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Author Topic: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories  (Read 888 times)

Matt Revington

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Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« on: February 04, 2022, 12:45:17 PM »

This link (https://irl.umsl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1396&context=thesis) connects to a grad thesis :
Amelia Earhart: Myth and Memory
Amy Lutz
University of Missouri-St. Louis, published in Jul7, 2020.

It is a very interesting read about the rise of the Japanese capture theory, a bit about the Irene Bolam theory and AE's place in pop culture.  TIGHAR is mentioned mainly in reference to the animosity the Japanese capture investigators felt toward it.  The author clearly shows the absence of any hint of the Japanese capture theory until the initial press releases about the "Flight to Freedom" moving started coming out in 1942 and how they quickly grew with the post-Pearl Harbour anti-japanese sentiment.  She then traces the ups and owns of the theories through the next several decades.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2022, 03:30:11 PM »

There really needs to be an accurate study of the rise and fall of the Japanese Capture Theory, but this isn't it.  She gets a lot of the history wrong, starting with Lindbergh being the first to fly the Atlantic in 1919.  She says,"Earhart saw an airplane for the first time in 1908 at the Iowa State Fair. She was enthralled, but skeptical, and later commented on the contraption’s poor construction, “It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting.” However, after the Wright brother’s successful flight just a few years later, her interest in aviation soared."  This is pretty basic stuff.

She even gets the history of the Japanese Capture Theory wrong.  Briand, Gervais and Dinger were USAF officers stationed on Guam when they started collecting stories about Amelia being seen in Japanese custody.  Paul Briand was not a college professor when he wrote Daughter of the Sky in 1960. He later taught history at my alma mater, State University of New York at Oswego. 

A really complete deconstruction of Japanese Capture will take a whole lot of research and probably merits its own book.  This Forum could do it and I could write it ......later.

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Don White

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2022, 07:09:20 PM »

This reminds me of something I saw when I was reading through old threads in this Forum -- ones that predated my participation -- as a way to get up to speed with the group. This thread -- I don't remember which one or from when -- included a page from a newspaper published in one of the British Pacific islands, whose lead story was the search for Earhart. The story asserted that the British and Japanese had offered their assistance, were helping the Americans in the search, and that all three nations were using the search as an opportunity to check out the others' military installations. The only true-ish part was that some offer of assistance (token at best, along the lines of "if we find her, we'll send her home") had been made. But as we know, only American ships and planes actually searched -- indeed there was something of a missed opportunity in that there was a British scoutplane-equipped cruiser (HMS Achilles) in the region that could perhaps have gotten to the Phoenix Group sooner than the Americans did. Whether out of pride or as a by-product of the sovereignty games being played between the British and Americans over these islands, such help was not accepted or requested.

I wonder if the journalist had a source for this story or simply invented it. What interests me about it is not whether there is any truth to it, but what it indicates, that it was written at all, about the rising tensions in the Pacific between the countries that were not yet at war there. Also it would seem that this is an early seed of later theories about what the Japanese had really been up to in the late 1930s. By 1942 there were Hollywood movies (Blood on the Sun comes to mind) set in the years before Pearl Harbor with that very plotline.

Also demonstrates that while news reports can be useful information sources, everything needs to be corroborated. Most of the coverage got most of teh facts wrong in 1937, but then even those who were supposed to know what was going on mostly didn't.

LTM,
Don
« Last Edit: February 04, 2022, 07:16:58 PM by Don White »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2022, 03:17:49 PM »

An October 16, 1937 front page article in the Australian tabloid Smith's Weekly read,

"U.S.A Does Australia a Secret Service -Amelia Earhart Search Made Opportunity - Plane Observers Over Japanese Pacific Island Bases"

The article does not allege that Earhart was in cahoots with the Navy, but it claims the Navy used the search as an excuse to photograph Japanese installations.  (They didn't.)

There was also a weird 1941 (I think) AP story about an undelivered letter in Majuro, Marshall Islands addressed to "Amelia Earhart, incognito".
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Don White

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2022, 09:21:00 AM »

That might be the page I saw in an old forum thread. I remember it looked like a newspaper front page. I remembered it as a paper published in the British Pacific islands. The article was interesting for the indication that it was plausible at the time that the three nations would use the search as an excuse to spy on one other -- not as evidence that they did, but that someone at the time would have thought they might.

Don
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2022, 09:26:27 AM »

As far as I know, the first suggestion that AE was somehow in cahoots with the government was a 1942 screenplay titled "Stand By To Die" that became the film "Flight For Freedom."
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Matt Revington

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2022, 10:13:17 AM »

I think Don might be referring to the August 25, 1937 issue of Pacific Islands Monthly (which might be the source for the Smith's weekly story
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-313207971/view?partId=nla.obj-313210722#page/n19/mode/1up

Page 17, "Japan has a look at Howland",  it doesn't say anything  about Japanese capture , just the idea that Japan used the search as an excuse to flyover British and American islands
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2022, 10:22:25 AM »

Thanks Matt.  I don't think I've ever seen that.  Just goes to show that misinformation in the media is nothing new.
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Don White

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2022, 02:06:40 PM »

That actually wasn't the one I remember seeing, which only shows that more than one publication said it (they do tend to copy each other). And no, there's nothing about Japanese capture -- I don't think anyone suggested that at the time -- but the assertion that the various powers would use the search as an excuse to check out each other is what I thought was significant, not because they were really doing that, but because it indicates what people found believable at the time. It just illustrates how much suspicion and mistrust there was, which would be fertile ground for a conspiracy theory to sprout later on.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2022, 03:23:17 PM »

On page 5 and 6 of the same publication linked, there is an article about how "Britain and the USA May Co-operate" on trans Pacific air travel, complete with a hand drawn sketch (page 6) of the runways built on Howland by "U.S. Army men" under supervision of "a U.S. Department of Air Commerce Inspector".

Shows three Runways on Howland

AMcK
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Thesis about the rise of Earhart Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2022, 04:51:49 AM »

Shows three Runways on Howland


I overlayed a sketch of the runways from chart in [/size]Finding Amelia,[/color][/size] p. 14, on a Google image of Howland.[/color]






I know this is not the right thread for this, but I am in ordinately proud of the way the mashup turned out.   :)
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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