BBC Horizon Scandal

Author of the Month

BBC Horizon: Atlantis Uncovered and Altantis Reborn, 28 October & 4 November 1999

Correspondence between John Anthony West and John Lynch

Author: Graham Hancock
Date: 24-May-01 01:55

John Anthony West has sent me the following correspondence that he has recently had with John Lynch, the BBC's "Creative Director of Science" -- the man with overall responsibility for Horizon and other creative BBC documentaries.

Would contributors to this MB care to comment on the BBC's omission of Schoch's testimony on the Sphinx?


From John A. West to John Lynch:

Dear Mr. Lynch,

Your letter to Graham Hancock posted to his website has only now come to my notice. I will restrict my remarks to just the passage below, which I am particularly competent to address.

"Ironically, nothing would have pleased us more than if we had uncovered some evidence that an unexplained mystery from the past still remained -- one that might inspire both research and wider substantial debate amongst the academic community. Sadly, we found none. In a strange way, I am almost as disappointed as you are that no evidence was uncovered to support your ideas."

Who is this 'we' who looked? If you were among them then you are culpable along with Chris Hale and whoever else may have been involved. I will continue upon the assumption that you were an active participant. If not, then what follows does not apply to you personally but rather to the rest of the Horizon staff.

How could you not find such an 'unexplained mystery'? It was and is out there in full view of the entire world. It was the subject of an extremely successful BBC documentary: Timewatch's 1994 production AGE OF THE SPHINX, which (as I recall) had the second highest ratings of any Timewatch production in the history of that programme.

Surely, its existence cannot have eluded the memories and/or the collective acumen of Horizon's assiduous scientific researchers. The subject matter -- the water weathering of the Great Sphinx of Giza -- would seem to fit perfectly your stated criteria for inclusion. It has inspired and continues to inspire further research and it has provoked wide debate amongst the academic community.

Initially it was presented before the most prestigious geological congress in the world, the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. Its reception was unanimously favorable. It provoked widespread press and controversy in both mainstream and scientific journals, which continues to this day. It has been seconded by independent geologists studying the evidence in situ. You had their names and contact numbers.

All attempts to rebut the theory thus far have been easily and incontrovertibly discredited. Most recently, (albeit postdating the Horizon show) in November 2000 still further supporting evidence was presented at the latest Geological Society of America annual meeting, again receiving overwhelming support from attending geologists. In September 2001, the matter will be debated openly at Penn State University in Pennsylvania, in other words in an officially sponsored academic arena. The theory, along with the Bauval/Hancock Orion theory, are described briefly but admirably evenhandedly in the 'History of Egyptology' entry in the new, prestigious Oxford Encyclopedia of Egyptology.

This theory, as you know full well, was developed by myself and my colleague Robert Schoch over the course of a decade. A BBC team filmed Robert Schoch at length, on site, in Egypt, talking about nothing other than the geology of the Sphinx. You did not use one second of this footage. The only footage of Schoch's that you did use concerned his (and my own) disagreement with Hancock over the matter of the Yonaguni formation.

Leaving out the water weathering data constitutes an egregious and deliberate omission, and the excuse, presented to the BBC Standards Committee to explain that omission (that the theory lacked support from the geological community at large) is difficult to interpret as inadvertent or as a simple misunderstanding of the situation.

For even if all the Bauval/Hancock work were entirely without foundation(and I am quite certain that is not the case), until the water weathering of the Sphinx is addressed and adequately repudiated, the overriding 'Lost Civilization' hypothesis stands. My fourteen year old son knows this. It's hard to imagine that you do not.

Still, it's possible.

After due reflection, however, it seems to me that the omission can be explained in one of only two ways, neither of which reflect credit upon you and your Horizon staff.

Either it is an instance of quite unparalleled scientific incompetence, in which case you and your colleagues should be sacked (Alas, academic malpractice is not yet recognized as a crime. If it were, you wouldn't be walking around loose), or it is a barefaced lie. In which case you should also be sacked.

Your aim was solely and uniquely to discredit and destroy Hancock, and with it the whole 'lost civilization' inquiry. And that is how you, your staff and that Horizon show will be remembered. I am presently working with Robert Schoch on a new book, STARS & STONES OF GIZA: The Quest to Rewrite History. In it, this whole repellent episode will get its full due. Your Horizon Programme is by now consigned to your archives, in all likelihood never to surface again. Our 1993 Mystery of the Sphinx continues to be aired in America and elsewhere with gratifying regularity.

As time goes on, the overriding theory acquires additional support not just from the public but from credentialed researchers around the world. It will not be long before it is accepted as common knowledge, and written into the necessarily revised history books. And you will have played your squalid little role in the story.

John Anthony West

PS. Re: the Standards Committee's adjudication that obliged Horizon to publicly acknowledge unfairness on one out of eleven counts and apologize on that count. I understand that Horizon has tried to exonerate itself or at least minimize its guilt by maintaining that, since it was indicted on eleven counts, but only found guilty on one, it is therefore innocent of the other ten, and that the judgement is, in effect, no more than a Pyrrhic victory for Hancock and Bauval.

This of course will not wash. Anyone (from the rice paddies of Bangladesh to the rain forests of Rwanda) who has experience of the workings of the law knows it is routine for ax murderers, serial rapists, mob bosses, child molesters, scam artists, con men, frauds and other societal scum to get indicted on multiple counts but convicted only on one. This is no proof of innocence on the remaining counts. It just means that the one count was so obvious and undeniable that even a biased court could not help but acknowledge it. And since that one count is often enough (in criminal cases at any rate, unfortunately not in this one) to put the miscreant out of the way and prevent further damage to society, nobody makes an issue out of it.

Anyone who reads the transcripts of what was actually said by Hancock et al. in interviews, and what was actually shown by Horizon, knows very well that Horizon is grievously guilty on most, if not all remaining counts.

John Lynch responds:

Thank you for your comments.

JAW re-responds:

I expected no less from a BBC Creative Director.

FYI -- that worked when it was first devised five hundred years ago by someone rather cleverer than yourself; a splendid way to silence importuning nuisance correspondents. 'Thank you for your comments'. Delicious. (Too bad you didn't think of it yourself!) End of story. No further recourse. Go off somewhere and gnash your wounds.

But it is now the Internet Age. Perhaps you noticed? You will have to think of something better.

We all want to know why you used Schoch to discredit Hancock on the Yonaguni site, but left out his comments on the Sphinx.

Failure to adequately explain that omission will be taken by the millions following this matter as an indication that your letter to Hancock is simply a lie.


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