Friday, February 17, 2006


So I watched a show on the history channel about Atlantis tonight, and was kinda let down.

The show started off talking all about Atlantis, how the legend seems to have come from Plato's writings, and how historians aren't 100% sure that it's just a myth and not a real place. They talk about Troy, and how there is some reason to believe that Plato stopped talking about Atlantis because he could have deduced that his "Atlantis" was actually Troy. This is mainly speculation with very little supporting evidence, but it's the sort of historical analysis that I'm most fond of.

The farther back in time you are looking, the less actual evidence will you have to study. There will be huge gaps, and the links between them will be impossible to fill. Maybe we'll find that "missing link" fossil between man and ape, and maybe none of the remains exist on the planet anymore. Who knows? Do we know how the pyramids at Giza were built? Not exactly, but we have many reasonable explanations. We could either make up fanciful bullshit, or try to figure out what makes the most sense.

So when I heard that Plato might have been talking about Troy when he said Atlantis, well, I tuned in a little more intently. The History channel promptly went to a commercial, and then came back with a story about a psychic predicting that information about Atlantis would be found in 1968, halfway around the world. They then went into uniting Hawaiian, Chinese, and European myths about sunken cities.

OK, common myths between distinct cultures are interesting. The Great Flood is just another take on the Sunken City. Maybe there is an actual occurrence from 10,000 BC that spawned those myths. Maybe it's just a popular thing for people to come up with when they live on a world that is 70% water. Who knows? Can we think about it a little and try to reason out something? Of course not. Let's mention the nutjob "psychic" who predicted what is obviously not an answer, but a vague enough finding to be right his expected 93% of the time.

It's almost like reading a Dan Brown book. The guy gets so much right as to why the Catholic church practices revisionism to reverse engineer their own legitimacy, and then he screws up on when the Vatican was founded, thereby undermining any respect that a reader could have for him as a writer.

Anyhow, they showed some footage of an underwater pyramid that was built about 10,000 years ago, and that's pretty neat. I'll still watch the History Channel, just like I read all of Dan Brown's books, but I couldn't recommend them to people ignorant of the subject matter. You need to know enough to know when they're blowing smoke or being straightforward.

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