Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle and ABC Evening News

In the category of “What Isn’t News,” we have the ABC Evening News on Sunday night (February 9) telling us that scientists have come up with a solution for the Bermuda Triangle. Really? I thought it had been explained more than thirty-five years ago, and in fact, on this very blog several years ago I offered an explanation that I thought was reasonable.

Here’s the deal. Back in the mid-1970s, when I was much younger and believed that those writing books and magazine articles actually engaged in original research and first-hand reporting, I thought there was something mysterious about the Bermuda Triangle. One day, in the local bookstore, I saw a paperback copy of Lawrence David Kusche’s book, The Bermuda Triangle – Solved (copyright 1975). I bought one because I believed that if I was to argue successfully against the Skeptics, I should know what they had to say.

Kusche convinced me that he had solved the mystery. His book, unlike so many others, didn’t rely on what others had reported. He went to the original source material. He found the original insurance papers, the original investigations and the original newspaper articles. He named names and sources so that those of us who followed wouldn’t have to sort through piles of irrelevant material, but could see, for ourselves, exactly what was going on and why Kusche was right when so many others were wrong.

I have found that too often others writing on a topic will look at what the other writers have said, but do not search the original sources to verify the information. Case in point? The disappearance of Oliver Lerch from South Bend, Indiana. Morris K. Jessup, in his book, The Case for the UFO, told us that the facts of the Lerch disappearance were written down at the police department for anyone who cared to look.

Well, I cared to look, and the South Bend police told me that their records didn’t go back into the 1880s. There had been a fire in the 1920s that destroyed most of them. Jessup was wrong about this and I don’t know where he got his information but it was repeated in several other books.

Oh, I checked with the newspapers and searched for other documentation, but none ever surfaced to prove the case. In fact, the available documentation showed that nothing like it had ever happened in the South Bend area. The Lerch story was a hoax but it had been reported as fact by those others who apparently didn’t care to look.

And this is the situation with the Bermuda Triangle. Each mistake was copied by the next writer until it seemed that something truly mysterious was happening in the Bermuda Triangle. Kusche, on the other hand, checked the original sources and offered plausible and well researched explanations for some of the most mysterious of the disappearances. In one incredible case, the ship hadn’t disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. It had been lost in the Pacific Ocean.

And now ABC News tells us they have the solution. It is bad weather in the area. Well, of course, that played a role in many the disasters, but the real solution is all those others who didn’t bother to do any original research. It is those others who didn’t look at weather records and didn’t look at official reports and didn’t bother with the insurance papers. That was the source of the mystery and that is what supplied the solution.

I just thought it was strange that in a news broadcast that has, what, twenty-two minutes to give us the important information of the day, would waste time telling us something we’d known since the middle of the 1970s.

I wonder if they heard about the Internet? That might have told them something about the case that would have suggested that this wasn’t news. 


Kurt Peters said...

...my sources tell me that ABC News is simply trying to leverage their 'Climate Change - Global Warming' orthodoxy (because of this very cool ice-locked winter) by using any means possible; in this case: schlockology.

cda said...

I too read Lawrence Kusche's book and found it a useful antidote to Charles Berlitz's book written shortly before.

It was Berlitz, of course, who later teamed up with Bill Moore over two (in)famous books, one about the Philadelphia Experiment and the other about a certain er, um, other incident.

Concerning Kusche, he also did another book on the case of Flight 19 (one of the Bermuda Triangle favorites), but here he seems to have dropped a slight clanger. He states that an author in a 1962 article made two sensational sounding but false statements which were copied by later writers on the BT. In fact both these alleged statements had appeared long before 1962, in the last chapter of Donald Keyhoe's FLYING SAUCER CONSPIRACY, published in late 1955. This chapter is entitled "The Vanishing Planes". Keyhoe wanted to persuade readers that the 5 planes of Flight 19 had been gobbled up by a gigantic mothership from outer space.

Question is: where did Keyhoe get the quotes from? A rumor mill somewhere?

Douglas Westfall said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lance said...

Hi Douglas,

Wikipedia claims that there is no positive ID on the raised plane and that other planes found were specifically not from Flight 19.

I realize that this is from Wiki but can you clarify the issues in this fascinating case?



KRandle said...

Douglas -

While I would certainly welcome finding of any of Flight 19, I have seen nothing to suggest that they have been found. Can you supply some more information about this?

cda said...

There definitely was a report that the 5 planes had been found on the ocean floor in May 1991. However it was then discovered that the serial numbers were wrong and that the planes were from earlier flights, ditched by trainee pilots.

I have heard nothing since.

Lance said...

Yeah, several other news stories say that the recovered plane was not positively identified. I see a few threads where Westfall was questioned as we did above but he never seems to get around to answering.


KRandle said...

All -

I took down the comment from Douglas about the recovery of part of Flight 19 because it was not backed up with any fact, there was no response to our questions and it seemed to be little more than an ad for his books and his company.

Jack Brewer said...

Nice recent posts, KR. Thank you.

Relevant points to consider about Berlitz, cda. Thanks.

Sarge said...

I remember the report a few years back of the five planes found together. The reporter at the time said that the planes were not Flight 19 but ditched training flights. Which still left the question of why five different aircraft, all ditched on different dates over a few years time, all ended up on the bottom so close together.

alanborky said...

KR until I saw this item mentioned on The Anomalist I'd forgotten there was a Bermuda Triangle *Myst'ry*.

Doesn't anyone else find it mysterious them five planes at the bottom o' the sea were so close t'gether ev'ryone initially assumed it was Flight 19?

An' if five separate plane accidents could touch down on the same spot why hasn't Flight 19 been found in similiar sea floor arrangement?

Some'll reflex oh but the area's huge they still might but that's me whole point what're the odds o' five separate plane accidents all comin' down in the same place?

[Wonder if anyone's bothered t'check out that spot via these gravity etc measurin' satellites].

If there isn't a Bermuda Triangle could there be a Bermuda Pimple?

MEC said...

Sorry Mr. Randle but in this case you make too much from applying Sturgeons Law. Yes you are right, 90% of most collected data will be bullshit. But this doesn't allow you to be glib about the critical cases nor ignore the valid rebuttals of the "Solved" book.

ALL theories require evidence, even mundane ones and often what is in the solved book is just as sloppy as the work it rebukes. A case in point, he will use a storms hundreds of miles away from the contact lost point as "evidence".

Is the triangle a death trap? No. Has there been a few extremely anomalous disappearances and does the region still have such events even in this day and age of crash/sinking activate emergency transponders. Yes.

The data is there when one bothers to do the difficult legwork.

I am not sure if you are an ocean/sailing kind of guy or not but the reality is that a region does not gain an odd reputation unless there something not right. I grew up next to an incredibly dangerous stretch of water. Small planes and boats drop like flies and in earlier days, even larger shipping went down. The difference is there is not a single rumor about anything strange happening here. Why? Because "normal" sinkings and crashes...even those that go unsolved for years...have no veneer of "wrong" to them. There is no local talk for even sensationalistic news people to latch on to.

The bottom line is that between the sensationalist and the dismissive, there is an anomaly of some kind and some good writers have made careful observations of the odd from the actual region.

It would be a shame to dismiss them for the sake of one man's work who couldn't be bothered to leave his own office most of time.

Lance said...

Where can one find the rebuttals to the BT Solved book?



ww_blanka said...

Dear Mr Randle,

I advise you to read Gian Quasar's book regarding the phenomenon, It is a book with SOLID research behind it, in comparison to Kusche's.

It smashes the BT: Solved book to pieces, a book that by the way doesn't solve anything and even contains a case which seem to be entirely made up.

Have a nice Valentine's Day :)

ww_blanka said...

PS. If you don't have time for the book - I can understand this as only the first 100 pages is pure data of missing ships/planes - you can listen to a long two part interview with him here: http://www.binnallofamerica.com/boaa12.8.8.html

KRandle said...

ww_ blanca -

Have to disagree about the SOLID research. He mentions one disappearance that was an aircraft accident and the only part of the mystery was they happened to be in the Bermuda Triangle. That had nothing to do with the accident.

MEC said...

One? I don't doubt you found an error but one in a book that covers that many cases using a lot of official docs? If you had said ten or fifteen, sure that's problematical or even if the said case was pivotal to some premise of the book. But one mistake ini ONE case is all we need to invalidate an entire book?

Surely we can find one research mistake in a lot of peoples' otherwise excellent work, can't we? Do we invalidate everyone who fails this draconian standard?

KRandle said...


Understand your point but we're not talking about a typo or wrong date. We're talking about an event that was explained more than 30 years ago with that information circulated throughout the literature. This is indicative of a systemic problem and that is lack of original research. Had this tale been chased to the end, then it would have been removed from the list. This told me something about the research that is important... and that it is still there, tells me more.