President Obama’s Birth Certificate: Chromatic Aberration Theory Debunked

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Image of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate

A variety of independent reports, blogs and You-Tube videos have labeled President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate as a fake, a fraud and/or a forgery based on a variety of different terms used in imaging software and various techniques used in digital reproduction. One of the pieces of evidence in the claims refers to a phenomenon called chromatic aberration. Is the lack of color fringe in the President’s birth certificate really a smoking gun that points to document manipulation?

What is Chromatic Aberration, Anyway?

Example of color fringing in scanned document

As explained in Digital Manipulation Terms Decoded, chromatic aberration is a term used to describe the color fringe that appears along the lines of sharply-contrasting colors in an image scanned by a color scanner. It is the result of the refraction of the bright light used during the scanning process. In the image to the right, for example, you can see a border of green along the left side of the “R.”

Chromatic Aberration and Tampering Claims

According to a recent report by Mara Zebest:

there is no evidence of chromatic aberration anywhere in the document—this is not normal.”

As you can see from the zoomed-in text below, there is, in fact, no color fringe in the President’s long-form birth certificate.

Does that mean that this document is a forgery? Absolutely not. Although many scanners do leave a color fringe, particularly older models, current technology allows many contemporary scanner models to provide a high-quality crisp and accurate image, with no chromatic aberration whatsoever.

If the White House were willing to release the model of scanner used to scan the birth certificate, it would be possible to debunk this claim with no doubt whatsoever. Without the exact model of scanner used, we can not specifically refute the claim as pertaining to the President’s birth certificate scan.

As far as the base claim stating that a scanned document without a color fringe is abnormal, however:

Verdict? Debunked.

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