Sunday, January 23, 2011

Science Corner: Immanuel Velikovsky

"History is written by the winners, including that of science. Unorthodoxies that flourish at the grassroots are often beneath the contempt of historians. Zetetic astronomy (flat-Earth science) was a household term in Victorian England, but not a single reference to it is found in conventional histories. We ignore such histories at our peril."
~from Worlds of Their Own: A Brief History of Misguided Ideas: Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair by Robert Schadewald

"For one thing Velikfovskianism, and indeed, any exoheretical view that becomes prominent enough to force itself on science, acts to puncture scientific complacency-and that is good. An exoheresy may cause scientists to bestir themselves for the purpose of reexamining the bases of their beliefs, even if only to gather firm and logical reasons for the rejection of the exoheresy-and that is good too. An exoheresy may cause scientific activity which, in a serendipitous fashion, may uncover something worthwhile that has nothing to do with the exoheresy-and that is very good, if it happens."
~Isaac Asimov

Immanuel Velikovsky was a Russian-born American "futurist, prophet, mythologist, historian, scientific renegade." His most famous work is probably 1950's Worlds in Collision, which was criticized & controversial-& a New York Times bestseller. The book "proposes that many myths and traditions of ancient peoples and cultures are based on actual events: worldwide global catastrophes of a celestial origin, which had a profound effect on the lives, beliefs and writings of early mankind." Velikovsky's theory was that Venus was originally a comet made from a piece of Jupiter, & that, as a comet, it travelled the solar system, its gravitational field causing catastrophes on our planet along the way. The controversy surrounding his work and its reception is often referred to as "the Velikovsky affair". Carl Sagan was one of Velikovsky's most vocal critics.

Despite his detractors, Velikovsky's theories still have many followers & in fact his theories got a mention in the article "Quakes, Tectonic and Theoretical" in the New York Times on January 15th.

For more on Velikovsky:

Find Velikovsky's books in the catalog. Or in our Science in Context database with your valid library card!

Find Velikovsky in...The UnMuseum

...The Immanuel Velikovsky Archive

...The Immanuel Velikovsky Encyclopedia

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