Studies in Pop Culture

Pop culture, from my point of view.

Natalee Holloway’s Remains Discovered in Dive Photo?

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ABC News is reporting that a Pennsylvania couple claims they think they’ve found the remains of Natalee Holloway. They were snorkeling off the coast of Aruba, and took some underwater pictures, and one of them has something in it that vaguely resembles a human form.

Aruban Authorities, however, have yet to receive formal notice from the FBI about the photo, according to Ann Angela, spokeswoman for the Aruban prosecutor’s office.

Angela said if the couple can provide “solid information,” about the location where the photo was taken, Aruban authorities could send a dive team to investigate. Anything found would be sent to the Dutch Forensic Institute in The Hague.

Angela said it was not uncommon for human remains to be found off the coast and cautioned that even if a body was discovered it may not be Holloway. Holloway went missing in May 2005 during a high school graduation trip to Aruba. Her disappearance became an international cause célèbre.

I think there are two important things to consider here:

  •  One, if this was really a human body, how did the couple not notice this at the time? Things in pictures can look very different than what they actually depict, since they are 2D, and lights and shadows can make things look different. This is called matrixing. Our brains natuarally try to see order in chaos. Think about the “Face on Mars,” or how we can see shapes in couds, or how some people see the face of Jesus in grilled cheese. So is this coral? or really a dead body?
  • Secondly… “Angela said it was not uncommon for human remains to be found off the cost and cautioned that even if a body was discovered it may not be Holloway.” Exactly how many people die in Aruba each year that it makes finding human remains “not uncommon?”

For the record, I’m goofing on the Aruban authorities in this piece, not the fact that an innocent girl was murdered and never found justice. I think the fact that an Aruban official will actually go on record saying what you read here is somewhat disturbing and deserving of ridicule.

Natalee Holloway possible remains

Coral? Natalee's remains? Or the dead body of one of the apparently hundreds of people who die in Aruba each year who are never found? You be the judge.

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Written by Jason Stroming

March 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm

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