On the 88th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s solo Atlantic flight, by which she became the first woman and second person to achieve that remarkable feat, we return to a recurring theme in the Earhart saga — the possible location of Amelia’s final resting place. “THE GARAPAN PRISON . . . Another Incident” appeared in the November 1998 issue of The Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. In his introduction, Bill Prymak wrote, “Recently, Don Wilson, author of Amelia Earhart: Lost Legend [Enigma Press, 1994] received a letter from a [person] who had been on Saipan in 1953, long before public interest in the AE disappearance took off in the early 1960s.” The unnamed person’s letter follows. Boldface emphasis mine throughout.
I arrived on Saipan in early summer of 1953, for a tour of duty. Two or three months later, by which time I and others had pretty thoroughly explored the island, the subject of Amelia Earhart came up, probably during a dinner party. We all remembered the story of Amelia’s disappearance many years earlier, and that she may have been captured by the Japanese and taken to Saipan, assuming that her plane went down elsewhere than Saipan. A few days later I was talking with a Chamorran native, a male about mid-thirties in age, and I asked him about Amelia. He offered to take me and one or two other friends to the prison where she and Fred Noonan had been held. A day or two thereafter we followed the Chamorran into a fairly heavily overgrown area near where the headquarters of the prewar Japanese sugar and tapioca business was located.
The main building was roofless and the walls were in bad shape from the bombings that occurred during the American invasion. Beyond the headquarters building in the direction of Garapan, but I would guess to be about halfway between Chalan Kanoa and Garapan, we came to a small clearing in which stood the remains of a jail. As I remember, there were four cells and the second cell from the right was pointed out to us as the one in which Amelia was kept. Fred was in the one to the far left.
As I recall, the cells were about five by eight feet in dimension so the entire cell block was only twenty some feet long. The paint on the interior of the cells was faded and chipped and open to the elements because the roof was missing. There was no floor, just sand and coral. The wall of ‘her’ cell had faded writings, scratchings really, which were unintelligible except for those made by an American GI, a corporal, who may have been locked up for a few days for some misdemeanor or, more likely, simply scratched his name and date while visiting the cells as I was.
My Chamorran guide said that Amelia was kept there for an unspecified period of time and then executed and buried in the jungle beyond the cell block fifty yards or so. Fred met a similar fate, according to him.
Please bear in mind two things: one is that I was not in search of Amelia at that time. It was just a curious thing that I happened to find myself in a spot on which a very interesting event took place. I now wish I had spent a lot more time questioning my Chamorran friend and looking farther afield for other natives who might have knowledge. Second, in 1953 there was no public interest that I was aware of in Amelia’s fate and surely there was no excitement on the part of the native population in the story that would have served to whet their appetites or imagination and produced exaggerated details.
The attitude at the time amongst all of us including the Chamorros was sort of ho-hum, isn’t this interesting. So I am quite willing to accept the story told to me by the Chamorran. Whether he acquired his story from other credible sources, from stories circulated by the Japanese to suit their own purposes, or saw any portions of the story himself, I don’t know. Nor was a time frame hung on this scenario. Amelia and Fred went down in 1937. I was there 16 years later. My Chamorran friend didn’t say when Amelia and Fred were brought there, from where, or when they were executed. If he did, then I have forgotten that part. I did not scratch around for graves. The undergrowth was much too thick for that. I simply took his word for what he said because he would have had no ulterior motive. I had not offered to pay him, nor did I.
So, Don, that is the extent of my recollection. I realize it offers you nothing new and may only confuse matters even more than they are now. I wish I could have been more useful. I shall now open your book for the first time and read with interest what you have acquired.
Good Luck. (End of letter.)
DON WILSON’s response to this letter, in part, was as follows:
I really appreciate the detailed information you sent me about your experiences on Saipan regarding accounts of, Amelia Earhart. You stated that “We all remembered the story of Amelia’s disappearance many years earlier and that she may have been captured by the Japanese and taken to Saipan.” This statement surprised me because I was not aware that people had been talking very much about her being taken to Saipan until after the investigations began in the 1960’s. As I mention in my book, there were some American servicemen both in the Marshalls and on Saipan who had some information during WWII regarding Amelia. But to my knowledge these accounts were not widely publicized in the ’50s.
It was fascinating to read about your recollection of the jail and the four cells in one of the cell blocks. It was especially interesting to read that your source indicated different cells for both Fred and Amelia than my source. But that’s OK, and does not discredit the tact that Amelia and Fred may well have been imprisoned there.
You wrote that you wished that you “could have been more useful.” Actually, your account is significant to me because of the early date — 1953 — in which your experiences occurred. Many people were interviewed years later, but yours is the earliest account that am aware of where Americans talked with the islanders about Amelia and Fred after WWII. I would agree that they had no ulterior motive for their accounts.
When you have a chance I would appreciate any comments that you might want to make about my book. You may or may not agree with my conclusions, but I would like to know your thoughts.
I would like to be able to share what you have written to me with other members of the Amelia Earhart Society. A newsletter is published several times a year for the benefit of the 100 or so members who have an interest in the fate of Amelia and Fred, and who from time to time come up with bits of information which they share with fellow members. Much of my resource material came from the newsletters of the society.
May I have your permission to send the information you sent me to the editor of the newsletter? An issue will be coming out in a few weeks and your material could be included in that newsletter. It would also be helpful if you could give your name and your reason for being on Saipan. But I leave that up to you.
Members of the Society simply are trying to find out what really happened. They do so at their own expense, and are not engaged in fund raising for any special projects. The Society does not have an “official” position as to what happened to Fred and Amelia, but welcomes information from any source. Despite years of work, and extensive travel by some members, there are still many unanswered questions, and many conflicting opinions.
Best Wishes, Don
Note that the person who wrote this letter to Don Wilson, apparently a former member of the U.S. military — he mentions a “tour of duty” — and almost certainly a male, did not want Wilson to know his name. This is not a rare phenomenon in Earhart research.
I still haven’t posted my story about a fourth U.S. flag officer — another admiral, this one on active duty in the early 1980s — who stated that Earhart and Noonan died on Saipan. The man who provided the information to me — a retired Navy officer himself — refuses to have his name associated with the Earhart story, or what he obviously considers to be the wrong side of it.
His fear is real, but entirely unfounded. This man and other former high ranking officers I’ve encountered who refuse to lend their names to this cause don’t inspire my faith in humanity, or my hope that our deeply corrupt establishment will ever do the right thing in the Earhart case. Although the relatively scant numbers of those who care about the Earhart disappearance continue to dwindle as I write, this sacred cow has long been among the Deep State’s most revered, and the documents that reveal the truth will stay out of public hands unless and until a U.S. president decides the time has come.
The unidentified letter writer wasn’t the first to suggest that Earhart might have been buried near the prison, but most of the native witnesses pointed to other locations on Saipan, most often the Liyang Cemetery, south of Garapan, where Marine Privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks were ordered by Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold to excavate a gravesite several feet outside of the Liyang Cemetery in late July or early August 1944. This incident is detailed in Chapter 13 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, titled “Griswold, Henson and Burks.”
In late October 2017, Ms. Carla Henson, daughter of the late Everett Henson Jr., contacted me about her father’s experience on Saipan. To read more about Carla, her father and the Saipan gravesite incident in 1944, please see my Dec. 26, 2017 post, “KCBS 1966 release a rare treasure in Earhart saga.”
For extended discussions on several of the more prominently alleged Earhart gravesites on Saipan, please see pages 219-231, 233-240 and 245-249 in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. Other suggested locations include Arlington National Cemetery and the basement of Amelia’s birthplace museum in Atchison, Kansas.
And let’s not forget the real possibility that Amelia may not have been buried at all, but cremated and her ashes scattered to the wind, as Saipan eyewitnesses Matilde F. Arriola, Joaquina Cabrera and others were told. In May 2018, Marie Castro presented Jose Sadao Tomokane, who claimed to have been an eyewitness to Earhart’s cremation.
For more about Tomakane and other witnesses, please see my May 18, 2018 post, “Marie Castro, a treasure chest of Saipan history, Reveals previously unpublished witness accounts.”
Ten days ago, an annoying, unserious story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, “Chamorro man shares Earhart theory that she was a prisoner on Saipan,” appeared in the Pacific Daily News, headquartered on Guam and now “part of the USA Today Network,” which only means its editorial policies will ape the corrupt U.S. establishment line more than ever. This particular piece leaves no doubt about that. (Boldface and italics emphasis mine throughout.)
As I will demonstrate by dissecting this disingenuous mix of misinformation and muddled rhetoric by Pacific Daily News reporter Jerick Sablan, this article was not produced with any intention of supporting or corroborating the facts in the Earhart case. When the story is read by the uninformed, which is nearly everyone, only confusion will result, which is its goal.
Soon after the story’s Nov. 25 publication, USA Today ran a dressed-up version with a slightly more cynical title, “Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were prisoners on Saipan and killed, according to uncle’s tale.” I shouldn’t need to tell anyone of the negative connotations inherent in any account that’s described as a “tale” in a headline. This is an immediate “tell” from USA Today that you don’t need to take this story seriously, because they certainly don’t.
The article follows a typical template for Earhart propaganda, created not to educate, but to confuse and deceive the ignorant into believing that the Earhart disappearance remains among the pantheon of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries, an eternal enigma that will never be solved. Sadly, most fail to grasp the fact that this is the purpose of virtually every Earhart-disappearance story in the American media, and every other information organization in the modern world, for that matter. Only here can you be confident you’re getting the truth, from someone who’s devoted 30 years to the Earhart saga, who recognizes this ubiquitous propaganda as well as the precious truth when he sees it.
In the Pacific Daily News story, Jerick Sablan writes that William “Bill” Sablan (relationship not clear) said his uncle, “Tun Akin Tuho, worked at the prison [Garapan] where Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were taken prisoner in Saipan.” What jumps out immediately is that Tun Akin Tuho has never been mentioned in any known Earhart literature before now. Why not?
Why doesn’t Jerick make any reference to the many known and documented Saipan witnesses, so that Bill Sablan’s uncle might have a historical leg to stand on, so to speak? He could have named people like Jesús Bacha Salas, who saw Amelia in Garapan prison for a few hours; Josépa Reyes Sablan, of Chalan Kanoa, who saw two white people taken into the military police headquarters in Garapan; Dr. Manual Aldan, the Saipanese dentist who was told by Japanese officers the name of the American woman flier in custody, “EARHARTO!”; José Rios Camacho, who saw the fliers shortly after their arrival at Saipan’s Tanapag Harbor; or any of the rest of Fred Goerner’s original 13 witnesses — and these are just those Goerner identified during the first of his four investigations on Saipan before The Search for Amelia Earhart was published in 1966.Jerick does none of that, but grudgingly writes, “According to news files, in 1960 a CBS radio man, Fred Goerner, spoke with at least a dozen reliable witnesses from Saipan, who shared that before the war, two white people arrived on Saipan — described as ‘fliers’ or ‘spies’ — and they were held in the Japanese jail.” Could a reporter assigned to write a story about the Earhart case really be this uninformed, especially one based in Guam, a stone’s throw away from Saipan, where the presence and death of Amelia Earhart in the pre-war years has become a part of the culture, an accepted historical fact among its elder Chamorros?
Fred Goerner was far more than a “CBS radio man,” he was the author of The Search for Amelia Earhart, the only bestseller in the history of Earhart disappearance literature, and is generally recognized among those without agendas as history’s greatest Earhart researcher, which Jerick also neglects to mention. I’d ask Jerick why he gives such short shrift to Goerner, if I didn’t already know the answer.
In fact, Goerner claimed he identified 39 eyewitnesses to Earhart’s presence on Saipan; all independently picked her photo out of a selection of about 10 similar-looking women. But in acknowledging Goerner, if only in a minimal way, Jerick departs from the worst of the false Earhart paradigms, such as the hundreds, if not thousands of insufferable TIGHAR infomercials posing as news stories we’ve been subjected to for 30 years. In these, any mention of Earhart in the Marshalls or Saipan is immediately branded “folklore” or “conspiracy theory,” shoved into the circular file and never mentioned again.
Jerick seems in a great hurry to direct readers to his main point, the July 9 abomination that the History Channel perpetrated on the public in a transparent attempt to discredit the truth. “The History Channel shared the theory that the two were taken prisoner in a recent TV special called ‘Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,’ “ Jerick tells us, signaling that his story is little more than a weak attempt to keep the History Channel’s lies about the phony ONI photo viable enough to qualify for a few more advertising dollars in reruns.
“According to USA Today,” Jerick continues, bringing in the Pacific Daily News parent company without explanation, “the theory shared by History’s TV special says Earhart was captured and executed on Saipan by the Empire of Japan. The U.S. government and military knew it (and even found and exhumed her body). And both governments have been lying about it ever since.”
That’s it in a nutshell, but instead of recognizing or at least supporting the truth by respecting it as a likely scenario based on the huge amount of accumulated evidence, or something similar, Jerick reverts to the age-old establishment default position and defines the truth as a mere theory. He then compounds this misnomer by attributing this theory to USA Today and the History Channel, as if they just discovered the Earhart story. If the truth must be referenced as theory, why doesn’t he cite any of the host of investigations and books that have advanced this theory, in order that this theory might have more substance and relevance? As always, even when an aspect of the truth is presented in the media, it comes wrapped in so much flotsam and jetsam that its effect becomes minimized and obscured, which is the goal from the jump.
Soon after learning about the July 5 NBC News promotion of the forthcoming History Channel special, as glaring an example of “fake news” as you will ever see, its premise predicated upon and completely tied to the false claims about the ONI photo, I was the first to denounce it the same day with this post: “July 9 Earhart special to feature bogus photo claims.“
After watching “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” I concluded that it possessed many of the hallmarks of a classic disinformation operation. “ ‘The Lost Evidence’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” I wrote, “a masterpiece of deceit, cleverly designed to discredit the long-established facts that reveal the truth about Earhart and Fred Noonan’s landing at Mili Atoll and deaths on Saipan at the hands of the prewar Japanese. . . . The onslaught of activity from the leaders of our fake news brigade that preceded the July 9 airing is all we need to tell us that a massive propaganda operation was under way, and remains so.”
For the entire review, posted July 12, please see “History’s ‘Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence’: Underhanded attack on the Marshalls-Saipan truth.“
I wasn’t alone in my assessment of the History Channel’s propaganda drill. Longtime news analyst David Martin (www.DCDave.com), author of the definitive work in the James V. Forrestal murder case (“Who Killed James Forrestal?”), and countless other commentaries that the mainstream media despise and will never acknowledge, soon joined the fray.
“For three-quarters of a century America’s press and its court historians have studiously ignored the voluminous evidence that aviation adventurer Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese and did not just mysteriously crash into the Pacific Ocean on her round-the-world venture,” Martin wrote in his July 7 commentary, “Press Touts Dubious Earhart Photo.” “Now, across the board, from NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN, to The Washington Post and the Associated Press, they all seem to have made a 180-degree turn based upon the supposed discovery of one very ambiguous photograph in the National Archives. What, we have to wonder, is going on?
“The New York Times, jumping the gun with its more skeptical approach, gives us a very big clue,” Martin went on. “The headline says it all, ‘Did Amelia Earhart Survive? A Found Photo Offers a Theory, but No Proof.’ Already, The Times is beginning to cast doubt upon the significance, if not the authenticity, of this photograph.” For the rest of Martin’s July 7 analysis, please click here.
Soon the shaky edifice built by the History Channel’s mendacity began to crumble, as the foundation of the entire production, the undated ONI photo of Jaluit Harbor, came under assault. The British publication, The Guardian, reported that a Japanese blogger had found the exact same photo in what was described as “an old Japanese travel book” that was published in 1935 — two years before the ONI photo of History Channel infamy was said to have been snapped.
“See the sleight of hand?” Martin wrote in his July 13 commentary, “Earhart photo story apparently debunked. The debunking of this photo does nothing whatsoever to undermine the little bit of good evidence that the History Channel presented for the flyers having been captured by the Japanese, much less the cornucopia of evidence that Mike Campbell has assembled in his book Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. That evidence remains as strong as it was before the program—with its big press build-up—ever aired.” I posted my agreement, “As usual, Dave Martin sees the truth in Earhart story,” later that same day.
Indeed, Jerick Sablan writes that the “History TV special theory rests on an ambiguous photograph, said to have been taken in 1937, that might show Earhart and Noonan alive on a dock in the Marshall Islands. At the time the islands were controlled by Japan.” But History’s special theory had no staying power, because, “According to USA Today,” Jerick tells us, “a Japanese military history blogger Kota Yamano undermined a new theory that Amelia Earhart survived a crash in the Pacific Ocean during her historic attempted around-the-world flight in 1937.” New theory?
Jerick’s description of the ONI photo as “ambiguous” is a blatant euphemism, a weasel way of saying the photo is worthless, as anyone not affiliated with a politicized media organization can see. It also developed that this Kota Yamano blogger person doesn’t appear to exist except as a convenient prop, as neither he nor his blog shows up in any online search as discrete entities. Regardless, the entire media herd happily jumped on the bandwagon immediately after The Guardian story broke, as if they were waiting for the green light to publish anything that would taint and discredit, simply by association, the hated Marshalls-Saipan scenario promoted by the “The Lost Evidence” in several segments it presented that were unrelated to the ONI photo.
If that weren’t enough, four days after The Guardian’s July 11 report on the Japanese blogger’s alleged findings that seemingly debunked the History Channel’s claims, the Republic of the Marshall Islands issued a statement though its ministry of foreign affairs that appeared to “debunk the debunker.” According to the Marshallese government, the Jabor Dock, which it confirmed was the location of the photo, was built in 1936, not 1935, as the mysterious blogger Kota Yamano asserted. Further compounding the mess, the Marshallese statement did not specify when the photo was taken, which left the door open to the possibility that the American fliers could be in it, at least in the minds the extremely credulous and anyone associated with the History Channel.
The Marshallese release changed nothing about the ONI photo itself, which remains what it always has been, a reflection of Jaluit harbor and the Jabor Dock at some unspecified time, with the Koshu in the right background and a small group of unidentifiable people standing around — nothing more, nothing less. What was notable about the Marshallese statement was that nobody in the media paid any attention to it, which tells those of us who can discern the obvious what we already knew — the media does not want the photo to represent the presence of Earhart and Noonan at Jaluit, for reasons that I’ve explained ad nauseam.
I didn’t learn about the Marshalls statement until a few weeks later, when an interested reader, having found it on Rich Martini’s website, sent it to me. I posted my take on what had become little more than a tedious soap opera on July 28: “Marshalls release is latest twist in photo travesty.“
Getting back to Jerick Sablan’s Pacific Daily News story: If you had any doubts about the real reason it was written, his closing statement, or “telling point” as it was called at the military journalism school I attended in 1978, should clear up any misconceptions. “The mystery surrounding her disappearance continues to keep her memory alive and remains one of history’s greatest mysteries,” Jerick is compelled to remind us, as if we might overlook his tawdry story’s raison d’être. Question for Jerick: What is the point of presenting Bill Sablan’s uncle Tun Akin Tuho, who “worked at the prison where Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were taken prisoner in Saipan,” if the fate of Amelia Earhart is going to remain such an irresolvable mystery?
I wrote an email to Jerick, welcoming him to the Earhart story, telling him a bit about my own 30 years of study and work on the subject. “Just as the truth in the Earhart matter is NO mystery,” I wrote, “there are also no “THEORIES” about her fate. We have the truth that Earhart and Fred Noonan died on Saipan sometime after crash-landing at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, and we have two major LIES — that she crashed and sank, or the ridiculous Nikumaroro “hypothesis,” which have been promoted to the status of theories and perpetuated as such in order to protect the obvious truth that anyone can discover for themselves by reading Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last or the handful of books that preceded it and presented various aspects of the truth, including The Search for Amelia Earhart, Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller. . . . The U.S. government has known since 1937 exactly what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and continues to go to great lengths though its media toadies to deny and obfuscate the truth, which is available to anyone who seeks it in the few places where it’s available, which sadly do not include the PDN or USA Today.”
Jerick did not reply to my message, so he’s clearly part of the problem, not the solution in the Earhart matter, as are virtually all of his media counterparts.
The day after the Pacific Daily News-USA Today story hit the streets, the UK’s Daily Mail ran its own, fancied-up version, replete with several large, blown-up photos in UK tabloid style with three reporters’ bylines. The Nov. 26 story, “Amelia Earhart ‘was executed by the Japanese’: New ‘witness’ account claims aviation pioneer was held in Saipan before being killed – and the US military collected her body and covered it up,” surpasses its progenitors, if only because it features a photo of the original Saipan eyewitness, Josephine Blanco Akiyama, and a passing reference to Fred Goerner’s work.
The Daily Mail is no stranger to the Earhart story. Its recent coverage has not been as deceptive or negative in its approach to the truth as its overseas counterparts, and it seems more unconcerned with protecting the American establishment’s sacred cows. In 2015 the Daily Mail published three pieces about Dick Spink’s Mili Atoll investigations, on May 29, June 26 and July 9.
Those are the positive aspects of the Daily Mail’s Earhart work, but this bunch suffers from some serious shortcomings too, and the rest of the story isn’t so pretty. In my July 17, 2015 commentary, “Daily Mail sets new ‘standard’ in Earhart reporting,” I pointed out the “glaring lack of references to any previous investigative work on the Earhart disappearance as related to Mili Atoll. To the low-information reader, it appears as if the Daily Mail discovered this story all by itself, and is presenting it to the world for the first time! . . . [T]he way the Daily Mail has presented these stories is too disturbing for me take much satisfaction.”
In its Nov. 26 story, the Daily Mail, continuing its policy of non-attribution, refused to ascribe Josephine’s original account to Goerner, Paul Briand Jr., and Linwood Day of the San Mateo Times, foremost among those in the early 1960s who brought Josephine’s account to the world, and implied, though did not outright state, that NBC News had just discovered her story: “And in July, Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who grew up on Saipan but now lives in California, said she saw the pair as a child,” the Daily Mail reported. “ ‘I didn’t even know it’s a woman, I thought it’s a man,’ Akiyama told NBC’s Today that month.”
In its favor, the Daily Mail quoted me for the first time ever, writing that “another recognized Earhart investigator, Mike Campbell, has lashed out at what he described as ‘bogus photo claims,’ ” but they wouldn’t call me a blogger or an author, or name Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, fearing they might lose a few readers who might actually leave their page and seek more details elsewhere. At least the Daily Mail had the decency to spare us the “one of history’s greatest mysteries” closing line. You can read the story and judge for yourself what the Daily Mail’s real agenda is by clicking here.
Much of media’s newly feigned interest in Amelia Earhart’s Marshalls and Saipan presence can be traced to the July 9 History Channel’s residual influence; after all, some legitimate witness accounts were presented, though none in any depth. Some in the media are becoming more aware that the hated truth is being sought by more people than ever — though we’re decades away from any popular uprising that would force government disclosure, if it ever happens at all. Thus these dishonest practitioners of deception are trying harder than ever to discredit the truth by planting phony stories and then undermining them, using two of Dave Martin’s Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression, “Knock down straw men” and “Come half clean.” They’re playing with fire.
(Editor’s note: Some readers may not agree with the views expressed in this commentary. If so, you are invited to send your comments, as is everyone. The moderator reserves the right to decide whether incoherent or hostile messages will be posted.)
When I put together the previous post about Eugene Sims and his “ghost of Amelia Earhart” photo, I had no idea what I was stepping into, nor did Sims when he took the photo of the cell at the old Garapan prison on Saipan in 1973. While the figure Sims thought could have been Amelia’s ghost was apparently only a trick of the lighting within the cell, the rest of the photo has opened up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities, thanks to my friend Laurel Blyth Tague Ph.D.
After beholding what Laurel’s discerning eye had revealed, I was ready to title this post “Welcome to the Amelia Earhart Paranormal Society,” but then realized that might be a bit too far out on the “fringe,” where our critics like to keep us. Admittedly, this and the previous post are complete departures from our normal menu of serious discussion of the Earhart disappearance, but after more than 70 such posts since July 2012, I don’t think a brief journey into the paranormal will hurt the cause appreciably.
Laurel is the New York State director, host and managing producer for E.P.I.C. Voyagers Radio on the Inception Radio Network. I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of appearing twice with Laurel on her two-hour E.P.I.C. Voyagers weekly show, and she was the best-prepared, most intelligent and considerate radio host I’ve ever met. She’s also a trained observer of phantoms, or phantasms, or however these faces that appear in photos of allegedly haunted places can be described.
I’ve seen similar faces on a website or possibly a book, but can’t find them now. I suggested to Laurel that these wraith-like faces are to photography what electronic voice phenomena, commonly known as EVP, are to audio recording. She agreed, and isolated the individual faces she found in the photos, writing a brief description of each. Most I can recognize, but some are beyond me. Forthwith is the great presentation Laurel put together; I hope you like it half as much as I do.
Dr. Laurel Blyth Tague:
Definitely EVPs are the gold standard of paranormal research: recorded voices saying things that make sense relative to the location and its history that are not noticed or heard by people at the time these utterances are collected digitally or on cassette tape. Only after later analysis – very careful and concerted attention to the entire audio – are these utterances heard. The ones I have heard from researchers are startling, both in terms of clarity and topic.
My logic tells me that making a sound or noise or uttering words might require far less energy from “that other dimension” (for lack of a common expression) than moving anything in this 3D dimension. I see manifesting an image or a wispy, smoky haze as somewhere between these two ways to communicate in terms of difficulty.
guess I should throw in the insertion of smells and thoughts (often reported), especially when a close relative or friend passes. These I would place a little easier on the scale of ghostly talent than even creating audio evidence. In fact, I think that these four types of evidence are collected on a scale of frequency in the same order: thoughts and smells, sounds and words, images and hazes, moving or relocated objects.
What we present here for your consideration is simply meant as food for thought, at the very least entertainment. When I read Mike’s most recent blog Eugene C. Sims and the “Ghost of Amelia Earhart”, I stared and stared at the photo and thought Sims must have been pointing to the highly lit feature in the middle of the central doorway, consisting of two parallel vertical lines and topped by what could be horizontal shoulders and a skull. I thought, no, this is just too easy – that has to be the way the light is shining into the cell through the jungle foliage.
This tendency for humans to perceive scant visual stimuli and then attribute meaning to them has long been one very handy survival skill in our evolutionary toolkits. Granted, sometimes we may read too much into what we see. Nowadays the paranormal investigation community strongly warns fledgling researchers against matrixing.
Surprisingly to me, Wikipedia actually has an interesting page dedicated to pareidolia, a less common term than matrixing, but with a more dignified and relevant etymology: from the Greek para-, meaning, in this context, “something faulty or wrong” (for example, paraphasia: “disordered speech”) and eidolon (1828),“ a ghostly image or phantom.”
Pareidolia is the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features. Devotees of paranormal investigation have come to use the term matrixing to mean much the same when referring to the observation and interpretation of specifically visual information.
What is interesting to me is the implication inherent in this definition that whatever we think we are seeing is not really there: in other words, we are making it up by our interpretation, foisting upon the image qualities it does not truly have. There is almost the connotation that we are trying to fool others by stating what we see in the image, or at the very least we are demonstrating publicly that we are gullible fools.
Well, I can think of examples of certain individuals involved in researching Earhart’s final demise who might well be described in this way.
So I saved the [Eugene C. Sims] image and opened it in a couple different apps I use to enlarge images and study them in greater detail. Immediately I saw that what appeared to be long, skeletal legs are indeed bamboo stalks or some other kind of flora, and that skull is just a big leaf. I laughed to myself, remembering one of my favorite Peanuts strips ever, where Linus, Lucy, and Charlie Brown are looking at clouds and telling each other what they resemble.
I thought, before I closed my app, I would poke around and look a bit, just to see if I noticed anything resembling a face or person, especially those of a female. I noticed three female faces almost within mere seconds and managed to find three more after really scouring over the image. I prepared little guidelines next to each extracted image I found, explaining what I saw, hoping to help someone else see what I did.
After emailing these to Mike and a couple other close friends (“open-minded” friends, I might add), one of them came back with a seventh woman’s face! What we present here are these extracted images with additional pointers to help with locating them in the larger image.
At least some of these faces will stubbornly refuse to materialize for some of you. These details are best recognized at a certain resolution — too enlarged and it just looks like a gray mulch, too reduced and it looks like a more linear gray mulch. Viewers should play with zooming in and out by bits until the image pops out at them. The images here are at the best resolution for me.
I am fiercely intellectually curious and open-minded but I would not say gullible. There are many things in this world that are not yet resolved or explained fully, because all the facts are not on the table and in many cases adequate technology or methodology are lacking.
One reader here asked why Amelia would haunt a location so completely imbued with agony and grief for her, to which another reader answered perhaps she is merely making her mark on this image at this blog, a place where we continue to question and dig and discuss until her true fate has been demonstrated and accepted by the public. This sounds to me like a plausible answer, and I hope each of you finds these images and comments at the very least thought-provoking and entertaining.
Every now and then I see a photo and – if I can assume it’s legitimate and not doctored – it is probably even more stunning to me. I never expect/demand that the image matches a pose from a photograph of the person.
This seems ridiculously pedantic and artificial to me – what of all the people who died before photography and were later seen as ghosts? How does a dead person select the exact photo s/he wants to use as the calling card in these instances? Not to mention, doesn’t it make more sense that a ghostly image in a photo that does match an old photo of that person, stands a better chance to have been technologically superimposed on the newer photo?
So it does not bother me that I do not see Amelia’s face, as in press photos, in these. The one with what I see to be goggles on her head is impressive to me.
(By the way, do any of you know of research funding streams to send a number of amateur ghost hunters researchers to Saipan to conduct research at this location? Just curious.) (End of Laurel Blyth Tague’s analysis; sincere thanks to Laurel for a great job.)
Laurel sent the images to a well-known paranormal “expert” for his opinion, and he told her that this phenomenon is known as simulacrum, meaning “something looks like something it isn’t. Sort of the same thing as figures in clouds, etc.” He didn’t seem impressed, but since I’m not a paranormal expert, I’m free to reject the idea that these images can be attributed to pareidolia, matrixing or even this fancy “simulacrum“ term, which I consider to be a dodge.
If we’re seeing something “that doesn’t exist,” why are we seeing the same things in these photos? I think B+C looks a lot like Amelia, for example. And why do these faces appear almost exclusively in photos of notoriously haunted locations?
I think these faces might be those of discarnate or disembodied entities trapped between planes of existence, between heaven and earth, so to speak, who for whatever reason cannot move on into the light — or the darkness, if that’s their destiny. Or could these some kind of lower-level demonic entities, lingering in a location renowned for evil doings, seeking new hosts or victims to torment?
How do you explain this, readers? What do you think? Let us hear from you!