A picture may be worth a thousand words. But don't think you can believe your own eyes these days. Not in this age of digitally computerized everything-including reality. These days, photographs aren't even close to being an airtight source of knowledge. In fact, with digital image manipulation becoming much more mainstream, it's hard to know what's real or not in a photo.

      Go on the Internet. You'll find plenty of companies who alter photographs and videotape for a low enough fee. Or buy yourself some software like Adobe's Photoshop. All you need is a computer and some imagination to delete that nasty old ex-wife or ex-husband from your holiday photo album or to rub out that accursed mole on your chin. These are not surprising technical feats by any means. But what happens if that photograph becomes really important? What if it's used as evidence in a court case or a lawsuit? Is there a way to determine the validity of a photograph, or are we now at the mercy of the honor system (oh no!)?

            Photographs have been questioned as evidence for many years-and there's no doubt that with the advent of digital technology, things are bound to get harder to authenticate. It's just going to make it easier for people to lie. Now we'll just have to count on the integrity of the photographer rather than the image itself.