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									                                                             more reminiscent of race-
The following is an excerpt from the 1998 book,              track betting than of any-
                                                             thing ever put down in a
           BLIND MAN'S BLUFF                                 Navy search and salvage

 The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage            Once the map was com-
                                                             pleted, Craven asked a
                                                             group of submarine and
  BY SHERRY SONTAG, CHRISTOPHER DREW,                        salvage experts to place
                                                             Las Vegas-style bets on
       AND ANNETTE LAWRENCE DREW                             the probability of each of
                                                             the different scenarios that
Craven, meanwhile, was        the coast of Palomares,        might describe the bomb's
increasingly on call as the   Spain, losing its atomic       loss being considered by
Navy's resident deep-         payload. Three of four         the search team in Spain.
ocean expert. But there       bombs were recovered           Each scenario left the
was one call that stood       almost immediately. But a      weapon in a different lo-
out from all the rest. It     fourth was lost and had        cation.
came on a Saturday morn-      presumably fallen to the
ing in January 1966.          bottom of the Mediterra-       Then, each possible loca-
                              nean. President Lyndon         tion was run through a
"This is Jack Howard,"        Johnson knew the Soviets       formula that was based on
said an assistant secretary   were looking for the           the odds created by the
of Defense in charge of       bomb, and he refused to        betting round. The loca-
nuclear matters. "I've lost   believe the Navy's assur-      tions were then replotted,
an H-bomb."                   ances that there was a         yards or miles away from
                              good probability that it       where logic and acoustic
"Why are you calling me?"     would never be recovered       science alone would place
Craven asked.                 by either side. Indeed, that   them.
                              was the belief of most of
"This one I've lost in the
                              the people assigned to         To the uninitiated, all this
water, and I want you to
                              find the bomb — but not        sounded like the old joke
find it." Craven was being
                              Craven.                        about a man who loses his
assigned to work with a
                                                             wallet in a dark alley. In-
team hastily assembled by     Craven called in a group       stead of searching the al-
an admiral in the Penta-      of mathematicians and set      ley, the man chooses to
gon. Another group was        them to work constructing      search for his wallet yards
going to the site.            a map of the sea bottom        away under a street lamp
                              outside Palomares. That        because the light there is
A B-52 bomber had collid-
                              sounded         reasonable     better. But as far as Cra-
ed with an air tanker dur-
                              enough, but Craven in-         ven was concerned, there
ing a refueling operation
                              tended to use that map for     was good science behind
30,000 feet in the air off
                              an analysis that seemed        his apparent madness.
He was relying on Bayes'       most probable site lay far    know just when it would
theorem of subjective          from where the other          be recovered.
probability, an algebraic      three bombs had been re-
formula crafted by Thom-       covered and far from          In answer, a copy of
as Bayes, a mathematician      where most of the plane's     Craven's latest probability
born in 1760. Essentially,     debris had hit the water.     hill — altered to take the
the theorem was sup-           Worse, if Craven's calcula-   weeks of failures into ac-
posed to quantify the val-     tions were correct, the       count — was sent to the
ue of the hunch, factor in     bomb lay in a deep ravine     president.
the knowledge that exists      and was all but unreacha-
in people beyond their         ble.                          Johnson blew up at the
conscious minds.                                             sight of Craven's curves
                               The Navy had come             and graphs. If the search
Craven applied that doc-       across a Spaniard who         teams couldn't give him
trine to the search. The       was reputed to be the very    instant answers, the pres-
bomb had been hitched to       best      fisherman      in   ident would find scientists
two parachutes. He took        Palomares,        Francisco   who could. He insisted
bets on whether both had       Simo-Orts.       Simo-Orts    that another group of sci-
opened, or one, or none.       claimed to have seen the      entists be hired from Cor-
He went through the same       bomb fall into the water,     nell and the Massachu-
exercise over each possi-      and he pinpointed its lo-     setts Institute of Technol-
ble detail of the crash. His   cation right over the same    ogy. They met in an all-
team of mathematicians         ravine. With no other         day session. In the end
wrote out possible end-        leads, the team in the Med    they agreed that Craven's
ings to the crash story and    had no choice but to ar-      plan was the best anyone
took bets on which ending      range a serious search of     had.
they believed most. After      the ravine and began con-
the betting rounds were        tacting the companies that    Johnson didn't have much
over, they used the odds       had tried to interest the     time to react. For that
they created to assign         Navy in their deep-diving     same day, the crew of the
probability quotients to       submersibles.                 Alvin, on its tenth dive,
several possible locations.                                  sighted a parachute en-
Then they mapped those         The Bureau of Ships           shrouding a cylindrical
probabilities and came up      agreed to pay to fly two      object. It was 2,550 feet
with the most probable         submersibles             to   underwater wedged into a
site and several other pos-    Palomares,      Reynolds's    70-degree slope. The Alvin
sible ones.                    Aluminaut and Woods           had found the missing H-
                               Hole's Alvin. After several   bomb right where Crave-
Without ever having gone       weeks and no success,         n's latest calculations put
to sea, the team now be-       President Johnson was fu-     it.
lieved they knew where         rious. He demanded to
the bomb was. According        know where the bomb
to their calculations, the     was, and he demanded to


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