Monday, March 13, 2006

Tallahassee Skeptics Offer $250.00 for Fake UFO Pic

Alien Bodybuilder
UFO photo contest wants you to fake it

By Mark Hinson
The Tallahassee Democrat
3-11-06

      Have you seen the photo of an alien spacecraft hovering over the Capitol at high noon on the first day of Session?

The visitors from beyond the stars turned off their cloaking device for a split second, and some kid with a camera snapped the frame.

No, it's for real, dude.

Or ... probably not.

This month, The Center for Inquiry and The Tallahassee Skeptics are seeking creative photographers and computer artists who can concoct the most convincing UFO photo that uses a Tallahassee landmark or building as a backdrop. The winner will receive $250 in cash. The faux-UFO photo also will be published in the Tallahassee Democrat.

It's one contest that actually encourages faking it.

"Nowadays, with Photoshop and other computer programs, it's really pretty easy to come up with credible-looking photos that are completely fake," said Bruce Thyer, a Florida State University professor and member of the Center for Inquiry. "We want (the contest photos) to look seamless - not a couple of kids with a fishing pole and a hubcap."

The Tallahassee Center for Inquiry and the Tallahassee Skeptics are interlocking groups that seek to expose hoaxes, quackery and urban legends.

Thyer used the example of a photograph that circulated on the Internet almost immediately after Sept. 11, 2001. The image depicted a smiling, waving tourist on top of a World Trade Center Tower at the moment the hijacked jets were crashing. It later proved to be a Photoshop-ed sham.

"There was a whole story going around about how they found a camera in the ashes and processed the film," Thyer said. "It was very touching at the time but ... none of it was true."

The UFO competition is intended to be more lighthearted.

"I thought it could be a fun way for a Boy Scout troop or a fraternity to pick up a little extra money," Thyer said.

The deadline to submit an 8-by-10-inch copy of the bogus photo via the U.S. Postal Service is April 1.

"That date was deliberately chosen," Thyer said.

Contestants are asked to write and sign a letter explaining how they set up, carried out and manipulated the UFO photo.

More . . .

See Also: "Courage is Required of Any Journalist Who Admits to Believing in The Possibility of UFOs Because Your Peers Turn On You"

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