For those of us that enjoy getting the gears in our heads spinning just a bit faster, there’s nothing quite like a good mystery. Sometimes though, the lore associated with a really juicy and longstanding mystery can overwhelm the evidence. This results in the popular belief that these quandaries remain outstanding long after reasonable minds would have called the case closed. Of course, the media plays a pretty significant role in the drive to keep these mysteries alive — in part by publishing, on a regular basis, articles that ignore reasonable conclusions, and then exacerbating the issue by running stories touting poorly vetted possible conclusions as though they’re confirmed facts.

So, with so much contradictory information floating around regarding many of these popular mysteries, it seemed like a good idea to revisit a few and discuss some of the recent revelations that have shed new light on them. Because as much fun as it is to read about a mystery, I’d always prefer reading about a conclusion.

Amelia Earhart probably made it to Nikumaroro Island before dying

(WikiMedia Commons)

In 1940, bones were found on Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific which, based on Earhart’s last known location and trajectory, seemed like they could have been hers. Alongside the bones, people found a woman’s shoe, a box made to hold a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant (for use in navigation) from around 1918, and a bottle of Benedictine -Earhart’s preferred herbal liquor. Analysis of the bones at the time, however, seemed to dash those hopes. A physician named D.W. Hoodless studied the bones and claimed with high certainty that they belonged to a man and not to the famed female aviator.

The bones were the subject of study and debate throughout 1940 and into 1941, but in July of that year Dr. D.W. Hoodless sent one final telegram stating that he would take charge of the bones for further study; and then all correspondence, and mention of the bones, ceases until in 1999 The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) tried to find them again. Thus far they’ve met with no success. They were, however, able to use recorded measurements of the bones to assess the likelihood that they may have belonged to Earhart.

“This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99% of individuals in a large reference sample,” the study noted. “This strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart.”

The Bermuda Triangle was pretty much made up by two guys

Flight 19 disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle on December 5, 1945. (WikiMedia Commons)

In 1950, the Associated Press published an article written by Edward Van Winkle Jones that was among the first to credit geography for a string of disappearances in the region. He recounted the loss of Flight 19 (a group of five U.S. Navy torpedo bombers that disappeared without a trace somewhere in the triangle on Dec. 5, 1945), as well as two commercial flights that had vanished in the subsequent years, accounting for a total of 135 people he described as being “swallowed without a trace.” That article encouraged another writer by the name of M.K. Jessup to write a book in 1955 that attributed those disappearances, as well as many others, to the presence of UFOs in the Bermuda Triangle. The concept continued to grow from there. By the 1970s, the idea that something was up with the Bermuda Triangle was a commonly accepted belief throughout much of the United States.