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HORUS VOL I. Issue 3

An Interview for Television
with Immanuel Velikovsky
Don Riggs

In 1977 Don Riggs of WPXI (then WIIC.) Television of Pittsburgh, was invited to interview Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky at the Velikovsky home in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. Velikovsky conversed at length on camera with Mr. Riggs in the Fall of 1977. The following is an edited and abridged transcript of that conversation.

Early on, Mr. Riggs asked Dr. Velikovsky to describe the remembrance of his early education at Medvednikov Gymnasium. He recalled that his family moved from Vitebsk in Latvia, to Moscow when he was almost seven specifically because -

[*!* Image]

Dr. Velikovsky: ... my mother wished to give us, her three Sons, the best possible education, and for that reason she strove to come to Moscow and live there ... My father had to be registered as a - oh, a man of special qualifications in order to be, after several years, admitted for settlement in Moscow.

In Moscow he succeeded in placing my elder brother - I was the third - and myself in the gymnasium ... I was already able to, of course, read and write Russian, but also to read and write French which was expected of me - and other, whatever, that a young boy of age seven should know. I knew a little bit of Hebrew. I knew a little bit of German

and I did not fail. But there was (inaudible) so either I or my elder brother should have been admitted; and it was put to my mother to decide, and she decided for the elder brother. I had more years to go...

Mr. Riggs: There is nothing like that kind of school in the United States, is there?

Dr. Velikovsky: The gymnasium in Russia was very different from here. You make friendships - in the class - and they - with them you go [to school] for so many years. With those with whom you make comradeship, you go through life - you know them perfectly well; not like here.

Mr. Riggs: Are there any of those peers, fellow students, of yours still with us, and do you...

Dr. Velikovsky: No. Here in America there was one. He was professor of organic chemistry, Illinois Institute of Technology. His name was Vasily Kornorevsky, and he was very keen on my research, and sometimes also very helpful - like the question of how substances could change in the process of catastrophes - in the clouds of Venus and so on. But I remember him from sitting in the same room - in the same rooms... We would go over for physics or for science, some in other classes, in other places, but always one group - for it was not like here; nobody knows anybody anymore.

[Over there] you know also your teacher and your teacher knows you - and so you have to know the years of Russian Kings: you count the day when they came to the throne or when they left the throne and many more things like that.

Mr. Riggs: Did you?!

Dr. Velikovsky: Umhmm. I didn't have too great a liking for it.

[We can sense the irony in this early distaste for a schoolboy's history lessons. since Velikovsky's work was to become, among other things, a major challenge to the accepted views of ancient historians a distinction achieved in part only by laboring over the king lists of many nations and eras.]

Mr. Riggs: How - the circumstances of your coming to the United States ... I'm interested in your coming

here and what happened that led to Worlds in Collision - particularly when you were looking at the history of Exodus. Is that when you started on your reconstruction?

Dr. Velikovsky: Well, history interested me during my university years, and for some time I took courses in ancient history. But I came to this country when other people had long established their careers. In my case, I was forty-four when I carne to this country. Before, I worked in Palestine as a psychoanalyst. I corresponded with Freud; I met him. He published several of my papers, and - his last book, Moses and Monotheism, probably guided me in this direction [i.e., toward research resulting in Velikovsky's own discoveries.]

First, actually, I came upon the idea that Oedipus had an historical prototype in the Pharaoh Akhenaten, and this - I started on this! Next I was interested in Freud's dreams because several chapters in Moses and Monotheism were baffling to me as to his attitude toward Judaism. I investigated his dreams, which I later published separately in the Psychoanalytic Review, in 1941.

Well, I came here for the purpose of spending a sabbatical year - actually, eight months - and before I returned, I already was stuck in the new idea; almost exactly, I would say, about the time of my planned return.

Mr. Riggs: Does that seem a long time ago to you?

Dr. Velikovsky: Well, I suppose very long, because when I started in '39 and '40 on my books, some of my opponents today were not yet born; some of my arch-opponents were probably not even high school students. It took ten years of research - and not on one book - on two books, because as soon as I came to the conclusion that a natural catastrophe took place during the Exodus, I was before two questions. One question: what time? What was the time?

I was guided to look for some similar account in Egyptian sources. I found, in an ancient Egyptian papyrus, actually translated at the beginning of the century but stored in Holland - in a Museum of the University of Leiden - I found very similar [to the Biblical account] quotations - sentences that persuaded me that the references were to the very same events. And so 1 went from this text to the next text, and then to the next generation, and again to the next generation, and 1 saw that ancient history [as currently reconstructed] is in chaos. This is what brought me to write Ages in Chaos.

Mr. Riggs: Is Ages in Chaos - I don't want to say, your "favorite" book, but -

Dr.Velikovsky: No, I would not say it's my favorite. But it demands the most attention.

Mr. Riggs: Well, let's just go down the list of your books. Let's take Worlds in Collision would that be

Dr. Velikovsky: Worlds in Collision was written when I understood that the catastrophe was global - and Earth in Upheaval, the same argument but with the evidence from natural sources - from stones and bones - not from human sources; and at the end of it is my discussion of Darwinian evolution in the light of this evidence.

Mr. Riggs: Throughout all of this, Dr. Velikovsky, you have outlived some of your critics. You have also seen enough history and achievement go by...

Dr. Velikovsky: ... and many confirmations of my work. I'm proud to say that the history of science does not know a single case of such massive confirmation of advance claims. I don't like the word prediction in violation of science - but advance claims.

Mr. Riggs: Could you have done this, could this have happened without our space exploration? NASA?

Dr. Velikovsky: No. Many things were confirmed only through space exploration - yes - very many things. But not all.

Mr. Riggs: No, not all. No. What is your relationship with NASA now? Are you still friends? They invited you to Ames not too many years ago. You lectured to them.

Dr. Velikovsky: I lectured at Ames in 1972 - and in Langley in 1973 - and I must say that the interest was very great. Half an hour before my lecture the gates were closed in both places. It was taken on film so that it could be repeated for those who could not attend. At Langley they opened five additional rooms and so on.

Mr. Riggs: Do you feel that you have yet been vindicated?

Dr. Velikovsky: Yes! Completely! My work is actually not a question of vindication. It is already all in textbooks - almost everything in textbooks. That Venus is very hot is in textbooks, that Jupiter sends radio noises is in textbooks, that the solar system and the universe itself is electromagnetic is in textbooks. When I wrote my books, if you visited the library of a university then, you found books on astronomy where nothing was mentioned on this score. Today, when you go into a library, you find twenty, thirty magazines - periodicals dealing only with these kinds of subjects.

Mr. Riggs: ... magnetosphere - and the electrical properties of planets - the cosmos. Do all of these publications now have footnotes to Velikovsky or are they still afraid to put that name down?

Dr. Velikovsky: No, no, they do not have it - they don't have it. But, you see, you can fool history for so long, but you cannot fool it forever. You can deny me my advance claims and ascribe them to yourself somebody to himself - but someday a historian of science - somebody will come - somebody will discover and will bring out the truth into the open.

Mr. Riggs: Yes, but perhaps not in your lifetime.

Dr. Velikovsky: This is a sad thing for me not to see confirmation in my lifetime. But I saw also thievery taking away from me my name. If you take from a man his money, it is nothing. But if you takeaway from him his name, I read in some philosopher, this is the most ugly thing you can do. And I saw many forms of suppression of my book [Worlds in Collision]. There were many forms starting with MacMillan being subjected to a boycott and my editor being thrown out from his position and so on.

Mr. Riggs: That is a sad story in the history of science. What are you working on now, Dr. Velikovsky?

Dr. Velikovsky: Now, on a book of mine - Ramses II and His Time, this is one of the series of Ages in Chaos, which became a work of five volumes at least. It is being prepared for publication.

Mr. Riggs: How much do you work each day. Do you try to set aside a certain amount of time?

Dr. Velikovsky: No. I am not given to any discipline.

Mr. Riggs: When the spirit moves, eh? Do you want to talk about Sagan?

Dr. Velikovsky: What do you wish to know?

Mr. Riggs: I wish to know whether you believe he has any credibility at all after what he did to you at the AAAS Symposium of 1974.

Dr. Velikovsky: There he was beaten - But they don't print the record of the conversation - of the debate. They omit this.

Mr. Riggs: Since then he's published two books and another one now that

Dr. Velikovsky: He came to see me the day after.

Mr. Riggs: The day after the symposium? What did he say to you?

Dr. Velikovsky: He asked, "Am I on the road to Damascus?" [an allusion to the conversion of the apostle Paul]

Mr. Riggs: And how did you answer him?

Dr. Velikovsky: I waited till he would answer himself - and then he added, "And who, then, are you in this case?"

Mr. Riggs: What did he come for?

Dr. Velikovsky: Well, several times he asked how about a meeting. He said he would come to me. So he came. First he said he would prove me - on a certain sentence which is the only italicized sentence in my book - he would prove me not correct. [The full sentence with its italicized component is as follows: - "The accepted celestial mechanics, notwithstanding the many calculations that have been carried out to many decimal places, or verified by celestial motions, stands only if the sun, the source of light, warmth, and other radiation produced by fusion and fission of atoms, is as a whole an electrically neutral body, and also if the planets, in their usual orbits, are neutral bodies. (Worlds in Collision, p. 387)] So I told him that I didn't write this sentence myself. This sentence was written in consultation with the famous cosmologist, Weizsacker. So [on this point] he was without protest anymore.

After this, he started telling me about three predictions of the General Theory of Relativity that in Einstein's case there were three predictions and so on. So I have to correct him. There were not three predictions. There were two cases explained but Einstein himself - if Sagan had read Einstein's work in the original, he would have seen that Einstein earlier refers to the phenomenon of the red-shift and to the anomalous movement of Mercury, already calculated by Leverrier in 1845. So it was not a prediction, you see. So there remained only one prediction - about the [bending of the] ray of a star passing near the Sun.

Mr. Riggs: Why does Carl Sagan persist in trying to discredit your theory and you with jokes, and humor, and wit, and sarcasm?

Dr. Velikovsky: He believes that if nobody succeeded before - that nobody in astronomy or in other fields succeeded in showing any flaw in Velikovsky's work - I mean, could not disprove him - it was because no proper arguments were shown. So, he comes with the "proper" arguments. Sometimes he goes - even on my side - too much on my side. For example, Asimov says that if the Earth would have stopped its rotation the people would be flying off with such velocity. . .

Mr. Riggs: 900 miles an hour!!

Dr. Velikovsky: Now he [Sagan] says people would not even notice. That they would fly off is not true and that they would not even notice is not true.

Mr. Riggs: Did he tell Isaac Asimov?

Dr. Velikovsky: Of course. Asimov and he are the closest friends and in this new book [Scientists Confront Velikovsky] also Asimov writes the forward. And Asimov also took upon himself to try to degrade me. So he wrote in some place about me - a special issue of Analog - I did not care to read it because I noticed once when I read a review of Worlds in Collision that he does not read carefully - so he starts a chapter with a discussion of celestial mechanics - and later I speak about hypotheses of the origin of the solar system. He didn't notice that it was two different things - and writes about me with great pathos that Velikovsky doesn't know - so I am ignorant. But he doesn't read carefully. If it would be so, you can imagine Shapely and Gaposchkin and others would have found it long ago.

Well, towards the end of my speech, I quoted Giordano Bruno - who, by the way, is my hero. Galileo is not my hero; not at all. So many try to put me into that category or deny me that category, but I don't care for this comparison. But - a [paraphrased]* sentence from Bruno: "There are people who - there is a malice in them. In scientific debate they don't look for Truth - they wish only to win. This is their goal, and so they put their own faults down on you and take away your achievements and ascribe them to themselves." This is what Sagan is doing.

Mr. Riggs: What advice do you give to young scientists who are sympathetic and eager to help with this and . . . ?

Dr. Velikovsky: My books are my credentials. Read my books. After this reading you will see the critics are wrong; but it is knowledge of my books. Don't be gullible so that you can be told something which is in the book which is not there, or told something is not there which is. Read my books! Today it is impossible to stamp it out. You can create me a bad name, yes, but you cannot take all my books out of circulation. The time is close - second generation, you know.

At the '74 AAAS symposium, one of the astronomers who opposed me - Mulholland - said that, actually, if a large celestial body had passed near the Earth, all the events Velikovsky described in Worlds in Collision would have happened - must have happened! And this is not mysticism; this is fact. So it all depends now on the historical question, whether a celestial body of that magnitude passed in historical times.

So how is the record of Velikovsky?

* The quotation in full from his symposium paper (see KRONOS III:2) is as follows:

With a sneer, a smile, a certain discrete malice, that which they have not succeeded in proving by argument - nor indeed can it be understood by themselves- nevertheless by these tricks of courteous disdain they pretend to have proven, endeavouring not only to conceal their own patently obvious ignorance but to cast it on to the back of their adversary. For they dispute not in order to find or even to seek Truth, but for victory, and to appear the more learned and strenuous upholders of a contrary opinion. Such persons should be avoided by all who have not a good breastplate of patience.

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