Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Earhart's Language  (Read 13395 times)

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Earhart's Language
« on: February 20, 2016, 08:12:15 AM »

A new paper Behavioral and Psychological Analyses of Amelia Earhart's Final Flight is now up on the TIGHAR website.  Comments welcome.
Logged

Scott C. Mitchell

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 59
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 09:09:05 AM »

A fascinating reconstruction of the psychological dimension of this flight.  Two Questions: (1) to what extent does exhaustion become a factor?  Amelia and Fred had been in flight, mostly in the dark, in a cramped cabin space for going on 24 hours straight.   Does fear override fatigue?  Or does fatigue accentuate fear, in these circumstances?  (2) To what extent does having other members in the group (i.e., Fred) mitigate the fear response?  There's a scene in the novel "The High and the Mighty" about a damaged passenger propeller aircraft losing fuel through damaged fuel tanks, in which the formerly cocksure pilot panics and tries to prematurely ditch the aircraft in the ocean, in exactly the jumbled mental state that Dr. Ford has described.  It falls to the co-pilot (supposedly a washed-up but experienced officer) to slap the pilot and snap "Get a hold of yourself!"  After a period of detachment, the pilot's faculties come back to him, and he starts thinking straight to save the passengers and crew.  Melodrama to be sure, but the author was an experienced pilot himself (I think his name was Gannon, without checking), and the description of the disintegrating psychological state of the fictional pilot and the effect of the co-pilot's intervention rings true.  In our scenario of Amelia and Fred, does having another person in the group "balance" the psychological stress of Amelia? 

Scott
R3292
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2016, 09:26:25 AM »

(1) to what extent does exhaustion become a factor?  Amelia and Fred had been in flight, mostly in the dark, in a cramped cabin space for going on 24 hours straight.   Does fear override fatigue?  Or does fatigue accentuate fear, in these circumstances?

Good question.  That's Guthrie's department.  I'll have to let him answer.

  (2) It falls to the co-pilot (supposedly a washed-up but experienced officer) to slap the pilot and snap "Get a hold of yourself!"  After a period of detachment, the pilot's faculties come back to him, and he starts thinking straight to save the passengers and crew.

That scene was spoofed mercilessly in "Airplane!".  I doubt that any mental health professional would recommend that remedy.  During my time as a copilot there were plenty of captains I felt like swatting but I never gave in to the temptation.
Your basic question, however, is a good one.  Is it easier to keep your head if you're not alone?  Speaking from my own experience, being responsible for others makes the pressure greater.
Logged

Scott C. Mitchell

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 59
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2016, 09:55:47 AM »

Ric - I'm still wincing/laughing at the thought of seeing a co-pilot "swatting" the pilot.  Not exactly a morale booster for the passengers. I am sure this is old hat to Dr. Ford, but I have read ("Synaptic Self", Joseph LeDoux) that the brain has two routes for processing information.  The first route works its normal way through the neocortex where the data is analyzed and a course of action determined.  This is how we normally get through the decision-making function.  But there's a shortcut that bypasses the neocortex and, propelled by the biochemical transmitters of fear, runs directly to the limbic system and from there to action.  The classic case is seeing a hissing snake in the grass: you jump away without even thinking.  This is a survival mechanism, where your mind grasps through memory that *you don't have time to think*.  So this second kind of thinking is not really thinking, it is a direct response to stimuli:  "Get me out of here!"  It is not that fear is clouding your judgment; instead, your brain is independently substituting the quick-response-no-thought route for the let's-think-this-through route.  You can easily imagine, as those terrible "if's" accumulate in Amelia's mind, how she (and most other people, including me) would fall prey to the limbic system and find herself incapable of working the problem. 

Scott R3292
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2016, 10:02:51 AM »

This is how John Leach explained what happens:

"Higher-order thinking and decision making is carried out in the pre-frontal cortex (mostly dorso-lateral pfc).  A perceived threat causes the ratio of neurotransmitters in the brain to suddenly alter with the result that the pre-frontal cortex is effectively taken ‘off-line’ and the limbic (emotional) and subcortical structures (automatic, instinctive reactions) are given priority.

Emergency training is carried out initially in the prefrontal cortex area then, when learned, the behavioural schemata are transferred to the subcortical regions where they become ‘second nature’ responses; viz. you don’t have to think about them, which is just as well, as the thinking part is impaired.  Similarly, with learning to drive a car or play a musical instrument.  Of course, if the emergency responses have not be previously learned, or not learned sufficiently well, then the result in an emergency is either no response or a maladaptive response."
Logged

jgf1944

  • Guest
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2016, 03:23:24 PM »

A fascinating reconstruction of the psychological dimension of this flight.  Two Questions: (1) to what extent does exhaustion become a factor?  Amelia and Fred had been in flight, mostly in the dark, in a cramped cabin space for going on 24 hours straight.   Does fear override fatigue?  Or does fatigue accentuate fear, in these circumstances?  (2) To what extent does having other members in the group (i.e., Fred) mitigate the fear response?

      Hi Scott. Understand that this topic brings with it a world of speculation and best estimation. I am not aware of an empirical (data-based) answer to the specific fear and fatigue questions you raise. If an organism is sufficiently conscious to perceive its settings, then the perception of a dangerous stimulus will involuntarily cause the body to prepare to flight or flee. In that fashion, I suppose we can say fear trumps fatigue (given the organism is capable of consciousness). My personal take is that fatigue, at least during the searching for Howland time, was not necessarily a major liability. In terms of long range flying, AE was an experienced pilot (England, Hawaii, Mexico) as per staying on top of the fatigue factor (e.g., she may have had the joy of the tomato juice on a schedule to give you something to focus on).   
      The authors' thoughts certainly turned to Noonan, but there is absolutely no FN behavior in the flight record. We assume at some point he was in the cockpit, and prior to that he communicated via notecard and the fishing pole. What did FN know about AE's emotional state, even if he was siting beside her? It is pretty well agreed that AE did not panic and let go of the yoke or stomp around on the pedals. Unless FN was wearing headphones it is doubtful that he would have even heard the change in AE's voice quality that the ear witnesses reported as sounding desperate and fearful. For the sake of argument, imagine FN realized AE was fearful to the point of putting the mission at even greater risk. All he had to monitor at that point was the compass heading. He might have drawn AE a picture of the LOP showing Howland and the Phoenixes while making an "OK" hand gesture and tapping on the compass while reiterating 157 degrees using a card. Of course that assumes that FN himself had not become mentally impaired by fear.
     Looking ahead Scott, Ric provided the material (empirical) pertinent to the "Synaptic Self" work you brought up. The attenuation of neurotransmitters to prefrontal cortex is the neurophysiological correlate of what Dr. Leach describes as impairment of the supervisory system. Thanks for insightful questions.
     Guthrie, #3422TP
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 08:22:37 PM by Bruce Thomas »
Logged

Friend Weller

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 156
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2016, 04:09:11 PM »

Excellent paper.  Informative and concise.

".....but the author was an experienced pilot himself (I think his name was Gannon, without checking)...." 

Scott
R3292

The author's name was Ernest K. Gann.  He wrote a number of novels some of which were adapted into motion pictures.  John Wayne starred in the film adaptation of "The High and The Mighty" and Christoper Reeve in the screenplay of "The Aviator".  Interestingly, Robert Stack appeared in both "The High and The Mighty" and "Airplane!".  He was also seasoned aviator whose life experiences were fundamental in character development in his writings. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_K._Gann
Friend
TIGHAR 3086V
 
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 04:14:36 PM by Friend Weller »
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2016, 04:17:51 PM »

Gann's "Fate Is the Hunter" is a must-read for any aviation fan.  (The movie is terrible.)

Trivia:  Years ago, Robert Stack hosted an "Unsolved Mysteries" episode about TIGHAR's search for The White Bird.
Logged

Harbert William Davenport

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 71
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2016, 04:38:03 PM »

Ric, a recent post raises the question of whether Fred Noonan might have been in the cockpit at any time during the final flight.  Was it physically possible for Noonan to make his way from his station in the cabin forward into the cockpit?  I have somehow gotten the impression that all those extra fuel tanks might have blocked the way.
 
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
3555R Prof of Philos, ret.
 
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2016, 05:14:03 PM »

Ric, a recent post raises the question of whether Fred Noonan might have been in the cockpit at any time during the final flight.  Was it physically possible for Noonan to make his way from his station in the cabin forward into the cockpit?

Moving between the cockpit and the "navigator's station" in the cabin behind the fuselage tanks was not difficult as is apparent from the attached photo. The photo was taken before the "navigator's station" (basically a plywood table, a lamp. and some instruments) was installed. The whole nav station concept seems to have been Harry Manning's idea. In the one phone conversation I had with Bo McKneely he made made it clear that Noonan thought that Manning's elaborate provisions were silly (Bo didn't much like "that Noonan guy"). Manning was new to areal navigation.  Noonan was an old pro.  It's apparent from passages in "Last Flight" that Noonan spent much, maybe most, of his time in the copilot's seat.  There is no indication that the gimmicky bamboo pole was even present during the second world flight attempt.
Logged

Monty Fowler

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1078
  • "The real answer is always the right answer."
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2016, 05:43:13 PM »

Intriguing paper with a fascinating premise.

I hope that it's being considered for submission to any number of professional publications. Having it go through peer review will go a long way towards validating this premise.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
Logged

jgf1944

  • Guest
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2016, 07:38:23 PM »

Intriguing paper with a fascinating premise.
    Hi Monty. I am curious as to the premise.
Guthrie 3422
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 08:19:28 PM by Bruce Thomas »
Logged

Monty Fowler

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1078
  • "The real answer is always the right answer."
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2016, 03:12:15 AM »

Dr. Ford, the premise that "psychology may enrich the understanding of Amelia Earhart’s flight to Howland Island."  as stated in your concluding remarks. I hope the complete effort is submitted to professional publications; it would certainly be something other than the usual dry stuff you find in such journals.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
Logged

Jeff Scott

  • T2
  • **
  • Posts: 93
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2016, 06:52:21 PM »

Dr. Ford,

I read the paper and have a few suggestions for your consideration.

Pg 1: "The authors endorse Gillespie’s straightforward reasoning..."

Gillespie is listed as a co-author, so he's endorsing himself?  This could use rewording.


Pg 2: "During takeoff, this antenna was damaged rendering it, for the vast majority of the flight, nonfunctional."

This is stated as fact but is unproven (and likely unprovable) speculation.  I suggest the following way to make the point: "TIGHAR researchers have found evidence suggesting this antenna was damaged during takeoff, which may have rendered it nonfunctional for the vast majority of the flight."


Pg 5: "Earhart being fearful during her search for Howland Island is not news; the ear witness reports are well known on the TIGHAR forum."

Depending on the intended audience for the paper, this sentence may be worth changing.  I wouldn't call it suitable for an academic paper, but may be appropriate if the only audience is the TIGHAR forum.  You may want to amend it to something more like: "Earhart being fearful during her search for Howland Island should not be news as ear witness reports have long been documented in print and online at TIGHAR's website."


Pg 5: "Her saying “we are running on the line north and south” was imprecise. Not only were the actual directions northwest and southeast, but it is of course impossible to proceed in two different directions simultaneously (i.e., Earhart said north and south)."

This is not a very strong piece of evidence for the argument being presented.  I suggest deleting the second sentence altogether since it is confusingly worded and doesn't add anything to the premise.  Perhaps a better way to make the case is that the uncertainty in her statement has been hotly debated for decades, resulting in a variety of interpretations that constitute many of the rival theories for Earhart's fate.  From there, you can make a stronger argument for your premise that a clearer explanation of her actions and intent may have improved the likelihood of being found and rescued.
It's not too late to be great.
 
Logged

jgf1944

  • Guest
Re: Earhart's Language
« Reply #14 on: February 29, 2016, 07:13:03 PM »

Quote
I read the paper and have a few suggestions for your consideration.
thank you.
G.Ford

Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
 

Copyright 2023 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership formwebmaster@tighar.org

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.18 | SMF © 2021, Simple Machines Powered by PHP