When I talk about ‘explanation’, I don’t mean either the Debunker’s ‘explain away’ or the True Believers’ ‘explain why-the-aliens-are-here and how-their-craft-are-powered’. Neither of these is really explaining the phenomena. For a start, both believe that there is a single explanation: one thinks that all sightings are either misidentifications of ordinary things in the sky or hoaxes, while the other believes that once the misidentifications and hoaxes are eliminated, we are dealing with nuts-and-bolts spacecraft and nothing else. I instinctively mistrust any single explanation for diverse phenomena and can do no better than quote Lawrence Kusche’s wise words on the supposed mystery of the Bermuda Triangle:
No theory so far proposed has been able to account satisfactorily for all or even most of the incidents. It has been suggested that to solve the mystery once and for all the area should be closed for a time to allow the government to send in remote-controlled vessels with monitoring equipment that would detect unusual phenomena. It has also been suggested that clairvoyants be called in to give their impressions of forces at work.
Such measures are not necessary.
My research, which began as an attempt to find out as much information as possible about the Bermuda Triangle, had an unexpected result. After examining all the evidence I have reached the following conclusion: There is no theory that solves the mystery. It is no more logical to try to find a common cause for all the disappearances in the Triangle than, for example, to try to find one cause for all automobile accidents in Arizona. By abandoning the search for an overall theory and investigating each incident independently, the mystery began to unravel…
…The Legend of the Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured mystery. It began because of careless research and was elaborated upon and perpetuated by writers who either purposely or unknowingly made use of misconceptions, faulty reasoning, and sensationalism. It was repeated so many times that it began to take on the aura of truth.
These words could be applied to almost any investigation into ‘mysterious phenomena’ and which have largely gone unheeded, not least by those who write about the Bermuda Triangle. Like any diligent and honest researcher, with no axe to grind other than seeking what lay behind the phenomena, Kusche assembled all the evidence he could and assessed each piece on its own merits. By putting each case into its context, he was able to see that the search for a single, overarching explanation was misguided. He therefore abandoned the search and collated his findings in a paperback that made no impact on those writers who continue to make a mystery of (and profit from) the Bermuda Triangle.
Here, I am making a broad division into True Believers, Debunkers and Psycho-Socialists; each group tends to lump the other two together as ‘the enemy’ (or, when they are being more charitable, ‘the misguided’). I will state now that I don’t regard myself as belonging to any of the camps and although I would say that I tend to lean towards psycho-social explanations, I would secretly love the True Believers to be right (at least, sometimes). Within each of these broad groups, there is also a huge variety of approach and belief, which I can’t do justice to in just a few web pages.
A word of warning. I’m not going to try to explain UFOs myself. You won’t find the Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews ® Theory of Unidentified Flying Objects™ here. I’m quite content to say that I don’t know, that the phenomena don’t admit of a single explanation and that I would be foolish to make a definitive statement about something that is quite obviously still a puzzle.
Last updated 17 March 2006