Graham Hancock appeared on the Mysterious Universe podcast today (S14E15, October 9, 2015) to discuss his new book Magicians of the Gods, but in so doing he spent far more time on a subject apparently much more dear to him: himself. Hancock is feeling sorry that his wildly profitable books have only earned him millions of dollars, the opportunity to travel the world, and a gigantic mansion because “academics” just don’t like him. “We all want to be liked,” Hancock said in explaining why he is so deeply hurt by attacks on his work.
Hancock, who speaks somewhat faster in this interview than his sage-like pronouncements on television, began by saying he had no interest in returning to the question of prehistory and lost civilizations because of the vast amount of “insult” and stress caused by battling academia. “With every book, I had to brace myself for the ugly and threatening psychic attack that would follow” from archaeologists “and their buddies in the media.” He calls it a “blast of hatred and vilification.” Hancock claims that there is a universal academic instinct to destroy anyone who dissents from orthodoxy. “It take a bit of backbone to put up with years and years of continuous attacks,” Hancock said. Hancock says he prefers writing novels because he doesn’t have to cite sources and doesn’t have to worry about “academics” attacking him. He is particularly upset about “professional academics who call themselves archaeologists,” because he feels that the title of “archaeologist” ascribes to them too much authority.
Hancock claims that “very few of my critics have ever read my books,” and therefore he feels that academic arguments and media criticism of him are invalid due to a lack of familiarity with his work. (Fortunately, I have read his books and therefore can sign on to Hancock’s caricature of his critics as calling his work “a crock of shit.”) Hancock claims that the British press tried to paint him as a believer in angels and aliens to discredit him—right before he told the MU hosts that he does speculate that ancient aliens may have existed! (He thinks aliens had nothing to do with megalithic architecture so they are “not relevant.”) And we know from his 2005 book Supernatural that he thinks he’s been in touch with godlike beings from another realm, which one might reasonably liken to angels. Somehow these points, which he conceded, are inappropriate to mention when they reflect poorly on his perceived credibility.
Hancock also seems unaware of the fact that those who disagree with him refer to his life story, particularly his drug use and claims to have battled demons in another dimension while on drugs, because Hancock himself has made them an essential part of his narrative and his claims. He has admitted, for example, that his use of marijuana while writing Fingerprints of the Gods made him paranoid to the point that it affected his judgment. While today he would like us to see his drug-aided exploration of consciousness as separate from his archaeological speculation, the two are inherently connected because he asserts that access to other dimensions helped kick off the prehistoric religions that allegedly inspired the lost civilization’s work. More to the point, if we follow the conclusions of David Lewis-Williams, the lost civilization itself might be an unnecessary hypothesis if Hancock’s claims about altered states of consciousness were true.
Aside from his pity party, Hancock went on to complain that academics are hiding things, specifically he doubts that Göbekli Tepe could have been built around 9,500 BCE by Stone Age people who invented agriculture. He feels that archaeologists are asking us to accept that the people of that area invented monumental architecture “overnight.” He calls this a “fairy tale” and says that the better explanation is that people from Atlantis taught the Anatolians how to carve rocks and plant crops several thousand years after the loss of their civilization. Where were they hiding between 10,500 BCE and 9,500 BCE? Who knows? I’m not sure why it is more logical to argue for a secret preservation of architectural knowledge for a thousand years but not for the development of architecture skills over that same period.
Hancock further states that the same process occurred in Egypt, where Atlantis built the Sphinx, the Sphinx Temple, and the Subterranean Chamber of the Great Pyramid and then went into a holding pattern for anywhere from five to seven thousand years before “Egyptian civilization was switched on” by these twice lost Atlanteans, who chose to wait in some far-off location until around 2500 BCE when they gave the Egyptians a giant info-dump of impractical cultural detritus on astrology and building uselessly large piles of rocks. This is precisely the myth invented by Late Antique Christians and inherited by Muslims: that Egypt was once home to a fabulous advanced culture, that the Flood wiped them out, and that the survivors turned to ancient texts on astrology and architecture to reconstruct the lost work in historic times. It was a made-up lie then, and it still is today, even if we swap out “end of the Ice Age” for “Noah’s Flood.”
Hancock also came out as a full-fledged diffusionist, not just of prehistoric times but also modern ones, arguing that ancient peoples were forever traveling around the world and remained in contact across the globe down to the time before Columbus. Thus, Bronze Age, Classical, and medieval civilizations were always in touch with each other. He probably didn’t think that through all the way, since if this were the case it would undercut his argument that cultural similarities across time and space could only be due to a lost civilization.
Hancock called for an end to government spending on weapons of mass destruction (which he wrongly estimates to cost “trillions” each year; the U.S., for example, did spend $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons, but over sixty years) and demanded that we turn our attention to focusing on astronomy, cosmology, and world peace. To that end, after the publicity tour for Magicians of the Gods he plans to remove himself from the “insults” and “attacks” of academics for the foreseeable future and will return to writing novels until more evidence for a lost civilization emerges. This, of course, means that he admits that he isn’t generating that new knowledge, however much the hosts try to credit him with “archaeological research.”
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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