A year ago, Netflix sent the media into a frenzy of consternation with the release of Graham Hancock’s series Ancient Apocalypse, one of the most-watched shows about ancient mysteries in a generation. Dozens upon dozens of articles decried Netflix for producing a one-sided argument for pseudoscience and Graham Hancock for attacking archaeologists and educators for an alleged conspiracy to suppress Hancock’s belief that Atlantis seeded ancient cultures. I was one of the writers who produced a think piece on the series, for the New Republic.
Despite the massive viewership for the show, which ranked in the global top 10 on Netflix last November, the streamer did not produce a follow-up series to capitalize on the success, nor did competing media outlets like the History Channel, Discovery’s various (pseudo-)science channels, or Disney’s NatGeo, all of which had once regularly aired Atlantis-themed programming, create a rival series to attract viewers. A full year after Ancient Apocalypse caused a firestorm, it’s like it never existed at all, pushed down the memory hole and replaced with the ongoing soap opera of David Grusch and his evidence-free UFO claims. At least the buildings Graham Hancock talks about really exist.
The exception, of course, is within the narrow world of ancient mysteries-themed New Age media. This fall, in New Dawn magazine and reprinted this week on Graham Hancock’s website, David Thrussell, an Australian composer, published a retrospective on Ancient Apocalypse in which he attacked me personally for advocating “totalitarian” ideas in an effort to suppress Hancock’s alternative history in the name of purifying the body of humanity from the disease of intellectual dissent:
Hancock is no longer just a journalist, presenting different theories and unconsidered evidence, now he is a heretic who joined other heretics (Carlson, Rogan et. al.) in threatening the body with danger. Colavito identifies emotionally and practically with the ‘mass’ (or ‘The Blob’ as James Howard Kunstler calls it) and instinctively rises to battle, just as the body’s antibodies attack infectious threats.
Thrussell’s rhetoric is overheated (and odd, since I was far from the harshest critic of Ancient Apocalypse), but also disturbingly wrongheaded. When he suggests that I advocate “one correct and acceptable” version of history, he is purposely conflating two issues, as I explained last year. Hancock and people like Thrussell argue that there are many ways to interpret facts and therefore history is subjective, with multiple narratives possible. This is actually quite true, insofar as interpretation is an art and an argument. But Thrussell runs smack dab into a wall by ignoring the other issue: Facts are not subjective. The evidence used to write history is knowable, and it is not simply a postmodern cloud of personal opinion. Interpretations stand or fall based on the evidence used to develop them, and Hancock’s interpretation fails because it does not account for all the evidence, or even very much of it, nor does it use accurate and complete information. We can argue until the cows come home about the higher-order questions of how much interpretation and creativity is acceptable in writing history, but unless and until alternative speculators have actual facts and evidence and use the full body of evidence collected by centuries of science to develop their ideas with rigor, there is no point in arguing more ethereal concerns.
I refused even to dignify Thrussell’s claim that I am a “collaborator” with Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein and the “dictatorial” elite practitioners of “depravity” they represent to exercise control over … who, exactly? Surveys have repeatedly shown that a plurality, if not a majority, of people in the United States and much of the Western world believe in Atlantis. The near-libelous accusation that I am in league with sexual predators to prey on the non-elite is symptomatic of the populist fervor that channels its impotence into anger and celebrates ignorance rather than cultivates empowerment.
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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