupid do you think we are, Paul?