Graham Hancock Blasts Academia for Linear View of Progress, Claims Ancients Had Superior Spirituality
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a Kremlin-funded propaganda channel that beams Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favored views into countries around the world. Recently, its program Going Underground had Graham Hancock on to discuss an “academic coup” going on at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. Host Afshin Rattansi got things off to a bad start by falsely informing viewers that academic elites claim that the culture responsible for the ancient Turkish temple site, which dates back to around 9000 BCE or so, “emerged fully formed, as if by magic.”
Since the TED organization slapped a warning on Hancock’s recent talk, Hancock has become more aggressive about his anger at what he perceives to be a dogmatic elite, claiming (again, falsely) that “we’ve been spun a narrative” for “hundreds of years about the origins of human civilization,” referring back to Lewis Henry Morgan’s 1877 proposal of the linear development of civilization as though it were the current model—a “fantasy” as Hancock calls it. He says that his fellow fringe historians are “troubled” because academic elites have “fed” them a “story” about history, largely through teaching it in schools and universities.
It always comes down to hating having had to do homework in high school, doesn’t it? I’m sure in the United Kingdom there is more history taught than in America, but here one might be lucky to get more than a lesson or two about ancient history in high school, since American textbooks tend to assume that history began with the Pilgrims and ended with Ronald Reagan. (Many world history courses have been remade as global studies, with a corresponding reduction of history.)
Hancock did not explain who is behind what he alleges to be a global effort to rewrite history, or how such a global enterprise could function in a multipolar, decentralized world.
“It seems to be a story that is designed to convince us that we’re the point of it all,” Hancock said, “that the whole human project has been about us, and I think that there is a tremendous arrogance in that.” Hancock says that it is wrong for modern 21st century humans to view history as the events leading up to our own society because “there may have been much greater things achieved in the past.” Those superior things, he said, are “spiritual” rather than “material.”
So Hancock is now a Lovecraftian?
I am astonished that Hancock is still railing against a view of progress from the Victorian era, one that anthropologists debunked before the end of the nineteenth century. One need only look at the collapse of the Roman Empire or the Maya civilization to recognize that civilization does not move in linear fashion toward ever-greater sophistication and development.
But did you notice the rhetorical sleight of hand Hancock used? By defining the “lost civilization” as merely “spiritual” in its sophistication he has wiped away the need to look for physical evidence of its existence. He can claim various stones or carvings belong to them, but their physical presence is no longer essential since their real triumph is entirely imaginary.
Finally, I have a brief notice: Many of you will likely have seen a video that a minor fringe history figure posted to his History Heretic website and YouTube yesterday, which used scatological language to allege that a figure composed of a defaced photograph of me and a juvenile pun on my name would be “exposed” as part of a conspiracy to suppress history during a broadcast later this week. I am aware of the hilarious video, and I thank all of the alert readers who brought it to my attention. I’d like to request, however, that readers refrain from providing the maker of the video with grist for his next video.
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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