Nov 19 2018

No – Atlantis Has Not Been Discovered in North Africa

A video is making the rounds claiming “proof” that Atlantis existed in norther Africa. This video is by Jimmy from Bright Insight and it is an excellent example of crank pseudoscience. Jimmy has made himself into a social media brand, with lots of conspiracy and pseudohistory nonsense to sell, but let’s focus on this one video for now.

The video follows a familiar format – gather together lots of circumstantial evidence, exaggerate its significance and specificity, ignore anything that doesn’t fit, ignore all genuine scholarship, and create the impression that you’re onto something. Essentially – blow a lot of smoke to convince the naive that there’s a fire.

His argument is essentially that the Richat structure, or the Eye of the Sahara, fits Plato’s description of Atlantis so well, it essentially amounts to proof.

First, let me start out by stating that the consensus of actual scholarship is that Atlantis is a myth. Plato never intended his description of Atlantis to be an actual claim that the city existed. He used it as an obvious rhetorical device – the evil empire that was vanquished by the morally pure Athenians, and wiped off the Earth by the wrath of the gods. The notion that knowledge of a nine thousand year old city (at his time) somehow came only to Plato, of all people, is itself a huge stretch. Further, no one at the time reacted to his description of Atlantis as if it were a real claim. All his contemporaries understood it to be a device, not a claim. Jimmy does not even address this fatal flaw in his argument.

Let’s get to some of his specific claims. His primary piece of evidence is that the Richat structure is a series of concentric rings that precisely matches Plato’s description of Atlantis. The only real match, however, is the simple fact that both are concentric rings, which is not unlikely at all. This is a great example of interpreting a general similarity following basic geometry as if it were a specific match.

Concentric rings are not uncommon in nature, as there are several natural processes that can create them. Impact craters come to mind, but this Richat structure is not an impact crater. It is an eroded dome of magma. Jimmy admits that it is a natural structure, but gets around this massive problem by simply claiming that the Atlantians built their city into the natural formation.

He further has to use some creative imagination to argue that the Richat structure, if it were fed by rivers and therefore filled with water, would have two rings of land and three of water. But that is not obvious at all. The rings are not discrete, not complete in places, and it’s unclear how water would fill the structure. You could count four rings of water if you look at the whole structure.

This is also an example of ignoring details that don’t fit. Plato also described a canal that ran through all the walls to the inner structure, connecting the rings. No such canal is evident.

He then argues that the size of the Richat structure matches Plato’s description, which translates to about 23 kilometers. But again – what do you count as the outer edge of the structure? NASA puts the size of the structure at 45 kilometers. Jimmy just forces a fit to what he needs, and declares victory.

He further says that the dating of the death of Atlantis from 11,600 years ago “precisely” matches the date of the Younger Dryas, which was a climactic event which took place between 12,900 and 11,700 years ago. This event was a temporary return to glacial condition, with decreased average temperatures in the northern hemisphere. It primarily affected the norther latitudes, and North America more intensely.

Jimmy claims that an event that lasted 1,200 years “precisely” matched an event that was supposed to have happened in one day 100 years after the Younger Dryas ended. Also – there is no reason to think that the Younger Dryas affected the equatorial regions (the Richat structure is at 21 deg latitude). So really, it was in the wrong place and the wrong time for the Younger Dryas to be significant. This is a forced fit that is not compelling at all, but Jimmy thinks it is too amazing a coincidence not to be evidence.

All this also ignored Plato’s description that the city was wiped out by an earthquake, in a single day, and sank into the Atlantic.

Jimmy makes a lot out of the surrounding geography, that there were mountains to the north, the city was surrounded by flat plains, and opened to the Atlantic ocean to the south. There are mountains to the north, but this is hardly an amazing match. Surrounded by flat plains is not much of a precise description – surrounded by how much, and what kind of geography? The Richat is in the Sahara, so there is desert sands where there aren’t mountains, but they are not plains, nor is it surrounded.

But an even worse forced fit is the opening to the ocean. Jimmy refers to a sand drift to the southwest – actually more west than south. This is not south. It also doesn’t open up to the ocean, which is to the west. He has to imagine that this part of the Sahara was flooded by the Atlantic 12,000 years ago. That also solves the problem of the Richat not being on an island – well, perhaps it was back then. It did not sink so much as become land-locked.

So yeah – you can make something sort-of fit if you are willing to make stuff up as needed. The evidence we have says that the Sahara desert is at least several million years old. There is no evidence that western Africa was under water thousands of years ago. Ignoring fatal problems like this is a classic feature of pseudoscience.

It is also significant that there is absolutely no evidence of a city in the Richat structure 12,000 years ago. Plato wrote about an advanced large city. Where is the archaeological evidence of the civilization that built Atlantis? Where are the remains of a city’s worth of artifacts, of the technology, even a shard of clay pot, something? There is no evidence of engineering, of actual walls, of any improvements to the natural structure. You simply cannot have an entire city and leave nothing behind.

This again is a fatal flaw in Jimmy’s theory. The many problems with his logic and alleged evidence are things that could be worked out if he actually interfaced with professionals and experts who know what they are doing. But cranks like Jimmy don’t do that. They prefer to pontificate from the sidelines of scholarship, make massive claims with zero evidence, and in today’s age, make YouTube videos to convince the poorly informed.

An actual historian or archaeologist would rip his flimsy claims to shreds, but he can just dismiss all that as a conspiracy. He is just trying to bring the Truth to the public, while the egg-heads are blind to what’s right in front of their eyes. Or – simpler explanation – Jimmy is a hack and a crank who has no actual idea what he is talking about.

No responses yet