Site Section Links
MAINTAINS SCHOLARLY OBJECTIVITY
To The Editor:
I think it is important to make clear that as regards the Velikovsky reconstructed chronology, I maintain a scholarly objectivity. I believe the theory is worth serious consideration—that is, one must seriously consider to what extent this hypothesis "saves the appearances." The scientific Establishment has not, in my opinion, done this. But on the other hand, objectivity demands an admission that there are facts which the Velikovsky hypothesis does not cover, or covers less effectively than conventional chronology. What is required is not an act of faith vis-a-vis Velikovsky's theories, but an act, or acts, of scholarship. I am sure that Dr. Velikovsky himself would be the first to agree that this is what he would wish, and what his work deserves.
In teaching courses at Victoria, I have tried to show how the visual evidence could be interpreted according to the Velikovsky reconstruction of history. I have also presented instances where it cannot. My intention was to urge students to keep an open mind about historical frameworks, to realize how in the course of popularization so many "possiblys" and "presumablys" get dropped out, and areas as full of guesswork as ancient history are presented as cut-and-dried dogma. Your published reference to my courses as "using" and "arguing for" Velikovsky's theories might be misunderstood. I have tried to give the case a fair hearing. But I do not yet have, nor does anybody yet have, the large body of assembled factual material correlated with visual evidence from dated arts & artifacts which would be required before one could say the case was "proven"either right or wrong-by art history.
CATACLYSMIC CHANGE AND SOCIOLOGISTS
To The Editor:
I am not sure of the possible service of sociology in advancing Velikovsky's thesis. Certainly sociologists might properly join with other behavioral scientists in re-examining their own understanding of historical and contemporary social systems in terms of social organization, interaction, and value structures.
Nevertheless, my own feeling presently is that the role of today's sociologist will be much more that of beneficiary of Velikovsky's approach than of protagonist. It is true that we have given some attention to the factors of "natural" environment and "catastrophic" or antagonistic social conflict; but that attention is not at all in the same dimensions that Velikovsky has projected.
In our determination to achieve the acceptance of sociology as a scientific discipline, I fear we sociologists have been unduly scientistic. We have embraced the trappings of scientific inquiry, from the deceptive magic—and relative safety—of numerical analysis to a preoccupation with microcosmic interests. We have espoused the value systems of science at the expense of neglecting our broader, early concern for the interplay of social values and human behavior.
Velikovsky has brought into sharp focus the very phenomenon we have been neglecting—namely, the magnitude and force of cataclysmic change. We sociologists, indeed perhaps all behavioral scientists, have much to learn by familiarizing ourselves with his projections of its enormous role in shaping the destiny of all mankind. We could well assay the validity of our own work in reviewing his. We just might even find the exercise helpful in the not too distant foreseeable future, in light of the unprecedented massiveness of our modern societies and the phenomenal speed of change in their nature.
Norman M. Kastler
VELIKOVSKY AND ART
To The Editor:
I am a painter, and my interest in Velikovsky's work is of a non-technical nature. Numerous of my friends are also Velikovsky enthusiasts; and they, like myself, have read his work thoroughly. I think there is always, among artists, an interest in cosmology, which I believe accounts for the interest in his work among many artists.
The only thing I can say in support of Velikovsky is that his logic and scholarship are formidable; and whenever anyone is so roundly and irrationally attacked by the academic community, he is inevitably worth giving a good bit of time to.
ANTHROPOLOGY AND CATASTROPHISM
To The Editor:
There are many areas within anthropology that stand to be jolted should all or some of Velikovsky's theories be proven correct. In recent months I have been doing some thinking on the subject and I should like to share the following questions/problems:
a) What is immediately required is a reworking of prehistoric chronology based on catastrophic theory.
b) How do early migration patterns and technological adaptations fit the postulated dates for global catastrophes? Do these migration patterns and adaptations correlate around the world (1)?
c) How does the rapid evolution of the brain from Australopithecus to Homo erectus and to Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens fit with postulated catastrophic events? How is this tied to the emergence of big game hunting?
Recent finds at Omo (South Ethiopia) suggest an existence at three to four million years B.P. of a small brained tool user (2). Also, an Australopithecus jaw dated at five million years B.P. has been found at Lathagan. This flies in the face of the postulated positive feedback mechanism for rapid brain development (3). The implications are that for four million years there was a static hominid organization with no increase in the human tool kit. Either the present theories linking cultural with somatic evolution need to be revised or our dating methods need to be reconsidered.
d) Malinowski, Keith and Kroeber (4) at various times postulated a type of 'all or none' principle for the emergence of culture. Depending on what biologists finally make of catastrophic evolution we might have to seriously reconsider the notion that man was pushed into the human niche, as Malinowski thought, "all of a piece."
e) The standard anthropological texts list fossil finds, but nowhere document the conditions in which these finds appeared. I have begun a search of the literature and my preliminary findings are that the conditions encountered at many fossil sites are strongly suggestive of violent upheavals (5).
f) The use of C14 dating methods has been strongly criticized. Pensée (May 1972) referred to the errors encountered in dating moon rocks by the potassium-argon method. According to Velikovsky the earth captured argon from the Martian atmosphere (6) and thus the present K-Ar dating technique for fossil finds would seem also to be suspect. Ramapithecus wickeri, considered to be the earliest known hominid, was dated by examining the volcanic deposits at Fort Ternan (Kenya) and a date of 14 million years B.P. was assigned to it. The K-Ar method was used (7). It would be quite an evolutionary jolt if we were several millions of years in error.
Taking a non-uniformitarian approach to hominid evolution, is it not possible that the evolving drama consists of synchronic rather than diachronic events? I believe that a careful reexamination of the fossil evidence in concert with a revised geological chronology will reveal that some postulated ancestors were probably neighbors.
g) In light of Velikovsky's postulated collective amnesia Durkheim's collective unconscious resurfaces, as does Kroeber's superorganic (8).
(1) See the article by E. W. MacKie in Pensée (Winter, 1973).
(2) B. G. Campbell, "Conceptual Progress in Physical Anthropology: Fossil Man," Annual Review of Anthropology, I (1972).
(3) A. Montagu, "Brains, Genes, Culture, Gestation," Culture: Man's Adaptive Dimension, A. Montagu (ed.) (London, New York: Oxford 1968); S. L. Washburn, "Tools and Human Evolution," Scientific American (September 1967), 417.
(4) Cited in R. Fox, "In the Beginning: Aspects of Hominid Behavioural Evolution," Man (September, 1967), 417.
(5) See for example E. Dubois' comments on his Pithecanthropus finds in R. Monro's Prehistoric Problems (Blackwood and Sons, 1897), p. 154. Also F. Weidenreich in Anthropological papers of Franz Weidenreich 1939-1948, compiled by S. L. Washburn and D. Wolfson (Viking Fund, N.Y., 1949). Especially p. 202; and I. Velikovsky, Earth in Upheaval (Dell, N.Y., 1968), pp. 26, 66.
(6) I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (Dell, N.Y., 1967), p. 366.
(7) B. G. Campbell, Op. Cit.
(8) Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (Free Press, N.Y., 1965); A. L. Kroeber, "The Superorganic," American Anthropologist, 19 (1917).
THE MIND PREPARED FOR DISCOVERY
To The Editor:
In all endeavors of scholarship the multi-disciplinary approach becomes a necessity if useful knowledge is to be advanced. The art conservator or restorer must know history, chemistry and physics as well as art if he is to do his job appropriately and effectively. The pharmacologist might well utilize techniques of electron microscopy, neurochemistry, behaviorism and toxicology in a single study. Insights are always gained by an awareness of other disciplines, systems, philosophies and techniques, and by being alert to the pertinent. Louis Pasteur said that chance favors the mind which is prepared, and discovered optical isomerism by simply examining tartaric acid crystals under a hand lens.
The opportunity for discovery occurs randomly in the routine of any research scientist's day. These Gestalts occur more readily to the person who has a broad spectrum outlook. The ability to collate or correlate and perceive relationships seems to be a relatively rare attribute of human personality. A recent issue of the Saturday Review of Science (April, 1973, p. 26) suggested that we train synthetists, experts on the perception of interrelationships. I'm not sure this is possible. My feeling is that it is a genetically-determined phenomenon and that people like Velikovsky belong to the genotype.
A second aspect of the Velikovsky phenomenon is the degree of perturbation he created with his books. I cannot help but remember that Einstein said that a simple experiment can negate thousands. The emotionalism engendered by Velikovsky's considerations among individuals trained to be objective at least suggests the possibility that their earlier findings were in jeopardy and their high key reaction was largely defensive. To recognize that one's published pronouncements might be incorrect is not particularly pleasant and protection of one's brain children is not an unusual event. Scientists after all are human beings with normal emotions who attempt to subjugate their subjectivity in an effort to extend their discipline. An hypothesis in the broadest sense is bias, hopefully objective bias, but nonetheless a point of view not wholly based on fact. That hearsay is a source of information was amply demonstrated by Watson in his book The Double Helix. In science, error sometimes becomes archival because the expansion of knowledge proceeds at a catastrophic pace and man's 10 billion neurons and 100 billion glial cells and short life span cannot deal with the explosion of information. So he is quick to deny in his late maturity what he might have examined as a young scientist. Velikovsky perturbs because the saturated scientist can no longer deal with another interesting idea.
Alexander H. Friedman Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine Maywood, Illinois
ON GETTING MORE SIGNIFICANT DIGITS
To The Editor:
The accusation of "orthodoxy" has been hurled ad-nauseam at scientists by lay theorists and by more informed people like Velikovsky for longer than I can remember (I am nearly 67). It bespeaks an almost total lack of understanding of the foundations of scientific ideas, as well as a misunderstanding of the thinking of scientists who reject extreme, destructive attacks on the whole fabrics of large areas of science. It may, in a few cases, be justified. But the vast majority of scientists hold their views for very solid reasons, not through the blind acceptance of "orthodox" teachings. Scientists fully realize that uncritical adherence to the orthodoxy of the past would paralyze science. This, the critics must understand.
At the Princeton meeting reported in the Winter, 1973, issue, Velikovsky made some statements that are overdrawn. In the 1950's, physics and astronomy were advancing at a very fast pace. We had not, since Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity in the late 1890's, thought of science as finished except for getting more significant digits. Anyone in the field of physical science was, in the 1950's, aware of the tremendous developments starting back then, continuing with the discoveries of Planck (the radiation law on e = hv), of Einstein (e=mc2 ) and first the special and then the general theories of relativity, the Bohr atomic model and the subsequent development of quantum mechanics, the discovery of the neutron, deuterium, tritium, positrons, antiprotons, mesons, etc., Rutherford's pioneering work in nuclear bombardments, the developments of nuclear theory and nuclear energy, the rapidly emerging theory (as a result of the combined efforts of nuclear physicists and astrophysicists) of the formation and evolution of stars, radio and x-ray objects in space, etc., etc. From the twenties, a constantly hammered at theme had been the vast amount we don't yet know.
Finally, there is a good deal of over-interpretation of the "doctrine" (a very poor and unfair word) of uniformitarianism; it does not rule out catastrophes. It is used in an exaggerated way.
To sum up, if scientists have been unfair to people like Velikovsky, many of your contributors are being at least that much unfair to scientists.
Philip S. Riggs
To The Editor:
Since 1965 1 have enjoyed the Velikovsky texts and was most pleased to read (Pensée, May, 1972) of the current effort to compile all the bibliographic material used by Velikovsky in his works. It is certainly advisable to have at hand full titles, revised or specific language editions, and respective pagination for adequate research.
I have been wondering, however, whether this bibliographic effort will include a rechecking and/or renovation of some of the footnote references, e.g. in Worlds in Collision, because some discrepancies do remain there throughout all its editions.
With these discrepancies in mind I would like to offer two comments in connection with the Lynn E. Rose article, ("Babylonian Observations on Venus," winter, 1973).
(1) Rose gives full recognition of the fact that the Venus Ammizaduga tablets contain a good share of internal contradictions and errors-above and beyond the idea that irregularities of the path of Venus may be recorded in them. Scribal errors, for example, are common in both mathematical and astronomical tablets of the Babylonians. They should be accepted as such. But, this is not the attitude maintained in Worlds in Collision, where all errors and contradictions seem to be handled as representing real evidence for deviations in the path of Venus.
May I refer you to p. 207 of the current, 1973, Laurel paperback edition of Worlds (text unchanged from previous editions), where Velikovsky writes
" 'The invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction is given as 5 months 15 days instead of the correct difference of 2 months 6 days,' noted the translators, wonderingly.4 "
Footnote 4 of this passage in Worlds, p. 207, refers to the Langdon-Fotheringham text, The Venus Tablets, p. 106. This is one of the texts mentioned in the Rose article as representing the uniformitarian "astronomers' dogma."
I was able to procure a private copy of the Langdon-Fotheringham text and I offer you the full paragraph in which the words of the above quotation are found:
"Computation at superior conjunction. Here the daily change in v is small and therefore it is not easy to deduce from m last and e first values of the arcus visionis. I choose the observation of the twelfth year of Ammizaduga (-1909): I9 /VI25, or, freed from scribal errors: II29 /V5. The compiler or copyist has in the numbers of the months taken for m last one unit too little (I instead of II) and has added this quantity to the number of the month of e first (IV instead of V). By a similar error he has taken two tens too little in the number of the day for m last, and has added these to e first. Afterwards he has found the difference between the false dates of the two phenomena: an interval of five months sixteen days instead of the correct difference, two months six days. The observation, thus restored, is excellent and with Ammizaduga 5 the best at superior conjunction. Since Ammizaduga 12 begins with Nisan I = May 10 Julian, the two Julian dates correspond to Ayar 30 and Ab 6. And since Table B is computed with v = 6.0, it is an easy matter to find the Babylonian v of observation, adding or subtracting for each day 0.25." (From The Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga, S. Langdon, and J. K. Fotheringham, Oxford, 1928, pp. 105-106.)
You can see that by reading simply one sentence longer the proof Velikovsky has in hand evaporates quite simply of its own accord. And no one in the paragraph is commenting "wonderingly" either.
Please notice, Sir, that I am not writing this letter in order to assess all curiosities within the Venus tablets as due to scribal errors; nor am I attempting to vindicate the uniformitarian stance that may be strong within the Langdon-Fotheringham text. I am writing to show how a simple sentence has been literally lifted from context to support the Velikovsky theory. Such tactics or slip-ups will never gain the respect of the older professional scientist and we younger historians of science, who would like to support Velikovsky, are left rather powerless to help.
(2) My second comment deals with the Babylonian name for the morning and the evening star. Rose (p. 18) refers to example K. 160 which records the invisibilities at inferior and superior conjunction "of Ninsianna [that is, Venus]." Furthermore the article says that "our findings not only are consistent" with the Velikovsky theory but may be regarded as "providing further confirmation of his theory" (p. 22).
But Velikovsky refers to the morning and evening star by the Babylonian name of Ishtar, meaning "One with hair" (Worlds in Collision, p. 174). And Velikovsky refers in several passages to the exquisite prayers to Ishtar (as Venus) that have been garnered from the collection of Stephen Langdon. In these prayers we become familiar with Ishtar as the goddess of very great brightness who visits the nearby skies periodically; moreover, she is associated with gross devastation during these rather irregular visits. In the later prayers she has obviously settled in some pattern at such a distance from earth that her brightness is diminished; we are reminded, however, that this distant star is the same Ishtar. Her ancient identity to the Babylonians is established in this prayer that has only been partially excerpted in Worlds in Collision, (pp. 185-186):
By the gladness (caused by) my excellence, my excellence,
(From Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, Stephen Langdon, Paris, 1909, p. 193.)
If Ishtar is posited then as the hypothetical comet, or a hypothetical Venus, who or what is Ninsianna? Are two different names evidence for two different historical periods in Ancient Near East history? What are the philological roots of the word Ninsianna.
Furthermore, is there a connection between Ishtar and the problem of the "year of the golden throne"? This is the problem of "the eighth year" mentioned in the Rose article (p. 20) where the only information recorded then is the disappearance of Venus, but neither an interval of invisibility nor a date of reappearance for her. Does this eighth year actually record the retreat of Ishtar to her more distant place in the skies, as described in the Langdon collection of prayers, and is the "golden throne" associated with the fact that Ishtar is identified in the prayers as a Queen?
In closing, Sir, may I say what a pleasure it is to have at last such an open forum as Pensée for both pro and con comments on the far-reaching Velikovsky thesis.
M. G. van Lieshout
Professor Rose Replies
Ms. van Lieshout prefaces her discussion of the Venus tablets with some sweeping and unsupported allusions to "discrepancies" involving "footnote references, e.g. in Worlds in Collision," which "remain there throughout all its editions." It is not possible, from her remarks, to determine just what it is that she has in mind. Her charges should either have been clarified and documented or else not made at all. The only example that she does give is Velikovsky's position on the Venus tablets. But it seems to me that Velikovsky's views on the Venus tablets are entirely sound, and that it is Ms. van Lieshout's position that is in need of modification:
(1) The passage from pages 105-106 of LFS (Langdon, Fotheringham, and Schoch, The Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga) is an excellent example of the extremes to which uniformitarians will go in rewriting an ancient text so that it will conform to the present arrangement of the solar system. Velikovsky has not misrepresented the position of LFS at all. They do indeed, throughout their book, deal wonderingly, disbelievingly, and scoffingly with the tablets. It is inconceivable to them that the text of the tablets could be correct, so they take it upon themselves to rewrite the text.
The invisibility of five months in Year 12 is supported by all three of the surviving tablets for Year 12. The only discrepancies are trivial ones, involving differences of one day only:
K. 160 Nisaannu 9 (5 mos 16d) Ululu 25
Rm. 134: Nisaannu 8 (5 mos 17d) Ululu 25
K. 7072: Nisaannu Ululu 24
These minor discrepancies could have been caused by scribal errors; or they could be due to deteriorated or damaged tablets (a single digit is easily effaced); or the different tablets could be due to different observers or different observatories. We do not know. But the important thing is that the combined testimony from all the surviving tablets is that Ninsianna disappeared in Nisaannu and did not reappear until Ululu; whether the exact interval was 5 months 16 days or 5 months 17 days makes little difference. The need that LFS feel to rewrite the text and eradicate that five-month invisibility does not stem from any ancient scribal error regarding the five months, for there is no trace of any such error; rather, they are motivated by the astronomer's dogma that the ancients must have seen a solar system that was arranged as the solar system is arranged today, and that if the ancient writings indicate otherwise, then those writings must be rewritten by us so that they will be "correct." The trouble with the astronomer's dogma (in addition to its falsity) is that it is seldom stated or labelled as what it is; rather, it is disguised as "scribal error" or "internal textual contradiction" or other such balderdash. In my paper ("Babylonian Observations of Venus," Pensée, Winter, 1973, p. 21), I quoted as an example of such disguising the claim by van der Waerden: "All I have done is to remove inner contradictions from the text" ("On Babylonian Astronomy I: the Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa," Ex Oriente Lux, X, , p. 417). But most of the changes introduced by van der Waerden have nothing whatsoever to do with "inner contradictions" or "scribal errors;" what he is really doing is rewriting the text so that it is in accord with the present orbits of Earth and of Venus.
And that is precisely what LFS are doing in the passage quoted from pages 105-106. Note the ease with which LFS can take away a month here, add a month there, take away 20 days here, and add 20 days there, all for the sake of reconciling the text with modern observations of what Venus appears to be doing. This is what I called playing the uniformitarian game. They don't want any five-month invisibilities, so, when the ancient texts report one, they rewrite those texts so that it isn't there anymore and so that what is there will be in accord with modern observations. Then, after the surgery has been completed, they find, to no one's surprise, that "the observation, thus restored, is excellent." The "logic" by which LFS can pile up supposed or fabricated "scribal errors" to change a 5 months 16 days' invisibility to one of 2 months 6 days might also permit them to change one of 2 months 6 days to one of 5 months 16 days; but their astronomer's dogma would never permit that thought to enter their heads.
What the five-month invisibility actually does indicate is that the orbits of Earth and/or Venus were at one time different from what they are now. In that sense even this one report, standing alone, would lend support to Velikovsky's claim that Earth and Venus have not always been on their present orbits. There may indeed be some scribal errors in the reports for Year 12, namely, the ones involving discrepancies of at most one day. Elsewhere in the Ninsianna texts, as well as in most other ancient writings, there are additional scribal errors, some of which are much more serious than a discrepancy of merely one day. But I cannot understand why Ms. van Lieshout supposes that Velikovsky has based or would base any of his arguments for orbital changes on the fact that ancient texts contain various sorts of scribal errors. It is simply false that Velikovsky handles "all errors and contradictions . . . as representing real evidence for deviations in the path of Venus"; in fact, Velikovsky does not handle any errors or contradictions as evidence for orbital changes.
Certainly it is a legitimate enterprise to speculate or conjecture about what the original form of a partly damaged or partly miscopied text was, and I do not object to textual emendation as such. I only object to those "textual emendations"' that are motivated by the uniformitarian attitude that all the recorded observations must be so emended as to conform to what we see today. That is not textual emendation; it is a deliberate rewriting of historical data, and thereby a repudiation of the entire enterprise of historiography.
(2) The word "Ninsianna" means "lady of the defenses of heaven" (see Sayce, "The Astronomy and Astrology of the Babylonians," Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archeology, III , p. 169), and the word "Ninsianna" seems to be used for Venus on the so-called "Venus tablets of Ammizaduga": K. 160, K. 2321 + K. 3032, W. 1924. 802, Rm. II 531, Rm. 134, and K. 7072. Another of these so-called "Venus tablets of Ammizaduga" is S. 174, which is obviously a copy of the same sort of material that appears on the Reverse of K. 2321 + K. 3032, but which is very small and happens not to include on its surface the word "Ninsianna."
There is another occurrence of the word "Ninsianna" on a tablet published in Rawlinson, Volume II, Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, plate 59, line 20. (This work, for reasons that escape me, is customarily called "W. A. I.," meaning Western Asia Inscriptions, which is not the correct title.) There, in the course of a sort of lexicon of equivalences, "Ninsianna" is equated with "Ishtar, a star" (see Bosanquet and Sayce, "The Babylonian Astronomy. No. 3. The Venus Tablet," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, XL [ 1880], p. 565). Since Ishtar as a star is known from numerous sources to be the planet Venus, scholars have always assumed that Ninsianna must be the planet Venus. This assumption seemed to be further supported by the fact that the Ninsianna data suggest an inner planet whose period stood to the period of Earth more or less as the present period of Venus stands to the present period of Earth. It must be emphasized, however, that the data do not otherwise fit the present situation; in particular, the lengths and spacings of invisibilities at inferior and at superior conjunction cannot begin to be reconciled with the present movements of Venus as seen from Earth.
Although my paper went along with this identification of Ninsianna as Venus, the evidence for the identification is a rather less than one would like, and I tend to be suspicious of it. All that W.A.L, 11, 59 really shows is that someone thought that Ninsianna was the planet Venus. That person might have been mistaken. Similarly, the insertion of Ammizaduga's year-formula, "year of the golden throne," into Year 8 shows that someone thought that the 21 years of Ninsianna observations were the 21 years of the reign of Ammizaduga, but that too might be a mistake. (In answer to another of Ms. van Lieshout's questions, the year-formula probably refers to a throne of Ammizaduga's, not a throne of Ninsianna's; see LFS, p. 7.)
What evidence we have—namely, the lexicon—does favor the identification of Ninsianna as Venus, and we have no real evidence against the identification; nevertheless, perhaps we should be cautious in accepting the identification as absolute. It occurs to me, for example, that if Mars was an inner planet at one time, then the Ninsianna observations may have been of Mars. If, later on, it transpired that Mars ceased to be an inner planet, and that Venus, which had not been an inner planet at the time of the Ninsianna observations, now became an inner planet, this could have caused considerable confusion for the ancient writers. Some of them could have taken the Ninsianna records to apply to Venus rather than to Mars, since by that time Venus would have become an inner planet, and Mars would have ceased to be an inner planet. I suggest this idea that the Ninsianna data pertain to Mars, not as something that can be proved, but as a possibility that has not yet been eliminated.
Finally, I am sorry that Ms. van Lieshout sees herself as "powerless to help" those who make errors in quoting the words of others and who thus "will never gain the respect" of the older generation. For she herself has made an error in quoting from Velikovsky. Where Velikovsky has "5 months 16 days" she quotes "5 months 15 days." But all of us make scribal errors from time to time, and I can only hope that Ms. van Lieshout is lucky enough to make as few of them as Velikovsky has.
Lynn E. Rose
SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
To The Editor:
Twenty years ago my reaction to Worlds in Collision was that it was a very ingenious theory but with no experimental data available in its favor, and I could have quoted Polonius: "though this be madness yet there is method in it." The attitude of some of the leading scientists however irritated me greatly. Their intransigence, prejudice, and their efforts to prevent publication of Velikovsky's books reminded me of the great difficulties original thinkers have so often encountered when they tried to present their novel ideas. Of course modern innovators are not burned at the stake any longer as it used to be done a few centuries ago. This is a slight improvement. Henri Bergson, discussing religious wars, suggested that these wars were so violent because a believer in a certain religion cannot tolerate that somebody else believes in another religion, since ipso facto this casts doubt on the intrinsic truth of his own doctrine. In other words the believer has unconsciously some doubt about the absolute truth of his own faith. It may very well be that the same factors apply in scientific matters.
I was very glad to see that twenty years after the appearance of Worlds in Collision, Pensée had the good idea to reevaluate Velikovsky's work, and I must say that the experimental data collected so far are impressive in favor of Velikovsky's predictions.
He provided a theory, and facts have been found to test the theory. Sometimes it is the other way around. I found in an issue of Chemtech two years ago that "there is a fair body of chemists who hold that you must not believe any data not confirmed by theory." This attitude is much more common than is generally recognized, and contributes greatly to retard the advancement of science. After all, scientific progress consists in finding new facts upon which new theories can be elaborated. The trouble is that many scientists do not want "new" facts; they want a "status quo" that brings about the worst possible censorship.
To The Editor:
I congratulate you on the excellence of your publication and would like to offer a few observations on Akhnaton.
In Oedipus and Akhnaton Velikovsky describes this pharaoh, taking his information from legend, Greek tragedy, Herodotus and the Huya murals. He also quotes Ameline and Quercy's paper (p. 56) in which they diagnose the condition from which Akhnaton suffered as lipodystrophy. It is known that Akhnaton was a poet and that his interest in theology brought him into conflict with the priests of Amon. His obsession with his relationship with Ra, first as the son of Ra, then equating himself with Ra and finally becoming the god himself, indicates that he was possibly a psychotic. This may also have a bearing on his indulgence in xvetokdas, his indifference to military matters and, wrapped up in his own little world, to the problems of his kingdom as a whole. He is also said to have become blind.
With this in mind and lipodystrophy as a starting point, is it possible to diagnose the condition from which Akhnaton suffered? I think it is and refer to Dr. R. Wyburn-Mason's book Trophic Nerves (1950). Under the heading of trophic disturbances and the hypothalamus we find the following:
"Lesions of the hypothalamus and third ventricle regions, whether tumours, vascular disturbances, damage from encephalitis lethargica or other conditions, may be associated clinically with a great variety of bodily disturbances . . . They include the following:
"(1) Disturbances in fat distribution. There may be gross obesity or the fat may have a feminine distribution ... Hypothalamic lesions or encephalitis lethargica may result in Dercum's disease or adiposis dolorosa. It is characterized by enormous deposition of fat throughout the body, except on the hands, feet and face. . On the other hand, marked loss of fat with extreme emaciation may result from lesions in the hypothalamic area.
"(2) Disturbances in sugar metabolism and lipodystrophy. There may be diminished sugar tolerance, glycosuria and polyuria accompanied by marked wasting and loss of fat...
"Lipodystrophy is a rare disease found most commonly in males. There occur a loss of subcutaneous fat and pigment and pallor of the skin, usually on the upper half of the body, beginning in the face and gradually descending to the arms and upper trunk. The breasts and mons pubis are not usually affected. . diabetes may be found in cases of lipodystrophy. . . [It] may be associated with oliguria, hypertrichosis, rhinorrhoea, otosclerosis, cysts of bones and other abnormalities."
"(13) Pigmentary degeneration of the. retina. This may accompany other signs of hypothalamic disturbance and is well seen in the Laurence-Moon-Biedl syndrome. . ."
Paragraphs 14 to 26 are concerned with disturbances of cardiac and vasomotor function, respiratory rhythm, changes in the blood cells, skeletal dwarfism, sex characters, bulimia or anorexia, mucous and salivary gland secretion, disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract, lesions of the mouth, viscera and other tissues, protopathic pain sensibility, sleep rhythm and finally epilepsy.
"(27) Mental and intellectual disturbances. Lesions of the hypothalamus and third ventricle are always associated with mental and intellectual changes . . . They may be summarized as follows:
"a) Psychotic manifestations, including Korsakoff's psychosis, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, manic excitement, depression and schizophrenic syndromes...
"b) Intellectual impairment is also constant and may reach a stage of dementia. On the contrary, intellectual ability may be increased, as occurs in pubertas praecox... .
"c) Personality changes consisting of loss of inhibitions, carelessness in habits, amorousness and indifference to surroundings.
"d) Emotional excitement is constant. There may be manic-like reactions often episodic and lasting only as long as the stimulus. There are found swings of mood, such as alternating depression and excitement, or emotional lability, uncontrollable laughter and crying, feelings of anxiety, apathy and depression and irascibility. These results are uniform and independent of the previous mental makeup of the patient.
"e) A state of akinetic mutism affecting both intellect and emotion . . ."
(28) Changes in the electroencephalogram.
(29) Congenital malformations.
As a footnote to paragraph (d) above the author says "Lord Byron's antisocial conduct is perhaps explained by the fact that he was born with a congenital anomaly of one foot and after death was found to have a congenital vascular anomaly in the region of the hypothalamus, from which subarachnoid haemorrhages had occurred."
It is not to be expected that all these signs and symptoms would be present in any one patient, but from what we know about Akhnaton it is possible to infer that he had an abnormality in the region of his hypothalamus which was responsible for his behavior. When all this is considered it is not at all surprising that Nefertete left him.
Dr. Geoffrey L. Broderick
THE HEAT OF VENUS
To The Editor:
Back in 1940, some ten years prior to the publication of Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, Macmillan published a book by H. Spencer Jones (Britain's Astronomer Royal), Life on Other Worlds. In the Mentor edition ( 1 949), pp. 104 and 107, Jones writes:
"There must be a considerable greenhouse effect beneath the cloud layer, the short-wave radiation from the Sun being absorbed and given out again as long wavelength heat radiation. It is quite possible that at the surface of Venus, in the equatorial regions, the temperature may be as high as, or even higher than, that of boiling water." And: "Moreover, carbon-dioxide exerts a strong greenhouse effect, trapping the long wave-length heat rays radiated from the surface of Venus and, by preventing their escape, raising the temperature much higher than it would otherwise be. Venus must be hotter than boiling water and this fact is a further indication that life on Venus is not to be expected."
This is in answer to Stephen L. Talbott's question (Pensée, fall, 1972, P. 15), "Who, besides Velikovsky, claimed in 1950 that Venus is hot?"
Edgar G. Crossland
PENSEE Journal V