The Atlantis syndrome

by Paul Jordan, 1941-




Call number

GN751 .J65


Publisher Unknown


Explores the concept of the lost land of Atlantis from Plato's first reference to it around 360 B.C., through present times, examining the many theories about its existance and disappearance.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AndreasJ
Jordan starts out with a rather lengthy treatment of Plato's Atlantis story and its place in his oeuvre, and includes a long sketch of the mainstream account of prehistory, but the bulk of the book deals with 19th and 20th century writers who have, in more or less direct intellectual descent from Ignatius Donnelly, seen Atlantis as the ur-civilization, from which all historical civilizations derive. The titular "syndrome" consists of a number of recurring features in these writings, most notably the refusal to believe that anything in human culture, from civilization itself to the building of pyramids, could have multiple independent origins. Others include a propensity to believe in civilization as a gift from superior outsiders to grateful natives - Jordan connects this to 19th century notions of the white man bringing civilization to the rest of the world - and a hostile attitude to the academic community.

The book concludes with some speculations into the psychology behind Atlantologists' writings and attitudes. Whether you'll like it depends largely on your appetite for pages and pages of summaries of more-or-less outlandish ideas interspersed with the summarizer wrily pointing out holes in them. I confess my appreciation is allied to the impulse that sent people to watch freakshows (and, I guess, sends them to watch much of "reality" TV).
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LibraryThing member Crowyhead
This is a witty debunking of the Atlantis mythos, somewhat along the lines of David Standish's The Hollow Earth, but quite a bit more scholarly. Jordan is rather unkind toward crackpot theorists like Graham Hancock, but considering how unkind Hancock and similar authors are about "mainstream" archaeologists, it's probably forgivable. Plus, you know, it's kind of hard NOT to mock people who think that humans came from a supercivilization that's now buried under the Antarctic icecap. My only wish is that Jordan had included more analysis as to WHY we're so consistently fascinated by the idea of Atlantis.… (more)
LibraryThing member setnahkt
Rather disappointing. The Atlantis Syndrome is a history – and debunking – of ideas about of Atlantis. If you haven’t be reading Plato recently, Atlantis appears in two dialogues, Timaeus and Critias; and that’s it – all other Classical references can be traced back to these, and, despite Plato’s claim that Solon of Athens heard the story of Atlantis from Egyptian priests who had detailed records, no such ancient Egyptian records have ever appeared. The general consensus among non-nutcases is that Plato made up Atlantis himself as a hook for dialogs about the nature of government and ethics, and never expected anybody in his audience to take it any more seriously than the myth of Phaeton crashing and burning with the Horse of the Sun – also mentioned in Timaeus. Author Paul Jordon does a very good job of tracing the history of the Atlantis myth (with the exception of a whole chapter devoted to human evolution, which doesn’t have a lot to do with Atlantis and seems out of place; possibly inserted here because Jordon has another book on human evolution and had some stuff left over?)

So far so good; unfortunately Jordon doesn’t do a very good job in the debunking part. Perhaps the problem is that there is just so much material to be debunked that you can’t devote much time to any particular Atlantis theory. Jordon devotes only a few lines to each Atlantis proposal, and his debunking doesn’t come across as any more scientific than any of the pro-Atlantis arguments, consisting mostly of armwaving and sarcasm. I found the best one-sentence refutation is not by Jordon himself, but a comment from L. Sprague deCamp about the tendency of Atlantologists to change details in Plato to fit their theory: if you are allowed to change gender, age, time period, location, and personality, you can easily prove Cleopatra is King Arthur. Jordon should either stick with this or go into heavy detail; instead he makes a few debunking comments here, a little sarcasm there, and so on, such that the whole thing is rather unsatisfactory.

Well done if you’re interested in the history of Atlantis claims; if you bring it to the meeting of the Atlantis Truth Society, they’ll run you over like a regional bus.
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LibraryThing member tnilsson
A solid book that everyone who believes in Atlantis should read. My reason for giving it only 2.5 stars is that I had trouble taking Atlantis seriously enough to become too absorbed in Jordan's lengthy and detailed refutation of the myth. But it is a book I will keep on hand in case I ever run into anyone who actually believes all the stories about Atlantis. It probably won't do them any good, but that won't be due to any lack of effort on the part of Jordan.… (more)


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