The relationship among Atlantis searchers is subject to eternal discussions. Many think that the search for Plato's Atlantis is a common hobby which would connect Atlantis searchers. The wish arises to bundle the common interest in a cooperation, in common conferences and perhaps even in a common society of Atlantis research. Yet this wish is based on an error. Atlantis searchers share a common goal, but their differences are profound.
The search for Plato's Atlantis is nothing else than a historical race such as the historical race for the South Pole between Amundson and Scott. Although in this case the race is performed at snail's pace and without much public attention, it is all about the question: Who finally manages to find Atlantis? Even today there are quarrels among Atlantis searchers about the question who had which idea first in Atlantis research? And of course there is the eternal dispute which Atlantis location and dating is the correct one. Thus, Atlantis searchers are competitors, and in the same way as the polar explorers Amundson and Scott both knew and respected each other, and read each other's publications yet were in competition on the way to the South Pole, in the same way it is with Atlantis searchers. In best case this competition is performed in the spirit of true sportsmanship. Often this is not the case.
Another big difference between Atlantis searchers is their level of education and their capacity of their hypotheses to bridge the gap to the currently still skeptical academic science. The relationship of Atlantis searchers who built up their arguments diligently and with a profound knowledge of the historical context to Atlantis searchers who present superficial pseudo-scientific hypotheses without being worried by any self-doubts is naturally difficult. Yet true is also that a higher level of education is no guarantee for a sophisticated hypothesis, and even a blind hen sometimes finds a grain of corn.
Thirdly, we have to consider that not only Atlantis searchers but also academic Atlantis skeptics are organized by the principle of the lone wolf. In the end, each university professor stays for himself. Academics are organized in societies, yet either only under very general titles such as "Plato Society", or to represent a common standardized doctrine or "school". But Atlantis searchers do not have a common doctrine about Atlantis, as well as – by the way – the Atlantis skeptics do not have one either, since their skepticism arises from very diverse and often contradictory sources. Therefore, there cannot be a society of Atlantis skeptics as well as there cannot be a society of Atlantis searchers.
Fourthly, there are Atlantis searchers who do not really want to find Atlantis. They are interested to use conferences and societies only to stir up attention and to push their way into the foreground by political means. These are the usual opportunists who can be found everywhere. They discredit the true search for Atlantis.
To found a society of Atlantis searchers or to gather an Atlantis conference so far worked well only, if everybody was invited and nobody's invitation was cancelled. Then a colourful variety of – note well: competing! – Atlantis searchers gathered, and it is exactly the unlimitedness of the participation conditions which guarantees that everybody can come without the pressure to justify for the nonsense of other participants; it is exactly the unlimitedness of participation conditions which creates a climate of tolerance among Atlantis searchers who do not have to say much to each other on a factual level. Instead of the actual matter, i.e. Atlantis search, suddenly something totally different is in focus: An interest develops in the human beings and their personal motivations for Atlantis search (cf. also e.g. Mark Adams: Meet me in Atlantis, 2015). Although this can be viewed with sympathy, it does not contribute to the actual matter.
Examples for such all-inclusive events are the Société d'Etudes Atlantéennes in Paris in its first year 1926, or, of course, the Greek Atlantis conferences 2005, 2008 and 2011. Here, an important aggregation of various hypotheses was achieved which created an overview in Atlantis research which is the basis of progress. But the potential for achievements of such unlimited gatherings is naturally very limited.
In the very moment, when you start to define a standard which hypotheses have quality and which not, when you cancel the invitation for Atlantis searchers and exclude them, when you want to stop arbitrariness and to achieve progress, war breaks out. Because, for the excluded and rejected Atlantis searchers this means an non-understandable degradation. This means that the conference organizers and heads of societies make themselves judges over their peers and political perspectives start to play a role. The opinions about the appropriate standards of quality naturally differ widely. In the very moment, when the Société d'Etudes Atlantéennes in Paris started to exclude members because they were considered to be pseudo-scientific, the project failed: A tear gas bomb was thrown into the audience of a common session, and the society disappeared from history with a last desperated cry for help.
Rather a form of communication than of cooperation is the Atlantis Research Charter. Here, a small and loose group of Atlantis researchers has defined standards of quality – yet not in order to legitimate on its basis any inclusion or exclusion of Atlantis searchers. There is neither a society nor a conference. Deliberately, there even is no subscription list. Because all these would have lead to the exclusion of Atlantis searchers on the basis of the Atlantis Research Charter. In fact, the Atlantis Research Charter intended to stir up self-reflexion among Atlantis searchers, about what quality in Atlantis research could mean, and whether their own work meets any standard of quality. Thus, each Atlantis searcher was in silence confronted with the question, whether he wants to commit publicly to this standard, i.e. creating a binding self-obligation. If he does not want this, he was asked to define and publish alternative standards. An Atlantis searcher who does neither this nor that has to face the question why he is silent. The Atlantis Research Charter's compulsion is a silent and soft compulsion which needs no judge.
A wide-spread error is the often praised solidarity of Atlantis searchers "against" the currently still skeptical academic science. In the end, the goal of each Atlantis searcher is not the recognition by other Atlantis searchers but – of course! – the recognition by the currently still skeptical academic science, i.e. a rethinking in academic science. Why should an Atlantis searcher show solidarity with other Atlantis searchers – who in part are pseudo-scientists – against exactly this academic science of which he wants to get recognition?
The search for Plato's Atlantis is a historical race. Everybody fights for himself. Atlantis searchers like to publish their ideas, they like to take note of the ideas of others, they learn – if possible – from each other, and they respect each other in the spirit of true sportsmanship. At least, this is the way it should be. Yet a more profound cooperation among Atlantis searchers is not possible.
Literature and Links
Roger Dévigne: What is the Situation of the Société d'Etudes Atlantéennes? 1929 (PDF)
Greek Atlantis Conferences 2005, 2008, 2011
The Atlantis Research Charter 2006
Mark Adams: Meet me in Atlantis, 2015 (external Web link to Amazon)