MOS: The Marketing of the Bermuda Triangle

Let’s clear up things that my childhood led me to believe would be a much bigger problem than they turned out to be.

Today’s Moment of Science… we’re actually all lost in the Bermuda Triangle right now, man.

The Bermuda Triangle isn’t a formally recognized area, but a loosely defined bit of ocean connected by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the tip of Florida (some place this third point as far north as Chesapeake Bay). The tale I remember as a little girl went that some disturbance caused by magnets or ghosts or Piers Morgan’s gaping asshole caused shipwrecks and plane crashes. The numbers could sound troubling; reportedly fifty ships and twenty planes have gone down in the area.

Instead of letting the History Channel’s “I’m not saying it was aliens but it was definitely aliens” guy take the lead on this one, let’s have a look at where this all started. Not hundreds of years ago with a long storied history of perilous travel, but… the 1960s?!

In 1964, an article was written for the now-defunct Argosy magazine called The Deadly Bermuda Triangle. Author Vincent Gaddis coined the term, claiming it was part of a pattern of strange events in the area, and went on to spin the subject into a book. That turned into a cottage industry of writers churning out books about this mysteriously deadly bit of our planet.

It seems that even minor fact checking was enough for any ‘mystery’ about the area to fall apart though.

By 1975, pilot and research librarian Larry Kusche had published ‘The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved.’ The Bermuda Triangle was, at best, a manufactured bit of intrigue. Of course vessels had been lost in the area. However, ships go missing everywhere, and there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about this area’s history with wrecks.

Furthermore, Kusche’s research suggested that important details in some books had been exaggerated, falsified, or omitted. The story of a ship’s disappearance is more believable as the fabric of supernatural fuckery if you neglect to tell folks it happened during a major storm.

Every so often there are still new articles offering a ‘fresh’ explanation for the Bermuda Triangle. To be fair, there are still some incidents from the area for which we lack a solid explanation. But when someone tells you they’ve got a unifying theory for all of them, that’s not science, that’s a shitty Aquaman script.

This has been your Moment of Science, wrapping up here because as much as we could go through and explain why it’s not magnets or ghosts, I hope you’ll just take my word that it’s also not Piers Morgan’s gaping asshole.

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MOS: The Marketing of the Bermuda Triangle