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Open letter to science editors




C. Leroy Ellenberger

Copyright (C) 1981 C. Leroy Ellenberger

This installment concludes the discussion of reviews of Broca's Brain that was continued in Part 3 [KRONOS VI:2 (1981), pp. 72-84]. CLE

It is a waste of time and energy to debate with people like Sullivan and Asimov. They are not interested in a free and honest exchange of ideas. Their only objective is to distort Velikovsky's ideas, not to examine them. This is inevitable. Velikovsky's work is a devastating assault on modern science, philosophy, religion, psychology, history, the whole package. His opponents understand this very, very well. They are fighting for their lives, and livelihood. And they are losing And they are frantic.

It's war. Velikovsky will win eventually, because truth eventually emerges. But they will try to deny Velikovsky the credit that is due him.... If they could separate Velikovsky's science and history from the psychiatric and social implications of his work, he would already be installed in his rightful place. But they know that any concession to Velikovsky would simply lead to more. And eventually they would have to face the truth about human history, and that they will not do.

Clark Whelton, private communication,
February 9, 1978.

In most human cultures religious and scientific leaders have shared two traits: They have pretended to be the sole repository of knowledge, and they have been damn smug about it. The average citizen has traditionally deferred to these two groups and allowed them a semblance of authority in matters of faith and knowledge. Thus theologians and scientists have become the source of truth and have been responsible for its transmission. But while these two groups have been the source and authority for truth, they have rarely been the initiators of it. The truth they have protected has nearly always been obsolete, framed in outmoded concepts, and defended zealously against heresy. Truth, under these conditions, has become a matter of authority rather than inquiry. The sin of abusing authority falls equally on science and religion; for every Galileo that can be cited, there stands a Velikovsky.

Vine Deloria, Jr., The Metaphysics of Modern Existence (Harper & Row, 1978), p. 175.

No hypothesis is ever proven; only mathematicians prove things. In science we can only ask whether or not a hypothesis seems to correspond with the real world, as best we perceive it. Since observations always have limited accuracy, and since every hypothesis always leaves some loose ends (some observations which have not been shown either to be consistent or inconsistent with the hypothesis), we must always come back to a subjective judgment as to which hypothesis gives the more satisfactory description of the real world.... The myth is that science, especially a mature science like physics, is in the business of proving things. Thus laymen and senators expect cut and dried answers (from the "one-armed scientist" who doesn't say "on the other hand "). In physics, just as much as in earth science, the frontiers involve competing hypotheses, inconclusive data, and interpretations at the margin of uncertainty. Majority opinion can do nothing to resolve such issues: Copernicus and Einstein were clear minorities well after their theories were expounded, but those theories are now highly regarded. All segments of society, including many scientists, would do well to appreciate these fundamental aspects of science.

Geoffrey F. Davies, Letter "Proof in Science," EOS, Vol. 60, No. 52, p. 1044, December 25, 1979.

* * *


Patrick Moore's insipid, uninspired evaluation of Broca's Brain (BB) appeared in this British magazine.(172) The "long section dealing with the theories of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky" constitutes one of Moore's two "quibbles" with the book. Over one fifth of this 500-plus word review deals with Velikovsky whose theories "from a purely scientific point of view", according to Moore, "are so absurd that to spend almost fifty pages in disposing of them seems a waste of time". His second quibble concerns Chapter 25 in which "serious attention [is] given to Stanislav Grof, another psychiatrist, who seems to be a perfect example of a pseudo-scientist".


The editor, Richard Berry, wrote a 300 word tribute to BB for the May 1980 issue which mentioned Velikovsky twice.(173) In the listing of Sagan's "several attacks on various modes of pseudoscience", "Velikovskyanism" is followed by a parenthetical "complete with ten problem areas and four supporting appendices" which was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. Berry thinks that Sagan's "attacks on pseudoscience come off harsh and sniping". His reservations about the last essay on birth and the Big Bang are indicated by his remark, "perhaps it deserves some of the critical scrutiny that he wielded on Velikovsky". The review closes with a dubious paean to science: "More wondrous than his [Sagan's] list of scientific wonders, more romantic than the marvels of Mars or of DNA, is the nature of science itself: 'science is more intricate and subtle, revealing a much richer universe, and powerfully evokes our sense of wonder. And it has the additional and important virtue . . . of being true.'" This notion is totally at variance with the fundamental precept that science cannot prove anything; it can only disprove.

My letter to the editor pointed out that the same faculty that led to the critical assessment of the last essay should have led to a similar assessment for the Velikovsky chapter.(174) After listing the types of errors in Sagan's analysis, indicating three errors in the appendices and recommending the refutations from KRONOS, the letter closed: "You may very well disagree with Velikovsky, but make no mistake, Sagan's pathetic analysis is in no way a valid refutation of Worlds in Collision. In a universe populated by 'black holes', now massive neutrinos, and vibrating neutron stars, our knowledge is too incomplete to relegate Worlds in Collision to the dustbin of pseudoscience. As Velikovsky often remarked, 'Whatever happened, happened'."

Such a letter would not be expected to be printed because it concerns material with a low priority at the magazine. However, the comments were acknowledged a month later by a short letter from the editor(175) which also announced James Oberg's anti-Velikovsky article in the Forum section of the July issue just then being distributed.(176) Assuming his challenge would be accepted, Berry advised: "limit your attack to 1,000 words." Over the phone the limit was later extended to 1,500 words. Publication was planned for the September issue; but because the lead time was too short, it slipped to October.(177)

Oberg's 2,900 word article could not be answered adequately within the proposed limit. Therefore, an extended rebuttal covering a range of selected topics was sent to Astronomy with the understanding that as much as possible would be printed in the October Forum section. Berry also decided that the exchange in Forum would be followed by a letter exchange in December and February. The prospect of getting the last word against Oberg looked generous until the February issue appeared containing a long letter from David Morrison on how radiometric dating disproves Velikovsky. Since Berry also closed the Velikovsky debate at the same time, there was no chance to rebut Morrison, even without mentioning Velikovsky. Detailed discussion of the arguments in this "debate" is deferred to a future installment.


The blue ribbon for the best review of BB goes to Brian Moore for "Sagan's Nerve" wherein the use of prefatory quotations is raised to a new level of distinction: every section is headed by a relevant quotation.(178) This device is inspired by the progressive proliferation of quotations in Sagan's books and underscored by Kipling's words: "He wrapped himself in quotations as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of emperors."

The following points convey the flavor of Moore's account. In contrast to Goldsmith's parson in Moore's opening quotation from "The Deserted Village", Sagan is "much better understood as a sort of scientific Billy Graham, rescuing hapless souls from the clutches of paranormal phenomena, astrology, catastrophism and other perversions and offering them salvation through the true faith of Science". Considering the many reincarnations enjoyed by Sagan's AAAS paper, "all that remains is for it to be adapted as an operetta by Patrick Moore and be awarded the Nobel Prize for Chutzpah". Following a recounting of Sagan's failure to engage in the "vigorous debate" that he advocates in the instance of Velikovsky, beginning with his leaving the AAAS symposium early in order to appear on Johnny Carson, Brian Moore muses: "Sagan's view of 'vigorous debate' would undoubtedly evoke smiles of approval from the Soviet Praesidium." In considering Sagan's expectation that such "Ultimate Questions" as the Origin of the Universe "will be answered in this generation, particularly if he works Saturdays", Moore opines: "Professor Sagan, as card-carrying evolutionist-materialist who firmly believes that Mind is simply a consequence of the anatomy and physiology of the brain, naturally has fewer Ultimate Questions to answer than some of us...."

In the course of the review, Moore discusses Martin Gardner's review of BB in New York Review and Jastrow's article on Velikovsky in the Dec. 2, 1979 New York Times. Of the former, after quoting Gardner, Moore relates: ". . . the implication that Velikovsky's work may be evaluated without reading it appears to be an interesting Claim of the Paranormal which the Committee might suitably investigate; but the gem of the collection must be the idea that, even in the most eccentric academic circles, Sagan's paralysingly orthodox denunciation of Velikovsky could amount to 'risking his reputation'!"

Only two minor errors mar the text. Unaccountably, TV Guide is referred to as "TV Review". In discussing Sagan's odds against Velikovsky's sequence of near collisions, Moore fails to discriminate correctly between odds and probabilities when he presents Sagan's probability of 7.3 x 10-28 as odds of 7.3 x 1028 to 1. The stated probability corresponds, instead, to odds of 1.37 x 1027 to 1.

In an attempt to stir up some action among the critics, copies of Moore's review with a brief cover letter were sent to such notables as Sagan, Asimov, Bova, Gardner, Frazier, et al. Twelve in all. Only one recipient responded to this mailing and his reply dealt solely with a question concerning an earlier letter.


BAR started 1980 with its first article on Velikovsky, a cover story using Sagan's analysis of Worlds in Collision.(179) Its excerpt amounted to almost half of the text from Broca's Brain, excluding the appendices. The cover pictured comet Kohoutek streaking across the sky. The cover credit stated simply: "Immanuel Velikovsky proposes that a comet much like this was ejected from Jupiter about 3000 years ago and passed dangerously close to the earth." The two glaring errors in the sentence comparing proto-Venus with the pipsqueak Kohoutek and misstating the date of origin did not make for a propitious beginning. William H. Stiebing, Jr.'s introductory overview added more confusion starting with his third sentence: "Since conventional scientific theory made no allowance for cataclysms in historical times, Velikovsky began revising astronomy and geology as well as ancient history" and ending with "The following article considers the scientific validity of the celestrial [sic] catastrophes proposed in Worlds in Collision."(180)

Until this issue, BAR's attention to Velikovsky had been confined to the letters section. In December, 1976, a reader's query "whether there has been any evidence uncovered since 1950 to support or oppose Velikovsky" was answered at length in the negative by Stiebing.(181) The reply focused on problems associated with the dating of Asshur-uballit and Palestinian stratigraphy. In September/October 1978, a superb letter from Dr. Shane H. Mage argued the case for Velikovsky's dating of the Timna copper mines to Solomon's time.(182)

BAR's recycling of Sagan's discredited analysis was especially disappointing because, considering both its technical content and many flaws, they should have done something original and more relevant for their readers, such as how Velikovsky's revised chronology affects biblical archaeology. However, it is clear that BAR was never interested in dealing forthrightly with Velikovsky, judging from their actions during 1979.

When Dominick Carlucci, Jr. inquired in early 1979 about doing an article on Velikovsky, he was turned down because of their lack of interest in such an article.(183) Then BAR declined to publish an admittedly delayed response from Dr. John J. Bimson and Peter James replying at length and in detail to Stiebing's 1976 criticisms.(184) Bimson and James only learned of BAR's decision not to print their letter after waiting about six months for a reply and then enquiring about the matter. Supposedly, the delay between Stiebing's criticisms and their rebuttal sent in late 1978 or early 1979 made the subject dated. However, when this writer approached Suzanne Singer, Associate Editor, in June about an article on the revised chronology, she indicated she was open to considering it contingent upon receiving an outline for a properly balanced article.(185) Then, before completing the outline, KRONOS learned in late August of BAR's decision to excerpt Sagan's chapter on Velikovsky from BB for the November/December issue. At this juncture the editor was sent a copy of V&ES. It is apparent from the sequence that BAR's response to Bimson/James must have come after deciding on the Sagan project. The article slipped one issue ostensibly because BAR wanted Sagan to write some original material; but none appeared. In an attempt to avoid Velikovsky being mistreated editorially despite the use of Sagan's material, BAR was sent a collection of biographical material upon which to base a background piece.(186)

(An amusing aside belongs here. When Velikovsky heard about BAR's project, he cancelled his subscription. Shortly thereafter he received a phone call from BAR soliciting his subscription renewal. Velikovsky evidently thought they wanted him to reconsider his decision to cancel. However, this was not the case because the call was merely part of BAR's telephone renewal campaign covering soon to expire subscriptions. Ironically, the solicitor who called was BAR staffer Ellen Hillman, a grandniece to Mrs. Velikovsky.)

At the end of January 1980, a copy of the Bimson/James letter was sent to BAR's editorial advisors with a cover letter pointing out the merit of Ages in Chaos in an attempt to influence whatever input they might make in BAR's dealing with Velikovsky.(187) The cover letter, which was also sent to BAR and Stiebing, pointed out the inappropriateness of Sagan's article and mentioned Maccoby's November 1977 Midstream article, the KRONOS rebuttal to Sagan, Mage's letter and John Dayton's book Minerals, Metals, Glazing and Man. Specifically, the letter implored the advisors to recommend printing the Bimson/James "letter together with a rebuttal . . . so the readers may judge for themselves".

Whatever the effectiveness of this letter campaign, BAR subsequently invited this writer to submit a reply to Sagan. Regarding length, the guideline was "more than two columns is hard to print," which would have been about 750 words. With the assistance of Prof. Lewis M. Greenberg and Dr. Mage, a response was written and submitted in two versions. Even after trimming, the short version was about 900 words. Surprisingly, BAR accepted the long version in toto which occupied over five full columns in the May/June issue under the heading "Velikovsky Supporters Pounce on Sagan".(188)

This KRONOS response was structured to expose Sagan's shoddy arguments, to establish a base for Velikovsky's soundness, and to show that the historical material should interest BAR's readers. It opened by observing that Sagan's article was ill-suited to BAR's readership, that it was a fifth generation reprint, and that it appeared in BAR "with minor changes but, as always, without cognizance of the rebuttal literature . . ." Then Sagan's inconsistency regarding Velikovsky's concatenation of legends was pointed out. After allowing that if even 20% are real Velikovsky deserves serious attention, Sagan, without analyzing a single one, merely states his belief that all can be explained by coincidence this, after denying in earlier versions the preeminence of coincidence. Next, Sagan's distortion of the story of manna was corrected, followed by the correction of five of Sagan's misrepresentations: the plague of scarabs, earthquake proof Hebrew dwellings, that all Hebrews crossed the Red Sea safely, grazing collisions, and collective amnesia explaining missing concordances. Sagan's comments about the extreme antiquity of geomagnetic reversals and mountain building were countered with the example of 8th century B.C. Etruscan vases possessing reversed polarity and the conditions attending the present height of Tiahuanaco in the Andes. Next to be rebutted were Sagan's remarks about Jupiter's fissioning, the odds against Worlds in Collision, and the stopping and restarting of Earth's rotation. "The scientific basis for Worlds in Collision can be found if one but looks." Selected results from Pioneer Venus, which indicated thermal imbalance and excess Argon-36, were cited in support of Velikovsky's natural history of Venus.

The letter then turned to chronology, emphasizing how Velikovsky resolves several biblico-historical conundrums. John Dayton's book was cited for its independent corroboration of the need for a down-dating of Near Eastern history and of the fictitiousness of the ubiquitous "Dark Ages". In conclusion:

Despite 30 years of derision, a proper case against the intelligent study of Velikovsky's work has never been made. With Velikovsky's ideas gaining corroboration on many fronts, his historical works raise bona fide issues bearing on Biblical archaeology. Velikovsky stands or falls on the historical record. Whatever happened, happened. Any seeming contradiction between historical fact and the best current formulation of the laws of nature merely indicates the direction in which these laws need to be developed and applied in the ongoing progress of science. In light of the ramifications of Velikovsky's reconstruction, if there is something wrong it should stand as a challenge for study, not an excuse for dismissal.

Venus, we now have good reason to believe, originated much later and much differently than did Earth. On the level of scientific possibility (laws of nature as raised by Sagan) this fact itself is sufficient to establish the plausibility of Velikovsky's explanation for events recorded both in the Bible and so many other books of traditional wisdom.

In addition, BAR published nine other letters which occupied another three columns.(189) These letters were decidedly negative, from both Velikovsky supporters and others, finding Sagan's article unsuited to BAR. Two letter writers cancelled their subscriptions.(190) One of these, Dominick Carlucci, criticized Stiebing's third sentence, quoted above, with "This is an insidiously dangerous statement. It implies that Velikovsky revised these fields so he could show that his thesis was valid. . . This places suspicion in the reader's mind even before he comes to Sagan's writing. . ." One writer cited Velikovsky and Establishment Science, The Velikovsky Affair, and Velikovsky Reconsidered in defense and ventured that "if BAR is truly unbiased you will print another article equally as long as Sagan's giving the other side".(191) The last letter from "an open minded scientist on the sideline", siding with Sagan, asked for "an equally effective enquiry into the substance of Velikovsky's Ages in Chaos".(192)

The May/June issue also contained a brief obituary for Velikovsky which was quite even-handed except for a quote from Carl Kraeling, director of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute: "There is nothing we as historians can do about Dr. Velikovsky's work other than smile and go about our business."

Letters continued to be printed during the rest of the year. In July/August, one reader wrote "Now having read the pros and cons concerning Velikovsky, I can decide whether his books would be worth my reading."(193) A second, trusting Sagan's quantitative examination of Velikovsky's theories, chided "pseudo-scientific fantasizers" who "haven't the foggiest idea of what legitimate science is all about" for "constantly pleading with scientists for an 'honest evaluation' of their improbable theories".(194)

In September/October, David Morrison expressed his amazement "at the ad hominem attacks against Carl Sagan, with the implication that because of some perceived flaw in Sagan's personality or activities, his arguments against Velikovsky should be discounted".(195) Then, after recommending Scientists Confront Velikovsky, the April 1979 Zetetic Scholar, Oberg's July 1980 Astronomy article, and observing that "Unfortunately, criticism of Velikovsky's ideas never finds its way into Pensée or Kronos", Morrison advises: "The cruel truth is not only that astronomical evidence fails to support Velikovsky, but that a great deal that seemed plausible or at least possible when suggested by him has since been shown to be incorrect, and indeed decisively to contradict his theories." The reply to this from KRONOS(196) was evidently too strong for BAR because, in its November/December issue, Morris Bennett of Pittsfield) Mass. was selected to set the record straight with his milder letter listing all Pensée articles critical of Velikovsky.(197)

In early May, Alice Miller, author of Index to the Works of Immanuel Velikovsky, submitted a detailed, fifteen page, single-spaced typed analysis of Sagan's "stock article" in BAR.(198) In a magnificent presentation, Miller paired 27 of Sagan's statements with corresponding rebuttals and/or contradictions from Velikovsky, KRONOS and other sources. Her compilation concluded: "With his condescending and arrogant delivery, Sagan may be enhancing his popular image at the cost of his own ideal of 'clear thinking and sound practice'; he should be more concerned with truth and logic." In expressing BAR's regrets at not having space to print such "careful, thoughtful and lengthy responses", Suzanne Singer explained that Sagan was chosen "to speak about some of Velikovsky's ideas because he was qualified and dispassionate".(199) Finding this statement incredible, Miller wrote back "But, of course, that was the whole point of my response; Mr. Sagan is NOT qualified or dispassionate in his evaluation of Dr. Velikovsky's work."(200)


The influences that continue at work are by no means simple. They are subtle. No one reason totally explains the reaction of every scientist, science writer and reviewer to Velikovsky's work unless it would be the consequence of an almost total collective repression. The inertia of orthodoxy, the fear engendered by the possibility that the solar system may be unstable, and the ego forces mobilized to preserve the security of the status quo have all been at work and could be subsumed by collective repression. To this assemblage might be added a scientist's intolerance for ambiguity which would be aggravated by giving serious attention to Velikovsky. One world view is enough for a lifetime. Some reject Worlds in Collision because, together with their vehement disdain for fundamentalism, they see it purely as a means of validating the biblical miracles. But, how to prove a person's unrelenting "rational" rejection is just that and not, in fact, a manifestation of a widespread collective psychological reaction to ancient cosmic cataclysms?

An aspect of this problem has been articulated recently in conventional terms by R. A. Lyttleton. "The history of science is replete with instances where contributions displeasing to the establishment have been rejected, repulsed, and contradicted out of hand, sometimes to the accompaniment of vituperative personal attack on the authors, sometimes even on their physical well-being, the more valuable the work the greater the degree of obloquy extended to them, as if the magnitude of the potential threat were instinctively appreciated even though the work itself is not consciously understood." (201) Lyttleton is referring to Velikovsky, but the parallel is obvious. In fact, Lyttleton has no respect for Velikovsky's ideas since earlier in his essay he associated the "works by such as Velikovsky" with theories having "no scientific validity" which are accepted by people whose "lack of analytical capacity and of understanding of the nature of knowledge prevents them from perceiving the theories' lack of scientific validity".(202)

The extent to which these factors influence the opinions of newcomers to the Velikovsky scene today is a good question. At the conscious level, many undoubtedly reject Velikovsky because the "authorities" have. If scientists have "proven" Velikovsky wrong, why pay attention to him? This is somewhat Polanyi's position. The commonplace hearsay about Worlds in Collision would place the book high on very few people's list of priorities.

Others, such as one established science fiction writer, find the celestial and terrestrial dynamics of Worlds in Collision so preposterous upon casual inspection as to preclude any serious consideration. Remember, nothing about the present state of the solar system from the conventional point of view presents a prima facie case for the validity of Worlds in Collision. As long as scientists can explain their observations without invoking Velikovskian processes, they will give no credence to Velikovsky's ideas. Further, even if compelled by the data to give credence to the ideas, it is highly questionable whether or not Velikovsky would receive his due credit. A good example of this is an article in New Scientist about Jupiter's radionoise that does not mention Velikovsky's priority of prediction, but rather emphasizes its accidental discovery.(203)

Lacking a detailed mathematical proof or simulation demonstrating the possibility of the orbital changes and circularizations occurring within Velikovsky's time frame, many are unwilling to grant the validity of Worlds in Collision on the basis of the historical and literary evidence, which they also fault. Few scientists and other technically oriented people are comfortable with the multiple layers of meaning in poetry or the kind of research typical of literary criticism. These are the people to whom Parry's surmise, cited in Part I [KRONOS IV: 4, p. 66], applies. At the conscious level, it is easy to dismiss a deeply troublesome subject by identifying a supposedly fatal flaw. However, granting these conscious, seemingly rational reasons, we can ask "What fraction of them are, in fact, motivated by deeper, unconscious psychological factors?" A thoroughly convincing answer to this question, I am afraid, will be a long time coming.

One heretofore free-thinking physicist serves as a perfect example of both denying Velikovsky just credit and abandoning his critical faculties in unreservedly embracing orthodoxy. In April 1980, John Gribbin, who is a consultant to New Scientist, became so incensed over a letter they printed that he devoted a column to expressing "heartfelt thanks" to Carl Sagan for the Velikovsky chapter in Broca's Brain.(204) The letter, which pointed out Gribbin's oversight, in an article, of not crediting Velikovsky with priority in reviving the interest in cosmic catastrophes involving Earth, had been printed without the editor consulting him.(205) Gribbin was indignant. In his article, he had cited an article in the March 1966 Analog by J. E. Enever as the beginning of the "present wave of interest in the meteor impact hypothesis".(206) In answering the letter, Gribbin justified his ignoring Velikovsky because "in scientific terms, the Velikovskian version has a bolt missing, whereas Enever, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle did their sums properly", so Velikovsky "deserves no credit whatsoever for his curious mishmash of half-truths and inaccuracies". Then Gribbin effusively recommended Sagan's "detailed refutation of the Velikovskian lunacy" using a thoroughly confused presentation of the manna calculation as his only example, claiming that manna fell for 2,000 years according to Velikovsky. Now Gribbin may have his own reasons for rejecting Velikovsky, but he advances his case not a whit relying on Sagan's thoroughly discredited polemic.

Whether or not New Scientist would ever have printed any letters criticizing Gribbin's embracing Sagan will remain unknown because their publishing was soon thereafter interrupted by a labor dispute. When publication resumed in June, no further word on this incident appeared.(207) However, New Scientist did not forget about Velikovsky. In the 26 June 1980 issue two drawings of Venus's surface appeared based on Pioneer Venus radar mapping. The larger picture showing the lone "rift valley" detected on Venus was labelled "Venus not a comet!".(208) In pushing their interpretation of the pictures further than any other publication, the caption stated: "The radar pictures must be taken as convincing evidence not just that Venus is indeed a rocky, Earth-like planet, but that the tectonic processes of 'seafloor' spreading and continental drift, associated with the rift systems, occur on Venus as on Earth." This interpretation is especially bizarre in light of the absence of any subduction zones detected on Venus.(209) Then, the conclusion: "And, by the way, none of these features can be explained in terms of the 'cometary' origin of Venus, out of Jupiter, around which the Velikovskian cult has grown up." When Gribbin was asked about this presentation, no reply was ever received.(210)


In addition to book reviews, discussions in other books and articles introduced in earlier installments, the subject of Velikovsky has received considerable additional exposure since the publication of SCV in late 1977. Those that will be examined in future installments include: Unearth (Spring, 1978), The Humanist (July/August 1978), Theory and Society 7 (1978), Baltimore Jewish Times (November 3, 1978), Fate (Jan. and Feb. 1979), Zetetic Scholar (Nos. 3/4, 1979), Industrial Research/Development (June 1979), Griffith Observer (September 1979), Science 207 (18 January 1980), Christian Science Monitor (September 3, 1980), Synthesis V:1 (1980), Science Digest Special Edition (Sept/Oct 1980),Physics Today (Sept. 1980 and April 1981), Pursuit (Fall 1980), and Toronto Globe and Mail (February 16, 1981). Three writers during this period have featured Velikovsky in more than one publication. James Trefil of the University of Virginia wrote on Velikovsky for Science Digest (Sept. 1977), Astronomy (Oct. 1977), and Saturday Review (April 29, 1978). Robert Schadewald featured Velikovsky in TWA Ambassador (April 1979), Science Digest (March 1980), and Fate (May 1980). James Oberg emblazoned his ineffable stamp on the Velikovsky affair in Astronomy (July and Dec. 1980) and The Skeptical Inquirer (Fall 1980). This listing does not include articles on the revised chronology which are beyond the scope of this series. Reader assistance is requested to identify the magazine and issue date in which appeared a survey article in the late 1960s entitled "Remembering Tomorrow" by a columnist with the pen name "Charlie". The article was Part II of the series "Age of Aquarius" and appeared in a woman's magazine such as Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Glamour, etc. Write to KRONOS if you know of this article.

. . . to be continued.


172. Books and Bookmen (November 1979). Patrick Moore put his mark on the Velikovsky affair with a chapter on Velikovsky in his book Can You Speak Venusian? (Norton, 1972). This book is being revised with Robert Forrest as co-author. Despite a long series of letters between Forrest and SISR staff members, only a few grudging concessions to accuracy are reported to have been made. Not much is to be expected from a writer who, after lengthy discussion, still insists on placing Velikovsky's speculation about life in Jupiter's clouds on the same level as his prediction of Jupiter's radionoise.
173. Astronomy (May 1980), p. 57.
174. Letter, Ellenberger to Richard Berry, May 7, 1980.
175. Letter, Berry to Ellenberger, June 12, 1980.
176. James E. Oberg, "Predictions in Collision, "Astronomy (July 1980), pp. 24, 26, 28.
177. C. Leroy Ellenberger, "Oberg in Confusion, "Astronomy (October 1980), pp. 24, 26-28. Letters from L. M. Greenberg, Harry E. Mongold, David Morrison, Guenter Koehler, et al. appeared on pp. 36-37. See KRONOS VI:2, p. 81 footnote 148 for references for the balance of the "debate" in Astronomy.
178. Brian Moore, "Sagan's Nerve," SIS Review IV:2/3 (Winter 1979/80), pp. 37-39. In addition to those individuals named in the text, a copy of Moore's review was sent to the following: Berendzen, Sidney Harris, Jastrow, Krupp, Gribbin, David Morrison, and Philip Morrison.
179. Carl Sagan, "A Scientist Looks at Velikovsky's 'Worlds in Collision'," Biblical Archaeology Review VI :1 (January/February 1980), pp. 40-51, 11 (footnotes).
180. William H. Stiebing, Jr., "Did a near-collision of a comet with earth cause manna to fall in the Sinai and the sun to stand still over Gibeon?", Biblical Archaeology Review, op. cit, p. 41. Even the title sentence does not recognize that two collisions in the subject are required to fulfill the two events in the predicate which are considered to have occurred about 50 years apart. Stiebing's familiarity with the timing of the events in Velikovsky's work is revealed by his a) ending Ages in Chaos (1952) in the 7th, instead of the 9th, century B.C., b) placing the Venus/Mars encounters in the 7th century B.C. instead of earlier, and c) alleging two Earth/Mars events instead of at least three.
181. Biblical Archaeology Review II:4 (December 1976), pp. 43-45. The reader, Howard A. Denis, was a KRONOS subscriber at the time.
182. Biblical Archaeology Review IV:3 (September/October 1978), pp. 48-49.
183. Letters, Carlucci to Hershel Shanks, Jan. 4, 1979; and S. F. Singer to Carlucci, March 30, 1979: "BAR . . . does not plan to publish any articles on Velikovsky at present."
184. In December 1979, Peter James gave this writer a copy of the letter to BAR criticizing Stiebing and related his experience with BAR.
185. Telephone conversation with Suzanne Singer, June 13, 1979, followed-up with a letter to her with a copy of Peter James' review of John Dayton's Minerals, Metals, Glazing and Man and Velikovsky's article "Khima and Kesil" (KRONOS III:4).
186. Letter, Ellenberger to Hershel Shanks, October 18, 1979.
187. Letter, Ellenberger to BAR's Editorial Advisors, January 31, 1980.
188. Biblical Archaeology Review VI:3 (May/June 1980), pp. 10-12. The heading was "Velikovsky Supporters Pounce on Sagan". An obituary for Velikovsky appeared on p. 11.
189. Ibid, pp. 12-13.
190. Ibid. The cancelees were V. R. Conte and Dominick A. Carlucci, Jr. The former wrote: "As an astronomer, I found Mr. Sagan's cheap and abusive attack on Mr. Velikovsky to be unwarranted and dated. Most importantly, Mr. Sagan, who, I might point out, represents the lowest common denominator in scientific thinking in this country, misses the entire import of Mr. Velikovsky's ideas in today's world." Conte did not learn that his letter was printed until August when, after obtaining his address from BAR, he was contacted by KRONOS about the San Jose Seminar.
191. Ibid. Letter by Joseph K. Geiger, M.D.
192. Ibid. Letter by Ewoud H. Bon.
193. Biblical Archaeology Review VI:4 (July/August 1980), p. 4.
194. Ibid. The writer, Dr. Gerald McHugh, was objecting to Carlucci's call for "honest evaluation and critique" for Velikovsky's work. Amazingly, McHugh pontificated so without rebutting any of the criticisms of Sagan in the previous issue.
195. Biblical Archaeology Review VI :5 (September/October 1980), pp. 12-13. Titled "The Cruel Truth About Velikovsky", 41 lines.
196. Unpublished letter to the Editor entitled "Nothing But the Cruel Truth". The relevant part of the letter was as follows: "The letter from Dr. David Morrison (September/October) is a most bizarre exercise in obfuscation. If he is 'amazed' at allegedly 'ad hominem attacks against Carl Sagan', we are flabbergasted that neither he nor Sagan nor any other writer has countered any of the fourteen objective criticisms that we leveled against Sagan's analysis. Since Dr. Morrison is apparently concerned about fairness, we are puzzled why he did not also refer BAR's readers to the December 1979 issue of Zetetic Scholar containing two unanswered rebuttals to his April 1979 remarks. Interestingly, 'the excellent summary of astronomical evidence by J. Oberg in the July Astronomy' is roundly rebutted in the October issue.

"If readers of BAR want to see the true caliber of Dr. Morrison's scholarship and learn the 'cruel truth' about recent discoveries from the exploration of the solar system, they should read the Velikovsky Memorial Issue of KRONOS [V:2 (1979)]. There, a critique of Velikovsky by Dr. Morrison was published and answered thoroughly and completely by a panel which included a physicist, a thermodynamicist and a chemist. No further comment from Dr. Morrison has been elicited. Instead, Dr. Morrison prefers to run amok with nothing but non-specific and ad hominem criticisms of Velikovsky and his supporters while pretending not to notice that he himself has already been refuted. So much for the bald comment that nothing critical of Velikovsky finds its way into KRONOS. At the same time, how many articles supportive of Velikovsky have appeared in astronomy journals?

"With the epithet 'cruel truth', Dr. Morrison has expressed a sentiment with far ranging applicability. The 'cruel truth' is that he does not know the difference between an ad hominem attack and legitimate criticism based upon substantiated faulty argumentation. The 'cruel truth' also is that he does not know the difference between absolute certain knowledge unqualified and interpretations of space probe data made by NASA. The 'cruel truth' is that neither he nor his mentor Carl Sagan has replied substantively to any of the countercriticisms made against their position in the Velikovsky controversy. Finally, the 'cruel truth' is that corroboration for Velikovsky's revised chronology of the Near East mounts steadily despite the vainglorious protestations of such as Dr. Morrison. The readers of BAR should keep these facts foremost in their minds when weighing the arguments."
197. Biblical Archaeology Review VI:6 (November/December 1980), pp. 56-57. Titled "The Cruel Truth About Morrison", 56 lines. Bennett indicated that articles critical of Velikovsky appeared in at least five of Pensée's ten Velikovsky issues. "Since Morrison should be aware of the makeup of Pensée, his careless accusation is inexcusable." As Bennett explains, Morrison should be aware because he states at the end of his article in SCV that the original version was submitted to Pensée for publication.
198. Letter, Alice Miller to Hershel Shanks, May 2, 1980.
199. Letter, Suzanne F. Singer to Alice Miller, July 16, 1980.
200. Letter, Alice Miller to Suzanne F. Singer, July 24, 1980.
201. Raymond A. Lyttleton, "The Gold Effect," in Lying Truths, compiled by R. Duncan and M. Weston-Smith (Pergamon Press: Oxford, 1979), pp. 182-198 (194).
202. Ibid., p. 185. Immediately before the swipe at Velikovsky, Lyttleton offered: "Scientists can often be seen to be unduly proud of their work, usually in inverse proportion to its worth, and as with ordinary unthinking mortals become so attached to their ideas as to be incapable of being adequately critical of them."
203. Nigel Henbest, "Jupiter rides the waves," New Scientist (26 June 1980), p. 409.
204. John Gribbin, "Fools rush in," New Scientist (10 April 1980), pp. 102-103. 1,140 words. For unabashed arrogance and ignorance, this diatribe by Gribbin takes the biscuit. "And since one particular letter is from a Velikovskian, and my experience is that if you do not answer them publicly they go around saying 'see, he can't answer that, so Velikovsky must be right', I intend to rush in where angels fear to tread, come out of the closet and lay it on the line." Then Gribbin concedes that Velikovsky did precede Enever, but that no amnesia was involved and continues: "Fortunately for fools such as I, one of the 'angels' has now provided a detailed refutation of the Velikovskian lunacy which is even more readable than Velikovsky. If he never does any thing else, Carl Sagan deserves the heartfelt thanks of all astronomers for Chapter 7 of Broca's Brain . . ." His ending is a pallid paraphrase of Sagan's: ". . . and if you are prejudiced against science anyway, why, then the evidence in favour of the Old Testament God is a much stronger explanation of these events than Velikovsky's version."
205. Jill Abery, New Scientist (20 March 1980), p. 956. Titled "Lack of Credit", her letter ran just over 300 words, opening: "I wonder if John Gribbin, in his account of the modern history of cosmic catastrophe theories . . . with all their associated bandwagon jumping and lack of acknowledgement where credit may well be due, was aware of his own article being a good example of this same 'amnesia' with regard to previous theories." The ending also deserves quotation: "We may now have a craving for stories of catastrophe, especially of cosmic origin, as this takes the onus of responsibility for Earth's destruction from ourselves. But we also like to think of modern scientific thought and observation as something new and apart. Velikovsky's theories could rather deflate our ego, describing as they do, cosmic catastrophes that our ancestors may actually have lived through and recorded to be, inevitably, subsequently ignored."
206. John Gribbin, "Cosmic Disaster Shock, "New Scientist (6 March 1980), pp. 750-2
207. However, the week after Gribbin's "Fools rush in", the Feedback section contained an item, "A tale of two publishers" [17 April 1980, p. 158]. . It describes how, in searching for "solid scientific material with which to refute the blandishments of the Velikovskian saga of 'worlds in collision' . . ." Gribbin (their "responsible scribe") discovered that the Velikovsky (as well as the von Däniken) section in the UK edition of E. C. Krupp's In Search of Ancient Astronomies had "been toned down all the way through the relevant chapter". Krupp had suffered no change in heart. The British publisher "presented Krupp with an ultimatum along the lines of 'tone it down or we won't publish it'" . New Scientist ended the item: "We can find nothing in the censored material that is factually inaccurate; both Velikovsky and von Däniken thoroughly deserve the powerful condemnation of Krupp's original article."

With the exception of the foregoing item, the "Gribbin-Abery-Gribbin . . ." situation has been reported by the SIS Workshop in three issues: II:4 (April 1980), pp. 5-6; III:1 (July 1980), pp. 11-13; and III:2 (October 1980), pp. 27-32. The third issue deals with the aftermath of Gribbin's reply to Abery, starting with her letter to the editor of New Scientist. She opened with "I was amazed at the almost paranoiac reaction of John Gribbin . . . to my previous letter . . . and a little disconcerted at the implication that you, as letters editor, should bow to his censorship" and closed with "I am afraid his rash rush into print has done very little to make me swing to the Sagan side of the debate, and I am left feeling that Velikovsky worries some people a lot more than he ought if all his theories are the patently obvious rubbish Gribbin claims they are."

Considering New Scientist's condemnation related above, the following incident is incongruous, to say the least. A British reader had written the editor about two items in the 26 June issue dealing with Jupiter's radionoise and Venus's surface (see footnotes 203 and 208), asking that "surely, as a matter of historical record, Velikovsky merited a mention in the first article and . . . in the second, in what way the observed rift valleys and so on were incompatible with a catastrophic recent origin for Venus". Receiving only the standard acknowledgement card and seeing his letter not published, he wrote back saying his questions were not rhetorical and that he "would be genuinely interested in their answers to them". The editor replied that they answer questions that do not require extensive research and added: "I'm afraid your letter does not fall into this category. As we do not consider Velikovsky's work to be of significant interest to the wider scientific community, we do not have any experts on this area on our staff. We cannot, therefore, help you with your questions" [SIS Workshop III:2 (October 1980), p. 31].
208. New Scientist (26 June 1980), p. 410. The pictures, as artists drawings, are very misleading because with the vertical scale grossly exaggerated, slopes look exceedingly steep.
209. G. W. Wetherill and C. L. Drake reported: "Preliminary radar data obtained from Pioneer Venus suggest that plate tectonics is also absent on that planet" [Science Vol. 209 (4 July 1980), p. 103]; and G. H. Pettengill et al. reported: "The tectonic motion of large crustal plates appears not to have played the dominant role in altering the surface that tectonic motion has on the earth" [Scientific American (August 1980), p. 65] while H. Masursky et al. stated flatly: "An integrated global pattern of subduction troughs or mid-basin ridges, indicative of global tectonism, has not been identified from the altimetry data" [J. Geophys. Res. 85:A13 (Dec. 30, 1980), p. 8232]. Despite the statements of NASA scientists, Gribbin has the audacity to repeat New Scientist's ill-conceived reporting in his latest book, Genesis: The Origins of Man and the Universe (1981). Reproducing the same two drawings New Scientist used [p. 127], he states: "The measurements are even accurate enough to identify great rift valleys on Venus, and all of this [including 'continents' and dry 'ocean basins'] suggests a planet where the 'geophysics' is rather like that of the Earth, complete with tectonics, continental drift and 'seafloor' spreading" [p. 126]. Of course whether or not any troughs on Venus are "rift valleys" is highly conjectural at this time.
210. Letter, Ellenberger to Gribbin, July 10, 1980.

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