Two years ago, a researcher unearthed a photograph that suggested Amelia Earhart survived a crash landing and was in the custody of the Japanese after her plane disappeared.

A documentary television program examined this theory and raised quite a stir, until an amateur blogger found that the sepia-toned photograph appeared in a book that was published two years before the famed pilot disappeared.

The truth is, we have no idea what happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. They vanished somewhere in the Pacific Ocean in 1937, fueling decades of speculation. Theories range from a fatal crash to an island castaway fate to capture by the Japanese in the years leading up to World War II.

Now, a researcher with a proven record and the backing of National Geographic is the latest to seek an answer. Deep sea explorer Robert Ballard, a retired U.S. Navy officer who located the sunken Titanic wreckage in 1985, is leading a new push to find out just what happened to Earhart.

Ballard and a National Geographic expedition are searching for Earhart’s plane near a Pacific Ocean atoll that’s part of the Phoenix Islands. They will use remotely operated underwater vehicles while an archaeological team will investigate a potential Earhart campsite with search dogs and DNA sampling.

Next month, Ballard might appear in Atchison, Kansas, to present information on his findings. National Geographic will broadcast a program on the search in October.

Ballard’s work is of no small concern in Atchison, where Earhart was born and her legacy lives on in a museum and a community that honors her memory. Her story, a combination of pioneering spirit and bitter tragedy, drives interest from seasoned explorers like Ballard and the rest of us who just like an enduring mystery.

In contemplating this story, and its possible final chapter, it might be worth considering a person who is the polar opposite a heroic figure like Earhart.

The death of Jeffrey Epstein, a man accused of appalling crimes, led to speculation that he was killed behind bars in order to silence him and protect powerful accomplices. A medical examiner’s finding of suicide will do little to quell the conspiracy talk in some circles.

Who knows? Everyone loves a conspiracy, but the Internet can give rise to voices that trade in wild speculation instead of fact or, short of that, a reasonable hypothesis.

Sometimes, rich and privileged individuals refuse to pay the price for terrible crimes. Sometimes, secret government installations test human inventions and not alien craft. Sometimes, planes simply run out of fuel and those on board die in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

The most simple explanation is often, in the end, the most credible.