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Author Topic: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time  (Read 68367 times)

Jon Romig

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #75 on: December 16, 2014, 09:22:29 PM »


I agree it can be fun to speculate.

Thanks, Joe for your response.

Actually, I don't find all the speculation that I see on this site to be very much fun. Most of it is useless and a distraction. I am however interested in novel ideas that, through further research, might lead to tentative conclusions or probabilities.

My hope was that further exploration of this (admittedly speculative) postulate might lead us somewhere. Not to a "conclusive" conclusion, because we don't have too many (or any?) of those, but to some resolution. Right now we have dozens of "elusive" threads on this site, each of which may have reached a point of near-exhaustion, but they can be useful in building a case and suggesting directions for further research, even if not proven or provable.

I do think that if we had five or ten pieces of evidence - like the possibly oversized shoes, good one! - that the postulate might rise to the level of serious consideration. I don't agree that creating a longer list of similar evidence would make it shakier, unless the evidence itself were shakier. Aggregated evidence should work like parallel electrical circuits that can carry more current, whereas you suggest it should be analogous to circuits wired in series that can carry less with each addition. I think a dozen inconclusive pieces can add up to something more conclusive, as Ric has said.

And already I see progress in your fact-based response, thank you!

1. I was aware of the loss of coordination symptom (these symptoms are describes as "like Parkinson's disease") and wondered about the Luke Field accident, but that seems like a serious overreach.

2. You indicate that you believe that brain symptoms due to mercury poisoning would be concurrent with loss of coordination. I wonder if the effects are so predictable. I am still looking for some good case studies of people with mercury poisoning.

3. We know that the round-the-world flight put AE in a very sunny environment for an extended period, and that the windshield of the Electra would not block UV. She also was interacting with media continuously during the trip. All are reasons that she might have increased her use of a freckle cream.

4. AE may have been one of very, very few women of that era that:
- had very fair, sun-sensitive skin,
- had freckles,
- were very concerned about their appearance,
- needed to look good for professional reasons,
- were routinely and continuously exposed to extremely strong sunlight, and
- had sufficient income and leisure time to be able to seek out and buy (or have compounded) unusual cosmetics.
Thus it is unlikely that there were many (or any) other women of that era that might have used a freckle or skin cream with the frequency and weight that AE may have. If we were to find a single case in the 1930s of a woman poisoned by the mercury found in a skin-lightening lotion, it seems to me we would find Amelia.


In any case, we now have good reason (physical evidence) to believe that AE may have repeatedly applied a highly toxic substance to her skin. The "freckle cream" jar works both ways: it is not only an indication that AE may have been on Niku, but it is also an indication that AE may have routinely and possibly for years been exposed to a bioaccumulative poison, a poison notorious for (among other things) its effects on mood and cognition.


Jon
Jon Romig 3562R
 
« Last Edit: December 16, 2014, 09:29:30 PM by Jon Romig »
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #76 on: December 17, 2014, 06:44:03 AM »

Thanks Jon.  I try.

Do these coincidences have an additive effect?  (I keep seeing 'addictive' when I read that last sentence; maybe they're that too.) Perhaps, and perhaps they attract a few who revel in the speculation (and I'm not saying it's wrong to speculate).  But a greater number to me will find this line of reasoning somewhat unscientific.  I don't think there is any way Earhart's alleged mercury exposure can be tested.   

Speculation is fine, but I like to confine it for the most part to the numerical results of the lab reports.  I think to do more than that is to make it easy for critics to set up the straw man that we claimed we found AE's freckle jar, which we did not claim.  Granted, we may have found just that, but the critics don't seem to care much for the difference between 'may' and 'did'.  By the same token, I think it was entirely appropriate for us to have acquired the laboratory findings we did and present them at face value for the readers to judge for themselves.

This may be a good time to trot out Carl Sagan's baloney detection kit as a good guide in our efforts.  I think by Sagan's standard we did OK.

The speculation is fine, Jon.  I'm just saying there are rough waters out there.

By the way, you stated "If we were to find a single case in the 1930s of a woman poisoned by the mercury found in a skin-lightening lotion, it seems to me we would find Amelia."  Sadly, that is most likely not the case as toxicity from mercuric ointments has been studied even in our present day.

If a hypothesis isn't thoroughly testable, we need to be clear about the limits of what we can and did test and what that means.  I think our paper does this rather effectively and we should continue that approach in discussions about it.

Joe Cerniglia
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« Last Edit: December 17, 2014, 04:05:41 PM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #77 on: December 17, 2014, 06:17:47 PM »

A couple of things about lead: the amount allowed in US public drinking water is 15 ug/L. Also, lead is usually found at higher concentrations in soil than mercury is. These two facts taken together tend to persuade me that the mercury is a more significant finding.
Of course the rinsate from the glass is not directly comparable to the water standard. If what was in the jar did contain lead, then it could have been much diluted by the time TIGHAR found the glass. But it just gives a general ballpark perspective.

For anyone who's very interested in the toxicology of mercury in its different forms, I find the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Toxicological Profile for Mercury to be a useful compilation of knowledge on the subject:
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp.asp?id=115&tid=24
(either scroll down the page to read the contents, or click on the PDF download to get the whole document at once)

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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #78 on: December 18, 2014, 04:25:37 AM »

A couple of things about lead: the amount allowed in US public drinking water is 15 ug/L. Also, lead is usually found at higher concentrations in soil than mercury is. These two facts taken together tend to persuade me that the mercury is a more significant finding.
Of course the rinsate from the glass is not directly comparable to the water standard. If what was in the jar did contain lead, then it could have been much diluted by the time TIGHAR found the glass. But it just gives a general ballpark perspective.

Great research, Jennifer.
The fact that there is an allowed amount of lead in drinking water that is higher than that for mercury does provide perspective.  The 'safe' level in drinking water for mercury has been determined to be <=2 ug/L.

The fact that lead is more concentrated in soil than mercury is interesting as well, but if soil had been the culprit for the lead found in the jar I was expecting the measurements taken on the outside of the jar to have detectable levels.  The jar was buried when found, so soil contaminants had no preferred surface for adhesion, as would be the case if the artifact had been found merely sitting on the surface.  No lead was detected on the outside but lead was detected on the inside at 5 ug/L.  This is by no means a perfect control but we felt it was a rudimentary one. 

Our controls for the mercury were more complete.  In addition to taking inside/outside Hg readings on the artifact, we also took inside/outside Hg readings on another glass artifact not from the jar at the site (Coke bottle) and inside/outside Hg readings on 2 additional jars, one of which was an authentic Dr. Berry's jar, the other of which was an authentic jar of Burnham Skin Rejuvenator.

Of course, the real unanswered and probably unanswerable question is this:  I don't know for sure if the lead found in the jar is an actual reflection of the original contents, but if it is, then how much lead was inside the jar when it was new and in use?

Joe Cerniglia
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« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 02:23:02 PM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #79 on: December 18, 2014, 02:51:42 PM »

As a toxicologist, I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. I do think it would be a stretch to try to find any connection between toxic effects and the use of what was in the jar, because we just don't know enough about the concentrations of the initial material in the jar, nor how much of the material its user applied. Generally speaking, toxicity via the dermal route wouldn't be as likely as toxicity via ingestion, and it appears the material in the jar was probably for topical use.

Also, I'm not aware of any symptoms reported by AE that would point toward mercury (or lead or arsenic) poisoning more than they would point to the fatigue and irregular diet of a person trying to fly around the world.

One could imagine a scenario in which the jar was emptied by a castaway and used as, say, a drinking vessel; in that scenario, toxicity would be of even greater interest. However, that is just speculation, which I wouldn't pursue unless some evidence came to light to support it. (Not to mention all the other hazards a castaway has to deal with in that environment, most of which are likely to act more quickly than heavy-metal toxicity.)

If we stick with what we know, then we have parts of a jar that is consistent with AE's time period and consistent with a product that would match a documented concern of hers (skin freckling), and nothing about the jar is inconsistent with AE. My understanding is that other sources for this jar are possible but not overwhelmingly numerous. We haven't been able to connect these specific pieces of glass conclusively with AE, but it is an interesting piece of the puzzle.
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Karen Hoy

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #80 on: September 01, 2015, 07:23:06 PM »

This article describes freckle cream remedies and includes recipes for homemade versions:

http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/aba/freckles.php

Is there any evidence that AE may have mixed her own freckle cream?

Karen Hoy #2610CR
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #81 on: September 02, 2015, 05:32:48 AM »

This article describes freckle cream remedies and includes recipes for homemade versions:

http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/aba/freckles.php

Is there any evidence that AE may have mixed her own freckle cream?

Karen Hoy #2610CR
Thanks Karen.

There is no direct evidence she mixed her own freckle cream. I would not have expected such a thing to be documented, if indeed it even happened.

Earhart did have documented practices for maintaining health, however, and home remedies, probably mainstream for their time but unusual today, are among them. Check out Earhart's letter to her mother from September 4, 1935, in which she discusses her "vegetable concentrate man." Source: Letters From Amelia, Beacon Press, 1982, p. 181.

Greg George has researched the fact that Earhart was twice a guest of John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium, a virtual command central for quack cures and home remedies. Kellogg is on record for regarding freckles as a medical condition, for which he advocated treatment. Source: p. 1291, The Home Book of Modern Medicine, A Family Guide in Health and Disease, Volume 2
by John Harvey Kellogg

It would be interesting to know more about these periods in AE's life.

A few years ago, I asked one of Earhart's better known biographers whether Earhart had a history with patent medicines. She replied she had not found any such history, and closed with Earhart's signature farewell - Cheers!

Joe Cerniglia
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Roger London

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #82 on: September 02, 2015, 01:51:19 PM »

Quote:  >>"would point to the fatigue and irregular diet of a person trying to fly around the world."<<
Fully agree. And this TIGHAR forum being predominantly male opinionated please also allow due consideration that AE may perhaps have been pregnant and possibly suffering (periodic/frequent) morning-sickness. Most prevalent between 6 to 12 weeks, though to 16 weeks can occur. Thus she just might have been 2 to 3 months pregnant. Many women become concerned roughly around 3 months that their figure may reveal their pregnancy . . . when might a baby have been due? Might this have been part reason for the urgency to complete the 2nd round-world attempt?
True or not this is arguably not a personal matter AE (or GP) may have been inclined to disclose to all and sundry, in particular not to the media (it could have been a flying-career-ending distraction), however women, very understandably, do confide with very close and trustworthy friends and it is possible AE may have done so.
To find AE's unborn bones at the 7 site (if they have endured) could be the Holiest Of Grails . . . attracting intense present-day world-media attention.
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #83 on: September 02, 2015, 04:02:10 PM »

Quote:  >>"would point to the fatigue and irregular diet of a person trying to fly around the world."<<
Fully agree. And this TIGHAR forum being predominantly male opinionated please also allow due consideration that AE may perhaps have been pregnant and possibly suffering (periodic/frequent) morning-sickness.
This point has come up before.

I appreciate the spirit of inquiry in which it probably was made.

Nevertheless, it's a significant thread drift from the topic of this thread, which is analysis of the jar artifact. May I suggest someone with powers to do so move it into the thread I linked above, where it might receive whatever comment people may wish to contribute?

Joe Cerniglia
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Jerry Germann

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #84 on: February 23, 2018, 06:51:41 PM »

Very Nice Dr. Berry's Freckle Cream Jar on Ebay;   https://www.ebay.com/itm/Freckle-OINTMENT-old-original-milk-glass-jar-Dr-C-H-Berry-Co-Chicago/362246254433?hash=item54578f2f61:g:DFEAAOSwhiZaiydJ

It appears to be the white variety,...very nice condition and may be about the right size.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 07:51:08 PM by Jerry Germann »
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Gary Vance

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #85 on: February 28, 2018, 11:28:29 AM »

The embossed company logo on the bottom is from the same company as the jar found on Niku as well.
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Lauren Palmer

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #86 on: March 06, 2018, 06:29:13 AM »

Concerning "dirt":  Any chance of getting a bloodhound to check the dirt brought back from the previous expedition (it gave a "hit" to a cadaver dog back home) and some articles belonging to Amelia, to see if the hound connects them?
Lauren
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #87 on: March 06, 2018, 08:56:58 AM »

The forensic dogs would not alert on any articles that belonged to Amelia, they alert on the scent of decomposition.  Not quite like a bloodhound that tracks somebody based upon the scent of that person, not their decomposed body.

However, Tom King and I have talked about sending the soil samples we collected in 2015 to the DNA lab to see if they might provide a better source for the DNA soil analysis.  I don't think that is happening yet as the lab is still trying various techniques on the 2017 soil samples.  We're going to let their work on the 2017 samples play out to the end before we decide what to do next.

Andrew

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