I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.
Joe Cerniglia recently advised me that Mike Campbell, an “Earhart researcher” who believes that AE and Noonan wound up on Saipan, had posted an anti-TIGHAR piece on the web, and I was silly enough to take a look at it; it’s at http://earharttruth.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/oct-24-rossella-lorenzi-tighars-best-friend/.
Here’s what Mike had to say:
Oct. 24: Rossella Lorenzi, TIGHAR’s best friend
The establishment’s latest fusillade against the truth in the Earhart disappearance appeared in the Discovery News online news site on Oct. 11, and was soon picked up by other outlets including FOX News. Ironically filed under the heading “U.S. History,” the story, headlined “Amelia Earhart Plane Search to Resume Next Year,” was an update to the May 29 story, “Amelia Earhart’s Plane Revealed in Sonar,” by Discovery News senior correspondent Rossella Lorenzi, which I discussed in my June 2 post. Lorenzi, whose enthusiastic shilling for Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR dates back to at least 2009, has penned a wide assortment of propaganda pieces for TIGHAR and become perhaps its leading apologist. Among her recent stories in support of this farcical Earhart search are such gems as “Earhart’s Final Resting Place Believed Found,” “Amelia Earhart’s Plane? New Sonar Imagery Raises Hopes,” and “Pieces of Amelia Earhart’s plane located?”
In her Oct. 11 story, the TIGHAR mouthpiece breathlessly announces, “The search for Amelia Earhart’s long-lost aircraft will resume next year in the waters off Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati where the legendary pilot may have died as a castaway. … Called Niku VIII, the new expedition is expected to cost as much as $3 million. It will rely on two Hawaiian Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) manned submersibles, Pisces IV and Pisces V, each carrying a pilot and two TIGHAR observers.” The effort is planned to span 30 days, beginning in mid-August 2014, Lorenzi added.
Will someone please tell me, after 10 fruitless trips to Nikumaroro and millions of wasted dollars, just precisely WHO in their ever-loving right minds is going to fork over $3 million so that Gillespie can return to Nikumaroro for yet another monumental waste of time and treasure? Is anyone out there really stupid and well heeled enough to invest in this ridiculous project? Did I hear someone whisper, “U.S. government”?
Is Rossella Lorenzi really unaware of the massive and overwhelming evidence that’s been collected since Fred Goerner’s first trip to Saipan in June 1960, and presented in such books as Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart; Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story; Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Ameliia Earhart Incident; and others including Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last? We can’t really know, since she never mentions Saipan as even a remotely possible solution to the apparently irresolvable Earhart conundrum.
I couldn’t take it anymore, and decided to write to this woman, whose name is becoming a familiar piece of TIGHAR’s ongoing Earhart charade, to see if she might respond to a small dose of common sense. Here is my email missive of Oct. 14:
I just saw your Oct. 14 Discovery News piece promoting TIGHAR’s next installment in their longstanding disinformation campaign in the Amelia Earhart matter. How many times does Gillespie have to return to Nikumororo and find nothing before you will decide to stop writing about this ridiculous charade, or is there no limit to your propaganda efforts? Your constant advocacy of TIGHAR either betrays your total lack of knowledge or your utter dishonesty, in either event the result is the same — your readers are badly misinformed and misled
If you are truly interested in the truth about the Earhart case, I encourage you to go to my website below and begin your real education, but first read this piece, which continues its run on Veterans News Now as one of its most popular stories ever:
“The truth in the Earhart ‘mystery’ is a sacred cow”
Rossella, there is no excuse for such mendacity in our media, and someday all of us will answer for every false utterance of our lives. The truth about what happened to Amelia on Saipan is obvious to all but the agenda driven and the ignorant, which unfortunately outnumber those of us who can actually read. You have made yourself part of what appears to be a permanent problem in the Earhart search, and I hope you’re satisfied that thanks to you and others of your ilk, the truth about Amelia’s fate is now considered to be an irresolvable historical puzzle. That way people like Gillespie can continue their phony searches and make a nice living along the way. Truth be damned.
Predictably, Lorenzi didn’t reply. A few days later, after a friend and Earhart enthusiast in Pennsylvania also wrote to her to take a small shot, and incorrectly stated that she worked for FOX News, Lorenzi corrected him and told him she didn’t take his or my attacks personally, copying me on her reply. Of course I couldn’t miss this opportunity to add another log to the fire, which I did Oct. 18:
I never thought you worked for FOX, and my email to you was not meant as a personal attack, but to inform you about the truth in the Earhart case. This truth, easily found and discerned in many books including Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, isn’t a matter of opinion, but has been the subject of a massive government disinformation effort practically since the day she was lost. Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR, whether or not they actually believe the thirdhand, long-debunked ideas they propagate with the help of a compliant media, have been the government-media establishment’s selected agents of disinformation since 1989, when they first began to make their false claims, claims that were accepted as “reasonable” by the majority of a gullible, uninformed American public. You must know this, but if you don’t, I ask that you do some homework and READ the information provided to you in the link I sent, and by reading my book as well, which is attached gratis in PDF format that can be easily downloaded into a kindle. The overwhelming evidence that places Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in the Marshalls and Saipan cannot simply be rejected out of hand as simple “folklore” as Gillespie has so nonchalantly suggested. For all reasonable people I’ve met, the big picture truth in the Earhart disappearance isn’t even debatable.
Now that she has a PDF copy of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, Rossella has no more excuses, and cannot say she didn’t know any better in her reportage of the Earhart case. The use of lawyerly wriggle words designed to impart an image of objectivity in news stories doesn’t excuse the blatant, incredibly slanted approach to TIGHAR’s 25-year Earhart fundraising campaign taken by Lorenzi and many other so-called journalists in the establishment media. I await Rossella’s response, but not with bated breath.
Well, I kind of like Mike in a quirky sort of way, and appreciate the fact that despite all his vituperation he occasionally gives evidence of having some critical faculties, so I foolishly thought to give him some advice:
Tom King says:
You know, you just MIGHT get a bit more attention to your opinions if you’d acknowledge them as such, rather than presenting them as unquestionable “truth.” Whatever you believe, they’re not “truth;” they’re more or less substantiated hypotheses. The same, of course, is true of TIGHAR’s hypothesis — which we continue to try to test, rather than trying to bludgeon the world into acceptance. Some people — even, perhaps, people with three million bucks — find our approach preferable and worthy of support.
Now, I expect that if you respond to this, you’ll just point out that I’m a member of TIGHAR and work on the Earhart project, and therefore, you’re convinced, have been drinking Gillespie’s Cool-Aid. Go to it.
One of Mike’s correspondents, Douglas Mills, began the response:
Please SPARE US all of your Nikumaroro (HOAX) hypotheses. It’s really getting old and so many of us are TRUELY ILL from it!
You, Ric Gillespie and THE GOVERNMENT cannot face the TRUTH – SHAME on YOU’S!
I thought maybe that would be the end of it, but couldn’t resist saying….
Ah, THERE’s a mature, fact-based response.
It wasn’t the only one. Billxam2013 added:
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Testing and documentation are two very different things.
I thought that was fairly sensible, so I replied:
Well, believable testing requires documentation, but sadly I have to agree with you about why people listen, or don’t.
Meanwhile, Frank Benjamin weighed in:
It is difficult for me to understand how Dr. King can confuse honorable eye-witness reports such as Admiral Chester Nimitz and the three USMC generals with what he and Mr. Gillespie are doing out on Gardiner Island. Ms Earhart came down in the Marshalls and died on Saipan. That’s the end of the story, and it is not a matter of opinion.
That struck me as so wonderfully stupid that I couldn’t resist being drawn back in, saying:
Frank — You might try reading the paper that some of us wrote, posted on Academia.edu, about the Saipan hypothesis. What I found most interesting in writing it was the extensive psychological literature on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony — NOT because those testifying are dishonorable, and quite unconnected from their military rank, but simply because the brain works in strange ways to fill in gaps in our knowledge, account for things we don’t understand, and respond to questions. But since you’re convinced that your opinion is the end of the story, I don’t suppose there’s any point.
Meanwhile Les Kinney piled on:
Dr. King, I have been investigating the Earhart mystery for over thirty years. I am a retired federal agent and have amassed a sizeable amount of data and circumstantial evidence that leads me to believe Earhart met her demise on Saipan. I have recently found one piece of documentary evidence that strongly suggests that Earhart, during her capture stage, was held by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands.
Mike Campbell, in The Truth At Last, presents an overwhelming amount of material that would lead most critical readers to believe Earhart was captured by the Japanese. If I recall, you critiqued “The Truth At Last,” on Amazon and blithely penned a jocular review that in reality attempted to discredit Campbell’s Saipan thesis.
Now, the reason so few professional researchers haven’t embraced the Nikumaroro theory revolves around the following: The overwhelming number of witnesses to the Saipan theory and the complete lack of credible evidence unearthed on Nikumaroro; the fact that three open cockpit US aircraft flew at 50 to 500 feet over this sliver on an island for 30 minutes within ten days of Earhart’s disappearance and saw no evidence of castaways. The only possible explanation why Earhart didn’t come out and wave to the pilots was: 1) she was looking for her shoes; 2) she was applying freckle cream to look nice for the pilots.
TIGHAR has apparently decided the archeological approach is the only method of solving the Earhart mystery. Yet, in your academic thesis of the Saipan hypothesis, which you have cited in this blog, you chose to ignore the one piece of credible archeological information at Saipan – the gravesite unearthed on orders of Captain Tracy Griswold, USMC, by Private’s Henson and Burks. These two Marines positively identified Griswold from a photo lineup that would have been admissible in court. Henson and Burks further corroborated Griswold’s identify from comments made at the gravesite.
In other words, Dr. King, you have “cherry picked” the worst and least meaningful of “Saipan evidence and then distorted the plausibility of this evidence. In your critique of hard evidence, you mention the grave site dug up by Don Kothera of the Cleveland Group in 1968, and the bone fragments they collected. You go on to state, “Considering the disturbance of such sites during the Japanese development of the island and the presences of 20th century cemeteries that then had experienced considerable bombardment and other disturbances during the 1944 invasion, the presence of human bones almost anywhere is no surprise.”
That’s true, Dr. King, but you knew from the Kothera and Goerner’s books, the gravesite unearthed by Kothera’s Cleveland Group was not residual ground material but a grave dug to waist level or deeper. If you would have conducted proper research on this grave site, you would have determined, the residual evidence found at this location was topical, i.e. shell casings, eyeglasses – bones fragments were found much deeper. You also would have known Kothera collected only bone fragments and that the larger skeletal remains were missing. You also knew this was the same gravesite discussed by the two Marines Burks and Henson, who in fact had unearthed the major skeletal remains from this grave in July 1944. You also knew the Griswold grave digging episode was the central theme of both the Goerner and Kothera books.
For an essay that was supposed to represent a scholarly unbiased report on the Saipan theory, you mention none of this. Yet, you expended considerable effort explaining how unreliable human memory can be, citing ad infinitum numerous examples in several hundred words to make your argument. Boy, it’s a shame all those hundreds of witnesses cited in Mike Campbell’s book really didn’t see what they thought they saw.
OK, I should have known better than to get started down this road, but — one more time:
1. I am not trying to discredit your efforts or Mike Campbell’s — the point of my original post was to suggest that Mike does himself a disservice by presenting his/your hypothesis as “truth,” which automatically turns off people like Rossella, who are exposed to nutty portrayals of “truth” all the time about everything from Bosnian pyramids to alien abductions.
2. But since you’ve brought these things up….
a. “The reason so few professional researchers haven’t embraced the Nikumaroro theory…”
“Professional” researchers meaning those who make a profession of searching for Earhart, I take it? I.e. you, Mike, and your colleagues?
b. “The overwhelming number of witnesses to the Saipan theory…”
IF one takes all the witnesses (first, second, and third-hand) at face value, and pays no attention to the factors (discussed in our Saipan paper) that may have influenced them, then yes, they’re pretty overwhelming. But I don’t see any reason to be so uncritical.
c. “the complete lack of credible evidence unearthed on Nikumaroro…”
Well, since you state that “lack” as a fact, I guess it must be true. Funny, we who’ve been digging up and studying the evidence find it at last mildly “credible.”
d. “… three open cockpit US aircraft flew at 50 to 500 feet over this sliver on an island for 30 minutes within ten days of Earhart’s disappearance and saw no evidence of castaways.”
Have you looked at the “aerial tour of Nikumaroro” on the TIGHAR website? Where the helicopter flies at the same altitude as the search planes and you have to look real closely to see a large man in a white tee shirt on the beach? The same chopper flew over me, jumping up and down and waving my hat, near the Seven Site, and nobody saw me. It’s a hard environment in which to see things on the ground.
e. “The only possible explanation why Earhart didn’t come out and wave to the pilots was: 1) she was looking for her shoes; 2) she was applying freckle cream to look nice for the pilots.”
I’m glad you know what “the only possible explanation” is. I can think of several other possibilities, but never mind; it’s all speculation.
f. “…you chose to ignore the one piece of credible archeological information at Saipan – the gravesite unearthed on orders of Captain Tracy Griswold, USMC, by Private’s Henson and Burks. These two Marines positively identified Griswold from a photo lineup that would have been admissible in court. Henson and Burks further corroborated Griswold’s identify from comments made at the gravesite.”
Well, I didn’t exactly ignore it; I just couldn’t figure out what to do with it. If I’m recalling the story correctly, Henson and Burks were ordered by Griswold to dig up a grave; and Griswold allegedly spoke the words “Amelia Earhart” to them, but years later Griswold denied it. Does that mean that they were digging up Amelia, or does it mean they were digging up somebody else and Griswold was playing with their heads? Or does it mean something else? I don’t know.
g. “… you knew from the Kothera and Goerner’s books, the gravesite unearthed by Kothera’s Cleveland Group was not residual ground material but a grave dug to waist level or deeper. If you would have conducted proper research on this grave site, you would have determined, the residual evidence found at this location was topical, i.e. shell casings, eyeglasses – bones fragments were found much deeper.”
First, I appreciate the fact that you’ve actually read our paper. Thanks for that. Now, I don’t know very much about the stratigraphic relationships among things in Kothera’s excavations because the data aren’t presented in the kind of detail that one usually finds in reports of archaeological excavations, but supposing you’re correct that the bones were found in a grave that was deeper than the stratum of disturbed stuff resulting from the bombardment and leveling of Garapan — OK, so they came from a grave. Does that make it Earhart’s grave? I don’t see why, though maybe it was. Again, what you have is an hypothesis, not “truth.” Having lived on Saipan (where I found human bones in my flower beds) and excavated archaeological sites there, I know that there are lots and lots and lots of graves, marked and unmarked, resulting from thousands of years of human history, all over the island but especially on the leeward side in and around places like Garapan.
h. “You also would have known Kothera collected only bone fragments and that the larger skeletal remains were missing.”
I’ve excavated maybe a thousand graves in my career, in Micronesia and on the U.S. mainland, and read hundreds of archaeological site reports. I can assure you that finding only fragmentary remains in a grave is not uncommon, on Saipan or pretty much anyplace else. A lot of things can chew up a grave.
i. “You also knew this was the same gravesite discussed by the two Marines Burks and Henson, who in fact had unearthed the major skeletal remains from this grave in July 1944.”
Maybe. See above.
j. “You also knew the Griswold grave digging episode was the central theme of both the Goerner and Kothera books.”
Well, I don’t know about it being THE central theme, particularly of Goerner’s book, but it was certainly A major theme. So does that make it Earhart’s grave? I’m missing your connection.
Which brought out sonnyauld, who said:
As Ric Gillespie’s publicity man, I would expect nothing less than the bile you spewed above. Those of you there at TIGHAR must be feeling the heat from the Truth, if you are over here attacking it. You continue to perpetrate your opinions on Amelia’s disappearance on the public, raising obscene amounts of money for yet another trek. And yes, these ARE your opinions, since you have not uncovered one single shred of actual proof of Amelia’s crashing on Gardner Island in all of the many, many trips you have made to the island. All you have “uncovered” are “…this MIGHT be Amelia’s shoe; this MIGHT be a bookcase from Amelia’s plane; this MIGHT be Amelia’s cosmetic jar because she had freckles….” Give me a break! I understand your need to attack Mike and the Truth, but until you can unequivocally come up with undisputed evidence of her crashing on Gardner, please refrain from attacking other more likely alternate scenarios of the real Truth: Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan died on Saipan at the hands of the enemy.
And billxam2013 added:
I have to agree with sonnyauld. I’ve re-listened to my interview with Mike and gone back over the book and what is being called “so called evidence” by some horribly misguided people which takes a far more physical form than any other small bits of rubbish found on a beach somewhere.
In the end, no matter how hard I try to take a pragmatic view of each point of view I keep coming back to the exact same conclusion. Amelia Earhart died on Saipan by the hands of the Japanese. Apparently Mr. King wants us to assume that every single eyewitness from the natives on several different islands to our military personnel all have flawed memories which I find more than absurd.
What this is all about is perception. A bit of rubbish on a beach or several hundred witnesses. I will put my faith in the witnesses.
Sorry, Mr. King all you are doing is digging yourself a hole that someone is going to push you into when it’s deep enough. Use the same critical eye as a jurist does. I did.
I tried again:
Like I said — you have it all figured out, and we’re all just shills for Gillespie. But the accumulation and analysis of “might be’s” is how science works. Hurricane Sandy might have been evidence of global climate change, so might the content of Greenland ice cores, and so on. It’s very rare for a single piece of evidence to be slam-bang definitive, but if that’s the only thing you can accept as evidence, so be it. I don’t “need” to “attack” anyone, and don’t think I did; my suggestion to Mike was that he have a better chance of being attended to by people like Rosella if he’d recognize that he, and you, ARE propounding opinions, not certain, verified “truth.” If that to you is an “attack,” it seems to me you have a mighty big chip on your shoulder. But that’s your problem, not mine, so I’ll happily refrain from bothering you further.
This brought a response from “earharttruth,” who I think is Mike Campbell:
Junk science, phony academia, smoke and mirrors, a compliant and corrupt media, and an ignorant, apathetic and uninformed public have combined to create one of the most universally accepted false narratives in American culture, rivaled only by the continuing promotion of the absurd Warren Report lies in the JFK hit. No one should have to state that the truth is not a matter of opinion. Conspicuous in her silence is the subject of this discussion, Rossella Lorenzi. Has she stooped to read even a chapter of Truth at Last?
I couldn’t quite let that pass:
Well, I wasn’t going to add anything more to this thread, but that’s just too good a set-up. To begin with, “truth is not a matter of opinion?” Supposing that there is an absolute truth, as arguably there is with regard to Earhart’s fate, how can it NOT be a matter of opinion? People obviously have opinions about it; someone is presumably right (or no one is), but until there’s unequivocal proof, it’s a matter of opinion. And though I share some of your skepticism about the Warren report, just calling it “absurd” doesn’t make it so. Nor does calling what I do “junk science” make it so. As for phony academia — well, hell, you’ve caught me; I didn’t really go to college all those years and get those degrees and publish all that stuff; I’ve just made it all up and conned everyone but you; damn, you’re GOOD!
Point is, when to make your hypothesis believable you have to posit that those otherwise inclined are engaging in junk science, trading in phony academia, puffing smoke and waving mirrors with the complicity of a corrupted media — well, that simply puts several points against you in the credibility department.
As for Rossella — this was my original point: for someone like Rossella, who deals day in and day out with crazy stories about stuff from the past and must sort wheat from chaff based, often, on little but gut instinct, I can guarantee that a title like “The Truth” is something she’ll shy away from, because she knows all too well how slippery “truth” is.
Look, I think that some of you guys have done some good research, and I think it deserves attention. My initial post was about how you might increase the likelihood that those not already of your persuasion would pay such attention, and your reaction, expectably I suppose, has been to kill the messenger. OK, I’m dead; enjoy yourselves.
And I suppose they are.