Is the criticism for Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse fair?

November 15, 2022
Louie Fecou 25
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Is the criticism for Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse fair? We discuss the Netflix show, the alleged controversy, and Graham Hancock’s expertise. 

Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse follows author, presenter, and journalist Graham Hancock as he explores various different destinations across the world, looking for evidence that supports his theories on ancient civilizations existing long before the more established timeline of the Earth. The series has eight episodes and takes Graham everywhere from North America to an underground city in Turkey, but the show has garnered a fair share of criticism, with detractors finding many different ways to discredit the author, throwing shade at his theories. That leads us to ask the question, is the criticism for Ancient Apocalypse fair?

Why is there so much criticism for Ancient Apocalypse?

Graham Hancock has literally had decades of research and assumption behind his theories and has also managed to make it quite a lucrative business for himself too. With twelve books on the subject printed, and millions of copies sold worldwide, it is impossible to deny that people are genuinely interested in his investigations.

However, as with any subject that presents a diversion from the believed conventions of society, you are always going to get discourse. Hancock’s main assertion of civilizations that were more advanced than our own, existing at a time when that simply should not happen, goes against the recognized timeline of life on earth and the proof that science provides us seems irrefutable.

One of his main arguments recounts the capabilities of early man, and the sort of society they would be able to construct and maintain. Technically, the sort of locations that Hancock shows us, he uses as evidence to support his conjectures, but of course, there are other schools that will argue against his speculation.

Let’s face it, Hancock’s notions go against the grain, and to accept them is an admission that the science we believe in is wrong. Nobody is going to discredit the science and learning accrued, based on the hypothesis of a writer, and the argument will never truly be won by either side. The subject is so divisive that criticism will always be leveled at this sort of discourse, in the same way we can’t argue about the supernatural, aliens, and Bigfoot.

Is Ancient Apocalypse based on facts?

Graham Hancock’s research has its conclusions based on facts, in the same way that Star Wars could be said to be based on facts too. We know space travel exists; we know there are planets out there, so based on that, we could surmise that somewhere out there, it’s good versus evil in a battle between Empires.

Hancock knows where to find ancient structures that seem to defy the timeline we recognize and manages to convince many people with his authoritative presentation too. In episode five of the series, he takes us to Göbekli Tepe, the oldest known megalith in the world, and poses the question, how could simple hunter-gatherers of the time build such a structure?

This is a theme that runs through a lot of his work, and it is hard to find an argument against this. However, this falls into a category of logic that is often leveled at such subjects. The burden of proof is put into the hands of the scientists that contest his views, they have to disprove his theories, and if they can’t, then he must be right. It is like skeptics who say ghosts don’t exist.

How do you disprove that to someone who believes they do and can show you a video of a glass falling from a kitchen counter to prove they do? This logic problem will always exist. If you believe his theories, then you will buy into the facts presented; if you do not buy what he is selling, you probably never will, and there are plenty of scientists out there who will have your back.

Why is Ancient Apocalypse so popular?

This series works first of all due to the pre-sold fanbase that Graham Hancock has, and the general curiosity of everyone else.

Let’s face it, the guy has sold millions of books on the subject, so of course, there is an audience for his views. For over 30 years now, Hancock has been peddling his wares everywhere, from books to radio shows, to the Joe Rogan podcast, so he has a massive presence and following even before the show has made it to Netflix.

On top of that, there will also be a demographic that may read the synopsis and be genuinely interested in what he has to say, and of course, there will be his detractors that will also be watching to see what they can pick apart. On top of that, casual viewers who enjoy documentaries will also tune in, so that’s a lot of groups checking in. As well as this, you cannot deny that the show itself has a nice budget and is presented with all the slickness of any other high-quality travel show you can mention.

The music is great, the cinematography impresses, and Hancock himself is convincing and honestly seems to have no doubt about the genuine authenticity of his own work. This show looks good and is engaging, so even if you are on the fence about the subject matter, it does look good, and it explores some unknown areas of the world often overlooked in other travel-based shows.

Is the criticism for Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse fair?

Of course, the criticism of Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse is fair. It would be impossible to say otherwise, as there are so many ways to find holes in the logic presented, and science and facts will always triumph.

However, perhaps if you are looking for science and history, then this show may not be for you. It would be like watching 28 Days Haunted and expecting a true crime drama. Ancient Apocalypse could be more science fiction than science fact, but at the end of the day, it is up to the viewer to make the choice for themselves. Nobody is forcing you to watch this, so criticize away if you like, but remember that is a two-way street, and remember what Winston Churchill said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

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25 thoughts on “Is the criticism for Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse fair?

  • November 16, 2022 at 6:40 pm
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    Never question science. The facts have already all been figured out. We’ve overthrown God and superstition and we’re so much happier for it. We have pills that solve every ailment and are perfect in every way. We know exactly how big the universe is and how fast it’s expanding. We know how diseases (even the novel kind) work and should dictate protocol for how to prevent their spread and the public should simply obey. Shows like Ancient Apocalypse are nonsense and are a waste of time.

  • November 16, 2022 at 8:12 pm
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    ”The burden of proof is put into the hands of the scientists that contest his views, they have to disprove his theories, and if they can’t, then he must be right. It is like skeptics who say ghosts don’t exist.”- Such a ridiculous way to put it because it seems to be the other way around. Where is the evidence that these very basic communities built all of these incredibly complex structures? There is none. We just blindly have believed theories of our civilization and finally something is being done about it. I would say that there should be more people researching these topics and luckily in the recent years more and more of the mainstream science community finally is leaning into that.
    Graham presents great scientific evidence that these ancient structures were built long before initially it was thought. If we believe the mainstream science we are saying that hunter gatherer communities built these large structures most of which have not yet been even discovered. How is this more believable than saying that an actual advanced civilization existed long before us?
    There are tons of scientists who are not afraid to change their views and move forward these ideas since they are now being supported with new and constantly updating evidence. However there are many people in the scientific community who are very stubborn and unwilling to let go of their ideas since they represent their life work, years of research and basically their whole identity therefore the criticism is understandable no matter how convincing the evidence is.
    The comment above is very sad to read as it represents exactly that. Science must be questioned. Science is always evolving and moving forward.

  • November 16, 2022 at 8:46 pm
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    The person who wrote this article is just blindly and stupidly discrediting many respectable scientists’ work in a very hypocritical way least to say. The sentence about ghosts was just disgustingly low considering how much evidence this show provides about these very highly advanced civilizations that built impossibly complex structures on very specific points of our planet even more while knowing and considering specific facts about distances and sizes of astronomical objects in our solar system. The detail and load of this work is probably not even be possible to be done today, yet there are still people that will rather choose to believe that basically cave men did all of this enormous work most of which has not yet even been discovered.
    Science is always developing and moving forward. Some scientists have a very difficult time to let go of their ideas that represent their life-long work as it is basically their identity. Understandable. But if we don’t continue research and dismiss any new ideas no matter how strong the evidence, i don’t see anything but doom in front of us. Very sad to see comments such as above as well..

  • November 16, 2022 at 10:18 pm
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    Recently watched Lost Treasures of Egypt – National Geographic Channel. One of the archeologists commented on why most of the tombs are empty. She said the workers would raid the tombs. Also, the Priests and Pharaohs did the same thing. I believe this is one of the main points by Graham Hancock. It seems obvious that most Egyptians do not really believe in the archeologist’s key story of afterlife etc etc. The archeologists are repeating the same cr*p even when evidence shows otherwise.

  • November 16, 2022 at 10:20 pm
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    Recently watched Lost Treasures of Egypt – National Geographic Channel. One of the archeologists commented on why most of the tombs are empty. She said the workers would raid the tombs. Also, the Priests and Pharaohs did the same thing. I believe this is one of the main points by Graham Hancock. It seems obvious that most Egyptians do not really believe in the archeologist’s key story of afterlife etc etc. The archeologists are repeating the same cr*p even when evidence shows otherwise.

  • November 17, 2022 at 12:23 am
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    There were many scientists, geologists and archeologists whose work was featured in the series, and presented EVIDENCE (yes, scientific evidence) in support of the theories presented by Hancock. Did the author of this piece, or the commenters, actually watch all 8 episodes? Probably not.

  • November 17, 2022 at 11:48 am
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    Is he happy to believe the science that tells him how old the structures are but not happy to believe the science that tells him when they were built?
    Why would anyone want to lie about it? What purpose would it serve?

  • November 17, 2022 at 12:48 pm
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    Very dismissive article. Graham never made assertions of civilizations that were more advanced than our own (straw man.) He often said during interviews they probably reached a level of advancement similar to our own in the late 1700s. Also that this hypothetical lost civilization were more advanced than we believed, mostly in ways different from our civilization.

  • November 17, 2022 at 6:35 pm
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    Ancient Apocalypse is not entirely without interest, but Graham Hancock’s thesis on a missing (and ignored) Ice Age techno-civilisation is about as robust as Tony Hancock’s explanation of the circulatory system in the “Blood Donor” – in short you would have to be as incurious and uneducated as Hugh Lloyd’s character to fall for it. For example, in Episode 3 about Malta, the discovery of Neanderthal remains, based on teeth found 100+ years ago (which seems wholly plausible and uncontroversial), is, without further explanation, used to somehow support the building of a number of temples, millennia after Neanderthal’s became extinct. In the same episode the orientation of these temples, more than 10 in number, constructed serially over unspecified 1000s of years, is illustrated in a map. The map is very interesting. Hancock’s thesis is that when each one of these temples were built, they were oriented to the position of Sirius at that particular time. (The position of heavenly bodies in the night sky very slowly precesses over millennia with the “wobble” of the earth itself – a science Hancock is happy to lean on in his thesis.) Obviously, the orientation of each temple should be determined by the chronology of their construction. If so Hancock did not think this brilliant correlation to be worth a mention – I suspect that is because, there is no such correlation. Further, the angular shift in the orientation, clearly seen from the map, was something in excess of 20 degrees – that is very much greater than the movement of Sirius resulting from precession. The program is interesting, but it is not about ancient civilisations, it is about Hancock.

  • November 17, 2022 at 9:20 pm
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    It doesn’t take a whole lot of critical thinking to understand that there is really no evidence for the ideas promoted in this show. It’s a lot of speculation and picking out “evidence” that “supports” the proposed theory. It’s essentially the scientific method turned upside down. The show is still entertaining and I do think it is important to keep an open mind. We know very little about the early human civilization, largely because interpreting and understanding ancient civilizations is incredibly difficult. Even if everything theory in this show were true, it would be impossible to prove. That’s why the show must rely entirely on wild speculation while constantly hinting at larger mysteries and pointing fingers at mainstream academia (the villains of the piece).

  • November 17, 2022 at 10:23 pm
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    “Never question science. The facts have already all been figured out. We’ve overthrown God and superstition and we’re so much happier for it. We have pills that solve every ailment and are perfect in every way. We know exactly how big the universe is and how fast it’s expanding. We know how diseases (even the novel kind) work and should dictate protocol for how to prevent their spread and the public should simply obey. Shows like Ancient Apocalypse are nonsense and are a waste of time.”

  • November 18, 2022 at 5:05 am
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    The great thing about science is that it questions established ideas/ beliefs. The Earth was flat before scinece questioned the belief. Einstein questioned the then established notions about time after observing anomalies that could not be explained using then existing theories. So science uses obervation to build a theory. When new observations are found that do not fit into the theory, the existing theory must either be modified or replaced by a new theory. This is what Hancock is doing. He is saying that the existence of these ancient structures is not adequately explained by existing beliefs and theories. He is not questioning science. He is saying that the existing theories do not match the evidence he presents. In effect what he is doing is the essence of science.

  • November 18, 2022 at 1:21 pm
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    I wanted to give Hancock a big sloppy kiss. I wish he was my sugar daddy and could have been his companion on those exciting trips.

  • November 18, 2022 at 3:37 pm
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    science is not a collection of speculations based on facts, as seems to be the popular consensus. Science is about judging the comparative predictive and explanatory power of competing and overlapping models. Evidence isn’t a series of facts laid out in a line, evidence is the weight we use to judge these models. In this sense the dominant theories/models shouldn’t be considered to be true, they merely need to be better than the alternatives. While it’s true that the consensus in scientific archeology has holes in it, that doesn’t mean speculative archeology is equally valid, because speculative archeology often creates larger and more unlikely holes. Science doesn’t give us the truth, it gives us a better approximation.

  • November 18, 2022 at 4:05 pm
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    I have been intrigued for years with the huge “impossible to build” structures shown in various civilisation shows and my view is that a “bloke” with a basic set of tools could not have built them. Ancient Apocalypse postures an advanced civilisation pre 12,800 years ago which had the skills to build them, was wiped out by the New Dryas. To me, the series does a good job of positioning events and skills at this level in time, through to passing on skills with a small group of survivors. If you believe the existing science, that we only started to build these structures about 5 to 6000 years ago, with plenty of evidence to support that time frame, then Göbekli Tepe must have been a real kick in the teeth for the established science, dated over 12,000 years ago. Graham Hancock offers a plausible argument which holds together well as a possible timeline and explains why these advanced skills disappeared from the face of the earth. Archaeology fails to offer any good reason why Grahams timeline is not possible. At least have an open mind and discuss it rather than calling him a nutter.

  • November 18, 2022 at 6:35 pm
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    @Tony: The brief, vague argument that you make here is void of reason. The science DOES prove that these structures are older than previously thought, because he uses technology that makes submersed structures detectable. Those who previously claimed that they were more recent structures purely analyzed the surface levels and did not “dig deeper.” Hancock is not contradicting “science,” he is using it to provide valuable evidence to his theories.

  • November 18, 2022 at 7:34 pm
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    This article is biased and seems to eagerly mis-state some of the primary tenets of grahams work. Graham is a robust of advocate for science. All of his propositions/hypothesis need not be true for the primary thesis to hold water as well as some very provocative ideas about the origins of man.

  • November 19, 2022 at 5:07 pm
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    This show was both informative and enjoyable to watch. It reinforces the need for more research, as mainstream theories cannot reasonably explain evidence of these ancient structures or properly address the apparent timeline. Some elements of this presentation are reasonable theories or just postulations, others are pure fact-based observations supported by multiple data points. In any event, the underlying issue is that current mainstream archeological theories do not come close to reconciling these observable facts. For sure, and as this article clearly demonstrates, the subject matter threatens the career equity of the anointed experts. So sorry that it offends these experts…though you must forgive me if I am unable to shed a tear for them. I suppose we must all wait for another generation (or two) to allow for additional research that is unencumbered by reputational inertia.

  • November 21, 2022 at 1:55 am
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    I watched the entire series, and I think that many people reviewing that presentation miss the whole point that was being made: not that there was an advanced civilization somewhere during the ice age, but rather, why that might have disappeared if it had existed — the whole “apocalypse” angle. That alone demands further inquiry because it certainly seems possible, it’s not something that is generally considered, and the implications are staggering. Multiple meteorite strikes over a short period of time from the tail of a shattered comet? Might be a fraction of a chance of that happening, but if it were so the results would be devastating on a planetary scale — as the series points out repeatedly.
    As for the reluctance of archaeologists to entertain (let alone investigate) anything outside of what is accepted as established in their field — well, I can attest to that. I’ve been researching the form of image writing used by the First Nations (Native Peoples) in North America prior to European contact, and I’ve received much the same types of responses that Hancock has seen. My research indicates that the First Nations started developing this system of image writing somewhere around 30,000 years ago; and, all those circular structures they built? Those were for mapping territory using common reference points on any horizon shared between multiple viewing points. They wrote it all down using images (often of animals) incised upon stones (which don’t just eventually go away if they are ignored); so, is it any wonder First Nations members made big, scaled-up images on the ground, (“effigy mounds”) too? You can see some of my research at OriginOfWriting(dot)com and decide for yourself, but, I am definitely inclined to give Hancock the benefit of the doubt.
    Science and facts don’t always triumph: it would be a simple matter for the numerous museums I have contacted regarding my findings to confirm what I’ve found simply by checking their own holdings of known origin; but, to do so would render the narrative they tell (that the First Nations were primitive, non-literate societies) false and all of the conclusions from their currently accepted research pretty much moot to the point of being meaningless. I don’t see anyone rushing to do that regardless of what the actual truth of the matter might be (and, be easily demonstrable as such).

  • November 21, 2022 at 5:01 pm
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    This article doesnt do anything to disprove any of what Graham is saying. It is clear that these structures date back to the last ice age. The stories from all different locations around the world seem to be the same or at the very least similar. How does Plato’s writings match the time on these structures and the sea level rise with the end of the last ice age? Why did Obama, Putin and the rest of the most powerful people visit Antarctica? The powers that be control the narrative and hide so much from us.

  • November 26, 2022 at 4:34 am
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    My biggest issue is that Graham’s evidence is very thin. Graham also never really defines what “advanced civilization” means. Could urbanization and permanent societal structures exist prior to 9,000 bce? Possibly, in that aspect I think Graham has a point. I think what we consider Hunter and gather civilizations could have been more organized and complex then we assume. That however is far from and “advanced civilization”. His theory that a great catastrophe wiped out all evidence is just total crap. Even if most traces had been eliminated you would still have non-natural refined metals, or if advanced enough plastics or ceramics. Graham has never turned any of that evidence up. Look I think Graham has a point that established communities in a field of research are resistant and even hostile to alternative view points and evidence. However his claims are both often purposely vague and as laid out are pretty huge and far reaching. His evidence just does not back up what he claims and just because somebody with authority says you are wrong, also doesn’t make you right.

  • November 28, 2022 at 6:57 pm
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    One of the things that is frustrating about all this criticism is that there is no room for the unexpected in any of this. Let’s not forget that up to the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, any anthropologist worth his/her salt would have insisted that megalithic work of the kind seen at Gölbeki Tepe could not exist until agrarian societies were in place. For example, in Mesopotamia sometime before the Sumerians came on the scene (4-3 thousand BCE). Göbekli Tepe existed in 9600 BCE – a full five millennia ahead of schedule. In the America’s, we have recently discovered fossilized human footprints from 22 thousand years ago. A few years ago, you would have been treated like Graham Hancock is being treated now for just suggesting that humans were here that long ago. I think Graham Hancock is making the point that this dogmatism is getting in the way of advancements in the field, and from clear examples from the recent past, I have to say he is right.

  • November 30, 2022 at 6:17 am
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    Hancock has NEVER asserted ancient civilization was more advanced than our own, that much is fact. He’s just believes there’s a possibility of an advanced(for its time) civilization existing during the ice age.

  • November 30, 2022 at 12:26 pm
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    I very much enjoyed the series and found it very thought provoking. I don’t believe that science has all of the answers and nor does Archeology. There is nothing wrong with presenting another view point I am not a conspiracy theorist but I do think the series does raise some very interesting points.

  • December 1, 2022 at 11:56 pm
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    SOOOOOO FUSTRATING reading articles like this where the author compares Hancock’s theories to the Star Wars movies. SMH. Not one article I’ve read (including this one) criticizes the actual arguments of Hancock. Instead they do these things…
    1. Misrepresent or just flat out lie about what his theory is. For instance where this author writes that ” Hancock’s main assertion of civilizations that were more advanced than our own…goes against the recognized timeline of life on earth and the proof that science provides us seems irrefutable.” -Hancock never says these civilizations are more advanced than our own. He simply posits that these civilizations were likely much more advanced than what the current consensus in science says was possible for that time frame.
    2. Mention how ridiculous this is but provide zero counter arguments or evidence. i.e where this author states “Of course, the criticism of Netflix’s Ancient Apocalypse is fair. It would be impossible to say otherwise, as there are so many ways to find holes in the logic presented, and science and facts will always triumph.” – If it’s so easy to find “holes in the logic presented” then why not provide a couple?
    3. Use red herrings and straw men arguments. example in this article is where the author states the following “In episode five of the series, he takes us to Göbekli Tepe, the oldest known megalith in the world, and poses the question, how could simple hunter-gatherers of the time build such a structure?” The author then adds that posing this simple question puts the burden of proof on to the scientist. This is correct, but then the author does some kind of logical jujitsu and says that this means the scientists “have to disprove his theories, and if they can’t, then he must be right.” This is absolutely untrue. All the scientist have to do is answer the question as to how they believe simple hunter gatherers were able to build such a structure. They need not make any comments on his theories whatsoever.

    I could go on but you get the point. I’ve seen these tactics in just about every single article I’ve read that is supposedly “criticizing” this program. Ridiculous.

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