Andrew Collins Offers Passive-Aggressive Praise of Graham Hancock, Self-Described Martyr to Truth
Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods reached number 3 on the Sunday Times nonfiction bestseller list (it’s currently number 8), making it the most widely distributed fringe archaeology book in more than a decade in Great Britain, though one that strangely has failed to receive many reviews from people not directly acquainted with Graham Hancock. The exceptions are my review (which is currently the top Google match for a search for “Magicians of the Gods review”) and Kirkus Reviews, which called the book “risible” and “shameless.” However, if you look at the book’s press materials, Coronet (the publisher) has excerpted one word from Kirkus to market the book: “Ingenious,” taken from a passage that compares Hancock to L. Ron Hubbard before stating “Hancock’s tale is clunky but ingenious” in its use of “ersatz” discovery in “a mashup of Ignatius Donnelly and Dan Brown.” Kirkus and I are in almost complete agreement, except that their reviewer found the book’s prose more entertaining at a mechanical level than I did.
Anyway, the success of Magicians among fringe audiences creates a bit of problem for fringe types since they need to simultaneously embrace what is selling to audiences they want to reach but also separate themselves from Hancock’s ideas in order to market their own brand of revelation. Thus fellow fringe theorist Andrew Collins, who will be appearing with Hancock at the Origins 2015 conference November 7, delivers a weird, sometimes seemingly passive-aggressive review of Magicians of the Gods that tries to find the balance point between the two impulses.
Collins heaps praise on Hancock for the boldness and originality of his claims: “Magicians of the Gods is an extraordinary work of genius, delivering its poignant message well.” But he lards his praise with several reminders that he, Collins, has the superior understanding of prehistory. He even criticizes Hancock for something he didn’t quite do. Collins takes issue with the idea that the lost civilization was located in pre-Ice Age Indonesia, in an area known as Sundaland, whose traces Hancock claims to have seen in various architectural and artistic works.
He proposes a common origin for all this ancient art in pre-cataclysmic Sundaland, revealed, finally, as the true location of Plato’s Atlantis. It is a new and very bold theory, although one that does contradict what the Greek philosopher says about the geographical location of his Atlantic Island.
In so doing, Collins ends up giving Hancock far too much credit—and apparently on purpose. Indeed, Graham Hancock’s real genius lies in his ability to appropriate the work of other people (Collins included) and pass it off as his own revelation. Magicians of the Gods has two big claims, first that a comet hit the earth in the Younger Dryas and second that there was a lost civilization answering to Atlantis located in what is now Indonesia. Neither claim is Hancock’s own, yet the media is giving him credit for both claims, largely because he has repackaged recent material from Allen West (the force behind the comet hypothesis) and Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, the Indonesian geologist who literally wrote a book on why Indonesia was a perfect match for Plato’s Atlantis. (He also caused guffaws of laughter when he announced the discovery of a prehistoric “electrical device” supposedly used to generate hydroelectric power 25,000 years ago.) In short, the Atlantis claim is Natawidjaja’s, not Hancock’s, however much Hancock ran with it. But Collins knows this, and in a clever bit of rhetoric Collins undercuts Hancock’s self-presentation effectively by praising him primarily for “presenting the most dramatic, and most pressing, discoveries of the ancient mysteries community to a much wider audience.” Collins called the book a “work of genius” but attributes its claims to the “ancient mysteries community”; who then is the genius? This is, of course, Collins’s way of praising himself, since his are the “discoveries” he congratulates Hancock for publicizing.
Collins rightly dismisses Natawidjaja’s extremist claims about lost chambers and pre-Ice Age pyramids in Indonesia as nothing more than misidentified natural phenomena, though he generously wishes him “luck” in proving his ideas. But Collins isn’t entirely acting out of a love for scientific accuracy here. Natawidjaja’s and Hancock’s ideas about an Indonesian origin for world culture contradict his own highly profitable hypotheses about a lost European civilization that performed the same feats and were responsible for the same wonders, especially the Neolithic Turkish megalithic site of Göbekli Tepe. Since both claims can’t be true, Collins has an active and vital interest in discrediting his Indonesian rival.
As for Hancock, despite pouring cold water all over the ancient astronaut theory in general and Zecharia Sitchin in particular in Magicians of the Gods, somewhere between publishing the book and the end of September he seems to have realized that he remained famous over his long fallow period (of trying to become a novelist) largely because of his appearances on Ancient Aliens. In a Q-and-A session with readers of the Daily Record a week ago, Hancock backpedaled on his dismissal of ancient astronautics, claiming that “there are extraordinary anomalies on Mars” that could be the result of ancient aliens who also visited earth, or ancient humans who traveled to Mars, claims he made in The Mars Mystery (1998), backpedaled on somewhat, and then embraced again.
But don’t feel bad for the millionaire author, who has sold nine million copies of Fingerprints of the Gods alone, which at the standard 10% royalty rate would have netted him somewhere north of $10 million, and probably quite a bit more. Factor in his other books, and you’re looking at tens of millions of dollars. The Telegraph newspaper went to visit him in his “imposing slab” of a manse earlier this week, and the reporter, Rupert Hawksley, was goggle-eyed over the number of “expensive-looking curiosities” hiding behind the “imposing front door.”
Hancock’s latest money-grab—er, investigation—has left him embittered once again, telling the Telegraph that he is the most criticized person ever because he is too successful: “Because my books have been quite successful, I have been subjected to more of the scathing and withering attacks on the quality of my work, and on my qualities as a human being, by the academic community than anybody else.” I’d like to see him and Scott Wolter debate that.
The troll Krampus
10/4/2015 10:43:16 am
So he seems to be a narcissist with martyr complex. Even worse though, he could be a sociopath/psychopath.
10/4/2015 12:20:51 pm
How trite. One of the most clear signs of pseudoscientist who has little of any substance to say is the martyr complex. Basically some incredibly successful author of rubbish whines about being criticized and not being taken seriously. Thus the late pseudoscientist Velikovsky whined about being persecuted and attacked and yet basked in the uncritical adulation of true believers and in massive book sales of his nonsense while whining about his terrible suffering and persecution.
10/4/2015 12:50:17 pm
Having read your review of Magicians and snipping away a few unnecessary segments, I've come up with the following excerpt:
12/5/2015 05:35:15 pm
Fantastic review .. fun comments..
12/5/2015 05:38:42 pm
you can see that Santos website. .atlan.org is the first link given in the references from the article you mentioned
10/4/2015 02:12:46 pm
It hasn't occurred to Hancock that the "quality" of his work naturally leads to discussion of his qualities as a human being. He legitimizes such a path due to his inability to deal with any form of criticism and his need to attack critics and academics alike.
10/5/2015 06:08:28 pm
Sponsored by Spacely Space Sprockets, Inc., not to be confused with Cogswell Cogs (boo!).
10/4/2015 02:23:54 pm
Andrew Collins first heard about Akhenaten through psychic questing. Only by later checking in history books could he verify that Akhenaten was a historical being. (Sword and the Stone, 1982)
10/4/2015 04:06:48 pm
What the @!##$%^& is "psychic questing" ? Is that when the drummer for The Roots gets a premonition?
10/5/2015 02:55:51 am
You need to read the back-issues of the 1980s Andy Collins magazine "Earthquest News" - great fun, It's fantasy-gullibility laid out stark naked.
10/5/2015 06:53:36 am
The Green Stone: Psychic Questing Revisited
10/5/2015 11:30:04 am
I feel said for poor old Graham. I picture him sitting alone in his magnificent mansion filled with expensive artifacts and curiosities he's collected from his travels. He's sitting there in a comfortable leather chair next to the warm fire in his study, quietly sipping brandy that costs more than I make in a year as he gazes at his collection in rapt contemplation. I'm sure he would happily give up all of his millions, his magnificent mansion filled with expensive artifacts and curiosities that he's collected from his travels, and yes, even the expensive brandy, if only the academic and scientific communities would accept him as one of their own and validate his "theories."
10/5/2015 06:13:52 pm
According to Hancock's book "Heaven's Mirror: Quest for My Gorgeous Self," his ashtrays are emptied hourly by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
10/6/2015 08:28:01 am
Is that where he explains how he uses $100 bills to light his Cuban cigars delivered personally by one of the Castro brothers?
10/5/2015 06:44:59 pm
I can also picture his mansion, his walls filled with picture after picture...of himself.
10/5/2015 07:12:01 pm
Retouched by layers upon layer of Photoshop smart blur filters, I would hope.
10/5/2015 08:22:28 pm
The war drum claim was a different British guy.
10/8/2015 06:23:03 pm
Don't forget all the high priced call girls he can afford.
10/5/2015 05:20:25 pm
Ha! Good one.
An Over-Educated Grunt
10/6/2015 12:30:55 pm
Would that we all suffered such martyrdom.
10/7/2015 08:07:19 pm
That Kirkus thing wasn't much of a review. More of a growl.
10/7/2015 08:20:08 pm
That's not the problem. The problem is Hancock piggy-backing on this theory to continue peddling his "survivors of Atlantis/lost civilization gave rise to all human culture" hyperdiffusionism BS.
10/7/2015 08:30:25 pm
But the basic idea of a possible comet inundating settled lands is a good workable idea. You agree with that ?
10/7/2015 10:07:34 pm
Again, the comet theory isn't the problem. The problem is this comet being responsible for destroying a civilization, at least as advanced as the Minoans, around 10,600 BCE. Evidence is needed to show such a civilization existed at that time.
10/7/2015 08:23:50 pm
Haven't read the book yet, but I am surprised he concludes that the Ancient Wisdom bringers are from the East rather than the traditional Atlantis. He's made a lot of his work with Randall Carlson, who goes with the idea that it's possible there was a mid-Atlantic land mass, and that the continental plates pivoted somewhat after losing their ice cover, and dunked Atlantis below the surface. I don't know anything about such things, but I thought Hancock was going to go with that.
10/7/2015 08:57:32 pm
... I mean, really, psychopath ? Pure bitching. Guys, if you're jealous of his Gucci, unionize and close a few archaeological shop floors down, raise the price of your labour and you, too, can have that brand new sofa.
12/8/2015 09:20:07 am
he drunk from sources he does not mention..
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