On Saturday afternoon 11 May 1974, the University of Lethbridge conferred upon Immanuel Velikovsky the honourary degree of Doctor of Arts and Science in recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of his scholarship. In awarding this degree the University was recognizing a world famous scholar whose work epitomizes the ideology of the University: that interdisciplinary studies have value.
For two day preceding the convocation ceremony, the University was host to an international symposium which attracted delegates from the Pacific Northwestern region of the United States and from six Canadian provinces. This Symposium, with the theme Velikovsky and Cultural Amnesia, examined aspects of Velikovsky's synthesis centering on the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The papers presented in this volume are revised versions of the papers originally presented at the Symposium and from the first collection of papers on the subject of cultural Amnesia since Velikovsky introduced the topic in Worlds in Collision  . The papers have been examined by other experts in the field concerned, criticisms were collected, and the authors were allowed to make minor changes in the hope that a more accomplished volume could be produced.
Since Dr. Velikovsky's addresses to the Symposium were delivered without notes, and because of Dr. Velikovsky's weakening health in the months following the Symposium, he was not asked to submit written versions of his contributions. Instead, his papers were produced from the tape recordings of the Symposium sessions. After editing them for clarity, the transcriptions were revised by Dr. Velikovsky for publication here.
Although the papers all relate to some aspect of Cultural Amnesia, they deal with subjects as diverse as anthropology, geology, narrative art, and psychiatry. While the task of showing relationships between them is desirable, it is difficult. It is may hope that the interpretation presented here, with which the authors might not agree, will stimulate readers to consider carefully the papers and their relation to Cultural Amnesia.
In his address, Dr Velikovsky elaborates upon his theory of Cultural Amnesia. According to his theory, mankind forgot about unpleasant catastrophic events on the conscious level, but remembers on the unconscious level. Furthermore it would appear that the unconscious memory is transmitted genetically from one generation to the next, a concept already postulated by Freud and Jung but in disagreement with much of the current biological thinking. Nevertheless, there are, as will be shown in the papers following Velikovsky's, substantial reasons for thinking that memory is indeed transmitted, if not racially, then in some other way.
If the cultural amnesia theory is correct, then it is possible to suggest that every generation lives in a state of trauma induced by the conflict between subconscious memories of past catastrophic events and the refusal of the conscious mind to recognize that these events actually occurred in prehistoric and historic times. Dr. Velikovsky believes that the trauma is responsible for mankind's aggressive hostility, a concept of importance to every individual frightened by the prospect of thermo-nuclear war or of the instability which seems to be increasing in society.
Moreover, the trauma is also responsible for the inability and at times the outright refusal of science to recognize the overwhelming evidence pointing to the catastrophic past of the Earth and the entire solar System. The trauma is also responsible, in part at least, for the actions of some scientists who denounced Velikovsky without even reading his work. Perhaps the men who did this really are saying that the truth is too awful; if the public knew they would be furious, and the great prestige accorded to the leading spokespersons for modern science would decline. The second paper in this volume, authored by Alfred de Grazia, discusses the origin of fear. De Grazia is an internationally recognized expert in politics and social systems. He became aware of Velikovsky because of the efforts made by Livio Stecchini, a professor of ancient history. Stecchini had tried to interest de Grazia not in the substance of Velikovsky's theories but in the political ramifications of the attack by the scientific community on Velikovsky. Shortly thereafter, de Grazia read Velikovsky's last book Oedipus and Akhnaton  and judged it to be "a fundamental contribution to classical history and archaeology."  He then decided to meet with Velikovsky and investigate the issue.
A change for the better occurred in Velikovsky's fortunes when de Grazia devoted the entire September 1963 issue of the American Behavioral Scientist to aspects of the hostile reaction of the scientific community to Velikovsky's revolutionary cosmology.
While preparing the special issue on Velikovsky  , de Grazia became interested in the substance of Velikovsky's theories, an interest which has culminated in several investigations into the origins of human nature and the development of human institutions. A part of that work in included here.
De Grazia maintains that fear is ubiquitous in its influence upon the behaviour of mankind. Partly it is animalian, partly cultural. It pervades all social institutions. Memory is created by fear, a specific case of which is fear of catastrophe. Events recorded in memory will be forgotten when the need to function sanely overrides the need to remember. Thus primal fears, which exist in memory because of terrors experienced directly or historically, are suppressed in the interest of day to day functioning of the organism.
In the next paper, John MacGregor outlines psychological aspects of the work done by Immanuel Velikovsky. MacGregor, an art historian and psychotherapist, has applied psychiatry to the study of art. His paper is the result of the work done to clarify the views of Freud and Jung on the possibility of inherited transmission of memories. MacGregor examines dreams which have cosmic content; patients often express inner disturbance in symbolism involving cosmic catastrophe. Although the dreams refer specifically to events in the patient's inner reality, the reason why a patient projects an inner crisis in terms of catastrophes in outer space is not always evident; it is possible that some of these dreams cannot be explained in terms of personal memories in which case they may be evidence for racial memories imprinted during past global cataclysms experienced by mankind.
The fourth paper, by William Mullen, compares apocalyptic writings from the Old and New World. These writings suggest that society is restructured after a catastrophe. The survivors seek stability through worship of what they think is an appropriate deity and through ritual activities. When another apocalypse is imminent, a new religion emerges or old religions are altered in an attempt to avert the impending disaster. Mullen shows how a catastrophe which occurred in the distant past becomes, because of religion, an apocalypse which will occur in the future.
Where Mullen has discussed catastrophe as it is expressed through religion, the next paper, by Irving Wolfe, proposes that catastrophic experiences are the inspiration for great works of narrative art, in particular Wolfe discusses Velikovskian overtones in two of Shakespeare's plays. Through narrative art, catastrophes may be discussed and examined without the society (composed of individuals) having to experience the traumas associated with enduring, but repressed, memories of the actual events. As "adult fairy tales" such narratives provide a way to imply a rational order to an otherwise irrational universe, thereby diminishing apprehension about the uncontrollable aspects of nature. The response of the individual to such literature also can be understood in terms of the harmonizing effect of that literature also upon the subconscious needs of the individual for comfort. Neither the author nor the reader nor the audience can admit that there is an anxiety in need of comfort but that it seems, is shy the work endures partly because it soothes a hidden fear.
George Grinnell, once a geologist and now an historian of science at McMaster University, shows how science has been altered to preclude all mention or examination of catastrophic disruptions. In the same sense in which the Egyptian rituals of the Old Kingdom, described earlier by Mullen, were designed to ensure a stable society, Grinnell shows how geological language was changed in the nineteenth century to provide a stable philosophical basis for the liberal movement which controlled urbanized industrial society in Britain. After a century of use, the new language is scientific dogma. To discuss anything other than evolutionary processes now requires that even the language of science be modified. It is not surprising then, within professional scientific circles, that little or no credence is placed upon attempts to introduce disruptive or revolutionary processes as part of everyday happenings in the Universe. Grinnell however ascribes their exclusion to immediate political expediency rather than to the wishes of scientists to forge dreadful catastrophes of the past. If Grinnell is correct, the violent emotional response of contemporary scientists to revolutionary hypotheses still requires explanation, especially in a world where political liberalism is declining.
The eighth and final paper, by Patrick Doran, examines life after a cataclysm. Assuming that western-industrial society has already produced an apocalypse for mankind, Doran suggests that realization of the catastrophe must emerge into consciousness before survival can be assured. In this case survival depends upon rejuvenation of earth's fragile bioenvironment. Like Mullen, Doran then deals with how a society recovers from catastrophe. He claims that the joy induced by realizing that one is a survivor is the key to freedom from the buried fears of catastrophes long past. The acceptance of Velikovsky's cosmology by western civilization is a first step to freedom from the despair induced by a crisis laden World. The World has been changed in the cataclysm; those who know they have survived now have the chance to redirect civilization to ensure continued survival.
In closing the Symposium, Dr. Velikovsky reminded those present that understanding mankind's traumatic past is the key to understanding the seemingly irrational motives behind the contemporary behaviour of men. In summarizing his scientific and historical contributions, Dr. Velikovsky noted the response of scholars to his work and to the evidence supporting it, and pleaded for younger minds to carry on and complete the revolution started three and one-half decades ago.
It is my duty to report that two of the participants at the Symposium chose not to submit manuscripts for publication; therefore their papers are not included here  . These unfortunate decisions may reflect concern for the hostility exhibited by the scholarly community toward any works which deal with Velikovsky and his theories.
The question I ask is, why do the issues by Velikovsky invoke an immediate emotional response in the more conventionally-minded scholars of the academy? The answer in part seems to arise from the division of scholars in general (and scientists in particular) in to two broad and quite mutually exclusive groups, which I will describe, for want of better term, as evolutionists and revolutionists.
The majority group, the evolutionists, believe that we live, at a special moment, the pinnacle of creation, the end result of several billion years of gradual development wherein Homo Sapiens has achieved dominion over planet Earth and through technology has finally achieved understanding, albeit incomplete, of the rest of nature. This could be described as the centre or liberal view of the universe. Believers in this viewpoint live in a world where events are, in general, fully predictable, hence a rational planned life is possible. Occasional upheavals, described as Acts of God, mar the otherwise tranquil world from time to time, but afterwards the Universe resumes the normal process of unfolding as it should.
The other group, the revolutionists, to which Velikovsky and his supporters belong, believe that the history of the World, and of the Universe, is best described in terms of a series of abrupt large-scale and intensive changes in nature and life with periods of slow evolution in between  . Physical evidence of such changes is found in Earth's geological strata and on the exposed surface of the planets.
For the revolutionists the task is to re-interpret the evidence which has been described in the scientific and historical literature in terms of the evolutionary model, a project to which the evolutionists usually react with intense hostility.
To rewrite the literature in such a manner that it is freed of conclusions which are only valid if the evolutionary model is correct appears to be a difficult task, though in reality it may not be. The correctness of such conclusions really depends upon the validity of a small number of physical theories. By showing that these theories can be sustained only by making unwarranted assumptions, the evolutionary viewpoint is undermined. The foundation removed, the data can be re-analyzed possibly producing different conclusions. In astronomy the long-time stability of the solar system is a key theory which recently has been questioned by Bass  ; even the nature of gravitation itself if still in doubt  .
In geology and biology the currently adopted time scale depends upon the decay of long-lived radioactive atoms. The possibility that radioactive decays are environmentally induced has recently been proposed  . Without radiometric dating the rampant inflation in the magnitude of the cosmic timescale over the last century  will undoubtedly enter a sharp period of regression. This question will be debated in detail in time; for the present it is sufficient to say that if radioactive decay processes are not invariant, then many problems facing Velikovsky will vanish. The end result might well be a widespread reconsideration of Velikovsky's revised chronology. Similarly, if the cosmic time scale is drastically shortened, then the physical history of the Earth and Solar System will have to change.
In the interim, astronomical confirmations of Velikovsky's advance claims  are viewed with suspicion by those believing in the evolutionary viewpoint.
As an example of an advance claim I shall cite Velikovsky's descriptions of Saturn. In the keynote address Velikovsky refers to a nova-like explosion on Saturn  which occurred long before the events described in Worlds in Collision. In closing the Symposium Velikovsky notes how scientist and engineers will not deny that Jupiter's magnetic field must influence other bodies moving through it  . Having concluded that Saturn once exploded, Velikovsky has predicted that Saturn will be found to emit low energy cosmic rays  . Pioneer 10 has recently measured the magnetic tail of Jupiter at the orbit of Saturn  . Saturn enters Jupiter's magnetic tail every twenty years, at these encounters Velikovsky predicted an enhancement of cosmic radiation's arriving at Earth from Saturn  . A similar prediction has been made by an unidentified writer in Sky and Telescope who claims that the Jupiter tail encounter with Saturn's outer radiation belts could produce disturbances detectable by radio antennas aboard passing spacecraft  .
Synchroton radiation emitted by the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus has been detected and cosmic ray sources have now been associated with these planets.
Velikovsky's contention that Saturn recently erupted is supported by evidence that Saturn, like Jupiter, emits more energy than it receives from the sun  . The usual explanation for this excess is the escape of primordial energy from the planet. Why the excess still exists after billions of years is not obvious. Again the difference between Velikovsky and the evolutionists is a time factor: the difference between 4000 years and 4000 million years. While such great differences seemingly cannot be reconciled easily, the reader is cautioned to remember that the time difference depends upon the correctness of assumptions made in applying theories based upon an evolutionary model to the data. Usually assumptions are being made because no proof is possible. Accepted assumptions represent the current consensus of opinions put forth by the scientific establishment  .
The thoroughness of Velikovsky's scholarship is beyond question; his main heresy is to question the evolutionary view and to champion a recently forgotten revolutionary viewpoint  and his contention that electric and magnetic forces play an important role in the Universe. Consideration of Velikovsky's cosmology as a possible reality restores to its rightful place an old method of describing the cosmos; a method which had, at least in part, become inconvenient for political reasons . The question explored here is how could the revolutionary world view be forgotten by mankind and why does its re-emergence invoke such an emotional response from the believers of the currently popular evolutionary world view. Glimpses of these answers, I believe, are contained in the papers that follow. Together they are an important statement relevant to the question of the validity of Velikovsky's revolutionary cosmology.
The fact that this Symposium took place at the seven-year-old University of Lethbridge and the fact that the University granted an honourary degree in Arts and Science to Dr. Velikovsky, generally regarded as a heretic, and even as an outcast by a few misguided individuals, are extraordinary events which warrant explanation:
I believe that two factors allowed the supporters of Velikovsky to be successful at Lethbridge in their attempt to have him awarded an honourary degree for academic reasons.
First and foremost there was the intense dedication of those persons working to document the case for granting Velikovsky's degree. Without their enthusiasm, nothing would have been accomplished.
Second, in a small university the lines of communication are short. When the case for Velikovsky was presented to the General Faculties Council of the University, those voting on the matter were friendly with those supporting Velikovsky. When one is sufficiently informed about an issue it is hard to oppose known and trusted colleagues with good academic credentials. The isolation which normally prevents frequent communication between members of different departments is minimized at Lethbridge, as all are in one large and long building. Given our size and the common cause, daily contacts in the corridors, cafeteria, or library became more than occasions for passing social discourse; they became occasions for the exchange of ideas. This was a precious period in the intellectual growth of this University, especially for those intimately involved in the debate.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the members of the committee which planned the Symposium; they are including myself, Lynne Pohle, Don Thompson, lan Q. Whishaw, and most importantly, the chairman of the committee the man to whose memory this volume is dedicated, my close friend and greatly missed colleague, the late John T. Hamilton.
For his contribution to the Symposium I want to convey thanks from many delegates to the chairman, W. J. Cousins, Emeritus Professor of History. Throughout he directed the proceeding with fairness, introducing levity when the occasion called for it, but always maintaining decorum, especially where a chairman with lesser experience might have faltered.
Notwithstanding all of the acknowledgements above some persons who have rendered valuable assistance have been overlooked. To these persons I offer apology and thanks.
It is with gratitude that I acknowledge, for the University, the financial support awarded by the Canada Council, which in part paid the expenses of the scholars invited to address the Cultural Amnesia Symposium.
As well, special thanks are due to the senior academic administrators of the University, President William E. Beckel and Vice-President Owen G. Holmes, who from the very beginning supported this honourary degree and the concept of a symposium, who offered personal support and who committed University funds not only for the Symposium but also to ensure that this volume would be published, and could be sold at a reasonable price. For me it has been a privilege to work with the authors preparing this volume. Several of them have extended much appreciated personal courtesy, warm hospitality and stimulating discussion during my visits to their homes and institutions both with respect to the revision of their papers and in the wider pursuit of our mutual interest in revolutionary genesis.
I want to recognize the debt I owe to Philip Connolly for the wise counsel he has rendered concerning decisions I had to make on the format and contents of this volume. His critical remarks on the editing have assisted me greatly.
Lastly, but with special emphasis, I must thank my secretary Mrs. Elly Boumans who persevered and worked very closely with me both in the difficult job of transcribing the tape recordings of the Symposium (in view of their technical content which discouraged others who tried to help), and in typing and proofreading of the several drafts of the manuscript while the editorial committee and the authors negotiated the final form. Without her dedication this volume would not be complete today.
E. R. Milton,
Department of Physics
The University of Lethbridge
1. Velikovsky World in Collision, (Doubleday, 1950), See-part 2, Chapter 6, pages 298f (Pocket Books, 1977) pages 302f; (Abacus, 1972) pages 286f. The pagination in the now out-of-print but widely distributed Laurel edition (Dell, 1967) is identical to that in the Pocket Books edition. The pagination in the earlier Delta edition (Dell, 1965) is identical to that in the more recent Abacus edition, see ahead, footnote 3, page 21.
2. Doubleday (1960).
3. Press Conference, The University of Lethbridge, 8 May 1974.
4. The contents of this issue eventually were expanded to become the book The Velikovsky Affair, (University Book, 1965).
5. Both papers are reviewed in the periodical Pensee 4( 5): 47 (Winter 1974/ 75) published by the Student Academic Freedom Forum, Portland, Oregon. As well, both of these papers are included in the recorded proceedings of the Symposium. A set of nine recorded cassette tapes of the entire Symposium is available from the University Library. Inquiries as to the current purchase price for the set of tapes should be directed to the University Library Media Distribution Centre.
6. There is an increased awareness in scientific circles, particularly in the sciences, that not all data can be fitted to the existing theories which utilize only evolutionary process. For simplicity, most mathematical models of nature use linear system of equations, despite much evidence that many natural phenomena are clearly non-linear in behaviour. Discrepancies from linearity are in general, handled by introducing perturbing-terms into the equations or by postulating local-anomalies in the specific environment under discussion. Recently, Rene Thom has produced a catastrophe-theory which allows abrupt discontinuous changes to be introduced into otherwise slowly evolving systems. Doing so allows connection to be made between unconnected and differing sequences of behaviour for an evolving system which seemingly exhibits markedly different behaviour in the present from that recorded in the past. A consequence of Thom's theory is that extrapolation of behaviour over many orders of magnitude, either in time or in quantity is inherently dangerous. An example is found in certain mechanically stable system which can unexpectedly undergo catastrophic breakdown, yet no apparent explanation for the breakdown can be found by extrapolating from the initial conditions. See : Montgomery, M., "Why Gondolas Derail", Boston Globe, 17 April 1976, page 32. Thom's theory is summarized in two recent articles published in New Scientist; see : Stewart, "The Seven Elementary Catastrophes", 68: 447- 454 (20 November 1975); and Walgate, "Rene Thom Clears Up Catastrophes", 68: 578( 4 December 1975).
7. Bass Robert, "Did Worlds Collide?" Pensee 4( 3): 8-20 (Summer 1974); "Proofs" of the Stability of the Solar System, op. cit., pages 21-26.
8. The inability of Einstein to unify the gravitational field (general relativity) with the electromagnetic field (special relativity) may arise because the two fields are different descriptions of a single interaction. Until the nature of gravitation is realized, progress can be expected to be slow in finding a physical mechanism for Velikovsky's cosmology.
9. Dudley, H. C. "Phenomenological Causal Model Of Nuclear Decay, Assuming interaction with Neutrino Sea, "Lettere, Nuovo Cimento, 5( 3): 231-232 (16 September 1972); Anderson, John, and Spangler, G. W. "Radioactive Dating: Is the Decay Constant Really Constant?", Pensee 4( 4) : 31-33 (Fall 1974).
10. Engle, A. E. J. "Time and the Earth" American Scientist 57: 458-483 (Winter 1969) see pages 460f.
11. Dr. Velikovsky prefers to use the term 'advance claim' rather than prediction.
12. See ahead, Velikovsky, Cultural Amnesia: The Submergence of Terrifying Events in the Racial Memory and Their Later Emergence, page 21.
13. See ahead, Velikovsky, Afterword, page 149.
14. Velikovsky, "H. H. Hess and my Memoranda" Pensee 2( 3) 22-29 (Fall 1972) see particularly page 28 Saturn from the Memo to Hess dated 11 September 1973.
15. "Dimensions of Jupiter's Magnetic Tail Believed Enormous" NASA News Release 76-55.
16. Velikovsky Copyrighted lecture 5 November 1962. Are Cosmic Rays Emitted by Saturn?
17. News notes: Jupiter's Magnetic Tail , "Sky and telescope 51( 5): 375 (may 1976).
18. The measured thermal excess of Saturn is greater by a factor of two over solar insolation. Reported by L. J. Caroff at the Northwest astronomy Conference Victoria B. C., 1975.
19. In astronomy ten thousand galaxies can be counted but astronomers apply theories to infer that one billion galaxies exist in the universe; thus there are about one hundred thousand unobserved galaxies for every one that we observe directly. A similar factor exists between stars that can be counted on photographs and the total number of stars believed to exist within our galaxy.
To alter the time scale of the universe by an equal factor would bring events of one billion years ago into the last lce Age and events from the beginning of the Age of Mammals into the Christian Era.
Urey has proposed that collisions between Earth and comets occur from time to time. Such collision may explain massive animal extinction which accompanied breaks in the geological record. See Urey "Cometary Collisions and Geological Periods", Nature 242: 32-33 (2 March 1973). That Urey, explicitly contemptuous of Velikovsky, can bring a comet to collide with Earth millions of year ago, while Velikovsky cannot propose that a similar collision occurred thousands of years ago leads me to wonder if the recency of suggested events is proportional to their capability to produce discomfort in the evolutionist's mind: even catastrophic events if in the distant past are acceptable. Alteration of the timescale by de-evolutionizing the assumptions can bring cataclysmic events currently ascribed to the distant past into the historical period and thus to the time when the cataclysms may well have occurred and been recorded.
20. Stecchini, "The inconstant Heavens: Velikovsky in Relation to some Past cosmic Perplexities", American Behavioral Scientist 7: 19-35, 43-44 (September 1963), see especially pages 22-27. This paper also appears in de Grazia, Juergens, and Stecchini, editors of The Velikovsky Affair (University Books 1966).
21. See ahead Grinnell, Catastrophism and Uniformity.