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An unusual number of ships and planes are said to have disappeared without a trace in the area called the Bermuda Triangle. This has caused some people to claim supernatural causes for these mysterious disappearances.

Are there more ships and planes disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle than in other regions, or is that just an inaccurate perception?

If there are more ships and planes lost there, are there natural explanations for that?

  • 1
    If I'm remembering correctly, one of Carl Sagan's episodes of Cosmos addressed the Bermuda Triangle -- he overlapped a variety of claims of where this triangular area resides, and the resulting shape looked nothing at all like a triangle. – Randolf Richardson Aug 29 '11 at 3:37
  • I'm fairly sure, way back in the day before GPS, there was an increased incidence which was generally attributed (by non conspiracy types) to how similar some of the islands were aligned there vs other nearby areas. – PoloHoleSet Nov 27 '18 at 18:19
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According to the US Coast guard, the losses experienced in the triangle are no greater than in any other area of ocean:

[the triangle] is noted for an apparent high incidence of unexplained losses of ship, small boats, and aircraft.

The Coast Guard does not recognize the existence of the so-called Bermuda Triangle as a geographic area of specific hazard to ships or planes. In a review of many aircraft and vessel losses in the area over the years, there has been nothing discovered that would indicate that casualties were the result of anything other than physical causes. No extraordinary factors have ever been identified.

There are unusual natural factors in the Bermuda Triangle, but they are known and exist similarly in various other locations worldwide (source):

A significant factor with regard to missing vessels in the Bermuda Triangle is a strong ocean current called the Gulf Stream. It is extremely swift and turbulent and can quickly erase evidence of a disaster...the topography of the ocean floor varies from extensive shoals around the islands to some of the deepest marine trenches in the world. With the interaction of the strong currents over the many reefs the topography of the ocean bottom is in a state of flux and the development of new navigational hazards can sometimes be swift.

With regards to the perpetuation of the "mystery", Skepdic concludes:

In short, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery by a kind of communal reinforcement among uncritical authors and a willing mass media to uncritically pass on the speculation that something mysterious is going on in the Atlantic.

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    The Bermuda Triangle is a prime example of confirmation bias. When someone hears of a shipwreck or disappearance outside of the Bermuda Triangle it doesn't register; when they hear of such a case within the triangle their first thought is, "Oooh! The Bermuda Triangle - that place is cursed." – Scott Mitchell Feb 28 '11 at 18:29
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    This is exactly what happens with "Pit Bull" stories. No one notices when a German Sheppard or a Chihuahua bites someone, but if it's a "Pit Bull" (or any dog that resembles the APBT), Then it's sensational news. – TecBrat Apr 12 '16 at 10:51
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There is not an unusual amount of disappearances relative to the size of the area and the amount of traffic that passes through that region.

From Skepdic.com:

The number of wrecks in this area is not extraordinary, given its size, location and the amount of traffic it receives. Many of the ships and planes that have been identified as having disappeared mysteriously in the Bermuda Triangle were not in the Bermuda Triangle at all. Investigations to date have not produced scientific evidence of any unusual phenomena involved in the disappearances. Thus, any explanation, including so-called scientific ones in terms of methane gas being released from the ocean floor, magnetic disturbances, etc., are not needed. The real mystery is how the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery at all.

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I came across this article a while ago about methane gas bubbles. Of course this doesn't address the issue of how common these are outside the Bermuda Triangle, so it doesn't preclude the influence of confirmation bias on our perception of the area.

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    What's happened here is probably just that somebody has framed a general phenomenon in a Bermuda Triangle setting in order to get research grants. While I don't have the expertise to judge the plausibility of the report, the headline "Bermuda Triangle mystery solved?" relies on the faulty premise that there is an actual Bermuda triangle mystery. – David Hedlund May 20 '11 at 7:16
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    The original book, the one by Charles Berlitz, was found to be full of inaccuracies. Ships listed as "sunk" had merely been renamed and sold, Sinkings outside the "triangle" were listed as having been inside... That sort of thing. – M. Werner May 27 '11 at 14:37
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    @David the title of the paper referenced in the OP (not the press release) is "Can a single bubble sink a ship?" and focuses on the hazard of methane bubbles in the North sea: it was not the researchers who framed it in the context of the Bermuda triangle, it was the journalist. – David LeBauer Sep 3 '11 at 3:08

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