Robert Randall wrote:
The context was people in general, and it could be argued he was talking about the kind of people that buy tabloid rags at the checkout counter.
No, that wasn't the context. Had you actually listened to what he said, you might have heard him say this:
"This is a good 120 degrees wrong. I mean it’s really unbelievably broken. And what’s amazing about this, and I do this for a living, is that when I first looked at it I didn’t notice. It was only after the cognitive exercise" [emphasis added].
You're correct, he did say exactly that, and then a few seconds later he said "Your brain doesn't see the differences", and it could be argued that I simply mis-quoted him and used the word people in place of the word your, mainly because the plural form of the personal pronoun "you" refers to people. Unless you think it refers to brains, then we truly are at an impasse.
Robert Randall wrote:
I would argue that in the specific context of photographers or retouchers, his statement would be categorically incorrect.
No, in the context of photographers, retouchers, and even forensic image experts, his statement still holds. Farid isn't "the kind of people that buy tabloid rags." He is Distinguished Professor of Computational Science at Dartmouth College, and chair of Dartmouth's Neukom Institute for Computational Science. He specializes in image analysis, human perception, and has been called the "father" of digital image forensics by NOVA scienceNOW.
You say his statement holds true in my context, I say it doesn't. I saw that cover at the checkout counter in my local Dominick's Finer Foods, and the very first thing I noticed was the wrong shadows. Unlike you, and it seems likely, Mr Farid as well, I've gone through almost 4 decades of visual training, starting with my job as an engravers apprentice in 1976. Back then, had I worked on a picture with wrong shadows, and not brought it to the attention of my supervisor, I would have lost my job. Since it's my feeling that anyone that calls himself a photographer or a retoucher, shares at least a similar experience with me, I included them in my context.