Media's Beloved "Expert" Eliot Higgins - Wrong Again and Again and Again
Higgins with his main instrument - Youtube!
Eliot Higgins aka Brown Moses, the founder of Bellingcat “by and for citizen investigative journalists”, is beloved by NATO media. Higgins is always able to “prove” by amateur “analysis” of open source data that the “bad guys”, just as the U.S. or NATO claim, did indeed do the bad thing that happened. The problem is that Higgins is no expert of anything. He was an unemployed office worker who looked at Youtube videos from Syria and tried Internet searches to find out what weapons were visible in the videos. That is all that made him an “expert”.
But Higgins claimed to prove that the Syrian government launched rockets with Sarin on Ghouta, an area south of Damascus. An MIT professor and real expert proved (pdf) that he was wrong.
Higgins claimed to “prove” that rockets launched from Russia hit Ukraine by looking at aerial pictures of impact craters. But a real expert of the method said that crater analysis is “highly experimental and prone to inaccuracy” and warned against its use without further corroboration.
Now another “expert” of Bellingcat, who’s source of “expertise” is unknown but likely also low, tries to prove that Russia manipulated some aerial pictures it published about the MH17 airline incident in Ukraine. That madesomesplash in the usual NATO media but is complete nonsense.
Yes, the pictures were obviously “manipulated” as labels were added to them. But that the visual content of the pictures were changed, as the “expert” claimed to prove by a JPEG compression analysis, is clearly bullshit.
The “expert” claims that “all image content should present roughly the same [compression] error levels if the photo has not been altered.” That is nonsense.
JPEG compresses a flat white surface with low error level and a rough multicolor part of a picture with a higher compression error level. That is digital compression 101 which I myself learned when I was doing a bit of math work on the early PNG format definition. So it turns out that the “expert” simply doesnot understand how JPEG compression works.
Out of three big “finds” that made it into the media Higgins and Bellingcat had three that were proven to be wrong by real experts. Any media who further quote “analysis” by the “experts” Higgins and Bellingcat should be regarded as propaganda outlet and not as a serious source of news.