Scientific Reaction To Velikovsky Symptomatic Of Climate Science Debacle

What caught my eye in this article was the name “Velikovsky”. I so enjoyed reading his books half a century ago including Ages in Chaos, Earth in Upheaval and Worlds in Collision. So this article took me down memory land. T. Belman

By Dr. Tim Ball, Canada Free Press

Many years ago a colleague approached the President of the University with our plan to hold a conference on the ideas of Immnauel Velikovsky. He angrily rejected the plan saying he would not allow anything on campus associated with that charlatan. The President was a physicist and Velikovsky had challenged prevailing scientific views. In some ways it doesn’t matter whether Velikovsky was right or wrong. The problem was the reprehensible actions of the scientific community. His treatment holds many lessons for today’s debate over climate change.

Complexity of the corruption by the few scientists who hijacked climate science is revealed by comparison. They quickly established their views as the prevailing ‘truth’ through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by deliberately misusing climate science, but also misusing basic science. They isolated anyone who challenged either part of their false science in the same way Velikovsky was marginalized.

Dogma Replaces Dogma

Western science and religion battled for hundreds of years. Many conflicts involved new ideas and their final victories were considered turning points in the fight for people’s beliefs. In winning, science became more dogmatic than the religion it replaced. Gradually the focus shifted from a conflict with religion to rejection of new ideas by practitioners of the prevailing scientific views.

Historically, new scientific ideas were vigorously resisted and their proponents attacked by religion. That comment is now true within science. Usually most people don’t care or don’t understand the significance of the new ideas. Copernicus put the Sun at the centre of our solar system, but it doesn’t matter for most as long as the sun rises and sets. A critical change in the adoption and infiltration of ideas came with extension of government-controlled education. From kindergarten through university it became indoctrination not education.

Graduation is allowed once you’ve demonstrated a grasp of the current ‘truths’. Questioning those truths pose a threat to your assessment and even progress. The quandary is this contradicts advancement of knowledge and understanding, especially of science. Consider the general reaction to Gore’s comment about global warming theory that “the science is settled.”

Rapid spread and lack of understanding of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory occurred because it quickly became part of school curricula. This was exacerbated because knowledge of science is necessary, but the subject was mostly covered in social sciences. It reflects the political nature of the subject and resulted in extensive indoctrination of ignorance. Graduates of this ignorance now control education, science and politics at all levels.

The Velikovsky Affair

Velikovsky was a Russian medical doctor with a lifelong interest in providing possible explanations for events recorded in historic records. A multi-linguist, he read original works from several middle-eastern cultures. He was on sabbatical in the US researching a book when World War II began. He stayed and began producing works on what the establishment categorized as catastrophism. Putting him in that category is part of the attack on his ideas from mainstream scientists. Consider the pejorative nature of this quote from Wikipedia. “Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become notorious.”

Why “radical” or “notorious”, these are judgmental adjectives used because he dared to suggest there is another interpretation of the evidence.

His views became problematic when Macmillan published Worlds in Collision in 1950. The book immediately became a best seller. There were several problems for establishment thinking.

    * Catastrophic events were contrary to the prevailing philosophy of uniformitarianism.
    * He was trained in medicine not geology or astronomy.
    * He was Russian, a serious problem in the McCarthy era.
    * He dared to suggest that historical records were of actual events – an idea problematic in climate science even today.
    * Worse he used the Bible as a source of evidence. Wikipedia comments again show the bias. “Even before its appearance, the book was enveloped by furious controversy, when Harper’s Magazine published a highly positive feature on it, as did Reader’s Digest with what would today be called a creationist slant.” Ah, the dreaded anti-science word creationism.
    * He was not indoctrinated by formal education in academic science – the bastions of dogmatism and intellectual tunnel vision.
    * His ideas did not conform to established astronomical views on planetary motion.
    * He published his ideas in popular magazines and trade books that went directly to the public who might challenge official science.
    * He followed success of World’s in Collision with another bestseller Ages in Chaos.
    * His work was interdisciplinary at a time of specialization. Worse, it blended science with the humanities and the social sciences.

Velikovsky’s story is fascinating but my focus is on the reactions of the establishment, especially of Harlow Shapley. He had a checkered career apparently shaped by his rigid thinking and personal animosities. After graduating from Princeton he worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory then Harvard College Observatories. He attended the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, which is at best a most pointed title. He was influential in forming government funded science institutions including the National Academy of Sciences. The latter has an ignominious part in the global warming debacle.

Macmillan was the only publisher in history who surrendered a best seller at peak sales. Shapely denied any involvement in the action. Velikovsky subsequently exposed his role in a letter to the Harvard Crimson.

Macmillan was vulnerable to Shapley’s threats of curtailing academic textbooks because that was their major source of income. As with all these matters the action is blameworthy, but the cover up compounds the error. Velikovsky discusses the events in Stargazers and Gravediggers.

Velikovsky’s major ideas built on the claim that Earth has experienced natural global disasters throughout its history. The major cause of natural catastrophes was brushes with other objects in the solar system and beyond. It’s probably thanks to Velikovsky that Walter and Luis Alvarez were able to propose the claim that a collision with an asteroid 65 million years ago led to the extinction of dinosaurs. The father/son connection serendipitously allowed cross-discipline discussion between physics and geology. The intellectual isolation of specialization has undermined the ability to understand.

Science Is The Ability To Predict

In the end Velikovsky succeeded because he passed the ultimate test of science; the ability to predict. More important, they were in contradiction to prevailing views. He made many and apparently none are incorrect to date. The interesting one was the temperature of Venus, which was almost double what the textbooks said. The same textbooks that incorrectly use Venus as an example of runaway CO2 induced Greenhouse Effect.

Failure of the University President to approve a conference on Velikovsky was symptomatic of the dogmatic, closed minds that pervade modern science. The few scientists involved with the AGW debacle deliberately exploited and practiced that condition. Their actions indicate they saw this as a battle, but it was against the truth and as Aeschylus said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

December 16, 2010 | 16 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

16 Comments / 16 Comments

  1. The biggest problem in science is the accuracy of the instruments to detect and measure. The Bible authors had precious little but within the limits of “eyeball mark one” they were not fools. This got Galileo into trouble because the Papal disciplinarians could not keep up the religious arguments with the new discoveries in real time; and Lavoisier as a rich tax farmer in his day job – for which he lost his head – could afford to push the state of the art for equipment to prove the totals of the weights before and after chemical reactions. There is still the kick off problem of noticing the question or its premises to set up the experimental proof or investigation. This is what Velikovsky was good at and in my 50 years adult lifetime I have seen several theories fall too hs advantage before the evidence of new instruments and better maths. To prove the instrumentation point the bankers refused Columbus because the Portuguese had already been far South enough along the African coast to know the ships of the time did not have the waterbarrel and food capacity to sail half way round the Globe of the Earth if there was no land in between – and Columbus was running out of water and food as he fortuitously hit Cuba. Ultimately science is a suck it and see exercise as the satellite investigations of the planets have proven.

  2. Max seems to have made-up his mind and unwilling to accept the fact that large numbers of well-established researchers do take the opposite viewpoint. Some do accept that there is climate change and that it occurs approximately every 50 years. I see what Arnold Harris is suggesting and agree. Worlds in Collisionwas a thrilling book but an even more amazing documentary, well worth re-playing to many in today’s universities. Emmanuel Velikovsky was such a passionate presenter.

  3. Dear Mr Belman
    In 1973 I watched by chance a program showing Mr Velikovsky giving a lecture. I was captivated by his words. Afterwards I purchased all the books that were available and actually spent a lot of time studying and researching them.
    The clincher for me was his revelation about the Papyrus Ipwer, an Egyptian eyewitness report of the ten plagues that hit Egypt.
    While so called historians assumed this to have been a 3500 years old ‘story’, Velikovsky instantly understood it to what it actually is: a corroboration of the ten plagues of the Bible.
    I agree with almost every conclusions he makes in his books regarding history, astronomy, geology and psychology. It is a great tragedy that he had been ostarcised by the ‘scientific MAFIA’ for almost 60 years.
    I just hope that he will become a truly recognised authority on all his interdisciplinary subjects.

  4. Max, you obviously are incorrigible in your continual ranting about super-millionaires purposely working at destroying the Earth’s environment. Your monotonal argument that all human activity is part of an ongoing class struggle, is not readily apparent to other observers, nor is confirmed by atmospheric scientists.

    Aryeh, unreligious as I am, I always have thought G-D’s love of humankind is conditional. I cannot imagine such a deity would have much patience with fools. But, as I have written, the halachot with which I am most comfortable are logic and reason.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  5. Science is a system for uncovering, organizing and generalizing the truth about the physical world. As such it is a blessing from G-D. It is a profound proof of G-D’s love for man that He gave man the intelligence and curiosity to explore creation. Scientism, however, is a cult that uses scientific jargon to con the world into accepting its neo-pagan agenda and is a curse on the world. It is most unfortunate that many scientist are also part of the cult of Scientism. There are no doubt many psychological, social and economic reasons for this. Nevertheless whenever a scientist, famous or obscure, makes a statement, it must first be determined if what he is saying is Science or Scientism.

  6. Ted,

    Ben Yamin’s statement could be mine. I may still have one or two of his books. The print runs were large so it is fairly easy to find one or all of them in 2nd hand bookstores. I picked mine up for a song. I find them as valuable for science as they are for history. If I were home-schooling older children his works would be required reading.

  7. I had occasion to read one of Velikovsky’s books too about twenty years ago. He posited that the Plagues of Egypt had actually occurred, that they were physical phenomena, and the reason that most scholars were sceptical of the Torah account was that their timing was off by about 650 years. He used writings from the various Mediterranean states which existed then which also underwent serious similar catastrophes. Since then, I have been convinced that the Torah accounts of the Exodus were true and accurate and while not necessarily of Divine origin, they certainly had a Divine outcome.

  8. Ben Yamin
    When I was reading his books I was aware that the scientific community rejected him and his theories. Its nice to hear after all these decades some people such as yourself believe in him.

  9. Dear Ted

    I have STUDIED each of Velikovsk’s books. As far as I am concerned he is as important to science a Einstein.

    The same academicians who villified him are the ones who have brought DOWN the standard of education and critical thinking that several generation of students have been afflicted with.

    As far as I know, not a single item he predicted was given credit to him.

    Thank you for bringing back superb memories of his incalculable – but unappreciated – contribution to human knowldge.

  10. It’s just that the exact causes of all that are still subject to well-justified scientific research and debate.

    Oh I see what you are saying. It’s not because of the global super industrialization of the planet by super rich billionaires who control the world’s money flow and global exploitations et etc.

    Wow! What a relief! Like the dizzy dame said to her new boyfriend “What a relief you haven’t got AIDS, I’d hate to get that again.”

    So really you are saying the Moon did it — probably because the anti-Semites paid it a visit.

  11. Max, calm down.

    Of course there is climate change. I’m sure that if someone had set up a motion-picture camera on the Moon some three billion years ago, with an appropriately large number of exposures available, the surface of our planet over time would resemble the setting for almost endless geophysical and climatic violence.

    It’s just that the exact causes of all that are still subject to well-justified scientific research and debate.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  12. Do people really have to “debate” climate change.
    It’s preposterous!

    Just go outside. Look at the world’s mountain tops. Ask the polar bears, the penguins – if you will still find any.

    For some people debate means rationalizing away the blindingly obvious.

    I have an answer – put the climate change deniers on a glacier that has been around a million years and that the “changers say will melt. Make sure they have no lifeboats.

    If it doesn’t melt – let them go get their pay cheques from the oil companies – if it melts – end of argument and augmenters.

  13. Try this one on for size:

    Galactic cosmic rays and Earth’s low cloud cover

    Solar wind and magnetic field create heliosphere around solar system.An increase in solar activity (more sunspots) is accompanied by an increase in the “solar wind,” which is an outflow of ionized particles, mostly protons and electrons, from the sun. The Earth’s geomagnetic field, the solar wind, and the solar magnetic field deflect galactic cosmic rays (GCR). A decrease in solar activity increases the GCR penetration of the troposphere and stratosphere. GCR particles are the primary source of ionization in the troposphere above 1 km (below 1 km, radon is a dominant source of ionization in many areas).

    Levels of GCRs have been indirectly recorded by their influence on the production of carbon-14 and beryllium-10. The Hallstatt solar cycle length of approximately 2300 years is reflected by climatic Dansgaard-Oeschger events. The 80–90 year solar Gleissberg cycles appear to vary in length depending upon the lengths of the concurrent 11 year solar cycles, and there also appear to be similar climate patterns occurring on this time scale.
    So maybe there always has been more to this than even Velikovsky may have imagined.

    One of the scientists who proposed the galactic ray theory as it affects Earth’s low cloud cover is a notable Danish astronomer, Henrik Svensmark, who, after a meticulous study of many years, had a most difficult time getting his theory published — courtesy of the conventional wisdoms establishment.

    (Mostly copied from Wikipedia, best little old research assistant I ever had)

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  14. I have at least one of Velikovsky’s books… Very interesting… His views are as good as anybody else’s.

    Then there’s also the reaction to the fact that the wear marks on the Sphinx are caused by ***water*** – not sand – and that part of the world was tropical (ie: was relatively “waterlogged”) around 12000 years ago. This also definitely flies in the face of “established scholarship”.

    Two more interesting (“controversial”) Russians: Ouspensky and Gurdjieff.

  15. Liberal, enlightened, rational science:

    Jews say that HaShem used the Torah as a blueprint to create the entire universe from nothing. He constructed it during the “six Divine days of creation” (guided evolution), and created the laws of physics so as to allow intelligent life to exist on earth (“fine tuning”).

    Liberal scientists assert there is no god. There was a big bang, but it was just one of a series of ongoing neverending big bangs stretching back to infinity, and generating random universes in a mindless way, some of which result in intelligent life, and some of which don’t.

    Jews say that HaShem created man to have free will, so that man could choose what actions to pursue, and be responsible for his choices and his actions (“All is foreseen, yet free will is given.”)

    Liberal scientists say that there is no free will. The universe is a huge machine, and that if you knew the exact conditions at the beginning, you can predict every subsequent action forever. (“God does not play dice with the universe.”) They insist that I am sitting here typing this out, not because I choose to do so, but because it was predestined to be by the starting conditions of the universe. And also that, as opposed to my having actual free will, it is only an illusion I have, and that “in reality” I am nothing but a talking chimpanzee and a human robot.

    Jews say that an intelligent, caring G-d designed man the way that He wanted.

    Liberal scientists say that man somehow “evolved” out of a bunch of chemicals sloshing around an ancient sea, with nothing intelligent or mystical about it.

    Liberal scientists say that Jews who believe in HaShem are foolish children at best, and evil nazis who should know better at worst. According to liberal scientists, the “truth” is that there is a “mindless generator of random meaningless universes”, and that we are just machines which arose from some chemicals sloshing around in the ocean,” and that the liberal scientists making this assertion are the only ones who can claim to be “rational”.

  16. “The President was a physicist and Velikovsky had challenged prevailing scientific views”

    Darwin was a theologian, and Gore a politician. That hasn’t deterred the academic elite from wholeheartedly embracing both.