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Peter B

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Outside Magazine Article
« on: April 07, 2018, 07:51:04 PM »

Hey All,

I am surprised that this article has not yet surfaced here on the board: https://www.outsideonline.com/2291341/has-amelia-earhart-finally-been-found

I would like to invite everyone to contribute to a compilation of misrepresentations in the article so someone (Ric?) can properly present the views of TIGHAR to Outside Magazine.

The obvious misconceptions that I initially picked up on were:

1. That TIGHAR found the sextant box
2. AE reported she was "nearly out of fuel"/"running out of fuel"

Personally I find the sextant box discovered and documented by Gallagher to be the single most compelling piece of evidence in this entire matter. The misrepresentation "a wooden box that may have held a sextant" [was found by TIGHAR] simply disqualifies the premise of the above article.

Peter

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Outside Magazine Article
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 09:22:58 AM »

I am surprised that this article has not yet surfaced here on the board

Perhaps that's because many of us have come to expect, and have learned to ignore, this kind of push-back any time new support for the Niku hypothesis makes the news.

I would like to invite everyone to contribute to a compilation of misrepresentations in the article so someone (Ric?) can properly present the views of TIGHAR to Outside Magazine.

I appreciate the sentiment but pointing out the article's many errors to Outside would be a waste of time.
Outside has had it in for TIGHAR since 2002.  They went after us again in 2012.  So when they asked to interview me for another article I knew what to expect. Had I declined they would have said I was hiding from their questions. I knew Outside would trash TIGHAR and attack me personally but I also knew that, as in the past, anyone who is at all familiar with our work would recognize the article as poorly researched and blatantly biased.

 Before writing his article, Carl Hoffman interviewed me and Richard Jantz at length.  Before the article was published, an Outside "fact checker" emailed me with several questions to which I replied. (I have included my responses below.) I expect the same was done with Dr. Jantz.  It was no surprise that, despite these gestures toward responsible journalism, the end result is what you see. 

As Peter pointed out, the factual errors in Hoffman's article are legion but most revealing is his casual dismissal of Jantz's findings.

“This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample,” Jantz wrote.
“In the case of the Nikumaroro bones,” he continued, “the only documented person to whom they may belong is…Earhart. She was known to have been in the area of Nikumaroro Island, she went missing, and human remains were discovered which are entirely consistent with her and inconsistent with most other people.”

Great. Except there’s no “documented” evidence that Earhart was anywhere near Nikumaroro. Jantz’s argument depends on accepting the claim that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crashed on Nikumaroro’s reef and survived there for a while as castaways.


Why the quotation marks around documented? Are the PanAm and Coast Guard radio bearings not documented evidence that Earhart was near Nikumaroro?  If not, why not?

But my favorite is "Jantz’s argument depends on accepting the claim that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crashed on Nikumaroro’s reef and survived there for a while as castaways."

Either by ignorance or design, Hoffman completely misrepresents what Jantz did.  If the measurements Jantz analyzed had been of bones found on Long Island instead of Gardner Island the results would still show a 99% similarity to Amelia Earhart.  In that case we would say, "That's an amazing coincidence because we know she couldn't possibly have died on Long Island."  But the bones were found on an island where Earhart could have died and there is an abundance of other evidence to suggest it's where she did die and there is no evidence that anyone remotely like Earhart was ever there.

In the three months since Jantz's paper was published there have been a handful of attempts to debunk his findings but nobody has been able to find a prominent forensic anthropologist who will disagree with him.  So, as usual, if you can't refute the message just declare it false and shoot the messenger.

I get a kick out of Hoffman going on and on about how TIGHAR makes a big deal out of new discoveries for the sole purpose raising money for the next trip, but then he quotes me proving him wrong.
“We’d like to go back, but what needs doing is a very thorough underwater search for the airplane, and that’s very expensive,” Gillespie says. “You need a lot of tech and a much bigger boat, and I’m not about to go beating the bushes for that.”
“And, look, it doesn’t really matter what happened to Amelia Earhart,” Gillespie adds. “She’s dead. The real value in what we’re doing is that her mystery is a wonderful opportunity to explore and teach the scientific method of inquiry.”

Which leads to an odd possibility. At TIGHAR’s greatest moment of triumph—“Amelia Earhart has been found!”—it almost sounds like they’re giving up."


Poor Carl.  He's so confused.

FWIW, below is my exchange with the Outside fact checker.

When did the Earhart Project begin?
TIGHAR was founded in 1985.  We began the the Earhart Project in 1988.

 When was the first expedition to Nikumaroro?
1989

How many trips have you and TIGHAR made to Nikumaroro?

TIGHAR has made twelve trips to Nikumaroro.  I have led 10 of them.
 
Based on the Nikumaroro hypothesis, for how many nights were Earhart and Noonan able to power up the Electra and make radio transmissions?

Credible transmissions were heard for 5 nights after she disappeared.
 
Who did those transmissions reach?

Dozens of professional radio operators around the Central Pacific, one licensed amateur in Australia, and at least nine shortwave listeners in North America.

Has anyone been able to verify that these transmissions were from Earhart?

The only way to “verify” the messages came from Earhart would be to ask her if she sent them.  All we can do is eliminate alternative sources based on signal propagation and content.
Of 120 reported transmissions 38 are not credible, 25 reports have insufficient data to make a judgment, and 57 are credible i.e, unexplainable if they did not come from Earhart.
 
How long do you estimate Earhart was able to survive as a castaway?

At least several weeks. Perhaps several months. Probably not a year.
 
Over the course of your expeditions to Nikumaroro, you have found various artifacts. Is it accurate to say that one of these artifacts was a bottle that may have contained freckle cream?

Yes, but bottle is not the correct term.  It’s a small glass jar of a type known as an “ointment pot.”
 
Are you aware of some people's perception that TIGHAR uses the announcement of a big find to fundraise for another search? What’s your response to that idea?

That perception is correct.  TIGHAR is a 501 c3 nonprofit educational foundation. Like all nonprofits we must do fundraising to fund our work and we have an obligation to report the results of our research.   Naturally, successful  research tends to encourage support for further work.

For the record, I was frankly appalled by your question about TIGHAR using announcements of big finds to fundraise for further research.  It demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of how nonprofits work and buys into biased attempts to delegitimize TIGHAR’s work.  I hope Carl Hoffman will not fall into that trap. 
 
Do you have plans to launch another search soon?

No.

 What kinds of funding and equipment are necessary for another search?

A thorough underwater search with manned submersible would probably cost in the neighborhood of $2 million.
 
No one can deny that Amelia Earhart is dead, so what do you see as the value in the continued search?

Everybody focuses on “the search” but expeditions are a relatively small part of TIGHAR's investigation of the Earhart disappearance. Our most important discoveries have come from archival research, data analysis, and plain old detective work.  As mentioned above, TIGHAR is an educational foundation and the Earhart mystery is a perfect vehicle for exploring, demonstrating, and teaching the scientific method of inquiry. We do a lot of work with school groups and individual kids doing History Day projects. From a purely historical perspective, there is also value in uncovering the previously unknown final chapter in the life of an iconic American.
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Peter B

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Re: Outside Magazine Article
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2018, 07:28:58 PM »

Hi Ric,

Thanks for the thorough peek behind the scenes. I for one am very familiar with biased press. I don't know why Outside sees it as their job to take a stance. I guess they believe this angle somehow gives them more readers.

However, I still feel the misrepresentation of who found the sextant box is the biggest error in the article. The discovery of the sextant box together with the bones in 1940 and the thorough documentation of this find seems to me to strengthen the TIGHAR theory more than anything else. Together with Jantz's recent article I find it incredibly difficult to come up with a different scenario than AE having landed on Nikumaroro to explain these facts. Has anyone ever tried to explain these facts with a (realistic) different scenario?

Peter
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Outside Magazine Article
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 07:46:47 AM »

Together with Jantz's recent article I find it incredibly difficult to come up with a different scenario than AE having landed on Nikumaroro to explain these facts. Has anyone ever tried to explain these facts with a (realistic) different scenario?

The alternative explanation for the sextant box goes something like this:
Although Norwich City was registered in Wales, crewed by Brits and Arabs, and ran between Vancouver, British Columbia and Melbourne, Australia - somebody had a U.S. Navy surplus sextant that somehow washed ashore when the ship ran aground at Gardner and burned. One of the seven men unaccounted for and presumed drowned, also washed ashore but somehow never hooked up with the twenty-four other survivors during the five days between the grounding and their rescue.  The left-behind survivor found the sextant box and took it with him to the Seven Site where he died. He was an interesting character who had some gender identification issues. He wore one man's shoe and one woman's shoe and carried a compact made in New York.  He also just happened to be a dead-ringer (sorry) for Amelia Earhart.
Perfectly reasonable.  The only mystery is where he got the pocket knife that wasn't made until a year after Norwich City went aground. 
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