From Abracadabra to Zombies
reader comments: Atlantis
11 July 2016
R. Bauval and Graham Hancock [ tell a story] which is very interesting and matches the description and the datings of Plato that the three big pyramids of Giza are an astronomical mirage [sic] [image?] of the constellation Orion or Sirius [note: Sirius is not a constellation but a star in the constellation Canis Major the Greater Dog.] which was exactly those times 11600 years before today !!! 600 B.C. Solon's time + 2016 A.C. = 11616 years! [note: I, Bob Carroll, am not sure what the previous clause means.] Also we can find many references in ancient Greek texts for the continent we now call ... Αmerica .... Even Diogenes spoke about the American continent in his speech to Alexander the Great when he told him how it will be useful to his men. Plutarch also ... mentions ... America many times .... Also, the technique of building walls in Latin America is the same with the Greek technique etc...etc.... http://tinyurl.com/zx3ufju
reply: Good luck with your scholarly endeavors, Aristofilos. Your link to Google images of various patterns in pyramids, etc. will keep many people busy for many years finding ways to use them to validate their mirages.
For a little more on Graham Hancock and other self-proclaimed "New Egyptologists" see Bad Archaelogy.
6 April 2009
I don't know if Plato's Atlantis was real or not, but it is certainly an interesting story. Your article in opposition to the idea of the past reality of Atlantis was unconvincing. I love your discussions of logical fallacies and errors in perception. One of my favorite classes in college was on the art of logical debate. As always, I continue to learn, and your website looks to be a valuable resource.
First, some clarifications. You say "some 9,000 years before Plato wrote," but more accurately it was 9,000 years before Solon heard the story. This was perhaps 230–240 years before Plato wrote about it. Most authorities place the writing circa 360 BCE. Solon's visit took place perhaps 600–590 BCE.
reply: Right. But what's a few hundred years when we're talking about an estimate of 9,000 years? You didn't think I meant that Atlantis allegedly existed exactly 9,000 years before Plato wrote his fable, did you?
You assert that Plato was not describing a real place, yet you have not proven your assertion. The purpose of Plato's inclusion may well have been part of a moral lesson, but that, by itself, does nothing to prove or disprove the past reality of Atlantis.
reply: I guess it all depends on what you mean by proven.
You say, "The fact that nobody in Greece for 9,000 years had mentioned a battle between Athens and Atlantis should serve as a clue that Plato was not talking about a real place or battle." Yet Plato makes it clear that such knowledge was not had by Greeks because they were, as Desmond Lee translated, "all young in mind." The Greeks did not possess any "knowledge hoary with age." They had forgotten their past. Your argument here is baseless. This should serve as a clue that perhaps you need to be skeptical of your own skepticism. A little restraint may help develop a more solid argument. Do scientists use such restraint? Hmm-m-m, I think they do.
reply: Unfortunately, I think you are serious. The Greeks were "young in mind" and did not possess "knowledge hoary with age"? "They had forgotten their past"? What kind of evidence is this? Have you heard of Herodotus, Thucydides, or Xenophon, just to name a few of the major historians in ancient Greece? Surely, if you think Plato was describing an historical place, you must think that the stories attributed to Homer were also historically factual, even though "hoary with age." If my argument is baseless, then yours is at the bottom of a bottomless pit. You should follow your own advice and exercise some restraint on your silliness.
After quoting Plato, you state, "the battle with Atlantis allegedly took place in the 8th or 9th millennium BCE." I think this is off a bit more than your earlier statement of time. If the demise of Atlantis occurred 9,000 years before Solon heard the tale (circa 600 BCE), then that would give us 9,600 BCE -- which I believe would be the 10th millennium BCE, not the 8th or 9th.
Perhaps "historical" scholar should have been "prehistorical" scholar when you claimed that "Athens in 9,000 BCE was either uninhabited or occupied by very primitive people." Again, if you read Timaeus and Critias more carefully, you see that the region of prehistoric Athens was destroyed by a flood which also killed the brave warriors who had won against Atlantis. If such a flood destroyed Attica so completely, then there would be no evidence of "proto-Greeks" for modern scholars to discuss.
reply: I think the dates are of little interest because I take the story to be a fable. I have read your website and know that you need to have things occur about 9,600 BCE to fit your rather specious argument that since something BIG happened around 9,600 BCE, it is possible that Atlantis existed. Your argument is a non sequitur. For the sake of the reader who is curious as to what kind of argument a specious scholar might make, I recast it here:
3 Items that Prove Something Big Happened 9620 BCE
- An abrupt and major change to climate worldwide.
- A moderately large trace of volcanic debris in the Greenland ice cores.
- A sudden, 2-meter drop in sea levels worldwide.
Therefore, the destruction of Atlantis is a real possibility.
But the point needs to be made clear for scientists and laymen alike, that lack of proof itself does not disprove a hypothesis. Don't assume that just because you can't find proof that such proof never existed. Such "disproof" is an argument to ignorance -- a logical fallacy.
reply: Really? And what do you call an argument that says since it's possible something happened, it's reasonable to look for evidence that it did, even if there is strong evidence that it didn't? In any case, I never say that Atlantis didn't exist because nobody has ever proved that it did exist. If you read that into my article, then you need to take more reading lessons.
As far as evidence of Plato's "proto-Greeks," could the recent findings at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey be the product of refugees from that flood? Possibly not, but the date is about right and the geography is not far off. This is a piece of an incomplete puzzle.
reply: An incomplete puzzle? Do you have any idea of what you are talking about? And what does this have to do with the existence of Atlantis ten millennia ago?
What could have caused the putative flood in the Balkans? If Atlantis did subside as abruptly as Plato says, then one would expect at least one mega-tsunami. Based on the December, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the calculations of Ward and Day regarding the potential collapse of Cumbre Vieja, the initial wave from an Atlantis event might have been as much as 1–3 kilometers in height. This is the stuff of nightmares. Could such a wave have made it to the Balkans? And what would happen to any other signs of civilization around the Med? Of course, all of this is still speculation and we need to be careful of the effects of confirmation bias and false patterns (e.g. Face on Mars).
reply: I'm glad you recognize this is speculation. But you realize that it is not good logic to draw conclusions from speculations about possibilities. You seem to be trying to find explanations for things that don't need any explanation. What next? A search for Hamlet's grave?
By the way, my editor asks: if an island continent (in the Atlantic, just west of the Pillars of Hercules, according to Plato) sank, wouldn't sea level rise 2 meter, rather than falling? And if the Greeks were young in their minds and just forgot all about this catastrophe, how is it that Solon heard the story nine millennia later?
Though there still may be debate over the putative discovery of Amazons in the burial kurgans of Southern Russia, until that evidence was found, it is likely most scientists were quite happy accepting the idea that Amazons were nothing more than myth. The same could probably be said of Troy and Minoan culture. Certainly such self-imposed blindness says nothing for the story of Atlantis, but it says a great deal about the people who refuse to look or argue poorly against it.
Atlantis may have been myth, but sloppy thinking by a skeptic won't prove that it was myth.
reply: Finally, something we agree on.
Drawing false associations between investigators of Atlantis and fans of Cecrops or the trident of Poseidon are illogical at best. Such appeals to emotion (particularly that of ridicule) are hardly the stuff of science.
reply: But sometimes the only appropriate response to an arrogant speculation monger is ridicule. Some arguments are truly too ridiculous to respond to.
You mention the idea of Atlantis as a "continent" rather haphazardly, as if all those interested in the subject think of it that way. Plato never says Atlantis was a continent, but merely a large island. He talks of continents, his own and the one across the great ocean (America, perhaps?), but Atlantis is always an island in his dialogues.
reply: True. I do use the expression "continent" at one point, and in a rather haphazard fashion. But I also note that Atlantis was an alleged island. Maybe it was like Australia, an island continent. But whatever my infelicitous expression may excite in a scrupulous reader such as yourself, it is irrelevant to whether Atlantis ever existed except in the imagination.
You mention some very weird ideas that some people have had about Atlantis. Certainly the story has attracted more than its share of crackpots. But crackpot fans of an idea do not automatically make the idea false. Perhaps you were not implying this, but I think it needs to be stated in light of some of the other errors in logic you've written.
reply: If all my readers were of your mind, I probably would have to spell out a lot of other obvious things as well. I think most readers understand that I do not provide such details to bolster my claim that Atlantis did not exist, but that they are there to provide a picture of the variety of ideas that have been put forth by speculators with little to hold them back except their imaginations.
You mention that "Edgar Cayce claimed to have had psychic knowledge of Atlantean texts which assisted him in his prophecies and cures." I'm not an expert on the subject of Cayce, but I never read any such thing. Cayce's akashic records sounded to me more like the Jungian collective unconscious. Ahh-h, there's something for a skeptic to chew on.
reply: I suppose there is a point to your bringing these matters up, but I fail to get it.
There is an art to skepticism, and some skeptics butcher that art. A more self-indulgent kind of skepticism seems to feed on being right and making others wrong. Perhaps most of those others are wrong, in the final analysis, but that doesn't make the self-indulgent skeptic any more righteous. There is also a more benign form of skepticism -- the quiet restraint of a scientist pondering a problem with just enough of an open mind to entertain any and all evidence, but enough self-control not to fall for the first or easiest interpretation.
Such restraint doesn't mean you have to take the "fun" out of being skeptical, but it seems to suggest greater compassion for the views of others. And just imagine: some secrets of the universe might be hidden amongst all that chaff. It would be a shame if all turned a blind eye because of some uncomfortable association with kooks and crackpots.
For instance, having enough restraint to grant value to such ideas has led to proof of a sort on the subject of Atlantis. Three items of scientific evidence, each in a different discipline, prove that something very, very big happened 9600 BCE. What is significant about these items of evidence -- more than the date coinciding with the demise of Plato's Atlantis -- is in the nature of those three items in support of the Atlantis subsidence event. These don't prove Atlantis was real, but they do raise a large red flag warranting further investigation.
reply: I am tempted to tell you where to stick your large red flag, but I will show restraint and compassion and simply say that it might be about time for you to provide us with some evidence for your position.
What are these events? The first is a major and abrupt change to climate worldwide. The second is a moderately large volcanic trace in the Greenland ice core (GISP2). The third item, though it needs corroboration, is potentially the most exciting. It is a 2-meter drop in sea levels worldwide. A simple calculation shows that a Texas-size plot of land subsiding an average 1 kilometer anywhere in the oceans of the world would result in roughly a 2-meter drop in sea levels. All three of these could have been caused by the subsidence of a large island somewhere in the oceans of the world. Atlantis. The evidence only circumstantially points in that direction by date and by the nature of the events.
reply: Well, it would help tremendously if we had evidence that an island existed in this area at the time of these events. What kind of argument is it to point out that if Atlantis existed it would have been destroyed about the time Plato's story took place. Therefore,....what? Therefore,....nothing. Nothing follows from that conditional hypothesis.
Of course, without a plausible back story for the geology of the Atlantis legend, all this talk is a pleasant diversion, but little else. But guess what! Right where Plato says Atlantis existed there is a tectonic plate boundary. And guess where most of the mountains of the world are found. Yes, adjacent to tectonic plate boundaries, caused by the actions of subduction, friction from impediments and crustal folding.
The evidence was hidden in plain sight all this time, but declaring an idea to be "fringe" and its proponents to be "outsiders" tends to blind one to the fruits of discovery. My award-winning essay, "Outsiderness in the Scientific Community," talks more about this malady, and gives an antidote.
Atlantis may still turn out to be entirely myth, but judging too early is not a very scientific thing to do.
reply: Well, Carl, you may think it's too early to judge, but I think that two millennia (or is it 2.4 millennia or is it 12.4 millennia?) is plenty of time to find something as big as an island that had a flourishing culture many millennia before Babylon or Egypt or Greece. In any case, I'm sure our readers are rushing to Google your award-winning essay.
13 March 2009
Much to your chagrin, I have developed a measurable geologic solution for the paradox created by Plato's Critias and Timeaus dialogues.
reply: I didn't know I had a chagrin, much less that there was a paradox created by those ancient works. Thanks for the enlightenment!
You have stated with some certainty, citing logic and the lack of evidence, that it is impossible for Plato's story to recount an actual prehistoric tribe which ruled some of the Mediterranean region at the end of the Pleistocene's Younger Dryas.
reply: Really? I think I say that nobody in Greece had mentioned a battle between Athens and Atlantis for 9,000 years when Plato wrote about it and that discussing utopias was a favorite theme of Plato's. Impossibility, however, is not one of the modal qualifiers mentioned. I do suggest that anyone who takes the story literally would be as moronic as anyone who is searching for Plato's cave.
I'll add here that it is not only possible but probable that some clever folks today can find some geological features somewhere and retrofit them to bits and pieces taken from Plato's dialogues. For all I know, you may be one of those clever people. The ability to do this, however, has no bearing on Plato's beliefs, intentions, or sources.
If, however, a new hypothesis presents an interpretation of the paradox that leads to the missing evidence, what, pray tell, does that do for your logic? Though I am not so naive as to make a statement of certainty where it cannot be expected, mine is the first investigation to posit a reasonable and rational argument for the possible existence of Atlantis-Bakhu.
reply: And I have no reason to doubt you, sir.
Since you have a highly trained scientific mind capable of recognizing a variety of complex patterns, and I hold that ability in the highest esteem, please trouble yourself to read through my hypothesis, www.atlantis-bakhu.com.
reply: You flatter me, sir, but I'm not highly trained at all.
I realize that this will be difficult because you appear to have already convinced yourself that you are not capable of failure.
reply: Why did you have to spoil your most interesting epistle by trying to insult me? Of course, I'm as capable of failure as the next person. I gave up trying to convince myself of anything about myself a long time ago. But thank you for appearing to notice how I appear.
It is not a failure, however, to admit that in the presence of a new interpretation of the data, previous assumptions can be found to be false.
reply: Ah! You offer me a way to save face. Thank you, kind sir. I can admit you're right and everybody else is wrong without admitting failure. Fantastic. And all I have to do is read through your hypothesis. But if your hypothesis is as ponderous and pompous as your epistle I may burst a gasket or two in my migraine, which would not be pleasant. And you'd be responsible. I assure you that, if such were the case, you would be hearing from my solicitor. So, as for my devoting an afternoon to perusing your Atlantis-Bakhu thesis: fors fortis.
Jerry -- Gerald J. Wells, Chief Investigator Wells Research Laboratory -- a think tank analyzing historic and scientific anomalies
28 Feb 1997
Here is the real story of Atlantis.
It is the name of a lost continent, taken from one of Plato’s myths. Inhabitants of Atlantis - called Atlanteans - created an extraordinary advanced civilization. Unfortunately, they were not able to transmit their knowledge to us. Maybe, they did not know how, or it maybe they were forbidden by cosmic civilizations which were in contact with them.
Atlantis disappeared either as a consequence of nuclear war or due to a collision with the Moon, which fortunately sprang back away from the Earth. A part of the survivors settled the city of Atlanta, which carries the name up to modern times. Skeptical geologists are not enthusiasts for the Atlantis idea, and they even stupidly argue for the fact that the whole oceanic bottom is covered by old sediments, and that nothing so large has sunk into the sea over the last several thousand years.
Personally I suggest that the surviving Atlanteans, as soon as they made sure of the irreversible sinking of their continent, spread old sediments anywhere they considered it was suitable.
Atlantis is also connected with the dawning of alchemy and
the Hermetic sciences; esotericism has its roots there, as well.
Vojtech Mornstein Associate Professor of Biophysics Medical Faculty, Masaryk University Jostova 10, 662 43 Brno, Czech Republic
reply: Professor Mornstein tells me has a book coming out on this and other subjects. He claims it is satire, but I'm not sure!
28 Aug 1997
I am fifty, and have been studying Atlantis and related historical violations of the doctrine of uniform cultural evolution, on and off, for most of my life now. Just a few thoughts on Atlantis in particular:
Donnelly's contribution to the discussion is that he is one of the few authors on the subject to have actually published a decent translation of what Plato actually said, something that few modern writers have bothered to read.
First of all, since there are no other references to "Atlantis," per se, in what survives of classical Greek literature, it must be assumed that the word is a back formation from "Atlantes," the inhabitants of the Atlas mountain range in northwestern Africa. Robert Graves figured this much out.
The reference to "beyond the pillars of Herakles" is the ancient Greek way of describing what one found upon sailing past Gibraltar while hugging the coast of North Africa. I remind you that the Greek definition of "island" paralleled that of their "continent." To the Greeks, Europe was a continent. West Africa was an island, especially since it was cut off from the rest of what we now call "Africa" by a river that ran south from the Atlas mountains and then west to what is now the Western Sahara. This now dry river was explored by Byron Khun de Prorok in the 1920's.
The extensive water works described by Plato were, of course, controlled by a dam upriver from the plain. Whatever tectonic event led to the destruction, it caused the collapse of the dam and Plato's description of a "sea of mud."
reply: You don't think you are speculating a bit here?
Plato's chronology is a bit screwy. What we seem to be looking at is that two thousand year, or so, period from about 5000 to 3000 BC that preceded the rise of the great old world civilizations, when global temperatures were warmer than they are now, and northern Africa was rainy and fertile.
reply: His "chronology" is 'screwy' only if you assume he is trying to provide such.
As for whether there was any kind of "high technology" in this pre-classical civilization, I am not at present willing to speculate, except to suggest that if we lay this two thousand year period upon our own, current civilization, we are left with the following:
Starting from about 500 BC, the founding of the school of Pythagoras in southern Italy, and ignoring the period of the Dark Ages, a period of about 800 years, we are left with a technological level equivalent to that of our own civilization 300 hundred years from now.
reply: You must be using some New Math here. I don't follow your argument.
Even you must admit: That there is no archaeological evidence for the existence of this civilization is not surprising. It is buried under the Sahara Desert. And, since no one recognizes its existence, it will never be found, save by accident.
reply: Ah! Now I see. I can't see because it is all buried and can't be found. Thanks for the revelation.
Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with maintaining a
skeptical attitude. Except that sometimes you tend to miss the whole
reply: I fear this must be one of those times. Maybe someday I can dig my way to the truth of the matter.