Why the need to "debunk" whatever story he has to tell.
He produced a good image, and he has prints for sale.
I can tell you that if I were to produce an image that good, I wouldn't tell anyone how I did it. I'd have you running all over creation chasing the tales I told about it. But I sure wouldn't give you the truth.
The guy gave us a wonderful visual image -- more than we deserve. He owes me nothing.
There's nothing else to it for me.
First, I want to say that I'm not talking about photojournalism which, I believe, we pretty much all agree should not be "faked." Nor am I talking about purely commercial photography intended purely for marketing.
There seems to be a divide between people who ask nothing more of a photo than that it be appealing, and those who find part of the appeal in its context. To me, art always includes context. For example, consider modern artists who do abstract, almost random works. Without knowing that these folks used to do perfect portraits in art school, you might think it was random crap made by just throwing paint on a canvas. The context tells you there is, or might be, a deeper meaning in the work.
Photographic context begins with the characteristic that is unique to photography among the visual arts: the fact that the "palette" comes from reality. A painter's palette is just paint waiting for the brush; a sculptor's palette is the marble from which some Michelangelo will remove all the parts which are not the statue. How much of a photograph is "real" is important because it tells me something about a photographer's intent. Consider a close-up photograph of a tiger staring straight into the camera. Does it have a different meaning if the photographer said it was "in the wild" with a 200mm lens vs. in a zoo or game park with a 600mm lens? It does to me. "How" a work was produced is
important to its value as art.
While I agree that it's acceptable to manipulate images, it's not acceptable to lie about it. It's OK to remain silent as to the origin also. Lying about the origin of a photo is cheating the viewer out of the context of the photo.
In this case, it appears that the photographer may be lying outright about how he made the image. To you this does not matter; however, apparently it mattered to Mr. Lik enough that he went to the trouble of presenting a full back-story on the creation of the image. One must assume that's also meaningful to the buyers of his prints as well. If this is true, he is, metaphorically, marketing a photo of a captive tiger as though it were a wild tiger. And that ain't cool.