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Open letter to science editors


Velikovsky and Establishment Science [1]
Lewis M. Greenberg

Editor's Note., A good deal of the commentary in this issue is concerned with unpublished AAAS manuscripts which may have been subsequently revised.

Editor's Preface ...

On February 25, 1974, a Symposium on Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision was held by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Nearly one and one-half years had passed since the seed of the idea for an AAAS symposium devoted to Velikovsky's work first took root in the mind of Walter Orr Roberts, a past-president of the asso­ciation.  Regrettably, what ultimately transpired could hardly qualify as a meaningful and objective scientific exchange, though it did pro­vide "bread and circuses" for a hungry press that appeared uniformly orchestrated.

The symposium's moderator -- Ivan King -- was totally uninformed on the subject at hand and displayed unbelievable prejudicial im­propriety both before and during the symposium.  Moreover, the symposium panel itself was like a stacked deck.

Sociologist Norman Storer was unable to find the time, prior to the symposium, to travel from New York City to Princeton so that he might avail himself of Velikovsky's archival material.  Thus, he re­mained ignorant of the primary documents pertaining to the "Veli­kovsky Affair".  At the symposium, Storer merely employed some fancy rhetoric to rationalize and absolve the ignoble behavior of the scientific community towards Velikovsky.  His paper, like his presence, was pure filler.  Later, in a personal letter to another sociologist, Storer confessed that he hadn't "gone very deeply into the specific details of the [Velikovsky] case -- assuming [his] role to be primarily one of establishing perspective."

Not until he was prodded by Velikovsky did statistician Peter Huber acknowledge current non-uniformitarian literature when deal­ing with the Venus tablets of Ammizaduga.  Even then, Huber pre­ferred to invoke "scribal errors" when data did not conform to his expectations and had to juggle more than 50% of his material to get it to "work".

J. Derral Mulholland, celestial mechanician, destroyed his repu­tation for precision with his very first symposium statement: "Venus and Mars erupted into the sky and ... finally, the two giant comets [sic] settled down into their present harmless orbits and became peaceable planets. - ." Then, Mulholland conceded that "if a planet­sized object were to pass close by the Earth, then giant tides would be raised, there would be global earth-quakes, the north pole would change direction.  The day, the month, the seasons, the year would all change . . . . these are unavoidable consequences of the laws of motion as we presently know them.  We must accept that the dynam­ical aspects of Velikovsky's visions of hell on Earth are largely acceptable."

After these opening remarks, however, Mulholland spent the rest of his time denying that the events described in Worlds in Collision could have occurred.  As a devastating retort, we may cite some recent publications by Prof.  Robert W. Bass, Rhodes Scholar, who took his doctorate in 1955 under the late Aurel Wintner -- then the world's leading authority on celestial mechanics.  The reader is referred to the following articles by Bass: "Did Worlds Collide?" Pensee VIII (Summer, 1974), pp. 8-20; "Can Worlds Collide?" KRONOS 1:3 (Fall, 1975), pp. 59-71; " 'Proofs' of the Stability of the Solar System," KRONOS 11:2 (November, 1976), pp. 27-45.

Carl Sagan, astronomer, outdid all of his colleagues combined when it came to the number of errors committed, ad hominem quips, and unscholarly behavior.  The capstone of his actions was a premature departure from the AAAS symposium in order to appear on the Johnny Carson Show.

Of all the statements contained in Sagan's AAAS paper, perhaps the most heinous, unprofessional, and ill-conceived was the one about Velikovsky's originality, priority, and predictive correctness: "My conclusion will be that where Velikovsky is original, he is very likely wrong; and that where he is right, the idea has been preempted by earlier workers.  There are also a large number of cases where he is neither right nor original."  A remark like that is better saved for its author and runs contrary to the Space Age evidence of more than twenty years.

Sagan's attitude stands in marked contrast with the earlier decen­cy and fairness of such prominent members of the American scientific community as Bargmann, Motz, and Hess.  V. Bargmann, physicist (Princeton University), and Lloyd Motz, astronomer (Columbia University), wrote a joint letter to Science (December 2 1, 1962, Vol. 138, pp. 1350-1352) claiming for Velikovsky the correct prediction of the great heat of Venus, the radionoises from Jupiter, and the existence of a magnetosphere around the Earth, even though they did not agree with his theories.

Shortly thereafter, Professor H. H. Hess, Chairman of the Space Board of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote the following in a letter to Velikovsky dated March 15, 1963: "You have after all pre­dicted that Jupiter would be a source of radio noise, that Venus would have a high surface temperature, that the sun and bodies of the solar system would have large electrical charges and several other such pre­dictions.  Some of these predictions were said to be impossible when you made them.  All of them were predicted long before proof that they were correct came to hand.  Conversely I do not know of any specific prediction you made that has since been proven false."

By the time the present reader comes upon these words, Cornell University Press will have published an anti-Velikovsky book ­Scientists Confront Velikovsky -- containing the AAAS papers of Storer, Huber, Mulholland, and Sagan.  Emblazoned on its jacket cover are the words "For the First Time, a Group of Eminent Scholars Re­ply to Velikovsky's Theory of Worlds in Collision".  The book pur­ports to be "a full-scale critique of Velikovsky's work from several perspectives".  Nevertheless, the more discerning reader will quickly discover that the Cornell book is no more effectual than the impotent arguments of the entire generation that preceded it.

What is set forth here in the following pages -- beginning with Veli­kovsky's original AAAS address -- is a full-scale rejoinder to Cornell, the AAAS symposium, and the "high society" (to borrow Donald Goldsmith's phrase) of scientific orthodoxy.  It is also meant to set the record straight and right a grievous wrong; and the reader will clearly see why the standing ovation accorded Velikovsky, by the nearly 1400 people present at the AAAS symposium, was truly deserved.

In a recent informal TV interview, Velikovsky said that "you can fool history for so long, but you cannot fool it forever".  For Sagan, Asimov, Goldsmith, et al, the moment of historical reckoning is near at hand.

Prior to the AAAS symposium, Ivan King proclaimed that "what disturbs the scientists is the persistence of [Velikovsky's] views, in spite of all the efforts that scientists have spent on educating the public".  To this, we may paraphrase a well-known admonition ­"Scientist, Educate Thyself?"

[1].  Dr.  Velikovsky is not responsible for the editorial policies of KRONOS and is not to be held accountable for the views, the contents, nor the expressions of other contributors contained herein. - The Ed.

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