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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Jun > Jun 2

Graham Hancock 'Quits'?

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates@virtuallystrange.net>
Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2002 14:52:00 -0400
Fwd Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2002 14:52:00 -0400
Subject: Graham Hancock 'Quits'?

Source: The Sunday Times, South Africa


Sunday 02 Jun 2002

Lifestyle features

A restless soul


The man described as 'the Indiana Jones of alternative
archaeology' speaks to Brett Hilton-Barber about paranoia,
reincarnation and his latest book

Is Graham Hancock mad? The question goes through my head as the
controversial Scottish author picks somewhat disdainfully at his
cheesecake and announces that he is turning his back on the
subject that has made him rich and successful.

Hancock achieved cult-hero status during the 1990s for a string
of best-sellers that invoked the wrath of the international
scientific establishment, which he accused of trying to suppress
the truth about ancient civilisations. His populist mixture of
speculation and science was best typified by Fingerprints of the
Gods, which was translated into 20 languages. Altogether he has
sold more than four million books.

Now the man described by the London Sunday Times as the "Indiana
Jones of alternative archaeology" wants to give it all up. His
latest book, Underworld, is his last word on the subject, he
says decisively during our discussion at a Waterfront restaurant
in Cape Town.

"I'm genuinely really tired of the battle and the personal abuse
I've taken for the best part of a decade," he explains. "It
hurts, it bruises and it damages... Part of it is also a feeling
that I've probably taken it as far as I can with Underworld. I'd
rather go out on a high note on this subject and I think
Underworld is that high note."

Underworld is very different from his previous works in that it
is much more scientifically objective and less provocative. It
convincingly argues that the earliest known civilisations of the
Middle and Far East were predated by a cluster of coastal
cultures that were swamped by a sudden change in sea levels more
than 11 000 years ago, and that this event was the foundation
for the flood myths that are to be found in the Bible and other
ancient writings.

"I deliberately set out to write a more balanced book that drew
on scientific evidence that could be objectively assessed," says
Hancock. "I felt it was important not to ignore what my critics
were saying to me."

The 51-year-old author, who is now based in Devon, England,
accepts that some of the assumptions behind his earlier writing
were scientifically questionable and that conventional
archaeologists were perhaps justified in dismissing him. "I was
provocative and challenging and sometimes wrong.

"Had I known the scrutiny under which Fingerprints of the Gods
would be placed and the kind of hostility it would generate, I
may have written a different book ." He pauses before adding
hastily, "I'm not putting it down. It was right for the time, it
stirred up a hornet's nest and made people think about things
they hadn't thought of before. A more balanced book might not
have had the same effect."

Hancock claims there is a more sinister aspect to the criticism
against him, and that he has been subjected to a concerted
campaign by a shadowy US organisation called the Committee for
the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
(CSICOP) which he says has the objective of stifling alternative
viewpoints to conventional science.

This is the stuff of conspiracy theories. I gently suggest he's
become paranoid.

He smiles and nods. "I suppose I am a bit paranoid. But when a
corporation like the BBC spends a quarter of a million pounds to
produce a documentary to discredit a writer, you're up against a
major opponent."

The programme, done by BBC Horizon, lashed Fingerprints of the
Gods as speculative quasi-science.

"It was extremely personal and critical and what they didn't
tell their audience was that the two principal witnesses against
me were members of CSICOP. It made me feel a bit got at. "

As he tells me about his life, it becomes clear that Hancock's
sensitivity to criticism is in part a protection of his personal
beliefs. The son of a missionary surgeon who travelled
extensively, Hancock rejected Christianity at an early age,
which he says was a reaction against his upbringing and a
consequence of his exposure to foreign cultures. However, his
atheism was eroded by research into ancient civilisations.

"I do believe there is some form of intelligent mind at work in
the universe and that life is not accidental. I believe there is
life after death. Our life is the opportunity to prepare for a
rather terrible journey that we have to make after death, and if
we waste that opportunity the journey will go for us very badly.
In the worst case, where the individual has calculatedly pursued
evil, it leads to the annihilation of the soul. But if you live
your life right - not just morally - but in the pursuit of
knowledge, then there is a resurrection. I like to quote
Voltaire and say it's no more extraordinary to be born twice
than it is to be born once."

So with the curtain closing on his decade-long investigation
into lost civilisations, what will his next book be?

"Human origins," he says, a subject to which he admits only
superficial knowledge. I use the opportunity to give him an
overview of human origins from a South African perspective, the
subject of In the Footsteps of Eve, [published by National
Geographic] the book I co-authored with Wits scientist Lee
Berger. He seems genuinely interested and I give him a copy of
the book.

Hancock begins to look tired , in part because his punishing
schedule of promoting Underworld internationally is catching up
with him. But I detect a deeper fatigue, one born from a
restlessness of the soul.

He looks reflectively at the teacup on the table in front of
him. "I suppose I am a bit restless. I think a rather rootless
existence as a child made me a marginal character. I always saw
myself as an outsider, on the edge looking in."

As a result of being continuously on the move his personal
relationships have suffered. His two previous marriages fell
apart through neglect, and he has sworn to avoid this happening
with his third wife, Malaysian photographer Santha Faiia
(responsible for most of the photographs in Underworld).

Does he have unfulfilled ambitions?

"I'd like to stop feeling restless. I'd like to feel more
settled," he says.

As he leaves for the airport, I understand that he is not mad,
just terminally restless, and that his wanderlust is probably
what distinguishes him as a writer.

Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms Of The Ice Age
is published by Michael Joseph, R250

[UFO UpDates thanks 'The Anomalist' www.anomalist.com for the lead]

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