In addition to being a bit of a moron, Wolfgang Halbig is also roughly one thousand years old, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he… let’s say struggles a bit with even the most basic technology. So when he attached the following image…

…to an e-mail regarding his Chalk Hill shenanigans, I had a few immediate thoughts/questions:

1) What in the holy hell does this have to do with Chalk Hill?
2) How in the world does this prove that Lenny Pozner is a “fictitious character”? My God, what a leap.
3) Of course Wolfgang Halbig does not understand Exif data. Because why would he?

While the photo itself is roughly postage stamp sized, it’s not too difficult to discern that it is of Lenny Pozner and his two daughters, taken outside of Sandy Hook School on the day of the shooting. It is one of nearly forty photos taken on the scene that day by New York photographer Matthew McDermott, all of which carry the same, incorrect creation (or “Date created”) date:

With so many photos to choose from, Lenny and his children were undoubtedly singled out for no other reason than he is a frequent target of denier harassment.

Predictably, Wolfgang insists that this obvious date snafu is no mistake, and that the events depicted in McDermott’s photos really did take place on December 13th, 2012 rather than one day later. Why would it have been necessary to take them on any day other than the 14th? Who knows? And it appears as if that’s another one of those pesky details Halbig doesn’t believe is important enough to delve into.

But there are at least two very simple ways to fact check this nonsense, neither of which appear to have been done by Halbig or his team of master investigators:

The most obvious first step would be to see any of Mr. McDermott’s other photographs exhibit this same issue. That’s simple enough to do using Polaris Images’s website where you can limit your search to a specific photographer and timeframe. In this case I started by looking for any photo taken by Matthew McDermott in 2012. Note: if you’re going to attempt to replicate my results, pay close attention to Polaris’s date format (DD.MM.YYYY) or else your search won’t work properly.

Looking through the results, I quickly noticed a familiar problem with a number of Matthew’s creation dates, beginning in August, 2012:

In this example, the date on the photo of Sinatra’s penthouse (bottom) – July 30th, 2012 – is correct. However the date on the gun buyback photo, which was taken in August, is not. While the creation date reads August 19th, 2012, the gun buyback press conference was in fact held one day later, on August 20th:

Queens Buyback Program Nets More Than 500 Guns

Another photo from the same event shows a creation date of 00000000:

I probably don’t need to tell you that this is not a real date.

These photos, both taken on the same day and at the same event, have two different created dates:

This event is confirmed to have happened on October 11th, 2012, yet the top image has a created date of October 10th, 2012, or – like the Sandy Hook photos – one day earlier.

Here’s one last example:

So how does this happen? Simple: human error. Unlike your cell phone, which gets the date and time from a set of incredibly precise atomic clocks located in the US Naval Observatory, the date and time on digital cameras is entered manually, and of course any time something needs to be entered manually, you run the risk of making a mistake. I know I’ve done it probably a number of times, and if you’ve ever owned a digital camera or similar device, you’ve likely done it too.

Suspecting such a simple misconfiguration was to blame for the discrepancies in the above photos, I e-mailed Matthew McDermott for confirmation and to let him know that his mistake has been seized upon by deniers and he replied rather quickly:

Hello Sir
With all good there also comes bad, and unfortunately with all the usefulness of the internet it has also given a platform for those that should never be heard. To think that anyone could even suggest let alone believe that Sandy Hook never happened is beyond disgusting. I thank you for bringing this to my attention, and yes that camera’s date settings were messed up at that time. I can assure my copyright attorney has been contacted and we will be pursuing this person in full as I’m sure the individual did not get my image from my agency and is using it illegally. If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to contact me-#[redacted].
Again, thank you and may have a safe and happy New Year.
Matthew McDermott

A second way in which we can easily determine whether or not Mr. McDermott’s photos were taken on the 14th is by cross-referencing them with material from other photographers on the scene that day. Are there any that depict the same scenes or people? In this case there are quite a few. Let’s start with one of Matthew McDermott’s photos of Robbie and Alyssa Parker:

But this almost exact scene was captured by other photographers, such as Howard Simmons with Getty Images:

Note the Parkers are wearing the same exact clothing and we can even see the nuns from St. Rose of Lima just behind them in both photos, only this one has the (correct) creation date: December 14th, 2012.

Here’s another photo of the Parkers from Getty Images, this one taken by Tim Clayton:

Like the previous photo by Howard Simmons, this one shows that it was created on December 14th, 2012.

Here’s another example:

Here we see a couple being accompanied by an officer, walking away from the school on Riverside Road. The man’s wearing a red shirt and a brown jacket. The woman he’s with is wearing a black Nike hat, a black jacket, and is carrying what appears to be a white iPhone cable. This very same couple (and officer) were also captured moments later by photographer Don Emmert of AFP Photo:

Again, this photo shows the correct creation date: December 14th, 2012.

I was able to find even more examples of this, but hopefully you get the picture.

So we have multiple photographers (in one case three) taking nearly identical pictures of the very same people in the same location on what is clearly the same day. Certainly any reasonable person would look at the above and fully understand that user-defined Exif data is in fact fallible and that the outlier in this situation, Matthew McDermott, is telling the truth when he says that there was a problem with his camera’s date and time settings when he photographed the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting on December 14th, 2012. But we’re not dealing with reasonable people here, are we? So what do they believe? If someone like Halbig wants to continue to insist that a mistaken created date is impossible, then does that mean the Sandy Hook shooting was elaborately staged two days in a row? He can’t suggest that every other photographer had screwed up their cameras because then he’s admitting that the created date can be misconfigured. But, as it turns out, he has a history of doing just that.

Back when I used Exif data to prove that photos of the 2012 Sandy Hook Veterans Day breakfast were in fact taken in 2012 in order to claim Halbig’s $1,000 reward, the evidence simply wasn’t good enough for him. When his money and reputation were the line, Exif data was unreliable, even after he himself demanded to see it. But he’s since done a complete 180, wielding that very same user-defined Exif data – the created date – in a bizarre attempt to prove that Lenny Pozner is “fictitious”… whatever that means. Classic Wolfgang: a liar and a hypocrite.

So there you have it: another Wolfgang whopper laid to rest by 10-15 minutes of relatively easy work.

6 Thoughts on “Wolfgang Halbig’s Complicated Relationship With Exif Data

  1. Confused person on February 12, 2019 at 6:52 am said:

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic for this particular post, but I can’t find an email at which to contact you directly with the following.

    Here’s what I find to be the greatest mystery concerning the Sandy Hook denier fiasco: the psychology of James Fetzer. It’s painfully clear that Halbig is a pathological liar and as dumb as a pile of bricks. This has been so thoroughly demonstrated that it’s beyond my comprehension how anyone acquainted with the relevant facts could deny it.

    But Fetzer has an Ivy League education and did respectable work as a philosopher on various complex problems. What the fuck happened to his brain? How is he still going on about the transparently fake “FEMA manual”? How did he fail to try to authenticate it when he first saw it, and instead clumsily rush to bloviate about it as if it were incontrovertible? Are we seeing dementia at work here? Psychosis? Sociopathy? I just don’t understand. Has anyone convincingly explained his degeneration to this state?

    • I have wondered the same thing about Fetzer. As far as I know, he was quite a well-respected philosopher of science. I’ve spoken to a former colleague of his and he said Fetzer was quite good in technical issues of philosophy but completely off his rocker when it came to swallowing far-fetched conspiracies. I do wonder if he is a paid dis-information agent of some sort considering his past service to the government. More people will believe a person with a PhD behind his name than some random kook on the internet. Hopefully the Sandy Hook lawsuit puts him behind bars for the rest of his life.

      • Less confused person on February 12, 2019 at 7:25 pm said:

        Very interesting point, and it’s central to the only plausible explanation of Fetzer’s behavior that I can now think of, thanks to your observation. (Alas, I don’t think psychosis, dementia, etc. will cut it because his history with this stuff is so long, and because he doesn’t clearly match the diagnosis for any of the conditions that I listed.)

        It’s conceivable — let me stress that this is speculation — that people such as Fetzer are paid to push this outrageous nonsense so that those with an interest in reducing protections for free expression have “ammunition,” i.e. apparently good justifications for efforts to limit the types of expression that are legally protected.

        I realize that I’m engaging in conspiratorial thinking here, which may seem hypocritical given how strongly I disapprove of Fetzer’s claptrap. But it should be kept in mind that conspiracy theorizing is not necessarily outrageously dumb in the way that Sandy Hook denialism, for instance, has proven to be: One just has to be sure that any conspiracy theory offered is held to the same theoretical and empirical standards as ordinary social-scientific explanations, and thus that one completely avoids the tendency of the most visible conspiracy theorists to make confident and extravagant claims that have no basis in fact. In my case, I’ve indicated that the above explanation of Fetzer’s behavior is speculative, therefore lacking adequate empirical substantiation, but worthy of further investigation because it seems to better fit the pertinent observations than any other explanation I know about.

  2. So when did he change his shirt

  3. Anonymoose on March 4, 2019 at 1:24 pm said:

    I see people link to this site on Fetzer’s blog and he always calls it disinformation without ever addressing the substance. It’s almost as if he won’t read it because he knows he is wrong. Astounding that he was a Professor of logic and critical thinking in this country for 35 years!

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