Graham Hancock appeared on the Unexplained podcast with Howard Hughes this week, and he began by describing his feeling of victimization at the hands of the mainstream media. And boy was he angry! “I’m not angry,” he said, after ranting with raised voice and at one point declared that the media and academics had declared a “fatwa” against unconventional views. Most of the interview was devoted to summarizing his current book, Magicians of the Gods, but the interview began with Hancock’s recently developed hatred of the mainstream media, which he sees as in league with his enemies, the academics, to suppress the truth and discredit him personally as the chief advocate of a lost civilization.
He claimed that there is “almost a deliberate misinformation campaign” by the mainstream media to discredit him, and he cited a profile of him that ran in the Sunday Times in September that he claims was full of “deliberate” errors designed to discredit him by labeling him a pseudoscientist, written by a reporter who never spoke to Hancock. Hancock declared all of the British media coverage of his work during the month of September to be “rubbish” and full of errors.
“I am not a pseudoscientist or a pseudo-historian because I’ve never claimed to be any of those things, to be an archaeologist or to be a scientist,” he said. “Therefore I can’t be a false archaeologist or a false scientist because I’m not passing myself off as an archaeologist or a scientist. I’m a writer, plain and simple. My work in the synthesizing of information from a broad range of fields. I’m a journalist. I’ve always been a journalist. I’m still a journalist today.”
So, let me get this straight: Hancock’s defense is that he is not an expert but nevertheless should be taken more seriously than the experts? Now, as it happens, I am also not a scientist, am “a writer, plain and simple,” and have a degree in journalism. Therefore, according to Hancock, I am uniquely qualified to declare his understanding of ancient history and archaeology and mythology to be slipshod, shallow, and wrong. And I did.
After venting about his hatred of the media for 10 minutes of the hour-long interview, Hancock reversed course and argued that there is a broad change in public consciousness over the past two decades. He praises the public for no longer accepting the “authoritative statements of experts,” which he declared to be nothing but a pack of lies. He elides academics, corporations, and politicians into a single group he calls “authority figures,” and he is thrilled that no longer is there an accepted authority that can impose a single understanding of truth.
Hancock went on to argue that the past is controlled by a conspiracy made up of professors, teachers, universities, schools, the media, and those who financially benefit from their work. He believes that these groups maintain a stranglehold over interpretations of the past by dint of doing the work to understand it, but he feels that elites should not be able to use their position or specialized knowledge to exclude non-elites from interpreting and understanding the past on their own terms. In this, Hancock wants to use postmodernist and anti-elitist ideas to discredit current ideas and paradigms, but only insofar as it would allow him to create a new authoritative narrative that just happens to cast him as prophet, priest, and king.
Anyway, Hancock went on to summarize his book and talk about some of its claims, familiar from their repetition over the past months. However, Hancock did announce that he only partially accepts his former writing partner Robert Bauval’s Afrocentrist claims that Egyptian civilization has Sub-Saharan African origins. Trying to avoid alienating Bauval, Hancock agreed that Egypt has “deep African origins” but he argued that “something else” was added to it—from a lost civilization—that gave Egypt its particularly advanced symbolism and technological sophistication. Since we know from Magicians of the Gods that the lost civilization was made up of “white” people, this imposes an uncomfortable racial narrative onto Egyptian history.
Hancock also accused secular scientists and mainstream religions of failing to embrace animist ideas in which all matter has spiritual value and all the universe is alive with invisible power. Hancock was particularly incensed at the “bureaucracy” that separates individual laymen from elite scientific or spiritual knowledge, whether this be the hierarchy of scientists and scholars, or the hierarchy of priests and popes. He repeated his claim that governments, corporations, and religions are all bureaucracies that are inculcating hatred and division in order to hide from individuals that we live in a “magical and enchanted universe” in which we are “all brothers and sisters.”
As evidence of this, Hancock offered a conspiracy claim that there are “secret excavations [that] do go on” and that “the public isn’t told everything” about excavations in order to hide evidence that doesn’t fit with particular narratives designed to minimize spiritual truths. He says that this claim is “solidly grounded in events,” which he knows due to “a feeling.” I am sure he meant to provide something more than a feeling as evidence, but he did not.
The last segment of the interview saw Hancock endorsing the use of psychedelic drugs and blasting, once again, governments, academics, etc. for imposing a paternalist, elitist view in which the everyman is once again denied direct access to the spiritual realm.
There’s a clear theme across all of the topics Hancock covered: He is angry at what he sees as elite control over individuals, an outrage that he has chosen to cast in almost apocalyptic terms where these elites exercise control in this world by denying humanity access to the ancestors (in physical form through archaeology and spiritual form through altered states of consciousness) to actively destroy our souls and our chance at immortality. In such stark terms, is it any wonder that representatives of the elite therefore take on all of the characteristics of the traditional devil? Or that Hancock sees them as diabolical liars, tricksters, and conspirators?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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