John Woodman Challenges Paul Irey to a Public Debate — in the Largest Possible Venue!

If you’ve followed the widely-rumored claims that Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate is a forgery, then you’ve probably heard of Paul Irey.

Mr. Irey is one of the more prominent of the 20 or so experts that WorldNetDaily claims to have at their disposal — all of whom maintain that the document is a clear and proven fake. Irey is described as “a retired professional typographer with 50 years experience.” He is also the past founder/owner of a successful graphics and advertising business in New Jersey (Bergan Graphics), which at its height had 60 employees. Montgomery Ward was one of his clients.

In June, Mr. Irey made the following claim:

“My analysis proves beyond a doubt that it would be impossible for the different letters that appear in the Obama birth certificate to have been typed by one typewriter. Typewriters in 1961 could not change the size and shape of a letter on the fly like that. This document is definitely a forgery.”

Mr. Irey has now confirmed his original analysis with a follow-up, in which he maintains:

“My 50 years in typography, my 25 years composing pages with Macintosh computers, and owning and using nearly every type of reproduction equipment leave me no doubt: the Obama birth certificate is a forgery.”

In my book, I analyzed the birth certificate for real evidence that different typefaces were used; and I also examined Mr. Irey’s work on the issue. I found no good evidence of forgery, and I found serious flaws in Mr. Irey’s examination that completely invalidated his conclusion.

In an online discussion that took place in the comments at the end of his latest article, Paul Irey challenged me to a debate. What he had in mind was an exchange right there in the article comments. That proposal was a good start, but not very interesting for two reasons:

First, the audience is too small. WorldNetDaily has a somewhat limited audience to start with, and the comments areas of past articles quickly go “dead.” We would probably find ourselves talking to a mostly empty room.

Secondly, WorldNetDaily’s audience is composed almost entirely of people who’ve already made their minds up that the document is a forgery. What could there possibly be to attract me to a debate on those terms?

For that matter, what benefit could there be to Paul Irey? I would think he’d rather have the opportunity to make some converts, rather than just preaching to the already converted.

I would therefore like to offer a counter-proposal: I challenge Paul Irey to a public debate in the largest possible venue.

The terms (which I believe to all be reasonable) are as follows:

* The audience should not consist mostly of people who’ve made their minds up, one way or another. This would rule out the normal gathering places for both “birthers” and “anti-birthers.” This does not rule out venues that simply lean in a particular direction politically, whether conservative or liberal.

* Such a debate should be hosted by someone who is reasonably neutral. The host could certainly participate in the discussion, as long as he or she doesn’t “gang up on” Mr. Irey or myself. Neither should he ridicule one side or use terms like “birther nutjobs,” “kook,” or “Obot.” This might tend to rule out some radio talk show hosts such as Neal Boortz, who generally has strong opinions and values the freedom to express them. (Nonetheless, if Mr. Boortz would be interested under the kinds of parameters I’ve outlined, I’d certainly be willing to consider his show.)

The goal is a debate that is structured in a fair manner.

* The debate should be in front of a large audience. In fact, since both Mr. Irey and I are interested in getting our messages out, I think we should aim for the biggest audience possible — or better yet, the best combination we can find of audience size and “fit” regarding the host and show.

The top possibility I have in mind would be a nationally-syndicated radio talk show.

In fact, my number one preferred pick (if he would be willing to host such a show for the purpose of helping clarify this national issue and demonstrating that we as conservatives value the truth) would be the nation’s number 2 radio talk show — Sean Hannity.

Other possible choices might be Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Neal Boortz, Jim Bohannon, Jerry Doyle, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Doug Stephan, etc. That’s only a starting list.

Some of the aforementioned undoubtedly wouldn’t be interested or suitable, and there might be some other great shows that would. I leave off Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage as I tend to think neither would be a good fit. (However, if either should think differently, they’re welcome to contact me!)

* A radio debate can be supplemented by additional materials posted online. This would allow listeners to see what we’re talking about, and can be arranged in a simple way so that people can get to such materials easily.

* I don’t want to exclude the possibility of television. I would also be open to a televised debate, and there are probably a number of hosts we could consider there. However, I do not have the budget to travel to some other location unless such expenses could somehow be covered.

* Since the proposed audience would be large, reasonable time should be allowed for preparation. I’m not talking weeks here. More like several days to a week. Given the uncertainties of my own schedule and the fact that I also have a full-time business to run, probably at least 4 days would ensure enough time for adequate preparation.

As far as I can think of right now, those would be the terms. If Mr. Irey agrees to them, then we can start trying to contact some of the shows suggested.

Paul Irey has expressed absolute confidence in his ability to refute anything that I might say. I know he would like to bring the forgery message to a broader audience — and I’d like to give him the chance. If he is willing to accept the challenge, we can start looking for the means to do just that.

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29 Responses to John Woodman Challenges Paul Irey to a Public Debate — in the Largest Possible Venue!

    • John Woodman says:

      Thanks for the links! I had read a couple of those articles, but there were also a couple there that I hadn’t read. Interesting reading in any event. 🙂

      • NBC says:

        They provide some additional interesting information and explore the effects of DPI, ribbon effect etc on how characters will look.

        I find their contributions to be of quite high standards, not unlike the work performed by you.

        • John Woodman says:

          I’ll take that as a compliment! 🙂 And yes, I thought they had some interesting things to say. Not all of their earlier comments are entirely accurate (for example, I think they mentioned OCR, and there’s no sign OCR was used), but they are definitely intelligent and interested in getting to the truth rather than just picking one side and ignoring evidence to contrary.

          • AAfterwit says:


            I am the writer of the articles cited above.

            We did mention OCR but only as another example of how the scan affects the final results. For the most part, our audience has had two interactions with scanners – that to copy something and using OCR. We did not make the claim OCR was used on this document, but only were trying to give examples where scanning, dpi, and intersections matter.

            Sorry for any confusion.

            A. Afterwit

            • gorefan says:

              Do either of you (Mr. Woodman and AAfterwit) know or have you discussed whether the original BC was reduced in size when it was copied or scanned at the Hawaii DOH?

            • AAfterwit says:


              I have no information to indicate the document was reduced when scanned. The long form birth certificate was scanned in a “window” surrounded by security paper to prevent any information from other bc’s within the book to be seen within the scan. The scanned document fits fully within what appears to be a normal scanner.

              On the black and white copy that was given to the press, the security paper window is missing to an extent, which would lead one to believe the image was expanded slightly or at the very least, the original size and the original scan with the security paper window was larger than paper 8 1/2″ wide.

              Hope that makes sense.

            • gorefan says:

              AAfterwit and Mr. Woodman,

              Thank you for the answer.

              Do you know if the green security paper is 8.5 x 11 inches?

              Have you seen the Savannah Guthrie photos?

              Is a standard birth certifcate 8.5 x 11?

              I suspect based on Guthrie ‘s photos that the original was reduced to fit on the security paper.

              Is there anyway to scale the image to determine the size of the type?

              As for the book of birth certificates, wouldn’t the page facing the President’s BC be the backside of the preceeding BC and probably blank?

              In 1961 they would have been using the standard 1956 Certificate of Live Birth from the National Center for Health Statistics. Along with the fields already visible on the long form BC, there would have been three additional fields (required by NCHS) plus any addtional fields added by state requirements. All of this information is medical in nature. So it seems entirely possible that if a BC was 8.5 x 11 inch all of the information would fit on a single side.

            • John Woodman says:

              Hi, and thanks for visiting!

              I think I had reference to this statement:

              “Furthermore, the copy of the birth certificate was scanned and placed in to a PDF file format using a optical character recognition (OCR) program.”

              Technically speaking, it wasn’t necessarily an OCR program, but a program that simply optimized the PDF. But — as mentioned, there was a lot in your articles that I found far more intelligent and accurate than most of what’s been written on the subject! 🙂

            • AAfterwit says:


              I seem to remember and Irey statement referencing an OCR scan, but I cannot find it now. I will correct the post and change it away from that my statement.

              I apologize for the error. It is not my intention to mislead or deceive anyone with any false information.

              I have changed the article to reflect the correct information.


            • John Woodman says:

              There were a number of people who thought, at some point, that OCR was involved.

              Anyway — good blog! 🙂

  1. nbc says:

    Let’s see how this evolves… Exciting times. Orly on her way to Washington to talk to Republican ‘lawmakers’, Sheriff Arpaio’s venture into birtherism. I guess they are all interested in improving President Obama’s re-election chances.

  2. John Woodman says:

    I have sent Mr. Irey an email advising him of my challenge and inviting him to visit this site and read the proposed terms.

  3. Plutodog says:

    Excellent idea but if you’re looking for unbiased or anything close, John, why does it look like nothing but RW moderators who make liberal teeth grind are suggested?

    • John Woodman says:

      Plutodog: All I’ve done, really, is go down the list of the biggest talk radio shows in the country. I don’t mind a show hosted by a conservative or a liberal, as long as the host is fair. But almost all of the biggest shows are conservative.

      I’ll admit I’m a bit biased towards talk radio, because that’s what I listen to. I don’t really watch TV. But I’m quite open to a TV show if it would be doable.

      For me, I don’t care so much about the politics of the host, as long as he or she handles the debate in a fair manner — except to the extent that I’d like to make the basic environment comfortable for the other guy in the debate. And Mr. Irey might be happier with a conservative host than with a liberal one.

  4. funnyhaha71 says:

    This is an excellent idea, Mr. Woodman! I would greatly enjoy a debate on this issue!

    Your parameters are fair and reasonable. Well done!

  5. Insight says:

    I wouldn’t call Irey “prominent,” just noisy.

  6. John Woodman says:

    I phoned Mr. Irey this morning to touch base with him. He stated that he has received a copy of my book and is reviewing it. He also said that he’d made an initial response to my proposal in the comments here, but I haven’t been able to find one. And there’s none awaiting moderation, so I’m not sure how that got lost.

  7. John Woodman says:

    I managed to talk to a producer from a very good-sized radio show today, and gave a concise but accurate pitch of the show idea.

    The producer of this particular show said that it wasn’t a topic they’re wanting to cover at present — but she did have a suggestion for me of another national show that she thought just might be interested.

    The show she mentioned is not one of the top 10, so I will probably continue attempting to contact shows on my main list. The one she suggested is, however, definitely still a good-sized show and I do think it could be a very good venue for a debate.

  8. Plutodog says:

    Tell you who I’d suggest. And this guy, while a liberal, has conservatives on all the time and lets them talk and debates them fairly, is decent enough to say “we’ll agree to disagree” rather than “you’re out of your head crazy”. And they actually finish their conversations and say good by fairly amicably. That would be Thom Hartman. And he’s national, among the top liberal stations. I don’t think he knows the birther issues any where near as well as Obots do, or whether he’d want to but that would be my suggestion. See link to radio stations:

    • I agree with the suggestion on Thom Hartmann. He had Corsi on after his book came out. I am not sure Thom would consider devoting most of a show to this issue, however. It doesn’t cost to ask though.

  9. John Woodman says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, Plutodog! I will definitely add Thom Hartmann to the list of possibilities.

  10. Pingback: Dear Birthers: Grasping at Straws Hurts the Conservative Cause. | Raised On Hoecakes

  11. Plutodog says:

    True dat, RC. Outside a small subset of the folks, birferism is pretty limited in interest. So getting it on paid radio for any length of time could be iffy. Maybe best thing is an internet radio program like RC Radio, from which an audio can be spread wherever folks are interested worldwide.

    • John Woodman says:

      Personally, I don’t believe that. One third of the people I’ve talked to have stated that they’re interested in the question of whether the President’s birth certificate is a forgery. The major media may not be covering the issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not of interest to their audiences.

      When 1/3 of adults are interested in something, I’d say there’s significant interest there. And one needn’t necessarily devote an entire show to an issue.

  12. Plutodog says:

    Maybe you’re right. It’s just that having followed birferz/birferizm for close to three years AND following talk radio, which loves to bring up stories that bring on the crowds and the commenters, I’ve seen so few of these folks bring up birferism much or in much depth. We’ll see.

  13. nbc says:

    Paul Irey may be a somewhat slow reader? Can we expect any debate or has Paul, wisely, chosen not to participate in what by any logic and reason would be the intellectual equivalent of a ‘public spanking’

    • John Woodman says:

      I’ve just emailed Mr. Irey again to see what he says about the possibility of a debate. It’s been 5 days since I’ve talked to him, so I’m sure I’ve given him enough time.

  14. John Woodman says:

    April 2012: Having reached firm conclusions on the birther movement, I’m moving on, and closing comment sections of this blog as I do so.

    If you feel you have a comment to some post here that’s really, REALLY important and ought to be added to a post on this site, email me. If I agree, I’ll add it.


    John Woodman

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