Immanuel Velikovsky

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Immanuel Velikovsky
Immanuel Velikovsky.jpg
Immanuel Velikovsky at the 1974 American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference in San Francisco
Born(1895-06-10)10 June 1895
Vitebsk, Russian Empire (in present-day Belarus)
Died17 November 1979(1979-11-17) (aged 84)
Alma mater Moscow State University

Immanuel Velikovsky ( /ˌvɛliˈkɒfski/ ; Russian :Иммануи́л Велико́вский,IPA:  [ɪmənʊˈil vʲɪlʲɪˈkofskʲɪj] ; 10 June [ O.S. 29 May] 1895 17 November 1979) was a Russian independent scholar who wrote a number of books reinterpreting the events of ancient history, in particular the US bestseller Worlds in Collision published in 1950. [1] Earlier, he had played a role in the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, and was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Velikovsky's work is frequently cited as a canonical example of pseudoscience and has been used as an example of the demarcation problem. [2]

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

Ancient history Human history from the earliest records to the end of the classical period

Ancient history as a term refers to the aggregate of past events from the beginning of writing and recorded human history and extending as far as the post-classical history. The phrase may be used either to refer to the period of time or the academic discipline.


His books use comparative mythology and ancient literary sources (including the Old Testament) to argue that Earth suffered catastrophic close contacts with other planets (principally Venus and Mars) in ancient history. In positioning Velikovsky among catastrophists including Hans Bellamy, Ignatius Donnelly, and Johann Gottlieb Radlof, [3] the British astronomers Victor Clube and Bill Napier noted "... Velikovsky is not so much the first of the new catastrophists ...; he is the last in a line of traditional catastrophists going back to mediaeval times and probably earlier." [4] Velikovsky argued that electromagnetic effects play an important role in celestial mechanics. He also proposed a revised chronology for ancient Egypt, Greece, Israel, and other cultures of the ancient Near East. The revised chronology aimed at explaining the so-called "dark age" of the eastern Mediterranean (c. 1100–750 BC) and reconciling biblical history with mainstream archaeology and Egyptian chronology.

Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics. Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes. For example, scholars have used the relationships between different myths to trace the development of religions and cultures, to propose common origins for myths from different cultures, and to support various psychological theories.

Before the spread of writing, oral literature did not always survive well, though some texts and fragments have persisted. August Nitschke sees some fairy tales as literary survivals dating back to Ice Age and Stone Age narrators.

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.

In general, Velikovsky's theories have been ignored or vigorously rejected by the academic community. [5] Nonetheless, his books often sold well and gained an enthusiastic support in lay circles, often fuelled by claims of unfair treatment for Velikovsky by orthodox academia. [6] [7] [8] [9] The controversy surrounding his work and its reception is often referred to as "the Velikovsky affair". [10] [11] [12]

Childhood and early education

Immanuel Velikovsky was born in 1895 to a prosperous Jewish family in Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus). The son of Shimon (Simon Yehiel) Velikovsky (1859–1937) and Beila Grodensky, he learned several languages as a child and was sent away to study at the Medvednikov Gymnasium in Moscow, where he performed well in Russian and mathematics. He graduated with a gold medal in 1913. Velikovsky then traveled in Europe and visited Palestine before briefly studying medicine at Montpellier in France and taking premedical courses at the University of Edinburgh. He returned to Russia before the outbreak of World War I, enrolled in the University of Moscow, and received a medical degree in 1921.

Vitebsk City in Viciebsk Region, Belarus

Vitebsk, or Viciebsk, is a city in Belarus. The capital of the Viciebsk Region, it had 342,381 inhabitants in 2004, making it the country's fourth-largest city. It is served by Viciebsk Vostochny Airport and Viciebsk Air Base.

Russian Empire Former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Belarus country in Eastern Europe

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Upon taking his medical degree, Velikovsky left Russia for Berlin. With the financial support of his father, Velikovsky edited and published two volumes of scientific papers translated into Hebrew. The volumes were titled Scripta Universitatis Atque Bibliothecae Hierosolymitanarum ("Writings of the Jerusalem University & Library"). He enlisted Albert Einstein to prepare the volume dealing with mathematics and physics. This project was a cornerstone in the formation of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as the fledgling university was able to donate copies of the Scripta to the libraries of other academic institutions in exchange for complimentary copies of publications from those institutions.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Albert Einstein German-born physicist and developer of the theory of relativity

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.

In 1923, Velikovsky married Elisheva Kramer, a young violinist.

Violin bowed string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, E5, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

Career as a psychiatrist

Velikovsky lived in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1924 to 1939, practising medicine in the fields of general practice, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis which he had studied under Sigmund Freud's pupil Wilhelm Stekel in Vienna. During this time, he had about a dozen papers published in medical and psychoanalytic journals. He was also published in Freud's Imago , including a precocious analysis of Freud's own dreams. [13]

Emigration to the US and a career as an author

In 1939, with the prospect of war looming, Velikovsky travelled with his family to New York City, intending to spend a sabbatical year researching for his book Oedipus and Akhenaton. The book was inspired by Freud's Moses and Monotheism and explored the possibility that Pharaoh Akhenaton was the legendary Oedipus. Freud had argued that Akhenaton, the supposedly monotheistic Egyptian pharaoh, was the source of the religious principles that Moses taught to the people of Israel in the desert. Freud's claim (and that of others before him) was based in part on the resemblance of Psalm 104 in the Bible to the Great Hymn to the Aten, an Egyptian hymn discovered on the wall of the tomb of Akhenaten's courtier, Ay, in Akhenaten's city of Akhetaten. To disprove Freud's claim and to prove the Exodus as such, Velikovsky sought evidence for the Exodus in Egyptian documents. One such document was the Ipuwer Papyrus, which he felt reported events similar to several of the Biblical plagues. Since conventional Egyptology dated the Ipuwer Papyrus much earlier than either the Biblical date for the Exodus (ca. 1500—1450 BCE) or the Exodus date accepted by many of those who accepted the conventional chronology of Egypt (ca. 1250 BCE), Velikovsky had to revise the conventional chronology.

Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky 1947 passport photo. Dr.Emmanuel Velikovsky 1947 passport.jpg
Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky 1947 passport photo.

Within weeks of his arrival in the United States, World War II began. Launching on a tangent from his original book project, Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become notorious. For the remainder of the Second World War, now as a permanent resident of New York City, he continued to research and write about his ideas, searching for a means to disseminate them to academia and the public. He privately published two small Scripta Academica pamphlets summarising his theories in 1945 (Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History and Cosmos Without Gravitation). He mailed copies of the latter to academic libraries and scientists, including Harvard astronomer Harlow Shapley in 1947.

In 1950, after eight publishing houses rejected the Worlds in Collision manuscript, [14] it was finally published by Macmillan, which had a large presence in the academic textbook market. 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. This came to the attention of Shapley, who opposed the publication of the work, having been made familiar with Velikovsky's claims through the pamphlet Velikovsky had given him. Shapley threatened to organise a textbook boycott of Macmillan for its publication of Worlds in Collision, and within two months the book was transferred to Doubleday. It was by then a bestseller in the United States. In 1952, Doubleday published the first installment in Velikovsky's revised chronology, Ages in Chaos , followed by the Earth in Upheaval (a geological volume) in 1955. In November 1952, Velikovsky moved from Manhattan to Princeton, New Jersey.

For most of the 1950s and early 1960s, Velikovsky was persona non grata on college and university campuses. After this period, he began to receive more requests to speak. He lectured, frequently to record crowds, at universities across North America. In 1972, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a one-hour television special featuring Velikovsky and his work, and this was followed by a thirty-minute documentary by the BBC in 1973.

During the remainder of the 1970s, Velikovsky devoted a great deal of his time and energy to rebutting his critics in academia, and he continued to tour North America and Europe to deliver lectures on his ideas. By that time, the elderly Velikovsky suffered from diabetes and intermittent depression, which his daughter said may have been exacerbated by the academic establishment's continuing rejection of his work. [15] [ third-party source needed ] He died in 1979.

Posthumous administration of literary estate

For many years, Velikovsky's estate was controlled by his two daughters, Shulamit Velikovsky Kogan (b. 1925), and Ruth Ruhama Velikovsky Sharon (b. 1926), [16] who generally resisted the publication of any further material.[ citation needed ] (Exceptions include the biography ABA — the Glory and the Torment: The Life of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, issued in 1995 and greeted with rather dubious reviews; [17] [18] [19] and a Hebrew translation of another Ages in Chaos volume, The Dark Age of Greece, which was published in Israel.) A volume of Velikovsky's discussions and correspondence with Albert Einstein appeared in Hebrew in Israel, translated and edited by his daughter Shulamit Velikovsky Kogan. In the late 1990s, a large portion of Velikovsky's unpublished book manuscripts, essays and correspondence became available at the Velikovsky Archive website. [20] In 2005, Velikovsky's daughter Ruth Sharon presented his entire archive to Princeton University Library. [21]


Notwithstanding Velikovsky's dozen or so publications in medical and psychoanalytic journals in the 1920s and 1930s, [22] the work for which he became well known was developed by him during the early 1940s, whilst living in New York City. He summarised his core ideas in an affidavit in November 1942, [23] and in two privately published Scripta Academica pamphlets entitled Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History (1945) and Cosmos without Gravitation (1946). [24]

Rather than have his ideas dismissed wholesale because of potential flaws in any one area, Velikovsky then chose to publish them as a series of book volumes, aimed at a lay audience, dealing separately with his proposals on ancient history, and with areas more relevant to the physical sciences. Velikovsky was a passionate Zionist, [25] [26] and this did steer the focus of his work, although its scope was considerably more far-reaching than this. The entire body of work could be said to stem from an attempt to solve the following problem: that to Velikovsky there appeared to be insufficient correlation in the written or archaeological records between Biblical history and what was known of the history of the area, in particular, Egypt. [27]

Velikovsky searched for common mention of events within literary records, and in the Ipuwer Papyrus he believed he had found a contemporary Egyptian account of the Plagues of Egypt. Moreover, he interpreted both accounts as descriptions of a great natural catastrophe. Velikovsky attempted to investigate the physical cause of these events, and extrapolated backwards and forwards in history from this point, cross-comparing written and mythical records from cultures on every inhabited continent, using them to attempt synchronisms of the historical records, yielding what he believed to be further periodic natural catastrophes that can be global in scale.[ citation needed ]

He arrived at a body of radical inter-disciplinary ideas, which might be summarised as:[ citation needed ]

Some of Velikovsky's specific postulated catastrophes included:[ citation needed ]

As noted above, Velikovsky had conceived the broad sweep of this material by the early 1940s. However, within his lifetime, whilst he continued to research, expand and lecture upon the details of his ideas, he released only selected portions of his work to the public in book form:[ citation needed ]

Velikovsky's ideas on his earlier Saturn/Mercury/Jupiter events were never published, and the available archived manuscripts are much less developed.[ citation needed ]

Of all the strands of his work, Velikovsky published least on his belief that electromagnetism plays a role in orbital mechanics. Although he appears to have retreated from the propositions in his 1946 monograph Cosmos without Gravitation, no such retreat is apparent in Stargazers and Gravediggers. [28] Cosmos without Gravitation, which Velikovsky placed in university libraries and sent to scientists, is a probable catalyst for the hostile response of astronomers and physicists to his later claims about astronomy. [29] However, other Velikovskian enthusiasts such as Ralph Juergens (dec.), Earl Milton (dec.), Wal Thornhill, and Donald E. Scott have claimed that stars are powered not by internal nuclear fusion, but by galactic-scale electrical discharge currents. Such ideas do not find support in the conventional literature and are rejected as pseudoscience by the scientific community. [30] [31] [32]

Revised chronology

Velikovsky argued that the conventional chronology of the Near East and classical world, based upon Egyptian Sothic dating and the king lists of Manetho, was wholly flawed. This was the reason for the apparent absence of correlation between the Biblical account and those of neighbouring cultures, and also the cause of the enigmatic "Dark Ages" in Greece and elsewhere. Velikovsky shifted several chronologies and dynasties from the Egyptian Old Kingdom to Ptolemaic times by centuries (a scheme he called the Revised Chronology), placing The Exodus contemporary with the fall of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. He proposed numerous other synchronisms stretching up to the time of Alexander the Great. He argued that these eliminate phantom "Dark Ages", and vindicate the biblical accounts of history and those recorded by Herodotus.

These ideas were first put forward briefly in his Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History, but Ages in Chaos was his first full-length work on the subject. This was followed by Oedipus and Akhenaton, Peoples of the Sea and Rameses II and His Time, and two further works that were unpublished at the time of his death but that are now available online at the Velikovsky Archive: The Assyrian Conquest and The Dark Ages of Greece.

Though rejected by mainstream historians, these ideas have been developed by other historians such as David Rohl and Peter James, who have also attempted their own revised chronologies.



C. Leroy Ellenberger with Immanuel Velikovsky at Seaside Heights, New Jersey, in 1978. Leroy vel.jpg
C. Leroy Ellenberger with Immanuel Velikovsky at Seaside Heights, New Jersey, in 1978.

Velikovsky inspired numerous followers during the 1960s and 1970s. Alfred de Grazia dedicated a 1963 issue of his journal, American Behavioral Scientist, to Velikovsky, which was published in an expanded version as a book, The Velikovsky Affair — Scientism Versus Science, in 1966. The Skeptical Inquirer , in a review of a later book by de Grazia, Cosmic Heretics (1984), suggests that de Grazia's efforts may be responsible for Velikovsky's continuing notability during the 1970s. [33]

The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS) was "formed in 1974 in response to the growing interest in the works of modern catastrophists, notably the highly controversial Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky". The Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences (ISIS) is a 1985 spinoff from the SIS founded under the directorship of David Rohl, who had come to reject Velikovsky's Revised Chronology in favour of his own "New Chronology".

Kronos: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Synthesis was founded in 1975 explicitly "to deal with Velikovsky's work". Ten issues of Pensée: Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered appeared from 1972 to 1975. The controversy surrounding Velikovsky peaked in the mid 1970s and public interest declined in the 1980s and, by 1984, erstwhile Velikovskyist C. Leroy Ellenberger had become a vocal critic of Velikovskian catastrophism. Some Velikovskyist publications and authors such as David Talbott remain active into the 2000s.


Velikovsky's ideas have been rejected by mainstream academia (often vociferously so) and his work is generally regarded as erroneous in all its detailed conclusions. Moreover, scholars view his unorthodox methodology (for example, using comparative mythology to derive scenarios in celestial mechanics) as an unacceptable way to arrive at conclusions. Stephen Jay Gould [34] offered a synopsis of the mainstream response to Velikovsky, writing, "Velikovsky is neither crank nor charlatan although, to state my opinion and to quote one of my colleagues, he is at least gloriously wrong ... Velikovsky would rebuild the science of celestial mechanics to save the literal accuracy of ancient legends."

Velikovsky's bestselling, and as a consequence most criticized, book is Worlds in Collision . Astronomer Harlow Shapley, along with others such as Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, were highly critical of Macmillan's decision to publish the work. The fundamental criticism against this book from the astronomy community was that its celestial mechanics were physically impossible, requiring planetary orbits that do not conform with the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of angular momentum.[ citation needed ]

Velikovsky relates in his book Stargazers & Gravediggers how he tried to protect himself from criticism of his celestial mechanics by removing the original appendix on the subject from Worlds in Collision, hoping that the merit of his ideas would be evaluated on the basis of his comparative mythology and use of literary sources alone. However, this strategy did not protect him: the appendix was an expanded version of the Cosmos Without Gravitation monograph, which he had already distributed to Shapley and others in the late 1940sand they had regarded the physics within it as absurd.[ citation needed ]

By 1974, the controversy surrounding Velikovsky's work had permeated US society to the point where the American Association for the Advancement of Science felt obliged to address the situation, as they had previously done in relation to UFOs, and devoted a scientific session to Velikovsky featuring (among others) Velikovsky himself and Professor Carl Sagan. Sagan gave a critique of Velikovsky's ideas (the book version of Sagan's critique is much longer than that presented in the talk; see below). His criticisms are available in Scientists Confront Velikovsky [35] and as a corrected and revised version in the book Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science . [36] Sagan's arguments were aimed at a popular audience and he did not remain to debate Velikovsky in person, facts that were used by Velikovsky's followers to attempt to discredit his analysis. [37] Sagan rebutted these charges and further attacked Velikovsky's ideas in his PBS television series Cosmos , though not without reprimanding scientists who had attempted to suppress Velikovsky's ideas.[ original research? ]

It was not until the 1980s that a very detailed critique of Worlds in Collision was made in terms of its use of mythical and literary sources when Bob Forrest published a highly critical examination of them (see below). Earlier in 1974, James Fitton published a brief critique of Velikovsky's interpretation of myth (ignored by Velikovsky and his defenders) whose indictment began: "In at least three important ways Velikovsky's use of mythology is unsound. The first of these is his proclivity to treat all myths as having independent value; the second is the tendency to treat only such material as is consistent with his thesis; and the third is his very unsystematic method." [38] A short analysis of the position of arguments in the late 20th century is given by Dr Velikovsky's ex-associate, and Kronos editor, C. Leroy Ellenberger, in his A Lesson from Velikovsky. [39]

More recently, the absence of supporting material in ice-core studies (such as the Greenland Dye-3 and Vostok cores) has removed any basis for the proposition of a global catastrophe of the proposed dimension within the later Holocene period. However, tree-ring expert Mike Baillie would give credit to Velikovsky after disallowing the impossible aspects of Worlds in Collision: "However, I would not disagree with all aspects of Velikovsky's work. Velikovsky was almost certainly correct in his assertion that ancient texts hold clues to catastrophic events in the relatively recent past, within the span of human civilization, which involve the effects of comets, meteorites and cometary dust ... But fundamentally, Velikovsky did not understand anything about comets ... He did not know about the hazard posed by relatively small objects ... This failure to recognize the power of comets and asteroids means that it is reasonable to go back to Velikovsky and delete all the physically impossible text about Venus and Mars passing close to the earth ... In other words, we can get down to his main thesis, which is that the Earth experienced dramatic events from heavenly bodies particularly in the second millennium BC." [40]

Velikovsky's revised chronology has been rejected by nearly all mainstream historians and Egyptologists. It was claimed, starting with early reviewers, that Velikovsky's usage of material for proof is often very selective. [41] [42] [43] In 1965 the leading cuneiformist Abraham Sachs, in a forum at Brown University, discredited Velikovsky's use of Mesopotamian cuneiform sources. [44] Velikovsky was never able to refute Sachs' attack. [45] In 1978, following the much-postponed publication of further volumes in Velikovsky's Ages in Chaos series, the United Kingdom-based Society for Interdisciplinary Studies organised a conference in Glasgow specifically to debate the revised chronology. [46] The ultimate conclusion of this work, by scholars including Peter James, John Bimson, Geoffrey Gammonn, and David Rohl, was that the Revised Chronology was untenable. [47] The SIS has continued to publish updates of this ongoing discussion, in particular the work of historian Emmet Sweeney. [48]

While James credits Velikovsky with "point[ing] the way to a solution by challenging Egyptian chronology", he severely criticised the contents of Velikovsky's chronology as "disastrously extreme", producing "a rash of new problems far more severe than those it hoped to solve" and claiming that "Velikovsky understood little of archaeology and nothing of stratigraphy." [49]

Bauer accuses Velikovsky of dogmatically asserting interpretations which are at best possible, and gives several examples from Ages in Chaos. [50]

"The Velikovsky Affair"

Such was the hostility directed against Velikovsky from some quarters (particularly the original campaign led by Harlow Shapley), that some commentators have made an analysis of the conflict itself. Among these was a study by American Behavioral Scientist magazine, eventually published in book form as The Velikovsky Affair — Scientism Versus Science. [51] This framed the discussion in terms of how academic disciplines reacted to ideas from workers from outside their field, claiming that there was an academic aversion to permitting people to cross inter-disciplinary boundaries. More recently, James Gilbert, professor of history at the University of Maryland, challenged this traditional version with an account that focused on the intellectual rivalry between Velikovsky's ally Horace Kallen and Harlow Shapley. [52] Earlier, Henry Bauer had challenged the view that the Velikovsky Affair illustrated the resistance of scientists to new ideas by pointing out "the nature and validity of Velikovsky's claims must be considered before one decides that the Affair can illuminate the reception of new ideas in science ..." [53] and, on the same basis, Keith Dixon contended that the treatment of the case by sociologists was an example of a broader unhealthy tendency in sociology to explain all opinions as ideologically motivated without considering their possible rational basis. [54]

The scientific press, in general, denied Velikovsky a forum to rebut his critics. Velikovsky claimed that this made him a "suppressed genius", and he likened himself to the 16th century heretical friar Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake for his beliefs. [55] [56] [57]

The controversy created by Velikovsky's publications may have helped revive the catastrophist movement in the second half of the 20th century; however, it is also held by some working in the field that progress has actually been retarded by the negative aspects of the so-called Velikovsky Affair. [58] [59]


References and sources

  1. Princeton University press release, July 29, 2005 Archived August 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (quoted on website of Dr. Ruth Velikovsky Sharon)
  2. Gordin, Michael D. (2012). The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press. ISBN   0-226-30442-6.
  3. "Johann Gottlieb Radlof — The Velikovsky Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-06-03.
  4. Clube, S. V. M. and Bill Napier 1984. Velikovskians In Collision. Quadrant (Sydney). Jan.-Feb., pp. 33–34; reprinted in Kronos vol. IX, no. 3, 1984. pp. 44–49.
  5. Trevor Palmer, Perilous Planet Earth: Catastrophes and Catastrophism through the Ages , Cambridge University Press, ISBN   0-521-81928-8. pp. 116–119.
  6. Morrison, David (2001). Velikovsky at Fifty: Cultures in Collision on the Fringes of Science. Skeptic, 9 (1), 62–76; reprinted in Shermer, Michael (editor) (2002). The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, Santa Barbara, Calif. ISBN   1-57607-653-9. 473–488.
  7. Cohen, Daniel (1967). Myths of the Space Age, Dodd Mead. LCCN 67-25108. Chap. VIII, Immanuel Velikovsky — the Man Who Challenged the World, pp. 172–94.
  8. Gordon, Theodore J. (1966). Ideas in Conflict, St. Martin's Press. LCCN 66-23261. Chap. 2, The Miracles of Exodus, pp. 18–48.
  9. Fair, Charles (1974). The New Nonsense: The End of the Rational Consensus, Simon and Schuster. ISBN   0-671-21822-0. Chap. viii, Speaking of Flying Objects ..., pp. 139–86.
  10. Bauer, Henry H. (1992). The Velikovsky Affair Aeon, 2 (6), 75–84. This article, a comprehensive overview, originally appeared in Dec. 1988 La Recherche, pp. 1448–55.
  11. Bauer, Henry H. (1996). Velikovsky, Immanuel, in Gordon Stein (editor), The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. ISBN   1-57392-021-5. pp. 781–788.
  12. Grove, J. W. (1989). In Defence of Science: Science, technology, and politics in modern society, University of Toronto Press. ISBN   0-8020-2634-6. Chap. 5, Pseudo-science, pp. 120–50; adapted from Grove, J. W. (1985). Rationality at Risk: Science against Pseudoscience. Minerva, 23 (2), 216-40.
  13. Velikovsky, I. "The Dreams Freud Dreamed" Psychoanalytic Review Vol. 28 pp. 487–511 (October, 1941),
  14. Velikovsky, Immanuel (1983). Stargazers and Gravediggers, William Morrow & Co. ISBN   0-688-01545-X. p. 63.
  15. Sharon, Ruth Velikovsky: "Aba: The Glory and the Torment. The Life of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky" McGraw Hill, 1995
  16. Duane Vorhees, "The Early Years: Part Two", Aeon III:1 (Nov 1992). See also the Web site of Ruth Velikovsky Sharon Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  17. Vorhees, Duane (1996). Aeon, 4 (2), 107-11.
  18. Ellenberger, Leroy (1996). Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10 (4), 561-9.,
  19. Moore, Brian (1997). Chronology & Catastrophism Review1997 (2), 51.
  20. The Immanuel Velikovsky Archive
  21. Princeton University Library Archived 2006-05-12 at the Wayback Machine Current listing (less detail): Immanuel Velikovsky Papers
  22. See for a list
  23. Velikovsky, Immanuel (1942). Affidavit, November 23.
  24. Collected at
  25. Velikovsky penned a weekly political column under the moniker "Observer" in the New York Post November 25, 1947– June 23, 1949,
  26. Sieff, M "Velikovsky and his Heroes" Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Review Vol. V, issue 4 (1984)
  27. Vorhees, Duane. (1990). The "Jewish Science" of Immanuel Velikovsky: Culture and Biography as Ideational Determinants. Dissertation, Bowling Green State University.
  28. Velikovsky, Immanuel 1983. Stargazers and Gravediggers. William Morrow and Co. ISBN   0-688-01545-X. Footnote, p. 165, indicates no retreat and states "Gravitation is an electromagnetic phenomenon."
  29. Bauer, Henry H. 1984. Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy. University of Illinois Press. ISBN   0-252-01104-X. p. 233.
  30. Ellenberger, C. Leroy 1985. sec. "Electric Stars" in "Still Facing Many Problems (Part II)", KronosX (3), pp. 15–23.
  31. Thompson, Tim 2001. "On the 'Electric Sun' Hypothesis". Thompson is a physicist retired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  32. Bridgman, W. T. 2008. "The Electric Sky, Short-Circuited" Archived 2009-09-19 at the Wayback Machine . Bridgman is an astrophysicist at NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
  33. Bauer, Henry H. (1985), "Inside the Velikovsky Affair" (PDF), Skeptical Inquirer , 9 (3): 284–288.
  34. Gould, Stephen Jay, Velikovsky in Collision
  35. Sagan, Carl (1977). An Analysis of Worlds in Collision, in Goldsmith, Donald (editor) (1977). Scientists Confront Velikovsky. Cornell University Press. ISBN   0-8014-0961-6. pp. 41–104.
  36. Here is an example of the reworking of the text between 1977 and 1979: "My own position is that even if twenty percent of the legendary concordances which Velikovsky produces are real, there is something important to be explained ... Likewise, we should not be surprised if a few elements of a few legends are coincidentally identical. But I do not believe that all of the concordances which Velikovsky produces can be explained away in this manner" (1977, pp. 48–50), compared with "My own position is that if even 20 percent of the legendary concordances that Velikovsky produces are real, there is something important to be explained ... Likewise, we should not be surprised if a few elements of a few legends are coincidentally identical. But I believe that all of the concordances Velikovsky produces can be explained away in this manner" (1979, pp. 86–88).
  37. Ginenthal, Charles (1995). Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky. New Falcon Publications, Tempe Arizona
  38. Fitton, James (1974). Velikovsky Mythistoricus. Chiron, I (1&2), 29–36; excerpts at
  39. A Lesson from Velikovsky
  40. Baillie, Mike (1999). Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with Comets, B.T. Batsford Ltd.; London. ISBN   0-7134-8352-0. Chap. 12, Velikovsky Revisited, pp. 166–180 (170–172).
  41. Albright, William 1952. New York Herald Tribune Book Review April 20. Retelling the Near East's Ancient History. p. 6.
  42. Kaempffert, Waldemar, "Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Egypt of Exodus" (abstract with subscriber access to full PDF), New York Times Book Review p. 23, April 20, 1952. Digital link retrieved 2015-07-18.
  43. Stiebing, Jr., William H. 1984. Cosmic Catastrophism, Chap. III, in Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions Prometheus Books. ISBN   0-87975-260-2. pp. 57–80.
  44. Transcript in Aeon 1992, Vol.3 No.1, pp. 103–5. Also "Address of Abraham Sachs at Brown University, 3/15/65"; provided by Leroy Ellenberger via Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  45. Ellenberger, Leroy 1992. Aeon3 (1), section "Bonanza from Brown" in "Of Lessons, Legacies, and Litmus Tests: A Velikovsky Potpourri (Part One)", pp. 88–90. "Velikovsky confronted a panel of four professors [at Brown University on March 15, 1965]: Leon N. Cooper (physics), Bruno J Giletti (geology), Charles Smiley (astronomy) and Abraham J. Sachs (history of mathematics) [who was substituting for Otto Neugebauer ], moderated by Henry Kučera (linguistics). In the event, Velikovsky debated the first three handily. He was stunned by Sachs whose address was both a rhetorical and substantive tour de force. Velikovsky's rebuttal began: 'Dr. Sachs threw so many accusations in that Philippic of his that I am at a difficulty to answer; but I invite Dr. Sachs to spend the hour and a half tomorrow at the meeting [at Diman House], and every one of you too, and point by point each of his statements will be proven wrong.' Unfortunately, Sachs did not show up the next day and Velikovsky did not even mention Sachs [according to the tape recording of the proceedings in the possession of Warner B. Sizemore who loaned it to Ellenberger March 31, 1979]. Curiously, Velikovsky's file for the Brown trip contains typed rebuttals to all the panelists except Sachs, for whom only partial, penciled notes exist—but later that year Velikovsky would reply to Kim J. Masters, a Princeton sophomore, within a week in The Daily Princetonian (Nov. 15, 1965) over a criticism of Oedipus and Akhnaton. Velikovsky's rebuttal to Masters was scathing, running the gamut from haggling over details to ad hominems.
  46. "Ages in Chaos?'-Proceedings of the Residential Weekend Conference, Glasgow, 7th–9th April 1978" Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Review Vol. VI, issue 1/2/3 84pp (1982)
  47. Bimson, "Finding the Limits of Chronological Revision" in "Proceedings of the SIS Conference: Ages Still in Chaos" Chronology & Catastrophism Review 2003
  48. For example: "Chronology and Catastrophism Review (C&CR)" back issues (Jan 1976–2015); "Ages Still in Chaos" (13–15 Sep 2002); "A couple of sites on a revised chronology" (4 Sep 2010); found via an 'Emmet Sweeney' search at Society for Interdisciplinary Studies website; this is just a sampling of Velikovsky (and Sweeney) links there. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  49. James, Peter, Preface from Centuries of Darkness
  50. Bauer Beyond Velikovsky pages 158–60
  51. Gilbert, James (1997). Redeeming Culture: American Religion in an Age of Science, University of Chicago Press. ISBN   0-226-29320-3. Chap. 8, Two Men of Science, pp. 170–97.
  52. Bauer, Henry (1984). "Velikovsky and Social Studies of Science". 4S Review . Sage Publications, Inc. 2 (4): 2–8. ISSN   0738-0526. JSTOR   690283 via JSTOR. (Registration required (help)).Cite uses deprecated parameter |registration= (help)
  53. Dixon, Keith (1980). The Sociology of Belief: Fallacy and Foundation. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. pp. 73–76. ISBN   0-7100-0445-1
  54. Velikovsky, I. The Acceptance of Correct Ideas in Science,
  55. Velikovsky, I My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science, presented at the AAAS 1974 conference,
  56. Velikovsky, I Claude Schaeffer,
  57. Steel, Duncan (1995). Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets, John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   0-471-30824-2. p. 155.
  58. Morrison, David (2001). Velikovsky at Fifty: Cultures in Collision on the Fringes of Science. Skeptic, 9 (1), 62–76; reprinted in Shermer, Michael (editor) (2002). The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, Santa Barbara, Calif. ISBN   1-57607-653-9. 473–488. Morrison quotes several scientists who embrace the latter view, including Walter Alvarez, David Raup, Richard Muller, Jay Melosh, Peter Ward, and Don Yeomans. This survey confirms the hunch expressed by Morrison and Clark R. Chapman[ clarification needed ] in Chapter 13 "Catastrophism Gone Wild: The Case of Immanuel Velikovsky" in Cosmic Catastrophes (1989), pp. 183–96.
  59. Available on-line in the Velikovsky archive

Velikovsky works available online

Sites about Velikovsky

Organizations sympathetic to Velikovsky's work

Critiques of Velikovsky

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