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.