By saying it's not really research.
Please consider this article in today's Mariana's Variety:
- See more at: http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/54002-archaeologist-researchers-caution-reliance-on-earhart-eyewitness-accounts#sthash.JHQxsFSM.dpuf
And now, if you will, consider my (our) response to the writer of this article, so it's clear what Tighar is really implying about Chomorro and US Marine testimony:
Dear Marianas Variety,
Sorry we didn't get back to you earlier. We went to Japan to continue research on the Earhart saga.
Yes, we do plan to create a documentary and a book. In Rich's case, he's already completed a documentary on the topic called "Earhart's Electra" which is available at Amazon.com, it was the genesis of this search of Saipan. It was posted at Kickstarter, and Mike Harris happened to catch it, and pointed out that it was he who had shot the footage of the islanders who saw Amelia Earhart on Saipan back in 1983. This footage has always been incorrectly attributed to T.C. "Buddy" Brennan, who came up to Mike at a lecture and asked if he could accompany him to Saipan.
Mike suggested he and Rich team up - he saw Rich had been interviewing US Marines about finding the airplane on Aslito airfield - the same GI's that he'd read about. Rich interviewed Robert Wallack who found her briefcase, Thomas Devine, Douglas Bryce, Andrew Bryce, Erskine Nabers who was a wire operator on Saipan and decoded the message that they had found her plane on Aslito on June 19th, 1944. Rich has four other US Marines who either saw the plane or saw it destroyed by US Forces. On top of that there's the extensive list of islanders that CBS newsman Fred Goerner interviewed in the 1960's, the people Oliver Knaggs interviewed on Mili and Majuro, the islanders Mike Harris interviewed on Jaluit and Saipan in the 1980's - some of the dozens of whom are referenced in many books including Don Wilson's. Then of course, there's the "Stars and Stripes" which printed the first Earhart allegation in 1944, where two GI's claimed they were asked to dig up her grave.
Which brings us to the article ("Archaeologist, researchers caution reliance") about researchers warning that eyewitness reports are "subject to unintentional manipulation." This comment borders on "unintentional racism" as it implies islanders aren't capable of remembering their own memories. How can that be?
Are these researchers saying that these islanders we've interviewed are lying? Or that they are being manipulated? Are they stating that the US Marines are lying? Or that they are being manipulated?
There's no such thing as "unintentional manipulation" - a clever catch phrase to make it seem that "oh, they must be making this up because the camera is convincing them to lie about what they heard or saw." The article claims that “Even word choice by a questioner can influence memory." Which of course is possible, unless you're someone who's been doing this for some time, and knows how to ask a person to recollect whatever it is they want to recollect.
Either a person is manipulated or they are not. "Manipulation" as a word is a pejorative, no two ways around it.
It may be "Unintentionally racist" because it's been the history of Saipan, the history of the Chomorro people, that if an American can't understand them, or take the time to ask them questions about their lives, about their personal experience during the war, they couldn't possibly be telling the truth about what they heard or saw from their parents. The Chomorro were first told by the Spanish what to say or believe, then told by the Germans what they should or shouldn't learn, and then by the Japanese on what they could or couldn't say. And then when the CIA was based in Saipan until 1962, another group of people would tell them how to speak or what they could or could not say. Our exprience on Saipan is that everyone has secrets to tell, but in general, has chosen to not say them.
This kind of paternalistic, chauvinistic so called expertise masquerading as science - which has little or nothing to do with science, or the pursuit of the truth, is typical of people who have a vested interest in their own version of the truth.
For example, one man we interviewed, 82 years old, said he was 12 years old when he saw a female fitting Earhart's description sitting with her arms bound behind her in the back of a army truck parked prior to the War in Chalan Kanoa. He said "I clearly remember it, as the truck was parked for 30 minutes, and I had never seen a white person before." We asked him questions about other details about the war, about his family hiding in caves. These and other details we were able to corroborate. Why would he slip one lie into an hour of truth?
In all the interviews, we found that the Chomorro people go out of their way to state exactly what they saw or didn't see, and can't be cajoled or manipulated in any fashion to say something they didn't actually witness. A Chomorro will say "I did not see this personally, and I repeat that it was my mother or father who saw it, so I can't say that it happened, but this is what they said." He didn't say it was Amelia Earhart. He said it was a "tall, thin woman wearing a khaki shirt with light colored hair with her arms bound behind her back and a black bandana across her face." If he was being manipulated - or trying to obfuscate - why not just say "I saw Amelia Earhart?" He did not know who she was, but he did see her as a prisoner prior to the war.
We have taken the time to corroborate what their parents or relatives have said with other people who saw or said the same thing. Or take the US Marine who said "I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was the wire operator in Col. Clarence Wallace's tent. I decoded the message that came in on June 19, 1944 that said "We have found Amelia Earhart's airplane on Aslito airfield." I took the message to my commanding officer and he signed it. And I thought it was odd that he made no comment about it. And then he ordered me to the hangar to guard the plane for 24 hours." We were able to corroborate his story because we interviewed other soldiers who saw this man guarding the plane. What part of his story was made up? What part was "manipulated?"
To call a US Marine a liar is, in our humble opinion, beyond the pale. Oh sorry - he was "unintentionally manipulated" into repeating what he saw. Well, we have news for these researchers; the camera, in this case, doesn't lie. This Marine spoke the truth and we have 5 other corroborating witnesses. And we'd like to see them tell a Marine to his face that he was "unintentionally manipulated."
To imply that as a filmmaker, or a journalist, we have somehow manipulated people into saying what they think they saw, as opposed to what they saw, or what their parents told them they saw, is to imply we've been unintentionally (or intentionally) manipulating eyewitnesses. We've been at this research for over 30 years. Rich was hired to share his research for the feature film "Amelia," has done documentaries for the US State dept among others and knows the protocol of investigative journalism. Mike came to interview people who saw Amelia Earhart here back in 1983. As a team, we've been at this for enough time to understand the difference between conjecture and reporting.
Our premise is simple; let people speak for themselves about they saw or heard. We suspect those who choose to ignore the overwhelming accounts do so because of an inherent disregard of native islanders, or US Marines, or both - and in either case, ignore whatever "science" they cite as evidence of their own search, considering the source.
The truth is, Tighar has had a bite at this apple for 30 years, developing and testing their theory that Amelia Earhart wound up on Nikumaroro. Isn't it time to step back for a moment and consider that there might be some logic to what all of these eyewitnesses have said? After all, if the premise was true that people can spontaneously make up memories based on wishful thinking, where are all the witnesses who saw her on some other island? If it's true that the US Marines might have been deluded by the fog of war, why didn't they say she was on Iwo Jima, Okinawa or Guam?
The fact remains; over a dozen soldiers claim they found her plane, saw her plane, or watched it burn at Aslito airfield. This was only 7 years after it has disappeared - it's not like they'd had a chance to come up with some other scenario. And nearly 200 islanders claim they saw or heard or experienced her presence on Saipan, we've got 15 new eyewitnesses in just three weeks alone. Logic tells us that these accounts bear further scrutiny - not that they may be incorrect, or manipulated, which is faulty reasoning - any cop can tell you that when eyewitnesses agree upon something, then its worth pursuing. That is, unless they're being "unintentionally manipulated" of course.
Oh, and we interviewed the fellow who was with the Marines when they found this scrapbook on Saipan this week. His name is Richard "Rick" Spooner. We encourage everyone to check into his bonafides. He's known as "the Marine's Marine." And he joins a chorus of Marines who want to speak the truth about what they saw on Saipan; after all "the truth will set you free."