BBC Horizon Scandal

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Email from John Lynch, BBC Creative Director, Science, to Graham Hancock 13/Dec/00

From: John Lynch-Private jsl.only@bbc.co.uk
To: graham@grahamhancock.com
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 3:19 PM
Subject: YOUR MESSAGES

Dear Graham Hancock

Over recent weeks you have made a number accusations and claims, directly and by implication, against the BBC's Horizon programme and the production team that made "Atlantis Reborn".

I would like to make clear our response to your remarks.

1. Neither the producer, Chris Hale, nor the Horizon series itself set out to "mug" you. Your books have reached a very wide audience, as has your television series. Your ideas are attractive to many people who have limited information on which to make a judgement about our history, for no academic historian, archaeologist or scientist reaches such a wide audience with their description of the evidence that supports the established view of the past. Therefore, in the apparent absence of counter argument, your ideas stand to overturn the existing, academically tested interpretation of history in the minds of many people.

As a series interested primarily in science, Horizon felt that the influence of your ideas was such that they warranted critical examination, and testing by people whose expertise could be relied on in the various fields that you cover. That is a wholly appropriate aim, and that was the sole aim of the programme. The production team conducted extensive research, at a very detailed level, and arrived at the conclusion that your ideas do not stand up to critical analysis. I am sorry that you are disappointed by that conclusion, but it is the conclusion that was reached in an objective appraisal.

2. The contributors that were chosen to take part in the programme were selected on the basis of their expertise and their willingness to address the arguments that you raise in your books. All of them are independent researchers of repute, working within recognised academic institutions, and each well-qualified in their field. The involvement of one or two of them with any loose affiliation of scientists interested in applying high standards of evidence to debate (which I now understand to be the aim of the CSICOP committee that you appear to criticise) did not come into the process. CSICOP was not contacted, and we were unaware of any association that any contributors might have had with it. I have been led to understand that it is principally interested in testing evidence for the paranormal, rather than evidence for so-called "alternative history", and until you raised it in your recent correspondence, none of us had attempted to equate the two. In any case I find it hard to take seriously your suggestion, if I read you correctly, that the scientific objectivity of universally respected journals such as Nature or New Scientist should be called into question by the association of their editors (if that is indeed the case) with such an organisation.

3. The production team were ever conscious of their obligation to be fair to you (and to Robert Bauval) at every stage of the production, as is amply evidenced by the full adjudication of your complaint to the BSC, which found that they had "acted in good faith", and which dismissed all but one point of unfairness over one aspect of one part of your argument. You have complained of the selective editing of your interviews, which I would remind you are subject to the editorial standards of the BBC, the rest of the broadcasting industry, and indeed to the sanction of the Broadcasting Standards Commission. I am disappointed, therefore, by your selective interpretation of the BSC adjudication on your website, which I note is subject to no such editorial standards or sanction. In particular, the BSC adjudication does not lend any support to your arguments for your theories.

4. 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.

If you wish to post this letter on your website you are at liberty to do so, provided that it appears in its entirety. Also, given that your website invites others to write to me and my colleagues at the BBC, I assume that you will not object to my replying to any who do with a copy of this letter.

Yours sincerely
JOHN LYNCH
Creative Director, Science
BBC Television
Room 4536, BBC White City,
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS

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