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VELIKOVSKY AT PRINCETON
• Graduate College Forum hears address by Velikovsky.• BBC films the event.
On October 18, 1972, Immanuel Velikovsky addressed the Graduate College Forum of Princeton University, an event filmed by the BBC. The following account is taken from a story filed by Stuart Crump Jr., a reporter for the Princeton Packet:
In October, director-producer Brian Gibson of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) came from London to Princeton to film a one-hour documentary on Velikovsky. The documentary is part of an upcoming series on famous men of science. Highlight of the three-day film session was a lecture, "The Current Revolution in the Sciences and Humanities," delivered by Velikovsky before the Graduate College Forum of Princeton University. The college's Common Room was filled to capacity well before the lecture began. With all seats taken, students sat on the floor and clustered in the doorways.
"It was 19 years ago when I spoke for the first time in this room." Dr. Velikovsky began.
Following his usual procedure, he spoke without notes as the BBC cameras recorded the talk. He told of the changes which have taken place in the sciences over the last two decades.
"An abyss separates science today from what it was then," he told the students. "The scientist today would find no common language with the scientist of the 50's. Then, scientists thought that everything was settled, that science had arrived at a point where only decimals and minute details needed to be determined and assimilated into the body of knowledge that was already firm ...
"The greatest upheaval has happened to the queen of sciences, astronomy. An astronomy book of 1950 is much closer to a 15th century astronomy book than to a text of today ... If today we still find some textbook that keeps silent on the unavoidable change in our understanding of celestial mechanics, we can say that it is outdated, antiquated, of Victorian vintage."
In his talk Velikovsky appealed for open-mindedness, for a re-examination of basic scientific hypotheses. "We are at the mercy of our ignorance . . . Every field has open vistas. Only do not accept the last hypothesis as established fact. Go back a little and start over again."
He appealed for an interdisciplinary approach to education: "Astronomers never took heed of the findings made by the low temperature physicists on the behavior of matter at very low temperatures. The temperature of interplanetary space is close to absolute zero. This is only one example. . . The field of psychology will soon lift the barrier separating it from the natural sciences ... We are only at the very beginning of understanding what 'mind' is and what it can do."
The day following Velikovsky's lecture, filming continued in Princeton's Firestone Library.
Velikovsky had expected to be photographed while working in the library, and he protested when told to follow instructions. But the, director finally persuaded him to cooperate. He walked among the library stacks, pulling a book from here and there off the shelves. It was all in the film's script.
"How do I make out as an actor?" he inquired during a pause in the filming.
When Gibson asked him to open up a large volume of colorful Egyptian hieroglyphics, explaining that "the colors in the documents will show up very well in the film," Velikovsky protested again: "People will say that I pretended that I read hieroglyphics, but I don't. What I actually am doing is looking at the images of Osiris and Isis (two Egyptian gods) depicted on these pages. Most of the old Egyptian manuscripts have translations, which are what I read." Unfortunately, the translations wouldn't photograph, and so the camera focused on the Egyptian picture writing.
Afterward, Velikovsky revealed that "one of the books I pulled down when you were filming me walking among the stacks was by Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake on Feb. 17, 1600. Another was by Campanella, who spent over 20 years in prison for heresy."
On that same theme Velikovsky had spoken the evening before:
"Nineteen years ago I called the young to look for new vistas, not to be afraid of calumny and name-calling. Today I repeat my call; it's a new generation. I call you to cross the barriers between sciences . .. "My work is not finished ... It is in your hands. It is up to you to decide if you wish to repeat what the authorities told you or to become authorities yourselves —to grow and to be nonconformists and to take abuse and to be exonerated some day.
"So be courageous and don't be afraid."
He received a standing ovation by the nearly 300 students and faculty who crowded the room to hear him. Many of them stayed until after midnight, discussing his lecture.
PENSEE Journal III