Shifting Cataclysm/Pole Reversal (Hancock)

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The Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory is the theory that the earth's magnetic poles have rapidly changed in the past and caused advanced ancient civilizations to be lost when they all died during the cataclysmic event. The complete lack of any direct physical evidence of this advanced civilization having ever existed is said to be because the remains of the civilization are hidden beneath the ice of Antarctica. [1]

This image is credited to Peter Reid and The University of Edinburgh[2]

The Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory Inspiration/Origin

The idea that a magnetic pole reversal is relatively new because the concept that the magnetic poles could move was not proposed until 1997 when Joe Kirschvink proposed true polar wander.[3] Although theories prior to the discovery of the magnetic poles movement did not specifically say that there was a pole reversal, the significant ideas are the same. The general idea is that a global catastrophe caused an advanced civilization to die and be lost in time. A few of the most significant arguers of the cataclysmic pole reversal theory are:

Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock is a pseudoarchaeologist with a background in journalism and a degree in Sociology from Durham University in 1973. He has written several books with pseudoarchelogical topics and calls himself, “unconventional thinker who raises controversial questions about humanity’s past.”[4] The controversial questions that Hancock raises would more accurately be called statements. He believes that an ancient civilization, or many ancient civilizations, has been lost in time and “that there could have been major discontinuities in the record which have severely distorted and ‘edited’ the data about the past that historians work with.”[5] He is not specific with where these lost civilizations went and instead suggests many possibilities for where their remains could be hidden, such as the bottom of the ocean or under arctic ice.[5] He does think that the cataclysmic pole reversal theory is a possible explanation for how the ancient civilizations disappeared. On his website, there is an article by Flavio Barbiero called “On the Possibility of Instantaneous Shifts of the Poles” where he claims that an instantaneous shift of the poles is possible and would cause a massive catastrophe.[6]

Flavio Barbiero

Flavio Barbiero is a retired admiral from the Italian Navy, author of several books and pseudoarchaeologist.[7] Barbiero wrote the book “Une Civiltà Sotto Ghiaccio” in 1977.[1] The English translation of the title is “A civilization Under Ice”. This book is about the theory that the remains of an advanced civilization are underneath the ice in Antarctica. [6] Bariero is a believer in Graham Hancock’s cataclysmic pole reversal theory. This is evident by the article he wrote in the third person about his own opinion on the theory.[6] Specifically in the article he states that “Dr Barbiero explains why he continues to be convinced that instantaneous pole shifts can and do occur – with devastating consequences for all life on earth.”[6]

Support for the Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory

Well preserved remains of Animals

Cold environments have the capability to mummify living remains in a similar way “to the process that packaged meat undergoes in a freezer”.[8] Graham Hancock and other pseudoarchaeologist use the existence of these frozen remains to argue that only a cataclysmic event could have frozen the animals quickly enough for their remains to be so well preserved. They then argue that this supports the Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory because the event would cause a massive, instantaneous climate change. A few examples of this are:

The Beresovka Mammoth

In 1902, Otto Herz, a zoologist at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Pietersburg, excavated a mammoth carcass from Beresovka River in Siberia.[9] Rumors spread that this mammoth was so well preserved that the team that excavated the mammoth carcass had a feast from its meat after the excavation.[9]

Blue Babe

In 1979, the remains of a steppe bison were found in an Alaskan gold mine. Steppe bison are now extinct.[10] Scientists determined this specific steppe bison to be around 36,000 years old.[10] The steppe bison was found to be very well preserved and covered in blue mineral crystals which got it the nickname “Blue Babe”.[10] The reason that Blue Babe was preserved so well was because it froze very quickly.[10]


In 2013, scientists from the Siberian Northeastern Federal University found a mammoth carcass in a remote part of Siberia that was incredibly well preserved. Scientists named the mammoth Buttercup and began to take samples to determine her age and hopefully find enough DNA to clone her.[11] They were not able to clone her but were able to conclude that she was around 43,000 years old.[11]

Stories about the World Ending

Stories about the end of the world can be found in almost every branch of mythology. Could these tales have been based on real past events that resulted from a cataclysmic pole reversal? Pseudoarcheologists say that these stories are based on history and therefore claim that since these global destruction events happened, they must have been caused by something. This backs up the cataclysmic pole reversal theory because if it were true, it would be capable of that level of destruction.


Mayans had many myths about the world ending as they believed that the world had already happened several times in the past.[12] On top of their stories about the world having ended in the past, the Mayans also made a prediction about the next time the world would end.[12] The Mayans were diligent astronomers and made their prediction for the next date of the end based on their extensive studies of the night sky.[12]


There are a multitude of stories that involve massive floods. One of the most popular being the flood and Noah’s Arc from the bible. Another flood story is a Mesopotamian myth about a flood that wiped out the majority of the human population because the gods were upset that the humans had become loud, rowdy, and disrespectful.[12] The Greek myth “The Five Races” tells about 5 different races of humans, 4 of which were destroyed leading up to the 5th and current race of humans called the Iron Racethe.[12] One of these races was destroyed by a flood.[12] The Hindu religion also features a story of a flood. That story says that a massive flood ended one of the ages of the world. According to Hindu religion, we are currently living in the fourth age of the world.[12]

True Polar Wander

It is well known by scientists that earth magnetic poles have moved in the past and continue to move today.[2] NASA even states that, “Scientists understand that Earth's magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia.”[2] Pole reversals are real and recognized by highly credible scientists and administration.

Disproving the Support for the Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory

Well preserved remains of Animals

While the remains of these long extinct animals may be in impressive condition for their age, they do not indicate a massive cataclysmic flash freezing event.

The Beresovka Mammoth

The rumors of a mammoth feast were exaggerated from a joking scientist who decided to try to eat the meat despite all better judgment.[9] He was unable to eat the mammoth meat due to the fact it was too rotten for him to consume.[9] Hertz even stated that “the internal organs had rotted away before the animal had become frozen”.[9]

Blue Babe

Although Blue Babe did freeze very quickly, the reason for this is much more graphic than a cataclysmic climate shift to freezing temperatures. Examination of its remains showed that Blue Babe was killed by lions or a similar predator.[10] It is not possible for Blue Babe to have died in a flash freeze because scientists knew that it was eaten by predators while freezing and there were not any predators found near Blue Babe's remains.[10] If a flash freeze had occurred it would have killed the predators while freezing Blue Babe.


Similar to Blue Bell, Buttercup was preserved because she froze to death after predators ate her.[11] Scientists found teeth marks on her bones indicating that it was most likely wolfs that ended Buttercup's life, not an instantaneous freeze.[11]

Stories about the World Ending

Given that these stories are from so long ago, there is no tangible proof that these tales couldn’t support the cataclysmic pole reversal theory. This however does not mean that these stories are quality evidence of the theories integrity. There is also no evidence that these stories were actually inspired by a cataclysmic pole reversal. Because there is no tangible evidence to support either side of the argument, the most probable and realistic option is the one that must be correct. As evidence exists in archeological records that shows there was not an instantaneous freeze but instead that climates change slowly over hundreds of years, the argument for the cataclysmic pole reversal theory has fallen flat.

True Polar Wander

Although it is true that the magnetic poles do move and have reversed many times in the past, the rate at which a pole flip occurs is exaggerated by pseudoarchaeologist to an unrealistic degree. The poles are always moving very slowly. This means that pole reversals can only occur after hundreds of thousands of years of small amounts of shifting. The rate at which the poles move is faster now than it was in the past but is still incredibly slow. Right now “scientists estimate the pole is migrating northward about 40 miles per year”.[2] This is miniscule compared to the earth's circumference of 24,901 miles.[13] There have been hundreds of past magnetic polarity reversals and the geologic and fossil records show that the effects were not cataclysmic.[2] Scientists estimate that the last pole reversal was 780,000 years ago.[2] This would put the last pole reversal before Homo sapiens (modern humans) evolved. Sciences estimate that a common ancestor to Homo sapiens “lived sometime between 550,000 and 750,000 years ago”.[14]

Pseudoarchaeological Significance

Belief in the Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory encourages a standard for bad science and undermines the achievements of ancient civilizations. To believe in this theory one must pick and choose from existing information to make the archeological record fit their narrative. By omitting information, one can make the argument for Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory to sound convincing. In doing so though, they have taken away the integrity of the information that remains. When facts are stripped of their context, they are no longer reliable information. By allowing this cherry picking of information to go unchecked, not only is this fantastical idea allowed to spread, but it opens the door for other people to do the same with different hoaxes. This has negative effects on science as a whole because it makes it much more confusing for people to find reliable information. In addition to the poor scientific standards that this theory exemplifies, it also downplays the intelligence of ancient civilizations in ways that often have racist undertones. The idea that an instantaneous pole reversal caused an advanced civilization to be lost leads into the idea that a lost civilization influenced and taught the real ancient civilizations we know of because it provides an explanation for where that ancient civilization went. The belief that ancient civilizations were influenced by an outside force such as aliens or a lost civilization has racist implications because it implies that just because white people were not around, that civilization wouldn’t have been intelligent enough to figure it out. This thinking is incredibly harmful. In fact, “This idea of a lost but recoverable Aryan civilization with roots in Indo-European prehistory played a ubiquitous role in the Third Reich, finding its way, in varying forms, into Nazi theories on race, space, and religion.”[15] Since the Cataclysmic Pole Reversal Theory supports the idea of lost civilizations, and lost civilizations support Nazi’s motivations, the impacts this theory can have are very bad.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Barbiero, Flavio “Space-Time as a Field of Mass.” Q,
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Dunbar, Brian. “2012: Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All the (Geologic) Time.” NASA, NASA, 13 Apr. 2015,
  3. Byrd, Deborah. “True Polar Wander: A Shift 84 Million Years Ago.” EarthSky, 26 Oct. 2021,
  4. “Biography for Graham Hancock & Santha Faiia - Graham Hancock Official Website.” The Official Graham Hancock Website,
  5. 5.0 5.1 “Books by Graham Hancock - Graham Hancock Official Website.” The Official Graham Hancock Website,
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Barbiero, Flavio. “On the Possibility of Instantaneous Shifts of the Poles - Graham Hancock Official Website.” The Official Graham Hancock Website, 26 May 2006,
  7. “Flavio Barbiero.” Simon & Schuster,
  8. Bishop, Sue. “Woolly Mammoths Remains: Catastrophic Origins?” The Talk Origin Archive,
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Brass, Michael. “Tracing Graham Hancock?s Shifting Cataclysm.” CSI, 2002,
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Guthrie, R. Dale. “Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe.” University of Chicago Press, 1 Oct. 1989,
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Ghose, Tia. “Fresh Mammoth Carcass from Siberia Holds Many Secrets.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 17 Nov. 2014,
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Moniz, Ariel. “The End of Days: Tales of Apocalypse Across Time and Space.” University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Hohonu 2015 Vol. 13, 2014,
  13. Sharp, Tim. “How Big Is Earth?”, Space, 6 July 2021,,is%20called%20an%20oblate%20spheroid.
  14. Magazine, Smithsonian. “An Evolutionary Timeline of Homo Sapiens.”, Smithsonian Institution, 2 Feb. 2021,
  15. Kurlander, Eric. "'One Foot in Atlantis, One in Tibet'." Leidschrift 32.januari: Verzonken en verheven. Plato's Atlantis van klassieke mythe tot nazi-utopie (2017): 81-101.