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Krupp And Velikovsky
Always aware that Immanuel Velikovsky remains its most deadly enemy, the academic establishment can never go for long without firing new salvos at this man's innovation. Now, E. C. Krupp, the Director of the Griffith Observatory – in one of the chapters of In Search of Ancient Astronomies – has given it a turn. Krupp's critique mirrors perfectly the general attitude of the establishment towards Velikovsky, where the normal virtues of tolerance, integrity, and competence are inconspicuous whenever orthodox apologists debate him. Once again, Velikovsky is attacked not for what he has written – for Krupp has patently not read the relevant works – but for what Krupp thinks he has written.
Krupp's interpretation is presumably based on the hoary canards foisted on Worlds in Collision since its publication. His arguments against Velikovsky's thesis can be grouped into two parts: Those dealing with the nature of comets (Venus included) and those dealing with the effects of disturbances in the Earth's motion. The first section is positively banal. By comparison, similar asinine attempts by Asimov, Gardner, et al. appear as models of accurate scholarship. The other section at least has the merit of introducing some original arguments which may, however, lead some critics to place In Search of Ancient Astronomies with Scientists Confront Velikovsky as definitive refutations of Worlds in Collision. Therefore, Krupp's criticisms are repudiated in some detail below.
The section dealing with the nature of comets and the incompatibility of Velikovsky's vision of Venus with that of normal science is one long sequence of errors and non sequiturs. Consider Krupp's explanation of Velikovsky's contention that Venus would be found to be abnormally hot:
Two paragraphs later, however, Krupp changes his mind:
At this juncture, Krupp should have been looking for editorial assistance. This farrago reminds one of Truzzi's dictum:
Krupp is actually an advance on this for he is unable to even read Krupp properly! A careful reading of the literature would surely convince one that Velikovsky ascribes the high temperature of Venus to a succession of events:
Krupp, instead of reading Worlds in Collision, has simply repeated Sagan's erroneous assertions(5) concerning Velikovsky's successful prediction of the high temperature of Venus, unmindful of the fact (quite obviously displayed in the British edition of ISAA) that Sagan had been decisively refuted in Velikovsky and Establishment Science.(6)
Throughout Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky emphasised Venus' disturbed motion(7) and this was later given astronomical weight by the discovery that Venus rotated retrogradely.(8) Krupp does not mention this nor does he note the unaccountable discrepancy between Venus' retrograde axial period of 243 days and its equatorial atmospheric rotation of 4.1 days. As Firsoff remarked, "not only is this situation intrinsically incredible, it still lacks satisfactory explanation".(9) A Velikovskian perspective might shed some light on these problems but Krupp, of course, chooses to ignore this possibility.
Krupp's second section deals with changes in the Earth's orientation and motion due to its near collisions with Venus and Mars. According to Velikovsky, these collisions produced the following effects:
(a) A reversal of the Earth's magnetic field.
Krupp's objections to these changes and reversals will be dealt with chronologically.
(a) Krupp states that paleomagnetism of rocks at the bottom of the Atlantic indicates that the last magnetic reversal took place about 30,000 years ago and that this invalidates Velikovsky's claim that reversals took place in the 15th, 8th, and 7th centuries B.C. Krupp's argument, as usual, is based on inadequate and biased surveys of the relevant literature as well as Velikovsky's own books. As Krupp should no doubt be aware, there are immense difficulties associated with the study of paleomagnetism, particularly with the detection of short-lived magnetic field reversals:
In an effort to correlate the Laschamp event with sediments from Mono Lake, California, Denham and Cox were not able to detect episodes less than 1700 years in length.(12)
Any competent worker in the field of paleomagnetism would concede that the magnetic field reversals described by Velikovsky which are of very short duration, of the order of a few hundred years – would be inordinately difficult to detect. In this case, absence of evidence for recent magnetic field reversals would not of itself constitute a viable argument against Velikovsky's position. Moreover, Krupp's attempt to discredit Velikovsky is further blunted when the current paleomagnetic literature is taken into consideration; and he is quite obviously unaware of many important papers dealing with recent reversals.
For example, a Columbia University team(13) investigating the Pacific and Atlantic deep sea beds found evidence of a common reversal about 7,000 years ago and correlated this with the Laschamp event. Additionally, one of the most distinguished of contemporary geologists, Rhodes W. Fairbridge,(14) has strongly advanced the merits of the Gothenberg event ca. 13,000 B.C. as being a world-wide phenomenon.
Krupp's knowledge of paleomagnetism seems at variance with authorities in the field; and it ill behooves him to attack Velikovsky on magnetic field reversals. Velikovsky's approach in this matter, like his approach elsewhere, is that of the objective scholar. By contrast, Krupp's attitude reveals dogmatic prejudice.
Consider Velikovsky's treatment of historical magnetic field reversals. Carefully investigating the literature at the time of writing Earth in Upheaval (ca. 1952-1955), he found powerful evidence for a major disturbance of the Earth's magnetic field ca. 800 B.C., and quoted the works of Folgheraiter and Mercanton to show that the Earth's magnetic field reversed in Italy and Greece at that time.(15) Additional support has since come from more recent sources such as Noel and Tarling (1975) who state:
Other recent papers support this viewpoint. Turner and Thompson (1978),(17) examining sediments from Loch Lomond, Scotland, reported a large magnetic declination swing in the middle of the first half of the first millennium B.C. This is in very good agreement with similar findings at Lake Windermere, England (1971).(18) For someone who obviously regards himself as an authority on paleomagnetism, Krupp seems lamentably ignorant of the facts concerning the archaeological and geological record of the Earth's magnetic field.
On the other hand, it would appear that Velikovsky's position vis-à-vis historic magnetic field reversals – given the incredible difficulty of detecting short-lived events – is immeasurably strengthened since the magnetic disturbance ca. 800 B.C. must have been massive to have left any impression at all. To add to this, there is further evidence that the terrestrial magnetic field was actually "disturbed" in the first millennium B.C. and this comes from research into the intensity of the Earth's magnetic field in historical times. Figure 1 shows the reduced magnetic dipole moment of the Earth, calculated from a variety of sources, over the last five thousand years. All known determinations of the ancient geomagnetic field known to the graph's compiler as of 1966 are shown, so the figure is both comprehensive and authoritative.
[*!* Image] Fig. 1. Historic and archaeological reduced dipole moments plotted against time. Times A.D. are expressed as positive numbers; times B.C. are expressed as negative numbers. * Thellier & Thellier; o Burlatskaya; x Sasajima & Maenaka; + Nagata, Arai & Momose; ^ Nagata, Kobayashi & Schwarz.
It is seen that the intensity of the field changed markedly between 1,000 and 0 B.C. It is generally accepted that the terrestrial magnetic field depends on the Earth's rotation, although the precise relationship has not yet been established. It would appear that there may be some correlation between the reported changes in magnetic declination and inclination ca. 800 B.C. and the magnetic field intensity. Possibly, the same event or events caused both sets of anomalies.
I have shown, in this section, that a review of the archaeological and historical evidence concerning the recent history of the terrestrial magnetic field provides striking confirmation of a drastic change in the first half of the first millennium B.C.; and this is in agreement with Velikovsky's thesis. As the paleomagnetic evidence accumulates, Velikovsky's position continues to be strengthened, though evidence for a similar event in the 15th century B.C. is missing at present from the record. However, in view of the evidence put forward previously, detection in the geological record is virtually impossible, especially with regard to the close spacing – 52 years – between the Venus/Earth encounters.
Two reversals within such a short period of time would leave a negligible trace on the geological record while the paucity of archaeological samples from this period (as seen from Figure 1) leaves the matter temporarily undecided. It is, nevertheless, of more than passing interest to note that there are magnetic declination inflections ca. 1500 B.C. at both Loch Lomond and Lake Windermere of the type advocated by Warlow.(19) Taken within a catastrophic context, these indicate a double magnetic reversal occurring in quick succession.
(b) In order to prove that the Earth's rotation has not changed, Krupp repeats Asimov's canard regarding the breakage of stalactites and stalagmites in the world's limestone caves.(20) Krupp adds his own touch by specifying the Carlsbad Caverns,(21) though he surely must have known that even Sagan saw through the falsehood of this whole argument.(22)
(c) Krupp claims that a change in the Earth's geographical poles since 1500 B.C. is negated by the accurate alignment of the Great Pyramid at Giza with the cardinal directions. Again, Krupp seems to be unaware that Velikovsky himself had already countered this argument;(23) and though Cardona has not accepted Velikovsky's explanation in its entirety,(24) both investigators have indicated that there is nothing erroneous in the supposition that the Earth's tilt could have subsequently corrected itself.
(d & e) The megalithic sites at Ballochroy and Kintraw are used by Krupp as evidence that the distance from the Earth to the Sun has not changed in recent times as neither has the alignment of the Earth's axis. Here Krupp states:
Since it appears that Thom's work is to be considered the last weapon in the now depleted armoury of Establishment Science, a summary of the present standing of Thom's hypotheses on megalithic astronomy is in order.
Ever since the publication of his work in the mid-sixties, Thom's ideas have provoked enormous interest among astronomers and prehistorians alike. This has led, on the one hand, to a renewed interest in archaeoastronomy; on the other, it seems to have culminated in a decided impasse between orthodox archaeologists and those calling for the radical rewriting of Northwest Europe's prehistory that the acceptance of Thom's ideas requires. Until recently, this confrontation appeared incapable of resolution because both sides were unable to debate on common ground, preferring to argue from within their own areas of specialisation. The issue was further complicated by the nature of Thom's publications which prove difficult reading even to some scientists while being positively recondite to others. But mainly the issue remained unsettled through the absence of independent checks on Thom's work. Recently, however, due to the emergence of new archaeological and scientific evidence, the dispute is being quickly resolved in favour of traditional prehistory.
Archaeologists tend to dismiss Thom's work on at least three major counts. Firstly, no evidence of the hierarchical society required to sustain "the astronomer priesthood" that Thom and his supporters envisage has been found. In fact, traditional prehistorians see the megalith-constructing societies as primarily egalitarian. Secondly, the megaliths have now been found to be not only older than was previously believed but their construction seems to have occupied a longer time span. The erection of the stone rings, and presumably other menhirs, began about 3200 B.C. and continued until 2000 B.C.(27)
Through astronomical retrocalculation, Thom dated his stellar lines at ca. 2000-1600 B.C., the solar lines at Kintraw and Ballochroy at ca. 1650 + 80 B.C., and arrived at a mean dating of 1580 + 100 B.C. for his lunar lines. The discrepancy between the above dates and the revised archaeological ones has now forced Thom to abandon his stellar lines.(28) Since these were the sole set of alignments carrying statistical weight – Thom had shown that the number of his stellar lines far exceeded what might have been expected by chance(29) – megalithic astronomy in general, and Thom's brand of it in particular, has been pushed into a virtually irreconcilable predicament, the implications of which must inevitably reverberate throughout the entire science of archaeoastronomy. For, if Thom's stellar lines are now untenable, how viable is the remainder of that proliferation of ad hoc hypotheses that, by their very nature, carry negligible statistical significance? The problem for Thom is specific: the logic of the situation implies that if the stellar lines be rejected because of dating discrepancies, why not the solar and lunar lines as well since they, too, have been dated by the same astronomical retrocalculation techniques?
Lastly, archaeologists are decidedly inimical to Thom's approach at many of the megalithic sites where he simply groups together various structural components, oblivious that they were erected at different periods of time, presumably by different cultural elements. His astronomical theories are therefore based on the erroneous consideration that the components are synchronous in time. Such disdain for archaeological procedures has brought Thom much deserved criticism. For example, consider Sara Champion's review of the Thom chapter in In Search of Ancient Astronomies:
Although Thom can be discounted on archaeological grounds alone, other recent literature corroborates this.(31) In his diatribe against Velikovsky, Krupp mentions in particular three megalithic sites Kintraw, Ballochroy, and Temple Wood – obviously subsumed in the general rejection of Thom's work. It is worth noting, though, that Krupp concludes his attempted demolition of Velikovsky on archaeoastronomical grounds with the ultimate ludicrousness:
Unfortunately for Krupp, even if we ignore the archaeological evidence, Jon Patrick's authoritative paper on Temple Wood has shown that this site has no connection with lunar observations at all. Of all the sites that Krupp could have chosen, the one he selected has as much connection with lunar observations as the White House or the Kremlin.(33)
To conclude this section on the demise of Thom's megalithic astronomy I quote a most considered opinion, that of Professor Glyn Daniel, on the most "recent state of the art" concerning megalithic science:
Krupp's sorry little exercise is noted, as previous forays by others against Velikovsky have been, for its manifest inaccuracies and peer group conceit. However, in addition to these flaws, Krupp appears as a model of calculated hypocrisy. In the prologue to his discussion on "unorthodoxies", Krupp maintains that "when the name of science is invoked in support of 'worlds in collision' . . . the data must be handled in accordance with the rules of scientific evidence" and that Velikovsky's supporters "have been substituting self-righteous rage for rational argument".(35) The reader of this rebuttal will have observed that Krupp's explanation of the temperature of Venus is hardly rational and that Krupp, in obvious neglect of his demand that data should be handled properly, deliberately misuses such data in his attempt to discredit Velikovsky.
Consider the following statement which Krupp used as evidence in support of the regularity of the Earth's motions:
And yet, on an earlier page, Krupp exhibited reservations concerning the very astronomical significance of these shafts.
Can Krupp explain why he is allowed license, when attacking Velikovsky, to utilise as definitive "evidence" that which he himself has reservations about? A double standard seems to apply here which smells terribly of charlatanry. Archaeologists, incidentally, have even more reservations about Trimble's theory. For example, Edwards – whom even Krupp rightly acknowledges as the foremost authority on the Egyptian pyramids while fully aware of Trimble's claim, has this to say:
Limitations of time and space preclude further exposure of Krupp's critique.* In any case, it is only one in a long line of undistinguished failures. Will Establishment Science ever realise the obvious reason behind these recurring debacles?
1. E. C. Krupp, et al., In Search of Ancient Astronomies
(N. Y., 1977; London, 1980), p. 246 (224). N.B. the parenthetical numbers refer to the British edition.