Velikovsky Affair

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Velikovsky Affair

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<ul><li><p>1THEVELIKOVSKY</p><p>AFFAIR</p><p>SCIENTISM VERSUS SCIENCE</p><p>Alfred de Grazia, Editor</p><p>With contributions by</p><p>Ralph JuergensLivio C. StecchiniAlfred de Grazia</p><p>Immanuel Velikovsky</p><p>Copyright Alfred de Grazia, 1966, 1978. All rights reserved.</p></li><li><p>2CONTENTS</p><p>Introduction to the Second Edition, by Alfred de Grazia</p><p>Introduction to the First Edition, by Alfred de Grazia</p><p>1. Minds in Chaos, by Ralph E. Juergens</p><p>2. Aftermath to Exposure, by Ralph E. Juergens</p><p>3. The Inconstant Heavens, by Livio C. Stecchini</p><p>4. Cuneiform Astronomical Records andCelestial Instability, by Livio C. Stecchini</p><p>5. Astronomical Theory and Historical Data,by Livio C. Stecchini</p><p>6. The Scientific Reception System, by Alfred de Grazia</p><p>7. Additional Examples of Correct Prognosis, by ImmanuelVelikovsky</p><p>APPENDIX I - On Recent Discoveries ConcerningJupiter and Venus</p><p>APPENDIX II - Velikovsky Discredited:A Textual Comparison</p><p>(Note: English spelling is used in this edition of 1978.)</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 3</p><p>INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION</p><p>Alfred de GraziaJanuary 1978</p><p>We dedicate this book to people who are concerned about theways in which scientists behave and how science develops. Itdeals especially with the freedoms that scientists grant orwithhold from one another. The book is also for people who areinterested in new theories of cosmogony - the causes of theskies, the earth, and humankind as we see them. It is, finally, abook for people who are fascinated by human conflict, in thiscase a struggle among some of the most educated, elevated, andcivilized characters of our times.</p><p>These lines are being written a few weeks after the launching ofa carefully prepared book attacking the growing position ofImmanuel Velikovsky in intellectual circles [1]. The attack wasfollowed promptly by a withering counter-attack in a specialissue of the journal, Kronos [2]. The events reflect a generalscene which, since the first appearance of this volume, has beenperhaps more congenial to the temperament of warcorrespondents than of cloistered scholars.</p><p>The philosophical psychologist, William James, who onceproposed sport as a substitute for warfare, might as well haveproposed science and scholarship for the same function.Scientific battles also have their armies, rules, tactics,unexpected turns, passions bridled and unbridled, defeats,retreats, and casualty lists. All of the motives that go intowarfare are exercised. In the present controversy, the minds ofthe combatants must also carry into the fray images of a distantpast when the world was ruined by immense disasters, whetheror not they deny the images.</p><p>Unlike sport, the outcomes of scientific battles are as important,if not more so, than the results of outright warfare. At stake in</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 4</p><p>the controversy over Velikovskys ideas is not only the systemused by science to change itself - which is largely the subject ofthis book - but also the substantive model of change to beemployed by future science - whether is shall be comprehendedmainly as revolutionary and catastrophic or as evolutionary anduniform.</p><p>The controversy has had many striking facets. One has been thelarge participation of the public. It continues to increase.Velikovsky has managed to talk to people about mythology,archaeology, astronomy, and geology, without doing injusticeto those disciplines, in an amazing and unprecedented manner.Socrates, Aristotle, Galileo, Freud, and Einstein - to name a fewthinkers who were implicated in crowd phenomena - were notpublic figures in the sense here taken. His public - a well-behaved, educated, well-intentioned and diversified aggregate -has supported Velikovsky on every possible occasion. That hewas a foreigner with a Russian accent, a psychiatrist,unequivocably a Jew, denounced by some of the most respectedscientists of America and Britain, unbending in his person andin his allegiance to science and in refusing every opening forsupport from demagogic or religious quarters: these facts hardlydisturbed the favourable reception granted him by a largepublic.</p><p>That he is a charismatic figure is obvious: fourteen hundredpeople attended his talk and awarded him a standing ovation ata critical scientific symposium in San Francisco in 1974. Butcharisma is a bit of jargon; the question remains why.Although I must reserve the answer until another occasion, Iwould here suggest that his ideas have represented all the legit-imate anxieties about present-day knowledge that educatedpeople possess, whether it be their own knowledge or that oftheir scientific tutors.</p><p>I have lived with The Velikovsky Affair for fifteen years. OftenI have been asked how I came to be involved. Sometimes thequestion comes from my colleagues, who, like myself, havewondered how a million, perhaps two million, serious readerscan find that a book like Worlds in Collision makes sense,while a great many scientists and scholars cannot even come togrips with the book, turn away from it angrily, and irritably</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 5</p><p>consign the whole lot of favourable readers to the ranks ofreligious revivalists who have received The Word.</p><p>But there was little heroic, charismatic, revelatory, or evenextraordinary about my initiation. The year 1950, which sawthe publication of Worlds in Collision, was a busy one in myyounger life; I had several infants, a new professorship, and amore than passing engagement with psychological operations inthe Korean War, then raging. So the scandal over the bookssuppression and success left only a faint scratch upon my mind.</p><p>However, in 1962, when I was publishing and editing theAmerican Behavioral Scientist magazine in Princeton, Dr LivioStecchini, a historian of science also resident there, spoke to memore than once about a man named Dr Velikovsky who alsolived in Princeton and had been victimized by the scientificestablishment. I listened without enthusiasm to Stecchini, forthe annals of science and publishing, like politics, are crowdedwith cases that are falsely or ineptly brought up, of hopelesstheories trying to engage public attention, of feelings ofpersecution.</p><p>Then, one evening, as I was saying my goodbyes at the home ofmy brother, I espied a book entitled Oedipus and Akhnaton, byone Immanuel Velikovsky. The residual stimuli precipitated agestalt of curiosity. I borrowed it. I read it from cover to cover,brooking no minor interruption. I thought that it was a master-piece of true detective literature (a judgement that I think isnow confirmed), and telephoned Dr Stecchini to arrange ameeting.</p><p>As I talked with Dr Velikovsky - an impressive experience in apersons life - I was introduced to his archive of materials onthe case. It was astonishingly rich and ordered. I concludedafter several long meetings and much reading among hismaterials that the history of science had few, if any, cases thatwere so well documented. I decided to devote a special issue ofthe American Behavioral Scientist to The Velikovsky Affair.</p><p>It was this issue, finally appearing is September 1963 afterprolonged, gruelling, and enlightening sessions with DrVelikovsky and my co-authors, Ralph Juergens and Livio</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 6</p><p>Stecchini and after long hours spent amidst the archive ofVelikovsky itself, that formed the basis for the present book. Iwould not go as far as some commentators in saying that thebooks brought the great controversy to life when the causeseemed lost; my concept of history is more Tolstoian. Still, theresponse to the issue was immediate. Eric Larrabee, a publicist,who had a long-standing contract with the Doubleday Companypublishers to write a book on the subject, was spurred topublish an article in Harpers magazine about the Velikovskycase. The American Behavioral Scientist issue was expanded,with new contributions by Juergens and Stecchini, andpublished by University Books two years later. (In the presentedition, Dr Stecchini has revised and added much new materialto his contributions.)</p><p>With notable exceptions, to be described in the pages to come,the book was well received. It was resented by many in theunderground of science, which includes the mysterious realmsof foundations and government agencies. There, any associationwhatsoever with Dr Velikovsky is likely to provokediscrimination and reprisals. But the distinction of the panel ofreaders who endorsed my decision to publish its materials nodoubt acted as a formidable obstacle to public assaults upon it.It is difficult for someone, in the face of the evidence offered, tocontradict the books two main ideas: that Dr Velikovsky wasunjustly treated, and that he maintains a set of propositions thatmust be seriously considered by the sciences and humanities. Areading of the book apparently positions one reasonably toannoy many scientists encountered in classrooms, professionalmeetings and cocktail parties.</p><p>When my attention was first drawn to the sociological and le-galistic aspects of The Velikovsky Affair in 1962, my interest inthe substantive problems of catastrophism anduniformitarianism, or revolutionism and evolutionism, was thatof a charmed spectator. However it was not long before aquestion began persistently to intrude upon my mind: Wasthere only misguidance and foolishness in the jungle-buriedhistory of catastrophist thought or was there lurking in it analternative model of cosmogony? I have pursued now for overa decade the substance of what, for lack of a better term, Isometimes call holocene cosmogony and at other times</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 7</p><p>revolutionary primevalogy, and am much more committedintellectually to Dr Velikovskys approach than I was when thismaterial was first published.</p><p>With the encouragement afforded by others who were travellingthe same route, I have achieved a measure of confidence in atwo-part reciprocal answer: there is no fact in the great andvaried growth of todays science that is true enough to block acomplete cosmogonic model that is antithetical touniformitarianism; there is enough of fact to supply theconstruction of a revolutionist model.</p><p>Dozens of pertinent incidents have marked my association withthe realm of Velikovsky politics and science over the years.One of the neatest, and of course indirect and noncommittal,testimonials to the validity of the present book occurred lately.The new edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica has recentlyappeared. In its vast uniformitarian and evolutionist terrainthere is set a biographical article upon Velikovsky, which Idiscovered to be on the whole acceptable in the general frameof the Encyclopedia. Nevertheless, two years or so later,Lawrence K. Lustig, the Managing Editor of the EncyclopediasBook of the Year, was possessed to write an article therecontaining an orthodox, negative pronunciamento uponVelikovsky in the course of a general attack uponpseudoscience. I wrote to Dr Lustig, decrying his position; hereplied without retracting his position by as much as acentimetre.</p><p>Yet, on the same day as the proposal to publish the presentbook arrived from Sphere Books, Ltd, in England, there arrivedalso a letter from Dr Lustig, now Editor-in-Chief of a large,new encyclopedia-in-the-making at Princeton, New Jersey. Heasked me to write for the encyclopedia the articles onFreedom, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Speech. Ifthis story may be taken as a compliment to integrity of thepresent work, it may also be heartening to those scholars, youngand old, who fear that their advocacy of the philosophicalprinciples of the book would deny them certain fruits of theirlong and arduous studies and careers.</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 8</p><p>Professor William Mullen and I have separately publishedarticles indexing in advance the fallout of Velikovskys ideasupon the many academic disciplines [3]. In the politics ofexploiting this fall-out, the scholar-aspirant or scholar-turncoatcan be shown two paths. For the cautious soul, who wouldevade controversy and is shy of ridicule, it will be relativelyeasy, now that many barriers are down, to introducerevolutionary hypotheses into scientific areas where the rulingorder is evolutionary, provided that one avoids citing the worksof Velikovsky and his school. One can, for example, speak of arevolutionary turn of mind on the part of homo sapiens withoutmentioning Velikovsky, and be applauded, as was Jaynes thispast year [4]. One can discuss the catastrophically depositedlayers on the ocean bottoms as has Worzel, with only a tinyescape hatch for the fiery end of bodies of cosmic origin[5].One need not cite Isaacson [6], either, in disposing of thecentury-old concept of the Greek Dark Ages, especially sinceIsaacson does not exist, it being the nom de plume of a youngscholar in fear for his career; one might criticize the conceptwithout mentioning Velikovsky, given the new climate ofthought.</p><p>A scholar can play safe in elaborating the evidence for hundredsof hypotheses in the Velikovskian literature that are alreadyclearly stated and buttressed by evidence, and do so withoutmentioning him and with the indulgence of authorities who areordinarily fanatic about the citation of sources. Scholars maynow indulge in the heady alcohol of revolutionary theory, so tospeak, provided that they label their brew as medicinal because,after all, the police are in cahoots, if indeed they have notalready taken to drink themselves. There comes to mind thechemical geologist and Nobel prize winner, Harold Urey, whohas on occasion reprimanded Velikovskys supporters eventhough he has himself speculated that errant celestial bodiesmight be the great age-breakers in geological morphology andpaleontology [7] (just as the ancients said that the ages weremade and broken by the birth and death of the planetary gods).</p><p>Alternatively credit may be given where credit is due. A scholarmay virtuously confess his research sources, hoping that thecourts for criminals such as he will soon be too crowded forhim to have to worry about being brought to trial for a long</p></li><li><p>Q-CD vol. 15: The Velikovsky Affair, Introduction 9</p><p>time, trusting that before that time occurs the rapidly changingclimate of belief will have transformed his crime into apropriety.</p><p>When will this Great Day befall? By 1973, a decade after TheVelikovsky Affair was first published, his group was cheered bythe news that the American Association for the Advancement ofScience (AAAS) would stage a symposium upon his work. OnFebruary 25, 1975, the symposium took place before thegreatest audience that this convention of the largest Americanscientific organization produced. A full volume about theactivities preceding the symposium, of its proceed...</p></li></ul>