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Open letter to science editors


KRONOS Vol IV, No. 4



C. Leroy Ellenberger

Copyright © 1979 C. L. Ellenberger

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article is an enlargement and further development of material that originally appeared in S.I.S. Review III:2 and III:3 and S.I.S. Workshop No. 5. Although the inspiration for this article came from many sources, the ideas and other help provided by Shane Mage, Lynn E. Rose, Jan Sammer, and Clark Whelton are especially appreciated.

. . . The point, in the view of the behavioral scientists, is that the physical scientists sanctimoniously lay claim to an objectivity that they do not demonstrate in reality.

Charles H. MacNamara, "The Persecution and Character Assassination of Immanuel Velikovsky as performed by the Inmates of the Scientific Establishment," Philadelphia Magazine, April 1968, p. 64.

. . . To understand the hostility of the scientists one has to turn to church history and the treatment of heresies by the Church. Anyone who understands the hostility towards heresies understands the hostility of scientists towards astrology etc. etc. . . .

Paul Feyerabend, author of Science in a Free Society, private communication, February 14, 1979.

. . . establishment science itself has become a church, with its own dogmas, hierarchies, and heresies. It has its popes and cardinals, and the power to excommunicate. This power has been used to pillory scientists who challenged prevailing scientific orthodoxy. . . .

Smart scientists are usually agnostics, dumb ones dogmatic and religious about science itself. Science is a powerfully revealing mode of thought. It has proved so powerful in explaining so many things that seemed "mystical" or "miraculous" at one time that many people treat science itself as though it were a religion. Pretty soon the adherents of this religion say that if a phenomenon does not lend itself to analysis by the approved methods of the church, it does not exist. . . .

Alvin Toffler, "Interview," OMNI, November 1978, p. 134.

Since Jefferson's day mankind everywhere in the world has come more and more to bet its life on the powers of science and the ways of democracy. There is a widespread and dangerous disposition to consider science as in some sense holy, and to attribute to it that assurance of salvation greater than any other which defines the supernatural. In the life of the mind the communicants of such a religion of science figure as so many more dogmatists of another intolerant cult, with observatories or laboratories for churches and with their formulas, as infallible revelations ordaining the rites and liturgies of their respective specialities. Such religions of science insist on their own orthodoxies, exercise their own censorship, maintain their own Index, and impose their own Imprimatur.

Horace M. Kallen, "Democracy's True Religion," Saturday Review of Literature, July 28, 1951, p.7.

The religious orthodoxy had, at its disposal, the stake, the rack, and the thumbscrew. . . .

But scientific orthodoxy - why, it is the weakest and most powerless orthodoxy ever invented.

Isaac Asimov, "CP", Analog, October 1974, p.41.

. . . Descartes and Newton . . . have so imposed their arbitrary allocation of the facts upon us that it has now entered the coenesthesis of the entire Western World. Together they have founded a church, more powerful than that founded by Peter and Paul, whose dogmas are now so entrenched that anyone who tries to re-allocate the facts is guilty of more than heresy; he is opposing scientific truth.

Colin Murray Turbayne, The Myth of Metaphor (Revised Ed.) (University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC., 1970) p. 5.

Certain matters are banished from the field of scientific research and refused the right of making themselves known. Important facts may be completely ignored. Our mind has a natural tendency to reject the things that do not fit into the frame of the scientific or philosophical beliefs of our time. After all, scientists are only men. They are saturated with the prejudices of their environment and of their epoch. They willingly believe that facts that cannot be explained by current theory do not exist.

Alexis Carrel, Man, the Unknown (Harper 1935). Quoted by I. Velikovsky at Brown University,March 15,1965.

* * *


In August 1969, while browsing the science fiction section in the B. Dalton Bookstore in Crestwood, Missouri, I discovered Worlds in Collision. The book's having been misclassified, together with this having been my first perusal of any science fiction, combined to make this selection most improbable. After the excitement of this accidental discovery wore off, the continuing focus of my interest resided in science's reception of Velikovsky's ideas. To be honest, it was only last summer that I came across Ted Gordon's article from the April 1968 Playboy that featured Velikovsky.(1) It had been clipped and filed, evidently making no conscious impression; unremembered when I read Worlds in Collision over a year later.

The Velikovsky Affair,(2) chanced upon in 1971 in the reserve section of the Lippincott Library of the University of Pennsylvania,(3) answered many questions raised in reading the earlier popular periodicals, Harper's,(4) Time,(5) Newsweek,(6) Analog,(7) etc. However, even after the ten issues of Pensée IVR,(8) Polanyi in Minerva,(9) Storer in Scientists Confront Velikovsky(10) and Martin's "The Determinants of Scientific Behavior" in S.I.S. Review,(11) a fully convincing explanation for the hostility of the scientific establishment's reaction to Worlds in Collision eluded me. The question that haunted me was the same as that articulated by Velikovsky himself at Brown University in Diman House on March 16, 1965. There he mused "If Worlds in Collision was wrong, why was there such an emotional outburst against it?" Whereas scientists attempted to suppress the book in the United States and England, church authorities in Germany succeeded in doing so after six printings of the German edition.(12)

The introductory quotes provide one insight into the scientists' reaction. They constitute a very far-reaching framework. Although George Sarton disputed the validity of science qua religion in a 1955 essay,(13) he could not have then known that his comment "Religious beliefs are not open to scientific discission . . ." would later implicitly contradict his position as examination of the continuing Velikovsky Affair, with particular attention to the conduct of the 1974 A.A.A.S. symposium, amply demonstrates. The continuing refusal of scientists to subject their underlying assumptions to "scientific discussion" in the light of the challenge represented by Velikovsky's work adds a measure of "religious belief" to scientific enterprise. Fortunately, but with little effect so far, not all scientists are blind to the vulnerability of their edifice. Norman Hackerman, president of Rice University, broached this exposure when he concluded a guest editorial in Science with the following statement: "For those to whom truth is an invariant, that is, something engraved in stone, it must be unsettling to be told that even long-standing natural 'laws' are subject to alteration in the light of fuller understanding. . . . it might be helpful to remind ourselves regularly of the sizable incompleteness of our understanding . . . of nature and the world around us.''(14)

At least one astronomer of no mean repute is consciously aware of the thrust of Hackerman's admonition. In a book review of P. S. Wesson's Cosmology and Geophysics for Nature, T. C. Van Flandern writes: "Moreover I was pleased to see explicit mention of the assumption underlying this entire discussion [of gravitation and the expansion of the Earth], that there may be as yet undiscovered laws of physics. This has always seemed to me an obvious point as long as our understanding of the true nature of phenomena such as gravitation is so limited (Why do masses attract only? Is there a quantum of gravitation? Is shielding possible?); yet it is an assumption few physicists seem to make.''(15) To his credit, Van Flandern is not averse to positing seemingly "impossible" events without suggesting causes. In a recent article he invoked the explosion of a former asteroidal planet as the origin of comets.(16) As to why or how a planet could explode, he frankly admits:

. . . It appears that possible explosion mechanisms for bodies in the 10-4 to 10-2 solar mass range have never been investigated.

Recent discussions by Oort and others show that some galaxies are in the act of exploding; and we know that stars can also explode (although if novas had never been seen, it would certainly be argued that stellar explosions were impossible) [emphasis added]. Indeed Jupiter has been described as a ministar because of its large internal heat source. Instead of marveling at how such an improbable event could have occurred recently [within the last five million years} in our own solar system, we might ask which type of novas might actually be explosions of planets orbiting other stars, rather than explosions of the stars themselves. It is noteworthy in this connection that radial velocity data show most novas to be invisible companions of ordinary stars.(17)

This scenario and opinion of Van Flandern come uncomfortably close to the nova-like explosion of Saturn which is the subject of the promised, but as yet unpublished, Saturn and the Flood that Velikovsky has mentioned from time to time.

In a review of Gregory Bateson's new book, Mind and Nature, John Pfeiffer adds a sobering observation on the constitution of science. "Science has nothing to do with truth. It proceeds by a kind of disciplined fiction, in the sense that every hypothesis is a deliberate oversimplification, a tentative statement that endures for a limited period and sooner or later is discarded in light of fresh evidence.''(18) As will be seen below, other thinkers such as Ackoff, Rose and Velikovsky have commented in consonance with Pfeiffer on the nature of science.

Another appealing notion about the reception of Worlds in Collision is that the hostility resided in Velikovsky's challenging the widely-held belief in the essentially eternal stability of the solar system. Not until discovering two obscure articles dealing with the psychology of scientific prejudice and the forces against creativity in science was the stability argument convincing. Before divulging the contents of these two pivotal articles, I would like to cite several sources that shed revealing light on the reception of Velikovsky's ideas.


In his widely cited article in Minerva on the organization of the scientific community, Michael Polanyi used Worlds in Collision as a case study. For any scientist beginning to feel a pang of conscience about how Velikovsky was treated, Polanyi provided a handy rationalization. He is very blunt about what kind of ideas are accepted by scientists. "A vital judgement practised in science is the assessment of plausibility. Only plausible ideas are taken up, discussed and tested by scientists. Such a decision may later be proved right, but at the time that is made, the assessment of plausibility is based on a broad exercise of intuition guided by many subtle indications, and thus it is altogether undemonstrable. It is tacit."(19) In a most disingenuous comparison, he likened the ideas in Worlds in Collision to a hypothetical relationship between gestation periods and multiples of pi, as follows:

. . . No amount of evidence could convince a modern biologist that gestation periods are equal to integer multiples of . Our conception of the nature of things tells us that such a relationship is absurd. . . .

Suppose then that Velikovsky's claims were as implausible as the parallelism between periods of gestation and the number . . . then it would certainly correspond to the current custom of science to reject them at a glance unread, and to refuse to discuss them publicly with the author. Indeed, to drop one's work in order to test some of Velikovsky's claims, as requested by him, would appear a culpable waste of time, expense, and effort."(20)

Should the predictions which came true have caused Velikovsky's book to be reconsidered? "No, a theory rejected as absurd will not always be made plausible by the confirmation of some of its predictions. . . . Science cannot survive unless it can keep out such [nonsensical] contributions and safeguard the basic soundness of its publications. This may lead to the neglect or even suppression of valuable contributions, but I think this risk is unavoidable. . . . The pursuit of science can go on only so long as scientific judgements of plausibility are not too often badly mistaken."(21)

As to why historians were justified in ignoring Ages in Chaos after the astronomers rejected Worlds in Collision, Polanyi had this to say: ". . . an indirect consensus is formed between scientists so far apart that they could not understand more than a small part of each other's subjects. It is enough that the standards of plausibility and worthwhileness be equal around every single point for this will keep them equal over all the sciences. Scientists from the most distant branches of science will rely then on each other's results and will blindly support each other against any laymen seriously challenging a scientist's professional authority."(22) Polanyi practiced what he preached because he later admitted to Pensée to not having read Worlds in Collision. (23)

However, earlier and in a somewhat more charitable frame of mind, Polanyi ventured that "It is part of the scientific tradition to be constantly on our guard against suppressing by mistake some great discovery, the claims of which at first appear nonsensical on account of their novelty."(24) This sentiment is in distinct contrast to his "hard line" cited above. It is regrettable that the late philosopher cannot clarify these contradictory imperatives. It is also interesting to note that the Minerva article contains strong parallels with arguments in Sarton's essay cited above.


A common thread winds through Polanyi's article and Storer's paper in Scientists Confront Velikovsky. Both emphasize that Velikovsky was regarded as a layman, an outsider, by the scientific community and, thus, not entitled to the treatment accorded a peer. Both ignored the violence of the scientific community's reaction to Velikovsky, the ruined careers, the intimidating letters, the boycott of Macmillan's textbooks. Both seem to be unaware of the far ranging implications of Velikovsky's work to all of man's endeavors and the possible cost implicit in ignoring him. De Grazia outlined these implications in his Montreal address in January 1975.(25) Two notable passages relate:

But the fear and the anxiety produced now by one, and then by another, catastrophe could not be forgotten and surged repeatedly to the surface of consciousness. The massive collective anxiety was displaced onto many different subjects, heightened the attention given these subjects, altered the ways in which these subjects were viewed and treated, until finally what we know as human nature emerged, replete with a variety of sublimations, that is, the continuous and partly controlled discharge of the never-to-be forgotten experiences and fears of disaster.(26)

. . . the survivors of catastrophe came out of a state of disastrous shock to reassemble the new civilization of Homeric Greece. Those survivors behaved in ways that were full of contradictions and madness. And it is perhaps quite important, to the history of the Western mind, that the crazed survivors and their ideas and behaviour have been taught to schoolboys for 2600 years as a model for manly behaviour.(27)

Stecchini's "The Inconstant Heavens"(28) is a veritable goldmine of insights into the history of science that go counter to the conventional wisdom. His account complements Bass' writings on the stability of the solar system.(29) The following quotes are noteworthy:

A few hundred years after the last upheaval, as dated by Velikovsky's thesis, Aristotle struggled to refute the cosmology of Heraclitus; and Cicero, when other writers of his century such as Lucretius or Ovid were describing in detail what had happened, proclaimed. . . . "the world is so stable and it holds together so well for the sake of permanence that it is impossible even to imagine anything more fitted to the purpose."(30)

. . . In the works of Newton the doctrine of the eternal stability of the solar system is clearly presented as an assumption based not on scientific data but on faith in a providential order.(31)

. . . Laplace was interpreted to meet the psychological need to believe in the eternal stability of the solar system.(32)

. . . When the "Velikovsky affair" is considered in the light of the history of science it loses its puzzling qualities. Velikovsky saw what other scholars were not able to see because he relied on pieces of evidence that they had chosen to neglect, namely, the accumulated records of human experience.(33)


Parry amplifies this last thought in the first issue of KRONOS thus:

. . . A goodly portion of the continuing animus against Velikovsky from within the scholarly and scientific worlds has been precisely because people trained exclusively within disciplinary boundaries are simply incapable of understanding an argument that claimed to be scientific but drew upon material from areas that were not classified as having to do with science. . . But what Velikovsky was doing was blazing the trail of a new science, one that would exclude no area of human activity from its purview, and would be willing to draw upon all the resources of the human mind - rational and intuitive - to create, as the psychoanalyst does with the individual, an integrated and whole history, rather than a fragmented and selected history of man and cosmos.(34)

This is important to keep in mind because as Russell Ackoff, operations researcher and associate of C. West Churchman and Stafford Beer, has observed in another context: "Nature is not organized the way our knowledge of it is".(35) Similarly, Lynn Rose opened an address - "Nature is one. Science should be one. But we see that contemporary 'science' is fragmented into disciplines, departments, and specialties in an arbitrary and artificial manner."(36) Velikovsky, himself, expressed the same idea in a closing statement at his Brown University lecture in 1965:

They [scientists] don't know that the same questions are found again in one field and in the other. But nature did not divide science into departments. This is an artificial division between crystallography and geology and paleontology and climatology . . . and astronomy and celestial mechanics. They are all combined . . . The same problems repeat themselves from one place to another.(37)

Appreciation of these observations is a key to expanding our knowledge of nature as opposed to knowledge of our artificial reality.

Stecchini concludes:

. . . And one could have predicted that the academic world would react to his thesis with a most unscholarly fury, even with personal vindictiveness: the record shows that astronomers hold to a peculiar dogma akin to the biblical story of Creation, that the solar system has remained unchanged since it was created eons ago, and their assumption has of necessity determined the views of geologists and historical biologists. This dogma, being basically of theological and not scientific nature, is grounded itself on fear, as Galileo and Laplace have pointed out. The evidence is that the dogma is groundless but the fear real. This was the principal reason for the prolonged emotional outburst in which almost the entire scientific community of the 1950's took part, an outburst of what Soren Kierkegaard termed "fear and trembling."(38)

Also in The Velikovsky Affair, Juergens concludes his "Aftermath to Exposure" with a fitting excerpt from David Stove's 1964 Quadrant article which is most evocative:

Stove attributes the violent reaction to Worlds in Collision among astronomers to Velikovsky's forceful reminder "that astronomy is not a theoretical science, but a branch of natural history . . . The uneventfulness of the history of the solar system is an assumption on which astronomers have placed a tacit reliance it by no means ever deserved. In the house that they knew so well, they had never noticed this door. And Velikovsky did the most infuriating thing in the world: he - a stranger - walked through this open door . . . We should not withhold the highest possible admiration from the first man to suggest that the earth is not only not the centre, not only not still, but not even safe."(39)


A core of prominent pro-Velikovsky writing has focused on the psychological aspects of the establishment's reaction to Worlds in Collision. To me, they sound a compelling, though incomplete, chord. Establishment writers tend to ignore the visceral level, preferring to remain aloof at the institutional, community of scholars, level. For some readers, Shapley's May 27, 1946 remark to Kallen - "The laws of mechanics . . . have been tested competently and thoroughly . . . if Dr. Velikovsky is right, the rest of us are crazy."(40) - may be enough to explain all that followed in 1950. Jeffrey Greenfield described this flip statement as "a pivotal point in understanding what [was] to follow; for, when Velikovsky approached the scientific community with his hypothesis, he was in fact challenging the faith of 400 years''.(41) But for me, the chord was completed upon reading Harold Graff's "Scientific Prejudice: The Velikovsky Incident,"(42) in which he writes:

Much scientific prejudice may stem from scientific wounds to a person's narcissism when his work is attacked directly by refutation or indirectly by resort to a new paradigm. . .

Primary narcissism, the child's love of himself first, is a prime necessity for survival. It is a common belief that children retain their narcissism in their acquisition of knowledge through introjection. As a person matures, narcissism moves from the self to a new ego ideal (i.e., normal science) . . .

[Pulver] points out that injured narcissism is in reality a blow to self-esteem. This follows Brenner's . . . third category of narcissism, i.e., pathologically immature relations to objects. This statement, applied to the reaction of the prejudiced scientist, refers not to his intelligence and perspicacity, but to his development and maturity, his characteristic form of object relations.

The intensity of reactions shows clearly that something within the scientist has been threatened, an introject which has become as he himself. The mental mechanism of introjection has become known as a significant part of the ego development, normal as well as abnormal. . . .

The present thesis is that the prejudiced scientist has failed to distinguish between self and object, that his ego is under threat if his world concept is not absolute and that his identifications have not become sublimatory. It is because of this that the prejudiced scientist must attack. Failure to do so would precipitate depression (43)

This observation is supported by André M. Bennett in "Science: The Antithesis of Creativity"(44) in which he writes:

Like all "true believers," the scientist committed to certain established beliefs resists encroachments with every resource at his disposal or runs the risk of being destroyed as a person. Caught in a double jeopardy - a challenge to predictions in terms of conventional theory and the inability to anticipate or refute the act of creativity - committed scientists can exercise no other alternative to assure their own intellectual survival than to discredit the discoverer rather than the discovery. More than questions of right or wrong, of absurdity or truth, are involved. To contest "indisputable" presuppositions in a medium where men live for ideas and evidence is to jeopardize the scientist, for belief in presuppositions implies personal commitment. In a sense, the orthodox scientist lives his presuppositions. Destruction of an entrenched frame of reference destroys the conventional scientist because, in effect, it eliminates the personal commitment so essential for self-sustainment; a state of intellectual anomie prevails with primary values no longer operative. Such a person must uphold his preconceptions or risk losing all.(45)

Bennett summarizes at the end: ". . . the unanticipated, anarchic act of creativity either will be condemned as heresy or ignored as unwarranted by established systems of science. The essence of the problem is established science per se. For resistance to creativity is inherent in institutionalized forms of inquiry . . . Most importantly, those interested in dealing with creative results must be willing to gamble their very intellectual lives in support of their personal convictions. Few such men will be found in the ranks of science in a particular generation."(46)

In the same way that the idea expressed in the Ackoff quote above was subsequently discovered in the words of Rose and Velikovsky, the ideas of Graff and Bennett have been echoed by John White.

. . . Velikovsky offered a startling perspective that struck at fundamental notions with which many scientists had unconsciously identified. So closely wedded were their beliefs and self-image as scientists - proud of their knowledge and position as guardians of the truth - that they quite literally could not change their minds without undergoing a fundamental destructuring of their psyches. The necessary destructuring would have been so great in some cases as to amount to severe breakdown. Depth psychology tells us the rest of the story: the ego will cling fiercely to its structure and use all sorts of defense mechanisms to prevent change, including the ugly tactics seen in the Velikovsky Affair. Thus the Velikovsky Affair is as much a study in psychology as in cosmology - inner space as well as outer space.(41)

Thus, at the individual level, powerful ego forces, together with the fear that the Earth is not in a favored position, combine to provide a plausible and convincing explanation for the violent reaction of key astronomers to Worlds in Collision. The judgement made, other astronomers and scientists in general closed ranks behind the trend-setters. As the 1974 A.A.A.S. symposium and its off-shoot Scientists Confront Velikovsky attest, no significant break in the resistance has occurred to this day. Although in 1950 Shapley denied complicity when asked by the Harvard Crimson,(48) the evidence is overwhelming that he and Harvard's first graduate student in astronomy (whom he recruited), Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, were foremost in the attack.(49) There exist copies of some of the very letters that Shapley denied he even wrote. Furthermore, much to the chagrin of Shapley's surviving friends, such as Owen Gingerich, a A.A.A.S. symposium organizer and confidant of Shapley's family,(50) excerpts from these letters have even been published.(51) A reasonable question is whether or not Shapley fits this model.

Unfortunately, Shapley neglected to mention Worlds in Collision in his self-deprecating and awkwardly modest autobiography.(52) He remembers 1950 only for an attack by McCarthy in March. Nonetheless, a good deal of circumstantial evidence is available. For much of it I am indebted to Clark Whelton who is preparing a major article on Velikovsky for a large circulation, general audience national magazine.

Shapley claimed that his primary scientific achievement was the discovery that the solar system was not in the center of the galaxy. (The fact that others had said this earlier seems not to have bothered him.) Shapley liked to say that as Copernicus had overthrown the Earth from the centre of the universe, so he (Shapley) had removed the Sun from the center of the Milky Way. One leap was evidently enough, however, because in the 1920 debate with H. D. Curtis on "The Scale of the Universe", Shapley argued that we were in the sole galaxy. The nebular stars (in fact, other galaxies), he argued, were undeveloped formations on the periphery of the one and only galaxy. He lectured to church groups that God did not think less of us because we were not in the center. Although his father was killed by lightning, Shapley would lecture on "Is This a World of Chance or Choice?" arguing for "Choice". He explicitly equated God with Nature. Through his edited book Science Ponders Religion and his affiliation with Zygon, a journal of religion and science, Shapley showed himself to be committed to the idea of integrating religious beliefs with contemporary scientific knowledge and society's needs.(52a) As a past president of the A.A.A.S. and a member or officer in over 40 professional associations,(53) Shapley had "devoted his life to the new Leviathan of scientific bureaucracy".(54) If anyone, this was a man with a personal commitment to the status quo. As to whether or not these characteristics and this behavior fit the personality described by Graff and Bennett, the readers may judge for themselves.


Recent followers of the "Velikovsky Affair" may be somewhat mystified by the juxtaposition of McCarthy and Velikovsky. Commentators setting the background for the reception of Worlds in Collision in 1950 often describe the political milieu mentioning such items as McCarthyism and anti-intellectualism. For example, Storer offers:

. . . science and indeed all intellectual enterprise seemed to be under attack by right-wing forces in American society. The Cold War was at its chilliest . . . and Senator Joseph McCarthy was waiting in the wings. Blacklists were drawn up, loyalty oaths were required and to be a scientist was to be a potential traitor . . . Scientists quickly adopted a defensive posture, and one could hardly expect them to welcome with open arms another apparent attempt to discredit established scientific knowledge.(55)

Similar descriptions have been offered by Goldsmith,(56) Asimov,(57) and Ledeen.(58)

Not having been old enough in 1950 to appreciate all the forces that were at work, I did not understand the significance, if any, of the connection between the Cold War, McCarthy and Velikovsky. Could the association of right-wing oppression of scientists and Velikovsky's book be nothing more than a red herring? Perhaps not, judging by De Grazia's conjecture.(59) He opines that the intensity of the reaction by Shapley and various supporters(60) may have been partly the result of an informal left-wing network reacting to the investigations of Shapley's political affiliations. In this connection, Shapley had been called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1946.(61) "Velikovsky could have been a convenient, fairly helpless target of displaced aggressions."(62) This insight begins to flesh-out what Storer merely hinted at and makes it likely that not "all intellectual enterprise" was under attack, but merely that vulnerable faction having a left-wing bent. In fact, De Grazia's conjecture can be linked to an earlier event that upset many scientists.

For the benefit of those under 40 and/or politically uninformed, the following additional background provided by Dr. Shane Mage is offered. In a conversation, Mage explained that the true relevance of this apparent left-wing reaction becomes clear by enlarging the frame of reference to include Lysenkoism and the 1948 meeting of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science. There, Lysenko, an out-spoken advocate of his version of Lamarckian biology, i.e., the inheritence of acquired traits, succeeded in extirpating Mendelian genetics from Soviet biology. Five Mendelian geneticists recanted, admitted their errors and committed themselves to Lysenko's biology. This event in Soviet science caused quite a stir in the West and was extremely embarrassing for those scientists who had been sympathetic to Stalin such as Shapley and Haldane.

Thus, having been inadvertently associated with one of the 20th century's greatest scientific frauds, scientists sympathetic to left-wing causes were sensitized and quick to attack any suspicious-looking scientific idea in order to shore-up their reputations as respectable, proper-thinking defenders of science. To vulnerable astronomers, the advent of Worlds in Collision could not have appeared to be a more welcome instrument to assist their redemption.

Without this additional background regarding Lysenko, Storer's description would appear to be unfocused and De Grazia's though focused, unanchored. Two questions arise. When Storer identified Worlds in Collision as "another apparent attempt to discredit established scientific knowledge", was he in fact alluding to the earlier Lysenko incident? And, if so, why was he not more explicit? As it stands, Storer's scenario, as well as the others, lacks conviction without further evidence to explain specific behavior of particular scientists. Generalizations and references to flying saucers and orgone boxes are not adequate.

The Lysenko factor can be viewed as overlying the psychological factors described above and working in concert with them. These factors are complementary since a left-wing exposure would have predisposed one toward reacting, while one's psychological make-up would have helped determine the mode of reaction.

. . . to be continued


1. T. J. Gordon, "Bucking the Establishment," Playboy (April 1968), pp. 127ff.
2. A. De Grazia, R. E. Juergens and L. C. Stecchini (eds.). The Velikovsky Affair (New Hyde Park, NY., 1966). This is the best collection of background material for the events prior to 1966. Although currently out of print in the U.S., an Abacus paperback is available in England.
3. The book had been placed on reserve for a marketing research course. The professor, D. F. Blankertz, was immensely impressed with Velikovsky's ability to dissociate himself from reigning dogma to create entirely new ways of looking at the world. That Velikovsky might be right was adamantly denied by him. On a positive note, another marketing professor, J. Scott Armstrong, features Velikovsky's synthetic methodology in Long-Range Forecasting: From Crystal Ball to Computer (New York, 1978) as an example of what Armstrong calls "Eclectic Research". Armstrong has also developed a case for marketing decision-making centering on Macmillan's predicament in 1950 with Worlds in Collision.
4. Harper's has provided the most in-depth coverage of Worlds in Collision of any general audience magazine with articles in four issues over a 13 year span, ending in 1963. The articles and letters appeared as follows: E. Larrabee, ' The Day the Sun Stood Still," Harper's (January 1950), pp. 19-26. Also editorial comment on pp. 7-8; Letters, (March 1950), pp. 18-19, D. H. Menzel, et al.; I. Velikovsky, "Answer to My Critics," (June 1951), pp. 51-57; J. Q. Stewart, "Disciplines in Collision," (June 1951), pp. 57-63. Coincidentally Stewart had been a classmate with Shapley in graduate school at Princeton. I. Velikovsky, "Answer to Professor Stewart," (June 1951), pp. 63-66; Letters, (August 1951), p. 14; E. Larrabee, "Scientists in Collision: Was Velikovsky Right?" (August 1963), pp. 48-55; Letters, (October 1963), pp. 12 & 14. L. Motz had a clarification. D. H. Menzel, "An Astronomer's Rejoinder," (December 1963), pp. 83-86; E. Larrabee, "A Coment on Dr. Menzel's Rejoinder," (December 1963), p. 87; Letters, (January 1964), p. 12. V. A. Bailey's lone voice. Letters, (February 1964), p. 8. Although Larrabee declined to be Velikovsky's "Huxley" [who had been Darwin's advocate before the public], Larrabee maintained a presence in the "Affair" until the mid 1960's. Letters of his were printed in The Reporter (April 11, 1950) rebutting C. Payne-Gaposchkin and in Science (August 7, 1953) clarifying his position after his motives were questioned upon publication of his "Science, Poetry, and Politics" in the April 17, 1953 issue. His letter challenging Harrison Brown's non-review of Earth in Upheaval appeared in the May 1956 Scientific American, p. 12. According to The Velikovsky Affair, Larrabee's letters to Science and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1963 and 1964, respectively, were not published.
5. Time (March 13, 1950), pp. 72-74.
6. Newsweek (January 9, 1950), pp. 16 & 19 and (July 3, 1950), pp. 15-16 & 19.
7. Analog (March 1967), Review of The Velikovsky Affair. Letters, (April 1967), pp. 170-173. The Dilliplane letter and Editor Campbell's reply. Letters, (July 1967), p. 170. L. S. de Camp's letter. Letters, (December 1967), pp. 169-173. R. E. Juergens' reply to de Camp with Campbell's finale.
8. Pensée: Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered I-X (May 1972 to Winter 1974/75). Focus for Velikovsky's work. First issue has good coverage of the early reaction to Worlds in Collision. These, and other selected articles reprinted in Velikovsky Reconsidered (New York, 1976).
9. M. Polanyi, "The Growth of Science in Society," Minerva 5 (1967), pp. 53345. Polanyi was reacting to the sympathetic treatment of Velikovsky in the October 1963 American Behavioral Scientist which all was later incorporated in The Velikovsky Affair.
10. N. W. Storer, "The Sociological Context of the Velikovsky Controversy," in D. Goldsmith (ed.), Scientists Confront Velikovsky (Ithaca, NY., 1977), pp. 29-39.
11. B. Martin, "The Determinants of Scientific Behaviour, "SISR II (1977/78), pp. 112-118.
12. From the tape recording of the discussions in the possession of Warner Sizemore.
13. George Sarton, "Introductory Essay", in Joseph Needham (ed.), Science, Religion and Reality (New York, 1955), p. 16.
14. Norman Hackerman, "Ignorance as the Driving Force", Science 183, 907 (8 March 1974).
15. T. C. Van Flandern, "Gravitation and the expansion of the Earth", Nature 278, 821 (26 April 1979). Van Flandern is Chief of the Celestial Mechanics Branch of the Nautical Almanac Office at the U. S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D. C.
16. T. C. Van Flandern, "A Former Asteroidal Planet as the Origin of Comets", ICARUS 36, 51-74 (1978).
17. Ibid., pp. 71-72.
18. John Pfeiffer, "Nature the Radical Conservative", New York Times Book Review, April 29, 1979, p. 52.
19. Polanyi, p. 536 (emphasis in original).
20. Ibid., pp. 536-538.
21. Ibid, p. 5 39.
22. Ibid., p. 544 (emphasis in original).
23. Pensée IVR II (Fall 1972), p. 35.
24. M. Polanyi, Science Faith and Society (Chicago, 1964), p. 52.
25. A. De Grazia "The Coming Cosmic Debate in the Sciences and Humanities," in N. Ravel (comp.), From Past to Prophesy (Proceedings of weekend symposium, January 1975), Montreal: YM/YWHA & NHS), pp. 21-40.
26. Ibid, p. 24 (emphasis in original).
27. Ibid., p. 26.
28. L. C. Stecchini, "The Inconstant Heavens," (op. cit. Note 2), pp. 80-126.
29. R. W. Bass, "Did Worlds Collide?" Pensee IVR VIII (1974), pp. 8-20; " 'Proofs' of the Stability of the Solar System," Ibid, pp. 21-26, reprinted in KRONOS II:2 (1976), pp. 2745 and SISR III (1978/79), pp. 16-22; "Can Worlds Collide?" KRONOS I:3 (1975), pp. 59-71.
30. Stecchini, p. 82.
31. Ibid, p.98.
32. Ibid, p. 111.
33. Ibid, p. 121.
34. T. A. Parry, "The New Science of Immanuel Velikovsky," KRONOS I:1 (1975), pp. 3-20 (p. 19).
35. R. L. Ackoff, "Science in the Systems Age," Wharton Quarterly VII:2 (1973), p. 11. (Paper delivered at Joint National Meeting of AIEE, TIMS and ORSA, Atlantic City, 1972.) See also Idem: Redesigning the Future (New York, 1974), p. 15, for a similar statement.
36. L. E. Rose, "The Domination of Astronomy Over Other Disciplines," KRONOS II:4 (1977), pp. 56-63 (p. 56). Address presented at the biennial conference of the Philosophy of Science Association in the session "Velikovsky and the Politics of Science," November 2, 1974, held at Notre Dame University.
37. I. Velikovsky speaking at Brown University, March 15, 1965. Transcribed from tape recording by author.
38. Stecchini, p.122.
39. R. E. Juergens, "Aftermath to Exposure," (op. cit note 2, pp. 50-79), p. 79. Stove's article originally appeared in Quadrant (Sidney, Australia), Oct.-Nov. 1964 (Australian Assoc. for Cultural Freedom), pp. 35-44 (p. 44).
40. H. M. Kallen, "Shapley, Velikovsky and the Scientific Spirit," Pensée IVR I (1972), pp. 3640 (p. 37). Reprinted in Velikovsky Reconsidered (New York, 1976), pp. 20-32 (p. 23). The passage continued "And seriously, this may be the case. It is, however, improbable."
41. J. Greenfield, "Worlds in Collision," Moderator VI:3 (April 1967), pp. 23-26 (p. 23). This article is especially remembered by Dr. Velikovsky.
42. H. Graff, "Scientific Prejudice: The Velikovsky Incident." Bull. Phila. Assn. for Psychoanalysis Vol. 23, No. 4 (Dec. 1973), pp. 288-306.
43. Ibid, pp. 300-301.
44. A. M. Bennett, "Science: The Antithesis of Creativity," Perspectives in Biology and Medicine Vol. II, No. 2 (Winter 1968), pp. 233-246. Bennett studied under S. M. Willhelm.
45. Ibid., p. 242.
46. Ibid, pp. 244-45.
47. J. White, private communication, March 31, 1979. Pole Shift!, his forthcoming book from Doubleday (1980), will contain an outstanding chapter on Velikovsky.
48. Kallen, p. 37.
49. Ibid, p. 38.
50. Letter from Milton Zysman to I. Velikovsky, March 10, 1977.
51. Kallen, op. cit.
52. H. Shapley, Through Rugged Ways to the Stars: The reminiscences of an astronomer (New York, 1969). Ironically, the dust jacket puffery declaims "Dr. Shapley's scientific achievements have been notable but - as his book clearly shows - he is also a witty and forthright man" [emphasis added] . Shapley died in 1972, at almost 87.
52a. Robert McAulay, "Velikovsky and the Infrastructure of Science: The Metaphysics of a Close Encounter," Theory and Society 6, 313-342 (1978), pp. 329-330. McAulay's sociological analysis of the reception of Velikovsky's ideas presents heretofore uncollated information with an extensive bibliography going beyond the standard references of the Velikovsky literature.
53. A. De Grazia, "The Scientific Reception System," (op. cit. note 2), p. 203.
54. Stecchini, p. 115.
55. Storer, p. 36.
56. D. Goldsmith, "Introduction," (op. cit. note 10, pp. 19-28), p. 19.
57. I. Asimov, "CP," Analog (October 1974), p. 40.
58. M. Ledeen, "Worlds in Collision," The New Idea (Student Quarterly at the University of Wisconsin) (1963), pp. 19ff. Ledeen is currently Executive Editor of Washington Quarterly.
59. De Grazia, "Reception System," pp. 213-14.
60. Ibid, p. 213. De Grazia identifies Kirtley Mather, (1888-), Harvard geologist; Edward U. Condon (1902-1974), atomic physicist and then Director of National Bureau of Standards; and J. B. S. Haldane, (1892-1964), British geneticist. Condon reviewed WinC in the April 24, 1950 New Republic; Haldane in the November 11, 1950 New Statesman and Nation. Curiously, in 1959 Mather wrote the foreward to the European edition of Charles Hapgood's The Earth's Shifting Crust, a book of no higher repute in many opinions than WinC
61. Shapley, p. 150. This event provides the background for one of the many coincidences, not without a touch of irony, that permeate the "Velikovsky Affair". When Shapley was subpoenaed to appear at a Star Chamber meeting of the HUAC, his counsel was Thomas Eliot who was substituting for Shapley's lawyer Zachariah Chaffee. In light of Shapley's role in the scientific reaction to Worlds in Collision, it is interesting that twenty-one years later, in 1967, Eliot, then as Chancellor of Washington University, would invite Velikovsky to address the Eliot Honors Day Convocation (named after the university's founder, William Greenleaf Eliot). Dr. Velikovsky found this turn of events most amusing.
62. De Grazia, "Reception System," p. 213.

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