Dr. Papcun's Report on the Rodney King trial appears in the book "Letters of the Century" (Read the letter) by Grunwald and Adler
"Your appearance as the final witness in the Rodney King trial was decisive as to the outcome."---Milton Grimes, Esq.
"Dr. Papcun is a star!"---Attorney subsequent to Dr. Papcun's deposition, following which the opposition declined to proceed
"Please send your bill in before you find out how delighted the client is." --Attorney following a directed verdict subsequent to Dr. Papcun's testimony
Voice Morphing and the Alleged 9/11 Government Conspiracy
Purveyors of conspiracy theories have claimed that the events of 9/11 were the result of a massive government plot and cover-up. (See, for example, www.loosechange911.com.) According to their version of events, there were no hijackers. Instead, the World Trade Center buildings were blown up by explosives planted inside the buildings rather than, or at least in addition to, the effects of the passenger airplanes crashing into them. They claim that the government (or the CIA or someone other than Osama bin Laden and the hijackers) was behind 9/11.
However, a major problem for their allegation, given that they claim there were no hijackers, is that the passengers on United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania called home with desperate messages to loved ones, in which they said there were hijackers. Accordingly, the conspiracy theorists have needed to claim that someone (namely, me) created the voices of the passengers in those phone calls. That allegation is plainly outrageous and demeaning to the memories of those courageous passengers.
With colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory, I originally developed the technology of voice morphing, the technology by which it is possible to make someone seem to say something they did not say (see www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/dotmil/arkin020199.htm ) and coined the phrase. Therefore, I know what would have been required to create such bogus calls. There are too many practical considerations that would have to be met to make the counterfeit telephone calls possible under the circumstances. For example, it is necessary to have samples of the voices of the people to be imitated. In situations where the goal is to participate in an unconstrained conversation, the voice samples must be extensive. I cannot imagine how I might have obtained extensive samples of the voices of the passengers on Flight 93, especially not knowing which of them might call home. Additionally, in this situation it would be necessary to know what someone would say to his or her loved ones under such circumstances. What pet names would be used? What references would be made to children and other loved ones? Do believers actually suppose that the government (or I) listens in to everyone’s pillow talk?
Whether such wild-eyed theories are worth being concerned about is problematic. However, in their own words, their conspiracy theory organization “has grown from a cult following to a grassroots organism that can no longer be contained” (op cit). I have received email from a high school social studies teacher who told me that her students actually believe that I did everything the purveyors of conspiracy theories say I did. Why they would so mistrust their government and be so naïve with regard to technical issues are interesting questions, albeit matters well beyond the scope of this essay.
Here is an email I received regarding voice morphing:
Dear Dr. Papcun,
Greetings. In search of some answers to fake voice recordings, I came across an article called “When Seeing and Hearing is not believing,” where your name was mentioned as the inventor of a technology in which human voice can be cloned in real time without the voice owner saying all the things in a recording. I am writing to seek your assistance in understanding how this works and if possible a demonstration of it. The reason I am asking this is that my husband heard a fake voice of me with another man and he is now suspecting me. My marriage is becoming a hell and since I love him, I don’t want to lose him either. I swore to him and told him the voice was not me, but he actually doesn’t believe that such a technology exists. Can you please help me show him that such a thing is possible and I am not lying to him?
Thank you so much for your assistance in saving my marriage.