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Open letter to science editors


KRONOS Vol VI, No. 2



C. Leroy Ellenberger

Copyright (c) 1981 C. L. Ellenberger

Whenever it has suited his ideological purposes, man has scrupulously destroyed or ignored the record of the past so that its tragedies could not interfere with progress and the ambitions of the present. Voltaire knew what he was talking about when he said: "History is the lie commonly agreed upon. " Our view of the past is a fiction we create to rationalize our position of power in the present, and our view of the future is simply a magnification of our present.

William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History (Harper Colophon Books, New York, 1971), p. 202.

The innovations of thought in the last 50 years, great and momentous and unavoidable as they were, are usually overrated compared with those of the preceding century; and the disproportionate foreshortening by time-perspective, of previous achievements on which all our enlightenment in modern times depends, reaches a disconcerting degree according as earlier and earlier centuries are considered. A long with this disregard for historical linkage there is a tendency to forget that all science is bound up with human culture in general, and that scientific findings, even those which at the moment appear the most advanced and esoteric and difficult to grasp, are meaningless outside their cultural context.

E. Schrodinger, "Are There Quantum Jumps", The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science III:10 (August 1952), p. 109.

Perhaps the most decisive defeat of the scientific spirit in antiquity had been the loss of the sense of history. History is the most fundamental science, for there is no human knowledge which cannot lose its scientific character when men forget the conditions under which it originated, the questions which it answered, and the functions it was created to serve. A great part of the mysticism and superstition of educated men consists of knowledge which has broken loose from its historical moorings.

Benjamin Farrington, Greek Science, Vol. 2 (Pelican Books, London, 1949), p. 173.

. . . Christianity has always placed a major emphasis on the idea of history. From the very beginning of the religion, it has been the Christian contention that the experiences of mankind could be recorded in a linear fashion, and when this was done the whole purpose of the creation event became clear, explaining not only the history of man but revealing the nature of the end of the world and the existence of a further world to which the faithful would be welcome....

Christian theology also had a direct influence on the development of the manner in which Westerners conceived the nature of the world. In the development of Christian theology, the two Greeks Plato and Aristotle were highly influential. Both of their philosophical systems sought to bring order out of the chaos of the world, and as the two major theologians of Christian history, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, sought to reconcile Greek philosophy with Christian ideas of history, people in the West became accustomed to thinking of natural processes in terms of uniformity....

Western history as we now have it has failed to shake off its original Christian presuppositions.... Yet from the Exodus event can properly be said to have derived not only the modern Jewish religion but also Christianity and Islam the two heretical offshoots of Jewish religious tradition.

Vine Deloria, Jr., God Is Red (Delta Books, New York, 1974), pp. 111, 121, 122, 134.

* * *

BROCA'S BRAIN (continued)

In addition to the eight reviews of Broca's Brain (BB) mentioned at the end of Part 2 (KRONOS V:4), three others of note have emerged: Books and Bookmen, (147) Astronomy,(148) and SIS Review.(149) These will be discussed in Part 4. The paperback of BB came out in September 1980 with quotes from sixteen reviews of the hardcover, mostly from newspapers. The only reviews quoted that are part of this survey are those from The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and Science. Because of the wide usage of wire service material, copies of the UPI and AP reviews were obtained. They turned out to be short, general notices. neither of which mentioned Velikovsky. Finally, the excerpting of the Velikovsky chapter from BB by Biblical Archaeology Review(150) in early 1980 (also to be discussed in Part 4) provides a symmetry to this discussion of Sagan's analysis which began with The Humanist's late 1977 excerpting of SCV.


Christopher Lehmann-Haupt's review was the first to be seen. He mentioned Velikovsky once in a paragraph indicating the variety of subjects covered in the book. His annoyance at the book was plain.

"Broca's Brain" is not the fresh, sustained development of a theme that a newly written book ought to be. It is for all its unity, a collection of occasional essays.

There would have been nothing amiss with its being so if it had been presented as such....

As it is, however, we must discover for ourselves the true genesis and construction of the book. We must learn from the copyright page that portions of it have previously appeared in a variety of publications....

Most irritating of all, we must discover from the slow pace of the language and the high ratio of verbiage to thought (as well as sentences that strain to relate the particular to the whole, like "We are at the crossroads of human history...." or "We live in a time of adventure and high intellectual excitement.") that each of the chapters, instead of picking up where the previous one left off, is really a self-contained variation on the book's larger theme. It is most annoying. And though I suppose I shouldn't have been so stubborn as to accept the packaging of the book at its face value, I was; and it turned what should have been a luminous reading experience into a comparatively pale one.(151)


In his review, "Celebrity Science: Smug and Banal", Sydney J. Harris was more caustic. He observed that in contrast to The Dragons of Eden, the first of a four-book contract with Random House, BB "is the second and seems to be merely a commercial spinoff". Velikovsky was not mentioned by name.

. . . this is a highly uneven collection of older essays published in such wildly diverse organs as American Scholar and Playboy, Natural History and Holiday, Scientific American and TV Guide. More eclectic than this you cannot get....

Of the two dozen reprinted essays in this book, some two or three have inherent value in Sagan's own field of specialization; for the rest, they range from the banal to the smug, and from the conventional pieties of scientism to a tiresome debunking that has been better done before by others.

The author has a fluent command of language and a restless inquiring mind, two impressive virtues that are nearly negated by his passion for showmanship and his eagerness to tackle subjects rather beyond his philosophic competence.(152)

Harris thinks that, in areas such as philosophy and religion, Sagan "begins to sound like a pallid echo of Loren Eiseley or Jacob Bronowski". Recognizing that his is probably a minority report, Harris offers Philip Morrison as a " 'constructive' alternative" for a "trustworthy guide through the complexities of modern science". It would be interesting to know who, before Sagan, Harris thinks did a better debunking job.


Michael Rogers was more sanguine, delighting at the end of his review how good it is that Sagan, despite the criticism and resentment of peers, goes straight to the public with part of his thinking and also ventures into fields beyond his professional competence. Velikovsky dominates the paragraph on debunking popular pseudoscience which Rogers believes will be the least popular section of the book. Rogers describes Velikovsky's theories as "unaccountably popular" and Sagan's treatment as "high-class debunking indeed: closely reasoned impeccably researched, gently humorous, utterly devastating". He concludes: "Debunking being what it is it will probably also do little good. It will be savored by other dedicated debunkers, used as evidence by true believers that the scientific establishment is axing another Copernicus, and it will probably bore the rest of us."(153)


In an over-all favorable review, Edmund Fuller closes his review of BB with: "Lacking the focused thematic development of 'The Dragons of Eden.' uneven as such a collection inevitably is, still 'Broca's Brain' is an exciting book contributing to that scientific literacy of the layman that Dr. Sagan sees as so necessary." Fuller's reference to Velikovsky seems enigmatic: "In 'Venus and Dr. Velikovsky' he [Sagan] makes a powerful case against the 'catastrophist' theories of the relatively recent history of our earth, even though it spins in a catastrophic universe." These are not the raptured words of sycophancy but appear more to be the considered conclusion of someone who thinks for himself.(154)


Martin Gardner was an unfortunate choice to review Sagan's book in The New York Review(155) because he is both a crony of Sagan's on the pseudo-scientist slaying circuit and another of the surviving 1950-vintage critics of Worlds in Collision. His review reads as though it were written by a graduate of the Gee Whiz School of Literary Criticism. Of a book literally strewn with errors, Gardner identifies none. That Gardner devotes proportionally as much space to Velikovsky as Sagan does reflects his long preoccupation with Worlds in Collision. This preoccupation is noteworthy because Gardner resigned from the editorial board of The Zetetic Scholar precisely over the issue of publishing a dialogue on Velikovsky's works; and this is the same Martin Gardner who, in a 1950 Antioch Review article,(156) wrote that soon Worlds in Collision would be gathering dust on library shelves.

His 113 word synopsis of Worlds in Collision contains no less than six errors: Gardner dates the flood of Noah [I ] and the origin of Venus [2] at 1500 B.C., speaks of grazing contact [3], parts the Red Sea [4], insists on extraterrestrial flies [5], and derides the ability of Venus to attain its present orbit so quickly [6].(157)

Gardner's mind-set is apparent from the following excerpts:

Consider the curious case of Immanuel Velikovsky, whose books are closely linked to the fundamentalist revival. A devout believer in orthodox Judaism, Dr. Velikovsky . . . set himself the task of revising the laws of astronomy and physics, and rewriting vast globs of ancient history.... Macmillan's lavish advertising for [Worlds in Collision] made no secret of how the book supported the historicity of Old Testament miracles. There is no question that the book would never have found a major publisher, would never have become a bestseller, had it not had a strong appeal to old-time religionists....

To astronomers and physicists, without exception, Velikovsky's scenario is so crazy that most of them saw no reason why they should waste time even reading him. It is to Sagan's credit that he perceived the rise of the Velikovsky cult (in drum-beating articles in Harper's, Reader's Digest, miserable little occult magazines such as Fate, pseudo-scholarly periodicals devoted to Velikovsky, and so on) as symptomatic of a deplorable trend....

Sagan's chapter "Venus and Dr. Velikovsky" is a masterpiece of anti-anti-science rhetoric.... No one with a modicum of knowledge about astronomy and physics can read Sagan's chapter without grasping the fact that there is no Velikovskian challenge to astronomy, never was one, and never will be. The big noise is just the sound of an ignorant public being had.(158)

More dogmatic than this one cannot get, or wrong, either. Gardner's version just does not square with the facts. Being proud of both his Jewish heritage and the underlying truthfulness of certain "miracles" described in the Old Testament, as Velikovsky was, is not the same as being "a devout believer in orthodox Judaism" with its connotations of religious fanaticism. What critics such as Sagan and Gardner fail to realize is that there is a difference between an historical approach to the Bible as opposed to a fundamentalist approach. In the last introductory quote to Part 2 in KRONOS V:4 (pp. 49-50), Horace Kallen exquisitely described Velikovsky's approach to his sources. Furthermore, Velikovsky supported his biblical stories with reports of the same events from cultures the world over. Using Olmec and Hindu sources did not make Velikovsky an orthodox Olmec and Hindu.

Velikovsky never "set himself the task of revising the laws of astronomy and physics . . ." as Gardner so cavalierly claims. Rather, Velikovsky set out in 1939 to write a book on Freud's heroes - Moses, Oedipus, and Akhnaton. In this research he found overwhelming evidence that certain events in the Bible are attested to by civilizations the world over, centering on the role of Venus, and later Mars, in Earthly affairs. All else follows from this realization. The evidence that the events really happened, despite their seeming impossibility at first glance, is so compelling that more work should be done to elucidate the processes and mechanisms rather than to dismiss the book out of hand as most scientists and their hangers-on, such as Gardner, have done. Our understanding of the laws of nature is neither so complete nor so consistent with observation as to absolutely deny the occurrence of the events described in Worlds in Collision.

Ironically, when Gardner reviewed David Hofstadter's Gödel Escher and Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid he could muse: "Is the universe Gödelian in the sense that there is no end to the discovery of its laws? Perhaps. It may be that no matter how deeply science probes there will always be laws uncaptured by the theories, an endless sequence of wheels within wheels."(159) Gardner appears to allow a rationale for admitting to scientific discussion the supposedly "impossible" events in Worlds in Collision. At the same time he shows how readily expressible a Velikovskian position can be in a neutral or non-specific context .

Worlds in Collision was not published purely because of its "strong appeal to old-time religionists". Granting the book's natural appeal to that group and the "lavish advertising . . ." (which was the publisher's prerogative), the truth is that Velikovsky was never motivated to exploit people's interest in the Bible. As it happens, in 1950, Velikovsky himself was responsible for terminating the adaptation of Worlds in Collision in Collier's because of the sensationalism in the illustrations. The book was not grabbed up by a major publisher anxious to exploit "an ignorant public". The book found a major publisher only after a long search because of its scholarly approach. Macmillan's decision was deliberate and responsible at every stage. The publisher in Gardner's imaginary scenario would not have submitted the book to a censorship panel composed of three university scientists on the eve of publication, as Macmillan did. Gardner ought to ponder what effect the attempted suppression led by astronomers had on the book's success. Also, Gardner's assessment of the religious appeal cannot be entirely correct since both atheists and theists embrace it and since the German edition was suppressed in 1952 by religious leaders. The rest of Gardner's comments quoted above deserve no comment. The intellectual bankruptcy they represent speaks for itself.

Four months later, letters from Lynn E. Rose and Daniel L. Kline, a doctor in Cincinnati, were printed with individual replies from Gardner.(160) Rose criticized Gardner for characterizing Velikovsky as a fundamentalist and for misstating the events in Worlds in Collision, using "the flood of Noah" as an example. Gardner replied that he has "never called Velikovsky a fundamentalist" because "the term labels a Protestant movement". After admitting his error on the Deluge, Gardner adds with sarcasm, "I hope Rose will forgive this terrible blunder". He then correctly states the scenario closing with the observation that after the Deluge, "For several centuries both Earth and Moon were completely covered with water". Gardner is amused that, after being blasted for wrongly calling Velikovsky a fundamentalist. "Rose reminds us that Velikovsky accepts literally the Genesis account of the entire Earth being under water in historic times".

Dr. Kline accused Sagan and Gardner of "savage personal attacks on Velikovsky ('charlatan.' 'fraud') when he is obviously a sincere, if mistaken individual". He concurred with Rowan-Robinson in Nature, whom he cites, that Velikovsky's cosmic theory might rest on actual events "even though his explanation is scientifically unsound". Gardner corrected the doctor by pointing out that neither he nor Sagan used the two words in quotes against Velikovsky, and agreed with the "sincere, if mistaken" sentiment noting: "All the great pseudo-scientists of the past . . were sincere and mistaken." Gardner gave no credence to the second point preferring,, to believe that Velikovsky was bound to be correct about some things by coincidence.

Over four months after these letters, a second exchange between Rose and Gardner appeared.(161) Rose emphasized that "fundamentalist" correctly refers "generally to anyone who holds that Scripture is literally true" and reiterated Gardner's ignoring "Velikovsky's protestations that he is not a fundamentalist, and that he does not accept Scripture as literally true". Rose pointed out that the current interest in Velikovsky's theories stems from "the unprecedented record of confirmation that those theories have enjoyed", not because they are part of a revival of fundamentalism. Rose closed by challenging "Gardner to provide any evidence that Velikovsky has ever said that for 'several centuries' Earth was 'completely covered with water' ".

This challenge was ill-timed because it dealt with an area that Velikovsky had not developed fully in his published work. Thus, Gardner, who was always given the last word, retorted with quotes from Velikovsky Reconsidered about the cosmic origin of the water of the Deluge that "showered on Earth and Moon alike". This material originally came from a 1969 New York Times article; and a careful reading of Velikovsky would show that the "completely covered for several centuries" applied only to the Moon, not the Earth. Thus, while Rose was technically sound, Gardner came off appearing the better to the casual or uninformed reader. He also got in additional licks, to boot, regarding what he made to look like Velikovsky's strict adherence to the Bible and Velikovsky's reasoning that the Moon's features are less than 3,000 years old. Unfortunately, Rose missed a chance to correct a minor error of Gardner's wherein the flood was dated to "historic times".


Because book reviews in The New York Times are selected by two departments independently, the review of BB in the week day edition was followed by Robert Jastrow's 1,100 word review on the second Sunday of June.(162) As others before, he faulted Sagan on several scores "some nonsensical conjecture, half truth or non sequitur" but not Velikovsky. Considering that the covers of the trade paperback editions of Jastrow's books feature Paddy Chayefsky's quote about Jastrow being "the greatest writer on science alive today", the opening sentence of Jastrow's review is surprising in that it lauds Sagan as "the most effective and popular advocate of the wonders of science in the United States".

"The chapter on Immanuel Velikovsky", according to Jastrow, "is the most able analysis of this fascinating man's ideas to appear in print. I attempted the same task once and gave it up as hopeless." Then followed a summary of Velikovsky's thesis with a listing of some of the questions raised by Sagan on the Earth's rotation, petroleum from Venus, and manna.

While the Velikovsky chapter "is Professor Sagan at his best", Jastrow finds himself "nagged by doubt" that is reinforced by Sagan's "fatuous and sell indulgent . . . flights of meaningless fancy". The only example is the oft-cited Big Bang theory/human birth experience comparison. Despite having to pick one's "way through a mixture of sense and nonsense," Jastrow finds the book "is still worth reading; its flaws are almost as interesting and amusing as its virtues".

Later in the year, after Velikovsky's death, a tribute of sorts to this "man of extraordinary talents" by Jastrow appeared in The New York Times.(163) It opened with an accurate, sympathetic summary of Velikovsky's astronomical ideas and their early reception by scientists. Jastrow engaged in a bit of revisionism in discussing the AAAS Symposium. The panel included only four opposing members, not five. The fifth, Irving Michelson, a self-professed neutral, presented two discoveries that seemed to support Velikovsky's scenario .

After covering the AAAS Symposium, Jastrow related how "Dr. Velikovsky had his day when he spotted a major scientific boner in Professor Sagan's argument" concerning the odds against the collisions in Worlds in Collision. The "error lay in the assumption that the collisions were independent of one another.... Dr. Velikovsky pointed out that the collisions are not independent; in fact, if two bodies orbiting the sun under the influence of gravity collided once, that encounter enhances the chance of another, a fact well known in celestial mechanics. Professor Sagan's calculations, in effect, ignore the law of gravity. Here Velikovsky was the better astronomer."

Then, after criticizing Velikovsky's scientific documentation on several grounds, Jastrow granted Velikovsky three correct predictions: "Venus is hot; Jupiter emits radio noise; and the moon's rocks are magnetic." Following this was a list of seven selected false predictions.(164) Since "nothing geologically remarkable happened 3,500 years ago on the Earth or on the moon" according to his interpretation of the evidence, Jastrow concluded that we will not "witness a revolution of scientific thought in our own lifetime".

The only letter printed in reaction to Jastrow's article was Sagan's indignant defence of his odds calculation which opened with: "I was astonished at the scientific incompetence of Robert Jastrow's argument . . . on the statistical independence of the purported planetary collisions in Immanuel Velikovsky's book Worlds in Collision."(165) After detailing a different sequence of six "independent" events than that used in his AAAS paper, Sagan closed by quoting the two sentences from Jastrow's review of BB wherein he had lauded Sagan's analysis as "the most able" and admitted having tried "once and gave it up as hopeless".

Sagan's letter was answered by Clark Whelton who observed: "So difficult has this task [of disproving Velikovsky] become that Sagan invents statistical arguments which he refuses to abandon even when his error is pointed out by Robert Jastrow.... Sagan's ultimate objective seems to be a defence of Newton's masterpiece of wishful thinking, the concept of an unerring and eternal clockwork universe. Velikovsky's research has indicated that the literate peoples of antiquity knew better, that they were witness to natural catastrophes which they tried to rationalize through theistic myth and legend."(166)

Jastrow evidently had second thoughts about the hopelessness of his debunking Velikovsky because his effort finally appeared in Science Digest Special Edition No. 4 in mid-1980.(167) What was to become the thrust of his attack was revealed in a January 1980 letter by Jastrow responding to this writer's criticism of his New York Times article.(168) Dr. Michael Rampino, a specialist in volcanic eruptions and their effects on climate, had told Jastrow "that two big eruptions occurred just 3500 years ago around the Mediterranean, which could have caused tidal waves, darkening of the sky by volcanic dust, and other events that might have been seared into the consciousness of Mediterranean peoples of that period".(169) The volcanoes turned out to be Thera and Vesuvius.

Jastrow's Science Digest article will be analyzed in a future issue of KRONOS. As will be shown, his alternative does not survive close scrutiny.


The unsigned review in Time ran 170 words which, including a picture of Sagan, occupied two-thirds of a column.(170) The review observes that Sagan is not always successful, as when he tries to relate the psychology of the Big Bang to the experience of birth. However, "he is unassailable on subjects of pure science".

Over 40 percent of the text deals with Velikovsky, on whom the review ends: "Sagan is at his wittiest when he attacks his bêtes noires: the ideas of Catastrophist Immanuel Velikovsky. Scientists usually lapse into tantrums when they discuss Velikovsky's belief in Venus as the cause of Old Testament miracles and plagues. Sagan, in a chapter worth the price of the book, refutes the claim so calmly and effectively that the theory, like an exhausted Skylab, falls of its own weight."

No letters about this review were printed. The comments from this writer pointed out that the review was simply wrong about the potency of Sagan's arguments against Velikovsky and that most of Sagan's counter-arguments have been shown to be either irrelevant or completely erroneous in two books from KRONOS Press.


This 200 word review, the last of a collection of "Briefs", also attempted balance while focusing on Velikovsky.(171) Of Velikovsky, the reviewer reports: "In a lengthy tour de force of careful reasoning, Dr. Sagan performs another public service by giving the first comprehensive answer to Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision. Here he is exceptional, marshalling his facts and taking apart Velikovsky's theory point by point." This is followed by the notion that "Sagan is on less firm ground when speculating on semi-philosophical topics". . . . to be continued.


147. Books and Bookmen (November 1979). Reviewed by Patrick Moore.
148. Astronomy (May 1980), p.57. Reviewed by Editor Richard Berry. Then in July, James E. Oberg ("Predictions in Collision," pp. 24,26, 28) purported to show that none of Velikovsky's astronomical predictions were correct. In October, an invited rebuttal by this writer appeared ("Oberg in Confusion," pp. 24, 26-28) with letters from L. M. Greenberg, Harry E. Mongold, David Morrison, Guenter Koehler, et al. (pp. 36-37). Oberg responded in December ("Oberg in Defiance," p.52). Two other short letters contra Velikovsky also appeared (December, pp.52-53; January 1981, p.46). In February 1981 this writer's concluding reply to Oberg ( "Velikovsky Redux", p. 36) appeared together with David Morrison's unexpected "Time Scales in Collision", the comments of a bored and disgusted reader in Princeton, and Berry's own disgruntled remarks closing what he described as a "dull" and "tiresome" debate (pp. 36-37).
149. Brian Moore, "Sagan's Nerve,"SlS Review IV:2/3 (Winter 1979/80), pp. 37-39.
150. Carl Sagan, "A Scientist Looks at Velikovsky's 'Worlds in Collision'," Biblical Archaeology Review VI: I (January/February 1980), pp.40-51, 11 (footnotes). An overview of Velikovsky's work and the revised chronology by William H. Stiebing, Jr. appeared on p. 41. Under the heading "Velikovsky Supporters Pounce on Sagan", an extended, invited rebuttal by Ellenberger/Greenberg/Mage led off the May/June letters (pp. 10-12) . This was followed by remarks from Joseph K . Geiger. M.D., Clark Whelton, Dominick A . Carlucci, Jr., Ewoud H. Bon, et a/. (pp. 12-13). The July/August issue (p. 4) presented a pro and a con letter. In September/October, David Morrison's "The Cruel Truth About Velikovsky" (pp 12, 14) appeared. This conceit was followed in the next issue by Morris Bennett's "The Cruel Truth About Morrison" (November/December, pp.56-57).
151. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Books of the Times," The New York Times (May 17, 1979), p. C21. 790 words.
152. Sydney J. Harris, "Celebrity Science: Smug and banal," Chicago Sunday Sun-Times (May 20, 1979), p. 12. 480 words.
153. Michael Rogers, "I:rom Molecules and Quasars," Washington Post (May 27,1979),
"Book World" pp. I, 4. 840 words.
154. Edmund Fuller, "Readable Contributions to Scientific Literacy," Wall Street Journal (May 29, 1979), p. 22. 770 words.
155. Martin Gardner, "eternal Riddles," The New York Review (June 14, 1979), pp. 32-34. 3,120 words.
156. Martin Gardner, "The Hermit Scientist," The Antioch Review (Winter 1950-51), pp. 447-457 (457). Inspired by the publication in 1950 of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. The Modern Science of Mental Health and Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, Gardner opened with a discussion of them and went on to discuss "even more ingenious examples of scientific self-delusion": Wilhelm Reich's "orgone therapy" and George McCready Price's The New Geology. Gardner's purpose was "simply to glance at several examples of a type of scientific activity which fails completely to conform to scientific standards, but at the same time is the result of such intricate mental activity that it wins temporary acceptance by many laymen insufficiently informed to recognize the scientist's incompetence" Gardner described Velikovsky's work as "a tissue of absurdities" and a "defence of the orthodox Jewish interpretation of Old Testament history". The article was later incorporated into Gardner's In the Name of Science (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1952) which was revised and expanded for reissue as Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Dover, 1957).

In Fads and Fallacies, Velikovsky figures prominently as a point of reference in the introductory chapter and as the lead subject in the third chapter, "Monsters of Doom," which also discusses Whiston, Donnelly, Horbiger and Bellamy. Dr. Charles E. Ruhl of Old Dominion University kindly pointed out, in a conversation, that the book also closes on the subject of Velikovsky with what Dr. Ruhl described as "the most blatant example of being blinded by one's own point of view".

One of Gardner's continuing concerns in the book is how reputable publishers can avoid "bringing out in hard covers a worthless scientific work". After supplying the obvious answer of submitting a questionable scientific manuscript "to an appropriate expert for his opinion", Gardner continues: "In many recent cases, however, this commendable practice was violated and pseudo-scientific works far below the area of reasonable doubt were published and heavily promoted by houses that either did not seek expert opinion or disregarded it. It is in these cases that the publication of a book begins to smack of fraud, for the public has grown to expect the larger houses to weed out worthless manuscripts" (pp. 322-23). (As an aside, one wonders how Gardner's own book would have fared if it had been subjected to the same objective critical scrutiny he was demanding for Velikovsky.)

That Gardner is referring to Worlds in Collision is clear from the next paragraph: "Eric Larrabee, an editor of Harper's magazine who introduced Velikovsky's views to the public by way of a Harper's article, has, like a man with an uneasy conscience, repeatedly defended his action." (See Part I, KRONOS IV:4, p. 72 footnote 4.) Here Gardner shows himself so trapped in his own point of view that he has to interpret Larrabee's behavior pathologically instead of the natural reaction of someone defending his own ideas. The central problem that "Larrabee never comes to grips with", according to Gardner, is "whether he, as a non-scientist, did a good thing when he trusted his own judgment concerning Velikovsky as opposed to the judgment of astronomers and physicists" (p. 323).

This presentation of Gardner's only shows how egregiously uninformed he was about the publication of Worlds in Collision. The opinions of the Curator of the Hayden Planetarium and the New York Herald-Tribune Science Editor supporting the book were not worthless. In considering the book, Macmillan proceeded to solicit the expert opinion of many outside readers. The last-minute censorship panel convened as a result of Shapley's intervention was composed of three academic scientists: two physicists and a chemist. While they did not agree with everything in the book, they found in favor of publication. What Gardner overlooks is the fact that the vocal opposition tended to brag that they had not read Velikovsky's book. According to Ted Thackrey, then editor of the Compass, this breach of intellectual etiquette played a major role in Velikovsky's receiving the little support he did receive in 1950 (related in a mid-l 980 conversation). Finally, Gardner's dictum that the publication of questionable science "be determined by those who alone are qualified to do so" (p. 324) does not begin to come to grips with the fact, illustrated by Worlds in Collision, that experts disagree.

Fads and Fallacies has not been subjected to much scrutiny over the years, but one existing analysis is socko. Norman Macbeth, attorney and author of Darwin Retried, wrote a critique in 1962 which circulated privately in typewritten form (Macbeth to Doubleday & Co., April 19, 1962) and finally appeared in the Journal of Anthroposophy (Spring 1965), pp. 14-16. Examples of ten objectionable practices by Gardner are documented: use of bad sources, character assassination, the quick slash, carelessness with dates, inconsistency, obtuseness, unquestioning orthodoxy, admitted prejudice, favoritism, and personal animosity.

Velikovsky appears in the section on personal animosity. "Mr. Gardner attempts to work out the general character of the crank. The main traits are that his 'views . . . are contradicted by all available evidence' (8), that he works in almost total isolation from his colleagues (8), that he has paranoid tendencies (11-13), and that he tends to write in a complex jargon of his own devising (13). Velikovsky is asserted (31-2) to be 'an almost perfect textbook example of the pseudo-scientist' " Then Macbeth proceeds to show, using Gardner's own words and Velikovsky's books, that "Velikovsky does not in the least tally with Mr. Gardner's description of the typical crank or pseudo-scientist". As to why Velikovsky "should arouse such hostility," Macbeth believes it is because "Velikovsky is a leading advocate of catastrophism. which is perhaps the most dangerous unorthodoxy of all since it strikes at the foundation on which Lyell, Darwin, and others have relied".
157. For the record, Gardner's mistakes will be corrected. The flood of Noah and the origin of Venus were not coincident and both occurred before 1500 B.C. The "collisions" were not grazing contacts, but close encounters. The crossing in Exodus occurred not at the Red Sea, but most probably a smaller inland body of water. Velikovsky did not identify the Sea of Passage. Velikovsky did not insist on extraterrestrial flies; he merely speculated about them, with the conclusion: "whether there is truth in this supposition of larval contamination of the earth is anyone's guess" (Worlds in Collision, "Baal Zevuv"). Because Venus had encounters with Mars after those with Earth which served to form Venus's present orbit. what is surprising is Mars's present orbit, not Venus's.
158. Regarding giving Sagan credit "for perceiving the rise of the Velikovsky cult [sic ] ", this is as blatant an example of cronyism as there could be. Since the pseudosciences with which Velikovsky has been associated by critics pre date Velikovsky by centuries, characterizing "the rise of the Velikovsky cult . . . as symptomatic of a deplorable trend", as Gardner does, only highlights Gardner's apparent insecurity as a guardian of science and frustrated aspirant to the Board of Review. Finally, Sagan deserves none of the credit larded by Gardner because Sagan was told about the AAAS symposium and invited to participate in the first place.
159. Martin Gardner, "Douglas R. Hofstadter's 'Gödel, Escher, Bach'," Scientific American (July 1979), p. 16. Reflecting on Gödel's famous undecidability proof, Gardner quotes Hofstadter's summarization: "Provability is a weaker notion than truth.''l!!!]
160. The New York Review (October 25,1979), pp. 52-53.
161. The New York Review (March 6, 1980), p. 53.
162. Robert Jastrow, "Outer Space and Inner Space," The New York Times Book Review (June 10, 1979), pp. 9, 32. Robert Jastrow is director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Astronomy at Columbia and Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth. His most recent books are Until the Sun Dies and God and the Astronomers.
163. Robert Jastrow, "Velikovsky, a Star-Crossed Theoretician of the Cosmos," The New York Times (December 2,1979), p. 22E. 1,300 words. Interestingly, Jastrow correctly cited Walter Orr Roberts as the proposer for the AAAS symposium thereby implicitly contradicting Sagan's self-professed role as "organizer". All Sagan did was second Roberts's proposal, at the same time saying he was too busy to be directly involved with running it.
164. Ibid., ., p. 22E. These seven predictions were the following: "1. The moon's surface was repeatedly melted between 3,500 and 2,700 years ago. 2. The Earth's mountain ranges, specifically Alps and Himalayas, were created 3,500 years ago. 3. Argon and neon are 'main ingredients in the Mars atmosphere.' 4. The Mars polar caps are made of carbohydrates, described as 'manna.' 5. Mars and Venus throw off more heat than they receive from the sun. 6. Organic matter will be found on the moon. 7. Venus contains hydrocarbons in its atmosphere; spectral tests should reveal them." This list was accompanied by a corresponding list of refutations of Velikovsky's claims, all of which refutations are arguable. The first two items were identified as "most important" and will be treated here. "1. Analysis of Apollo moon rock revealed the moon has not been melted for 3 billion years." But, radioisotope dating reveals age, which is not necessarily the time since last melting; and thermoluminescence dating indicates thermal events on the Moon very recently. "2. Dating of rocks shows the Alps and Himalayas are millions of years old, still forming." This ignores the difference between the age of the mountain and the age of the rock comprising the mountain. Velikovsky maintained not that the Alps and Himalayas "were created 3,500 years ago", but reached their present height at that time.
165. Carl Sagan, "Immanuel Velikovsky's Unlikely Collisions," The New York Times (December 29, 1979), Op-Ed page.
166. Clark Whelton, "Unrefuted 'Worlds in Collision'," The New York Times (January 11, 1980), p. A22.
167. Robert Jastrow, "Hero or Heretic?", Science Digest Special Edition (Sept./Oct. 1980),
pp.92-96. 1,800 words. The contents page listed the title as "Cataclysms of the Bible". An error-strewn 750 word biographical overview by Ann Waldron, based on 1976 interviews with Velikovsky, was included.
168. Letter, Ellenberger to The New York Times, December 10, 1979.
169. Letter, Jastrow to Ellenberger, January 5, 1980
170. Time (July 2,1979), p,79
171. National Review (August 3, 1979), p. 986.

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