There is fierce disagreement amongst mainstream scientists – a disagreement that also divides alternative researchers – around what happened to the Earth, and to humanity, in the closing millennia of the last Ice Age between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. Marked by intense cold, global floods and extinctions of animal species, this 1200-year interval is known to geologists as the Younger Dryas. Many of the leading investigators are convinced the agent of the mysterious earth changes, and of the extinctions, was a comet that the struck the North American ice cap with globally cataclysmic effects. But their “Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis” is still regarded as controversial by others who have sought, more than once in the scientific literature, to declare it “disproved” only to be confronted by compelling new evidence that further strengthens the case. In this article, Graham Hancock shows how scientists consistently suppress and marginalise new knowledge that conflicts with established positions and argues that a paradigm shift is underway – a shift that will require us to reconsider everything we’ve been taught about the peopling of the Americas and about the very origins of civilization.
In March 2017 the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution, those bastions of scientific orthodoxy, highlighted the remarkable achievements of two scientific rebels, one retired and the other deceased, confessing that multiple injustices had been done to both and that the “toxic” way in which they had been treated by their professional colleagues had “poisoned” scientific progress.
In the case of The Smithsonian the focus was on Canadian archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars, ostracised in the 1990’s because his excavations at Bluefish Caves in the Yukon “directly challenged mainstream thinking” with evidence that the peopling of the Americas had begun many thousands of years earlier than had previously been thought.1
We will have more to say about the case of Dr Cinq-Mars in the second half of this article.
Meanwhile for National Geographic the rebel of choice in 2017 was US geologist J. Harlen Bretz, condemned to pariah status in the 1920’s for daring to propose that a gigantic flood had scoured the “scabland” of America’s Pacific Northwest near the end of the last Ice Age.2 It was an idea that contradicted the consensus view of scientists at the time that geological transitions were always slow and gradual – a view in which there was no place for sudden and cataclysmic earth changes.
Bretz died in 1981, soon after Cinq-Mars began his paradigm-busting excavations in the Yukon. The two men did not know one another and worked in entirely different fields. What they have in common, however, and the reason that the mainstream science press which once attacked them now sings their praises, is that both spent decades being vilified by their scientific peers but were ultimately proved right.
Here is Bretz, writing in 1928 after one of his field trips across Washington State in the Pacific Northwest of the US:
“No one with an eye for landforms can cross eastern Washington in daylight without encountering and being impressed by the ‘”scabland’.” Like great scars marring the otherwise fair face of the plateau are these elongated tracts of bare, or nearly bare, black rock carved into mazes of buttes and canyons. Everybody on the plateau knows scabland. It interrupts the wheat lands, parcelling them out into hill tracts less than 40 acres to more than 40 square miles in extent. One can neither reach them nor depart from them without crossing some part of the ramifying scabland. Aside from affording a scanty pasturage, scabland is almost without value. The popular name is an expressive metaphor. The scablands are wounds only partially healed – great wounds in the epidermis of soil with which Nature protects the underlying rock.
“With eyes only a few feet above the ground the observer today must travel back and forth repeatedly and must record his observations mentally, photographically, by sketch and by map before he can form anything approaching a complete picture. Yet long before the paper bearing these words has yellowed, the average observer, looking down from the air as he crosses the region, will see almost at a glance the picture here drawn by piecing together the ground-level observations of months of work. The region is unique: let the observer take the wings of the morning to the uttermost parts of the earth: he will nowhere find its likeness.”3
By 1928 Bretz was an experienced and highly credentialed field geologist. Born in 1882, he’d started his career as a high school biology teacher in Seattle but spent most of his spare time exploring the geology of Puget Sound. Although he didn’t have a geology degree at the time, he succeeded in getting several articles on his findings published in scientific journals.4 In 1911 he enrolled at the University of Chicago to pursue a doctorate in geology. He graduated summa cum laude in 1913 and immediately thereafter returned to Seattle where he accepted a position as assistant professor of geology at the University of Washington.5 He had difficulties with the attitudes of other teaching staff there (he later described them as “stick-in-the-muds”6) and by 1914 he was back at the University of Chicago, initially as an instructor but soon afterward as an assistant professor.7
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