Media Manipulation Illusion Example

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I don’t know if these shots were taken from an actual photojournalism, or were they just used as a theoretical example, but either way consider this a pretty powerful demonstration. See for yourself how our our perception can be easily shaped, and manipulated with by the media. I believe it isn’t necessary to explain this optical illusion. Photos speak for themselves. Imagine you worked for an administration that wants you to show how soldiers have no mercy when it comes to war. You would use the cropped picture on your left in that case. However, if you worked for the other side, and wanted to depict soldiers as human beings, you would crop the right part of the original photo. There you have it! Such powerful example amazes me, but in the same time scares the sh*t out of me. Which makes me think, should we be more skeptic to stories medias bombard us with?

Media Manipulation Optical Illusion

102 Replies to “Media Manipulation Illusion Example”


  2. Site seems to be fine to me. Anyway, i do find that image to be a great example of the way media can easily manipulate the truth to thier advantage. In my opinion they’ve gone way too far with the whole ‘Gobal Warming’ issue too, and that photo just proves how easily it can be done! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I agree with Krystal. So-called “global warming” is just a secret ploy by the media and wacko tree-huggers to make everyone energy independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start
    21st-century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!

  4. Not what I would call an optical illusion per se, but certainly a very powerful image and it has made me think about how much of what you read and see in the media is true..

  5. Wow. I stared at that image for a good quarter of an hour. It does get the mush inside your skull turning…

    @ Brian–You need to work for the Onion. =)

  6. Vurdlak, according to “Alexa”(website traffic ranking system), moillusions is soaring in the past week!

    Keep up the good work!

  7. extremely ambiguous photo…good point about the media….

    i dont really believe in the big “global warming” scare either…but we really should be more efficient and not pollute, etc – those are GOOD things.

  8. Brian, I’m SURE you’re right. It must be so easy to manipulate years of scientific statistics to show that the world has limited resources. There’s very little difference between cropping a photograph and duplicating research from country to country and decade to decade.

    Useful reminder, Vurdlak.

  9. Yeah, the media are tricky people. And in regard to global warming, I think we should be energy efficient and cleaner anyway and I also believe even if there were no human interference it would be inevitable anyway. Look at the history of the Earth, the climate has never been stable and it never will be. The ones who survive are not those who try to go against the change of the world, but those who change with it. If it is real, prepare, if not, be kind to your planet anyway, because at the moment it’s like the Earth is the parent and the human race are the spoiled teenagers who are happy to let their parent suffer.

  10. Wow, Brian, I guess lying about and suppressing facts is not a secret ploy by the media and wacko tree-huggers. (See and for two websites that actually back up their conclusions with facts.) Anything can be justified as long as it is for the greater good. Of course in this case, the “greater good” means destroying jobs, lowering our standard of living, increasing government intrusion into our daily lives, and oh yea, redistributing wealth from those who work hard to create, innovate, and produce to those who don’t.

    That is some strong Kool-aid you are drinking!

  11. wow, that’s really powerful and just goes to show how much the media manipulates and controls our thoughts on things.

    site seems to work fine

  12. Global warming is actually a ploy for more money to be released and controlled by a select few, just as the “AIDS is EVERYONE’S Disease” line a few years ago. They wanted to stifle the controversy there as well as dictate terms of where and how much funding was allocated. See.if it is EVERYONES disease then ALL people should pay—-RIGHT?

  13. A good pattern of the most popular propaganda method.
    Here is another one from Mark Twain:
    “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

  14. What the man on the left has sin’t a gun, it seems to be attached to his hat with a cable tie? Anyway, the man on the left has his hand on his knee, so it kind of doesn’t make sense on it’s own. If someone tried to tell me that he was being ruthless, I would point out that he wasn’t even holding a gun and probably didn’t even have one.

    Nevertheless, great find.

  15. I think it looks quite like a painting, but either way, the point about presenting entirely different versions still stands!

  16. ^ Agrees with Brian

    It’s scary, really scary, how the media tries to manipulate us, whether on wars (Have you notices how much bad press the war in Iraq got during Bush’s term?) or presidents (most American news stations love Obama) or even global warming.

  17. @ Danny Hodgetts

    Sorry mate but look closer…

    The soldier on the left is not holding a gun, however another soldier to the far left outside the picture is… which is what you can see the barrel of.

    The cable tie is holding a laser distance measurer so the soldier can assess the distance of a target so he can raise or lower his sights for a more accurate shot

  18. What it really shows is that soldiers are people, they do have compassion, but they have their guns out, ready for a fight.

  19. A good example of howeasy it is to manipulate the contents of a photo, or any other picture.The picture above is an example of the ease to create propoganda, for whatever the purpose.Look at the picture long enough and you find good and evil.

  20. I find it interesting that some people consider this an illusion. It is more an example of personal/cultural values in a social psychology context. Hardened combat veterans will not experience the diffent perceptual valiance of the picture with the theam of providing water verses the theme of having a rifle trainned on a prisoner. To the experienced combat veteran both are commonplace. Neither provoke much emotion or contrast. It is not so much an illusion, there is not ‘trick the eye’ here nor is there a veridical perception vs incorrect perception. It has more to do with your own personal values applid to what you see.

  21. Great piece of ‘doctored’ or ‘shopped’ attempts at totally fake photojournalism. And I quite agree with just about everyone whose commented here insofar as we, here in the USA have a very irresponsible press/media corps.

    Lastly for blait: Appreciate the post and knowledge; however, what does it have to do with anything about the thesis of the photo?

    While I’m at it, doesn’t the soldier at left w/o gun look like he’s wearing gloves? Just to share.

    Great illusion great message!

  22. As products of oour environments we are manipulated by those arround us every second of every day. Why sould we be surprised that the media is doing it? When the very way that we respond to certain “facts” or images has been determined by the society in which we live.

  23. YES. Thank you Brian. Economists have been fudging and omitting data through the years. Finally someone with some sense comes along. And nice illusion

  24. I think the media is very one sided and we really should take everything they say with a little grain of salt more so with the drive by media than anything

  25. I really can’t take credit for it. It was
    “Chip Giller Founder of Grist.ort where environmentally minded people gather online.”

    And to climate skeptics. hahaha. you get your annual physical at the mall like you get your scientific conclusions from a journalist? Come on now. The IPCC is the international authority on climate change. They have published several reports all stating the anthropological causes are significantly altering the natural variations in the climate. (translation: humans are messing up the natural changes in the climate).

    And Mark, how does incorporating green technology and reducing dependence on foreign oil kill jobs? New environmentally-friendly cars still need service, green houses still need upkeep, green technologies still require factories. poor argument. (and I know, I just graduated with my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and am looking for those green jobs in an effort to preserve this planet for my grandchildren and YOURS!)

  26. If you weren’t aware that the madia manipulates images etc to make the story they want to sell then you may be interested in buying a bridge I have for sale :)

    As for global warming I agree with Brian and Haylz. Global warming is a scam, but it also is doing some good. The unfortunate part is that it is actually detracting from the real pollution issues (mm I wonder who benefits from that) by labelling carbon as one of our biggest pollution problems.

    If you want you can check out my rant on global warming which I wrote three years ago after much research and it is still relevant today

  27. Why is your site crashes periodically? As I remember it crashed once or twice last year.
    Are you using dot net? C’mon move away from .net you’ll be fine. You wouldn’t be asking public to find the errors any more.

  28. This reminds me off a photo I saw in a photography magazine when Dan Quayle was vice-president.
    The cropped photo showed him with an idiotic look on his face. People would see the picture and think, “What a goof!”
    But the entire picture showed him interacting with a young child in, if I remember correctly, a wheelchair. Then Quayle looked compassionate.

  29. Wow! that is absolutely scary and amazing at the same time. We don’t really think about little things like that because we don’t realize it. But one picture can have two different meanings with two different cuts. It takes someone that can see that to be able to do a crop that is sooo convincing. But now it makes us wonder if the media is ever actually truthful anymore….makes you think…

  30. I love your site and have been visiting for awhile now, but this is my first comment. First, I would like to use this post today so click on my name to go see if I do you enough credits etc.

    Second. Global warming. It is real but some climate change occurs on a natural cycle. However, the main reason for it is that the Club of Rome wanted to find an INTERNATIONAL or GLOBAL enemy so that they could hit us all for carbon tax on everything. INCLUDING the air we breathe, giving birth, driving. You name it, there it was to be taxed, a universal tax.
    The Story of Cap and Trade will tell you how it works and show you what a scam it is.

    As for media manipulation, this is more a good example of this. It is used every day in our mainstream media. This is why so many people sound as confused as most of you above me there do. You all should educate yourself about the true state of America and the world and you will not find the truth in ANY of the main newspapers or tv stations.

    They are ALL owned by a very small group of men, if I remember only 6. And they ALL work to keep Americans among the most ignorant about world affairs on the planet. They ALL work to the same goals. And did I mention most of them have great interests in the military and armaments businesses? So of course they keep you unaware.

    Why is this important to YOU? Because it is your freedoms and your lives they are stealing. They are stealing your homes, your quality of life, your money, and they would prefer you kept ignorant about it. Things will not get better until you open your eyes, see this, and begin to find ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.

    This photo is a small but excellent example. When you look at a photo of a Jewish soldier holding a gun on a small child for example, check to see if it is a picture that shows what is going on around the scene. Perhaps he is just standing with his gun at rest and the picture is taken at an angle so it looks as if he is threatening her. Or perhaps he really IS threatening her and her family. You can only really tell by looking around the scene.

    Thank you for this post. I hope you check out my blog and let me know if you are ok with my using it.

    Meanwhile folks, wakey wakey and have a great day!

  31. You need a NON illusion outlet to post your ramblings, and the crap like this picture that does NOT belong here. It is a cropped photo.. happens all the time.. and is not an illusion of any sort.

  32. Decides to ignore iriso’s jaded rudeness and return to work. Wonders, however, just what this person may have contributed to the discussion other than derogation.

    S/he seems to forget that people are all at different stages of learning and just because s/he thinks he knows so much, everyone else does too.

    Educate much? Contribute anything of value much?

  33. not a good example, there is still a a gun pointed at his head!!!
    the best example would be the American invasion of Iraq with the doctored picture of Saddam Hussein statue being pulled down.
    the published pic looks like thousands of people participated ; in reality there were only a few hired thugs being protected by American tanks!!!!

  34. The captured man was a POW who’s still being inspected as he was rounded up with others.

    According to military procedure, it is standard that POWs are bound and kept under guard during inspection when they were first captured. Thus when the man in picture is in needed of water, the guards would be the ones bringing it to him. The photo in it self isn’t paticularly inhumane or humane.

    But for people who wants to manipulate the public opinion he could very well crop the photo into the one shown at the left or right. Which is the point the post was trying to make.

  35. The mother of all illusions, of course, was the Iraqi WMD (weapons of mass destruction), but I guess you can’t show those. :)

  36. In any cases, This is All True ! :
    especially in my nation (Italy) who many times I have noticed a Significant cut in foreign video(for example, respect at the original) with completely changed sense

    but the italian people dont understand nothing.
    (it has to “survive” first..)

  37. @Brian, Global warming is a hoax. Ask any scientist. Think back to basic high school chemistry. CO2 gas we give off is so light weight that it can’t even reach the atmosphere to cause this green house effect called “Global warming” and Carbon MONoxide is even lighter than that!! Our worlds temperature is DECREASING right now…how is that global “warming”? The world goes through drastic climate changes WITH or WITH OUT us. It doesnt matter if we use all solar energy or use all gas/oil. It would make no difference! However we could be a little more efficient with our natural resources, but that has nothing to do with this non-existant “global warming” scam for our gov. to make money.

    1. global warming IS A HOAX. don’t believe what everyone says i mean really. when i was a kid we were preparing for the next ice age.

  38. this pic really scared the ….. out of me! I’ve used it on my blog, obviously I’ve given the source but if you don’t wish it to appear on my blog let me know and I’ll take it off immediately. Thanks

  39. Actually, photojournalists have a strict code of ethics they are required to adhere to, and if, at least here in the states, you are discovered to have made such a crop job or any modification to a photo (outside of sharpening and levels and appropriate colour adjustments) at least here in the states, you are basically guaranteed to never work in journalism again

  40. oldest crowd manipulation trick there is, give ‘photographic evidence’ and you can claim anything in writing next to the picture. media is made out of misinformation, some out of ill will, some out of ignorance, some to make the story juicier and so on.

  41. Well, it’s a good thing the guy with the gun is standing five feet away from the guy and aiming down. Check out the amazing depth of field which only happens when objects within the depth of field are a correct distance away and others are not. Obviously, gun man, is not within the correct distance. Which means he doesn’t have a gun to a man’s head. (Since the image is so bright (The image is blown out), the photographer had to have used a larger aperture, meaning a larger depth of field (Usually infinity). WHICH MEANS, the guy had to be significantly farther away than even 5 feet.) Which means this is total bullshit, just like that fucking stupid “optical illusion” of a guy floating on a street. Can ANYONE tell it’s photoshopped? EXAMINE THE GODDAMN PHOTOS.

  42. Also, just so you know, Justin is only half right. CO2 is heavier than air, I know that cause we had to use it to put one of my hamsters to sleep. We poured it out like water. So you know, it never reaches the atmosphere because it’s too goddamn heavy.

    The reason the global warming is fake is because;

    1. We could not even dream of producing more CO2 than the Earth itself does.

    2. Hurricanes act as a natural “air conditioner” and when the oceans heat up there are more hurricanes to cool it down.

    3. It was hotter in the Medieval times.

    4. The scientist that “discovered” global warming “lost” ALL of his research (Btw, that NEVER HAPPENS), created a hockey stick graph that was proven to be fake MANY times, and then admitted it was fake like, a few weeks ago.

    5. Al Gore was making shit tons of money off of it. So were a lot of other people. Which usually means “Hey, there must be something else to this.”

    Jesus Christ. Do some research.

    1. Anon,

      Numbered paragraphs are your points.

      0. CO2 is heavier than air, I know that cause we had to use it to put one of my hamsters to sleep. We poured it out like water. So you know, it never reaches the atmosphere because it’s too goddamn heavy.

      Then that same CO2 is still pooling around the floor where you killed your hamster, killing your cats? Yes, CO2 is heavier, just as O2 is heavier than N2 (oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere) – but then they rapidly and fully mix. (Sugar is heavier than water too) Even the climate skeptics don’t dispute the many measurements of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere; they dispute only the effect.

      1. We could not even dream of producing more CO2 than the Earth itself does.

      “We could not dream of it” isn’t evidence of anything but lack of imagination. What matters is the numbers. Humans put additional gigatons of CO2 in the atmosphere in addition to what nature does; about half of that extra gets absorbed by the oceans (making them more acidic with weak carbolic acid and causing other problems), the other half stays in the atmosphere. Again, not even scientific skeptics dispute this.

      2. Hurricanes act as a natural “air conditioner” and when the oceans heat up there are more hurricanes to cool it down.

      What matters is the heat balance of the whole planet’s surface. If more solar heat is coming in than radiating back out, the planet warms slightly until enough is radiated out to rebalance. Hurricanes only move heat around within the system, they don’t transport it off planet. Even if they did take heat out of the oceans, that would make make the atmospher hotter still, not cooler (the air and land temperature rise is reduced as some of the excess heat goes INTO the ocean).

      3. It was hotter in the Medieval times.

      You are referring to a European phenomenon which does not show up in many temperature proxies elsewhere, like ice cores (ie: it was regional warming, not global). Historical temperature reconstruction based on ice cores, tree rings, coral growth, etc is tricky and some analysis is disputed (appropriate skepticism is widespread in science), but they are far from the only evidence for global warming.

      4. The scientist that “discovered” global warming “lost” ALL of his research (Btw, that NEVER HAPPENS), created a hockey stick graph that was proven to be fake MANY times, and then admitted it was fake like, a few weeks ago.

      No one or even few scientists “discovered” global warming (if it had been one person, you WOULD know their name, just as you know the name of the scientist who “discovered” relativity!). Literally many hundreds of scientists in many fields and from around the world (under capitalist and communist and other political systems) have together produced and analyzed the evidence for global warming. The “Hockey Stick” was an illustration made by one scientist; it’s dramatic for public presentations, but is not the basis of evidence for global warming, climate models, heat balance equations, etc. As to whether even that one illustration has been disproven, this is somewhat in the eye of the beholder; if you want to believe it disproven (why would you have to do so many times? Are you confusing disproof with dispute?), you can find others who will tell you so, but there is also evidence supporting it. Either way, the hockey stick illustration is not even close to a keystone in the evidence for global warming.

      5. Al Gore was making shit tons of money off of it. So were a lot of other people. Which usually means “Hey, there must be something else to this.”

      Some of those opposing the concept of global warming are making literally thousands of times as much money (read: major oil companies with profits in tens of billions per year!). If that’s the basis for deciding, then there would be an open and shut case that global warming must exist because the “anti-globbal-warming” forces make far more money. But that is not science, and it’s best to go to the data rather than make ad hominem attacks on either side.

      Anyway, just thought this should be cleared up for any unwary readers who might be influenced by the form of media manipulation in the comments to this post on image based manipulation. Once again, it’s about presenting selective information.


    2. (Um, by the way, when I said that the earth warms “slightly” until a radiative heat balance is achieved – slight means by a few degrees of absolute temperature, relative to absolute zero. Radiation is a function of absolute temperature. That “slight” amount in absolute terms can be huge in terms of weather and biosystems. If you don’t know what absolute temperature or absolute zero are, do some research).

  43. Anon:

    You may well be right with your information, but is it really necessary to be angry with it?
    Come back down to earth – the pictures are nothing more than examples of how easy it is to misinterpret or manipulate.

  44. I was angry because this, in and of itself, is a manipulation. I’m going into the field of film and video, and it’s offensive to me.

    There is no excuse and I apologize. But that doesn’t make my points any less relevant or true. I apologize if anyone takes offense, but please, PLEASE, do your own research… all of these people, comments of people buying right into it…. it makes me so sad….

    And they blame the media for it…

  45. Take a look closely at who is holding that rifle. Its NOT the guy to the left…its someone completely out of frame. Therefore, the rifle is not aimed at his head as the picture angle suggests. Its being aimed lower than the AI Officer’s waist. So actually, if people are ignorant enough and dont pay enough attention to realize that small fact, then who cares what they think.

    But onto the main topic. Yes, depending on how you manipulate a picture, it can tell different stories. Thats been the case since the very first camera was introduced though, so its nothing new.

  46. Jordan – you make me giggle dude! Oh, I may never work taking snapshots again! OH MY, I’d better not crop out the this or that. And the Cops would never… and the president couldn’t possibly…and the….DUDE!

  47. It should be noted that the gun is out of focus in the image, and the muzzle proportion is wrong when compared to the ear. This tells us that the muzzle is not in fact pressed against the mans forehead. The gun is likely pointing at his chest where the shot is less likely to miss or hit the soldier with the canteen (as the bullet comes out the other side).

    Professional soldiers would find the arrangement of the soldiers in this photograph wrong. This scene is either staged or there is a forth soldier out of frame on the right. The soldier we do see does not have a clear shot. It would be very easy for him to accidentally shoot either of his two fellows. This forth soldier on the right out of frame would have a clear shot. That is assuming they feel this man is a threat.

  48. Consider this; If the roles were reversed, the solder with the canteen would be holding the prisoners head instead of the canteen.

    That’s the difference between a civilization and a tyranny.

    The pinkos and government-media complex can stuff that in their party-pipe and smoke it.

    And glo-bull warming is just a get-rich-quick vehicle for well connected politicians, former politicians and the corporations that support them.

    Now who is “The Establishment”?

  49. Facts:
    * The prisoner have the hands tied behind his back.
    * The soldier with the gun is pointing it towards the prisoner’s legs.
    * The soldier holding the water bottle also holds the prisoner’s head up. Makes perfect sense since the prisoner is constricted.
    * Fox-channel has went to court to get a ruling of their right to outright lie to their viewers under the Freedom of Speech. Not bias, not picking the right angle. Lie. They won.
    * Global heating is still nowhere near to be written off.

  50. That’s exactly what happened during the Tibetan riots in 2009. CNN and others cropped pictures to show the PLA as the aggressor.

  51. hey some body see my contenetor molecular
    keep it of materia? becouse with out that i never see tha year 3000

  52. Hey “Anon”:

    For being so shure about your knowledge you couldn’t be more wrong:

    1. Aperture itself won’t lead to overexposure or underexposure, it’s combined with both sensitivity (ISO) and exposure time which makes up for the reduced or increased amount of light.

    2. Aperture renders a greater depth of field when it’s SMALLER not larger, look it up.

    In this case I would agree that the left hand soldier is maybe like half a meter away from the thirsty soldier, but DOF has nothing to do with it since there are more factors that can affect it, however proportions and perspective are more telling.

    Consider this a free lesson so you go to your course more prepared :D

  53. I love how all of these people are so sure that global warming is a myth. Every chunk of ice that comes off Greenland and Antarctica is one small step close to a flood. Ps if you guys are religious and talking about facts just stop now. God if fake…

  54. I think sharing this is very important or I would not post it or email it, because of some of the comment by potty mouthed people, who nevertheless have info. I would like to share with people on the opposite end of the spectrum from me. I believe global warming exists and is a very serious problem. Also I believe photojournalists and others, some deliberately, some not, send us trick photography and distorted information – especially on FOX. Sarcasm and insults, though, can be put forth w/o bad language by the even self educated.

  55. i believe that every hundrents of years our sun have an irection and with this exarsis of our sun the inner core temp / radio reaction and the magnetic fields make magnetic/plasma energey curves so strong that the coronas magnetic field and plasma balls may reach (also the solar wind) the mercury venus earth mars atmosphere and hit the magnetic field of our planets …maybe this “heat”so call(microwaves)will be like a energy palse to awake mars inner core and be one more time geologicaly alive planet the planet mars….but maybe our earths inner core stops!i hope no for our sake!but i hope mars will be alive some day…because it will hapen in future as before in ancient times!this exarsis of our sun is a periodical phenomenon (in diagrams is like wave palses that every curve lasts some years or decates!im sorry for my bad english,but im Hellenic human and i hate english grammar!:))im not a scientist and i have not the need to act like one!im just a self educated and self explorer of the truth that from logical clues from my very young age i constract some resolts that seems to be logical but perhaps unprooved for know:)!but i have the feeling im right i dont know how i know it but i feel it!

    1. i don’t really understand, what are you trying to say? and without all that full stops and commas it just gets harder to read. google the spelling of the words, it also helps.
      great imagination anyways, sounds to me like a workable movie plot :P

  56. Good optical illusion, as always. And you put two “our”s at the part where it goes, “See for yourself how our our perception can be easily shaped, and manipulated with by the media.”

  57. how is this scary??????? it’s a good optical illusion, but the fact that it looks like he’s aiming at his head when he’s not dosen’t make it scary.

  58. If global warming is a illusion, ok, you can be right, this dont make difference. But if this, can change the people´s mind to protect the forests and biodiversity of species, well, so the people can do anything as this. And so they make all difference. Because the extermination is real, is fool, and is for ever. Excuse my poor brasilian-english…

  59. the bit where he said our twice is another optical illusion, as you probably didnt notice first time, although i dont think he meant to to that!

  60. it does not matter if this photo is real or photo shopped together. it is the fact that photos can easily be manipulated and the general public is not aware of this. we are told what to believe by the images that we see. if we can not believe these images, than what can we believe, when and how do we know when we are actually being represented with the truth? Unless you see it happen with your own eyes, the validity of any picture can be doubtful

    1. When you capture an enemy combatant, you keep them under guard. But you also ensure that you take care of them,that is why they have a weapon ready but are giving him water.

  61. It’s a perspective thing, there’s a man in the foreground holding a gun and a man in the background getting water. They just happenend to line up. So the full photo would be an illusion and the left crop would be a manipulation (lie). Either way, that man s being helped not hurt.

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