William Frawley? Don’t Make Me Laugh

Many of us are actively alarmed by the invasion of AI technology, and the possibility it raises of creating entirely false historical narratives.

After all, if an engineer and scientist is uncritically sharing this pretty obviously AI-created image/story:

This story is fake. This picture is fake. (Image via Twitter)

... where will it end? Nothing will be real at some point, and the real things won't be provable.

For now, it's mostly seemingly harmless stuff like funny news stories and embarrassing photos of celebrities. But I question whether the average person has any discernment at all when it comes to what they're shown.

For example, a number of fake photos — or real photos in fake settings — have circulated for years online, with people eager to be the ones with special knowledge sharing and sharing them again. Didja know Madonna met Elvis? (No, she didn't.)

If you think this is Bill Frawley, you might be gullible. (Image via Internet)

One that is related to Gr8erDays is this image that purports to be of a young William Frawley aka Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy. Incredibly, I saw it shared on a Lucille Ball fan page! It's not Frawley. If the man in the photos is Bill Frawley, it's not that one. How do I know? Well, the same reasons you should know.

Frawley was born in 1887. Therefore, to be the man in the photo — who could be 20-25 or so — that would mean this image was taken around 1907-1912. Does that image look like a 1910s image? No. Does the man's dress look like 1910s? No. The style of photo and the style of his dress are pretty clearly 1950s-1960s.

And yet, many swallow it whole because it's fun to see an image of a not-handsome star looking handsome when young. One person who pushed back on my comments sent me this:

Um, no. (Image via Internet)

Hysterically, this also is not William Frawley. It does not look 1890s in style or in style of dress, and a simple reverse Google search IDs it as having been created in 1949, which is exactly what it looks like — a mid-century photo.

And so here we are, at the dawn of the disinformation age. Today, it's William Frawley. Tomorrow, it's American history and, worse, geopolitics.

How much do you wanna bet?

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