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Haileygate - In The Pipeline

We're working on new material in the story of Utah State University Associate Professor David Hailey. I was contacted by Professor Hailey today and I'm working on a summary of that conversation. Paul is compiling a summation of the technical issues we have raised. I'm working on a factual and contextual review of Hailey's work. I did an interview with a Utah newspaper today, and have another to do tomorrow.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Haileygate - In The Pipeline:

» ISOU linked with This is a bit disturbing...

» Doc Rampage linked with CBS lacky helps prove fraud

» Who Can Really Say? linked with To Type or To Word Process. That is the Question.

Comments (31)

So does Market Banker look ... (Below threshold)

So does Market Banker look at the contents of your site to choose which ad placements to display, or is it simply a humorous coincidence that right now there are ads for typewriters, fax machines, paper shredders and website design?

If you wanted to sell products that can be used for forging documents and creating bogus online reports, wouldn't it be wiser to sponsor major news networks or even the occasional state university?

Paul writes: "... at the en... (Below threshold)

Paul writes: "... at the end of the day, its about getting things right."
Amen to that!

I think Wizbang got it right that Hailey's analysis is poor and proves
nothing useful. Nevertheless,

I still think it was reckless for Wizbang to call Hailey "a liar, a fraud,
and a charlatan." Remember: for all of CBS's obvious bias and sloppiness,
they never reported that W is a "liar, a fraud, and a charlatan."

I think it was reckless for Wizbang to encourage his readers to contact
Hailey's department head.

I think Rathergate was reckless for piling on about Hailey "losing his
tenure." (Is Hailey even tenured faculty? He's not a full professor.
Apparently, USU is now [Oct 1, PM] standing in defense of Hailey's work.) I
think another blogger (forget which one) was reckless to imply that Hailey
was a "forger."

I think all the "attaboy" commenters were reckless for accepting Wizbang's
story without a shred of skepticism or independent investigation. Why
didn't they ask questions like 1) where was the archived doc? 2) why did
Wizbang misrepresent the doc size as 2MB? 3) why did Wizbang have to delay
(to "email"[?!] the doc) in order to FTP it?

I counseled caution, because one of these days a hasty hubristic blogger is
going to find himself on the dirty end of a legal shitstick. Even if that
blogger wins in the end, he's going to regret it.

There's a Kevin at Wizbang.... (Below threshold)

There's a Kevin at Wizbang.
There's a Paul at Wizbang.
Who represents what, and why, who, when, where, etc.?
Let's straighten this out, shall we?

I think Paul was following ... (Below threshold)

I think Paul was following a prudent and reasonable course of action on Hailey, and the Globe was running with it, so it was time to move, and BAM! as Emeril would say.

Frankly, there are Kool-aid drinkers on both sides of the aisle, and in the newness of the pajamahedeen, there will be mistakes made. But unlike CBS, who still can't come to terms with their errors, responsibility in the blogosphere still trumps all the ombudsmen of MSM.

Why is WaitAMinute continuing to bust a nut on this by copying the same rant over and over? For example, re: the 2MB file post - this was explained; it was a typo. Oops, honest mistake. Not one born of malicious intent. Obviously, Hailey doesn't get past the smell test by comparison.....

I see the media darlings, the journalism professors, newspaper editors, etc. bemoaning this decentralized new medium called blogging for one reason and one reason only - IT REMOVES ANY SHROUD OF POWER AND CONTROL THAT THEY HAVE HAD.

Accountability, the new sheriff in town... get used to it.

OneDrummer, jeez, yes, we a... (Below threshold)

OneDrummer, jeez, yes, we are properly skeptical of the author of a dissertation titled "Metaphorical Objectivism: Metaphors as Objects, Objects as Metaphors." Something like that. Whatever it was similarly titled; it was probably BS, and whoever his sponsors approved it were most likely careless, and/or bureaucratic.

But why isn't OneDrummer equally skeptical about Wizbang? Is it because OneDrummer shares Wizbang's ideological premises?

Has Wizbang PROVED that Hailey IS A LIAR?

I don't think so.

He's an IDIOT, a FOOL, a BIASED PARTISAN DUPE, but, no, Wizbang has not proved Hailey to be a LIAR, FRAUD, CHARLATAN.

WAIT A MINUTE-You ... (Below threshold)


You raise some good points in terms of caution, but that's not how this medium works. As has been said many times by many people, the blogosphere is self-correcting. Unfortunately (okay, gonna show my bias, here), the left side of the blogosphere tends to drop the subject when proven wrong, whereas the right side tends to apoligize if they've got something wrong.

Paul and/or Kevin may have been too quick on the draw to call Hailey a liar, fraud and charlatan, but the more you look at the evidence, there are far too many instances (see comments here and other blogs like LGF) in the document that point to an intent to deceive and a poor attempt at that.

BTW, one area that I haven't seen discussed is why Hailey didn't attempt to "type" the centered header of the document. I THINK it is because it's impossible to do with a modern word processor.

After looking at everything... (Below threshold)

After looking at everything here and on Hailey's page closely, both before and after he made changes, it's hard for me to see anything other than purposeful manipulation to achieve a predetermined conclusion. That's lying and fraud in my book. While it's possible that it could only be a remarkable series of errors I find it very improbable that is the case. Charlatan? If he's claiming to be a document expert if it's the likely or improbable answer he's most certainly a charlatan.

So, JFH:Is Hailey ... (Below threshold)

So, JFH:

Is Hailey a liar, a fraud, a charlatan?


or not?

Is there some kind of "quick on the draw" exception,


Jesus F-ing Christ, face up to reality, guys!

My take is: he's stupid, he's coddled by a bureaucratic rah-rah "wow, we pitched *that* crap right by them; what's next?" safe and secure lifestyle on campus.

C'mon people! You know the score!

I am hesitant to attack Hai... (Below threshold)
John S:

I am hesitant to attack Hailey personally, but his written report should be vigorously attacked. As I detailed in the comments to a pervious post, he repeatedly makes broad, sweeping statements that, even by his own account, he cannot begin to support. He also strays from his technical analysis to make statements about what is or is not worthy of reporting to the public. He offers an opinion that CBS could have justifiably relied upon the documents -- even though Hailey doesn't consider all the facts that CBS knew about the documents, such as the warnings it received from its own experts about the documents. At this point, a fair reader of Hailey's report would conclude that he was writing to support a particular outcome, not writing to explore the issue.

We may get further insights on his report. First, I'd love to see Dr. Newcomer analyze Dr. Hailey's report. Second, as the criminal investigation plays out we may just see who prepared the documents and how they were prepared. When that happens, Hailey's conclusions will be put to the acid test.

I haven't been following th... (Below threshold)

I haven't been following this story as closely as maybe I should, but it seems to me the case is closed on the documents -- they're forgeries. You mean to tell me that one idiot on a college campus says the memos are real and the MSM take that as gospel? I guess the MSM don't mind exposing themselves as DNC hacks. I was mentioning to my wife that a motion picture is coming out on October 15 titled Celsius 41.11: The Temperature At Which the Brain Begins to Die. Yet, except for the Fox News Channel, there isn't even a mention of it. The people involved are more reputable than anyone involved in Bush-bashing projects (Law & Order's Fred Thompson, Charles Krauthammer, etc.), yet the media ignore the film.

Not that I'm claiming in an... (Below threshold)

Not that I'm claiming in anyway to be expert or to have brought anything especially new the table but, if you are raising a list of questions for Dr Hailey to respond to and/or peer reviewers to think about, then you might like to add the three or four points I brought up in my blog entry on the subject - http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm?20041001

If I, ordinary non-technica... (Below threshold)

If I, ordinary non-technical writing person, put out a paper like Hailey's I could be called stupid (for trying to prove fake memos non-fake) and ignorant (for having no idea what I'm talking about). for a University professor (who's mantra is supposed to be Research) to do it is another thing entirely. It is fraud, and lying, and being a charletan. It's the same difference as if *I* told you you could cure your liver cancer by rubbing your body with peanut butter or your *doctor* told you that.

Important notice: AS FAR AS I KNOW, you cannot cure liver cancer with external applications of peanut butter.

To the issue of the differe... (Below threshold)

To the issue of the differences of right and left blogs, I'd also add, that Wizbang is doing a good thing by actually interviewing the person who's opinion they're taking issue with.

That's real journalism in my books. Put it all out there for everyone to see. Certainly people will come to an argument with different opinions; but if you're an honest broker of opinion, then you'll let people see both sides and form an opinion of their own...


This is indeed an interesti... (Below threshold)

This is indeed an interesting story. In the coming days, we shall see if Dr. Hailey's work withstands independent scrutiny, or if it is simply manufactured data to cover CBS's butt and give the Bush-haters something to cling to.

My personal opinion tends to the latter, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. However, the Deseret News has a story today that doesn't make me very confident the University is taking this seriously in terms of the substance of the criticism. Instead, they seem more outraged that the riff-raff from the blogosphere would dare question the Anointed Ones.

And their counter-strategy indicates they really don't get what and who they are dealing with. The University's PR guy provided this priceless example of cluelessness (emphasis added):

Now that Hailey and the school are under fire for the research, the plan is to respond aggressively through the media, according to John DeVilbiss, USU director of public relations and marketing.

"We want to make it right for both the professor and the university," DeVilbiss said. He called critics of Hailey "mean-spirited," adding that in the end the controversy will reflect "positively" on the institution. "It is not a political issue, it is an academic one."

Mr. Dinosaur, meet Mr. Asteroid.

Amen......Are ya r... (Below threshold)


Are ya ready kids?

'Aye, aye, captain!'

I can't hear you? Ooooooooooo.....

Who lives in a pineapple down under the sea?


I read the story they did o... (Below threshold)
Stew Pid:

I read the story they did on you in the Herald Journal (the local piss-bait/newspaper of USU's home town). It is a peice of crap. They didn't even mention you until the end, and they never once question the idea that making something in photoshop proves you can do it on a typewriter. And they never once mention any problems that you had with the study, they just quote you talking about the university letting him do the research. It is, in short, precisely the kind of crap we've come to expect from the media. (And incidentally, what we locals have come to expect from the Herald Journal)

Link here

This is what I find dishone... (Below threshold)
John S:

This is what I find dishonest about Hailey's paper: there is an enormous gap between what he purports to analyze and what he finally concludes. He claims to offer a preliminary analysis simply of the font ("Toward Identifying the Font Used in the Bush Memos"), but then he tosses the word "authentic" around like beads at Mardi Gras.

In my comments to an earlier blog entry here, I dissected Hailey's claims one by one. But note how he presented his report to the Utah newspaper. Note the bizarre definition he gives of the word "authentic." It's so deceptive. When he uses the word authentic it means something completely different than any other person's use of the word.

The Utah reporter picked up on this sleight of hand: "By authentic, Hailey says he means the documents were in fact created through a 'mechanical' process, such as a kind of typewriter used by the military around the 1970s others have suggested the memos were digitally altered and therefore fake."

Oh, so when Hailey says the documents are "authentic," he's not saying that they are authentic; he's saying that they are "mechanically produced."

Given that Hailey both acknowledges all the other evidence of inauthenticity and expressly disclaims any analysis of those factors, he can't possibly use the word "authentic" with any integrity or honesty.

With appropriate credit to ... (Below threshold)
John S:

With appropriate credit to Wizbang, Jim Lindgren over at the Volokh Conspiracy utterly dissects Hailey's "scholarship." Check it out.

Wizbang thinks he's a peer-... (Below threshold)

Wizbang thinks he's a peer-reviewed journalist. Funny how on Thursday he called me stoopid, and by Friday he regards me as one of his cherished peers.

Wizbang, here's a clue: peer-review takes place BEFORE publication, not after.

And, no, Wizbang is not a journalist. He's a blogger, which is to say he's a swelled-headed typist with a Mencken complex, a compulsion to post (something, ANYTHING) every two hours, and a pint-sized unquestioning amen-choir.

Hailey was trying to pull a... (Below threshold)

Hailey was trying to pull a fast one any way you look at it.

This is coming from someone who noticed straight away, on the 29th, that Hailey neither stated he made his fig. 5 "convincer" reproduction on a typewriter, nor had he disclosed his method for producing it.

His paper was full of ambivalencies and equivocations.

He made many unsupported assertions and built his thesis around them, using similar weasely wording misdirection techniques, by ignoring evidence contrary to his assertion. I feel he was deliberately trying to fudge the evidence to fit his thesis.

That's my definition of a fraud and charlatan. A scientist who does that is not merely a laughably poor scholar, but dishonest.

I am surprised so many assumed Hailey typed that fig five; to me it was clear he had not disclosed his method for producting it, and based on other problems with his paper, especially his completely unsupported ( and sometimes contradicted on the same page with his own diagrams) I drew the conclusion that he meant to misdirect in order to reach a set conclusion.

Sarah:I agree with... (Below threshold)
John S:


I agree with you that Hailey started with his conclusion and worked backward toward support, and when the support wasn't there, he fudged the data and fudged the wording.

For example, he's twisted the meaning of "authentic" beyond recognition. Under Hailey's definition, if a document is forged by the nonauthor, and written well after the purported date of creation, and incorrect in its terminology, it is nonetheless "authentic" if it was mechanically produced. Next, Hailey claims that if a forgery was mechanically produced, it is worthy of publication as authentic.

But, giving his report a fair reading, here is the only claim that he fully supports with real evidence: A power user, using sophisticted software techniques and spending a great deal of time and care, can make a replica inferior to the one that any computer user can quickly bang out on MS Word. That is precisely what he's proven, and nothing more.

Wait - I don't recall readi... (Below threshold)

Wait - I don't recall reading anyone claiming you were stoopid... but then again, I could've missed a post. Suppose you'll question that as blind adherence to the cause.....

and Wait's compulsion to post (especially copying and pasting your previous comments from other posts to make a point, which IMO has been acknowledged) every two hours doesn't make you a swelled-headed typist with a Mencken complex?

No, of course not. Then again, blog commentators are higher on the food chain than the bloggers themselves, right?

I just looked at doctor Hai... (Below threshold)
rather not watch CBS:

I just looked at doctor Haileys web page. The most convincing claim he makes is that there is damage to letters that is consistent. If you look at his own data on the es you see that it is not consistent. One of the es shows no damage to the upper left corner. In fact it shows damage to the upper right corner. How is this possible on an electric typewriter? They ALL have to be damaged. If one is different this means that there is some other random process at work. He could read into the data stuff that is not there. Also his argument is that damage to a letter like this could not be produced by printing and scanning. To show this he scanned and printed the word flight. Why did he not use a word with an e in it? Could it be that he did and the pattern he saw in the es appeared. If you blow up the letters and look for a pattern of damage in this it is easy to read into the data damage to any number of letters (since the method allows you to overlook letters that do not fit the pattern) One pattern that is obvious in the flight is that the bottom of the fs are damaged. Another point he makes is that letter merging does not happen with computer printers. But it does when you scan images. If you look at his own example (flight) you can see the letters are merged all over the place. This reminds me of a science conference I went to where the speaker ignored 90% of the data and then found a pattern. Also how is an Associate professor head of a lab it must be an important lab.

Hey "Wait a minute"-- How l... (Below threshold)

Hey "Wait a minute"-- How long have you known Dr. Hailey?

Just wondering.

you are the only guy left defending this guy's work.

OneDrummer,In fair... (Below threshold)


In fairness, the word 'stoopid' was invoked in regards to WAM in the original thread.

I initially supported WAM because he was asking good questions and I wanted to give him/her the benefit of the doubt, but then he got combative and unpleasant and now is just trolling on Kevin and Paul. I won't call WAM 'stoopid' but he has lost credibility by refusing to acknowledge that his 'best shot' was answered, point for point. Every other skeptic has felt that their questions were satisfactorily answered, yet WAM stubbornly refuses to. And he/she boldly signs his/her posts with '[email protected]' - yet another sign of trollishness over reasoned discussion.

You can dress a troll up in a three-piece suit, but that doesn't make it any less a troll.

Wait A Minute:On o... (Below threshold)

Wait A Minute:

On one hand, I would agree that I wouldn't use the term "fraud" for this professor. "Unethical practice" (for hiding the clarification) and "laughable research" sure. If weblogs are to be taken seriously, they have to be a bit careful about word use - though I expect them to read more like the editorial page than research material.

On the other hand - I suppose you haven't noticed that you are doing the same thing to Wizbang that you accuse them of doing to the professor. Skepticism is fine, but you've gone right past that to personal insults. Good going.

On the Herald Journal artic... (Below threshold)

On the Herald Journal article. I thought it was amusing that they quoted the professor's conclusion:

"... In fact, there seems to be nothing in the memos that indicates they are faked. All evidence points toward a mechanical production process and away from a digital process."

When I originally read this in the professor's paper, I was thinking "You have GOT to be kidding." But, they print it here without any counter comment. Incredible.

"I was contacted by Profess... (Below threshold)

"I was contacted by Professor Hailey today and I'm working on a summary of that conversation."

Will that summary be posted any time soon?

I have a program that compu... (Below threshold)

I have a program that computes a Hash total of a file.

The Hash total does not mean anything by its self, but if you run the program for two files, you can see if the Hash total is the same for both.

If it is the same, the files are identical.

It is normally used to identify a program that is found in more than one location. It is used to determine if it is the same version of the program.

It works on any file, so may be used to compare files from different sources. It determines if they are the same.

It is a public use program. The author has authorized that it can be copied and used freely.

If you want the program, I will email it to you.

I obviously read a differen... (Below threshold)

I obviously read a different article by Hailey. In the one I read he set out to show that the typeface used in the Rathergate docs. was not times roman, as found in Word, and was from a family called Typewriter. Further, he meant to refute the claim that some characteristics of the font were "impossible" or nearly so to have been produced on a mechancial, typewriter machine--such as the superscripts. Further, he meant to study the docs. to see if they presented other evidence of either mechanical or digital production. He meant to challenge the fast conclusion that the docs "could not" have been typewritten, especially in the years of their date. He never wrote that he had found THE font, only a family, members of which were like that in the Rathergate docs. , a family which is not times roman, and not a common micorosoft font. I read in HIS language clearly that he put pieces together from various Typewriter fonts in trying to find the best match, AND that he never found one T. font that did it. He reported these things in his article, and you guys have been repeating HIS statements along these lines as proof of his "dishonesty." You can fairly claim that his presentation was unbalanced, that he emphasized what he chose to believe, but you cannot claim (fairly) that he did NOT disclose. He did disclose, as all good science requires, to allow the reader or peer reviewers to come to their own conclusions.
Further, I do know a bit about forensics, although only a bit, and I know the irregular, INconsistent broken "e" he found is exactly the kind of clue we look for to identify an individual typewriter. No, it does NOT produce the same defective look every time--that is more like what a computer glitch would do in fact--the mechanical interaction of paper, platen and type would instead produce what he reports finding.
And so on. There were several intriguing points like this one, not just the font issue, in his piece.
Hailey may well be wrong. Dead wrong. But his piece was well argued, there is considerable data adduced, and no academic article is held up until ALL questions are answered, all ends tied up, before publication. At a certain point you see you have enough to posit an hypothesis, show some data consistent with it (or contradicting it), and put the article out there for others to snipe at, disprove, replicate, applaud, whatever.
As you are doing here.
That is NOT fraud. To publish an article like Hailey's is provocative, maye you'd say infuriating, and so on, but far, far from fraud.

Your claim to be dropping the matter for any reason other than your embarassment is suspicious, however. Why don't we engage in severe vitriolic exchanges about that, instead?


Sean, one question. Do you... (Below threshold)

Sean, one question. Do you see anyone taking the report seriously? I think that will answer your question.






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