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Bridgewater Triangle

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Paranormal
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Fails from the crypt

The Bridgewater Triangle is the name given to a preposterous piece of post-1970s quack folklore modeled after the debunked Bermuda Triangle.

Where is the Bridgewater Triangle?[edit]

The Bridgewater Triangle describes an approximately 200 square mile area of southeastern Massachusetts. The "triangle" is centered on the Hockomock Swamp, an approximately 6,000 acre wetland in the towns of Easton, Raynham, Taunton, West Bridgewater and Bridgewater, Massachusetts.[1]

What evil lurks within its bounds?[edit]

The pseudo-legend of the Bridgewater Triangle holds that an astonishing carnival of paranormal events have occurred within its bounds for centuries, including Bigfoot sightings, cattle mutilations, giant pterodactyl-like "thunderbirds," UFOs, black helicopters, giant snakes, a dog with red glowing eyes that eats ponies, giant turtles, and ghosts.[2] These claims were re-popularized in 2000 by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman in his book Mysterious America and a more tongue-in-cheek Boston Globe article by Ross Muscato in 2005.[3]

How did all this nonsense start?[edit]

The phrase "Bridgewater Triangle" did not exist until the 1970s, when local reporters began collecting up odd bits of local folklore to capitalize on the media hype over several popular books about the Bermuda Triangle (or "Devil's Triangle"). The genesis for the "Bridgewater Triangle" meme was a mid-1970s Brockton Enterprise newspaper story which quoted a Norton, Massachusetts policeman who claimed in 1971 to have seen a gigantic bird fly over Winter Street in the nearby town of Mansfield.

Why does this kook stuff still waft and emanate?[edit]

From the 1970s until today, newspaper reporters and magazine freelancers have repeatedly dredged the same old clippings files and tired anecdotes about the "triangle" on slow news days. These articles form the bulk of the laughably unskeptical Wikipedia entryWikipedia's W.svg on the "mystery."

A teaching moment about blatant hokum, media laziness and opportunism[edit]

The arithmetically astute will note that the Hockomock Swamp is 10 square miles (6,000 acres) and 10 square miles is just 5 percent of the entire 200 square miles in the "Bridgewater Triangle." This creates a quandary in that the cited "focal point" of all the paranormal activity in the triangle comprises just a tiny portion of it (5 percent). Many of the alleged paranormal activities cited in the "triangle" are many miles from the swamp. This is because the size and orientation and location of the Bridgewater "triangle" are ad hoc, which is Etruscan for "we just make shit up."

Its shape was invented from whole cloth in the 1970s to mimic the pop science phenom of the Bermuda Triangle (why not the Bridgewater rhombus?). Its geographic size was created arbitrarily to include within its bounds as many "mysterious" events or folkloric oddities as possible while staying within southeastern Massachusetts. But this creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. Events such as a gruesome, but non-paranormal 1970s homicide are given the cachet of being "mysterious" simply because they occurred in the bounds of the "Bridgewater Triangle" — yet the bounds of the "triangle" itself were specifically drawn to include such "mysterious events". Cat chases tail.

References[edit]

  1. "Hockomock Wonder Wetland." Taunton River Journal. [1] (accessed 2011 December 14).
  2. Wagner, Stephen. "Paranormal Hot Spots." About.com. [2] (accessed 2011 December 14).
  3. Ross Muscato, "Tales from the swamp," Boston Globe, 2005 October 30. [3].