Advanced search  
Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"  (Read 2201 times)

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« on: February 04, 2021, 11:59:10 AM »

The Science Channel aired a 42-minute show on January 28, 2021 titled "Finding Amelia Earhart" in which they reportedly announced that DNA analysis of the skull brought back from Tarawa by National Geographic came back negative, proving the skull is not Earhart's.  The show is available for streaming free at https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/conspiracies-decoded/ but I haven't seen because we don't subscribe to any of the listed providers (we watch almost no TV).  I'm curious to know exactly what they claimed, what source they cited, and whether TIGHAR is mentioned (we had absolutely nothing to do with that skull).
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2021, 09:00:37 AM »

TIGHAR member Chuck Varney was kind enough to provide me with a screenshot-by-screenshot PDF of the show complete with captions. The relevant segment runs just under 16 minutes and is one of the worst pieces of pseudo-scientific journalism I've seen since the History Channel debacle.  The falsehoods and misrepresentations are too numerous to list. Fortunately TIGHAR is not mentioned.
Logged

Bill Mangus

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 414
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2021, 09:34:52 AM »

I watched the entire program this morning.  The series is broadly titled "Conspiracies Decoded".  Here's a quote from the show's opening:

     "Expert analysis combined with 21st Century forensic science uncover ground breaking evidence to reveal the truth behind the worlds darkest conspiracies".

Only the first 14:30 minutes deal with AE.  Three other "conspiracies" are discussed:  Discussion of a supposedly da Vincia painting that sold for about a half-billion dollars in 2013; The ill-fated Franklin Expedition to far-north Canada looking for the Northwest Passage; and what appears to be a pre-historic murder mystery form a cave in Romania with the skull bashed-in.

The AE portion is relatively accurate.  The flight and route are introduced and the communications attempts are briefly described.  The barest outlines of the bones discovery and analysis by Dr. Hoodless are accurately described.  His written report is referenced, with images of the documents and his drawing of the recovered portion of the skeleton.  No mention is made of who found it and where.  Without naming names, the 2018 University of Tennessee is mentioned as doing a re-analysis of Dr. Hoodless measurements and coming to the conclusion the bones were from a female.  Tighar and Dr. Jantz are not mentioned.  The story then moves to the University of South FL where a box of bones discovered in museum storage in Fiji arrives.  The people who did the analysis are identified.  The skull is too fragmented to do digital reconstruction.  DNA analysis is performed and proves to NOT be a match with DNA donated from a living relative of AE (not identified).  End of story but the "conspiracy" is said to continue.

At no time is Tighar or Ric Gillespie mentioned.  No sources are cited except for the name and title of the various presenters/explainers inserted graphically while they are talking.  I'm not familiar with any of them, especially the archeologist.

Items of interest:  Good picture of Dr. Hoodless (I presume) in what appears to be a group staff picture at a facility in Fiji probably.
                           Nice pictures and drone footage of Niku from someone, not sure who.  I've not seen it before.

The other three subjects are interesting and are covered well, if a bit sensationally.

Typical consumer-oriented sensationalist story presented with many, many, many commercial interruptions.

(This was written and posted as Ric was posting the above comment). 
 
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2021, 10:28:31 AM »

The story then moves to the University of South FL where a box of bones discovered in museum storage in Fiji arrives.  The people who did the analysis are identified.  The skull is too fragmented to do digital reconstruction.  DNA analysis is performed and proves to NOT be a match with DNA donated from a living relative of AE (not identified).

But what's the source of this information?  Nobody from the University of South Florida is interviewed or quoted.  Yesterday I checked with National Geographic. They say they are still processing preliminary forensic analysis of the skull. They have published no updates but hope to have a conclusive report as new data comes in.

The problem with the Science Channel segment is they make the assumption the skull is female and is the skull found on Gardner in 1940, therefore a negative DNA match with an Earhart relative proves Earhart did not die on Gardner. In truth, the skull may or may not be female.  On the skull, the area used to identify gender - the glabella (bone ridge between the eyebrows) - has clearly been reconstructed with plaster of Paris or some kind of plastic.
There is no reason to believe the bones in the museum are the bones found on Gardner. The museum has no record of where they came from and there is no record of the bones Hoodless examined being sent to Tarawa.  In short, there is no reason to think the bones are anything but the bones of a local Gilbert islander like the rest of the bones in the museum. I don't know whether they've tried to match DNA to an Earhart relative or not, but if they did it's not surprising that it came back negative.

I'm not familiar with any of them, especially the archeologist.

She's not an archaeologist. "Dr." Brenna Hassett has a Masters in fine art (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/people/brenna-hassett-ahrc-researcher-co-investigator).


« Last Edit: February 05, 2021, 10:33:07 AM by Ric Gillespie »
Logged

Bill Mangus

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 414
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2021, 10:38:24 AM »

I mean the guy dressed as an Indy Jones clone. ;D

Not disputing what you said.  All I tried to do was report, as objectively as I could, what the show presented.  It was not meant as a critique of the content.
Logged

Christian Stock

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 109
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2021, 09:15:46 AM »

That's what I have taken away from the recent shows and articles which discuss testing of the "found" skull. There is no way to disprove the skull, because there is no chain of custody from Hoodless' tests to today. Any negative result does not mean it was not her skull found on Gardner. It just means that it could be the wrong skull among many.

On the flip side, without chain of custody, does a match prove that she was the castaway on Gardner? I can predict that many will argue no. Some will even try to do their conspiracy gymnastics and link the bones on Tarawa to burial in Saipan or wherever.

The story then moves to the University of South FL where a box of bones discovered in museum storage in Fiji arrives.  The people who did the analysis are identified.  The skull is too fragmented to do digital reconstruction.  DNA analysis is performed and proves to NOT be a match with DNA donated from a living relative of AE (not identified).

But what's the source of this information?  Nobody from the University of South Florida is interviewed or quoted.  Yesterday I checked with National Geographic. They say they are still processing preliminary forensic analysis of the skull. They have published no updates but hope to have a conclusive report as new data comes in.

The problem with the Science Channel segment is they make the assumption the skull is female and is the skull found on Gardner in 1940, therefore a negative DNA match with an Earhart relative proves Earhart did not die on Gardner. In truth, the skull may or may not be female.  On the skull, the area used to identify gender - the glabella (bone ridge between the eyebrows) - has clearly been reconstructed with plaster of Paris or some kind of plastic.
There is no reason to believe the bones in the museum are the bones found on Gardner. The museum has no record of where they came from and there is no record of the bones Hoodless examined being sent to Tarawa.  In short, there is no reason to think the bones are anything but the bones of a local Gilbert islander like the rest of the bones in the museum. I don't know whether they've tried to match DNA to an Earhart relative or not, but if they did it's not surprising that it came back negative.

I'm not familiar with any of them, especially the archeologist.

She's not an archaeologist. "Dr." Brenna Hassett has a Masters in fine art (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/people/brenna-hassett-ahrc-researcher-co-investigator).
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2021, 09:37:18 AM »

That's what I have taken away from the recent shows and articles which discuss testing of the "found" skull. There is no way to disprove the skull, because there is no chain of custody from Hoodless' tests to today. Any negative result does not mean it was not her skull found on Gardner. It just means that it could be the wrong skull among many.

On the flip side, without chain of custody, does a match prove that she was the castaway on Gardner? I can predict that many will argue no. Some will even try to do their conspiracy gymnastics and link the bones on Tarawa to burial in Saipan or wherever.

Interesting observation.  Let's apply the same to 2-2-V-1.  Earhart disappeared in 1937. It was found in 1991. No chain of custody for that 54 year period.
If some feature of the artifact conclusively disqualify it from being a piece of Earhart's Electra, it doe not prove the Electra did not land at Gardner.
Conversely, if it can be shown to be, beyond a reasonable doubt, a piece of the Electra, some will undoubtedly argue it does not prove Earhart landed at Gardner. The Japanese could have planted it there.

Bottom line:  A conspiracy theory is always the last refuge.

Logged

Christian Stock

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 109
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2021, 11:03:28 AM »

The difference is that 2-2-V-1 was found on the island, with cameras rolling and witnesses present. Scientific analysis would likely point to it being on or near the island for the entire period. Has anyone ever tested DNA from coral?

Anyone falsely planting evidence on the island would likely be foiled by science, e.g., someone smuggles a bit of an Electra which crashed in Canada in the 1970's onto the island and arranges for it to be discovered. You would probably find microscopic bit of fauna and flora native to Canada on the thing, which would could not be explained.

A similar problem exists with the Shroud of Turin. Chain of custody was lost for a thousand years, however, authenticity advocates point to microscopic examination which shows pollen indicating that it was present during springtime in the vicinity of Jerusalem, among other evidence.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2021, 12:13:55 PM »

Has anyone ever tested DNA from coral?

I don't think coral has DNA but Penn State might be able to date the coral on the artifact by looking for elements that weren't present in the environment before 1945.

A similar problem exists with the Shroud of Turin. Chain of custody was lost for a thousand years, however, authenticity advocates point to microscopic examination which shows pollen indicating that it was present during springtime in the vicinity of Jerusalem, among other evidence.

I didn't know that.  Is the pollen around Jerusalem somehow unique to the Middle East?
Logged

Christian Stock

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 109
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2021, 12:23:14 PM »

Apparently a few types are native to within only a 50 mile or so radius of Jerusalem. They also pulled pollen from the area near the "crown of thorns" on the shroud and found it to be from a thorny plant common in that area. The whole Shroud thing is like Amelia x 1000. Crazies abound with many theories.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2021, 12:25:14 PM »

Lordy, I'm glad there's no religious aspect to our work.
Logged

Christian Stock

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 109
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2021, 08:30:15 AM »

Do you prefer Nikon or Canon? iPhone or Android?  :D
Logged

Andrew M McKenna

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 692
  • Here I am during the Maid of Harlech Survey.
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2021, 01:34:17 PM »

Has anyone ever tested DNA from coral?

I don't think coral has DNA but Penn State might be able to date the coral on the artifact by looking for elements that weren't present in the environment before 1945.


Of course coral has DNA.  We could test 2-2-V-1 and it would probably show coral DNA.  Whether or not it is datable through DNA I doubt, but pre and post war elements could probably be reasonably done.

Andrew
Logged

Christian Stock

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 109
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2021, 02:11:34 PM »

I wasn't suggesting dating it via DNA. My thought was that, should anyone make the accusation that the artifact was from some other wreck, you might be able to prove through DNA that the coral attached to the artifact is closely related to coral found around Niku. I would imagine that coral DNA from Niku is pretty unique, given how isolated the island is. Since coral on the artifact would indicate that it was submerged, and coral DNA might be a little different from one part of the reef to another, you might even be able to tell where on the reef the artifact was submerged. If it is Kanton coral DNA, then the artifact was likely brought from the alleged DC-3 wreck.

Of course I am no scientist and have only a TV viewer's knowledge of DNA testing, so this could all just be dumb talk to someone who knows about this stuff. Maybe you need some different type of coral tissue rather than what we know as coral, which is the skeleton of the creature. I dunno.


« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 02:14:10 PM by Christian Stock »
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6012
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Science Channel "Finding Amelia Earhart"
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2021, 02:22:10 PM »

All of this is way beyond my pay-grade.  (Hell. I didn't even know coral has DNA.) I do know Penn State has been successful in dating coral in other contexts but I have no idea how or how precisely.  I would be surprised if the coral at Niku is any different from the coral on other atolls of the Phoenix Group.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up
 

Copyright 2022 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