The Bermuda Triangle
James Randi --- Wizard ((no email))
Tue, 8 Nov 1994 10:58:00 -0500
Here in Florida (and, I suspect in other areas of the USA) there is a
"Discovery Channel" obtainable via cable. Often, they present interesting
and valid programs; all too frequently their time is consumed in endless
discussions of fighting aircraft, a subject of limited interest, I would
think. And, from timne to time, they resurrect old "In Search Of..." shows
featuring that Intellectual Giant, Leonard Nimoy. Other sensationalist
"science" shows creep in, and the "discovery" seems to be that the hoi
polloi demands a certain percentage of crap along with the real stuff.
Recently, I sat through a "Secrets of the Deep" episode that dealt with the
valiant efforts of Drs. David Zink and Manson Valentine to prove that
Atlantis was once located off the shores of Bimini. It is claimed that
there is a man-made "road" paralleling the shore, a remnant of the legendary
lost continent. This notion arises from the presence of formations of
"beach rock" (a substance consisting of impacted sedimentary material that
fractures naturally into square or rectangular "blocks") offshore, which
only proves that there is a quite normal and expected quantity of beach rock
there. As you will see from my book "Flim-Flam!" there is much more of it
off the coast of Australia, and I find it difficult to believe that Atlantis
was that extensive.
Now, no proper scientist goes into a project with a conclusion in hand,
intending to find evidence to support it. I'm the first to admit that most
scientists are not always "proper" in this respect, but I know of NO
parapsychologist or other sort of "fringe" scientist who has ever approached
science in any other manner. The TV program referred to Z&V seeking "the
hoped-for conclusion"; a better and sounder approach would have been to
examine the formations to discover how they got there.
This program was very, purposefully, deceptive. Drawings were shown that
were supposed to show the shape and layout of the formations; those drawings
were fictitious. The script often referred to "the road" and to "megalithic
blocks" and even asserted that "most skeptics [are] firmly opposed to
investigation" of the phenomenon. There were full-color artists' renditions
of Atlantis which implied that they were based upon the Bimini evidence.
None of that is true.
The conclusion of the program was as muddy as the Bimini waters after Zink
had thrashed around there trying to prove his ephemeral theory. Well, let
me clear that up. The research has been done, and the conclusion is that
there is NO road off Bimini, no remnants of an ancient civilization, no
trace of any sort that would support belief in Atlantis in that location.
Zink will spend all the rest of his life trying to catch this unicorn, and
one must, in a way, admire him for persisting in his Man-of-La-Mancha quest,
but also pity him because he cannot see that writing off the spurious Bimini
notion is a positive step forward in determining where, if anywhere, the
lost Atlantis might have been.
Not to my surprise, the program informed us that the search was funded by
the Gaea Foundation, a group dedicated to rather silly pursuits.
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