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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Magicians of the Gods -- Graham Hancock
Thomas Dunne Books
528 Pages

Thanks to Scully and Mulder, the phrase “question everything” has been uttered more than “I have a bad feeling about this.” Television shows like “Ancient Aliens” have also led credence to the books like the one I am about to review. At one point in my life, I had a deep and serious interest in the idea of there being lost civilizations such as Atlantis. As I’ve grown older and learned more about history, I’ve ventured away from some of the pseudoscience history. Still, I enjoy reading some of the crazy hypotheses, mostly as fodder for any future stories that I may write.

Graham Hancock has had a long, troubled history with archaeology. The first book of his that I read way back in 1995, Fingerprints of the Gods, was followed by several more. His latest book, Magicians of the Gods, continues the same theme of his earlier books. Without a helping hand from some superior beings, mankind would have never progressed much beyond simple apes hanging from the branches. All our achievements are beyond anything we could ever fathom, so someone else must be responsible.

According to Hancock’s research, at the end of the last Ice Age some 12,800 years ago, a comet crashed into the earth. This was the cause of a global deluge that has been impressed upon us as Noah’s Flood. It was this comet as well as other, lesser impacts that brought about the destruction of a hitherto, unknown, advanced civilization. The scattered survivors were revered as sages or gods by the weaker, less intelligent natives. Over time, their exploits became the basis of countless myths and religions.

Central to Hancock’s hypothesis is the scattered megalithic construction around the globe. Megalith are huge stones that seem impossible to have been moved by the primitive means available at the time of their construction, 9000-1200 BC. Therefore, according to Hancock, they must have been placed by superior beings.

Graham Hancock’s theories are at odds with mainstream science and archaeology. I have no problem questioning the status quo. In fact, it should be done regularly to keep experts on top of their games. Hancock, however, is not trained as an historian or an archaeologist. He’s an investigative journalist with no accreditation in the fields about which he writes. That shouldn’t discount his ideas, but it should bring into question the provenance of some of those ideas without independent verification by learned persons.

Add to the equation that Hancock repeatedly questions the scientific method of those professionals who rebut his ideas and you start to see a trend. There is a paranoia with the author that the established scientists are out to get him. Unfortunately, these things do not tend to lead credence to the fringe sciences.

To be fair to Graham Hancock, some of the mainstream scientists have gone out of their way, above and beyond the norm, to discredit him and his work. Is it a true concern on their part that he may be telling something they do not want known? Is it simply that they see a growing trend of seemingly educated people falling into sketchy research and accepting it as fact?

Hancock, with Magicians of the Gods as well as his other publications, presents a case that is simple for the layperson to understand. His journalistic background means he knows how to write for a vast majority of the public without overwhelming them with the minutiae that often accompanies scholarly works. Maybe that’s why his theories are so popular.

In all good conscience, I cannot fully accept some of his ideas. With a tremendous amount of supposition and without a lot of true research, there are some things that cannot be taken seriously. While he writes in such a way to endear himself to the reader, some of the hypotheses see too far-fetched.

While I am not a overly religious person, it seems that many of the readers of his books (at least based on the reviews I’ve read) are anti-religion, and are using this as a means to discredit the institution. I see it more as a means to discredit all that we humans have accomplished over the last 12,000 years. Just because we’re not smart enough today to accomplish some of the things doesn’t mean that people who didn’t have computers to do the thinking for them couldn’t do wonderful things.

+Craig Bacon firmly believes in the inherent wonders of humanity. If you want to see what a wonderful world it could be, please follow him on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

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