Attack of the Nephilim! "Skeptic" Takes on Graham Hancock's Watchers, While Jim Vieira Explores Psychic Connections to Giants
This week eSkeptic and Skeptic published the final version of Mark J. Defant’s review of Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods, an earlier draft version of which stoked Hancock’s ire in a radio debate featuring Hancock, Defant, and Sketpic publisher Michael Shermer on Joe Rogan’s podcast earlier this year. The review, while very good, represents one of the major problems I have had with skeptical activism: Graham Hancock published Magicians of the Gods almost exactly two years ago, and at this point the criticisms and the arguments lack a certain impact, largely because fringe history has already moved on (Hancock is working on a new book about North American “mysteries”) and anyone who might have stood to gain from reading the review has already read Magicians (or never will), and the damage has been done. That’s one reason that I worked my ass off to review the book in time for its initial release. Two years on, it has almost become moot. Almost.
In the updated analysis, Defant addresses some of the more recent events that have connections to Hancock’s book. One of these is the weak and unusual academic paper by Martin Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis that attempted to demonstrate support for the Hancockian idea that the Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe represents a monument to the constellations of the night sky at 4 minutes past 1:01 PM on September 11, 10,950 BCE. “That Sweatman distances himself from Hancock’s theory is telling, but in my decades of reading scientific papers I have never come across an article more speculative than this one,” Defant writes. I don’t blame him for not recognizing the true reason for this—and it isn’t a scientific one—but it’s worth noting that the real reason is that Sweatman and Tsikritsis modeled their work not on Hancock but on Andrew Collins, from whom Hancock borrowed the astral claims. Collins and Hancock have differences in their fantasies about the “real” purpose of Göbekli Tepe, and that alone accounts for the majority of the differences between the article and Hancock’s book.
Defant also seems a little fuzzy on the concept of the Watchers, the fallen angels of the Book of Enoch, equated with the Sons of God of Genesis 6, whom Hancock identified as the survivors of Atlantis. Defant implies that the Watchers are Hancock’s creation, though this is certainly not true. The characters feature in literature dating back to the Book of Enoch, and the equation of the survivors of Atlantis with the Sons of God from the Bible can be found wholesale in Hancock’s greatest model, Ignatius Donnelly’s books Atlantis: The Antediluvian World and Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel.
But there is a bit of news, of sorts, in Defant’s review that is worth reporting: In Magicians Graham Hancock tried to discredit recent (2015) surface luminescence dating work by Ioannis Liritzis and Asimina Vafiadou and published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage that dates the Sphinx Temple to the reign of Khafre by claiming that the stones the pair dated were actually from “restoration work” done to the original primeval Sphinx Temple.
I wrote Dr. Liritzis and asked him to comment on the assertions made by Hancock and Schoch. He told me he was aware of Hancock’s “ideolipseis” and assured me that the samples Hancock claims were from a coating placed over the blocks to shield them from weathering “were not shielded coatings…but derived from the whole block in between a firm contact!” In other words, the Sphinx and Temple Complex are evidence of an ancient civilization that existed in the third millennium BCE, not thousands of years earlier.
From there, Defant offers a series of solid geological arguments and logical ones, too, that carefully expose Hancock’s illogical fantasies and reveal the assumptions and warrants necessary to keep them afloat in the face of logic. The whole piece is worth a read because it is very good, but it is also two years too late, and skeptics would do well to make their commentary more timely to better serve the public before it has moved on from the controversy du jour.
I wish I could say the same about gigantologist Jim Vieira’s two-part article on Ancient Origins (here and here) in which he plumbs the fictitious prophecies of Edgar Cayce for evidence of giants from Atlantis. Or, as he put it In what us actually a commercial for the Edgar Cayce Ancient Mysteries Conference on October 6, where he will appear: “I have conducted a lengthy comparative analysis of the Cayce material, the literature of Rudolph Steiner, the Rosicrucian’s (sic), the Freemasons, the Theosophists, Plato, as well as worldwide indigenous oral traditions, myths and legends. What came forth was as unexpected as it was bizarre.” No, it isn’t. Vieira points to all of these stories as sharing similarities to the Biblical story of the Sons of God and the Nephilim, and he declares this evidence of a secret tradition going back to primeval antiquity. I needn’t belabor the point to note that the similarity is NOT A COINCIDENCE, OR A CONSPRIACY. Placed in chronological order, Plato and the Biblical writers drew on a common Near East tradition about civilizing demigods in the pre-Flood world, and the modern occult traditions simply draw on these original stories and pretend to have prehistoric sources.
I have chronicled many times the development of various fringe history myths from the Near East Flood narrative, and their common origin is simply beyond dispute. From the Genesis narrative and the Book of Enoch, we find nearly the whole of modern fringe claims about antediluvian worlds descend. Plato’s version is modeled on the Near East Flood myth, at least in its Greek form, as the final extant lines of the unfinished Critias make clear in reproducing Zeus’s judgment on sinful Atlanteans in parallel to God’s judgment on sinful humanity in Genesis.
Vieira, however, takes from this little more than a superficial trait: The fictitious pre-Flood giants were often considered superhuman in form and were depicted in art with extra fingers and toes. Rather than seeing this as a symbol of the giants’ demigod status, he takes it as proof that giants were real and had six fingers and toes. “Hopefully, this information will strike the reader as profoundly as it has me and you will be open to entertain seemingly heretical notions about the past.”
The second part of his article is more depressing. He claims that there was a global religion that worshiped hermaphrodite deities, which he terms “androgynous”—following an older Victorian usage of the word to mean hermaphroditic rather than gender-ambiguous. Consider this bizarre and wrong sentence: “The Androgynous Thoth is widely reported to have been from Atlantis in esoteric circles, he was also known as Hermes Trismegistus, Hermaphrodite is Hermes + Aphrodite.” Leaving the grammar problems aside, Thoth was not a hermaphrodite, or androgynous, and this false fact derives from Manly P. Hall’s Secret Teachings of All Ages, where hermaphrodites are said to have been the first creation, in imitation of the gods, and which later occult authors extended to Hermes, apparently under the misapprehension that Hermaphrodite wasn’t the child of Hermes and Aphrodite, but a combination of them. Basically, if Hermaphrodite is the union of Hermes and Aphrodite, and Thoth is the same as Hermes, then Thoth is a hermaphrodite, too. All of this derives, more or less wholesale, from Helena Blavatsky, who in The Secret Doctrine declared the Third Root Race, the people of Lemuria, to be the descendants of hermaphrodite civilizing heroes and the possessors of none other than the Mysteries embodied in the occult societies of today. Vieira also repeats the popular recent fringe meme that any sculpture depicting a basket or a bag is proof of a cult of Watchers who bequeathed civilization from their purses. And, man, does he think that these purses are really feminine.
Vieira knows nothing more than what he read in modern occult book, plus his own retrograde gender notions about how carrying a “man bag” makes you fruity, especially if you try to present as a male. What kind of manly god has a purse? A secret hermaphrodite. Having established that accessorizing makes a male god androgynous, Vieira delivers his conclusion, one that (surprise!) endorses his friends’ belief that ancient myths are literally true:
This alternative view of history makes sense of all the strange and mythological traditions of the world, where our current scientific paradigm addresses none of it and leaves us in the dark with the misperception that our ancestors were superstitious, illogical and insane. Besides the tragedies of the burning of the Library of Alexandria and the Mayan Codices being destroyed, it looks like modern science has thrown out thousands of years of legitimate evidence in the form of myth, legend, religious documents, oral traditions and secret society literature. The more I dig, the more I lean toward the ancient world described by Edgar Cayce and others as being the more probable reality.
I’ll repeat again that the reason that ancient myths and religious documents aren’t good evidence is because they form a clearly evolving tradition where stories grown, change, and develop over time, reflecting not an underlying world of gods and monsters but an evolutionary tree of baroque takes on a few rather simple and obvious myths of dwarves and giants.
9/28/2017 11:13:50 am
The problem with most professional skeptics is that they consider it beneath their intellects to get down and dirty and actually read all the background fringe crap (like you have, Jason) that forms the basis for all past and current fringology. If you haven't done the time, then you don't know what you are talking about, so STF up. I guess they 'don't have the time to read all that garbage', but failure to do so makes them look as ridiculous as the fringers whom they criticize.
9/28/2017 12:03:08 pm
Maybe the same old tired criticisms are usually sufficient?
9/28/2017 12:37:11 pm
9/28/2017 12:45:20 pm
How bizarre since I don't have one saved on my hard drive.
9/28/2017 01:50:10 pm
So you live in a cacheless society?
9/28/2017 01:59:10 pm
I always have that one thought after hitting "send". Here's where the link's target is or was:
9/28/2017 02:17:26 pm
I probably hit "CTRL+C" one too many times and erased the clipboard entry for the URL. It was probably just my pasting error. I wouldn't get too worked up over it.
9/28/2017 05:49:37 pm
I'm not worked up. Hard to see how clicking ctrl c would erase text. You did have something on your desktop, which may or may not be where your clipboard lives, therefore on your harddrive, that you published a link to. That was the earlier poster's point.
9/28/2017 06:21:15 pm
I meant that when I went to create the link in Word, I had apparently copied text from the blog post, which overwrote the URL I had copied from Chrome onto the clipboard, so I inadvertently pasted text into the link form, which generated the word soup you pasted in.
9/28/2017 09:55:33 pm
The "word soup" (SMFH because it's not) I pasted in was precisely
9/28/2017 02:41:44 pm
"the Cayce material, the literature of Rudolph Steiner, the Rosicrucian’s (sic), the Freemasons, the Theosophists, Plato, as well as worldwide indigenous oral traditions, myths and legends. "
9/28/2017 04:12:11 pm
And I had thought Vieira's meeting with Andy White had helped him. It seems he fell into the same trap as the other fringe buckaroos: reality is just too damn mundane!
9/28/2017 05:10:41 pm
On the plus side, at least we won't see a collaboration between Vieira and Ashley Cowie with his collection of designer man bags.
9/28/2017 05:28:26 pm
At least he didn't wear a sandwich holster!
It's not a purse. It's a european shoulder bag.
9/28/2017 05:52:47 pm
Brown bag ... still sinister!
9/28/2017 06:53:22 pm
Pauln, I beg to differ, I have spent a lot of time in the wilderness and I find shoulder strap bags to be a royal pain. They seem to snag every branch within sight. In steep terrain they can be downright dangerous, always slipping down between you and hand/foot holds, or sliding off your shoulder completly.
As an experienced re-enactor, Ican say your problem is one of two things. 1.) Your strap is too long and needs to be shortened (usually so that it sits almost under your armpit) or 2.) It Needs to be secured with at least the forward strap under your belt.
9/28/2017 11:54:03 pm
I see what you are saying, I was referring to a european shoulder bag style which likely wouldn't be used in such a way.
9/28/2017 05:44:40 pm
I am always amazed at how these "alternative historians" play the "I am the spiritual guru card." Sooner or later this is where they all go as if they have now become enlightened by their studies of Giants in America. See even S. Wolter is stating things like this on his latest radio interview on Fade to Black with Jimmy Church. It sells better if you toss in some New Age concepts with your twisted view of history I guess. See Theosophical society and Mr. Viera I would guess.
9/28/2017 05:56:57 pm
Is this what you meant? I found it while googling your desktop.
9/28/2017 05:48:12 pm
This person is taking words that sound alike an assuming they are the parts of words that seem to mean something now? So therefore they're saying hermaphrodite when back then they meant of Hermes and Aprodite?
9/28/2017 06:01:11 pm
And for those of you worried about our new Russian overlords, who I personally welcome, the familiar form of Vladimir is NOT "Vlad"; that goes with Vladislav. Vladimir familiarizes to "Volodya".
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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