Stork Publicity

On May 10, 2007 the phrase “Ricoh Innovations” resulted in only one hit on Google’s first page to research of any kind produced by the company; to David Stork’s results on the ‘Hockney-Falco Thesis’. The other nine hits were to general business directories that list the company, a city map of Cupertino, the company’s home page, etc. The same search done in December had two hits on the first page to the company’s Christmas party, and earlier this year to a wine and chocolate tasting party. Given that Ricoh Innovations’ wine-tasting parties get more hits than does the research they conduct, Stork’s papers attacking us have materially benefited the company by giving its research a higher presence on the web than it otherwise would have. As quoted in Robert Strauss’s column in the June 5, 2007 issue of ‘PC Magazine’, “If someone Googles you and doesn’t find you, that is a negative. So you want your name at the top.”


On 16 March 2007 a history of science graduate student at Yale created a Wikipedia page about “The Hockney-Falco Thesis”:

The ‘history’ tab on that site shows that during working hours on Thursday 17 May the information on that page was altered by someone who tried to remain anonymous. However, that anonymous contributor’s IP address — — was logged by Wikipedia, allowing it to be traced back to the source: Ricoh Innovations, i.e. David Stork.

Below in red are all of the changes that David Stork made to the Wikipedia page on 17 May, with my comments about his changes in blue:

However, Professor A. I. Sabra of Harvard University, recently translated the entire corpus of Ibn al-Haytham’s writings, including all his 16 books on optics, The Optics of Ibn al-Haytham, by Ibn al-Haytham, translated by A. I. Sabra, Warburg Institute, 1989,

What Stork has written above is false for more than one reason. First, only approximately two-thirds of al-Haytham’s 92 known works are known to have survived,[1] so Professor Sabra could not have translated “the entire corpus” of them no matter what. Of the surviving works, only 11 are al-Haytham’s 16 known ones on optics,[2] so no one could have translated just that subset of them either. Also, Prof. Sabra translated only the first three volumes of the seven-volume ‘Book of Optics’. No one has translated all seven volumes of even this one book.

[1] ‘The Optics of Ibn al-Haytham’, A. I Sabra (Warburg Institute, 1989). pages xxiv-xxv.
[2] Although Sabra writes on page xxxii of Ref. [1] that there are “no fewer than sixteen works wholly devoted to the subject of light and vision…,” A. Mark Smith gives 15 as the number, listing them on page xvii of his ‘Alhacen’s Theory of Visual Perception’ (American Philosophical Society, 2001).

and finds that al-Haytham never discovered the difficult procedure of projecting an image onto a screen, the process necessary required by the Hockney-Falco thesis.

This is false. Quoting Prof. Sabra[3]: “This treatise [‘The Shape of the Eclipse’] is of special interest because of what it reveals about Ibn al-Haytham’s knowledge of the important subject of the camera obscura… [H]is attempted explanation of the image of a solar crescent clearly shows that he possessed the principles of the working of the camera.”

[3]’Optics, Astronomy and Logic: Studies in Arabic Science and Philosophy’, A. I. Sabra (Variorum, 1994), pages 195-196.

Nor would Ibn al-Haytham’s silence on this subject be due to trying to keep “secret knowledge,” as broadly invoked by Hockney and Falco. Ibn al-Haytham was of course an Arab, working centuries before the Inquisition and over 1000 miles away, and extremely prolific and had no reason to keep the procedure secret.

The above quote from Prof. Sabra is in direct contradiction to Stork. As this quote shows, al-Haytham knew about projecting images with a camera obscura, and wrote about the procedure in ‘The Shape of the Eclipse’.

; scientists and other historians reacted somewhat more favorably

Stork removed the above clause and replaced it with:

A broad range of independent scientific experts in image analysis have analyzed the technical evidence and rejected the Hockney-Falco claim as well.Antonio Criminisi and David G. Stork, “Did the great masters use optical projections while painting? Perspective comparison of paintings and photographs of Renaissance chandeliers,” in J. Kittler, M. Petrou and M. S. Nixon (eds.), Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Pattern Recognition, Volume IV, pp. 645-648, 2004, David G. Stork, “Optics and realism in Renaissance art,” Scientific American 291(6):76-84, December 2004, Christopher W. Tyler, “Rosetta Stoned?”

This is quite misleading, since the “broad range of ‘independent'” experts all happen to be co-authors of Stork, and one was even a student-employee of Ricoh Innovations, supervised by Stork, at the time he co-authored his paper. Also, contrary to what Stork attempted to anonymously post here, none of those papers actually rejects our claims, or shows anything wrong with any of our evidence, but rather all offer alternative explanations that they say are at least as plausible. However, as I show elsewhere, the conclusions of all of those papers directly rely on a variety of problematic data and incorrect assumptions.

Wikidpedia controls against the editing of articles by involved parties, which would explain why Stork tried to keep his identity hidden when he made the above changes. However, the false information he added to the site (which was subsequently removed by another, disinterested, party) indicates how anxious Ricoh Innovations is to get its work mentioned on the web.

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