Before we begin, John J. McKay, whose work I’ve cited on this blog in the past, is asking for help on behalf of his ex-wife. Please visit his page to read her story.
As most of you know, I’m reading advance galley proofs of Graham Hancock’s new book Magicians of the Gods, which I will be reviewing when the book is released. I had an unpleasant surprise while reading the book last night: I’m in it! In a chapter on the megalithic ruins of Baalbek, Hancock discusses me, and it was… unusual. It was unusual both for the context and for what it says about Hancock’s research methodology.
Here’s what he says about me, keeping in mind that galley proofs are not the final version of a text, and the wording may change before publication:
Sceptical author and self-styled ‘debunker of fringe science and revisionist history’ Jason Colavito, for example, claims that ‘archaeology and engineering can explain all of the individual aspects of the Trilithon’ and that there is therefore no need for an alternative perspective. Rather than do the work to back up this assertion himself, however, he refers us to the ‘wonderful’ writings of another self-styled ‘sceptic’, physicist Aaron Adair. [Adair’s explanation] sounds reasonable, wholesome, and convincing. But actually, like so much else in the sceptical literature that is passed off as fact, it turns out, on close scrutiny, to be speculation, opinion, and bias masquerading as objectivity.
In the notes to the section, Hancock directs readers to my biography for my “claim to be a debunker of fringe science and revisionist history.”
Whew! Where to start?
The weirdest part of the entire thing is that Hancock cited me at all in this context since I did not write an article debunking fringe claims about Baalbek. As you can clearly see from the April 26, 2013 blog post Hancock quotes out of context, I wasn’t making any assertion at all; I was simply summarizing Aaron Adair’s blog post on Baalbek:
I’ve managed to fall behind on work today, so in lieu of a lengthy blog post, I’m going to recommend that anyone who hasn’t done so click over to Aaron Adair’s blog and read his wonderful discussion of how the massive trilithon stones—among the largest ever moved by humans—at Baalbek were moved into place under the Romans. The most important takeaway is that archaeology and engineering can explain all of the individual aspects of the trilithon, so there is no need to posit a supernatural or paranormal cause to explain the massive stones as a whole.
Now, I ask you, of all the things I have ever written, and all the work I’ve done examining fringe history claims, is it even possible to accidentally confuse my recommendation of another person’s work as good reading for some sort of conspiratorial effort not to “do the work” to investigate Baalbek? Oh, and incidentally: In the chapter Hancock goes on to agree with the last part of the above paragraph, which he declined to quote. He tells his readers that the Romans could very well have constructed Baalbek all on their own, but that he chooses not to believe they did because it “feels” older, looks weird to him, and is associated in myth with the Nephilim-Watchers. He then devotes a good chunk of text to debunking claims for construction by aliens or giants. So, again: He is criticizing me for recommending a blog post and attacks me by selectively quoting out of context material that he himself agrees with.
Let’s recall that Graham Hancock himself recommended 5/5/2000 by Richard Noone to his readers, calling the book about Inca riding dinosaurs and the imminent end of the earth on May 5, 2000 “an extraordinary treasury of knowledge, hard facts, brilliant intuition and formidable research.” Did Hancock “do the work” to confirm the reality of the Inca riding on dinosaurs, or the imminent destruction of the earth on May 5, 2000 before he recommended the book? No answer to that question will make him look good.
But what’s worse is that he plays the same game in the first “quotation” from me that he uses. It’s almost but not quite right. Hancock has changed one word and in so doing turned a statement of fact into a claim of identity. Here is the sentence from my biography he is misquoting: “Colavito began debunking fringe science and revisionist history in the web-based magazine Lost Civilizations Uncovered in 2001.” To my mind, that is not the same as a positive claim to identify as a “debunker of fringe science and revisionist history.” The first is an activity, and the second is an identity, implying one is more interested in proving others wrong instead of searching for truth. In his own biography, Hancock describes his work as an “intellectual journey.” The equivalent corruption would be for me to describe Hancock as “a self-styled ‘intellectual.’” Nouns, adjectives, and verbs are not interchangeable, at least not in quotation marks.
So why did Hancock take the time to single me out for unusual attacks on a subject on which I have written almost nothing, Baalbek? That’s a question only he can answer, but I am utterly baffled that he bothered to mention me at all, much less attack me for a sentence that he agrees with—that there is no need for a paranormal explanation for the Trilithon! Then, for the cherry on top, Hancock goes on to tell us that Zecharia Sitchin was most notable in developing the claim that Baalbek was a space port for alien rocket ships. If he had read even one sentence farther down in my blog post, he’d have seen that Matest M. Agrest invented that claim in 1959, and Sitchin stole it.
I don’t mind Hancock criticizing me. I’ve written quite a bit about him and his bad ideas. It just would have been nice to be attacked for some actual analysis I did!
8/21/2015 04:53:29 am
You have become an easy target because you play loose with facts --even making them up--to fit with your agenda. For example, a couple weeks ago you wrote that Andrew Collins, a colleague of Hancock's, said on AA that the Bimini Wall was 12,000 years old. But he said no such thing. Bimini was never mentioned and the film wasn't from Bimini. You fabricated that as a fact. There are a lot more such instances. You help the cause of the alternative authors and will surely be debunked even more. Keep up the ... work.
8/21/2015 05:05:15 am
There is a difference between making things up and making a mistake, Hugh. In this case, I misidentified the underwater formation because it looked the same to me. When I learned I had misidentified it, I corrected the review.
8/21/2015 09:33:10 am
Careful, Jason! Don't slip in the pool of vitriol. That stuff's no good for you.
8/23/2015 10:03:15 pm
His comments about you are childish to a point of bitter envy. When I reread them, it nearly makes me laugh because he's so obviously trying to elevate himself by demeaning your work.
8/21/2015 10:37:47 am
Not quite a sea lion, but getting close. You're hitting the big time, Jason!
8/21/2015 04:59:33 am
Rational treatment of the Baalbek monuments is contained in Jean-Pierre Adam's book Roman Building: Materials and Techniques, Revised Edition 1999
8/21/2015 05:35:47 am
You know, two can play at the game of changing one or two words to change the meaning. Example "But actually, like so much else in fringe literature that is passed off as fact, it turns out, on close examination to be based on speculation, opinion and bias masquerading as objectivity."
8/21/2015 06:31:28 am
I believe what Hancock wrote is a pretty simple tactic. He wants to make out how much of a maverick he is, uncovering all these suppressed "truths" and he is pretty certain that few of his readers are going to check what you wrote and that even fewer will read it carefully. I think it is a widely practiced custom amongst science deniers and fringe historians everywhere. It assumes laziness and the acceptance of the author as the expert. It is also the reason why the word "sceptic" is used as a vague insult - how dare anyone question the Hancock.
8/21/2015 06:32:40 am
Should you expect anything else from Hancock, considering his record of distortions, misrepresentations, and fabrications?
8/21/2015 07:00:31 am
"Rather than do the work to back up this assertion himself, however, he refers us to the ‘wonderful’ writings of another self-styled ‘sceptic’, physicist Aaron Adair."
8/21/2015 12:55:23 pm
If the reference to Jason makes it to publication it could be a good thing. Many will come here out of curiosity and find the truth about the fringe claims.
8/21/2015 01:00:28 pm
Recent Scott Wolter interview:
8/21/2015 02:21:17 pm
al the levitation stuff sounds unlikely giant blocks floating through the air, meanwhile there are drawings in Egypt showing workers dragging giant stones on rollers with cords. probably same deal with trilithions.
8/21/2015 02:39:42 pm
"and some unusual physics application that could radically reduce weight...but could sure be a force multiplier to lighten the load for normal means of hauling and lifting"
8/21/2015 03:43:49 pm
Thanks for the link to the post about my ex's situation. She needs about $3000 more than I've already raised by Thursday or she loses her car and probably her apartment.
8/24/2015 06:29:24 am
If aliens can levitate things at will, then why do they need a launch pad?
8/25/2015 12:39:22 am
Why would they build monuments and cities out of stone when they could simply live in their awesome interstellar space ships?
8/24/2015 09:23:51 am
GH's ideas about ancient history are not necessarily 'good' ideas or 'bad' ideas. His hypothesis about a legacy civilization that was utterly wiped out is inherently hard to prove. Actually there is trace evidence to indicate a 'legacy civilization' ( ie., one language,common building form,eerily similar genesis mythology, etc. ) The idea is not 'bad'. It has some merit.
9/27/2015 10:18:49 am
can we find swastikas in Baalbek
10/30/2016 07:16:15 pm
On behalf of all Scottish rationalists I am sorry for the horror of mr Hancock!
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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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