Today we are going to consider a set of ideas that have at
their core a completely unconventional picture of the
planetary system.... Most scientists would say that this
picture is totally impossible, because it violates many of
the most firmly established principles of physics. To this Dr.
Velikovsky would reply that there is overwhelming evidence
that these events really did occur, and that if they cause
difficulty for the scientists, it is up to the scientists to
resolve their own problems.
No one who is involved in the organization of this symposium believes
that Dr. Velikovsky's ideas are correct. Yet millions of people
have read his books, and after more than 20 years of condemnation
by the scientific establishment he still has a large and often
devoted following. It is for this reason that we believe that
discussion of his ideas at a meeting of the AAAS is a public
service. It is in this spirit that we present this
So began "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science," a symposium at the annual
convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor Ivan King continued his opening statement by outlining the day's
format, "deploring" the length of Velikovsky's paper, and then introducing
the first speaker, Norman Storer.
The papers by Velikovsky and Michelson are published in this issue. As
noted elsewhere, Sagan has agreed to submit a paper to Pensée. We
hope the other participants will also consider entering the public
discussion in print. Here, however, we can only offer summaries of the
proceedings, together with limited commentary.
Professor Storer devoted the first two-thirds of his talk to sociological
platitudes about science and scientists: members of the scientific community
observe "standards of proper behavior" ("the norms of science") which
include "universalism," "communality," "organized skepticism," and
"disinterestedness." The "energy" that drives the social structure
delineated by these norms is "professional recognition." "To be a
scientist is not only to do what scientists do, but to accept what other
But the system doesn't always work. "While behavioral departures from
normative standards may be deplorable, they are also to be expected." The
"deviance-generating" circumstances involve "conflict between norms......
inability to obey a single norm," and the "irrelevance" of scientific norms
so far as "crackpots" are concerned.
This brought Storer to "The Velikovsky Controversy," of which he
summarized the very earliest events, assuming that "the history of the
controversy since 1950 .... is well enough known to this audience to make it
unnecessary for me to go into further detail here."
"So it was that, in what came to be regarded as a
'day of atonement' and as an effort to educate the public in
the ways of science, no admission of a need for 'atonement' was
made, and the peculiar ways of science in the Velikovsky affair
were obscured in a fog of sociological 'explanation."'
He then began to list those factors which might account for the way
Velikovsky was treated.
Possessed of what Professor Lynn Rose called a "pseudo-scientific hang-up
about using moral terms," Storer did not speak of "justifying" the way
Velikovsky was treated. Yet such was the effect of his paper. This led him
through one false statement after another: "Dr. Velikovsky could be only
marginally distinguished then from the myriad of crackpots who have always
assailed science"; "Dr. Velikovsky did not possess credentials"; "his ideas
seemed obviously in conflict with accepted physical facts and laws, and [he
failed] to show how such apparent logical inconsistencies could be
explained"; and "he sought vindication from the lay public through the
All this culminated in the following contention: ". . . it is far better
that most claims about scientific truth coming from non-scientific sources
be rejected out of hand ... than that each and every one be accepted
seriously and patiently subjected to detailed testing."
Clearly it is not an either-or situation. As Rose remarked following the
It is just not the case that any new theory must either be 'rejected
out of hand' or else 'accepted seriously and patiently subjected to detailed
testing.' Any scientist who is unfamiliar with the arguments and evidences
advanced in favor of a new theory, and who does not have the time or wish to
take the time to acquire such familiarity, should not choose either of
Storer's alternatives; he should simply tell the truth, namely, that he
does not know. (Storer, of course, would not want to say that scientists
should tell the truth or that they should do anything.)
Storer suggests that the Velikovsky affair was 'inevitable.
'But if the 'scholars' had behaved with propriety and had said
'I don't know' when they in fact did not know, instead of
saying not only that Velikovsky was wrong (which they did not know)
but also that his work should be suppressed, then there would have
been no Velikovsky affair; that is, there would have been no
book burning, no boycott, no censorship, no slander, no
libel, no firings, or any of the rest. But they did not behave with
propriety; they did not say 'We don't know, and they did
do all of those things that constitute the Velikovsky affair.
Velikovsky has quite correctly described Storer's paper as an
attempted 'whitewash' of scholarly misbehavior. He also
put his finger on the essential nature of Storer's
pseudo-objectivity: during the discussion period, just after Storer
had objected to the use of words like 'should,' Velikovsky
pointed out the difference between objectivity and neutrality. To
treat a gross offender and the victim of the offense with
neutrality is not objective and is not impartial; it is biased
in favor of the offender. If the offender is not labeled an
offender and the victim is not labeled a victim, then there has
been no objective description of the realities--only a biased
'neutrality' masquerading as objectivity.
So it was that, in what came to be regarded as a "day of atonement" and
as an effort to educate the public in the ways of science, no admission of a
need for "atonement" was made, and the peculiar ways of science in the
Velikovsky affair were obscured in a fog of sociological "explanation."
The first question from the audience following Storer's presentation
recalled King's remarks at the start of the session: "Dr. Storer, I would
like your comment on the introduction that Dr. King gave, which, to me, put
this symposium in the context of the recognized scientists setting the
layman straight on what is really going on, with no mention of the validity
of some of Dr. Velikovsky's assertions--not that that makes his conclusions
Storer offered this:
I don't think [King's introduction] needs to be read that way. As a
matter of fact, my stance anyway is determined, dogged neutrality in
this.... I don't think that the panel has been set up--it's not rigged--it's
an occasion for the public to watch a scientific debate.
The next comment concerned the resistance of scientists to new ideas.
Professor Mulholland approached the platform to say, "I think two examples
[of ready acceptance of new ideas by scientists] are the discovery of mass
concentrations on the moon and the internal heat. We have moved from the
discussions of ... the evolution of the moon into a state of ... excitement
that has totally rejuvenated the entire subject."
Velikovsky, a few moments later, had an opportunity to challenge this:
I would like to ask Professor Mulholland whether he knows who was the
first to claim--in time--the heat [of the moon].... I
would like to ask, also, whether there is an explanation for the
mascons on the moon [other than that they result from
encounters with other massive celestial bodies]. And besides,
do you consider these two observations as fundamental theories?
I regret to say I do not in fact know who might have [been
the first to predict these findings] ... and I blushingly
admit that [Dr. Velikovsky] has put his finger on a weak point in
my statement, because what I gave as a response a moment
ago were observations and determinations rather than theoretical
PETER HUBER, Professor of Mathematical Statistics, Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland: Early Cuneiform Evidence for
the Planet Venus.
Professor Huber's objections to Worlds in Collision
centered on three primary arguments: 1) "Venus was known shortly after -3000
and was in an orbit between the sun and the earth at least by - 1900." 2)
"In the 16th century B.C. (-1580 to -1560), the observed motion of Venus
agrees satisfactorily with that calculated from the currently accepted
orbital elements:" 3) Ancient Chinese eclipse records show that the Earth's
rotation was not disturbed by catastrophes in the seventh century.
1) Specifically, Huber contended that the Sumerian Goddess Inanna was the
goddess of the planet Venus from ancient times. One text, dated ca. -1900,
"casts King Iddindagan of Isin . . in the role of her mate Dumuzi.... It
refers to the astral character of Inanna: 'when she, like sun or moon, steps
to the sky,' and it even exhibits very clearly and repeatedly her dual
manifestation as the evening star ('in the evening she is the strange star,
the Venus star . . .') and as the morning star ('. . . the strange star, the
Venus star, the queen of the morning'). Thus Venus must have been in an
orbit between the sun and the earth around -1900."
Also, according to Huber, "a routine check of the Assyriological
literature on the older periods turned up a big surprise ... tablets from
level IV [at Uruk] ... sometimes juxtapose the symbols [for 'star' and for
'Inanna']." Tablets from level III mention "'star, Inanna, rising sun' and .
. . 'star, setting sun, Inanna.' . . . Taken together, these archaic texts
constitute evidence that Venus, the star of Inanna, was known shortly after
Huber stressed that "the Inanna symbol sometimes looks like the drawing
of a comet," but he claimed that the similarity "is not borne out by the
more elaborate representations."
Velikovsky commented, in the discussion period, as follows:
That Venus was observed before it came into conflict with
the earth is clear from what I wrote. It did not come from
Jupiter ... on the eve of [the first encounter]. It came thousands
of years before, [during which time] it could be seen.
However, you [Huber] are right: in that hymn to Inanna, Venus is
referred to as connected with morning and evening.(*) But what
... else [is] in that hymn?--and I am very thankful to you for
giving me the text of that hymn.... Now, "Inanna
shines as bright as the sun." Is Venus shining as bright as the sun
today? "Inanna ... is a star foreign to us ... at midday
it shines as bright as the sun.
"Does it today?
*As Dr. C. J. Ransom points out, a body moving near the ecliptic on a
comet-like orbit and passing inside the earth's orbit to reach perihelion
would necessarily appear from time to time as a morning star and as an
Huber insisted that the word "bright" does not appear--that the correct
wording is "sends out light like the sun." Velikovsky then recalled the many
sources quoted in Worlds in Collision to the effect that Venus was
"like a torch in the sky."
2) Huber's second point of discussion involved the so-called Venus
Tablets of Ammizaduga. These tablets, he asserted, agree "satisfactorily
with [the motion of Venus] calculated from the currently acceptable orbital
elements." Such agreement would be difficult to obtain "if the orbital
elements or the brightness of Venus had substantially changed between -1560
Disregarding Rose's paper on the subject, he dismissed "astronomical
impossibilities" as "scribal errors," cast aside certain texts because their
"observational nature has been doubted," and casually remarked that 15 of
the 50 events given in the tablets must be rejected in order to arrive at
"agreement" with modern calculations: nine are "impossibly wrong for any
chronology (presumably scribal errors), and six more are marginal."
Responding, Velikovsky reviewed his arguments, given in Worlds in
Collision but not alluded to by Huber, as to why the Venus Tablets of
Ammizaduga cannot be doctored up to fit uniformitarian assumptions. He made
the further point that the calendar in use at the time of the records was
one having 12 months of 30 days each, without any intercalary months, a
point Huber disputed.
3) As to ancient eclipses, Huber argued that of "37 precisely dated
eclipses" from -1719 to -480, "three ... are froth before the catastrophe of
-686; one ... is described as total, and it is total also according to
calculations. This means that the catastrophe ... did not happen."
A rather confused exchange on this point ensued, with Velikovsky
dominating the microphone and attempting to ascertain which eclipses Huber
was referring to. The discussion narrowed down to the one total eclipse, the
data for which Huber said had not yet been published, so that the matter
could not be pursued. Velikovsky then referred to his discussion of eclipses
in a debate with the late Princeton astronomer, John Q. Stewart
(Harper's, June, 1951), apparently securing Huber's agreement that he
(Velikovsky) had been right in rejecting the three ancient eclipses cited by
Finally, Velikovsky called attention to a paper in Nature (14
November 1970) in which F. R. Stephenson claimed to have established beyond
all doubt the date of an "eclipse" recorded in a Ugaritic text. Stephenson
places the event at May 3, 1375 B.C. and states that it "would appear to be
the earliest for which there is a record." Velikovsky first pointed out that
his reconstruction of history puts Ugarit in the ninth century, not the
fourteenth, so that Stephenson's calculations in search of a
fourteenth-century event were in vain. But most importantly, the Ugaritic
report also states that
"The Sun went down (in the daytime) with Rashap [Mars] in attendance."
Velikovsky emphasized that "we have exactly the same statement in Greek
sources, referring to the date when Romulus supposedly was born. . ."
One of the more peculiar oddities of the day occurred when symposium
organizer Owen Gingerich told a reporter that Huber "demolished Velikovsky.
There was really no point in continuing after that." The statement was
subsequently published in Science.
IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY: "My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science."
Ivan King's introduction of Velikovsky was condescending:
Our next speaker on the program is Dr. Velikovsky. He has informed me
that he has a prepared manuscript which he has got together in the interest
of speaking clearly, so that everyone will understand what he has to say.
[Velikovsky speaks with a heavy accent. ed.] I have already said
that I regret the length of it, but we'll allow him time to go through this
A more grudging and less graceful manner of yielding the platform to the
featured speaker of the day could hardly be imagined. The audience remained
hushed as Velikovsky approached the microphone, half expecting him to give
King the tongue-lashing his remarks called for. But Velikovsky let the
silence speak for itself for a long moment and then began his talk.
(Velikovsky's paper is published elsewhere in this issue.)
Following his address, Velikovsky was asked whether any of his
predictions had turned out to be untrue. He answered that he knows of none,
and then he reviewed the circumstances and content of the statement by H. H.
Hess on March 15, 1963 (Pensée, Fall, 1972, p. 27). He concluded by
asking anyone who knows of an erroneous prediction to "let me hear."
At this point, Professor Sagan mounted the platform and was given the
microphone. Said he:
I think I know a large number of predictions which are
incorrect, and I also think I can show that the ones which are
correct are not original with, Dr. Velikovsky, but I will get to
that when it's my talk. What I would like to ask as just a specific
question--in Dr. Velikovsky's presentation to us now, he has said
that hydrocarbon clouds of Venus are consistent with all
ultraviolet and . . . infrared observations, with refractive
index, and with volatility. This is not my impression, so I
would like to ask which organic compound has a refractive
index of 1.44, as we know the Venus clouds do from the polarization
data, has a 3.1-micron and 11.2-micron absorption feature
in the infrared, and is able to explain the discontinuity in the
water abundance above the clouds. I ask this because about
a 75 percent solution of sulfuric acid explains all these very
well, and I know of no organic compound which does, and I
have read the papers by Burgstahler and Velikovsky in the
latest issue of Pensée.
Velikovsky referred Sagan to a chart in the Winter, 1973-74 issue of
Pensée, in which he had attempted to show the general compatibility of
hydrocarbons with the refractive and spectral characteristics of the Venus
clouds, adding further that "there are hundreds of thousands of organic
molecules" which have not been investigated to determine their specific
agreement with Venus' observed characteristics.
However, en route to making these points, Velikovsky embarked upon a
circuitous series of observations, touching upon Sagan's remarks in
Newsweek (Sagan "will have a hard time to prove" that Velikovsky's
predictions were not original), Sagan's greenhouse explanation of Venus'
heat ("unsupportable"), the question of water on Venus ("Sagan was proven
wrong"), and more. This "answer" consumed at least 15 minutes of symposium
time, and was interrupted by occasional shouts from the floor ("answer the
question" and "we've forgotten [what the question is] by now").
This pattern of answers that grow increasingly rambling as time wears
on--the 78-year-old Velikovsky had been forced to rest briefly in the middle
of his prepared address--is one that by now has become familiar to
Velikovsky-watchers, and it suggests certain format provisions that might
profitably be made in future symposia. Velikovsky himself ought to become
aware that he is not always his own most effective defender.
J. DERRAL MULHOLLAND, Professor of Astronomy, University of Texas
(Austin): "Movements of Celestial Bodies--Velikovsky's Fatal Flaw."
King introduced Mulholland as a "celestial mechanician whose name is
almost synonymous with high precision." That characterization would prove
ironic before the day was out.
Mulholland prefaced his address with these words: "Before I am asked the
question, I would like to point out that I first read Dr. Velikovsky's work
in 1950 in Collier's magazine, and I have read [it] three times
since, most recently yet this year. I found it very entertaining when I was
16, and I still do." (Collier's published two parts of a planned
three-part popularization of Velikovsky's work put together by science
writer John Lear. Velikovsky objected so strenuously to the way his work was
handled that the third part never saw publication.)
Mulholland's formal paper began with a one-paragraph summation of the
thesis of Worlds in Collision, including--in the very first
sentence--the erroneous notion that both "Venus and Mars erupted into the
sky." The error was repeated almost immediately in a statement that "finally
the two giant comets settled into their present harmless orbits . . ."
Moments later, addressing himself to the question, "Did the Axis Tilt?",
Mulholland scored the fact that Velikovsky's references from worldwide
folklore are discordant as to the duration of unusually long periods of
daylight or darkness. In Worlds in Collision ("The Darkness"),
Velikovsky himself calls attention to this problem, remarking on the
difficulty of recording time accurately under conditions of darkness, or
disturbed (apparent) motion of the sun.
Again, Mulholland claimed that Egyptian sea voyages to southern latitudes
easily account for "the objectionable feature of the tomb of Senmut, [which]
seems to be that it shows the southern sky as seen from the southern
hemisphere." Yet, as Velikovsky carefully explains (Worlds in Collision,
"East and West"), the "astronomically objectionable" feature of the
ceiling in Senmut's tomb is not simply that it shows the southern stars, but
rather that it shows them as if they were in the northern sky, so that, as
one source puts it, "Orion ... appeared to be moving eastward, i.e., in the
wrong direction." Velikovsky suggests (Worlds in Collision, "East
and West") that "the southern panel shows the sky of Egypt as it was before
the celestial sphere interchanged north and south, east and west."
Mulholland went on falsely to attribute two assumptions to Velikovsky: 1)
"that observations and clocks were completely accurate 27 centuries ago, and
... [21 that they were made and used at the sites where they were found."
This injury was further compounded with a total misrepresentation: "On this
basis, it is stated that Babylon has moved southwards by some 250
kilometers." And still another: "Velikovsky's interpretation [of a water
clock found at the site of ancient Thebes] requires that Thebes have moved
1000 kilometers northward while the other near-eastern cities moved
Reference to Worlds in Collision discloses that Velikovsky's
statement about Babylon moving southward by 2 ½ degrees of latitude--not
"250 kilometers"follows a statement that "gnomons or sundials"--not
"clocks"--can be built with great precision. And the basis of the statement
concerning Babylon is a series of documented sources ranging from Claudius
Ptolemy to Kugler--not an assumption of any kind, much less one involving
clocks. Furthermore, Velikovsky carefully avoids an "interpretation" of the
Theban water clock; he comments (Worlds in Collision, "The Water
Clock"): "Thus the water clock of Amenhotep III, if it was correctly
built and correctly interpreted, indicates that either Thebes
was closer to the equator or that the inclination of the equatox toward the
ecliptic was less than the present angle of 23 ½°." [Emphasis added]
Under the heading, "The Day, the Month, and the Year," Mulholland sought
to assemble evidence against the idea of important changes in the length of
the day or the month within historical times. He cited a paper by Robert R.
Newton dealing with ancient eclipse reports and emphasized that Newton's
work yielded an average value for the length of the day only very slightly
different from the present value over a period of 2000 years, "with small
abrupt changes around the years +700 and +1300, but not earlier."
This is a questionable and misleading summarization of Newton's work,
which has been the center of considerable scientific controversy for at
least five years. In Newton's own words (Science 166 [14 November
19691, p. 825), his studies make it "almost certain that there have been
large changes in the accelerations [of the earth and the moon] within
historic times ... [and] known geophysical mechanisms explain neither the
ancient value of [the lunar secular acceleration] nor the large change in
[it] within historic times. . . ." Newton's article is subheaded:
"Paleontology, satellites, and ancient astronomy yield accelerations that
geophysics cannot yet explain."
It would be unjust, of course, to infer from such remarks that Newton has
sought to produce evidence for changes of the magnitude of those described
in Worlds in Collision. Indeed, he has specifically endorsed a
remark by Professor Otto Neugebauer (Isis 41, 1950, p. 245)
concerning "the perfect regularity of celestial motion" during the eighth
century B.C. At the same time, however, there is nothing in his published
works to indicate that he has considered the possibility that the relatively
"large changes" he reports could be residual effects of much more drastic
changes of the type deduced by Velikovsky.
Mulholland himself reviewed Newton's 1970 book, Ancient Astronomical
Observations and the Accelerations of the Earth and Moon, for
Science (Vol. 172, May 14, 1971, p. 693) and wrote one sentence that
emphasizes a point Velikovsky has been insisting on for a
quarter-century--most recently in his response to Huber at San
Francisco--about ancient eclipse records: in Mulholland's words, "Nearly
always the date and location of the observations are unknown ... it seems
clear that there is much room to suspect the classical results of serious
bias." (But Mulholland recalled none of this when he might have come to
Velikovsky's support against Huber's arguments.)
In San Francisco, as additional evidence allegedly attesting to a long
and stable history for the solar system, Mulholland called attention to "a
smooth sequence of angular momentum as a function of mass which is satisfied
by nearly all of the planets ... [and] can only be related to the formation
of the entire system. . . ." Unfortunately for this argument, the speaker
had to note that certain planets fail to conform: Mercury, Venus, the Moon,
The rotation of Mars, according to Mulholland, "is a small embarrassment"
too. But "there is no dynamical basis for Velikovsky's conjecture that its
24-hour period is due to a close encounter with Earth."
It is fascinating to compare Mulholland's "no dynamical basis" with some
"open questions" Michelson would raise later in the day:
Why are the planets situated at the distances from the Sun
where we observe them to be, why are their masses distributed so,
and what determines their rates of axial rotation, for example? As
far as celestial mechanics is concerned any of the values known
with such high precision could just as well be somewhat or
even much different. The theory would work just as well--it simply
does not discuss the matters.
Michelson goes on to cite a number of relationships between such
quantities which indicate causal influences overlooked by celestial
mechanics. One of these relationships ties together Earth's speed and
orbital motion, Earth's radius, the masses of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, and
the Earth-Sun distance. Concludes Michelson:
Where standard celestial mechanics neither finds nor
explains such relationships ... electromagnetic influences can
scarcely be overlooked. Velikovsky, led by entirely different
and most unorthodox reasoning for astronomers, to far more
startling conclusions, then declaring that the time has come to
enlarge celestial mechanics to include electromagnetic effects,
appears to increasing numbers of open-minded and objective
scientists to have an entirely valid point.
Mulholland's long string of ill-conceived and misleading arguments served
well to obscure a positive comment he offered early in his paper:
Velikovsky's challenge is not one to be decided on a basis of belief
or unbelief... He strives, it seems to me, to build physically plausible
solutions that involve testable ideas. He is not a mystic...
Are the explanations plausible? From at least one vantage point, yes
indeed. If a planet-sized object were to pass close by the Earth,
then giant tides would be raised, there would be global earthquakes, the
north pole would change direction. The day, the month, the seasons, the year
would all change. There is no faith here: these are unavoidable consequences
of the laws of motion as we presently know them. We must accept that the
dynamical aspects of Velikovsky's vision of hell on Earth are largely
Further: ". . . The celestial mechanics of 1974 is a living, vital
science that admits of non-gravitational effects, of electromagnetic
interactions. . . ." (While an admirable ideal, as a statement of fact this
is questionable. It would be interesting for Mulholland to produce some
examples of such "living, vital" celestial mechanics.)
Nevertheless, Mulholland concluded:
Our knowledge of the factors, gravitational and otherwise, that
influence bodies in motion absolutely denies that either
Venus or Mars can have had Earth-crossing orbits within astronomically
recent time.... I sympathize with Velikovsky's attempts to resolve
the geological and cultural paradoxes, but their solution
is not to be found in wars of the worlds.
CARL SAGAN, Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University: "An Analysis
of Worlds in Collision."
As Science News later reported, "the most outspoken of the
panelists ... was Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan, who in a detailed critique
drafted ten new plagues for Velikovsky."
That Sagan would be his most outspoken critic in San Francisco was quite
in accord with Velikovsky's expectations. The astronomer has a long record
of taking pot shots at Worlds in Collision, delighting in his own
colorful descriptions of a comet which "approached the Earth, by accident
just at the Red Sea," and which then returned "to help Joshua, who needed
two miracles," and so on.
Sagan's recent book, The Cosmic Connection, contains two
references to Velikovsky: "There is an ongoing search, often unconscious,
for a cosmic perspective for humanity. This can be seen in innumerable ways,
but most clearly on the college campus. There, an enormous interest is
apparent in a range of pseudoscientific or borderline-scientific
topics--astrology, scientology, the study of unidentified flying objects,
investigation of the works of Immanuel Velikovsky, and even science-fiction
superheroes--all of which represent an attempt, overwhelmingly unsuccessful
in my view, to provide a cosmic perspective for mankind (p. 59).
And again, discussing a suggestion that carbohydrates and hydrocarbons
might be present in the clouds of Venus: "these last two materials were
proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky in his speculative romance Worlds in
Collision to provide manna for the Israelites during their forty years
of wandering in the desert (p. 88).
Sagan's record of scientific responsibility vis-a-vis Velikovsky is
ironical in view of the symposium organizers' rejection of Velikovsky's
first (and only) suggestion as to whom he would like to participate on the
panel in his defense. This suggestion was vetoed because the person in
question did not have the requisite "academic credentials" in the physical
sciences. Sagan, however, met the specifications of the organizers.
It did for a moment appear as if Sagan had attempted to turn over a new
leaf at San Francisco. He prefaced his remarks with a brief dissertation on
what science is, or should be; on why "emotions in the scientific community
have ... run very high" regarding Velikovsky's work; on why science should
keep an open mind with respect to new ideas. (However, this "new leaf" was
not so radical as to entail an apology and public retraction of the
astronomer's ridicule of alleged "Velikovskian frogs" before an
internationally attended news conference at NASA Ames Research Center last
December. He simply avoided repeating that particular fiction, generated by
his own imagination.)
Sagan acknowledged that "I find the concatenation of legends which
Velikovsky has accumulated stunning.... My own position is that even if 20
percent of the legendary concordances which Velikovsky produces are real,
there is something important to be explained." However, as opposed to
Velikovsky's view that the worldwide distribution of common elements in
myths and legends is explainable only on the basis of common observation of
global catastrophes, he expressed his own tendency to favor the "diffusion"
Then, in a statement punctuated by jokes--"The only thing that does not
drop from the comet is cholesterol to harden Pharaoh's heart"--and
inaccuracies--"The earth meantime had suddenly begun rotating
again," Sagan gave his own version of the thesis of Worlds in
Collision. (Velikovsky's rejoinder in the discussion period was "Let me
quote one single sentence from [Professor Sagan's] new book: 'Jokes are a
way of dealing with anxiety.' It is easy to put into a book something that
is not there and then make a joke about it.")
My conclusion will be that where Velikovsky is original, he is very
likely wrong; and that where he is right, the idea has been preempted by
earlier workers. There are also a large number of cases where he is neither
right nor original. The question of originality is, unfortunately, important
because of predictions--for example, of the high surface temperature of
Venus--which are said to have been made by Velikovsky at a time when
everyone else was imagining something quite different.... As we shall see,
this--and other similar things of priority--turn out to be not quite the
Sagan's ten points--the phrase "ten plagues" had been suggested by a
remark King made following Sagan's talk--consumed some 37 manuscript pages.
A brief enumeration follows. (This enumeration, by extracting the ten basic
arguments from the nearly impenetrable mesh of error in which they were
embedded, performs a considerable service for Sagan.)
1) The Ejection of Venus from Jupiter. The minimum kinetic
energy required to eject Venus from Jupiter, based on an escape velocity of
"about 70 km/sec," would be approximately 1041 ergs "equivalent
to all the energy radiated by the sun in all directions in space in an
entire year." Also, at least 10 percent of this energy would go into heating
the ejected body, so that whatever its composition, it would have been
2) The Statistics of Collisions. Five or six near-collisions of
Venus and Mars with Earth involve joint odds of "1023-to-one
against" any such sequence.
3) The Earth's Rotation. Once the Earth's rotation stops, how
does it "get started up again, rotating at approximately the same rate of
spin? The Earth cannot do it by itself, because of the law of the
conservation of angular momentum."
Also, the body which acted to brake Earth's rotation could only do so at
its very closest approach to Earth, so that "the full time available for the
peak effect of the comet on the rotation of the Earth" is "under ten
minutes"--which "could not have given Joshua's army much relief."
4) Lunar and Terrestrial Craters. The dating of lunar rocks is
conclusive evidence against Velikovsky's claim that (in Sagan's words) "the
Moon, not immune to the catastrophes which befell the Earth, had similar
magmatic events occur on its surface a few thousand years ago, and that many
of its craters were formed then." He continued:
Furthermore, and I think more powerful, if lunar craters were to have
formed abundantly 2700 years ago, there must have been a
similar production at the same time of terrestrial craters of the
same size--larger than a kilometer across. Erosion on the earth's
surface is inadequate to remove any crater of this size in 2700
years. Not only are there not large numbers of terrestrial
craters of this size and age, there are a mere handful, so
old that their nature has been debated for years. That is, the
absence of abundant cratering on the earth disproves the idea
that abundant cratering occurred on the moon 2700 years ago.
5) Vermin. "There is the peculiar idea that insects fell from
the comet." But life forms on a planet such as Jupiter could not possibly be
compatible with conditions on the Earth. "Are we to imagine that the entire
terminal-electron-transfer apparatus [this refers to a class of enzyme
proteins, such as cytochrome oxidase, essential to the respiratory chain in
life processes. ed.] required to deal with molecular oxygen on Earth
adventitiously evolved on Jupiter by Jovian organisms hoping some day to be
transported to Earth?"
Next there is the problem of fly ablation. Small flies have just the
same mass and dimensions as small meteors, which are burned up at an
altitude of about 100 kilometers when they enter the Earth's atmosphere on
cometary trajectories. Ablation accounts for the visibility of such meteors.
Not only would cometary vermin rapidly be transformed into fried flies on
entrance into the Earth's atmosphere; they would, as cometary meteors today,
be vaporized into atoms and never "swarm" over Egypt to the consternation of
the Pharaoh. Likewise the temperatures attendant to ejection of the comet
from Jupiter ... would fry Velikovsky's flies. Impossible to begin with,
doubly-fried and atomized, cometary flies do not well survive critical
6) Manna. "How much manna is required to feed the hundreds of
thousands of Children of Israel for 40 years ... ?" He estimated 100
kilograms per person per year, or 4000 kilograms per person in 40 years.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelites would thus have consumed more than one
million kilograms of manna during their wandering in the desert. This amount
must be multiplied over the entire surface of the earth, giving a figure of
"several times 1017 grams." Further, the tail of the comet Venus
would distribute the same matter all over the inner solar system, with the
result that its initial charge of manna would have to be 1028
grams, and its initial over-all mass upwards of 1030
grams--greater than the mass of Jupiter. "Inter-planetary space should today
be littered with manna."
7) The Clouds of Venus. "Velikovsky's idea that the clouds of
Venus are composed of hydrocarbons or carbohydrates is neither original nor
correct. The 'crucial test' fails." "The vapor pressure of simple
hydrocarbons in the vicinity of the clouds of Venus should make them
detectable. ... These molecules have been searched for... [and] none have
been found. . . ."
On the question of the clouds, the evidence is strongly in support of
a 75-percent solution of sulfuric acid. There is no organic compound that
has been mentioned, nor can I find any, which simultaneously satisfied the
criteria which I mentioned [referring to the discussion following
Velikovsky's presentation].... The idea that there are tens of millions of
organic compounds is certainly true, but is irrelevant, because absorption
features like the 3.5-micron feature [of hydrocarbons] ... are due to the
same C-H stretching vibration with a very small range of error permissible.
The Venus feature is sensitive at about 3.1 microns; there are no organic
compounds that can match it. Likewise, the 11.2-micron feature just is
inconsistent with observations [of organic molecules].
8) The Temperatures of Mars and Venus.
Velikovsky's argument clearly implies that if you want to find a
temperature anomaly in the solar system, go to Mars, not Venus. In fact,
neither Mars nor Venus is an anomaly in the sense of giving off more heat
than it gets from the sun: only Jupiter and the Jovian planets are. The
argument of Velikovsky that Venus got hot by coming close to the sun ... can
easily be calculated to see how long before it cools off. That period is
years to months, and nothing like thousands of years.... If his theory is
correct, it still cannot correctly explain the high surface temperature of
Sagan rejected Velikovsky's claim to originality in predicting the high
temperature of Venus on the grounds that Rupert Wildt had devised a
greenhouse theory for Venus as long ago as 1940. Said Sagan: "We now know
that this argument is correct; it's correct for the right reason; it did not
go far enough [did not predict the right temperatures] because it only
included carbon dioxide and not other trace constituents." Also,
"Velikovsky's objection to greenhouse models on Venus is fallacious.... The
amount of sunlight striking the surface of Venus has been measured.
It is entirely adequate to drive the conventional greenhouse.... There is no
mystery about why the surface temperature of Venus is high, and it is not
due to some past encounter."
9) The Craters of Venus. "There is simply the fact that radar
observations of Venus have shown it to be saturation-cratered, and
saturation-cratering can be understood only in terms of impacts. The impacts
had to occur within a period of millions of years, not thousands of years."
10) The Orbit of Venus. In his spoken address, because of time
limitations, Sagan deferred to the earlier arguments of Mulholland on this
point. His written text, however, elaborates as follows:
The idea that Venus could have been converted, in a few thousand
years, from an object in a highly eccentric orbit to its present orbit,
which is one of the most perfectly circular in the entire Solar System, is
at odds with what we know about the three-body problem in celestial
mechanics. However, it must be admitted that this is not a completely solved
problem, and that, while the odds are large, they are not absolutely
overwhelming, against Velikovsky's hypothesis on this score. Furthermore,
when Velikovsky invokes electrical or magnetic forces, with no effort to
calculate their magnitude or describe in detail their effects, we are
hard-pressed to assess these ideas.
Sagan proceeds to calculate the magnetic field strength "necessary to
make a significant perturbation on the motion of a comet," arriving at a
figure of 10 million gauss. (This compares to 0.5 gauss for the Earth's
equatorial surface field.)
After running through his arguments, Sagan attempted to "guess" how
Worlds in Collision became "so immensely popular." For one
thing, "it is an attempted validation of religion.... Velikovsky attempts to
rescue not only religion but astrology.... his work holds out a promise of
the cosmic connectedness of mankind.... Some young people are put off by the
occasional pomposity of scientists; or are concerned by what they apprehend
as the dangers of science; or perhaps merely have difficulty understanding
In opening his presentation Sagan had let it be known that he would
"illustrate the process of reasoned disputation" in an effort to show how
scientists approach unorthodox hypotheses. Unfortunately, his example was
not such as to leave unorthodox theorists with much faith in the scientific
process. His 57-page paper is so thoroughly pockmarked with
misrepresentations (some to all appearances deliberate), inaccuracies, and
plain nonsense, as well as his own personal, knife-twisting brand of
condescending ridicule, that an antagonist would be hard put to know exactly
how to go about replying.
In fact, it is more than a little surprising that Sagan did, along his
erratic way, happen upon a few questions which are indeed worthy of intense
critical scrutiny within the Velikovskian context though Sagan himself
contributed virtually no analysis of any value, owing to his unfamiliarity
with, and lack of genuine scientific interest in, Velikovsky's thesis. (See
accompanying article for a brief discussion of the more worthwhile points
Sagan touched upon.)
As noted elsewhere, Sagan has agreed to publish a paper in Pensée.
A detailed response to his arguments by Velikovsky or one of his
supporters properly awaits that publication. However, the general nature of
Sagan's reasoned disputation was clear to everyone possessing any
familiarity with Velikovsky's work. A few examples are illustrative:
1) Concerning the thermal balance of Mars and Venus, Sagan weaves
together such a tangle of untruths that they are difficult to unravel.
First, we are told that Velikovsky overlooks the heating effect of Venus'
expulsion from Jupiter, which would be a "good Velikovskian argument for the
high temperature of the surface of Venus, but... this is not his argument."
Then, "Velikovsky's argument clearly implies that if you want to find a
temperature anomaly in the Solar System, go to Mars, not Venus." And
Velikovsky proposed that Venus is hot because of its encounters with
Mars and the Earth, and its close passage to the Sun. Since Mars is not
anomalously hot, the high surface temperature of Venus must then be
attributed to the passage of Venus near the Sun during its cometary
incarnation. But it is easy to calculate how much energy Venus would have
received during its close passage to the Sun and how long it would take for
this energy to be radiated away into space.... There is no chance of any of
the heat being retained at the present time in Velikovsky's chronology.
While making these statements, Sagan indignantly points to Velikovsky's
remark in Worlds in Collision that "Mars emits more heat than it
receives from the Sun"--a remark which is "not advertised very much these
days," and which ought to have been heralded "as a refutation of
a) In Worlds in Collision ("The Thermal Balance of Mars")
Velikovsky cited the work of researchers which seemed to show that Mars
emits more heat than it receives from the Sun. Far from considering this a
necessary conclusion from his theory, he pointed out that "Mars is a smaller
body than the Earth; it has more surface per unit of volume, and it must
have cooled down quicker [sic] than the Earth. . . ." His subsequent
discussion takes the form of an attempted explanation for the then-supposed
b) Sagan's statement that, on Velikovsky's theory, Venus' surface
temperature must be "attributed to the passage of Venus near the Sun"--a
statement coming as it does after Sagan's earlier contention that Venus
would be molten upon its expulsion from Jupiter--is incomprehensible.
c) Further, Velikovsky does not ignore this molten condition as a basis
for his claim about Venus' surface temperature. His statement in Worlds
in Collision ("The Thermal Balance of Venus") is straightforward:
"Venus experienced in quick succession its birth and expulsion under violent
conditions.... [and] the core of the planet must still be hot."
d) In light of the above, Sagan's claim that to find a temperature
anomaly under Velikovsky's theory one should "go to Mars, not Venus"
2) On insects, the relevant passage from Worlds in Collision
("Baal Zevuv") follows:
Atmospheric and thermal conditions are so different on other planets
that it seems incredible that the same forms of life exist there as on the
Earth; on the other hand, it is wrong to conclude that there is no life on
them at all.... Whether there is truth in [the] supposition of larval
contamination of the Earth is anyone's guess. The ability of many small
insects and their larvae to endure great cold and heat and to live in an
atmosphere devoid of oxygen renders not entirely improbable the hypothesis
that Venus (and also Jupiter, from which Venus sprang) may be populated by
At the very least Sagan is guilty of taking an admitted speculation--the
refutation of which would have absolutely no evidential bearing
on Velikovsky's thesis--and presenting it as a "major scientific flaw"
(Sagan's words) in the thesis.
3) A number of Sagan's arguments are so ludicrous as to make an attempt
at refutation embarrassing--e.g., his assessment of the quantity of manna
required to satisfy the hypothesis, and his figuring of the 1023-to-one
odds. (In the case of manna, if he ever makes a more considered effort to
set up his problem, he is likely to come up with a figure on the order of
ten modern supertankers' worth, rather than a quantity approaching the mass
of Jupiter. Nor does his oddsmaking withstand analysis with any greater
success.) Curiously, these two arguments, together with the insect matter,
received some of the heaviest coverage in the scientific press--in part, it
seems, because of their humorous value, and, in the case of the odds,
because of the argument's superficially apparent weight.
4) Sagan repeatedly accuses Velikovsky of failing to discriminate between
hydrocarbons and carbohydrates:
From Velikovsky's general thesis and the calculations just described
above [concerning manna], it is clear that Venus should be saturated with
Manna. Indeed, Velikovsky says that "the presence of hydrocarbon gases and
dust in the cloud envelope of Venus would constitute a crucial test" for his
ideas. We see here another example of his confusion between hydrocarbons and
Actually, Velikovsky has consistently argued that hydrocarbons were
delivered to Earth from Venus, with some of these hydrocarbons converted to
carbohydrates ("manna") through reactions (bacterial or otherwise) in the
Earth's atmosphere. The confusion appears to be in Sagan's own mind as to
what Velikovsky has and has not said on this matter.
5) Sagan, in his most celebrated remark, contended that "where Velikovsky
is original, he is very likely wrong; and that where he is right, the idea
has been preempted by earlier workers. There are also a large number of
cases where he is neither right nor original." This statement was cited in
virtually every news account of the symposium; yet, it is flatly untrue, and
Sagan did not attempt to document his claim. Such an effort to discredit
another scholar's work is highly unethical, and deserves investigation by
the official AAAS committee on ethics.
Not only did Sagan fail to acknowledge Velikovsky's dramatically
successful prediction of such discoveries as the Jupiter radio emissions and
the remanent magnetism in lunar rocks--predictions which went against all
accepted thought--but the one or two cases Sagan did present in support of
his contention were highly misleading. Thus, he failed to mention that,
while Wildt once claimed possible temperatures on Venus ca. 135°C (not,
incidentally, the several hundred degrees necessary to account for the
incandescent condition on Venus which Velikovsky described), Wildt
subsequently withdrew his claim in favor of the more accepted,
cooler temperatures. Further, in stating that Wildt was "correct for the
right reason," whereas Velikovsky's reasoning was wrong, Sagan was simply
begging the question by--assuming the correctness of his own hotly disputed
6) Only so fecund a source of error as Sagan, it seems, could offer the
following statement, wrong in virtually every particular: "in the famous
letter to Science by Bargmann and Motz (1962) and in some of the
correspondence of the late Harry Hess, Velikovsky's prognostication that the
clouds of Venus were made of carbohydrates was hailed as an example of a
successful scientific prediction." a) Bargmann and Motz made no mention of
the clouds of Venus or their constitution; b) Hess never discussed the
subject; c) Velikovsky's claim involved hydrocarbons, not carbohydrates.
Sagan's performance, ostensibly a model scientific discussion, left some
in the audience enraged, many disconcerted, and the press largely happy for
quotable quotes. And it left only a very brief period for discussion before
the room had to be vacated. Velikovsky asked Sagan whether he would concede
the possibility that there are hydrocarbons on Venus beneath the clouds.
Sagan refused to answer, insisting that Velikovsky state how much, rather
than ask for a yes-or-no answer.
Many who attended the symposium were understandably disturbed over the
hit-and-run performance by Sagan, who took leave of the proceedings
immediately after the morning session to tape an appearance on the Johnny
Carson Show in Los Angeles.
King, who evidently learned of Sagan's scheduled departure only during
Mulholland's talk, introduced Sagan by stating: "I wish to qualify ... what
I said earlier. Unfortunately, Dr. Sagan will not be available--will not be
able to be with us this evening on account of a previous commitment. . . ."
[King did not, however, find Sagan's violation of a several-month-old
At the close of the morning session an irate member of the audience got
King's attention and suggested that Sagan should be asked to "make the
sacrifice" of passing up his outside appointment in favor of completing the
commitment to science implicit in his initial agreement to participate in
the Velikovsky symposium. This prompted a short speech by King: "When I was
describing the genesis
of this symposium, I [said] that the AAAS had put the symposium together
out of a feeling that the work of Dr. Velikovsky was worth presenting at a
public forum. What I did not mention at that time was that Professor Sagan
is not only a vigorous defender of science, he is also a vigorous defender
of scientific freedom. And the suggestion that we hold this symposium came
originally from Professor Sagan."
A recent issue of Science adds an interesting footnote to a
point disputed between Sagan and Velikovsky. Referring to the possibility of
petroleum fires in Venus' lower atmosphere, Velikovsky noted that such fires
would yield water as a product, following which the water would be
dissociated in the upper atmosphere with much of the lighter hydrogen
escaping. Therefore, claimed Velikovsky, one would expect to find oxygen in
the upper atmosphere of Venus.
To this Sagan insisted that "there is none, as has been clearly shown by
ground-based spectroscopic observations."
One month later Science (vol. 183, 29 March 1974, p. 1315)
carried a report on "Ultraviolet Observations of Venus from Mariner 10:
Preliminary Results," by A. L. Broadfoot, et al. In the words of the
researchers: "The data revealed the presence of significant concentrations
of hydrogen, helium, carbon, and oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere of
"Many who attended the symposium were understandably
disturbed over the hit-and-run performance by Sagan, who took
leave of the proceedings immediately after the morning
session to tape an appearance on the Johnny Carson show in Los
IRVING MICHELSON, Professor of Mechanics, Illinois Institute of
Technology: Mechanics Bears Witness.
(Velikovsky's letter to Goldsmith of January 21, 1974, indicates that at
the time of King's visit to deliver the symposium invitation, the plan was
to have two other speakers besides Velikovsky to balance three opponents on
the panel. As it turned out, Velikovsky alone faced four opponents during
the morning session at San Francisco. The one panelist with a constructive
approach to his work, Professor Irving Michelson, was squeezed out of the
morning program by the clock, and his paper had to be delivered--and even
then only in part--in the evening, when the audience was considerably
reduced from what it had been during the earlier session.)
Michelson's paper, published in this issue of Pensée, presented
two surprises: 1) If the earth's specific electric charge--its
total charge divided by its total mass--were equivalent to that calculated
in 1960 for the sun by V. A. Bailey, an Australian physicist, then the
earth's electrical energy would be essentially equal to its energy of
rotation; and 2) the energy required to "produce the most drastic change of
direction of [the earth's rotational] axis, viz., by interchanging the north
and south poles ... happens to correspond closely to modern estimates of the
energy of a single, moderately strong, geomagnetic storm."
These were of course startling announcements to those who understood
their implications. Professor Mulholland, following Michelson's talk,
immediately challenged the second point, but on false grounds. He declared,
and was later reported in Science (25 March 1974, p. 1062) as
"someone" who "said" that "one of Michelson's numbers was off by a factor of
In actuality, Mulholland was simply muddying the waters. He argued that
the energy of a solar flare would be dissipated in all directions
in space, so that the amount of the total intercepted by the earth would be
only one part in 108 (not, incidentally, 1018, as
given in Science). But of course Michelson had said nothing about a
solar flare; his comparison was with a geomagnetic storm--a terrestrial
effect of a solar flare. Michelson, fully aware of the irrelevance of
Mulholland's remark, chose not to respond to it. (See accompanying text of
Michelson's letter to Science.)
The symposium clearly failed to meet the specifications originally set
forth by Roberts, Sagan, Pensée (in our own symposium proposal),
and the organizers themselves, namely, it was not "narrowly directed at some
specific topic," but rather provided a forum for a broad range of claims and
counterclaims, with little opportunity for detailed analysis of particular
assertions. Nevertheless, certain gains were made.
Perhaps of most immediate interest are the two finds reported by
Michelson--which suggest that the Earth's rotational energy might be
intimately related to its electric energy, and that relatively little energy
need be expended to effect radical changes in the orientation in space of
the earth's spin axis. Many of the most vituperative charges leveled against
Worlds in Collision by astronomers in the 1950's centered
on the alleged impossibility of altering the earth's rotation or tilting its
axis in any brief span of time. Michelson's findings are certain to be
attacked in defense of conventional thinking, but if they stand the test of
time, their importance to Velikovsky's work cannot be overemphasized.
But even the less friendly panelists offered some supporting remarks
worth repeating here.
Mulholland agreed with Velikovsky to the extent that, "if a planet-sized
object were to pass close by the earth, then giant tides would be raised,
there would be global earthquakes, the north pole would change direction.
The day, the month, the seasons, the year would all change ... these are
unavoidable consequences of the laws of motion . . ." He also conceded that
"the dynamical aspects of Velikovsky's (work] are largely acceptable."
Sagan came to the support of Velikovsky in laying to rest--belatedly to
be sure--the objection that people would fly off the Earth if its rotation
were slowed or stopped, and that stalactites in caves would give evidence of
the fact if the Earth had stopped turning. Though these arguments were
refuted years ago, the fact that a scientist of Sagan's standing in the
establishment should finally concur is something of a milestone in the
controversy over Worlds in Collision.
A number of issues raised at the AAAS symposium remain subjects for
debate and further research.
- Is the heat of Venus a surface effect only, in the sense of
resulting from solar heating, as Sagan insists, or is it a surface
manifestation of much higher temperatures in the interior of the planet,
attesting to a recent origin?
- Are there hydrocarbons in the lower atmosphere of Venus?
- Is Venus in thermal equilibrium with its environment, or does it
indeed radiate more energy than it receives from the sun?
- Can American planetologists ever be cured of what G. J. H. McCall
has aptly termed the "Imbrium Concept?"--"the concept of ballistic
mega-cratering and mare-formation" on the moon, a concept which has an
"umbilical stranglehold . . . on the minds of American scientists" ("A
New Look at the Origin of Lunar Surface Breccias," in Astronomy &
Space, Vol. 2, Patrick Moore, ed., New York, Neal Watson Academic
Publications, 1973, p. 5).
- How valid is the current method of estimating relative ages of
planetary surfaces by counting craters? (On Mars, as just one example,
only about one-third of the planetary surface is cratered to any
remarkable density. Are we to conclude that the remainder of the surface
is millions of times more youthful?)
In spite of all Velikovsky has written and all he has said in the course
of a quarter-century to clarify his method of deriving world history from
"mythological concordances," to use a phrase repeated several times by Sagan
at the symposium, the point continues to escape most of his critics.
Velikovsky opened his talk in San Francisco with a brief review of his
method, including a statement crediting his psychoanalytical training for
his ability to recognize widely differing ancient accounts from around the
world "as so many variants of the same theme." In the following discussions
with Sagan, he again explained why he rejects the diffusion theory: "The
stories are told very differently [in different parts of the world] , but
the theme is always the same."
Yet only a little later, Sagan was amusing himself and the audience with
comments about manna falling from the sky only on six days out of seven,
according to Exodus. Velikovsky had to explain once again that the
underlying theme of the story is what he based his work on; unique local
embellishments of the main theme are not significant.
(Sagan also seemed disturbed by the fact that Velikovsky attributes some,
but not all, of the ten plagues of Egypt to fallout from Venus: ".
. . Velikovsky is now asking to have it both ways. Some of the plagues come
from space, and others do not. Now what is the decision as to which ones to
accept and which ones not to accept based upon?")
It seems plain enough that Velikovsky's historical method requires
further clarification, if only to defuse such objections.
Limited Bibliography of Symposium News Accounts
1. "Scientists in Collision," Newsweek, 25 February 1974, p. 58.
2. Melnick, N., "Brightest Stars in Science are Here," San Francisco
Examiner, 25 February 1974, p. 58.
3. Alexander, G., "Controversial Author, Scientists in Collision," Los
Angeles Times, 26 February 1974, part II, p. 6.
4. Hazelwood, J., "A Clash of Scientists," Oakland Tribune, 26
February 1974, p. 13.
5. Melnick, N., "Maverick Rips Scientists on Origins of Universe," San
Francisco Examiner, 26 February 1974.
6. Petit, C., "Scientific Collision at the St. Francis," San Francisco
Chronicle, 26 February 1974.
7. Sullivan, W., "Writer Collides with Scientists," New York Times, 26
8. Shurkin, J., "Blaze of Glory for an Old Man," Philadelphia Inquirer,
27 February 1974.
9. "Velikovsky and the AAAS: Worlds in Collision," Science News, 2
March 1974, p. 132.
10. Boffey, P., "'Worlds in Collision' Runs into Phalanx of Critics,"
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 March 1974, p. 1.
11. "Theories Disputed," Kansas City Star, 6 March 1974, p. 6c.
12. Chedd, G., "Velikovsky in Chaos," New Scientist, 7
March 1974, p. 624. Chedd's article is reprinted in full in this issue of
13. Gillette, R., "Velikovsky: AAAS Forum for a Mild Collision,"
Science, 15 March 1974, p. 1059.
14. Foley, C., "'Heretic Scientist Relies on Ancient Lore," London
Observer, 21 March 1974.
15. "Phenomena, Comment and Notes," The Smithsonian,
April, 1974, p. 6.
PENSEE Journal VII