Highlights From the Forum
May 21 through 27, 2000
Re. the Commonwealth: after the last coup Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth, as I recall, but was re-admitted after the Constitution was adopted and elections held.
Re. friends: while the Naiads may be safe enough, our friends at the Fiji Museum and around town are rather another matter. In the past, coups in Fiji have been pretty bloodless, but that's no guarantee of the future. The military is the big question, I imagine. Fiji has a highly trained, well-equipped military that's big in UN peacekeeping work. If they backed the coup leaders, there wouldn't be much question who'd be in charge.
The situation in Fiji has been simmering for quite a while. There was a threat of trouble a few years ago when it looked like an elected government might consist of mostly non-indigenous members. Kind of like the British parliament being made up of West Indian people.
There is a large Indian population in Fiji, and as I understand it, the coup is just to return government to the Fijians themselves.
Once the situation settles down, the people should return to their normal happy selves in short order. If Nai'a is run by the Fijians there should not be much drama.
One report I read when I was studying the cultural aspects of the country suggested that the Indians are to Fiji what the Chinese are to Indonesia (and the Jews were to Hitler's Germany). They are the small business owners, the mangers, the bankers. This same report suggested that the Fijians "laid back" attitude allowed the Indians to control much of the economy, thereby paving the way for an Indian majority in their assembly, which would then cause racial friction as the Fijians were forced out of their own law making process.
I suspect this is what has happened over there. Once the Fijians (in minority as far as population these days) consider they control their own country again the situation will probably pass as if nothing happened at all.
>From Tom King
The former is frequently cited but I found only the one quote citing the latter, The latter quote also has a misspelling of "pursued". I haven't read either book and can't verify these quotes.
This is a report of some work done on looking into the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Buttonwood's visit to Gardner I. in 1947. To recap, Ric had received a call last year from Dan Skellie, a Coast Guard veteran of the Buttonwood who stated that the ship, after calling at Canton I., had dropped off an officer on Gardner for some unspecified mission. This was an officer not normally assigned to the ship. He put the date in early January, 1947 (also a date ascribed to the wreck photo). Dan remembers the date as his 'shellback' certificate for crossing the International Date Line is Jan.9, 1947. He further indicated that Capt. Jenkins, the C.O., left the ship at Pago Pago and flew to Suva, Fiji, purportedly for a vacation. This, in and of itself would seem to be unusual, according to naval historians who state that he would only have left on official business.
At this point, Tom Van Hare volunteered to make a manual search of the ship's deck logs at the National Archives. He reported back that the logs beginning with Oct. 1946 were missing. With permission, I made a request to the archives for the Muster Rolls. They eventually reported back, that the Coast Guard Muster Rolls, unlike the Navy's, were still in possession of the Coast Guard. I then submitted an FOIA request to the Coast Guard for the Muster Rolls of the Buttonwood for Dec 46 and Jan 47. What ensued was a comedy of errors in which the USCG managed to lose my request twice. When questioned by fax and by letter, they responded that the Records Center had mailed the muster rolls in question but they had not arrived at the FOIA office, therefore they would not be able to help me. After punching the right buttons, the rolls arrived about two weeks later.
I did do a conference call with Dan Skellie of Ohio and Bill Catron of California of the original crew and discussed what they remembered about the crew. Dan did recall a wooden pier on the lagoon side of Gardner which added credence to that being at least one of the islands visited. I also spoke with Ed Ziegler, also of Ohio.
Without the deck logs, it is difficult to track a vessel's movements, however it can be approximated since the signature of the captain is noted monthly as to location of the ship. The rolls also show regular crewmembers, enlisted and officers, as well as passengers. Two names popped up as having no good explanation for being aboard, an Ensign Robert Schwing and a Lt(jg) Howard Linse. I then requested Feb and Mar 47 rolls to see what happened to these two officers and check on the Captain's reported visit to Suva. Upon examination, both officers disappear after January and no note is made of any trip by the captain to Suva. The orders assigning Schwing and Linse are referenced, so another FOIA request was sent off. Again, the letter is lost in the bureaucracy and it takes some more jabbing to pry it loose. The payoff is a copy of the orders for Lt(jg) Linse in which he is ordered to 'report to the Commanding Officer, CGC Buttonwood, for temporary duty of approximately 30 days duration as direct representative of the Commander, 14th Coast Guard District, for the purpose of inspecting Loran stations of the Phoenix chain, renewing contracts with native caretakers at Gardner and Atafu and investigating the possibilities of future Loran station sites on the islands of Tutuila, Samoa and Howland Island. Upon completion of this temporary duty, you will return to Honolulu, T.H. and resume your regular duties'.
He departed Honolulu on a CG aircraft on 10Jan47 and boarded the Buttonwood at Canton on the 11th. Ric and I feel Linse was probably not left on the island as it would make more sense for the ship to wait for him to check the equipment and contact the natives. Without the deck logs, we don't know how long the stay was. As Ric indicated, it would be interesting to know whether the 'bone story' was related to Linse as it had been to Coast Guardsman Floyd Kilts in a little over a year earlier.
According to the Social Security Death Index, there was only one match for Howard Linse. If indeed the correct person, he was born in 1917 and died in Oregon in 19--. That would have made him about 30 at the time of the cruise. I have a request in now to a contact in Oregon to try to obtain an obituary. It would be interesting to try to talk to a relative in the off chance he kept any mementos of the cruise or even a diary.
So it appears we now know at least the who and the why of the visit of the Buttonwood.
And THAT, my friends, is how you do historical research. Thanks Ron.
I just finished reading Mr. Dawson's e-mail on the Buttonwood Report and found it quite fascinating. It also raised a number of questions. Has any attempt be made to track down Ensign Schwing as was done with Lt. Linse? Why would the Commandant, 14th Coast Guard District assign Messrs Schwing and Linse to make a study--did they have some special expertise in Loran; what were their "normal" duties in Hawaii? Ensigns and Lieutenants wouldn't seem to have the rank to be making these types of investigations/reports.
Is there a log of the Coast Guard Station on Gardner and does it show the arrival of Buttonwood and the two officers? Did they make a written report and where might it be filed? I would assume, given the scope of their orders, that they would have had to file some form of written memorandum with recommendations for endorsement by their chain of command.
If Capt. Jenkins left the ship sometime around mid-January, shortly after Skellie "crossed the line", who commanded the vessel as it transported Schwing and Linse, sometime after their arrival on the 11th, to Gardner?
I raise these questions not to provide additional work to Mr. Dawson, who prepared a detailed memo, based upon substantial research, but to scratch an "itch" which keeps returning each time the forum finds additional "lost" materials.
I also find it extremely amazing that Capt. Jenkins is given a "vacation" and flies, apparently at Coast Guard expense, to Suva, Fiji, one of the places that TIGHAR feels the bones may have been forwarded to, (TIGHAR Tracks, Vol. 15, p. 18) all within one year of Floyd Kilts hearing the "bones" story. I am firmly of the opinion that Kilts passed the story on to any and all members of the station at the time he heard it; for a sailor (coastie) to not pass on "scuttlebutt" would be tatamount to turning down free beer. Is their any possibility that this odd set of circumstances relates to AE info passing, officially or un-officially, up the chain of command? The US Navy and or Coast Guard might not appreciate any reports finding "bones" on islands they had "searched" at the time of disappearance.
There was, indeed, a written report -- as Chuck Boyle has just informed us.
Personally, I don't see anything odd about a junior officer getting stuck with the job of inspecting the storage of obsolete radio gear on remote islands. No support has been found for the allegation that the captain of the Buttonwood took a "vacation" in "The Fijis" when the ship reached Pago Pago (nobody ever said he left while the ship was at sea).
A thought which struck me reading this was whether, in some way, the Captain of the vessel found out about the bones discovery, reported it, and was ordered to visit the British in Suva. Seems doubtful, as I suspect that something like this would be handled at higher levels.
Except Ron has been able to find no evidence that Skellie's recollection that the captain visited Suva is correct.
From Chuck Boyle
When Tom King and I went to the Washington, DC archives several months ago I found a nine (9) page report dated 12 February 1947 Subject: Phoenix Island Loran Stations; inspection of.
The report is from Lieutenant (jg) Howard A. Linse, USCG which he sent to the Commander, 14th Coast Guard District. His report starts by telling of his arrival at Canton Island 11 January 1947. He started his inspection at Canton on January 13, l947. The USCG Buttonwood was present and provided transportation for the inspection party to the Loran Stations on Baker, Gardner and Atafu. The C. O. Lt. Frank C. Anderson was present on Canton. A Captain P. G. Roberts, the British representative at Canton, was also in attendance.
Arrived via the Buttonwood at Baker Island 18 January 1947. They proceeded to Gardner Island arriving 21 January. The Buttonwood arrived Atafu Island 23 January 1947.
The report does not list the departure date from Atafu or where it went after Atafu. The report is dated 12 February 1947 so they must have returned sometime on that date or before.
Presently I have a problem with my scanner. I will have it taken care of very shortly and will copy the complete nine (9) page report. I think you will find the report to be very interesting.
Lee (Chuck) Boyle
Bingo. We'll put it up on the website.
Sounds like Buttonwood was at Gardner for only about one day.
Was the Floyd Kilts story which was published in the San Diego Tribune in 1960 investigated further by TIGHAR (I may have missed it, my reference is only the TIGHAR Tracks of Dec 1998)? Namely, was the reporter still around to be interviewed and was Kilts listed in a log of a Coast Guard ship that landed to dismantle the Loran station circa 1946? Did Kilts ever tell that same story to his shipmates, relatives and why did he go forward to the paper in 1960? His recollection of the native's tale of the skeleton and the shoes is certainly quite detailed (and pretty accurate) after some 23 years. Did he ever make an official report to the Coast Guard of this revelation in 1946 as certainly this would be of significance for an offical Coast Guard report? Did Kilts ever write notes on this matter?
Maybe forum members have tackled this investigation already. I do have a Coast Guard source that may be of help, if necessary.
As you might imagine, we've tried our darnedest to follow up on the Kilts story. I've talked to the reporter but he didn't remember much about the story at all and did not keep any of his notes. We have confirmed through official records that Kilts was there, but we're aware of no official report and the one other veteran we've found who was also there at the time does not remember hearing the story from either Kilts or the locals.
Tom King has been in touch with Kilts' daughter who says that her father was actually working on a book about the incident when he died. Efforts to locate any surviving notes or manuscript have, unfortunately, come to naught. What prompted Kilts' call to the newspaper was all the hoopla in June 1960 about Fred Goener's discovery of Josephine Blanco who claimed to have seen AE on Saipan. Kilts' was merely saying, "No, no, no. That's not what happened."
Perhaps not totally off-topic. The quote from Broca's Brain, by Carl Sagan is on page 62 of the hard-cover book. (Yard-sale some years ago! I'd not read it.) The first copyright was 1974.
Broca's Brain -- Paul Broca was a surgeon, a neurologist and an anthropologist, a major figure in the development of both medicine and anthropology in the mid-nineteenth century -- and a "freethinker." His biography is impressive. P. Broca's brain resides in a jar in a neglected storeroom of the Musee de l'Homme in Paris. Sagan had held the jar in his hand -- and fancied the ideas that might be sitting there still, sluggish with formalin, in Broca's brain.
Sagan is speaking of an organization, and a committee, seeking to provide some focus for skepticism on the border of science. Possibly of some interest to the forum, he says:
In view of the general content of the book, I think "extraordinary evidence" means evidence that can not be explained by ordinary knowledge of how things work (science), and that could not possibly have been faked.
LTM (Who is extraordinarly
distressed by junk-science)
Thanks Vern. Taken in context, it does seem that Sagan was not saying that those who are trying to correct commonly held, but erroneous, views should be held to a higher standard of evidence. If we were trying to test, and hoping to prove, the hypothesis that Amelia was abducted by space aliens, Sagan's comment would have some relevance. There is, however, nothing extraordinary about the idea that Earhart and Noonan landed at Gardner Island. In fact, our whole point is that, once the facts of the case are understood, nothing could be more ordinary.
What is true is that anyone trying to correct commonly held, but erroneous, views must have easily understood, highly compelling, and widely publicized evidence in order to succeed.
>I believe that the
extraordinary should be pursued. But
-- Sagan expressed this idea many times in his life, and it will probably be one of the things history remembers him for.
You don't need to do much convincing if you predict that the sun will rise tomorrow. That's not an extraordinary claim. Based on what we know about the subject, it probably will rise.
But if you get in your head that the sun won't rise tomorrow, and decide to promote the idea, well, that would be an extraordinary claim. Extraordinary evidence, something exquisitely compelling in documentable fact and mathematical reason, would be necessary in order to convince most scientists of that, especially in time for the disputed dawn.
LTM (who had her
share of trouble with sunrises)
Waxing philosphical for a moment, as is our wont from time to time, we must ask by whose definition something is considered to be "extraordinary?" It is my impression that many, if not most, people today routinely accept the notion that some individuals have paranormal extrasensory ability -- truly an extraordinary concept for which no scentific evidence, extraordinary or otherwise, has ever been presented. Conversely, it's hard to imagine a principle less extraordinary than evolution and yet ... well, you see my point.
Well, at risk of being beat up as a fuzzy-thinking relativist, I'd suggest that what's "extraordinary" is very much in the eye of the beholder. And as beheld by most "mainstream" Earhart students -- at least before about the mid-90s -- the notion of Earhart landing on Niku rather than crashing and sinking seems pretty extraordinary. This is why we keep talking about finding smoking guns.
I certainly agree that our problem is not that we're trying to prove the extraordinary but that we're trying to show that something that is perceived by many as extraordinary, in fact, quite ordinary.
From William Webster-Garman
>It is my impression
that many, if not most, people today
There is an important cultural component to Sagan's famous remark.
Claims to extrasensory ability (and psuedo religious fixations such as a literal belief that sentient "aliens" have regularly visited the earth) are, in scientific terms, extraordinary claims. It doesn't matter if "many, if not most" people are superstitious, or ignorant, or naive, or whatever: This kind of fuzzy thinking ultimately stems from the very natural human desire to attach answers to difficult questions. There is probably a survival benefit, somewhere, to belief in such things. However, my opinion is that there is an even greater survival benefit attached to rational, scientific reasoning, as long as it is tempered by ethics and cultural sensitivity.
As a consequence, valid claims that contradict long-standing misinformation or supersition can seem extraordinary to the majority of people. History is replete with examples of this. For example, educated persons in ancient Greece were well-aware that the earth was a sphere, as were many members of the ruling classes of Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century. Bringing the concept into wide acceptance among the "masses", however, required many well-publicized ocean voyages and the establishment of far flung commercial trade routes. Ultimately, the real-world impact of the earth's spherical nature, in the form of exotic trade goods from distant places and thousands of common sailors coming back to port from these highly profitable voyages firmly established the idea of a spherical earth (however dimly) into the public mind.
The claim that AE and FN reached Gardner and perished there wouldn't be so extraordinary if the "ditched at sea" scenario were not so firmly established in popular memory.
Our natural instinct for seeking answers to difficult questions is a hallmark of human nature, and one of our great strengths. However, to avoid abuse and cultural dead-ends, it should probably be directed towards rational thought that is subsequently subjected to rigorous and objective review.
I know this has been brought up before but I just saw the Biography of Amelia Earhart on the Biography Channel. I now can better understand why the Carl Sagan quote, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (not that AE landing on Gardner is extraordinary, it really makes sense), however after seeing some of the experts claims that AE had to crash in the sea, well I can see why TIGHAR has a hard time finding funding.
I thought it was
of interest at least in the program I saw, that there is no mention of
any post radio messages (unless it was cut). I still think there were
some credible radio messages, I get the impression from what I have read
that the computer model that is being use to try to recreate the conditions
for radio reception disagrees with that possibility, however I am very
skeptical of computer models, if you can give me an accurate long range
weather forecast, from a computer model, then I would be more incline
to accept your conclusions ( I believe you are trying to do the same long
range forecast in reverse). I realize there are 7 year sunspot cycles,
7 years of good reception (actually 7 years to hit a peak) and 7 years
of poor reception, (again 7 years of decline until you hit bottom). Anyhow
it has been my experience that even on the down side of the sunspot cycle
there are some good days for reception, in others words it is not an absolute.
( the only absolute, is when there is a major sunspot storm that charges
the Ionosphere, and then nothing is heard). I have seen TIGHAR apply this
principle often, you always try to get information as close to the event
as possible, for example if a person said something in a newspaper interviewed
directly after AE disappear and then years later change his story, you
use the information closest to the event (that makes perfect sense). Applying
that principle, (please consider I don't have the research CD) if you
look at the newspaper clipping on the Amelia Earhart Birth Place Museum,
newsclip from the Atchison Daily Globe, July 3, 1937 here is there URL
with the clip
Comparing Bob Brandenburg's modeling of the radio and antenna system to a long range weather forecast is comparing apples and oranges, but I share your skepticism that any such theoretical work can provide absolute answers - and I'm sure that Bob would agree. However, contrary to your impression, Bob's analysis does not debunk all of the alleged post-loss messages. In fact, the transmissions heard by Nauru on 6210 kcs on the evening of July 2nd are very credible and, in my personal opinion, were probably genuine. Some other signals heard later by US Navy Radio in Samoa could also have been the real thing, but the case for them is not as strong. The stuff heard in Hawaii, Midway, Wake and in the U.S. is almost certainly bogus.
I remain quite suspicious of the authenticity of Kilt's story. Apparently Tom King is in touch with his daughter in San Diego. A delicate question, would be his prior history or involvement with the Earhart story and with any other prior "claims" of extraordinary events. In my mind, if a native told that story to Kilts, who was a Coast Guard man (enlisted or officer?) on Niku in 1946,that he would have been derelict in his duty not to have reported that information to a superior and if so, the US Coast Guard would have made an offical report available for review. What was Kilts reputation in the community for "truth". Would it be of value to contact her directly?
A question to the Forum and TIGHAR: Was any information of a skeleton found on Niku on the shoreline by a "young Irishman" Magistrate in the public domain in 1960? The Kilts story also includes size 9 narrow women's shoes, American kind and of course the Irishman immediately thought of Amelia Earhart. Do we know that Gallagher discussed his findings and his suspected Earhart connection with any of the 1937 natives. Were there just 23 all men only natives on Niku in 1938,I thought there were about 80 plus with women joining the colonist.
So I guess were back to proving "extraordinary" reports with extraordinary proof of Kilts' report to the newspaper.p> It almost looks like Kilts had the first TIGHAR Tracks Bulletin where he got his information. But if none of this information was available in 1960, it would be compelling evidence that Kilts was reporting a true story, no matter what he did or did not do with the information.
The only extraordinary thing about Kilts' story, as far as we can tell, is that it appears in a newspaper article thirty years BEFORE the events he describes were ever discussed publicly. The entire bones incident was never disclosed outside a very tight circle of British officials. Harry Maude, Eric Bevington, and Foua Tofiga -- all of whom were right there in the WPHC at the time -- knew nothing about it. Kilts could be the most notorious liar in the Coast Guard but there is no question that he was on Niku when he says he was and he had basically accurate information that he could not have gotten except from the people he says he got it from.
Kilt's was a 54 year-old Chief Carpenter's Mate when he was on Gardner in 1946 . He was 45 in 1937. It's hardly surprising that he knew about Earhart, but your perceptions of what he might consider his duty to report to his superiors may differ from his. After all, what did he have? A story told by a native. No documents, no evidence. Just a story. When he did tell it in 1960, it was investigated and roundly debunked by Fred Goerner. Floyd probably went to his grave thinking that nobody believed him. Poor guy.
I found this available as a file I could paste in. It might be of interest.
CARL SAGAN'S BALONEY DETECTION KIT
Based on the book The Demon Haunted World.
The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:
"Occam's Razor" -- if there are two hypothesis that explain the data equally well choose the simpler. [Note from Ric: This is often misunderstood. You choose the simpler one, not because it is more likely to be correct, but because it's easier to test and, possibly, eliminate.]
Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, is it testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?
Additional issues are:
Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric:
Vern Klein 2124
Wonderful stuff Vern. I'd love to use it on our website (properly credited of course). Can you let me know where you found it?
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