In a rather stunning turn of events, the much-heralded 'lost Amelia Earhart' photo which made headlines last week has been debunked in a devastating fashion.
Hailed as a breakthrough clue to the fate of the famed pilot and her navigator, the image served as the centerpiece for a major two-hour documentary that aired on the History Channel over the weekend.
However, suspicious about claims that Earhart had been captured by Japanese forces, a blogger in Tokyo launched his own investigation into the photo and found that the claims surrounding it quickly fell apart.
In a mere 30 minutes, Kota Yamano was able to locate the image in the pages of a Japanese travelogue that was published in 1935 ... two years before Earhart went missing!
According to him, a simple online search of Japanese resources looking for images labeled 'Jaluit atoll' from 1930 to 1940 easily produced the image.
Yamano marveled that the now-infamous photo was the 10th image which appeared in his search results, leaving him wondering just how the History Channel could have been so wrong.
"I find it strange that the documentary makers didn't confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared," he told The Guardian, "that's the first thing they should have done."
Indeed, considering the time and money that the History Channel invested in the highly publicized special, it is rather shocking that such an egregious error could have been made.
Nonetheless, it appears to be almost certain that the photo featured in the film does not show Amelia Earhart nor Fred Noonan since their whereabouts in 1935 were well documented and the pair were never at the Jaluit atoll during that time period.
In response to Yamano's revelation about the image's true origins, the History Channel issued a statement saying that they are investigating the issue and promised that they will be "transparent in our findings."
And so, when the dust finally settles over the soon-to-be infamous special, rather than proving what happened to Amelia Earhart, it may actually serve as a lesson in how well-meaning researchers can sometimes make monumental mistakes by jumping to conclusions and then working backwards trying to prove them.
Source: The Guardian