In Search of… the Bermuda Triangle

I’ll start this post with a reminder that I’m not here to systematically debunk these episodes.  I think we’ll find most/all of these episodes have been thoroughly debunked elsewhere.

They are artifacts of my childhood.  I am simply commenting on them rather superficially based on my much older, more skeptical view. Nor am I doing a lot of research on them. Again, this has been thoroughly done by others.

So, on to the episode.

It’s the Bermuda Triangle!  Tell me you haven’t seen countless hours and tales about the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle?  Surely, In Search of… will touch them all!

No.  More than anything else, this surprised me.  They barely touched on the legends, concentrating on just four pieces of the mystery.

The most startling thing about this episode was at the beginning.  Nimoy in his opening narrative points out that another TV program partly underwritten by the National Science Foundation recently reviewed the Bermuda Triangle mystery and determined that there was no mystery to solve.  I thought this was a remarkably candid opening statement.  “Yep, there’s actually no mystery here.”

Where were they going to go from a start that says there’s nothing to investigate?

In a way, I was impressed at the honesty of that statement.  My being impressed didn’t last long.

Where would they go?  Down the path on anecdotal “evidence”…  or, in other words, stories.

Here’s their case, in a nutshell

  • In one of the busiest air and sea lanes in the world, planes and ships have “disappeared”
  • On a dark night, a decade before the show was made, a Coast Guard ship, on a clear night, saw a “line” across the radar screen that looked like land.  When they encountered it, it was a sort of grey wall (like fog?) in front of them.  They passed through it, but had irritated throats and slight difficulty breathing.  Also, they had a fairly common situation where steam power dropped a bit.
  • An experienced pilot, loaned his plane out to some friends (one of whom was an experienced pilot) and, in goodweather conditions, the plane lost contact and disappeared.
    • Oh, did I say, “disappeared?”  No, they did.  What was the explanation of this “disappearance?”  Crash investigators, examining the wreckage concluded that some force ripped the wing off in flight.  Wreckage?  They had wreckage of a plane the disappeared?  Hmmmm, doesn’t sound too “disappeared” to me.
  • A late night radio DJ holding a talk program about the Bermuda Triangle received an odd phone call from someone saying, “There is one of you on the program who will understand what I am going to say. In every living thing on this planet has an aura. The area that you are discussing now is the aura of this planet. It is the communicative channel through which the Millionth Council governs this planet. Anyone going into the area when the communicative channel opens… they will not disappear, but they are in the timeless void. They are all perfectly alive and well. It is the only area through which the council can communicate with this planet.”
  • Flight 19.  This is the one you’ve all heard about.  The famous Navy training flight that disappeared in 1945.  (So famous, they appeared coming out of the space craft in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.)  You’ve all heard the story, the radio transcripts of the confused pilot, etc…  None of that was presented here!  They simply mentioned that the flight had gone missing without a trace.  Why not all the other compelling narrative?  Could it be that wasn’t invented till after this program?

Here’s the part that left me really annoyed at the end of this episode.

As I alluded to earlier, Nimoy indicated that the National Science Foundation says there’s nothing to investigate.

Let me expound upon that a bit.  Statistically speaking, looking at the insurance loss records, adjusted for the incredible number of ships and planes in that particular area, the number of sunk and missing planes and ships simply isn’t statistically different from anywhere else at sea.  There is no mystery.  If you have lots of ships and planes, you have more ship and plane accidents.  Period.

What annoyed me was, after presenting the very weak anecdotal evidence, Nimoy concludes by going after the National Science Foundation, stating,  after listening to the stories “…to say that no investigation is necessary destroys the rationale for any scientific investigation.”

No, sir.  Scientific investigation is warranted only to the degree indicated by the evidence available.  First step:  Determine if there is anything to actually be investigated.  In this case, examination of the records concludes that the notion there is an abnormal number of losses in the area is false.

Nimoy’s closing remark was an insidious comment that makes it sound like the National Science Foundation is “at fault” for not having appropriate scientific curiosity or carrying out proper investigations,  and casting In Search of… and the “researchers” depicted in this episode as better scientific investigators.

No wonder this country has so many anti-intellectual, science deniers and crackpots!

Only 140 episodes left to go.  Next time, it’s Bigfoot!

In Search of… the Bermuda  Triangle originally aired on April 27, 1977.

 

 

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