by Ralph E. Juergens
'Minds in Chaos, ' reprinted here from the pages of The American Behavioral Scientist for September 1963, chronicles more than a decade of controversy over the works of Immanuel Velikovsky. But the story does not end in 1963. Events that have followed - set off in large part by the Behavioral Scientist study - shape themselves into additional chapters, and the image of objectivity so cherished by scientists loses even more of its luster as these later events begin to take on perspective. The story has bright facets as well as shadows, but in the glaring light of new knowledge from many fields the shadows cast by acts of repression and vilification seem darker than before.
To place these events in their proper setting, it is necessary to backtrack a bit. In August 1963 - the month before the appearance of the Behavioral Scientist's Velikovsky issue - Harper's Magazine printed 'Scientists in Collision, ' an article by Eric Larrabee, whose 1950 article in the same magazine marked the beginning of the controversy. Now, writing 13 years later, Larrabee chose to point up the case for Velikovsky by citing recent discoveries in astronomy, space science, geology, and geophysics that bring support to the thesis of Worlds in Collision.
Like the authors of the articles in the Behavioral Scientist, Larrabee called attention to a letter in Science (December 21, 1962) in which Valentin Bargmann, physicist of Princeton University, and Lloyd Motz, astronomer of Columbia University, urged their colleagues to recognize Velikovsky's priority in predicting three highly significant discoveries: (1) the high temperature of the planet Venus; (2) the emission of non-thermal radio noise by Jupiter; and (3) the vast reach of the earth's magnetic field in space.
The Bargmann-Motz plea for scientific good sportsmanship won no response in the journals of science [1 and 2], even though almost simultaneously Venus-probe Mariner II eliminated all doubt about the reality of the high temperature of Venus and gave strong support to Velikovsky's further suggestion - offered as early as 1945 - that the envelope of Venus consists largely of hydrocarbon gases and dust. After verifying that the editorial lid on discussion of such matters was as tight as ever, Larrabee sought access once more to Harper's.
'Science itself, ' wrote Larrabee, 'even while most scientists have considered his case to be closed, has been heading in Velikovsky's direction. Proposals which seemed so shocking when he made them are now commonplace... There is scarcely one of Velikovsky's central ideas - as long as it was taken separately and devoid of its implications - which has not since been propounded in all seriousness by a scientist of repute... His dismissal and suppression by the scientific community require of scientists an act of agonizing reappraisal. '
Almost immediately a reply issued from Donald Menzel, Director of Harvard College observatory. This highly emotional essay turned up as a free-lance manuscript in the editorial offices of Harper's. Hardly had it arrived, however, than it was recalled by its author and replaced with a version less abusive to Larrabee and more abusive to Velikovsky. It was so abusive that before printing it (Harper's December 1963), the editor of the magazine struck one sentence, which read: 'Velikovsky has been as completely discredited as was Dr. Brinkley of the goat-gland era or the thousands whom the American Medical Association has exposed as quacks, preying on human misery, by purveying nostrums or devices of no beneficial value whatever. '
Menzel was angered by the Bargmann-Motz letter in Science, considering it to be 'uncalled for. ' He seemed infuriated that Larrabee in one noncommittal passage had called attention to an ironical situation: in 1952, in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Menzel had offered calculations to show that if Velikovsky were right about electromagnetic forces in the solar system, the sun would have to have a surface electric potential of 10 19 (10 raised to 19th power, 10 billion billion) volts - an absolute impossibility, according to the astronomer; but in 1960, V. A. Bailey, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney (Professor Bailey died December 7, 1964, in Switzerland - he was en route to the United states, where he hoped to see experiments carried out in space to test his hypotheses), claimed that the sun is electrically charged, and that it has a surface potential of 10 19 volts -- precisely the value calculated by Menzel. Bailey, at the time his theory was first published, was entirely unaware of Velikovsky's work and of Menzel's repudiation of it.
The idea that his 'quantitative refutation of Velikovsky's wild hypothesis' - Menzel's own description of his contribution to the Proceedings in 1952 - should now be brought to Velikovsky's support was intolerable to the Harvard astronomer. So, when he mailed his paper to Harper's in 1963, he also sent a copy to Bailey in Sydney and asked him in a covering letter to revoke his theory of electric charge on the sun. That theory was casting doubt on the continuing efforts of Menzel and other American scientists to discredit Velikovsky, and Menzel pointed out what he conceived to be an error in Bailey's work.
Professor Bailey, taking exception to the idea that his own work should be abandoned to accommodate the anti-Velikovsky forces, prepared an article in rebuttal of Menzel's piece and submitted it to Harper's for publication in the same issue with Menzel's. Bailey had discovered a simple arithmetical error in Menzel's calculations, which invalidated his argument.
The editors of Harper's evidently taken aback by the heat of the controversy generated by Larrabee's article, rejected Bailey's offering, but agreed to print some of his comments if he would submit them in a brief letter. At the same time, however, Menzel was permitted to correct the arithmetical error pointed out by Bailey, and he did so without acknowledging the effect of the correction on his argument. Larrabee objected to such a use of Bailey's rebuttal paper, and at first Menzel was not permitted to extirpate the evidence of his carelessness; but after more pleading the correction was made.
Insight into the frame of mind of the Harvard astronomer at the time he wrote is to be gained by noting his remarks about Velikovsky's score on predictions. In connection with the radio noise of Jupiter, Menzel wrote that, since scientists for the most part do not accept the theory of Worlds in Collision, 'any seeming verification of Velikovsky's prediction is pure chance. ' In regard to the high temperature of Venus, the astronomer argued that '" hot" is only a relative term. For example, liquid air is hot [196 deg below zero, centigrade], relative to liquid helium [269 deg below zero, centigrade]... ' Later in his article Menzel referred to this comparison: 'I have already disposed of the question of the temperature of Venus. '
This is all Menzel had to say about the temperature of Venus, although in 1955 he himself revoked his own estimate of two decades earlier that the ground temperature of Venus would be 50 deg C. The revocation was explained by saying that the temperature must surely be much lower. In 1959 the ground temperature of Venus was still estimated to be 17 deg C. Mariner II found it to be at least 430 deg C, or about 800 deg F.
As for the extent of the earth's magnetic field, Menzel wrote: 'He [Velikovsky] said that it would extend as far as the moon; actually the field suddenly breaks off at a distance of several earth diameters. '
More than a year before Menzel took it upon himself to answer Larrabee, satellite Explorer X had detected the earth's magnetic field at a distance of at least 22 earth radii and gave no indication that this was its limit. Recently the Interplanetary Monitoring Platform satellites - especially IMP I - have found that the tail of the earth's magnetosphere extends 'at least as far as the orbit of the Moon' (Missiles and Rockets, January 18, 1965).
Larrabee, limiting his reply to one page in the same issue of Harper's, pointed out that 'where Dr Menzel touches on points of fact he is either misleading or misinformed. ' The summation that followed stands as a classic example of the demolition of a scientist's arguments by a non-scientist; it is particularly noteworthy in as much as Menzel's main theme was that non-scientists do not understand scientific issues and the scientific method, and therefore should be rebuked for entering into scientific debate before the general public. Just how successful Larrabee's counterattack proved to be is shown in the examples given below:
Menzel claimed that astronomers recognized the presence of electrified gas and magnetic fields in interplanetary space long before Velikovsky. Larrabee quoted Menzel's own words written in 1953: 'Indeed, the total number of electrons that could escape from the sun would be able to run a one cell flashlight for less that one minute. '
Menzel asserted that the earth's Van Allen belts contain equal numbers of positive and negative particles. Larrabee noted that Dr. James Van Allen, who discovered the belts, admits that this is an assumption for which there is no experimental evidence.
Menzel attempted to calculate the electric field in space near the earth that would result from a charge on the sun of the magnitude suggested by Bailey. Larrabee, in reply, observed that the calculation was based on the erroneous assumption that space is a non-conducting medium.
Menzel claimed that satellite motions are not disturbed by electromagnetic forces. Larrabee cited the publications of a number of space scientists to show that both orbital and rotational motions are affected by the presence of charged particles and magnetic fields.
Menzel argued that the disturbance of the earth's rotation by solar flares is attributable to temporary heating and expansion of the earth and is not an electromagnetic effect. Larrabee pointed out that Professor Andre Danjon, who discovered this phenomenon, evaluated the thermal effect and found it altogether inadequate; Danjon concludes that electromagnetism is the only likely cause.
Menzel insisted on his own earlier position that the envelope of Venus is made up of ice crystals and ridiculed Velikovsky's suggestion of 1950 - actually expressed as early as 1946 in letters to astronomers Harlow Shapley, Rupert Wildt, and Walter S. Adams - that hydrocarbons must predominate in the envelope. Larrabee referred the Harvard astronomer to a number of publications, including the official report of the Mariner II flight to Venus, in which it is stated that the clouds of Venus consist of condensed hydrocarbons.
Summing up, Larrabee wrote: 'Velikovsky offers evidence from numerous other sciences, in particular geology and archaeology. Breaking the barriers between disciplines, he arrives at conclusions which no discipline had reached independently. This is the real nature of his challenge, and it is fundamental. '
In the limited space allotted his letter (Harper's January 1964), Professor Bailey expressed surprise 'that Professor Menzel totally ignores the impressive testimony to the worth of Dr. Velikovsky's predictions contained in the recent letter of that outstanding scientist Professor H. H. Hess of Princeton. ' Bailey noted that Menzel's challenge to the theory of electric charge on the sun 'is unconvincing since it involves certain out-of date views about the material contents of interplanetary space as well as the unproved assumption that the earthly laws of the electrodynamic field can be safely extrapolated to bodies such as the sun of unearthly dimensions and temperatures. ' In Bailey's view, 'important [new] facts must compel scientists to adopt a cautious attitude towards the astronomical ideas on which they were reared until the powerful new methods of observation developed by space scientists have accumulated more knowledge. '
Earlier, Larrabee's article brought response from astronomer Lloyd Motz, who emphasized that his purpose in writing (Harper's, October 1963) was to make clear his own disagreement with Velikovsky's theories. Nevertheless, he stated: 'I do support his right to present his ideas and to have these ideas considered by responsible scholars and scientists as the creation of a serious and dedicated investigator... His writings should be carefully studied and analyzed because they are the product of an extraordinary and brilliant mind, and are based upon some of the most concentrated and penetrating scholarship of our period... ' The debate in Harper's went on in the August, October, December 1963, and the January 1964 issues. During the same period another effort failed to break the editorial barrier.
In the spring of 1963, Velikovsky had reason to suppose that confirmation of so many of his once-heretical predictions, and the even more impressive fact that none of his predictions had gone wrong, might have altered his standing among scientists - that finally he might be granted space in their journals. Despite the fact that a paper, 'Some Additional Examples of Correct Prognosis, ' had been rejected without being read by Philip Abelson, the editor of Science, Velikovsky now prepared an article on 'Venus, a Youthful Planet. ' H. H. Hess, who served that year as President of the American Geological Society, offered to transmit the new paper to the American Philosophical Society with his recommendation as a member of the society that it be published in the Proceedings.
This simple act of contribution seems to have generated a storm that nearly spilt the society before calm was restored.
The fortunes and misfortunes of Dr Velikovsky's paper during the half-year it was held by the Philosophical Society are revealed, in part, in statements made by two men - George W. Corner and Edwin G. Boring - both of whom played earlier, and thus far unrecounted, roles in the Velikovsky story.
In 1952, Corner was chairman of a symposium on Unorthodoxies in Modern Science at the annual meeting of the Philosophical Society. It was he who permitted Velikovsky to mount the platform and offer comments of his own following the reading of a paper in which Harvard's lady astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin attacked Worlds in Collision in a most violent and irresponsible manner. This bit of fair play on Corner's part later was repudiated by the society's publications committee; Velikovsky's correction of Gaposchkin's misquotations were rejected for publication in the Proceedings. (See page 231 for a comparison of texts - Worlds in Collision versus Gaposchkin's alleged quotations from the book). By 1963 Corner had become Executive Officer of the Society and Editor of the Proceedings.
Velikovsky's Venus paper therefore came directly to the hand of Corner. For several months following the submission of the paper by Hess there was no word as to its disposition. In the meantime, Larrabee's article in Harper's appeared, as did the special issue of the Behavioral Scientist devoted to 'The Politics of Science and Dr Velikovsky. ' Both documents surely came to the attention of at least some of the members of the Philosophical Society's publications committee.
At last, in a letter dated October 15, 1963, Corner reported to Hess. The publications committee, after several sessions in which Velikovsky's paper was discussed 'at great length, ' was stalemated by 'divided opinions. ' The committee split into two belligerent camps, each unwilling to yield to the views of the other. Corner informed Hess that he had been 'directed to seek the advice of several responsible scientists and scholars, all members of the society' but not of the publications committee. He promised to keep Hess informed of later developments.
Along with Cecilia Gaposchkin and I. Bernard Cohen, professor of the history of science, Edwin Boring - a professor of psychology - was a scheduled speaker on the programme of the 1952 symposium on unorthodoxies. Thus the panel was dominated by Harvard professors. Boring, in his talk and in the version later published in the Proceedings, did not neglect to make sport of Velikovsky. Two years later, in an article published in the American Scientist for October 1954, he classed Velikovsky with those who, bolstered by ego alone, hold to ideas long after evidence turns against them.
Now, however, Professor Boring altered his position. On a visit to the campus of George Peabody College in Nashville in the fall of 1963 he made known his new-found feelings about 'the whole sordid mess' retold by the Behavioral Scientist. He was particularly critical of the role played by Harlow Shapley.
Boring disclosed at Peabody that in stormy meetings of the publications committee there had been heated discussion whether or not to print Velikovsky's paper. Further, he let it be known that he was to be put in charge of a new Letters column in the Proceedings. Such a column would provide what Boring described as an 'appropriate vehicle' for the controversial paper, which would be the first item to appear in the column. Handling the matter in this way would permit publication without implying approval by the Society.
As it turned out, however, even this face-saving compromise failed. In a letter dated January 20, 1964, Corner reported to Hess that 'the Committee on Publications... completed a long and careful study of the problem raised by the short manuscript of Mr Velikovsky... During the past couple of months, at the direction of the committee, I submitted the paper to an eminent historian of science and an equally eminent sociologist, and an astronomer of very high standing completely outside the circle of Mr Velikovsky's critics.
'After extremely thoughtful discussion, at which every possible way of dealing with this matter was considered, the committee decided that the Society should not publish this paper... '
'The Politics of Science and Dr Velikovsky' appeared in ABS in September 1963 and quickly became a subject of intense discussion and debate on college campuses around the country. For the first time the story of the suppression of Worlds in Collision had been documented. The initial printing of the issue, itself larger than usual, quickly became exhausted in the face of a surge of orders for additional copies, and a second printing was made.
Reader reaction was predominantly favourable. A number of scholars and foundation officers wrote letters of commendation to the editor, Alfred de Grazia. Others wrote directly to Velikovsky, expressing hope that recognition for his contributions to human knowledge soon would be forthcoming. One of very few expressions of disapproval appeared in a letter to the present writer from Warren Weaver, a vice president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Weaver asserted that he was 'amazed, disappointed, and in fact appalled that this serious journal [ABS] would devote so much space and effort to a series of articles of this sort. ' This was only the first of several occasions when the Sloan Foundation executives constituted themselves a Committee of Public Safety against Velikovsky's ideas.
Professor Bernard Barber of Barnard College, Columbia University, reported within a few weeks of publication that 'I have already used your Velikovsky issue to very good teaching purpose in my Sociology of Knowledge course in connection with my general article on resistance by scientists to scientific discovery. '
Charles Perrow, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, expressed the conviction that the ABS Velikovsky issue 'should be required reading in social science courses. '
G. A. Lundberg of the University of Washington wrote: 'It seems to me that the A. A. A. S., not to mention individual scientists and groups, must now prepare a detailed answer. What is really at issue are the mores governing the reception of new scientific ideas on the part of established spokesmen for science. '
Indeed, it was tempting for spokesmen of science to take up the charges made by ABS. Even though Professor Menzel, taking it upon himself to reply to Larrabee's article in Harper's had, in the opinion of many of his colleagues, fared very badly in the exchange, a more cautious and cleverly calculated reply to the Behavioral Scientist might have a telling effect.
Since the issues raised against the behaviour of the scientific community were essentially questions of ethics, a seemingly natural choice of vehicle in which to pursue these issues was the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a journal which prides itself on being a medium of expression for 'the conscience of science. ' The Bulletin has a readership of more than 25,000, including most of the leading scientists of the world. It has prestige among such people and an obligation to undertake inquiries into the politics of science - to demand objective self-analysis on questions of scientific behaviour. Being a platform both for confession of error and for expression of ideas for improving the image of science, it is ideally suited as an arena in which to come to grips with the issues of the Velikovsky case. Unfortunately, however, the Bulletin chose to take up arms against the suggestion of fair play for Velikovsky.
As Eugene Rabinowitch, the editor of the Bulletin, later acknowledged in a letter to Professor H. H. Hess (September 8, 1964), a widespread reawakening of interest in Velikovsky's theories, and his being championed as a great savant by the Behavioral Scientist, required remedial action. Clearly Rabinowitch took it to be his first duty to close ranks with fellow scientists whose conspiratorial acts in suppression of Velikovsky had been publicly charged against them.
Rabinowitch assigned his Washington reporter, Howard Margolis - no part a scientist - the job of wielding the hatchet against ABS and Velikovsky. Margolis resurrected techniques employed with devastating effect during the earlier outcry against Worlds in Collision. His vulgar and thoroughly irresponsible article, 'Velikovsky Rides Again' (Bulletin, April 1964) is filled with misrepresentation and misquotations, jeers and sneers, bald statements of unfounded charges, and dogmatic presentations of received theory as fact.
Margolis chose to discuss matters of philology and Egyptology -- fields unfamiliar to him, but having intrinsic appeal in that most Bulletin readers could be expected to be little oriented in them and hence dependent upon the integrity of editor and author.
Displaying ignorance even of the elementary French required to read one of Velikovsky's sources, Margolis resorted to bravado - 'Now if you look up the actual inscription... ' - and launched into a totally confused discussion of Velikovsky's interpretation of a hieroglyphic text found at El Arish in Egypt. This is an inscription in stone telling of storm and darkness and the death of a Pharaoh in a whirlpool. The place name Pi Kirot appears in this inscription, and the name Pi ha-hiroth is given in Exodus as the place where the tribes of Israel crossed the Red Sea; Velikovsky suggested in Worlds in Collision - and amplified the argument in Ages in Chaos, unbeknownst to Margolis - that both references are to the same place. The name appears only once in the Egyptian monuments and only once in the Bible. And in context, both sources tell of storm and darkness, and of catastrophe befalling a Pharaoh overwhelmed by water.
From the confused arguments presented by Margolis the only facts to emerge are that he does not understand that Egyptian was written without vowels and that he is not even aware of the use of 'ha' in Hebrew as the definite article. Ironically the Bulletin's Washington reporter elected to challenge Velikovsky on a philological conclusion which had won the acceptance of Professor William F. Albright, one of the world's leading orientalists and a harsh critic of Ages in Chaos, as early as 1946.
Rabinowitch printed Margolis's vainglorious essay without comment.
At the appearance of this diatribe in the estimable Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Eric Larrabee - a past contributor to the journal - contacted the managing editor and was promised space for a reply in an early issue. But when he met the assigned deadline, he was informed that the space was not longer available.
The mere vulgarity and unscholarly quality of Margolis's article did not deter its eager reception in quarters dominated by organized science. For example, L. H. Farinholt, another vice president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, sent a facsimile of the article to Moses Hadas, Jay Professor of Greek at Columbia University. Hadas had remarked in a published book review that 'in our time Immanuel Velikovsky... appears to be approaching vindication. ' Farinholt thought Hadas should find the Margolis essay 'of interest and perhaps amusing. '
Hadas replied that he had no opinion about the validity of Velikovsky's astronomical theories, 'but I know that he is not dishonest. What bothered me was the violence of the attack on him: if his theories were absurd, would they not have been exposed as such in time without a campaign of vilification? One after another of the reviews misquoted him had then attacked the misquotation. So in the Margolis piece you send me... [Hadas gives several examples of Margolis's misrepresentations of Velikovsky's correct quotations]… It is his critic, not Velikovsky, who is uninformed and rash... The issue is one of ordinary fair play. '
On May 12, 1964, Alfred de Grazia, as publisher of The American Behavioral Scientist, wrote to Rabinowitch and demanded that the Bulletin editor repudiate the many distortions in Margolis's article. 'Our contributors and our advisors have urged us to take action to remedy the wrong done us. We hesitate to do this since we prefer to rely in the first instance on your scholarly good will. '
Rabinowitch replied to de Grazia on June 23, in a long letter urging him not to go to court; 'the magazine cannot disclaim legal responsibility for any defamatory statements, but I do not see in the article by Mr Margolis any statements of such nature with respect to yourself or to the contributors of your journal. ' Thus tacitly admitting that Velikovsky had been defamed, Rabinowitch suggested that 'since Margolis brought up paleographic evidence, fairness requires the Bulletin to give space to a letter disputing this evidence (provided this letter is not more abusive than Mr. Margolis's criticisms). ' He offered to print an article presenting the views of Velikovsky, should it be written and submitted by a scientist of standing. Rabinowitch concluded: 'It is in this spirit of scientific argumentation that the whole problem should be resolved. '
Velikovsky, informed of Rabinowitch's stand, would not consent to enter into debate with Margolis on matters of Hebrew and Egyptian philology and paleography. The author of the Bulletin article had amply demonstrated incompetence in these subject. But since Rabinowitch had written of the 'spirit of scientific argumentation, ' Velikovsky thought he might be willing to publish a paper expressing a positive point of view. Professor Hess agreed to submit for publication in the Bulletin 'Venus, a Youthful Planet, ' the paper by Velikovsky which the American Philosophical Society had returned earlier.
On September 8, 1964 (in the letter already quoted in part, above), Rabinowitch replied to Hess: 'I am afraid I cannot offer publication in the Bulletin [for Velikovsky's manuscript] - not because we are "afraid" of publishing it, but because the Bulletin is not a magazine for scientific controversies...
'I am not qualified - and have no time - to study Velikovsky's books, or even his article (which I return with this letter), but I know enough of the absence of dogmatism in modern science and its easy acceptance of revolutionary new ideas - including the relativity of time and absence of exact causality in the world of elementary particles - to trust qualified astrophysicists with an unprejudiced judgment about Mr Velikovsky's theories - and so far as I am aware, not a single qualified scientist has raised his voice in favour of [them] (even if you and one of your colleagues from Princeton have felt in their duty to point out in Science the remarkable correctness of some of Velikovsky's specific conclusions). '
It is interesting to compare this expression of complacency with comments made by Robinowitch in his 1963 book, The Dawn of a New Age:
'As scientists, we have a common experience - that, in science, free inquiry and untrammeled exploration by individuals are the ultimate sources of the most important progress. The greatest scientific discoveries have come through efforts of non-conformist individuals who have asked heretical questions and boldly doubted the validity of generally accepted conceptions... ' (p. 222).
'I believe that the responsibility of scientists in our time is to bring into human affairs a little more of such skeptical rationality, a little less prejudice, a greater respect for facts and figures, a more critical attitude toward theories and dogmas, a greater consciousness of the limitations of our knowledge, and a consequent tolerance for different ideas and a readiness to submit them to the test of the experiment... For scientists, there should be no final truths, no forbidden areas of exploration, no words that are taboo, no prescribed or proscribed ideas... ' (p. 223).
'A scientist must always be prepared to submit his beliefs, findings, and generalizations to the never ending test of observation and experiment. Not that he is entirely without resistance to new theories that would overthrow the principles which he has become accustomed to accepting as valid; but of all groups of men, he belongs to the most open-minded one, the one most ready to accept change. He would be a poor scientist who would refuse to consider new facts and to change ideas to accommodate them. The only thing of which science is intolerant is intolerance itself - claims that certain concepts are sacrosanct, true beyond doubt, and protected from the test of logic and experience. ' (p. 323).
In his correspondence with de Grazia and Hess, Rabinowitch admitted that he had not read Velikovsky's books. Furthermore, he displayed an imperfect memory: to de Grazia he expressed a vague recollection that Shapley and Menzel had analyzed Velikovsky's theories, yet Shapley never published any arguments or articles on the subject; in his letter to Hess, Rabinowitch gave evidence of confusion about more recent events, for he mistook Hess for one of the writers of the Bargmann-Motz letter in Science. Still, on the basis of no acquaintance with Velikovsky's work, and of hazy memories of what others had said and done, he undertook a campaign against Worlds in Collision and put an unqualified journalist in charge of the operation.
Professor de Grazia reproduced the Margolis text in full in the Behavioral Scientist for October 1964 and appended an extensive commentary pointing out in detail -54 examples - its many points of ignorance and misrepresentation. This elicited a letter from Margolis: 'May I merely suggest that before your readers reach a judgment on the matter, they take the trouble to check Velikovsky's assertions, my assertions, and de Grazia's rebuttal against at least one source. I suggest Augustine's City of God... Unlike the El-Arish manuscript... the book is available in any library... ' In a covering letter, Margolis offered to meet de Grazia to establish harmony.
Margolis, still uninformed - many months after his article appeared in print - that the El-Arish document he purported to interpret is an inscription in stone and not a manuscript, suggested that de Grazia's readers inform themselves of what Velikovsky has to say about 'Minerva, Deucalion, Varro, Ogyges, Venus, and so on' by checking references to those names in St Augustine. Clearly he hoped no one would follow through on his suggestion; otherwise he would not have risked such innuendo.
De Grazia replied:
'You claim that Velikovsky misquoted St Augustine's City of God, but do not submit any specific reference. In a matter of accuracy in quotations no issue can be settled except by referring to the concrete texts. In the matter of quotations from St Augustine, in your own article, you gave only one example, and on that point your charges were unfounded... If you know of texts of ancient literature that contradict the thesis of Dr Immanuel Velikovsky, you will do a service to knowledge by publishing them. But as long as you do not quote them, any debate would be built on air. The solid fact is that the ABS proved that you have misquoted or misrepresented the writers of ABS, the works of Dr Velikovsky, and the two ancient texts mentioned in your article. Please do manifest your professed concern with accuracy in quotations by taking steps to correct this matter.
'Since you are wrong in fifty-four ways already, it ill behooves you to increase your score. '
The issue of irresponsibility on the part of reviewers was brought into focus again in the summer of 1965. Book Week, a Sunday supplement to the New York Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Examiner, published (July 11, 1965) a review of Worlds in Collision by Willy Ley, author of popular works on rocketry and space travel. The occasion for this review, 15 years after the first publication of the book, was its appearance, along with Earth in Upheaval, in paperback form (Delta, 1965).
In his essay, Ley wheels to the firing line almost every device used by the earlier reviewers: he dismisses the arguments of Worlds in Collision by summarizing them in a manner calculated to make them appear ridiculous; he categorizes Velikovsky's works with those of Hans Hörbiger, a long-discredited catastrophist whose speculations never led to verifiable predictions; he indulges in the same false generalizations about Velikovsky's handling of source materials (. '.. half the time the Bible does not say what it is supposed to say'), but disdains the opportunity to be specific; he objects to a method of scholarly deduction that he does not even attempt to understand ('... references to old writings... is a peculiar way of establishing proof of physical events'); he flaunts his own ignorance of material Velikovsky assembled in Earth in Upheaval (. '.. animal life went through the fateful years of 1500 B. C. without any disturbance'); and he outlines his own mathematical proof of 'the complete impossibility' of the eruption of Venus from Jupiter - showing himself unaware that cosmologist R. A. Lyttleton recently demonstrated mathematically that Venus must have originated by eruption from Jupiter or one of the other major planets.
Velikovsky was invited by the editor of Book Week to write a rebuttal to Ley's accusations. Taking the opportunity to answer his uncritical critics in general, he prepared a long article, which appeared in Book Week for September 9, 1965.
Professor Horace M. Kallen, after reading the rejoinder, wrote to Velikovsky: 'I think you have put Ley in a position he will find it very difficult to wriggle out of. '
The appearance of Worlds in Collision and Earth in Upheaval in soft covers occasioned another episode that bears recording.
In March 1965 a modest advertisement announcing the Delta editions was submitted by Dell Publishing Co. for publication in Science and Scientific American. Both periodicals turned down the ad, but were unwilling to put their refusals in writing. Eventually, however, Robert V. Ormes, managing editor of Science, wrote to Franklin Spier, Inc., the ad agency: 'As Mr Scherago [advertising manager of Science] told you on the telephone, the advertisement you submitted has not been accepted by Science. ' As the agency reported in a memo to Dell: 'We insisted on a letter giving some reason for the rejection. So far, just this "answer" from Science - which brilliantly avoids mentioning the books that are involved. '
Perhaps inadvertently, Science listed the paperback edition of Worlds in Collision under 'Reprints' in its occasional department 'New Books' (May 7, 1965).
Throughout the story of Velikovsky's reception by science, one phenomenon occurs over and over again. One prominent scientist after another undertakes to criticize and ridicule the author and his theories; having done this, he states - not without a trace of pride - that he has not read the books.
This trend was established early, when Harlow Shapley, in interviews, and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, in print, spoke out against Worlds in Collision before the book appeared. Astronomer Dean McLaughlin of Michigan boasted that he never would read Velikovsky's book, yet he felt no compunction against proclaiming it to be 'nothing but lies. ' Philip Abelson rejected Velikovsky's article in 1963 without experiencing any compulsion to read it, and Rabinowitch did likewise with another article, at the same time throwing the weight of his journal's prestige behind a renewal of the campaign to brand Velikovsky as incompetent.
Another phenomenon is the alacrity with which scientist-critics of Velikovsky proclaim their own objectivity by citing their acceptance of Einstein's theories. Again and again the name of Einstein or the theory of relativity has been brought forward in comparisons of Velikovsky and Einstein which are intended to justify the different receptions accorded their works. Einstein's theory, held in highest esteem in spite of the fact that even after half a century there is no indisputable proof of its validity, is held up as a model scientific theory; Velikovsky's theory, on the other hand, although many predictions based upon it have already found vindication, is rejected as unscientific. The logic in this stance - adopted most recently by Rabinowitch - is elusive.
Still another approach to the problem posed by Velikovsky's heresies is to depreciate the evidence or ignore it altogether when it tends to support him. This technique averts discussion and acknowledgment of his successful predictions. Sky & Telescope, a journal for amateur astronomers published by Harvard Observatory, reported the findings of Mariner II by reprinting the summary from a book, Mariner, Mission to Venus, written by the staff of Jet Propulsion Laboratory - the group which conducted the experiments aboard the spacecraft. Minor ellipses in the text are noted by dots in the reprinted version, but four major deletions are unacknowledged by any sort of mark.
Restoration of the mutilated text requires reinsertion of the following:
(1) 'The rotation might be retrograde... '
(2) The clouds of Venus 'probably are comprised of condensed hydrocarbons held in oily suspension... '
(3) 'No water could be present at the surface, but there is some possibility of small lakes of molten metal of one type or another. '
(4) 'Some reddish sunlight... may find its way through the 15- mile-thick cloud cover, but the surface is probably very bleak. '
Is it just coincidence that these points - which (1) suggest anomalous behaviour in the past, (2) lend credence to a specific prediction made by Velikovsky, (3) challenge long-held motions of water clouds on Venus, and (4) cast an insurmountable barrier across the path of the theory that Venus is heated by a greenhouse-like trapping of sunlight - fell by the wayside in an editorial office at Harvard? Does Harvard University have any responsibility for inquiring into such matters (the question asked by de Grazia in 1963)?
Influential scientists continue to exert pressure against any sort of favourable mention of Velikovsky in popular journals and magazines. The easiest ploy is to impress upon editors that only scientists - and preferably selected members of the establishment - are competent to judge scientific theories. And since science is an important source of news of interest to the general public, editors are not inclined to reject such advice. An article planned in 1963 by Newsweek to call attention to Velikovsky's predictions and their fulfilment by Mariner II was abandoned following a telephone conversation between a Newsweek editor and Harlow Shapley - the astronomer to whom Velikovsky wrote in 1946 that a crucial test of his theory would be a search for hydrocarbons in the atmosphere of Venus.
In the Soviet Union, a journal of popular science, Nauka i Zhizn (Science and Life), in a series of articles continuing since 1962, has been casually presenting Velikovsky's theories, even the parenthetical speculation that in the legend of the sinking of Atlantis one too many zeroes crept in to the traditional dating of the event. Velikovsky's name, however, has not been mentioned in the series.
The Italian multi-lingual journal Civiltà delle Macchine, in its issue for May-June 1964, underlined the need for eternal vigilance to preserve the spirit of the scientific method, which had been discussed at length in an earlier issue commemorating Galileo's fourth centenary. Professor Bruno de Finetti of the Instituto Matematico of the University of Rome contributed the lead article for the May-June issue.
To illustrate a theme presented by the journal's editors - science must continually guard itself against scepticism that tends to limit its perception to a series of unrelated hypotheses just as it must guard against dogmatism - Professor de Finetti expressed the opinion that the refusal of the large majority in the academic community to even discuss Velikovsky's ideas imparts 'one great teaching above all others; ' professionalization and departmentalization in science has become a major obstacle to the continuous renewal so necessary to science.
Thus, according to de Finetti, scholars refused to discuss the merits of Velikovsky's studies because their attentions were diverted by a more personal issue - the fact that he challenged 'the right of their fossilized brains to rest in peace' with the skills and problems already established. The defence of such vested interest in the preservation of comfortable interdisciplinary boundaries may transform 'each clan of specialists and the great clan of scientists in general into a sort of despotic and irresponsible mafia. '
Although American scientists and science editors continue to ignore - or rail against - Velikovsky's ideas, impersonal science itself continues to explode its own more conventional theories by turning up new evidence. Much new evidence tends to support Velikovsky; some of it is simply compatible with his views; up to now none of it has refuted them.
In April 1964 an announcement by radio astronomers of evidence that the planet Jupiter suddenly changed its period of rotation made front-page news. The correspondence between the rotational period of radio sources and the rotational period of the body of the planet is entirely inferential, but the time of sudden change noted for the radio sources coincided with a similar change in the period of rotation of Jupiter's red spot. In this connection, it should be noted that in a memorandum of proposed space researches sent by Velikovsky to Professor H. H. Hess at Hess's request in September 1963 the following suggestion is made: 'Precise calculations should be made as to the effect of the magnetic field permeating the solar system on the motions of [Jupiter] which is surrounded by a magnetosphere of an intensity presumably 10 14 times that of the terrestrial magnetosphere. This is basic to the impending reevaluation of electromagnetic effects in celestial mechanics. '
At a meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Hamburg (1964) the planets Mercury and Venus became topics of intense interest. Australian astronomers reported evidence of temperatures near 600F on the dark side of Mercury, where temperatures far below zero were expected. According to Scientific American (October 1964), 'The explanation advanced for this surprisingly high temperature provides another surprise: that in spite of Mercury's small mass and its exposure to solar radiation pressure... it has enough of an atmosphere to transfer some of the sunlit side's abundant heat ration to the dark side. ' Perhaps a more reasonable explanation will be found some day in the sequel to Worlds in Collision, which deals with earlier catastrophes, at least one of which the human record ascribes to Mercury.
New radar studies of Venus have confirmed its retrograde rotation, first detected at about the time of the Mariner II flyby by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Goldstone Tracking Station. Radar Work at Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico by scientists from Cornell University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology pinpointed the period of rotation at 247 +/-5 days. The planet orbits the sun in 225 days. British and Soviet workers also have verified the retrograde rotation.
The U. S. Interplanetary Monitoring Platform (IMP) Satellite - Explorer 18 - has detected a magnetosphere around the moon -- a teardrop-shaped region reaching at least 68,000 miles into space on the side away from the sun. The same probe has discovered a region of high-energy electrons fanning out and trailing off like a wake on the night side of the earth. K. A. Anderson, who first reported this discovery, believes it likely that the moon encounters this tail on its monthly passages around the earth. Dr N. F. Ness of Goddard Space Flight Center believes the earth's tail may extend well past the orbit of the moon.
The earth's tail is believed to be an elongation of the geomagnetic field in the anti-solar direction. In 1953 Velikovsky suggested that the earth's magnetic field may reach as far as the moon, causing certain unexplained libratory, or rocking, motions of the moon.
In Book Week for September 5, 1965, Velikovsky claimed: 'in July, Mariner IV confirmed my picture of Mars as more moon-like than earth-like: "The contacts of Mars with other planets larger than itself and more powerful make it highly improbable that any higher forms of life, if they previously existed there, survive on Mars. It is, rather, a dead planet"( Worlds in Collision, page 364)... That Mars has crater-like formations, as the moon does, follows from the way these formations were built. Mars was heated and it bubbled; it was pelted by interplanetary bolts; some large meteorites pelted it, too. These events are described on many pages of Worlds in Collision as having taken place mainly in the 8th century before the present era... the sharp outlines of the formations, in the presence of an atmosphere, speak for their recentness. '
Velikovsky's efforts of more than a decade to induce radiocarbon laboratories around the world to test objects from the New Kingdom of Egypt have yielded their first fruits. The test results are compatible with Velikovsky's chronology and quite incompatible with the conventional timetable.
In 1963 three small pieces of wood from the tomb of Tutankhamen were delivered to the radiocarbon laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. The Director of the laboratory, Dr Elizabeth K. Ralph, performed the test, using all three samples (total 26 grams). In Radiocarbon (1965), a Yale University publication, she reports that the date of the material, based on Libby's estimate of the half-life of radiocarbon, is 1030+/-50, B. C.( based on the Washington estimate of the half-life, the date is 1120+/-52, B. C.).
These dates are clearly at odds with accepted chronology, which places Tutankhamen in the fourteenth century. Velikovsky places him in the ninth century. The test results do not confute Velikovsky's chronology because radiocarbon in wooden objects indicates the time when the cells of the wood were actively growing. Only wood from the outer parts of a log yields dates close to the time of cutting, whereas wood from the interior of a log may yield dates hundreds of years earlier. Almost half the wood tested in this case was of Lebanese cedar, a tree famed for its longevity and not usually cut as a sapling. Therefore it is possible that heartwood grown about 1030 (or 1120) B. C. was cut in the ninth century to make objects for Tutankhamen; it is not possible, however, that wood grown centuries after his death furnished objects for a fourteenth-century pharaoh.
No hard and fast conclusions can be drawn on the basis of a single test of this kind. But perhaps now the door has been opened for the further testing that is so urgently needed in the 13 centuries whose chronology Velikovsky has challenged. Up to now this entire period of history had been left out of radiocarbon programmes.
Because of the eminently successful campaign of defamation in the 1950's the name Velikovsky became anathema among editors and science writers of newspapers and mass-circulation magazines. In large degree this situation is still unchanged. But the article by Larrabee in Harper's for August 1963 and the special issue of the American Behavioral Scientist in September 1963 initiated a fermentation process in scholarly circles and on college campuses which, up to now, has been unreflected in either the general or the scientific press. Students and young professors are making known their desires to understand the implications Velikovsky's theories and of their non-reception by science.
The October-November 1964 issue of Quadrant, published in Sydney by the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, carried a ten-page article, 'Velikovsky in Collision, ' by David Stove, senior lecturer in philosophy at Sydney University.
Stove offers objective criticism of the evidence advanced by Velikovsky in all his books: '... the most striking evidence for Velikovsky's theory remains the historical. The Earth spoke, at least to my ear, very equivocally for him... What, then, of the skies?... it is the Evening Star herself who has responded to two of Velikovsky's antecedently improbable predictions with an audible and astonishing "yes"... [The weight of this evidence] should not be overestimated... but I do not see how it could be denied that these two confirmations substantially raise the probability of...[ the entire thesis] above the value it had in the light of all the previous evidence; and this was by no means negligible. '
Stove attributes the violent reaction to Worlds in Collision among astronomers to Velikovsky's forceful reminder 'that astronomy is not a theoretical science, but a branch of natural history... The uneventfulness of the history of the solar system is an assumption on which astronomers have placed a tacit reliance it by no means ever deserved. In the house that they knew so well, they had never noticed this door. And Velikovsky did the most infuriating thing in the world: he - a stranger - walked through this open door... We should not withhold the highest possible admiration for the first man to suggest that the earth is not only not the centre, not only not still, but not even safe. '
Notes (References Cited in "Aftermath to Exposure")
1. In a letter to Science (Vol. 140, p. 1, 362), Australian radio
astronomer Grote Reber charged that Velikovsky's prediction
Had trouble resolving dest near word
2. Normal D. Newell, curator of fossils at the American Museum of Natural History and professor of paleontology at Columbia, offered a theory of 'gradual' catastrophism in Scientific American for February 1963. Here Velikovsky's name appears - almost as if it were a late editorial insertion - with that of Charles Hapgood (Earth's Shifting Crust), and together the two men are exemplified as writers who 'continue to propose imaginary catastrophes on the basis of little or no historical evidence. ' The timing of this reference to Velikovsky suggests that the Bargmann-Motz letter in Science may have prompted it.