In Magicians of the Gods, Graham Hancock argues there once existed a North American civilization that was more advanced than the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians, despite predating all of them. Using “magic” and “gods” in the title of a book purporting to contain groundbreaking science could be seen as a red flag, but let’s acquiesce to the cliché about not evaluating a tome by its front and examine what’s inside.
Hancock asserts that around 13,000 years ago, a comet took out most members of a civilization that had achieved great strides in engineering, industry, mathematics, medicine, agriculture, astronomy, infrastructure, and education.
Nanodiamonds strewn across our continent do suggest a comet hit in the time and place Hancock is saying. According to Science, nanodiamonds only occur when sediment is exposed to extreme temperatures and pressures, such as what occur in explosions and impacts.
But there is a problem with trying to extrapolate this evidence for the comet into it being proof that it annihilated a great, previously unknown people. That’s because the obliteration would have been so complete that it eliminated any trace of bones, teeth, tools, pottery, clothing, homes, temples, aqueducts, implements, writings, drawings, paintings, and everything else. As catastrophic as the asteroid was that took out the dinosaurs, the terrible lizards still left behind fossil calling cards of having been here. And no stegosaurs or pterodactyls kept farm animals, wore robes, employed eating utensils, drew well water, or devised roadways. An advanced civilization would have done all this and more, yet no remnants, not even a shard or fragment, exists to support the notion that these people existed.
Hancock insists there were a few human survivors, but that they then “travelled the world in great ships and settled in key locations,” which is pretty much any place Hancock could find a monolith to shoehorn into his narrative. These locales include Indonesian pyramids, Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, Baalbek in Lebanon, the Sphinx, and Mesoamerican temples. He credits his wondering tribe of intellectual giants with being responsible for these grand structures and overseeing their planning, construction, and gift shops.
In addition to being great monuments to a past civilization, they also have relevance to the future, Hancock says. Through his interpretation of inscriptions at these sites, Hancock deduces that, “Within the next 20 years, Earth faces a catastrophe a thousand times worse than the detonation of every nuclear weapon on the planet — a collision with the remnants of a comet big enough to end all life as we know it.” For support of this interpretation, he offers no astronomical observation, but rather a long-ago prediction by the medicine men of Canada’s Ojibwa people, who foretold, “The star with the long, wide tail is going to destroy the world someday when it comes low again.”
He cites similar soothsayers from other cultures, such as early Zoroastrians who warned of a “fierce, foul frost” and “fatal winter,” which Hancock insists will follow in the asteroid’s wake. There’s still more doom and gloom: “Everywhere they went these Magicians of the Gods brought with them the memory of a time when mankind had fallen out of harmony with the universe and paid a heavy price.” He fails to explain what harmony with the universe is, but does stipulate that the price will be another killer comet. Not just any comet, but a remnant of the original. In what would be the worst sequel in Earth’s history, Hancock warns that a 20-mile fragment of the one that hit 13,000 years ago will slam into our planet and kill most of us.
Hancock’s case is primarily the argument from ignorance, as he treats an inability to explain alternate hypotheses as a vindication of his position. For instance, with Göbekli Tepe, it is unclear how hunter-gatherers erected 50-foot, multi-ton stone pillars. Archeologists and anthropologists, being scientists, say, “I don’t know, let’s find out.” By contrast, a pseudoscientist declares, “I don’t know, therefore (fill in blank with my favorite superstition) did it.” In Hancock’s case, he wrote that Göbekli Tepe is proof that “some as yet unknown and unidentified people somewhere in the world had already mastered all the arts and attributes of a high civilization more than 12,000 years ago and sent out emissaries around the world to spread the benefits of their knowledge.”
Where Hancock differs from most doomsayers is that others offer a specific method to remedy or at least mitigate the impending disaster. There is a god one must repent to, there are survivalist supplies to purchase, there is a cult that offers sanctuary, there is a place to congregate while awaiting rapture, there is a mass suicide to partake in that will reveal a higher plane. With Hancock, though, we get only this vague reassurance: “The technology already exists to sweep our cosmic environment clean of potential threats and to ensure that we do not become the next lost civilization.” Conspicuously absent from this isolated optimism of Hancock’s is precisely what technology we have or how to employ it.
Michael Shermer wrote, “Hancock has spent decades in his vision quest to find the sages who brought us civilization. Yet decades of searching have failed to produce enough evidence to convince archaeologists that the standard timeline of human history needs major revision.”
Hancock blames this rejection on persecution from the establishment, a standard pseudoscience ploy. Specifically, he claims that scientists wish to see incremental, easily-observed, gradual change as opposed to catastrophic or sudden explanations. Yet science has embraced the latter notions with regard to Pompeii, the slaughter of Stone Age hunter-gatherers by competing tribes, dinosaur extinction, the universe’s origin, and how the moon came into existence and how it became cratered.
This week, findings in Morocco suggested that the starting point for Homo sapiens may need to be moved back 100,000 years and relocated from the Horn of Africa. If further research bears this out, anthropologists will adjust their thinking about where and when mankind originated. Far from being stodgy and unbending, scientists are excited by discovery and they relish dialogue. The reasons Hancock has been rejected are: 1. The total lack of archaeological evidence for ancient advanced North Americans; 2. No proof being offered of an asteroid’s imminent impact, and; 3. Seers being listed among his key sources.