The Pseudoarchaeology of America Before: A Review

America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization

  • Hancock, Graham
  • St. Martin’s Press
  • Released April 23, 2019 (U.S.)
  • 592 pages
  • $29.99
    ISBN: 978-1-250-15373-9

I received Graham Hancock’s new book in the mail from the publisher to review a little under a week ago as I write this review. I reached out to St. Martin’s Press back in February and offered to review it and, although I received a polite response indicating that I’d be considered, I was somewhat surprised to actually receive it just days ago, nearly a week ahead of its official release date in the United States (it’s been available in the UK for weeks now). My surprise was that the publisher either didn’t vet my previous reviews of pseudoarchaeology or that they did and were willing to take a chance anyway.

Having provided the above disclosure, let me say that though I didn’t spend money on the book, I will make an effort not to be swayed by the “gift.”

If you Google the word “pseudoarchaeology” then click the first link, which is probably to Wikipedia, Graham Hancock’s photograph is displayed prominently at the top of that page. If you read this review to its completion, you’ll understand why.

The Book

The book itself is thick. Weighing in at nearly 600 pages, it has 30 chapters broken down into 8 parts. That said, it reads very well. It isn’t dense by any means and, though Hancock references quite a bit if real science, it isn’t overloaded with jargon or technobabble. In fact, Hancock’s writing style is generally very good. I found myself annoyed at some of his writing habits (“the reader will recall…,” etc.) but I wouldn’t expect this to bother most others. For the average reader who isn’t scientifically inclined, Hancock does a better than average job explaining concepts. At least to the extent that he actually understands them.

Hancock begins the book with sections discussing the Serpent Mound in Ohio, the Cerutti Mastodon site in California, ancient DNA (aDNA), and earthworks and dirt in South America. Early on, he begins his love-hate relationship with archaeologists as a theme that continues as an undercurrent or sub-plot to his overall narrative. On one hand, he’s clearly enamored with archaeologists and the work that’s been done that suits his own ideas. On the other, however, he’s clearly upset that archaeologists refuse to let him in the club—to give equal deference to these ideas. If you stick to the end of this review, you’ll understand why.

Brother, can you paradigm?

The overall theme develops slowly. Hancock simmers the pot as he slowly introduces each premise he believes leads up to it. But the sub-theme is right there in our face from chapter to chapter: archaeologists aren’t to be trusted because they are resistant to “new paradigms.”

He’s immediately on the offensive and continues through to the end, accusing archaeologists and archaeology as being an institution that doesn’t want change and will ruin careers to see to it that none of it happens. The dead horse he beats over and over is the Clovis first hypothesis. That there were people prior to Clovis is something he says, “archaeologists have recently been dragged kicking and screaming to accept.” As example, he mentions the work of Jacques Cinq-Mars, who insisted years ago that he was finding pre-Clovis materials at Bluefish Caves in Alaska.

“As a result of such attitudes, funding drained away and Cinq-Mars had to stop his work, only to be proved correct, many years later, by a new scientific study…”

Hancock, p.58

I can’t speak for Cinq-Mars and the extent to which his career was affected by the Clovis-first hypothesis. But, then, neither can Hancock. Archaeologists are people. Some people excel in their jobs; others not so much. The Clovis-first “paradigm” as the fringe are so fond of saying (“paradigm” is a sciencey sounding word) went out of fashion decades ago. Are there still some old-timers clinging to it? Perhaps. But there are some very well-to-do archaeologists who were on the cusp of discovering pre-Clovis back when it was made a part of history.

Clovis point dating to 11500-9000 BCE from Sevier Co., UT. Photo by Picasa.

Here’s how it works: scientists obtain data. That data are analyzed and more data are obtained based on new research questions… and so on. Eventually, a provisional conclusion is arrived at—usually when the data reach some sort of plateau or some overriding reason exists to think the data aren’t likely to change. For the Clovis-first hypothesis (it was always a hypothesis more than a “paradigm”), older sites were just not yet found. And once they started to show up, there was evidence that peopling North America had to occur after 13,000 years ago due to the small window of opportunity provided by an “ice-free corridor” and lowered sea-levels that created a land-bridge across the Bearing Sea.

Archaeologists, rightly demanded strong evidence before accepting a pre-Clovis hypothesis. This, they demanded of themselves. And they met the challenge. All conclusions in archaeology, as with any science, are provisional. They’re waiting sufficient evidence to either support or revise them as conclusions. Sometimes they’re completely scrapped and something very new takes its place. In the case of Clovis-first, some would say the revision is small. The Clovis culture still exists in the archaeological record. Everything that was found of them is still present. But we now know that there existed cultures before this technology came about. Let’s not forget, “Clovis” describes the technology not the societal norms, kinships, and beliefs of the various peoples that made use of it.

The alternative would have been to simply accept a new hypothesis as a provisional conclusion, willy-nilly and without sufficient evidence. Of course, all would have turned out fine. Pre-Clovis is the correct way to think. But such a slippery-slope of letting just any-old hypothesis in as a provisional conclusion just won’t work. If it wasn’t hard to change a provisional conclusion for a new one, where would the line be drawn? At Vikings in Minnesota? At “bigfoot?” The nephilim? The Annunaki? Polka-dotted unicorns that breathe fire and traded corn with China 25,000 years ago?

Chances are, I lost the average fan of Graham Hancock somewhere between “Vikings” and the “unicorns.” But who gets to draw that line. Hancock would like it to include his own idea. Let’s press on to see why it’s a bad one.

Guilt By Association

I won’t spend any time on the Cerutti Mastodon site here. It has its own problems, but one of them is now Graham Hancock. I’ve written on this in the past and may again soon. But I found it interesting that Tom Deméré initially declined to meet with Hancock, then did so with what seemed to be open arms if Hancock’s account is to be believed. It’s interesting because Hancock mentions later in his book that “Egyptologists avoid me” and spends several pages discussing how different factions of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis were upset that he incorporated each other’s’ material. Apparently a video of Hancock’s was posted to an anti-pseudoscience website and one of the scientists “achieved some unwanted negative-celebrity among his colleagues. He was challenged about the wisdom of hosting [Hancock] and suffered the indignity of wondering about the effect the … video might have on his career and reputation.”

The recent association of Deméré with the pseudoarchaeological television show hosted by Megan Fox and now the pseudoarchaeological notions of Graham Hancock are likely to do little in helping him win over his colleagues.

Chopping Down a Cherry-Picked Tree

Illustration by Chumwa

In the final few sections of the book, Hancock returns to North America where he describes some of the earliest known earthen mounds in North America, such as Watson Brake and Poverty Point. Then he heads up the Mississippi River Valley, ultimately to Ohio and the more recent mounds there. All the while describing alignments, the solstices, lunar cycles, astro-archaeological features, and so on. But this is also where he dives head first into specious comparisons between Native Americans and ancient Egyptians. He readily admits he doesn’t think there were any cross-cultural transmissions of information, and that he accepts the “orthodox” explanation that geographic and temporal separation of these two cultures means that they didn’t have the chance to share information.

But it’s after his section on the global cataclysm that only affected North America that he finally comes clean on what his game truly is. He states several times through the book that he believes that there was a “lost civilization” which was a “third party” responsible for the similarities we see in multiple cultures. An example is the constellation Orion seen as relating to the land of the dead in both Egyptian and Native American cultures. Never mind that the constellation we understand to be Orion today, probably the easiest to spot north of the equator. And that it “travels” east to west, seasonally. Or that, the sun coming up in the east is so easily associated with birth and renewal and, as it sets, associated with death and ancestors. The common element need not be a “lost civilization.” It’s already people. Humans. Homo sapiens. The same common element for all of his other spurious correlations.

By this time, I’ve waded through Hancock’s cherry-picked science. I say “cherry-picked” because he avoids a lot of the parts that don’t work for him. For instance, he likes where Raghavan et al (2015) and Skoglund et al (2015) mention the “Australasian signal” among some of the ancient populations of South America. He likes it a lot. In fact, he mentions is many times after chapter 9 where he introduces it. And even though he provides the quote where Skoglund et al clarify that it was the founding population that was more closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans, and Andamen Islanders than to other Native American groups, he still missed the significance. Or at least he didn’t adequately share that significance with his readers.

What the Australasian genetic “signal” really tells us is that we should be on the lookout for populations that were fast-moving or small. There’s also as good a chance that this Population-Y (the Australasian population in question) began in Southeast Asia then moved both north toward Beringia and south into Melanesia and Australia and what we’re seeing is where they ended up. Hancock doesn’t share these bits along with many others. They don’t jive with his shtick.

What’s the Gist of It All?

Overall, America Before is presented as a carefully picked set of genuine scientific notions, mixed with a few pseudoarchaeological ideas (like spurious similarities between Egyptian and Native American cultures) in order to set Hancock up for his final pitch. One that he holds back until he thinks he’s won the lay-reader over. His easy-to read writing style makes the reader comfortable and probably sympathetic to him personally. He carefully poisons the well here and there with “the skeptics will say…” etc.

There is much within America Before that I can actually agree with. And there is much that I could “debunk” in this book if I cared to. I suspect the comments below will give me ample opportunity if the Hancock acolytes and cult following (he truly is a charismatic figure with a following) respond. But the reality is, none of the premises Hancock puts forth, even if every single one were correct, would mean that his conclusion is right. He conveniently provides a conclusion that cannot be tested or evaluated by science since it isn’t within the realm of science.

Here’s his conclusion:

“My speculation, which I will not attempt to prove here or to support with evidence but merely present for consideration, is that the advanced civilization I see evolving in North America during the Ice Age had transcended leverage and mechanical advantage and learned to manipulate matter and energy by deploying powers of consciousness that we have not yet begun to tap.”

In short, Hancock believes this “lost civilization” used telepathy, telekinesis, remote viewing, and healing powers to transmit their legacy to the world.

I wondered throughout the entire book what mechanism he would suggest. I honestly thought it would be the power of oral history, perhaps tied to mnemonic devices (figurines, rock art, landscapes) or religious ritual to ensure fidelity.

I was not expecting ESP.

References:

M. Raghavan, et al (2015). Genomic evidence for the Pleistocene and recent population history of Native Americans. Science, 349, p. 3884.

P. Skoglund, et al (2015). Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas. Nature, 525, pp. 104-108

About Carl Feagans 387 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

69 Comments

  1. I found my way here through Joe Rogan’s podcast, as I was initially skeptical of Hancock’s claims and looking for some alternative view points. As you know, he does initially take a very sympathetic line, framing himself as a presenter of overlooked evidence and a brave truth-seeker revolting against the “paradigm”. I would agree that Hancock’s suspicions are overzealous, and I’m not prepared to accept them as realistic, even if theoretically plausible (I’m not an archaeologist, so I really don’t know). However, I think this topic speaks to something larger. Thorough-out the history of knowledge, individuals who had the gaul to rebel against the status quo, often times lacking in evidence, were able to change the course of scientific wisdom by simply being brave enough to imagine. Science isn’t about your imagination of course, it’s about reality, but I think the popularity of figures like Hancock speaks to the public’s frustration (or boredom) with the perceived (or real) rigidity the scientific community often finds itself in. While you state are willing to accept any legitimate evidence put forward, the public, simply, is always unfortunately always going to find eccentric views like those of Hancock’s more interesting. My question is then is it possible for the archaeological community to take a public relations approach that presents as more open minded and curious (as all science should be)? While I appreciate Hancock’s themes about questioning authority, as the mainstream scientific community has indeed clung to many incorrect ideas in the past, I do share your condemnation for the leaps he takes (even if does state them as merely “suspicions”). Do you think the field can do better in its handling of such figures, and is there possibly something we can learn from them?

    • I think the field and profession of archaeology can certainly do much better at being inclusive to the average consumer. And I say “consumer” with great intent. We’re one of the few sciences (in as much as we can dare call ourselves a science) that has a ready-made audience. The only other scientific endeavor that seems to come close is astronomy. In both archaeology and astronomy, people of all ages and walks of life seem fascinated by the discoveries we have. Certainly biology has it to a degree when it comes to animals and plants of the wild. While some people do get excited about new processes in chemical engineering or advances in physics or math, an oldest site in any country or even *county* will go viral. People love a hoard of Roman coins or sunken remains of a pirate ship!

      I think this is where we go wrong. Our audience wants the material. They want to consume books, magazines, and movies that feature this stuff.

      So what’s this have to do with the archaeological profession being so rigid and hard to change, etc.? Possibly not much. But I suspect if we can force ourselves to embrace our consumer audience we might have to develop a temperament that permits us a little more tolerance *within* as well. I don’t think we should accepted just any old hypothesis that gets thrown our way as equal to conclusions that have been tested and I certainly don’t agree that scientific conclusions should be driven by popularity. Scientific conclusions can’t be voted on.

      That said, I don’t agree that clovis first was incorrect. It was precisely the right conclusion when it was originally arrived at based on the evidence available at the time. The real question is, “at what point did it become the wrong conclusion?” The answer to that is, of course, once sufficient evidence was presented that showed otherwise.

      The problem then becomes, “who decides when the evidence is sufficient?” And that, my friend, is what I think Hancock doesn’t understand. There is no overall governing body; no central office or elected official; no “priesthood” or “elites” within the profession of archaeology that are deciding what is accepted or not.

      We, as archaeologists, make that determination. And not all at once. This is where I think being more vocal and public with our work comes into play. If we improve our public or consumer image by producing more interesting, accessible, and engaging media then we will likely reduce the prominence of the mystery-mongers selling pseudoarchaeology to them. And likely improve our abilities to talk within to ourselves.

      I hope this is found helpful in how I see the rigidity of science and discovery. As I write this, I’m still exploring my own thoughts and perspectives on the subject. I don’t think the situation is as bad as Hancock would like his readers to think it is, but I can see how there’s the perception that it is.

  2. I really enjoyed this question and response almost as much as the well-said review you put forth. Quickly piggy-backing off the discussion, I firmly believe that the scientific process of consensus debate and discussion based on facts couldn’t be more useful as a model for public discourse in our modern world. Every psuedo-altruist loves to put these ideas forward in mainstream media, however archeology/ science as a whole puts forward a backbone of communication for average “consumers” to really buy into. While there is no “governing body of science” the scientific method itself could serve as an excellent guideline for proper consumption of information in a vastly over-saturated market.

    I agree with everything put forth, by the comment above and simply would love to see more transparency from this realm of science. You all deal with some of the most extraordinary topics on the planet and yet, I feel as though the discoveries do not receive the reach necessary. Perhaps this is due to a poor selection from mainstream media, perhaps the delivery of the information is not disruptive enough to really highlight its very significance. Im not looking to place blame, just pose my current and honest thoughts

    Hancock was the first to illuminate me too many of these mysteries/monuments on our extraordinary planet, only for me to find out that archeologists were obviously already discussing such matters. Perhaps there’s a way to put forward an actual archeologist who can discuss such eccentric possibilities, but with a little more grounded truth? I know that many people would love to latch on to this, should it fall into their diet

    Just food for thought, really enjoyed the dialogue thanks again

  3. Carl states…

    “There is much within America Before that I can actually agree with. And there is much that I could “debunk” in this book if I cared to.”

    Well – This is pretty much Hancock’s attitude to certain areas of what he refers to as “Mainstream” Archaeology.

    From the beginning of the trilogy – starting with ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ – Hancock has always admitted that he may be completely incorrect in some of his theories, but they may be worth considering. He has also accepted that some of his earlier speculations are wrong. Hancock also freely admits that he is a ‘reporter’ although today I think we can all admit he has done allot more than just report on others work.
    Hancock has dedicated around thirty years of his life to the subjects investigated withing these publications.
    He has travelled the world, personally visited all the featured sites in his books and even risked his own life many times in doing.
    So, I think it is safe to say that they are not a product of drug induced psychosis, as some have suggested here, but a true passion for regaining the memories of what he refers to as a “civilisation with amnesia”.
    Hancock’s books feature a huge amount of real scientific data, cherry picked you may say, but certainly well researched and understood before putting pen to paper.
    I am absolutely certain that Hancock has no intentions of trying to “trick” a gullible audience as stated elsewhere on this site. I Have met Hancock on many occasions and talked with him, he is a very warn and friendly person who is willing to listen to other peoples ideas.
    I once attended a book signing after one of his lectures and he took four hours of his own time to make sure he had answered every bodies questions, most Archaeologists are prepared to take maybe four or five questions.

    I have now read ‘America Before’ twice and also the previous two books a good few times, I don’t agree with everything Hancock has to offer but he certainly makes some good points that cannot be ignored, and why should we?

    As for the above ‘Review’ – I can only say that I cannot see a possible way to write a proper review of a non-fiction, six hundred page book – Especially on the grounds of trying your best to debunk it.

    And as for the final chapter (before appendix 1 & 2)

    Carl States…

    “I was not expecting ESP.”

    Well Carl, that’s Hancock for you .. He loves throwing a spanner in the works, although the affects of DMT have been highly explored by scientists for decades now.
    In his book ‘The Spirit Molecule” Dr. Rick Strassman M.D – clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine – proposed, just as Hancock does, that the psychedelic seems to produce or allow supernatural experiences.

    “From 1990 to 1995, Dr. Rick Strassman conducted U.S. government-approved and funded clinical research at the University of New Mexico in which he injected 60 volunteers with DMT, one of the most powerful psychedelics known. His detailed account of those sessions is an extraordinarily riveting inquiry into the nature of the human mind and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. DMT, a plant-derived chemical found in the psychedelic Amazon brew ayahuasca, is also manufactured by the human brain. In Strassman’s volunteers, it consistently produced near-death and mystical experiences. Many reported convincing encounters with intelligent nonhuman presences, aliens, angels, and spirits. Nearly all felt that the sessions were among the most profound experiences of their lives. Strassman’s research connects DMT with the pineal gland, considered by Hindus to be the site of the seventh chakra and by René Descartes to be the seat of the soul.

    Sauce – The Spirit Molecule” ©2000 Rick J. Strassman, M.D. (P)2011 Tantor.

    I’m not going to “Cherry Pick” Hancock’s new book here, but only say that maybe Archaeology needs Hancock as Hancock needs Archaeology!

  4. I am new to the argument posted here, but I had to write and say that writers that include only what supports their “shtick” describes most writers over a whole range of topics. And to say you could debunk something and then not be bothered, that just seems beneath your obvious skills. I haven’t read the book yet, but I plan to read it soon. Anyone who gets this much flak for simply asking us to speculate beyond the norm must have quite a worthy contribution to make.

  5. Carl – Your getting an audience here, but i’m not sure its the one you intended.
    I would suggest that accepting Hancock in the 21st Century may be “Archaeologically correct” – if nothing else. He seems to be in the forefront of some pretty big revelations in 2019!

  6. So, “archaeologically correct” means accepting and injecting bullshit explanations about telepathic civilizations and telekinetic stonemasons. Rather than real science.

    No thanks. You can keep that drug-addled nonsense. I’ll stick to science.

    And, as I’ve demonstrated over and over, Hancock has a conclusion to which he cherry-picks whatever science (good or bad) that seems to support it. Then, his well-meaning but generally ignorant followers pick this up and say, “look, Hancock was right about [insert scientific discovery]” even though he didn’t discover or predict anything.

    He’s no different, in this regard, than the celebrity-psychics that make shotgun predictions and take credit for all their hits and none of their misses.

  7. Carl, I would first like to state that although I have read Mr. Hancock’s trilogy including the newest book, I do not follow his ideas and beliefs like a blind zealot. That being said, he has put for many interesting ideas based on decades of evidence that he has gathered through osmosis or through personal discovery. It is indeed interesting and fun to take his ideas and run with them but I take all of them with a heaping grain of salt.

    Fanciful or factual, I don’t think it is fair to say that he cherry picks his facts. Although it may be true that he does, many scientific minds do exactly that. In a way, it is necessary to propagate their ideas far enough to be tested by other minds. Michio Kaku didn’t have all of the evidence gathered when he originally proposed his String Theory and at the time. And when he proposed it, he cherry picked the places where the math worked in order to get enough credibility to take it even further. Now, I am NOT comparing Kaku and Hancock in the sense that they are equals and that their ideas hold the same merit, but I am using String Theory as a prime example of emerging ideas using “cherry picked” evidence. And on a side note, String Theory may still be proven very wrong in the not so distant future.

    I am not a “fanboy” and just because I read Tolkien’s trilogy doesn’t mean that I believe in elves and orcs. Hancock has some very interesting ideas that are at least based on what he has come across so far. Sure, there may be quite a bit of evidence that points to him being wrong but who’s to say that he didn’t at least get part of it right. I don’t think it makes sense to throw the baby out with the bath water and discount the more plausible pieces of his work just because he makes connections and assumptions that don’t make immediate logical sense to many.

    Also, let’s not forget the non-geologist Alfred Wegener who proposed continental drift and plate tectonics well before he had any solid evidence. His life and career were indeed ruined and only decades later was it discovered that he was right on the money. Again, not saying that Hancock is on the same plane as Wegener but I bring him up to further illustrate the point that sometimes even the most asinine ideas can wind up being at least in part true.

    • Doc,

      Thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment, I really appreciate it!

      I would caution against using the argument you’ve put forth to defend Hancock. Although you’ve invoked Alfred Wegener, it’s often refered to as the “Galileo Gambit” or “Galileo Fallacy.” The argument is usually presented this way:

      Claim X is made.
      Claim X is ridiculous.
      Person A argues that claim Y was seen as ridiculous at the time, and it turned out to be right.
      Therefore, claim X is true (or should be given more credibility)

      Also, while Wegener did not get his degree in Geology, he was considered a “geophysicist” since he did study physics, meteorology, and astronomy. Moreover, his life and career, while hindered by his hypothesis, were hardly ruined. He continued to write and publish, teach, and even lead expeditions to remote places like Greenland, where he died in 1930.

      I think I’ve provided good reasons to legitimately accuse Hancock of cherry-picking data. I’ve outlined a more than one instance and gave examples in this review and in earlier commentary. Those examples included his use of the Cerutti Mastodon site, where he highlights all the favorable data but none of the contradictory except to say that “skeptics are out to get Demere” (paraphrasing). I also pointed out his insistence that the Australasian aDNA “signal” (as he calls it) strongly suggests that people arrived in the Americas from Australia. When the reality is that it weakly suggests that people who were ancestral to modern inhabitants of Australia, Melanesia–probably of South Asia–traveled to both Australia and the Americas. He misses what scientists are finding the most fascinating with that aDNA data because he has a conclusion he needs to fit it into.

      And none of it excuses the fact that he is ultimately claiming, “therefore, a lost civilization existed that used ESP, telepathy, and telekinesis to spread it’s knowledge and abilities.”

  8. Sorry I think that was worded wrong.
    What I mean is that maybe Archaeology should accept that Hancock has a roll to play here.
    After all, and as you state yourself, much of Hancock’s latest book we can agree on.
    Also, their is no harm in considering some of the more fantastic concepts, our civilisation has been influenced by religion since it’s dawn – is this not similar?
    Hancock may well be drawing the attention of people who will NOT just take his work at face value (whether its right, questionable or wrong) but decide to do their own research, develop a greater interest in past history and even choose a career in “mainstream” Archaeology – surely this is healthy?
    I have a friend who spent his whole youth hooked on Area 51 UFO stuff, he now has a senior job with Airbus.
    Its just a thought.
    Also remember that Archaeology is only one of the large amount of subjects Hancock deals with.

  9. Doctors once bled ill people as a form of medical treatment. They were wrong. Therefore they are wrong when they deny the healing properties of crystals and pyramids.

    In the space of a month or so frequenting this site I have seen more reference to Clovis First conspiracy than in the previous 35 years. It’s turned into the intellectual equivalent of herpes. It just keeps flaring up and flaring up.

    The skeptics may disagree but is it not within the realm of possibility that Carl is the anti-Christ and is using the cover of archaeologist to persecute Hancock the true Messiah rather than a career stoner. I will make no effort to substantiate this assertion. I humbly submit it as fruit for consideration.

    • Doctors once bled ill people as a form of medical treatment. They were wrong. Therefore they are wrong when they deny the healing properties of crystals and pyramids.

      Doctors once practiced “medicine” that wasn’t based on evidence. At least not with any consistency. Now, medicine is evidenced-based. If there’s no evidence that it is helpful (as with the alleged healing properties of crystals and pyramids), then it isn’t medicine. Doctors today rightfully deny such poppycock.

      Just because something is “possible” doesn’t imply that is in any way probable.

      But it *is* more likely that I’m the anti-christ than Hancock is correct about the ESP and Telekinesis of his lost civilization.

  10. If you want another example of the (il)logical by pseudos take a look at the Bigfoot believers. According to them, because scientists believed that the coelacanth was extinct until its rediscovery, they must be wrong when they are less than enthusiastic about the existence of Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and Thunderbirds.

  11. Carl, if you would listen to Hancock on the podcast or perhaps read his book, you would know that Hancock is NOT at all claiming to “prove” the existence of ESP or telekinesis. He proposes it as a possibility but specifically says that it is a product of his imagination. Science is one way of learning about the world, but it is not the only one. As an archeologist, I would think that you would understand that there are other ways of knowing outside of western science. Hancock isn’t a materialist reductionist, if you disagree with him fundamentally on that point, of course it is impossible to consider ideas beyond materialism. However to throw out his entire argument because of one belief of his that you cannot reconcile with is, in my opinion, equivalent to not listening to someone because they don’t practice the same religion that you do.

    • Of course he’s not out to prove the existence of ESP. It doesn’t exist. Claims about it have been tested ad nauseum in past decades and all have shown the effect to be non-existent with no plausible mechanism to explain it.

      I think Hancock enjoys this as an elusive quality that he knows will never be demonstrated, allowing his silly “lost civilization” claim to live indefinitely. Or at least until people quit accepting it without evidence.

      And you say “ways of knowing outside of western science.” First, there is no “western” or any other geographic modifier for science. In the paraphrased words of Steven Novella, science is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. It matters not where you are geographically. The process is either scientific or it is not. If you find that disagreeable, what part, specifically do you disagree with? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Using consistent logic?

      And for the record, I read the book. That’s why I wrote the review you’re commenting on.

  12. Carl, you said:

    “I also pointed out his insistence that the Australasian aDNA “signal” (as he calls it) strongly suggests that people arrived in the Americas from Australia. When the reality is that it weakly suggests that people who were ancestral to modern inhabitants of Australia, Melanesia–probably of South Asia–traveled to both Australia and the Americas. He misses what scientists are finding the most fascinating with that aDNA data because he has a conclusion he needs to fit it into.”

    But is this not precisely what Hancock is arguing? That there was an ancient civilization that was capable of seafaring long distances? Forgive me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe Hancock ever makes the claim that boats were sailed directly from Australia to The Amazon. I believe he entertained that as a possibility, but more parsimonious and central to his argument is a shared ancestry and culture of these very spatially separated peoples.

    • No, that’s not what Hancock is claiming at all. If you read the book, you’ll find that he repeatedly assumes that the “Australasian signal” means that people are coming from Australia (or Melanesia). What the scientists he cited actually said was the evidence points to an ancient founding population that are more closely related to modern Australasians that probably originated from Asia. As did the modern Australasians. In other words, people migrated across the Bearing land bridge after their ancestors went two different directions.

      And Hancock suggests that these people sailed from Australia at least once. And suggests that the “lost civilization” had “mastery of the sea” and ports and harbors all over the world. Without any evidence, of course.

      The point is, he never really outlines what the researchers he cited suggest explains the weak aDNA “signal” as he calls it. Which is that a fast-moving, small population, after a migrational pause in Siberia, headed out across the Bearing land bridge and down to S. America. And while the authors of the papers referred to the Australasian aDNA signature weak, he characterizes it as strong.

      I can go through my copy of the book and cite the page numbers if you’d like.

  13. If the ancestors migrated across the bearing land bridge, why isn’t the “signal” found anywhere else in the America’s but in The Amazon? How do you explain that without seafarers?

    Feng shui is something that immediately comes to mind. It is a way of knowing that is not scientific, yet it works, towns built according to feng shui principles really are better constructed than those that are constructed only with modern principles in mind. You can look into the science behind this (feng shui minimizes the damage of natural disasters, for one), but the point is that our science didn’t know this, whereas an ancient way of knowing did.

    I’m not against science, I’m a scientist myself. But I think that claims should be entertained, even ridiculous ones. Before the evidence against Hancock was that there was no cataclysm, now we know there was… You say he’s shotgunning claims… but that is a very specific claim.

    When it comes down to it Hancock is advocating for two things in the future: archaeological research in marine environments, The Amazon, and the Sahara. He also advocates for preventative and precautionary measures to be taken for potential cosmic bodies that could hit Earth again.

    You say there’s no evidence, but we haven’t looked too deeply into the places where the evidence would be!

    And spending money on military “defense” when we take no measures against something that could actually destroy society as we know it…

    • If the ancestors migrated across the bearing land bridge, why isn’t the “signal” found anywhere else in the America’s but in The Amazon? How do you explain that without seafarers?

      Lot’s of ways. I actually provided one in the comments.

      Feng shui is something that immediately comes to mind. It is a way of knowing that is not scientific, yet it works

      Except Feng shui doesn’t work. There have been some tests to show it. I’m pretty sure it involved a control group that was *told* feng shui was applied when it really wasn’t and they reported all the touchy-feeling B.S. that comes with it. In other words… bullshit.

  14. I notice the America Before ‘Pre-Review’ thread now has 109 comments, pretty impressive!
    I also notice that the debate here and on the ‘Pre-review’ page is becoming pretty random
    and in some cases personal.
    I’m not sure that the Hancock subject is ever likely to be dealt with here, simply because of the staggering amount of work that Hancock has published along with the nature of the subjects.
    However, there are some points, debated here, that need to be further addressed.
    For a start the “Cherry Picking” argument is simply not working, and here is why:

    1.Whatever information Hancock chooses to include, it has to be relevant to the subject, also he DOES include allot of the arguments against – he does this again and again by reiterating the ‘commonly accepted theories’.

    2.Of course Hancock is going to use the information most valuable to his cause. After all, the ‘Mainstream’ Archaeologists, in their usual arrogant, disingenuous, short-sighted, un-scientific and dogmatic manner have certainly ‘Cherry Picked’ the arguments against him to near extinction.
    3.Hancock repeatedly states that he has hunches, beliefs and theories that may not be accepted by all and may well not be fact.
    4.The usage of ‘Cherry Picking’ here is completely different to the methods in which Hancock conducts his research.
    5.I WOULD NOT describe – Diving on seventy underwater sites, travelling around the world to investigate ancient sites in over two hundred countries, interviewing hundreds of ‘mainstream’ scholars, touring the north American Scablands with an expert Geologist and risking his life on numerous occasions as ‘Cherry Picking’.
    6.Hancock has dedicated thirty years of his life to this subject, personally funded his research and tirelessly researched thousands of leads; it is his passion – He hasn’t just sat down in front of Wikipedia for six months in order to cut and paste enough ‘agreeable’ material to form a book.

    As for the comments on DNA.

    If you read the whole section properly Hancock states that the DNA Signal was found to be stronger in some groups than others, for instance Surui and Karitiana people of the Amazon had stronger ties to indigenous groups in Australasias, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders than to Eurasians.
    Hancock also points out the possibility of these people reaching South America by sea rather than by crossing the bearing landmass and continuing down that route as they seem to have left no trace in North America. If they had come from the north, you would expect them to have interacted and bread with the North American people as well.
    Hancock only speculated on a direct crossing and suggests that another and more acceptable possibility of the boat scenario is that they used the coast lines and ports along the way.

    Smithsonian:

    “A DNA Search for the First Americans Links Amazon Groups to Indigenous Australians”

    “Harvard lab teamed up with researchers in Brazil to collect more samples from Amazonian groups to investigate the matter. Together they scrutinized the genomes of 30 Native American groups in Central and South America. Using four statistical strategies, they compared the genomes to each other and to those of 197 populations from around the world. The signal persisted. Three Amazonian groups—Suruí, Karitiana and Xavante—all had more in common with Australasians than any group in Siberia.”

    Next:

    In the previous (Pre Review) post – one of the commenters –Harte- refers to my description of ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’

    My Comment:

    “I still regard ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ as a good piece of work. OK it is flawed in places and Graham has changed his views on the cause of the ‘Cataclysmic’ Event at the end of the Ice age, but it does still hold a place on the historical bookshelf. It is full of undisputable facts as well as justified speculation.”

    The Reply – by Harte:

    “Hancock showed the paucity of his intellect in that train wtreck “Fingerprints of the Gods.” I was greatly amused to read from Richard”.
    “Hancock is a lazy researcher with a talent for the written word. He lost me permanently in F.O.G. with his many idiotic claims therein. You can refute the entire book in three words: Flash. Frozen. Mammoths.”

    This summery just shows the intellect of some of the contributors here!

    I will (AGAIN) make it clear that I DO NOT take everything Graham Hancock proposes at face value, some must be taken with a very large pinch of salt – Hancock would be the first to acknowledge this.
    When Hancock says “Lets consider for a moment” he means just that.
    I also consider a majority of ‘Mainstream’ historical studies and their conclusions to be true and accurate but there are large question marks hanging over certain areas – Undoubtedly Ancient Egypt (Early Dynasty) is one of these.

    “Fingerprints of the Gods” is a 760-page publication, and it does contain a huge amount of factual information as well as a fair amount of pure speculation. That was the whole point of the book in the first place – Hancock wanted to shake things up, and it worked.
    I’m not going to spend too much time here so let’s have a quick look at the points raised by Hancock in regard to the Giza Plateau and its structures.

    1.The three main Pyramids “Khufu, Khafre, Mankaure” hold a correlation with the three stars of Orians belt in 10500 BC. Hancock does not state that they were built at this time but only that it is possible the lay out at Giza dates to this era.

    2.The extremely distinctive pattern of ‘precipitation induced’ weathering on the Sphinx enclosure has conclusively dated the monument to a far more ancient period than commonly accepted.

    3.The Osireion, and other architecturally associated structures were built in a far more ancient period than commonly accepted.

    4.The Great Pyramids purpose may very well not have been a Tomb.

    5.The ramps and tools suggested to have been used in the construction of these monuments would not have been able to accomplish anything close to what we see at Giza.

    These five points would of course be, and still are, considered complete rubbish by ‘Mainstream’ archaeology, and would have been swept under the carpet and forgotten if the actual evidence had not pointed to the fact that they are much more likely to be closer to the truth than the alternative and accepted conclusions that, as usual, have stood dogmatically for centuries.
    The point being that anybody from the ‘outside’ who dares to challenge the theories that support the careers of orthodox scholars will be immediately and ruthlessly discredited without any pause for consideration.
    “Fingerprints of the Gods” pointed out that allot could be wrong with the teachings concerning our ancient past, it also predicted that megalithic sites, well outdating the accepted model for their first appearance, would be discovered – This prediction was honoured with the discovery of Gobekli Tepe and various other sites now solidly dated to 10,000BC of before.
    Hancock also proposed in ‘Fingerprints’ that the flood at the end of the last ice age had been the result of a cataclysm of immense proportions. He theorised Earth crust displacement – but later, and due to his research into North America, he was to change his mind- and why not? That’s how progress is made.
    We are now pretty sure that there was a huge extra-terrestrial event at the end of the Ice age that did, in fact, produce cataclysmic floods. We need only to read ‘America Before’ to get the factual scientific data for this – Agreed by hundreds of highly accredited scientists worldwide.
    It may hurt some to hear this, but Hancock was way ahead of any Archaeologist when it came to considering all the flood myths from around the world, logically taking them at face value and looking for the evidence and mechanism – he found both!

    Lastly in this comment I come to Carl’s utterance:

    “So, “archaeologically correct” means accepting and injecting bullshit explanations about telepathic civilizations and telekinetic stonemasons. Rather than real science.”

    Well Carl, I think you’re missing the point.

    Hancock does not say any of this (discussed in the last chapter before appendix 1&2) is based on scientific evidence, and OK it sounds pretty fantastic, but so do allot of the religious beliefs that human beings murder one another over every day.
    It’s also pretty convenient to describe it here in such a context that the reader may automatically reject the decades of work by Hancock under the pretence that he is a drawling mad man because of one proposal that he fully admits is just a conceptual theory.
    I’m no expert on what is referred to as the supernatural or the occult, but maybe science one day will find that the human brain does had a few more deployable powers that we have lost the ability to use or the knowledge of how to control. I would mention that ‘Science’ has yet to explain how supersized rocks where quarried, transported and raised hundreds of feet in Circa 2500 BC and before.
    I’m fully aware that the Romans and Greeks were more than capable of working with blocks weighing in excess of 50 tons, but that was a long time later and they did have much higher technological abilities. But thousands of years earlier it seems that to work with blocks weighing hundreds of tons (some approaching a thousand) was normal and simple procedure.
    Is it not possible that they did have some kind of far more fantastic methods for achieving these feats than we are led to believe? If science can’t explain it then maybe, we have to turn to alternative explanations. That’s all Hancock is doing.

    – But here I stop before being tarred with the “Crazy Old Hancock Brush”

    • I notice the America Before ‘Pre-Review’ thread now has 109 comments, pretty impressive!
      I also notice that the debate here and on the ‘Pre-review’ page is becoming pretty random
      and in some cases personal.

      There’s actually a setting that closes comments permanently after 45 days. So the “pre-review” comments will probably only have a couple days left.

      It’s an anti-spam measure. Spammers look for old blog articles to post comments to then sneak links in which get noticed by Google and help their SEO.

  15. For those keeping score at home, you can check othe boxes for:

    Gish Gallop
    Special Pleading
    Galileo Gambit

    I think there is a No True Scotsman or two thrown in the comments as well, but I was just skimming.

    • If you’ve logged in or used your email to leave the comment and have had at least two approved comments, you can comment without the need for approval on the back end. Some folks don’t enter their email when they leave a comment (the email isn’t shown) and it makes it necessary to approve manually.

      That’s the least level I can set an not be overwhelmed with spam for porn and sneakers.

  16. Point of order.

    In order for Hancock to be a “pseudo archaeologist” I imagine he would have to claim to be an archaeologist in the first place?

    As far as I am aware he is a “real” journalist rather than a “false” archaeologist. Is it not the case that journalists report and comment on the actions of others rather than committing the actions themselves.

    If I were a pedant I could claim that you are a “pseudo” book reviewer, unless, of course, you are qualified to undertake that job by an accredited university.

    When Hancock picks up a trowel and a toothbrush and starts digging holes you can feel free to denigrate him as much as you like.

    As it is…well, you do the math.

    • In order for Hancock to be a “pseudo archaeologist” I imagine he would have to claim to be an archaeologist in the first place?

      He makes claims that are archaeologically-based. That’s good enough for me. If you don’t want to apply the label “pseudoarchaeologist” to him, that’s your prerogative. I feel differently. You can feel free to call me a pseudo-book reviewer all you like. I did, however, stay at a Holiday Inn Express recently, so that should qualify me.

      As it is…well, you do the math.

      You trying to call me a “mathematician?!” Now you’re just being mean!

  17. When Archaeology explains how folk in prehistory were lifting 1000 tonne blocks of stone 20 ft in the air (Baalbek) and building structures like Puma Punku with its extraordinary precision and peculiar magnetic properties or the massive Megalithic, earthquake proof,polygonal walls on top of mountains in Bolivia…hell, even the 12,000 year old Gobekli Tepe megastructures then Hancock will dry up and blow away.

    As it is, your discipline relies on theories just as speculative and unbelievable as Hancock et al.

    He isn’t writing a dissertation for peer review, he’s just asking (to dealfening silence) for a sensible answer from your colleagues. Some of the crackpot solutions offered by respected Archaeologists are so ridiculous that it diminishes your specialty in the eyes of the Laity. If an Engineer with 20 years of expertise asserts that he couldn’t build the foundations of the temple of Jupiter in Lebanon with the biggest cranes available in 2019 I’m inclined to believe him over an experimental archaeologist with literally 0 experience in moving and shaping massive stones. I’m pretty sure that about 80 of Hancocks theories are dead wrong but there are some genuine anomalies out there that allow the question…WTF. That’s Hancocks niche.

  18. “Is it not possible that they did have some kind of far more fantastic methods for achieving these feats than we are led to believe?”

    Yes, it is POSSIBLE. But it is much more PROBABLE that they were able to accomplish much more with the known technology of the time than you are willing to give them credit for. There is actually some interesting experimental work being done to explain how things were built in ancient Egypt. But if your heart is set on tossing out Occam’s Razor for the sake of attributing the lifting of really big rocks to things like deployable brain power then reading up on the topic would probably be a waste of time.

    Hancock has never been ahead of archaeologists on anything. He isn’t even ahead of other fringe theorists as pretty much everything that he says/claims is derivative from earlier fringe theorists. A fantastic highly advanced ancient civilization wiped out by some sort of cataclysm. Mystical secrets of the ancients that can only be grasped by taking hallucinogenic drugs. Grand conspiracies to hide the “truth.” Oh yeah, really original stuff that has never been pitched before.

    Much more money to be made by selling what is possible instead of what is probable when it comes to things like this, though.

  19. If one does a google search “Graham Hancock archaeologist” it doesn’t take much effort to find people referring to Hancock as an archaeologist. People here have tried to legitimize him by stating that Hancock has risked his life to visit and investigate multiple sites. If supporters of Hancock can spin him as an archeologist or at least someone doing archaeology then it is perfectly fair for critics to label him as a pseudoarchaeologist.

    Hell, in the summer of 1994 I risked my life during a Phase One survey in the Tunica Hills. But that wouldn’t stop my colleagues from treating me as a crackpot if I claimed that smoking massive amounts of pot allowed me to commune with some sort of spiritual guide that revealed that the Tunica Treasure was actually 5000 years older than we know it to be.

    Probably a decent list of fringe theorists who have donned a scuba suit and took a close look at things like the Bimini Road, but I’m not sure how that replaces actual scientific investigation that considers it to be a natural formation.

  20. Touche` Mon Brave.

    Seriously Sir. I admire your willingness to engage with amateurs and dullards in a non combative way. It speaks well of you.

    I don’t agree with your description of Hancock as a bogus archaeologist. He doesn’t publish in Archaeological journals, hasn’t ever dug up anything and, in reality, goes to extraordinary lengths to NOT claim your profession for himself.

    He relies on hard to explain areas in your Canon and includes other academic opinion to arrive at his speculations.

    He includes Geologists, archaeoastronomers, Genetecists, Theologians, Crackpots, Shamen…His is a broad church.

    And, frankly, it makes for a damn good read.

    There are only 2 possible outcomes. He’s right or wrong. Either way works well for me. If he’s right and we are heading for another extinction event Cometary disaster it won’t matter anyway that he’s made a few million dollars telling us we’re all doomed.

  21. I notice comments are closed on the ‘Pre-Review’
    Page – proberbly a good thing, the debate over the dating of ‘Atlantis’ was definitely not a good direction to take.
    Plato really did create a huge hornets nest when he wrote about the lost continent.

  22. “I’m pretty sure that about 80 of Hancock’s theories are dead wrong…”

    Yet Hancock quite consistently tries to play a game of connect the dots by tying all these things together to claim a mounting body of evidence to support the same grand assertion.

    It’s a common strategy used by fringe theorists. That is, take a bunch of unsubstantiated “anomalies” at face value to accumulate an alleged insurmountable body of evidence rather than taking the time to explore each one in-depth to determine if it can stand on its own merits or not.

    Makes for great “what if” or “Is it possible” fantasy writing, but it quickly turns into a house of card. Demonstrate that a couple of these anomalies aren’t really anomalies and the whole thing comes crashing down. That’s why it is so amusing when his supporters actually admit that he is wrong about something but then claim that it doesn’t matter because he makes all these other great points. He really doesn’t. He is just throwing as much stuff against the wall as possible then claiming victory if something occasionally sticks and hoping people forget about all the stuff that doesn’t.

    Hancock might be taken at least a little more seriously if he actually engaged in the serious study of individual anomalies instead of just collecting them and using them to constantly trying to hammer square pegs into round holes.

    • We wouldn’t have anyone to insist that there’s a “lost civilization”–conveniently wiped from existence and the archaeological record (which makes you wonder why he’s so sure) that used ESP and telekinesis to pass on it’s wisdom to Native Americans and ancient Egyptians!

      Where would we be without such pillars of our community!? 🙂

  23. Lets foget the telekinesis stuff. It seems to be the main reason to descredit all of Hancocks work.
    Anyway, havent we all had some kind of experience in life that just doesent conform. When my son boke his arm at school (he was seven) 5 mins before the call from the school I had a really strange feeling that somthing bad had happened, Then the phone rang, maybe coincidence? But..

  24. I hate to say it, but Carl, I agree.
    On reading the last chapter I actually thought “Hancock dont do this”
    But then its his book.
    I will always defend Graham in parts but will also accept his mistakes.

  25. Dillehay questioned “authority” and as a result now holds a prestigious professorship at a world class archaeology program.

    I questioned authority and ended up with an award winning dissertation.

    Hancock pretends to question authority and seems to have made some pretty good money.

    As Walter perhaps indicates some people question authority with “isn’t there the slightest possibility that…” while others question authority with “I can clearly demonstrate the probability that…”

    I need to drink a fifth of Scotch and then commune with my guardian spirit, that may or may not be a figment of my imagination, for guidance to understand the difference between confronting authority with possibility versus probability.

  26. Cool!!!! I saw the comments closed in this article and got bummed. https://ahotcupofjoe.net/2019/03/pre-review-of-america-before-graham-hancocks-new-pseudoscience/. I thought I would never hear from James, Richard or Bill again. And i had just fired up my new popcorn machine and was munching away. I was only able to find you guys again by going to Carls Fb page, then figuring out to go to the Archeology page, by backtracking to the article, then scrolling down to find this article. LOL!!!!!!! Anyways . . .1. I am an ancient astronauts precivilization von daniken fan since I was 10 years old in 1979 and read chariots of the gods. In my suburban upstairs bedroom. BEFORE I became a pothead. And it did blow up my mind. Between that and In Search Of with Spockhead and Spontaneous Combustion there wasnt much else UFO-y or aline-y in pre-cable land to tickle the brain. Its amazing what has happened in 40 years with these topics. 2. I just heard of America Before a few hours ago because I saw a Joe Rogan DMT article posted on FB . . . .which led me to watch a Joe Rogan video with Graham Hancock . . . which lead me to watch bits and pieces of America Before videos and have been watching videos (background), while simultaneously reading article on it in a separate window on my 27″ imac. LOL. I am already sold on fingerprints of the gods basic idea/theory. So i was buying into America Before. Pretty quickly. Until I stumbled across Carl. 3. I think Carl and Bill won this debate, based on the merits. Facts, Arguments etc. At least to the point where the comments closed in the last article. But at the very end it seemed Richard was landing some decent blows, so i will now read carls review and these comments and see what how the fight turned out. Actually, its 2 am so i will do it tomorrow. Even though i would rather do it now :p 4. i demand you bring bill back. Immediately. He is primary to this debate. Also, try to bring back a couple of the other missing people who made comments so they are at least aware of this article and this thread. Thanks 5. That stuff at the end with Al was funny. :p Bookmarking and good night.

  27. I thoroughly enjoyed both this article and the pre-review!

    I’m just an average guy with no stake in the game and I don’t usually post comments online so please forgive any poor grammar. At first I was seeking a less biased and more independent review and was put off a bit by the breaks in the review to take jabs at Hancock defenders that so adamantly swarm your comment section (and often don’t look great doing it). I would have preferred taking that opportunity to acknowledge them but then educate them in a positive way. To me this painted a picture of an outraged scientist that can’t help but pound furiously at a keyboard to defend a single unwavering point of view and saturate his well written review with angry quips. Based on the pre-review there was no other possible outcome but a negative review, even without having read the book yet.

    But as I digested the content of your review and continued to gain context, it became more clear that you are justified in your views. I quickly began to find value in a clear opposing point of view. You provided sources and broke down the book in a fair and well structured manner from the Archaeologist point of view. A point of view of someone that has an author writing a book in their field. What I originally conceived as spite, turned to education and I learned a little about the field itself and consumers and got a little taste of the type of mind behind a character such as Hancock. In the final quote in your review Hancock tells us himself his basis, his possibly agenda, what may have colored the whole book.

    Even though it was always going to be negative review, perhaps reviews like these aren’t something that can be as close to grey as I expected. Either Hancock is misrepresenting things, or he isn’t. Although I’ll never be in the forefront of vehemently defending or opposing Hancock’s books I’ll gladly support education in the matter.Hancocks books will always come with a big fat asterisk.

  28. Why is it that Richard makes claims like retired Archaeologists “tend to be in agreement” with Hancock?

    Any retired archaeologists here who tend to be in agreement with Hancock? Any active archaeologists here who have first hand knowledge that retired archaeologists tend to be in agreement with Hancock?

    Anything at all that would demonstrate a clear pattern of retired Archaeologists being in agreement with Hancock? My understanding is that there are probably thousands of retired Archaeologists, so should be easy to dig up dozens or hundreds of examples if his statement is true.

    Hancock cherrypicks from archaeology, so safe bet that if he has cherrypicked a given published study then he will be in agreement with the archaeologist who did the research and those who agree with it. However, whether those same archaeologists agree with the broader assertions that Hancock tries to support with said data is a different matter.

  29. I would suspect that Richard is trying to insinuate that many archaeologists are secretly in agreement with Hancock but can’t reveal themselves as such until they are retired and safe from persecution. I can’t think of any such examples although one could probably come up with an example or two if they dig long enough. I do know of one example of a retired archaeologist who embraced a particular fringe theory AFTER retirement. But it appears that he did so because he was very elderly and experiencing significant health and financial problems and he had been led to believe that he would benefit financially from his involvement.

    The “mainstream” scholars (anthropologists and other scholars as well) that I am aware of who were involved in fringy work did so while still active, for example, Betty Meggers, Stephen Jett, Cyclone Covey. But I can’t think of any such work that would indicate an agreement with the broader assertions made by Hancock although he and his supporters would like to portray the situation differently.

  30. Carl,

    Do you have any idea how many active archaeologists there are in the U.S.? Let’s say anyone with a B.A. in anthropology or higher and working fulltime. Could be anything from working as an entry level staff shovel bum for a private company up to full prof at an Ivy League school.

  31. I think that it is important for the public to have a decent idea of how many practicing archaeologists (or anthropologist in general) are out there and the wide range of different perspectives and interests that they have. It seems that some people have this image of the field of archaeology consisting of a handful of likeminded old guys with tenure and full professorships sitting in a conference room somewhere deciding what is acceptable or not in terms of research. Dissenters are blackballed. The reality is much different.

  32. …Hancock’s quotes and even interviews quite a few professional archaeologists in his works, including Dr. Goodyear from the University of South Carolina as it relates to the Topper Site. A lot of mainstream archaeologists disagreed with Dr. Goodyear’s ideas about what he’d uncovered; does that mean it would be okay to call him a “Pseudo-Archaeolgist”? I think that derisive term tends to be a “show stopper”, or as Sam Harris noted. “a conversation ender”. Surely we can do better for those whom we disagree…

    • I certainly hope scientists and researchers of all fields are free to disagree with each other without resorting to having to be categorized as “pseudoscientist” or in the case of archaeology, “pseudoarchaeology.”

      I disagree with some of Goodyear’s work. I’ve had many discussions with colleagues about his work and found myself being skeptical of his finds. We discussed it. I think we even won each other over a bit. And I think even Goodyear will cheerfully admit that there is still much for him to sort out. The idea, in science, is to relentlessly find ways to falsify hypotheses. Until they can no longer be falsified.

      I’m eager for Goodyear’s work to win me over.

      But your comment reads like you noticed someone call Goodyear a pseudoarchaeologist. I don’t think that’s the case.

  33. If you:

    Lack a degree in anthropology.

    Have no experience in archaeological fieldwork or lab analysis.

    Cherrypick data from research that someone else had conducted on the Topper site.

    Are known for being stoned all day and every day while doing most of your thinking and writing.

    Claim that the Topper site supports the existence of a highly advanced civilization that could build pyramids using telepathy or ESP, or whatever, and had global influence.

    Say that this civilization was wiped out by a comet 12,000 years ago without leaving a single trace.

    Think that insights can be gained into said civilization by taking hallucinogenic drugs.

    Then you might be called a pseudoarchaeologist by real archaeologists.

  34. Carl: I agree that one should be open to criticize the works of others, especially if a person has a high knowledge of that field they are critical of. I didn’t mean to imply anyone has used that term to refer to Dr. Goodyear (they might have), but I’m not aware of it.

  35. Jamed Ford states: “…Then you might be called a pseudoarchaeologist by real archaeologists…”.

    ..so you agree that it’s perfectly rational to label and ridicule someone who you disagree with, that’s all in the realm of normal scientific inquiry?

    Plus, who, or what is a “real archaeologist” in your opinion? Do you happen to have a set of standards that we could apply to someone claiming that?

  36. Well, holding a degree in anthropology with a specialization in archaeology is a good start. You might look into the requirements for earning an M.A. or Ph.D. in anthropology (archaeology) to gain some insights into what it takes to do so. You could also look into what is required to be certified by the Society for Professional Archaeologists. I’m sure that Carl would be happy to discuss this in more detail with you.

    Hancock’s efforts don’t fall within the realm of scientific inquiry. So, saying what he does certainly opens him up to being labelled and ridiculed. I don’t have a medical degree or any training or experience in practicing medicine. So, if I started saying that all the doctors are wrong and if your kid breaks his leg with a compound fracture you should take him to a shamanistic healer instead of the emergency room then I would certainly expect to be labelled and ridiculed.

  37. Carl Feagans states: “…I disagree with some of Goodyear’s work. I’ve had many discussions with colleagues about his work…”

    Have you had or sought actual communication with Dr. Goodyear himself? Why or why not?

  38. Boooooo. Boring. The pre-review thread was much better. There was way more back and forth about the actual merits of Hancocks work and less “Poor hancock” and “but he brings up cool ideas” and the “nature of archeology and discovery”. SNOOZE. And bill just killed with the facts and research. I beg of you again, bring back bill. And i ask everyone here still clinging to hancock to read what Bill provided there. He took a lot of time and thought putting together a lot of those posts and source links. As well as things James Ford stated. In addition, i am sorry, but Hancock is hardly the first person to claim that there were civilizations in pre-history that got destroyed by some kind of cataclysm. Or that they may have been more advanced than we thought. Or that they might even be hyper advanced. Or they might even be linked to aliens. Again, Von Daniken started this party 60 years ago ago. There are plenty of other people who have floated and rehashed von danikens ideas in the decades since him and before hancock. Quite honestly, the idea of a “lost precivilization” is a tried and true method many archeological panhandlers have used to sell books. And the orion thing? SNORE. Heard it a thousand million times already. I think that Carls explanation in his review here of why that occurred in both egypt and the aewricas is reasonable. Namely “it was most visible” (insert occam’s razor here> I dont think “just talking about these things or expanding on them” isnt some great achievenent nor does hancock deserve that much credit. Any more than Giorgio A. Tsoukalos should from hosting ancient aliens. I was the original aliens and ufo and prehistory kid. I still am. I still think we had lost civilizations. (duh) I still think other creatures have visited here. (duh) Maybe still visiting here (duh) But 90% of the stuff than von daniken, hancock and others discuss has very rational conventional explanations. That dont involve worldwide tesla power grids, animal hybrid alien pharohs or lost galactic federations. As i get older I become more skeptical and and demand more *actual* evidence for these theories. As the world is already full of speculation.

  39. Mike from Chicago: I think that’s a bit of Urban Myth on your part that “Von Daniken started this party 60 years ago”. Others wrote about what was termed “Paleo-Contact”, including the..wait for it..the late great Skeptic Carl Sagan, who actually said there might be a “Kernel of truth” in the original idea. Surely you don’t want to call Carl Sagan a “crank”, do you? Von Daniken likely poisoned the party and subsequent conversation since, but he didn’t start it…

  40. Carl: …I honestly don’t think it would mean a great deal to me either way, if Hancock was completely right or so wrong that he needs a strait jacket. I just want to know the truth; my world wouldn’t end on either account…

    • Oh, you mean Hancock. I thought you were asking about Goodyear. No, Hancock is Coo-Coo for CocoPuffs with that ESP silliness. It’s Goodyear I’d like to be right, which has zero to do with Hancock’s wacky conclusion.

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