The show starts with Lynn Picknett defining the Bermuda Triangle, while an unnaturally enthusiastic Andrew Gough tells is that (a) the triangle’s name is only 50 years old (Vincent Gaddis named it in 1964) and (b) it has been killing for “hundreds” of years before that. (Later in the show, he will restate the same sentence in almost the same words while upgrading the killing to “thousands” of years. I wonder how many takes they make their talking heads record for each one-liner.) As Larry Kusche determined all the way back in 1975’s The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved, there is no statistical evidence that this stretch of water is any more dangerous than any other comparable stretch with the same level of traffic. Lloyd’s of London and the U.S. Coast Guard both confirmed the same findings. Indeed, beyond this many of the cases attributed to the Bermuda Triangle either never happened or didn’t happen in the triangle. Charles Berlitz, the most famous Bermuda Triangle myth-maker, actually attributed at least one Pacific ocean incident to the Triangle by changing the name of the ocean involved.
The show rehearses the familiar story of the Flight 19 disappearance, in which five military planes disappeared. The show acknowledges that real-world history tells us that the planes got lost, ran out of fuel, and crashed. However, the narrator questions whether this could possibly be true, and we hear claims—first made in 1950!—that the disappearance was supernatural in nature. Naturally we hear the ridiculous claim that missing aircraft are being teleported to “another dimension” or a “parallel universe.” This does not explain the wreckage of various ships and planes at the bottom of the Atlantic, wreckage the show will make much hay out of later.
In the second segment, we talk Atlantis. Picknett talks about wizards from Atlantis summoning ships and planes beneath the waves, but she admits that this is “melodramatic.” Andrew Gough and Tony McMahon suggest that methane gas bubbles erupt from the ocean and cause ships and planes to explode. Gough is never happier than when he is talking about other people dying gruesomely. The narrator doesn’t like this, so we switch to the Bimini Road, a natural formation that resembles a wall. Andrew Gough calls it “proof of Atlantis” and the show brings on Ancient Aliens blabbermouth David Childress to sit in a boat above the Bimini Road to hunt for Atlantis. He apparently charges extra to dive, so he just sits there. After the show calls Childress a “rogue archaeologist”—he holds no credentials in archaeology—Childress compares the natural formation to the Andean architecture of Sacsayhuaman.
McMahon claims that in the center of Atlantis stood a pyramid “on top of which was a magnetic crystal that powered that society.” He alleges that the crystal “drew in cosmic forces” that destroyed Atlantis. This claim does not appear in Plato, nor any source prior to the late twentieth century. It bears a resemblance to Edgar Cayce’s prophecies, but this version is closest to New Age “psychic” Frank Alper’s Exploring Atlantis from 1982. He claimed Atlantis was a crystal-obsessed culture of space aliens centered on an electricity-generating crystal pyramid. The origin point, so far as I know, was a 1970 hoax by neuropath Ray Brown, who claimed to have found a 120-foot crystal pyramid and a ruined city in the Bahamas. Childress adds that pyramids and obelisks provided power for “airships.” He asserts that the American military has discovered Atlantis and “they know about these pyramids” and are currently studying pyramids in the Bermuda Triangle. He provides no evidence of this, but the narrator restates Childress’s claims a second time for no particular reason. This segment finally merges Forbidden History with Ancient Aliens and closes the loop on the unity of fringe history.
After another break, we move on to aliens. Why? Because Frank Alper thought aliens lived in Atlantis, I suppose. Childress, who started his career as a New Ager speculating about Theosophy and its offshoots, now claims that the U.S. military is involved in creating and/or monitoring UFOs and phantom underwater lights, recapping claims he’s been making on Ancient Aliens for a decade, specifically in the episode “Underwater Worlds,” which this episode mimics. Speculating about the Navy’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in the Bahamas, the show suggests that many Bermuda Triangle anomalies can be attributed to its research and weapons testing. The obvious conclusion would be that military testing is responsible for civilians seeing various UFO-type objects, but the show reverses the obvious order of events to suggest that the Navy is investigating alien technology. Lynn Picknett outright claims UFOs are “attracted” the military. She seems quite excited by that, and I suppose that the aliens and Picknett share a uniform fetish.
In the next segment, Picknett again repeats that aliens are “attracted” to the military, and Gough arrives to bring in Navy UFO videos first made public by To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science in 2017. Picknett calls the objects seen in them “something outside our comprehension,” though they have been plausibly explained by skeptics many times over. Picknett claims that she saw a light in the sky one time that split into five lights, which suggested to her that the “phenomenon” isn’t simply alien spacecraft. More discussion follows of UFOs being “attracted” to “Earth energy.” Since they are also “attracted” to the military, this creates a very confusing conclusion using the transitive property.
After this, the show discusses the history of Bermuda, including various extreme weather events and the shipwrecks that resulted, particularly so-called “rogue waves.” It is unclear how bad weather in Bermuda can create an entire triangle stretching to Puerto Rico, but the show doesn’t care about that as long as there is something scary and dangerous to talk about. Indeed, in this segment the show and its talking heads happily elide “Bermuda” and the “Bermuda Triangle” with indiscriminate glee.
In the next segment, McMahon lies about the Bermuda Triangle having disproportionate numbers of accidents and wrecks. It does not, as any reputable source can tell you. The segment then discusses how the U.S. military used Bermuda to spy on the Soviets during the Cold War. So what? This has nothing to do with the Bermuda Triangle, but it does take up time. One of the talking heads, a marine anthropologist, suggests that the military encouraged Bermuda Triangle myths to cover up their activities. Childress then reverses this claim and adds that he thinks that the Navy is using antigravity technology to create flying submarines in the Bermuda Triangle.
After lying about Atlantis and the Bermuda triangle for the full hour, Gough at last claims that he does not actually believe that the Bermuda Triangle is supernatural. Nice of you to let us know now, show. The narrator rejects this and returns to the idea that the Triangle is powered by crystals from Atlantis. Lynn Picknett just calls it “weird.” How is Andrew Gough the only reasonable one?
So, is the Bermuda Triangle supernatural or just a story? “Perhaps we will never know,” the narrator says, calling the truth about the Triangle “unknowable,” even though the facts have been available for nearly half a century. It is, however, a good example of the cynical deployment of the postmodern rejection of truth in service of money.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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