In case you didn’t see it, Graham Hancock appeared on Russell Brand’s podcast this past week to promote Ancient Apocalypse and to attack archaeologists yet again for being mean to him by asking for evidence for his claims. Hancock looks tired and angry during the interview, and even Brand notes that he seems unduly dejected and downtrodden for a man with one of the world’s most popular streaming nonfiction series.
This year wasn’t quite as bad as 2021, so I can’t be too upset at a year that, if nothing else, did not get appreciably worse. On the other hand, nothing really improved either. Between inflation and further work cuts in my failing industry, it’s been hard. When a prominent astrologer said this year would be the best of my life, I wasn’t sure whether that was a promise or a threat. It’s a good thing astrology is bunk, or else I would be painfully depressed to think this was the best things will ever get.
In a more general sense, this was a year devoted mostly to UFOs, which dominated the paranoid paranormal discourse for the first ten months, until Atlantis made a late run for the crown.
Here, then, is the year that was, edited and condensed from my blog posts and newsletter.
Graham Hancock has made this show before. Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse is in substance and style very much like the Channel 4 / TLC series Quest for the Lost Civilization that Hancock made nearly twenty-five years ago, albeit with different archaeological sites. In the intervening decades, all that has really changed is the use of drones for better aerial footage, a lot more dramatic music to paper over gaps in logic, and a growing bitterness behind Hancock’s carefully rehearsed enunciation. Each episode, for example, starts with an angry rant about Hancock’s greatness and his critics’ meanness. He opens time and again with some variation on “many archaeologists hate me” and poses as a truth-teller who will singlehandedly overturn archaeology.
The Empires of Atlantis: The Origins of Ancient Civilizations and Mystery Traditions Throughout the Ages
Marco M. Vigato | Bear & Company | January 18, 2022 | 416 pages | ISBN: 9781591434337 | $25
Everything you need to know about The Empires of Atlantis, a new book by Italian Atlantis research Marco Vigato, can be summed up in one of the blurbs that opens the volume. It’s from Frank Joseph, the former head of the American Nazi Party and a convicted child molester, who can nevertheless only bring himself to tepidly praise the author for having a “different perspective.” That anyone thought this endorsement was a good idea tells you exactly how careful and ethical the brain trust behind Bear & Company’s latest foray into recycling Ignatius Donnelly is. (Bear & Company is an imprint of Inner Traditions, the publisher of occult and pseudoscientific books.) Vigato goes on to thank Graham Hancock, the Ancient Origins website, and conspiracy theory podcasts for inspiring and encouraging him.
Writing my annual year in review article used to be amusing, if not actually fun, because there was at least some entertainment value in seeing the wild claims and fantastical speculations that passed for history and science. But each year has been a little darker than the one before, and the job is less an exercise in tut-tutting foolishness than it is a depressing reminder that wealthy and powerful people are pushing conspiracies whose real-life consequences are no longer hypothetical but manifest every day in ways large and small, from the halls of Congress to hospital ICUs.
There is no new episode of Ancient Aliens tonight, which is a relief to me, since previous episodes from this season have been nothing but repackaged reruns. It seems that viewers are noticing, since each episode for season seventeen has seen a ratings decline. After hovering around the one million viewer mark, last week’s episode fell to just 810,000 viewers, with only 130,000 in the 18-49 demographic. Slightly more young people actually watched the 12 AM rerun.
Today was to have been the premiere date for Hunting Atlantis, a new series from Morgan Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment in which volcanologist Jess Phoenix and genre novelist Stel Pavlou were to have explored various hypotheses for the location of Atlantis before deciding that Pavlou was right to tie Plato’s allegory to the alleged flooding of the Black Sea around 5000 BCE, despite matching none of the details of Plato’s fictitious story. The Discovery channel, fresh off purchasing Warner Media, pulled the show without explanation and replaced it with an extended episode of Expedition Unknown.
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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