The Antiquity of Man
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An analysis of the quality of Graham Hancock's "science"

Leaving aside the fallacies already well-exposed by the other articles on this site, I would like to concentrate the reader's focus on a different matter. I propose a shift in attention away from Hancock's own ideas to his backing of other alternative authors, and how this reflects both on his understandings of the archaeological discipline as well as on the validity of his scientific judgements.

There is a book currently on the market called "The Hidden History of the Human Race" by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson. It is the condensed version of "Forbidden Archeology" which is aimed at the general public. Cremo and Thompson "are members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness that studies the relationship between modern science and the world view expressed in the Vedic literature of India. From the Vedic literature, we derive the idea that the human race is of great antiquity." In other words, what is presented is a religious tract dressed up in pseudo-scientific terminology with archaeological remains taken, and scientists quoted, out of context. By backing the book Hancock demonstrates a failure to understand one of the main premises of science: science is not religion and religion is not science. Any creationist work is, therefore, by default on false ground. Science works by examining the factual remains and building theories to explain the evidence.

Graham Hancock wrote the Forward to "The Hidden History of Mankind" and his words are revealing: "Let me say at the outset that I believe this book to be one of the landmark intellectual achievements of the late twentieth century. It will take more conservative scholars a long while, probably many years, to come to terms with the revelations it contains... Cremo and Thompson's central proposition is that the model of human prehistory, carefully built-up by scholars over the past two centuries, is sadly and completely wrong... This is a position that is close to my own heart; indeed it forms the basis of my book Fingerprints of the Gods. There, however, my focus was exclusively on the last 20,000 years and on the possibility that an advanced global civilization may have flourished more than 12,000 years ago only to be wiped out and forgotten in the great cataclysm that brought the last Ice Age to an end. In The Hidden History of the Human Race Cremo and Thompson go much further, pushing back the horizons of our amnesia not just 12,000 or 20,000 years, but millions of years into the past, and showing that almost everything we have been taught to believe about the origins and evolution of our species rests on the shaky foundation of academic opinion, and on a highly selective sampling of research results."

If Hancock considers taking finds and quoting scientists out of context to be rational and scientific, he is by all means free to do so. But that is just it: it's only an opinion. The current picture revealed by the fossil record has been painstakingly built up over the past century and a half. It has been done through excavation, evaluating the results critically, re-evaluation and acceptance or disproval and reattribution. This is done in line with basic scientific standards and recordings, and is not something which can be tossed aside because some people resent the results of anatomical, dating and stratigraphical analyses. Hancock also portrays a misunderstanding of scientific terminology when he uses the phrase "academic opinion"; he thus gives the distinct impression that a theory is simply nothing more than an opinion. Perhaps Hancock needs to take an Archaeology 101 course to refresh his journalistic memory.

His backing of this work, containing data which has either been disproven or which contains false portrayals and interpretations of the factual data remains, reveals an underlying contempt for the workings of the scientific disciplines and the proven principles on which they are based. The human fossil record is well-documented and the question must therefore be asked: if Hancock cannot recognise the fallacies contained in a pseudo-science work about a field so extensively documented, how is it possible for his own work to be based on sound scientific methods and why should he therefore expect both the general public and the academic community to take him seriously.

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