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Open letter to science editors

 

From the Editor

Ages in Chaos

Our first issue in the current series contained a remark that "The scope of Velikovsky's work as an interdisciplinary scholar easily overwhelms a reader.  We do not here pretend to offer more than a fragmentary look at that work.  Velikovsky's opus magnum, Ages in Chaos, is not even discussed. . .”

Nor was it discussed, except as a footnote, in the next two issues, which focused largely on physical and astronomical matters.  But in this our fourth issue (and in the fifth as well) we come face to face with pharaohs and papyri, king lists and chronologies.  We begin—and properly so—with a look at some of the basic tools of the ancient historians, and at the assumptions they employ in utilizing those tools.  Specifically, this fourth issue brings under analysis the radiocarbon dating method and the historians' use of astronomical calculations to set the conventional chronology of Egypt on a "firm" footing.

Perhaps the most important features of this issue are the chronological charts.  The centerfold consists of a large and detailed rendering of Velikovsky's revised chronology, prepared by Washington, D.C., architect, John Holbrook.  While the chart grew out of Holbrook's reading of the unpublished Ages in Chaos volumes, as well as his consultations with Velikovsky, it is not presented here as from Velikovsky's own hand: the reader is cautioned against assuming absolute fidelity to Velikovsky's views in the chart.  Velikovsky himself, on page 41. offers a comparison between his own and the conventional chronologies throughout the period dealt with in Ages in Chaos, volume 1.  Holbrook's chart, on the other hand, spans the entire historical period under reconstruction, thereby offering the reader a glimpse of the still unpublished Ages in Chaos sequels.

A Necessary Balance

With the simultaneous publication of issues number four and five, we reach the midway point in our projected 10-issue series, "Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered."  However, we fully anticipate continuing in our role as a journal of catastrophism and interdisciplinary studies beyond that tenth issue; events have demonstrated to our satisfaction that the need for such a journal is more than transient.

The reader of Pensée will have noticed a trend toward articles written in an increasingly technical idiom, placing some of the discussion beyond the reach of the general reader.  The logic behind this trend has seemed inescapable as we attempt to probe ever more deeply the questions Velikovsky's work raises.  Nevertheless, we believe a proper balance can be struck, enabling the magazine to serve a constructive purpose for both the general, informed reader and the specialist.  Much of our energy during preparation of the coming issues shall be focused on the task of striking this balance, and in particular, offering features which render as much of the published material as possible fully intelligible to the general reader.

AAAS Symposium Planned

Shortly before going to press, Pensée has learned of a planned symposium on Velikovsky's work at the 1974 convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  An invitation to participate was extended to Velikovsky by Professor Ivan King (astronomy, University of California, Berkeley), chairman elect of the AAAS astronomical section.  The symposium, tentatively titled "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science," will last a half day and will deal with the nature and motions of the planets.  The program is being arranged by a committee consisting of King, Professor Donald Goldsmith (earth and space science department, State University of New York, Stony Brook), and Professor Owen Gingerich (departments of astronomy and history of science, Harvard).

The AAAS convention will be held February 24 - March 1, 1974 in San Francisco.  The date for "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science" has not yet been set.  Pensée's winter number will carry full details on the symposium program and date.

Beyond next spring, Pensée is formulating tentative plans for a major international symposium on Velikovsky's work, most probably to be held at a major eastern university next summer.  With the rapidly accelerating scholarly interest in catastrophism, such a symposium promises significant advances in knowledge.  We invite reader suggestions concerning the format, program and general arrangements for the symposium.

On Velikovsky

Velikovsky has rebounded strongly from his illness of last winter.  He continues to work on the several sequel volumes to Ages in Chaos, as well as other manuscripts and articles for Pensée.  Last April 15 he and Elisheva Velikovsky quietly observed their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Below: Shortly after publication of Ages in Chaos, volume I, Velikovsky sent a copy of this work to Professor Etienne Drioton.  The same day he received the book, Drioton responded with the letter reproduced here.

Drioton (1889-1961) became head of 1'Institut français d'archaeologie, Cairo, in 1924 and two years later assumed a position as associate curator, department of Egyptian antiquities, Louvre Museum.  From 1936 to 1952 he served as general director, Department of Antiquities, Cairo.  He held responsibility for all excavations, ancient monuments, and museums in Egypt, and personally took part in numerous excavations.  Following the revolution in Egypt, he returned to France, where he was appointed director of research, Centre national de la recherche scientifique; chief curator, Louvre Museum; and professor, Collége de france.

"He was considered as one of the greatest Egyptologists of his time" (H. Temerson, Dictionaire de Biographie Française).

TRANSLATION

Department of Antiquities
General Director
Cairo, May 29, 1952

Dear Doctor,

You have been so kind as to have sent me a copy of your fine book, Ages in Chaos, which I received this morning and by now have read almost in its entirety, so stunning and fascinating is it.

You certainly overturn—and with what zest!—many of our historical assumptions, which we have considered established.  But you do it with total absence of prejudice and with impartial and complete documentation., all of which is most sympathetic.  One might dispute your conclusions point by point: whether or not one admits them, they will have posed the problems afresh and obliged us to discuss them in depth in the light of your new hypotheses.  Your fine book will have been in every way very useful to scholarship.

I thank you warmly for having sent it to me and I beg you to accept, dear Doctor, the assurance of my sentiments of cordial devotion.

Etienne Drioton

On the Inside

Spring - Summer, 1973

Thomas Mowles, engineer, Inorganic Materials Research Division, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory:

 "The radiocarbon dating method has been shown to be uniquely applicable to the evaluation of Velikovsky's hypothesis.  However, much available data which pertain to this evaluation remain unpublished.  This is unfortunate because Velikovsky's catastrophes invalidate several basic assumptions of the dating method and its calibration.....  The data which are available support Velikovsky, often strongly."

Immanuel Velikovsky:

"Not only were the warning signals that Libby offered with his method disregarded, but also an unearned reliance on the accepted version of ancient history has caused much stumbling in the dark, more and more tests of diminished value, and a maze of findings, with many undisclosed results of tests, wrong deductions, and much exasperation that mark the first 20 years of application of Libby's most imaginative method."

Herbert C. Sorensen, chemist, United Medical Laboratories:

"When major advances in science are made, it is customary for sufficient data to be published to allow the scientific community to independently evaluate the conclusions reached.  Considering the far-reaching implications of the bristlecone pine chronology..... one would expect generous documentation of the basic chronology.  Actually, apart from the Pine Alpha data, no ring width data have been published for the components of the chronology..... Since no ring width data are available, it is not possible to independently check the published conclusions.   Requests to obtain such data have met with refusal."

Israel Isaacson:

"Many factors were not taken into account for Pylos' C14 dates, the most embarrassing of which must be those related to squared beams, because the same lab tested the Gordion and Pylos samples at the same time, and published the results of both in the same reports.  Once the significance of this 'physical problem' was recognized and 'emphasized' for one site it should have held no less importance for the other."

Etienne Drioton, the late General Director, Department of Antiquities, Cairo:

[To Velikovsky: ] "You have been so kind as to have sent me a copy of your fine book, Ages in Chaos, which I received this morning and by now have read almost in its entirety, so stirring and fascinating is it.  You certainly overturn—and with what zest!—many of our historical assumptions which we have considered established.  But you do it with total absence of prejudice and with impartial and complete documentation, all of which is most sympathetic."

PENSEE Journal IV

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