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VELIKOVSKIAN                                                                                                        Vol. II, No.2

Interviewing Immanuel Velikvsky: An Introduction
Robert Nichol

Early in 1973, 1 was invited to participate in a film which was to be an educational program on Immanuel Velikovsky, directed by Bill Mason, a distin­guished National Film Board of Canada (NFBC) film maker. (He had won many awards including two Academy Award nominations.) Bill was receiving much internal criticism over the project and was asked for my support.  Mason had already shot Velikovsky's lecture at Harvard (1972?).  This filming had to overcome much opposition from both outside and inside the NFB to be achieved.  I garnered support within the NFB because of my solid reputation as a film maker and on the strength of a fair hearing for the man.  I got deeply involved in the Velikovsky thesis and ended up filming the A. A. A. S. conference "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science" in San Francisco in 1974, which included an interview with Carl Sagan and Ivan King-­the symposium moderator.  By now, Mason, with other projects on his plate, had dropped out and I was the sole film maker.

Returning with the material, I was confronted with a serious reconsideration by the film's producer and, when I resisted dropping the project, was fired from it.  Shortly thereafter, the Velikovsky film was canceled by the NFB.  There were individuals on staff in the institution who were able to mount a campaign against it.  To this effect, I asked Dr. Velikovsky that if I could get my hands on the NFB material and produce the film independently, would he grant me an official interview, to which he complied.  However, the NFB was unwilling to release the material or to sell it to me and I engaged in an internal battle for control of the film shot on the Harvard lecture and the A.A.A.S. hearing.  It was not until I threatened to make my case public that the NFB relented and I was then able to purchase selected excerpts.  I obtained them just three days prior to the Board's plan to destroy all available negative and original sound tapes (a policy unprecedented at the time).  Shortly thereafter, I left for Princeton with a crew and shot the interview with Dr. Velikovsky and several of his supporters.

Despite my efforts over the years, I was unable to get the film produced.  I could not get either establishment media involved in finishing the project or the broadcasters involved in offering a license.  Nor was I successful in raising private capital to fund the project on what was considered a controversial United States heretical scholar.  This is not new to me.  Over the years, I have been involved in issues and taken stands on the industry that have harmed me as a film maker and were setbacks to my career.  I have had films cut by producers who were offended or concerned over certain truths made relevant and, in some cases, films were withdrawn from circulation.  For example, to my knowledge, I was the first NFB film maker whose film, "That Gang of Hoodlums," a documentary exploring protest and social action by poverty groups, was subjected to attack from right-wing thinking in the United States.  The United States Department of Justice even forced the NFB to withdraw the documentary from circulation in America.

I have kept this project viable all these years with the intention of producing it myself, but, unfortunately, was not able to come up with the financial resources necessary.  What stands now is a powerful record of some of the events surrounding the Velikovsky controversy and a "for the record" interview.  I intend to see it finished and to make the production available to the widest public possible.

As Velikovsky has indicated, for centuries man has struggled with the truth of his existence, his traumatic past and the viability of his presence on the Earth.  It may also be without precedence that much is coming to light about mankind's tenure on this lovely planet and, as more and more is revealed, we shall come to the final realization that we are all children of God-force reality, divine extensions of creative beingness in light.  To think that we are less than this simply furthers the denial of our greater selves that has prevailed for so long.

My friend and fellow film maker, Bill Mason, has left us now, but it is in his memory that I dedicate this film.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It is hoped that the Centennial Committee will raise the funds for Mr. Robert Nichol to produce this film and have it presented at the June, 1995, Velikovsky centennial.  The following interview is an edited excerpt from the film.  It has been edited for language clarity.


ROBERT NICHOL: Perhaps we can start off with... you seem to have an innate way of saying things, you have a way with words.  Someone once called you a poet with words and I wanted to ask you what your feelings were about language.  We can start with this as a warm-up.

IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY: Well, I would suggest you read from Earth in Upheav­al a few chapters:

Pebbles and rocks and mountains and the bottom of the sea will bear witness.  Do they know of the days, recent and ancient, when the harmony of this world was interrupted by the forces of nature?  Have they entombed innumerable creatures and encased them in rock?  Have they seen the ocean moving on continents and continents sliding under water?  Was this Earth and the expanse of its seas showered with stones and covered by ashes?  Were its forests uprooted by hurricanes and set afire, covered by tides carrying sand and debris from the bottom of the oceans?

NICHOL:       Now can you talk to me a little bit about language-how you feel about the precision of words and why it is so important for you, and why you are holding back some books because of the correctness of some paragraphs and so forth?

VELIKOVSKY: Each word has its meaning and, if you use a wrong word, it's like a wrong musical note in a composition.  People are very unconcerned about this.

NICHOL:       Would you talk a little bit about your literary style?

VELIKOVSKY:        Well, when I started to write and intended to write in English, some professor, to whom I showed the manuscript said, "All right, I would advise you that you write in one of the languages that you know: Russian, Hebrew, German..." but I persisted, knowing that I would come to America and I would have to write in English, and I made some effort and was very conscious of my way of expression.  I would not like any trites [statements] or words that you have heard many times, nevertheless, the simplest words are the strongest.

NICHOL:       I wanted to ask about your capacity to relate freely--free association.  Someone said you had the rare gift of creative genius, in terms of your use of imagination.  This is coming back to interdisciplinary scholarship, the way of free association of ideas.

VELIKOVSKY:        Well, free association of ideas has nothing to do with the way of expressing myself because by free association of ideas you can easily go off the track and then you are in the dungeons, and the ideas do not follow the ideas that you started with.  Therefore, I divided my book into chapters and sections.  In each section, I have to say what is the title of the section and what will be in the section.  So, there­fore, it's easy to follow, and in the footnotes all the sources are indicated: page, year, place where it was published and so anybody can go and control me, and I insisted and actually introduced into North America that a book for general readers be pu­blished with footnotes, and footnotes not at the end of the chapter or book but on the page itself

NICHOL: Let's talk a little bit about how you arrive at your scientific hypothesis.

VELIKOVSKY: This is what everyone asks me...      maybe we can do without.

NICHOL: I remember that Plato said: "All discovery is remembering." We've already known it.  Would you like to relate to that?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, if you wish to say that by unconscious mind we knew it, then alright, I agree--because I agree with [Sigmund] Freud about the racial memory.  This is a very important point in my theory.

NICHOL: Would you talk about interdisciplinary synthesis?

VELIKOVSKY: Generally in the past, in the classical period, it was not uncommon that the philosopher would try to embrace an increased number of scientific domains.  To be, so to say, an [anthropologist? anthropogenist?].  With science developing, it became more and more difficult to know many fields of science and so science is di­vided into departments, and departments are divided into compartments, and people only know a very small part of the field in which they are members of the faculty.  One may know, in geography, this part of the world and not beyond this part, and in history one would know this century but not the next century, but I saw that some­body studying Mexican calendars comes upon very difficult problems.  He would make some general observations if he could also know that the very same problems exist in the Sumerian calendar or in the Babylonian or Egyptian calendars.  If you know it, then you are able to reach conclusions that, in separate fields, you are not able to reach.  Therefore, later you see, again and again in articles and books discussing the problems of interdisciplinary synthesis, that narrow field, and I could quote quite a few authors and philosophers on this subject,

I experienced it ... when I came into a new field for me--ancient history and cos­mology, I observed that phenomena that appeared to be local were not local, they were global.  And today it sometimes happens to me that, when I speak at some uni­versity, I find that geologists at that place would not agree with me.  They would say, "Well, it's a very local catastrophe." But if the climate changed all over the world in the same time period or if the level of the oceans dropped some 3,500 years ago, as first offered by Professor R. A. Daly of Harvard University some 50 years ago, that it dropped some 20 feet all over the globe, then you cannot insist that catastrophes that appeared to one who studies only the islands of Polynesia or Alaska or some­thing else would be local.  They were not local, they were global.

And soon you will find that global catastrophes were caused by an extrater­restrial agent.  Then you have to look, Which agent would it be?  And then you come to the conclusion that the celestial sphere is not a quiet place, not a place of harmony for billions of years before and after [the arrival of the extraterrestrial agent].

NICHOL: What about the idea of the illogical element, your intuitive beliefs leading to the quantum leaps ahead in thinking?

VELIKOVSKY: There must be some intuition, of course, because you are in some labyrinth and you have to take the proper way, but, if you follow logic, logic being the Ariadne thread for you, it is almost impossible not to come to the same conclu­sions.  When we read, say, in the Old Testament, the book of Exodus--the story of plagues, disruption of the sea and some volcanic phenomena around the desert--the normal question would be to ask when the Israelites left Egypt--the sons of Israel so to say .... If Egypt, has a record, you would ask yourself the same question because, in the Bible, it was not just once or twice mentioned, it was in the entire Bible-- in the Psalms and the books of the prophets.  Again and again the orator, the prophet, tells you of the terrific phenomena that took place about the time Israel left Egypt.

Now, when you look into Egyptian textbooks and you find nothing, yet you go into Egyptian original sources in the Koran and find that in some papyrus, which is already for over 100 years in the University Library of Leiden in Holland, there is some mention of water turning into blood.  Well, this is one of the plagues; you wish to see its translation.  Now you find that many of the plagues are reported sometimes in an identical way as in the book of Exodus or in the books of the prophets.

Now it stands that it is worthwhile to follow up even words.  Ask, When did the event happen?  Because, usually, the Egyptologist doesn't know when Israel left Egypt.  There are four or five theories that put the Exodus in different time periods in the 18th dynasty or the 19th dynasty, some even in the 20th dynasty.

The other question would be, What kind of catastrophe was it?  Was it a local catastrophe or did it occur in other places to the east or to the west?  To the west, say, it affected the American Indians or Mayans; when you go to the east, you are in India or in China and you find the very same events differently described--so it is not just the transfer of ideas by word of mouth.  It is differently described, but, actually, it is the same picture of global catastrophes: when the day is too long or the night is too long; where the sea erupts; where meteorites fall with great noise, and, in some places, where burning stuff like naphtha or bitumen is falling from the sky.  The pictures are very dramatic on your reason.  When you read, for example, the story is told by the Indians of Mesoamerica: They tried to save themselves, they tried to climb the trees but the trees were broken and people were thrown out.  They tried to go on the roofs but the roofs were falling down, they went into caves but the caves close themselves and all is burning and all is dark at the same time ... so it is only the light of the burning forests and volcanoes that makes light during the day, when it should be light.

These descriptions are manifold and Spanish savants, when they came to this country in the 16th century, were [astounded?] by what they read in the manuscripts of the Toltecs or Olmecs and so on.  So a picture comes out of a devastated world which moves several times in a period... still in human memory or in a period of re­corded history, when man could already write it down.... So it is not a picture of a peaceful world, in which nothing interrupts the daily motion of the Earth, or of the yearly motion of the Earth and of other planets, but the period of peace is only temporary--at least up to today it is so.

When I am asked whether catastrophes will happen again, I cannot answer this question.  Nothing that demonstrates the planetary orbits are all ... well, they are not really inter-chained, crossing each other, but man, himself, may cause catastrophes [not guided] by nature.  In a short time, ever since 1945, when the first bomb was thrown over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the two superpowers have had enough des­tructive material to make life on this Earth almost... to make this planet uninhabit­able ... and to turn the forms of life that we have to... well ... of course, mutations and degeneration.  And though on this topic actually I would like to say more, maybe I said enough already in my lecture at the A. A. A. S.--the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

So here I am again facing the question.  You go from one civilization to another and, to find out what is the record of man, now what is the record of nature?  You go from one latitude to another, from one longitude to another, and, lacking evidence, you just open the books from the shelves of the library.

Stones and bones may appear as a very dry subject, so I tried to present the material in the poetic language as much as I could.  When it was done, somebody came out with the idea that Velikovsky is among the poets and that there should be a book with the excerpts from this and my other volumes, for the language appears not in equal lines, but like poetry.  Here, I will read for you from Earth in Upheaval, this is what I call the companion book to Worlds in Collision:

The extermination of great numbers of animals of every species, and of many species in their entirety, was the effect of recurrent global catastrophes.  Of some species, every animal was exterminated in one part of the world, but a number of animals succeeded in surviving in another part of the world; so the horses and camels of the Americas were destroyed without a survivor, yet in Eurasia, though decimated, they were not exterminated.  But many species were completely extinguished, in the Old World as well as the New--mammoths and mastodons and others.  They expired not because of lack of food or inadequate organic evolution, inferior build or lack of adaptation.  Plentiful food and superb bodies and fine adaptation and solid procreation, but no survival of the fit.  They died as if a wind had snuffed life out of all of them, leaving their cadavers, with no sign of degeneration, in asphalt pits, in bogs, in sediment, in caverns.  Some of the decimated species probably endured for a while, possibly for several centuries, being represented by a few specimens of their kind; but in changed surroundings, amid climatic vicissitudes, with pastures withered, with plants that had served as food or animals that had served as prey gone, these few followed the rest in a losing battle for existence, surrendering at last in the struggle for survival of a species.

Burning forests, trespassing seas, erupting volcanoes, submerging lands took the major toll; impoverished fields and burned-down forests did not offer favorable conditions for frightened and solitary survivors, and claimed their own share in the work of extinction.

NICHOL: How much has Mrs. Velikovsky supported you?

VELIKOVSKY: This cannot be told in a few minutes.  We have to write a book about this.  She was most dedicated to me, I can tell you, and she, herself, is a great artist in two media: as a violinist and the favorite pupil of Adolf (Busch) and as a sculptor.  In spite of this, she dedicated most of her time and most of her feelings and thoughts to my work.

NICHOL: How did your Harvard lecture come about?

VELIKOVSKY: It took place more than 20 years after the time I came to Harlow Shapley and visited him in New York, and offered that he read some manuscript of mine, that he perform certain experiments--actually not even experiments--observations, I would say.  Well the beginning did not presage so harsh would come the after.  I went away with the feeling that I had met a good and wise man.  But, very, soon I was disappointed because he permitted himself to express very strong opinions about manuscripts that he did not read but which he had heard about from Professor Horace Kallen--only the best.  The rest is already known history.  So, after 23 years, when I was invited by the engineers and physicists of Harvard University ... I used the opportunity to give a lecture.  There was some opposition, but it died down.  There was also some opposition to filming, but this was overcome also.

I will tell you a verse which I read once while in New York.  In the subway, I looked into a book of poetry my neighbor was holding and I remember only a couple of lines.  "I am old, I am bent, I am cheated, but don't count me among the defeated.  For tomorrow I start again."

NICHOL: Would you talk about your father?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, I am 81 years old...so how many generations is it?  Three before me and three after me, altogether seven generations still going strong.

NICHOL: Do you have any philosophy of life?

VELIKOVKSY: Certainly not one that could be expressed in a single sentence, so I try to be laconic; but I find that, sometimes, it is impossible to put or wish to put anything in one sentence--like "Know Yourself," though to know yourself is very important.  Lately, I have much occasion to contemplate and find that I don't know myself enough.

NICHOL: I don't think anybody does.

VELIKOVSKY: Well, I heard from my brother, who quoted some works in psychoanalysis, that the subconscious is stronger than 100 atomic bombs.

NICHOL: Do you believe in the duality of man, of the outer personalities of the soul?

VELIKOVSKY: I would not talk about the soul....

NICHOL: A very personal question.  You do not have to answer this, but, do you feel that you have been guided, that you have been given any vision or things in dreams in your life?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, do I believe in providence you wish to say?  To some extent I do, not always; sometimes I think that omniscience is not kind, only omnimerciful.  But sometimes, judging by my own study, I would believe.  We see many people who died as martyrs, nothing left I question.  Job questioned.  Job was satisfied when his children died and then others were brought to him.  I don't think this is the complete solution.

NICHOL: Do you believe in reincarnation?

VELIKOVSKY: No, this I don't believe. if I felt a certain...say affinity, I found three heroes, my heroes of the 16th century.  One was alive in 1500 and one was dead by 1600, who solely reflected my own transformation from the first to the second to the third and I intended to write a book, but now there is no chance I will write it.  It would have been entitled, Three Fires, because all three died burned at the stake.  Galileo often pops up in unkindly reviews about me and Galileo was harshly punished.  Well, Galileo is not my hero for a number of reasons, but Giordano Bruno is, in his way of thinking.  The one in the middle is Michael Severetus.  He died in 1553, 1 believe, and the first, who died in 1530, him you don't know.  But I told you about my preferred heroes.  Everyone died a similar death, but from different authorities.  All were burned, but Bruno was burned during the Inquisition and Severetus was burned by Calvinists and (Diogo Peres?) was burned by Charles V.  All were heretics.

NICHOL: We were talking about the biggest skeleton ever to be let out of the closet: the idea about the catastrophe and how it has affected man, the psychoanalytic point of view.

VELIKOVSKY: Not a very happy subject.  You see, regarding the behavior of the scientific community, how undesirable it is for them to admit that catastrophes took place--specially in times historical in the memory of humankind.  Therefore, no scientific theory, no construction of historical events, caused so much disagreement; so much accusation--so many false accusations; and such a display of temper, for what is now a quarter of a century.

But, calming down, a second generation of these scientists, in high school today, are already professors and they cannot take it.  It is not only the question of their vested interest, this also takes part, but, specially, science is but today with two purposes: to know and not to know!  They just build all kinds of opposition to discoveries or to an interpretation of the facts that could lead to understanding that mankind is a descendant of victims of traumatic experience and that they, themselves, were also victims and descendants of victims of traumatic experience.  So the human race actually evolved in traumatic experiences and, therefore, the strangeness of so many things that are happening now on the political scene, (1976-1977) specially in the international scene, need to be understood from this point of view.

Man is unconsciously looking for one of two escapes Sigmund Freud showed, either to forget or to recreate by means of repetition.  And now, with atomic weapons in the hands of the human race, so many nations will have them and it is quite possible that, before this century is over, there will be a holocaust in which any holocaust created by epidemics or wars will be counted as nothing.

NICHOL: Is it not possible to prevent this?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, the science of mass psychoanalysis is entirely new.  To disclose it before humanity, I had no way of orthodox access, I could not lead mankind little by little to understand itself because it [the inborn catastrophic psyche] is common behavior but there are no common dreams, no common memories, and to tell it straight is a great trauma by itself.  This will be refuted and people will become mentally sick, and only a small number of people, comparatively, will be able to take it without damage to themselves.

NICHOL: Is this why you haven't released some information or some of your books?

VELIKOVSKY: Actually, in my experience I was not in haste to produce my other books.  I thought that first the dust should settle itself after Ages in Chaos, settle itself in the minds of a generation of time.... As much as I can wait, now I've come out with a final volume of the series where volumes in between are still to go.

NICHOL: Okay, Dr. Velikovsky, we are talking about the effect on man's racial psyche by catastrophes, how he can deal with this.  How is he going to deal with this?

VELIKOVSKY: First, you establish that traumatic experience, whether of a physical or of a psychological kind, very often leads to amnesia and that the task of the analysis is to bring the trauma back into the conscious mind.  Later in his life, Freud came to the next step in this thought, namely, that a man is only repeating what humankind [already lived]... repetition in one life of the history of the human race and its experience of the past, acknowledging that the human race suffered ....

(Introduces company) Professor Lynn Rose, philosopher at the [State Univer­sity of New York] at Buffalo, lectures on my work and he is dedicating himself to [an exploration] of the consequences of my work, and I trust him... in every respect.  Here's a new arrival from Canada who has already decided to go in the steps of Pro­fessor Rose.  His name is Jan Summer.  He has a BA [Bachelor of Arts] in one field where his heart is not and he wishes to enter a different field here in this place of heretics.  And to my left is my granddaughter, Naomi Sharon.... So you see, here are people 80 and 40 and 20 years of age and we are all bound together by the same ideas, and this is how it will go.

It will take some time, but, under favorable conditions, the opposition which started lately to mobilize all its forces, the opposition will be met.  So it is not true to say that truth is always the victor and it is also to say that the victim is not always true, but I hope that, with the new generations, more and more, the young, the bold who do research and do not rely on old textbooks ... will find the answers in the fields they have selected for themselves.  And so my hope is on the next generation if I will see the complete victory and not just a few scores of universities have courses on my work.  But this is the start already in the public schools: what happened to humanity and the entire animal world together, 27 and 34 centuries ago, as described in Worlds in Collision on the basis of human memory and what is left from human civilizations around the world.  And, in Earth and Upheaval, what is left, on the basis of stones and bones, of this testimony of paleontology and archeology and geology.  If I will not live to see that it triumphs, I can see that already the seeds of germination and the sprout come out.

NICHOL: What was the A. A. A. S. experience like?

VELIKOVSKY: From 1974 to 1975, there were five large symposiums organized and initiated by five different organizations.  One organization was the A. A. A. S. in San Francisco and it boasted a whole 6,500 people; it was packed.  For seven hours we debated, between me [on one end] and several opponents, astronomers and Babylonian scholars on the other end.  And then there were four more symposiums that same year. [No symposium] was organized by [me], each was organized by a different scientific organization.

NICHOL: So a great deal of support is beginning to come in your direction?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, I would say the support that went from the old school of astronomers [came to me], so they could not be amiss of the fact that they discovered... my views.  They nevertheless became more hostile, because they were hostile when my book appeared; but when I was proven right, the hostility reached the maximum point.

NICHOL: What is your opinion about this, Dr. Rose?

ROSE: Well, I think it's quite right that there is an enormous momentum carrying Dr. Velikovsky's theories forward.  It seems to me that every month or every week even, I hear of one of the specialists in one of the fields related to his work who has come to my attention for the first time and who is now devoting a great deal of attention to working on a certain aspect of [Velikovsky's] radical theory.  And I think that despite this great amount of work that is going on and also with the discoveries, many are still... unappreciative of the significance of what they're doing.  The momentum is, I hope unstoppable.

NICHOL: What do you think about all of this, Mr. Summer?

SUMMER: Well, actually I came to learn more than anything and to help prepare with the work.

VELIKOVSKY: And he is helping very beautifully.  I mean, one week already and I cannot even recognize my own rooms.

NICHOL: Naomi, a comment about your grandfather?

NAOMI: Well, I basically feel very pleased whenever there is a lot of recognition for him and find that more and more young people are more willing to accept his theories than anybody has been before, and find that I can share a lot more theories with people my age than I can with my teachers or people of that age--they have a lot more resistance to his theories--so that I find comforting.

NICHOL: Any final statement before we go inside?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, in this house are three rooms of archives, plenty of material, and Jan is bringing this into order and Lynn will take charge of it when I am no longer here.

NICHOL: If he lives that long. (Laughter)

VELIKOVSKY: Well, he is half my age.

ROSE: But I also have half your energy.

                                                                      PART 11

NICHOL: What was the reason for your rejection by scientists?

VELIKOVSKY: The rejection by scientists, specially by astronomers, could be expected, but you also have to understand that there had been heresies in the past.  No heresy in science ... took the form of practically overswaying so many dogmas and so many sciences.  Practically any branch of science--whether it is geology, paleontology, astronomy, cosmology, celestial mechanics and natural sciences, the theory of evolution and the other sciences like ancient history, archeology--came into the same whirlpool and had to be rebuked from the beginning.  Well, this was too much.  After my first book and after my second book, archeology, ancient history and cosmology needed to be reshaped.  So much was never offered at once; and cardinal changes and mental changes were also never demanded; so no wonder that their position took such a violent form ... actually not one form but very many forms.

Today I could have written a book on the arsenal of suppression or, I would say, ways or techniques of suppression, because this was not just to stop or demand that the publisher not publish the book.  It was much more, it was demanded that the editor who brought them bestseller number one should be sworn out of his job; that the firm should come to scientific meetings and publicly recant.  But, many more things happened, as I say in this essay, "Velikovsky and the Politics of Science," which I mentioned also at the symposium that was convened at Notre Dame at its biannual meeting of the kinds of sociological (assays?) accessible.  And the title could be also "70 Ways of Suppression" because the scientific community or establishment reacted with at least 70 forms of suppression ... and not only reacted but reacts, because, at this time, the proceedings of the symposium on Velikovsky's challenge to Science took place in 1974 on February 25th.  During two meetings, morning and evening, for seven hours together, I read about my challenge to conventional views in science and several scientists, astronomers in planetary science, an astronomer in celestial motion, a Babylonian astronomer, and so on, were my opponents.  I answered the questions and the 1,500 people of the members of the American Association for the Advance­ment of Science responded with a standing ovation; but as soon as their meeting was over and my opponents were clearly in retreat, there was a performance that didn't surprise me but which was very characteristic of their opposition....

NICHOL: Do you think that the A. A. A. S. caucus was a set-up to try to demolish you and your ideas?

VELIKOVSKY: When I was invited in the summer by Professor Ivan King, who came to see me, he was a professor of astronomy at Berkeley (University of California).  To participate in this conference symposium, I was promised that there would be an equal number of those who oppose and those who would defend my views.  And then there were only opponents with Professor Michaelson, who, at the beginning, kept more or less to me but seems he later regretted it ... but now this Ivan King promised that there would be a very fair consideration ... fair attitude, because at the beginning of the symposium he wished to publish a statement that there was no scientific problem involved. [Opposition does not stop] the movement on the campus, because the students on the campus almost as one follow Velikovsky.  And he did succeed in publishing it.  He opened the symposium that way.  At the symposium, I was against an astronomer and planetary scientist, Dr. [Carl] Sagan, against Professor [Peter] Mulholland a scientist of celestial motions, and against a scholar in the field of Babylonian astronomy from Zurich and more.  I answered on the spot because I did not receive those papers in advance.

NICHOL: You didn't receive the papers in advance?

VELIKOVSKY: I hadn't seen the papers in advance and so I answered on the spot.  Seven hours  continued the conference; 1,500 people were present.  They stood up as one to give me a standing ovation when I finished.

NICHOL: Continue where you left off about the number of delegates and what happened.

VELIKOVSKY: The mass audience stood up and gave me a standing ovation.  My opponents--some of them--joined in the ovation and some of them sat with heads down, twitching, not happy.  But, as soon as this symposium was over, the following tactic was pursued: The press was orchestrated and the same mistakes about the number of attendants, the hours of conference and other things were repeated in various magazines and newspapers.  So all of them got the same well (distortions?)  And the organizer of the symposium wished also to publish a volume.  He asked me to participate.  I agreed, but I suggested that, in order for the symposium to be truly and historically represented... no editorial changes should be undertaken but for a scientific purpose, [and that he] should be permitted to add a few pages if he had to change his opinion or add something more heard during the symposium.

Then the story was told that I had not participated.  The volume was prepared for print without me because I could not put my answer to Sagan and others on 20 typewritten pages, all the space that was given to me.  He had two additional years to put his paper together, so that, in 1976, he presented the paper that he was supposed to have given in 1974. 1 was given a short time to answer, then practically no room to answer at all.

There will be an answer on my part, either by myself or by my colleagues.  At first I read that Velikovsky's theory was completely destroyed in 57 pages by Sagan.  Today it's 87 pages, but there is no word that I could not answer.  Some of his statements would not prove that his was the difference between truth and untruth.  In some of his arguments, he ... attacks my integrity.  He has better relationships with the media and a new magazine is being prepared whose obvious purpose would be to attack me, putting me together with various suspicious characters.  This is one of the forms of suppression that I have known from the past: guilt by association.  This I will overcome.  At this moment, I haven't seen yet the volume with my work missing--without my answer, without my original paper--which was excluded for no reason.  This paper of mine reads 20 pages and I am very proud of this paper.

NICHOL: You submitted this paper, but they did not publish it?

VELIKOVSKY:        I read it there but they would not publish it in that volume that they prepared to print.  So I do not know what will be in the volume.  By the time you have your film made, it will already be in circulation so I cannot answer what I have not seen, but from what I read in Sagan's paper--which became 87 pages out of 57 pages--there is not one word there that I could not answer.  I can show him unreliable, even in his own field.  His figures are wrong, his statements of fact are wrong and, as soon as my arguments appear in print, there will be no question about it.

The younger generation, anyway, will realize where is the truth and where it is not.  But interesting, also, is their approach, where Velikovsky [is portrayed as having] brought together a very impressive literature of folklore and ancient mythology, ancient legend, and then goes on to destroy [established science].  And with very insufficient means.  He even ignored my book, Earth in Upheaval, as if he doesn't know of its existence.  Sagan is not familiar with the field of paleomagnetism or with meteorology.  And he makes such foolish accusations: that Velikovsky doesn't know the difference between hydrocarbons and carbohydrates.  There is not one time in my book that carbohydrates are mentioned, and, if he will study a little more, he will find that I was the first to present the idea about the mixtures of methane and ammonia which are on Jupiter.  By electrical discharges, hydrocarbons of heavy molecular weight can be created.

NICHOL: Why such an emotional reaction?  What do you think is the psychology behind the reaction, basically?

VELIKOVSKY: There are a few things.  One psychology behind this reaction: In the first place, you have to realize that a theory of this scope was never offered before, affecting almost every field of human knowledge and questioning the fundamentals.  Questioning not on shaky grounds, but on very stable grounds.  If Worlds in Collision presented the memory of the human race, written or oral memory, then Earth in Upheaval presented the evidence from stones and bones with conclusions dealing with the theory of evolution and the Darwinian theory, which comes under strong attack because--to me--it is inconceivable that from the very same form of life, unicellular life, such strangely different organisms could have developed by means of only a struggle for life or a struggle for a means of existence ... like man and the bird.

Now to science: The very fact of my strong questioning of fundamentals [caused a sense of panic at the thought of a] concurrent attack or [at the thought of] some danger to which their vested interest was exposed.  There must have also have been some stronger psychological reason for that.  Vested interest, of course, means much--the years a man learned, studied, wrote, taught and thought--and now one has to change everything after many years.

VELIKOVSKY: The deeper psychological reasons are very important and very simple:     If you think about the revolution of science in the past, you will recognize that no opposition was equal to the opposition that met Copernican theory when it was presented by Galileo, 100 years after Copernicus.  And why?  Because man prefers to believe that he is in the center of the universe, that the rock under his feet does not move and that he is secure.  This is actually a reaction that belongs to the theme of collective amnesia or, as I say today, "Mankind in Amnesia"--the title of my future book.

VELIKOVSKY: Man does not wish to know that he is traveling on a planet which is accident prone, that the orbit on which we travel is not the principal orbit from the beginning, 6 billion years ago.  So it's not six days of creation, not 6,000 years of history, but 6 billion years.  During these 6 billion years, the forms of life and everything else, the position of the planets, the number of the planets, recognize this freely; which means that, to look into the face of the Gorgon or of the Medusa is terrible for the human race.  Therefore, besides their clear vested interest, specially when the opposition comes or the demand for evolution in science comes from an outsider...the psychological motif is very strong.  If not for this psychological motive, I would have needed to call my opponents dishonest.

I pardon them as a psychoanalyst their wretched acts only because I understand their psychological undercurrent, which is not obvious to them.  So in their thought about themselves, they must believe that they are wrong.  They know that they are wrong ... and they must think that they are wrong, though they would not admit it, because they know that the textbooks of today are not the textbooks of 1950 and my work, my book of 1950, does not need any statement revoked.  It had many additions and not a single statement was changed, not a single phrase was erased.  And their textbooks during this period of time are unrecognizable, but were printed in 1950.  They look like they were printed 300 years ago.  Actually, one astronomer and I used this information as a motto to my lecture at the A. A. A. S. and at that symposium about my work.  I use from him a sentence (Zdenek Kopal?) that the textbooks of 20 years ago could be written in Greek as well as in Latin.

NICHOL: What if there was a positive reaction, what if man accepted the catastrophes of the past, how would that help us, how would that be if we could grasp the truth?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, in every case it may be different, without enough experience I could not know.  I know that there were people who read the books and became mentally disturbed.  And I know that so many people found the answers to questions that plagued them all their lives.  I have, now, no one answer to this question.  I observe them [the possible answers].  I observe, also, influence on myself.  This looking into this phase of the past, a terrible past, you will have to imagine it--imagine if it comes today and if the Atlantic Ocean arises in a three-mile-high wall and falls on New York and carries all New York away and the ground shakes and drops under the sea, then islands come out and all is dark, and a terrible noise begins as meteorites are falling and volcanoes are arriving where they were not ... mountains moving around and volcanic stones falling on peoples heads, melting ground, naphtha failing from the sky and burning, terrible tornadoes, hurricanes--you can imagine the scene.  How a mother would look for her children, how a man would look for his wife under these circumstances; or would he think only about himself?

The human race repeats and repeats and repeats these wars that we see as if they are an absolutely necessary phenomenon.  We are living on the only planet that has life on it, intelligent life, the only planet of our solar system.  What is beyond, we cannot know, and it would not help us much to know, because means of communica­tion would be very meager.  The closest star is over 3 almost 4 light years away

NICHOL: You have been a warrior all your life, you have fought many battles so you must have had tremendous strength of will.  What kept you going?

VELIKOVSKY: Maybe the obduracy of my race.  As a Jew of the same race that produced [Karl] Marx and [Sigmund] Freud and [Albert] Einstein, those people who, more than anybody else (maybe [Charles] Darwin excluded), influenced this century-­maybe this.  And maybe the conviction that I am right, maybe the psychoanalytical experience expecting violent reaction.  However, I have not expected a reaction so violent as what came through.  Now [establishment science] prepares magazines specially against me.  It is called the fight against "pseudoscience."

But where is pseudoscience?  Is pseudoscience with me, where every sentence is supplied with a footnote with the source from where you can check on it?  Or is it with those who, without reading my books, express themselves?  But they say that they are the scientific community.  Today we change places.  Science is with me and my followers.  Those whom you call "the scientific establishment" are complete pseudoscience.

Yes and not only can every source be checked, but, from the reading of the book, the logic of it comes through and those who are with no preconceived ideas coming to read it must be and are convinced by its logic.  There is no unusual terminology, there are no terms invented by me as is usual with people of a special breed--of men who have new ideas and write them in big letters and supply them with many exclamation signs and so on.

But who wants to read the footnote?  They have not read the text.  The text they don't read, and so they claim that they have not read and will not read it, and that the book is lies... all lies.  This I quote you from my letter by one astronomer to MacMillan, already a 26-year-old letter.

But there is no change, only more massive attacks are being prepared.  And in combat, when we stood one against the other, me with Sagan, he was the loser and this was recognized both by him and by the audience.  And the press was orchestrated.  Then you read that Velikovsky's theory was completely demolished in a 57-page manuscript Sagan read at the A. A. A. S.   IT WAS NOT.  It will be printed, and again we read the same sentence: it was not.

This time, the evidence is so much on my side that I can be alone--and pioneers are alone.  But I have a great following, and, to stop this movement, that symposium was invented.  Now, what the scientific community permits to itself is certainly nothing to be proud about.  I was put together with personalities of questionable achievement and it was called [marching?] against pseudoscience.  So, on which side is pseudoscience?  Where is science and where is pseudoscience?  My ideas were all taken over by the same people who attacked me then and continue attacking me now.  Actually, with all their fortification, I should have surrendered to the scientific community.  So they make makeshift defenses.

Establishment scientists no longer say that if the Earth would stop rotating, people would fly away at 1,000 miles an hour.  Now Sagan says that they would stay on the Earth and would not even notice it if this happened in a matter of one single hour.  It will be noticed.  He goes already too far, he (predicts wrongly?) what will be. {Winds and currents will be affected.}  Oceans will go out of their borders.  This is what happened in the past and for this we have evidence, a thousandfold--in annals of ancient civilizations from east and from west, and in records of geology and maritime sciences from each ocean--from every ocean.  And so evidence comes from every longitude, from every latitude, from every civilization and you cannot deny it.  You can deny it only to those who have not read my books!  To those who have read my books this denial appears so phony that, obviously, "the scientists in the near future will change places.  Those who were called pseudoscientists will appear as the true scientists; those who have claimed to themselves the so-called scientific halo will be proven to be phony.

NICHOL: Max Planck said that discovering physical proof is an act of love.  The idea in science of lack of love, of having no heart in it, that science seems to develop a virus to destroy humanity.... What has happened to science?  Why is it so cold-hearted?  Why are the humanities not connected to science?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, I give you another sentence of Max Planck, he said this: "The new theory gains ground and is accepted when it's opposition dies out."  I wondered, because, in 1500, when Max Planck offered his quantum theory, the others soon accepted it.  So who were his opponents?  Later, I found out who his opponents were.  They were people famous within his lifetime: one was [Hemholtz?], a great physicist of his time ....

So it was a pleasure and this is how I finished, also, my lecture printed at the end of Earth in Upheaval--my forum lecture I call it.  It was spoken before the forum of graduate students of Princeton University in October, 1953.  Three-and-a-half years had passed since the publication of Worlds in Collision and I finished this by telling the younger generation to be bold to cross the barriers but also to expect that no remuneration would come in their lifetimes.  The discovery itself would be the prize--the pleasure--and this should be enough.

NICHOL: The act of service, okay.  Do you want to talk a little bit about your father now?

VELIKOVSKY: You wish to hear something about my father when you ask me about the obstinacy to which I kept to my views, which I considered correct.  I hadn't had quick material success.  For ten years, I lived in New York actually like a student, as were all four of us--myself, my wife studying sculpture, and our children going to high school.

NICHOL: You once told me that you could have made more money as a psychoanalyst.

VELIKOVSKY: No question, I didn't make any money for ten years, and as a psychoanalyst I would have done much better even in the time when my book was a best seller, because, if the figures were made known, people would wonder even then, How is it that with the books that went through scores of editions... I was... well... I saw so little material benefit?  No question, I could have made a much better living as a psychoanalyst.

NICHOL: Are innovative thinkers in the past history of man...  are they always treated the same?

VELIKOVSKY: Not always treated the same, but, mostly they had difficulty.  Actually, I had collected quite a bit of material here about the difficulty of a great mind to come through, about innovators.... [Guiseppe] Verdi was not accepted in the conservatory of Milan for lack of talent.  I could give you 100 examples.

You wish to know something about my parents.  My father was a Zionist before the word "Zionist" was coined.  Of many of his achievements I will show you one only, this (Scripta Universitatus?) is a publication of the Hebrew University.  The University was not yet there.  It was the preparation for university.  Out of these scholars who edited and published this book, a university was formed.  So you see, for the first time, there is a volume (?) in both languages of all Jewish authors who wrote their contributions and this (?) is translated into Hebrew.

(Not included here is a general discussion showing principal documents for the formation of the Hebrew university in Israel talking about contributors, including Einstein.)

Now we see that the science of mathematics and physics is very strongly represented in the Jewish race, and, who knows, one day we will need to learn the Hebrew language. (Talking about father) And he was the first to redeem ground in the Negev.  Not that he came there to work himself, but he organized it.  At that time, it was the way to prevent all the difficulties of the future but, to great regret, this world was not ready for it.  He was followed by others, but he was the initiator of two spots in Israel which, for 30 years, were the only Jewish spots in the Negev.

VELIKOVSKY: My father made me very proud of my Jewish descent.  And so the difficulty for Jews in Russia were not felt by me as humiliation.  I thought of myself as being a Jew, as having a mark of distinction.  My mother, to her I owe the good education that I received.  Her purpose was to give to her three sons the best education possible and so she was behind the move to Moscow in order to place me and my other two brothers in the best schools.  My older brother went into the (?) gymnasium, which was the best gymnasium in Russia, and my mother's wish was to put me there too, but for four years I could not enter because of numerous clauses.  They would not accept Jews against one in 33 non-Jews.  Only once she told me how she went to the director of the gymnasium, to ask him why, after two or three years of passing the examination, still they would not accept me, and a tear appeared in her eyes.  She was a very proud woman and she was very ashamed of this tear, but I am very proud of it.

NICHOL: Anything else you wish to say before we wrap everything up?

VELIKOVSKY: Well, I owe my wife very much.  This is her sculpture.  It was shown at the Metropolitan Museum.  This Museum at one time, in 1951 or 1952, made an all-nation exhibition contest in sculpture.  Some 5,000 pieces were presented and only 100 were selected, and this was put in first place.

(Irving Wolfe and Lewis Greenberg are introduced.)

NICHOL: We are talking about why the current defensiveness of science exists towards innovative thinkers such as Dr. Velikovsky.

IRVING WOLFE: Do you mean right now? (Yes.) It is because more and more people are coming to his support, and these are people who are qualified in their own disciplines who are bringing support from their disciplines to his ideas and this is making a lot of people in the mainstream very nervous.

NICHOL: Why are they so conservative, anyway, generally speaking?

WOLFE: I think it is in the nature of the average scientist to be conservative. in other words, you never would have become a scientist if you were not conservative to begin with.  Therefore, the scientist cannot accommodate thinking that arrives from different channels other than the ones he is able to live with.

ROSE: Another factor could be the complexity of present-day science, the dependency upon it of enormous amounts of equipment and funding.  This, in itself, creates a situation where one must be a team player.  One must have access to the giant telescope or to the cyclotron, whatever it is, and this requires a unanimity of opinion among the scientists, and, also, it is to the advantage of establishment science that the public view just the establishment as representing the truth and not devote any undo attention to what might be considered peripheral movements.

LEWIS GREENBERG: Science demands a person to be quantitative in order to be right; at the same time, scientists are afraid that they would be absolutely wrong just as they demand that a person be absolutely right.  There is no middle ground.  In a sense, they run the risk of losing all; it's more of a pride.

GREENBERG: I think that science is so quantitative that it demands a "yes" and is afraid of a "no," which, in one case, would be interpreted as a demand.  Success is afraid of failure and, to be specific, in Sagan's case, he takes an attitude in which his entire career would be jeopardized by Velikovsky being correct.  In a certain respect, what he claims about Venus and Mars might throw some reflection on previous scientific statements that he made, but he almost acts as though he would not be considered as a serious scientist if the theories upon which he stood were turned down.

NICHOL: Scientists are as human as anybody else.

GREENBERG: Yes, but more so in one respect, more concerned... they seem to feel that they stand at the top of the ladder, at least from an academic standpoint.  So, from the same standpoint, they have the longest to fall.

WOLFE: I think it's more than that.  Science is a search for certainty.  Now, the way scientists try to achieve certainty is by setting up self-limiting goals and it's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.  They deal only with that which can be quantifiably expressed.  Not only that; they go ahead and say that everything that cannot be quantifiably expressed is not worth talking about.  Now, when a man like Velikovsky comes along and says look, there are all sorts of dark corners of the world which are important and which are true but which cannot be expressed in terms of numbers, this destroys science's desire to keep everything within the limits of numbers, and that's why [establishment scientists] are hostile and they attack him.  Because, if he is right, then the limits which science imposes on what is true and what is not, and on what is important and what is not, will be broken.

ROSE: There would be an enormous reduction in our general knowledge or the scope of our general knowledge about the world, and about our history, if Velikovsky is right.  People have grown accustomed to talking about millions and billions of years and, if Velikovsky's theory is right, then that means that we know very little about the makeup of the solar system millions or billions of years ago.  We can go back only a few thousand and the quantitative element is greatly reduced.  We don't have the possibility of calculating orbits backwards by computer because we don't know all of the factors that would be involved and this means that we just don't know many things about the past beyond 5,000 years ago--and this means that the areas that scientists have claimed to know well, we know very little about, and this reduces their area of knowledge and their status, correspondingly.

NICHOL: Going back to Dr. Velikovsky's method of interdisciplinary synthesis....

ROSE: I think that that, again, is related to the technological increases within the last few centuries, especially the information explosion.  There is so much information now that it becomes impossible for an ordinary person to become well-informed about very much.  So it is inevitable, perhaps, that people have specialized; they want to know more than anyone else about that given specialty.  And the result is that they don't know very much about other areas that may have a bearing on their specialty.  And all of these people go their separate ways, accepting without question the overall framework that blankets them all, and that overall framework is uniformitarianism.  It takes someone of tremendous scope, such as Velikovsky, to even question that which he has done.

GREENBERG: To reinforce this, I would like to say that, if Velikovsky is right, then his theories are not only recognized as being right but he is recognized as an extraordinary man.  So there are two things, then, that they are reluctant about: to recognize the theory and to recognize the stature of the man.  And, in a certain respect, this was tipped off by what Ivan King had to say concerning the fact that Velikovsky, in his estimation, was a brilliant man; but he immediately had to qualify it by saying, "I do not necessarily think he is as brilliant as his followers think he is." And, again, it comes back to a common denominator of psychological reactions, psychological approach.  This interdisciplinary, overall view is something that someone like Sagan certainly cannot accept because he feels he's got a lock and key right on Venus with its atmosphere or on Mars with its life--and someone else could come along and not only possibly be right on both those counts, but have additional theories about the Moon, about Saturn, Jupiter, ancient history, psychology or religion.  He's overwhelmed by this psychologically.

ROSE: Perhaps the first person to put his finger on this was Harlow Shapley when he said "that if Velikovsky is right the rest of us are crazy." He might also have said that, if Velikovsky is right, the rest of us are mediocre.  I think that that is exactly what is going to happen, that coming generations are going to look at the mid-20th century, the second half of the 20th century, and see Velikovsky.  The people who are no longer the establishment in science and in history are going to be overlooked.  This is especially dramatic in history.  I think Velikovsky is the only living historian, in a sense; all the rest are either following in his footsteps--as more and more are doing-­or they have completely missed the boat.  And that's also true of the scientists.  Of course, important people like Sagan, if they are remembered at all, are going to be remembered as having missed the boat completely and this, I think, confirms one's view of matters where I agree with Harlow Shapley.  They are all going to look ... not necessarily crazy ... Velikovsky would say that they would look like victims of amnesia.  But they would also look as rather mediocre investigators.

NICHOL: I now want to ask about Velikovsky's role in science.

WOLFE: If you are looking at Velikovsky, now you are looking at certain opponents and [at how he is] supported by certain people who agree with him, and you focus in on what's been happening in the last five or six years, and I think, as Lynn just said, if you try to predict how this will fit into the picture of what's happening in the long run, we are obviously in a huge period of transition right now.  What will emerge in the 21st century will be nothing like what exists in the 19th.

A thousand years from now, people will look back upon this time and say that the 20th century was a pivotal moment in human history.  And Velikovsky will be one of the major figures in this transition, because every facet of life will have different values about it--will have different standards.  People will look at things differently.  When we come out of this period of transition ... and we arc now in something very big and Velikovsky is a phenomenon and he is part of that transition.  He is one of the major impetus forces in that transition, but the transition is very long.  It will take quite a while to work itself out and, when it does work itself out, a great number of things will have changed and those people who oppose him now will just be forgotten and swept aside like dust.

GREENBERG: Just to carry what Lynn said one step further, to paraphrase Harlow Shapley, if Velikovsky is right the rest of us are irrational.

WOLFE: Cultural amnesia, like Velikovsky is saying, is that we are all suffering from the collective subconscious memories, from catastrophes that occurred to us as part of mankind in our racial past and, to that extent, we are irrational.  Now Velikovsky says--and a number of us support him on this--that most of the human institutions, our laws, our governments and the things we do, our sports and so, are really born out of our unconscious reaction to this collective memory which we have within us.  And if he is correct, it means that his theories will open up new approaches to our understanding of who we are and what we are and why we do the things we do.  Therefore, it is true that, if Velikovsky is correct, the majority of mankind, without knowing it, is really victimized by things that have happened in the past; then we are-­in fact--irrational.  If you look at what happened in the 20th century, we seem to have progressed so far and yet we have 500,000 people dying in a day in the First World War.  We have the slaughters of the concentration camps.  These are irrational acts and the 20th century--in a time when we seem to have progressed so far, when we can land people on the moon--is the same time when the most barbaric, irrational acts in the history of mankind are being performed.

ROSE: The entire behavior of the scientific community is irrational.  To carry the point one step further, in a sense, Harlow Shapley and company, and the fathers and the sons, did in fact act exactly the way they are projected as acting or are revealed to be acting--irrational; and what is ironic is that I think they not only act in an irrational way, but this is what they project on Velikovsky by the use of such terms as "crackpot" or "crank" and on his followers in the sense that we are following blindly, which may be a form of irrationality.  This is a favorite device of assault and yet they are never specific, they are always vague.

NICHOL: So we know the problems with the profession.  Anybody want to start?

WOLFE: Velikovsky is not the first or the last to come along and challenge accepted conventional belief.  This will always happen, as long as man continues to think, and it appears as if the reactions that he got will continue to occur unless we can develop new ways of accommodating ourselves to new ideas.  Now, what has happened in his case has happened to other seminal figures in the past and it develops from what science is and what scientists are.  In order to make a change when you are dealing with a monolithic structure which has appropriated all truth onto itself, the only way you are going to get that structure to move is by some earth-shaking, revolutionary attack upon it and it is going to resist you as hard as it can.  Science is not set up to accommodate new ideas easily, it never has been and, maybe, it will in the future, but it never has been up to now and that is the source of the friction between man and conventional science.  It seems to be inherent in the nature of the beast that we are dealing with.

ROSE: It is very difficult to try to guess or anticipate how future generations are going to look back at this time, but I would like to try.  It seems to me that we are entering what I would anticipate--an age of Velikovsky.  I think that it is the beginning of a new age and I also think that it is without precedent.  I don't think that there has ever been anyone on this planet who has done anything comparable to what Velikovsky has already accomplished.  He has not only investigated a great many fields at a time of technological advancement and information explosion (it makes it extremely difficult to master even one) but also the very nature of his theory involves him in the very status of the human race.  He is dealing with our history and with our present condition.  He is psychoanalyzing the whole human race, even though he cannot put [people] on a couch and follow the traditional psychoanalytical techniques he would like to use, such as relying on dreams and associations, which vary from individual to individual.  That's why psychoanalysis must be an individual mode of treatment, and he is trying to deal with the whole human race.  But the problem of the human race is this amnesia we have been in ever since these catastrophes or shortly thereafter.

No one has penetrated that fog of amnesia until Velikovsky.  This makes him unique in the history of our species and I think that, in the future, that will be recognized, and that he is not just an innovator [but also] a healer.  He sees himself in this way.  I think people tend to forget that he is both a physician and a psychoanalyst, and that he approaches many problems as a healer and as an analyst.  And that is his goal: to try to save the species from itself He is very concerned about irrational behavior in an age when we have the capacity to wipe out life on the whole planet.  As a healer, he is desperately concerned with trying to prevent that by waking us up to what happened in the past and getting us to see that what happened is the source of nearly everything that we have been doing for the last two-and- one-half millennia.

GREENBERG: I would say that Velikovsky is an active pacifist.  In one of his speeches, he said that being a pacifist did not necessarily work because it is an analytical situation and, right now, to carry what Lynn just said one step further, I think the thing that bothers Velikovsky the most is that he realized that mankind has finally achieved that level where it can be.... a spurious God and repeat the [theocracy?] on the same scale with the use of thermonuclear weapons that [are always referred to] in mythology--the battle of the gods that took place as a result of planetary interaction.

This is, in a sense, as one individual has put it, the message of Velikovsky--so that the fallout of his ideas ultimately points to some sort of self-help, self evaluation.  And again, he says quite frequently, "Know thyself," which, again, points to this very rational approach to things, as opposed to the attitude of those who oppose him.

I would like to add one thing that I thought of from before and this goes back to the A. A. A. S., and that is that the term "discredit" was used--that is, Velikovsky set out to discredit.  He did not set out to discredit.  He put forward a reconstruction, that is to say he did not even put forward a theory, he put forward a reconstruction, he was not discrediting anyone.  He has not taken any personal swipes at anyone.  He has not reduced himself to a personal low level.  He has had a very high level of activity and response and integrity in this regard, but I am afraid that his opposition has not taken the same attitude.  Another thing is that Velikovsky is so extremely specific that I don't think his opposition knows how to deal with this.  His command of the specificity of dates, who published what, he knows the work of his opposition better than they know it themselves and it's devastating to have your own words quoted back at you as a retort and not be certain that you said it.

WOLFE: Any time a scientist brings forth a new idea, he automatically discredits everyone who came before him, if you want to apply that rather foolish interpretation of the meaning of the word "discredit." I think what Velikovsky did was, he didn't set up to say "I'm going to challenge science" or "I'm going to knock down Newton" or "I'm going to destroy uniformitarian belief." What he did was he said, "This is the truth about ourselves, this is the truth about our past, this is what really happened to us and if we can understand, we can learn to understand why we do the things we do." Now, if that involves discrediting any scientific belief, that's part of the process and he didn't set out to destroy.  He is setting out to save us and, in order to save us, he has got to teach us that some of the things we think about ourselves are not true and we've got to accept, however difficult it is, what is really true about our past and, when we understand what is true, we will be in a stronger position to save ourselves from destroying ourselves.  I think the concept of attack or the concept of discrediting simply does not enter into it at all.

GREENBERG: I would just like to say that, concerning the word "save," Velikovsky does not take a Messianic approach and he is not a doomsday predictor.  In fact, he deliberately avoids this kind of commentary, but the word "save" is used in the analytical sense as opposed to the theological sense.  I just want to state that as firmly as possible so that no one not familiar with the situation would not interpret otherwise.

I think that this is a pivotal year or pivotal time for Dr. Velikovsky because an entire generation has gone by, which means that, in effect, the old school, while it continues on with its present day successors, is basically gone.  You have young minds--new minds--certainly more open than closed.  Dr. Velikovsky is about to come out with another volume in the Ages in Chaos series.  There is a vital, growing and viable journal devoted to his work which is also presenting the ideas not only on a national scale but on an international scale, with subscribers in no less than 13 countries, covering all branches of thought and every discipline covering a true interdisciplinary approach.

NICHOL: Why are you Velikovsky's supporters?

ROSE: My initial interest in Velikovsky began about ten years ago.  At first, I was interested only in the sociological aspects, the peculiar response of science to his ideas.  I knew that the criticism of him was wrong and was without foundation.  That it was irrational.  That reaction was what I was studying and, of course, in doing that I had to study Velikovsky and I gradually realized that, just as his outspoken critics could not find any basic flaw in his thesis, I realized that I did not discover any basic flaw in it either.  I could find a few, little, minor things that I might quibble about but the basic thesis, that there had been collisions between planets within historical times and all the repercussions and consequences of that basic thesis, seemed to me to hold up. I was, also, extremely impressed by the record that he had accumulated.  By then, it was about 15 years; by now it is 26 years since the publication of Worlds in Collision and, in that little more than a quarter of a century, we have seen continual confirmations of claims made by Velikovsky--and I think that is one of the marks of a successful theory and it's for that reason that I support his position.

I think, in a sense, it is a classic case; not that the classical criteria are always correct, but we think that the criteria that are sound for evaluating theories do apply to his theory.  He has not confined himself to one area.  His theory has simplicity.  In a sense, it has only one axiom and has considerable scope.  It is consistent within itself, it has been subjected to tests over the past quarter century and, what we have found is that the consequences of the theory have not been shown to be false.  Now, this is what makes a theory correct.  On that basis, it seems to me quite clear that Velikovsky is correct and, if he is correct, it means all the repercussions of his theory must be reckoned with --- for that reason I see him as the major figure in human history: the only one who has been able to discover what has been going on in our history and also how we have reacted to it.

GREENBERG: I came upon Velikovsky about seven years ago, when he was brought to my attention by one of my students.  I had been teaching courses in ancient art history for many years, since 1961, as a matter of fact, and one of things that bothered me over this period was the fact that in history, art history seems to be more like a dangling participle, if you want to call it that.  History and art history were being taught as a vertical proposition.  You would start in Egypt, then you would move over to Mesopotamia.  When we finish that we go on to Greece, then we finish that and we go on to Rome, and so on.  And it was though as you moved, these other civilizations ceased to exist.  There was no real history; in a sense, there was no real interaction of cultures and, in particular, I came to a certain period in Egypt when there always seemed to be such a dramatic tapering off right towards the end of the reigns of the pharaohs Akhnaton and Tutankhamen that its as if everything in Egyptian history suddenly began to fall off the edge of a great precipice.  One of my students referred me to Worlds in Collision, but, actually, I had read Ages in Chaos.   I suddenly realized, by gosh, here is a way of bringing not only these cultures into a certain alignment with each other where they made sense but also what was an improperly closed zipper--taken, this kind of an effect now seemed to suddenly intermesh this way.

I will never forget my first experience in reading Ages in Chaos.  I wouldn't let anybody near me the first day I was reading it.  It made so much sense and I could almost begin to anticipate where he was going and yet he was so lucid in his writing style, it was so clear; this was one of the things that I also found to be so persuasive.  From there, I went on to read his other work and found all of it extremely credible and viable, and then came the "Velikovsky Affair"--in a sense [due to?] me, because word got around that I was teaching Velikovsky in my classroom and I had no knowledge of what I was doing, having no knowledge of the affair per se, and it was only then that I became aware of the affair as a result of the reaction to what I was teaching--which then only drove me deeper into the work to find out why this reaction.

And so, in a sense, I came into Velikovsky's work in a similar way to Lynn.  Although I didn't start in a similar way, I was driven deeper into it as opposed to being discouraged from it.  I became more determined to know the work and I would say this, that this is work that should not be passed over in one reading.  This requires several readings, this requires great study, each one of his books.  These are books that are not just to be read as novels, these are books to be studied because he is rewriting human history; he is, in a sense, indicating what is human history in all of its aspects, from our religious institutions right down to our football games, if you will.

NICHOL: Lynn, talk about the A. A. A. S.

ROSE: I was present at the A. A. A. S. and seeing it again on film was somewhat different than being there.  I thought that there was very little on film today that amounted to anything at all.  Perhaps that was what was really going on, that it was just a tissue of charges and accusations against Velikovsky, misrepresentations of him; and, looking back at it, I cannot really come up with any really serious arguments that were presented against Velikovsky.  Much of it was based on false assumptions, for example, Derral Mulholland saying that he had read Worlds in Collision, mentioning that he had read it in Colliers magazine--apparently not realizing that it had never been printed in Colliers magazine; that there was an article about him and a short excerpt and then saying that he had recalled that, according to Velikovsky, Mars and Venus erupted from Jupiter as comets, which of course they did not.  Velikovsky does not know how old Mars is, but it's been around throughout recorded history and he does not regard it as having originated erupting from Jupiter the way that Venus did.  That is, within historical times.  It is ironic that Mulholland was introduced as a man whose name was synonymous with precision, since he began his talk with such a ludicrous lack of precision.  I think the whole thing is much less serious than 1, up until now, regarded it.  It is a focal point, perhaps, of the opposition to Velikovsky and reaction to him but, in terms of substance, there is very little there. (Could I just say that I don't like what I just said?  There may be something you can use there but I don't like it.)

GREENBERG: I would just say that, even before the A. A. A. S. was held, I had misgivings about the A. A. A. S. and I indicated this to Dr. Velikovsky in November of 1973. 1 said to him the only reason I thought this was being held was not [due to] a day of atonement or any retarded recognition, but [that it was] an attempt to discredit him at the highest possible level in their eyes, once and for all.  And this became quite apparent as a result of the numerical lineup.  As I said in correspon­dence, things like this should not be set up like the $64,000 challenge.  Everybody is not there to challenge and battle with Teddy Nadler, and Velikovsky, no matter how wide ranging he is, no matter how knowledgeable, should not have to be subjected to the bombardment--in a sense, the psychological pressure and the inevitable emotional pressure--of four other individuals who are attacking him in an ad hominem way and, at the same time, trying to nettle him and provoke him without putting forth anything which is concrete.

This became very apparent in what I saw today and I had never seen those people before.  I found them to be unimpressive as far as their appearance and I'm not talking about just a physical standpoint, it was their manner.  They seemed to be almost fearful; they seemed to have a sense of anxiety about them, they seemed to be very unsure, very insecure.  And, whereas Dr. Velikovsky presented what was a very sobering and, in a sense, an inspired and objective speech, they all attacked him as opposed to presenting basic theories about the solar system or about cosmology and how they basically diverged or converged with Dr. Velikovsky.  They would go back to the old routine of picking at a footnote, and I use that only metaphorically, such as Sagan picking at what is found in 1.44 microns--this kind of thing.  And then not even sitting there waiting for a real answer but having somebody saying that [they] have forgotten what the question is as Velikovsky attempted to give what he considered to be a necessary, thorough answer.

WOLFE: If you look at this thing in terms of the background, in terms of the last 500 years, it's not that easy to do.  We casually toss around figures like that but you have to remember that every culture has its own source of truth.  If you go up to an aborigine in Australia and ask, "Where do you get your truth from?," he will say, "We get it from our witch doctor and everything he says is right and we don't believe in anything else." And every culture, at every time in human history, had its own areas from which it accepted the truth and accepted that no truth came from any other area.  Now, in our culture today, truth comes from science.  We don't necessarily believe that it comes from religion.  Religion is something that some people tolerate, perhaps, but truth, as we know it, comes from science.  That is what most people would say--and everything else is not really true, it is only opinion.  Now this is a situation.  We are so deeply into it that we think it has always been this way, but it hasn't.  If you look back even to the last 500 years, we find that, unchallenged, the church was the monolith that attacked everything that dared to attack it, even when you get to the time of [Isaac] Newton.  Newton was not a scientist in the modern sense, Newton would not have thrown out religion.  Newton would not have believed that the only truth was empirically verifiable truth where you can put down numbers, you can make predictions and, every time you do something in the lab, it will always turn out the same way.  But post-Newtonian scientific thinking gradually took all truth onto itself so that, by the 19th century, when uniformitarianism became adopted ... sci­ence became the sole origin of truth.  And we in the 20th century think this is the way it has always been, but this is a phenomenon that is only 200 years old.  Now, when Velikovsky came along with his ideas, what he was really doing was challenging the role of science as the only source of truth.  He is trying to say that truth is to be found in many other areas: our mythologies, our beliefs, our folklore, our religions, our arts, literature and so on may all contain truth.  And that is why you get the kind of things that happened to him when Worlds in Collision was published in 1950 and that's why you get something like the A. A. A. S. in the middle of the 1970s.  Velikovsky is challenging science's monopoly on truth.

ROSE: It seems to me now that the major feature of the A. A. A. S. symposium is the way in which it was set up.  That, I think, indicates the purpose of it.  There were four negative panelists and only Velikovsky to defend himself This was contrary to promises that the panel would be balanced.  At one point, Velikovsky [had been] told that he would be able to name two supporters [besides] himself and that those three would be opposed by three others.  This was all changed by the time the symposium occurred.  The technique was to give each person equal time; that means Velikovsky gets so much time, Sagan gets so much time, Mulholland gets that much time, Hoover gets that much time and Story gets that much time.  By what kind of standard this is called "equal time" I don't know, but that is what they called it.  The technique is obvious; they are able to make more charges than Velikovsky can possibly answer in the amount of time provided to him....

[1]   This interview took place on July 31, 1976.  Where necessary, statements made by Immanuel Velikovsky and others have been edited for clarity.

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