My recent discovery of this single web page, and my long-time interest in the works of Immanuel Velikovsky, have prompted me to post this here. Where soon after my joining this community back in April of 2012, every time I piped up with my own views concerning what I saw as flawed scientific dogmas, whatever thread such input was put into was promptly shuffled off to the Twilight Zone. I saw this as completely disrespectful, and still do. I eventually caved in and resigned myself and started one or two new threads on such science in the Twilight Zone. I mean, why overwork those all-knowing moderators?
Maybe I took it personally back then, but now, not so much. I would still judge those actions to be disrespectful to any idea of a public forum. And so, in a spirit of resistance and rebellion, and due to an intuition of a substantially changed moderation team, I begin this outside the derogatory stigma inferred by the Twilight Zone's self stated description: "Post your delusions and illusions." Delusions and illusions is just what Velikovsky's detractors did all in their power to shape the world to think of his great scholarship as being. Sixty five years after the publication of Worlds In Collision, perhaps we can let in some fresh air. Sagan's and Shapley's Ghosts of Schmience Past should here be exorcised.
Here, quoting myself from the Climate Change thread:
While Velikovsky did not like synopses of his work, as they could be nothing except incomplete along side of his extensive research and notations, that link I discovered yesterday and posted above is one of the best I have seen.
I would add here that academia's groundswell of bile directed toward V. in 1950 was based mostly on its reactions to a few prepublication book reviews. While the reviewers raved, the academics really RAVED (but in no good way). Based on a few short newspaper columns, MacMillan Books was threatened with a boycott, the threat of which, as the worlds largest publisher of textbooks, forced them to drop Worlds In Collision when it was topping the New York Times non-fiction best seller list, and going so far as to fire V.'s editor. The boycott's kingpin, Dr. Harlow Shapley, head of the Harvard Observatory (basically, the Carl Sagan of his era), boasted that he "would never read such heresy." Sagan would go on to lead the charge against V, for the next generation, while conceding that the 1950 reaction was a shameful display.
And here, an extended quote from the above linked page:
(From SLAYING THE MONSTER. THE AAAS VELIKOVSKY SYMPOSIUM, 1974)
Through all of this, two traits stand out in the treatment of Velikovsky by his detractors. One is repeated admissions, frequently boasts, by his most vehement critics that they hadn't read the material they castigated--as if the touch of it might be somehow unclean and defiling. They just "knew" that he couldn't be right, and that was sufficient. The other was that after solemnly reciting commitment to such scholarly principles as scientific objectivity, fairness, and civility of discourse, they would then go on to immediately violate every one of them. Organized science had tried every tactic of distortion, evasion, misrepresentation, intimidation, vilification, and suppression of evidence to slay the monster that threatened the entire foundation of the collective uniformitarian world view and mind set. But after twenty years, interest in Velikovsky's theories was not only getting stronger with the apparent vindication from all quarters that was getting past the censorship and receiving coverage, but Velikovsky was no longer virtually alone. Scientists from many disciplines were beginning to organize in his defense, bringing the message to a new generation of readers and students. The topic became included in university courses, and Velikovsky symposia and invitations for Velikovsky to speak on university campuses multiplied. The list of venues from 1970 to 1974 included Harvard; SUNY-Buffalo, Notre Dame, and North Carolina Universities, as well as McMasters and Lethbridge in Canada; NASA Ames Research Center; Lewis and Clark College, Portland; the IBM Research Center; and a conference in Switzerland devoted to his work. In 1971 the editors of Pensée decided to publish a special issue on the purely scientific aspects of Velikovsky's ideas, but the amount of material available was by then so vast that it became a ten-issue series--later compiled into book form as Velikovsky Reconsidered (1976)--which attracted widespread attention.
It couldn't be allowed to go on. The occasion for exorcizing Velikovsy and his heresies from the land and reaffirming the true faith was selected to be the 1974 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which that year was scheduled to be held in San Francisco.
A Glimpse of the Ground-Rules
In the summer of 1972, a past president of the AAAS, astronomer and atmospheric scientist Walter Orr Roberts, had written to Stephen L. Talbott, the editor of Pensée, suggesting that a symposium be held on Velikovsky's work. It seems that Roberts's motives were fair and aimed at an honest reappraisal. The following year an announcement appeared in Science, inviting suggestions for the 1974 AAAS meeting agenda. Dr. C.J. Ransom, a plasma physicist, AAAS member, and Velikovsky supporter, proposed the topic of "Venus--A Youthful Planet," offering himself as conference organizer and proposing several more names as speakers. This was rejected without explanation, but less than a month later a similar proposal was accepted from the AAAS Astronomy Committee, the salient difference being that it was to be organized by noted critics of Velikovsky. It soon became clear that the intention was not to stage an impartial debate but a court of inquisition, where the verdict already had been determined. The aim was not to give Velikovsky a hearing but to discredit him in the eyes of the press and the public, and banish his ideas from the forum of acceptable scientific discourse. In this it was resoundingly successful and for the most part remains so to the present time.
The agreement had been that there would be six panelists, three pro- and three anti-Velikovsky, and that Velikovsky would be allotted excess time since he would be presenting his own paper as well as answering his opponents. The promises were promptly broken. The two others that Velikovsky nominated to make up his side were Ransom, cited above, and Professor Lynn E. Rose, a specialist in the history, philosophy, and method of science, who had also taught ancient history and classical languages. These would have made up a formidable team indeed, fully conversant with Velikovsky's theories and between them amply informed to speak on all of the important issues. That was probably why the rules were hastily changed to exclude them. Rose was disqualified on the grounds that he was not from the "hard sciences"--although nothing about such had been said up to this point. Ransom obviously fitted this stipulation, but it suddenly became necessary to be an "academician," whereas he was at the time employed in corporate research. Velikovsky was unwilling to go away and come back with further names when the ones he'd said he wanted were turned down, which later resulted in his being blamed for the blatant inequality that he was to face.
However, the AAAS committee dropped its criteria when it came to selecting their own speakers: Norman Storer, a professor of the hard science of sociology at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York; Peter Huber, Professor of Mathematical Statistics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, whose qualification was what he described as his "hobby" of cuneiform writing; J.Derral Mullholland, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas, Austin; and, doubtless to secure the popular vote, the scientific celebrity-figure Carl Sagan, from the laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. A further speaker, not listed on either side of the panel since he gave his position as neutral, was Dr. Irving Michelson, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Originally the deal had been for equal time for both sides of the panel. This was now reinterpreted to mean equal time for each speaker. So, for every half hour that Velikovsky was given, every one of his opponents would receive a half hour too. The flagrant bias was hardly allayed by a statement from King to Pensée stating that "What disturbs the scientists is persistence of these views, in spite of all the efforts the scientists have spent on educating the public," and, "This is not a debate on the correctness of Velikovsky's view of the planetary system; none of us in the scientific community believes that such a debate would be remotely justified at a serious scientific meeting."
So much for the promised impartiality. It apparently followed that the considerable number of specialists who evidently did believe that such a debate would be justified were by definition not among "us" of the scientific community.
Velikovsky's hope that the flood of evidence and rekindled interest in his ideas might finally have won him a fair hearing had clearly been misplaced. Many of his supporters advised him to pull out right there rather than accept a pitch that had already been tilted seismically against him. The bind, of course, was that this would immediately have been seized upon as showing that he had no answers. Lynn Rose has since speculated that Velikovsky knew exactly what he was doing, and accepted the inevitability of short-term defeat, given the climate of the times, in return for an even stronger verdict in his favor that history would one day pronounce.
So it came about that on February 25, 1974, in the Grand Ballroom of the St. Francis Hotel, Velikovsky, then in his 79th year, watched by a press corps that had been appropriately primed and apparently saw nothing amiss with the arrangements, mounted the dais to take on four hostile opponents all around half his age in an ordeal that would last until 1:00 A.M. and continue the following day. The final low trick was that the only paper he was permitted to see in advance was Storer's, which didn't deal with Velikovsky's scientific issues. The others were withheld until the day itself, forcing Velikovsky to muster what defense he could in the time he could find--a practice that would be illegal in any law court not rigged by a totalitarian state. At the end of the first session, which went on for five-and-a-half hours, one reporter, seeing that Velikovsky looked tired, remarked that he was not his own best spokesman. Not one of the press representatives mentioned that at the end of it all, he had acquitted himself well enough to receive a standing ovation.
Only the Data that's Fit to Print: The Venus Tablets
Peter Huber's profession and hobby were inverted both in the official program, which described him as a "Prof. of Ancient History" speaking on "Ancient Historical Records," and King's introduction as one who "has made a study of the ancient archaeological records relating to astronomy. He also, incidentally, has a second specialty in statistics . . ."
The essence of Huber's paper was that ancient Babylonian records show Venus to have been where it is today, orbiting as it does today, long before the events that Velikovsky claims, and therefore those events could not have happened. This was a rehash of the same line that Payne-Gaposchkin had used twenty years before, and which Velikovsky had answered. The opposition either hadn't read the earlier exchanges or didn't care, since it would all be new anyway to the public who were to be "educated."
Huber maintained that, "Velikovsky draws on historical and archeological evidence to support his hypothesis, but unfortunately his arguments are mainly based on late and secondary sources, in part on obsolete and erroneous translations, and therefore lack force." A devastating indictment, by the sound of it, from one listed and presented as an authority on the subject. It is acknowledged that discrepancies exist between old translations and modern ones, and then asserted that the modern ones contain the truth, whereas the older ones do not. A better way to phrase it, however, would be that the older ones say what the original records said, whereas the modern ones are "corrected" to reflect what proponents of today's approved theory think they should have said. This couldn't have been better demonstrated than by the procedure that Huber himself followed. It would have been far more "unfortunate" for Huber if Lynn Rose, who was in the audience, had been allowed on the panel as Velikovsky requested. Rose made some pointed observations during the questions session afterward, and later, working with Raymond C. Vaughan, wrote a detailed rebuttal showing just how far the evidence has to be twisted to make it conform to current preconceptions. The title, "Just Plainly Wrong," speaks for itself.
Huber's first claim boiled down to stating that records from Uruk, in Mesopotamia, show Venus to have existed in the early third millennium B.C., before Velikovsky's Venus encounter occurred. But Velikovsky had never denied that Venus existed before then and was visible. His answer at the symposium was, "That Venus was observed before it came into conflict with Earth is clear from what I wrote. It did not come from Jupiter just on the eve of that collision. It came thousands of years before. It could be seen." And what Velikovsky had said all along could have been seen since 1950.
From the floor, Lynn Rose made the point that the symbols for Venus in these very sources that Huber cited, along with representations of Inanna, the goddess associated with Venus, all take the form of a compact body attached to a long, spreading fan shape, distinctly suggestive of a comet. Huber's defense amounted to saying that sometimes they don't. This part of his paper was omitted from the version that appeared in the final book form of the proceedings two and a half years later, entitled, aptly enough, Scientists Confront Velikovsky (1977).
Huber's second claim drew upon the Ammizaduga tablets, mentioned earlier, which were introduced with something of an air of revelation, as if Velikovsky had avoided them because they would damage his case. In fact, Velikovsky cites them extensively for doing just the opposite--provided they're allowed to be taken as meaning what they say.
Since some doubts have been expressed about their conventional assignment to the time of Ammizaduga, Rose refers to them as the "Ninsianna" (Venus) document. They record the appearances and disappearances of Venus as it moves close to the Sun and it is swamped by the solar glare, causing it to be seen first at sunset to one side of the solar disk, and then, following a period of invisibility, at dawn on the other. Today, on its inner orbit, Venus is seen for about 260 days as the "Evening Star," disappears behind the Sun for 63 to 70 days, reappears on the other side as the "Morning Star" for about another 260 days, and after vanishing in front of the Sun for around 8 days becomes the Evening Star again. (It took many ancient cultures some time to figure out that it was the same object.) Note that there's no conflict in the suggestion of a comet on an eccentric orbit spending part of its period inside the Earth's orbit, and hence disappearing periodically behind the Sun. During the time it spent outside the Earth's orbit it would at times appear overhead at night, which could never happen with Venus in today's circumstances. Older translations, however (the ones dismissed as obsolete by Huber), clearly state it as appearing at zenith.
Huber's contention was that when properly understood, the ancient observations match the orbits of Venus and Earth that are seen today, and so the orbits haven't changed. To make this work, a period given in the cuneiform records as 5 months,16 days had to be changed to 2 months, 6 days. Several of the names of the months had to be changed. Places where the texts read "west" had to be changed to "east," and places where they said "east" were changed to "west." Intercalary months--inserted between the regular months of a calendar to correct the cumulative error that builds up from years not being exact multiples of days--were taken out from where they had been put in and inserted where the modern translators thought they should go. Huber justified such alterations as being necessary to amend "scribal errors" in the originals. All in all, under further questioning, he admitted changing 30 percent of his data in this way. So presumably a culture that is noted for astronomical records whose accuracy in some areas was not rivaled until the 19th century employed scribes who couldn't tell east from west, didn't know what month it was, and who bungled their figures 30 percent of the time. But that wasn't the end of it. In his later, more thorough analysis, "Just Plainly Wrong," Rose found the actual count of errors and fudged data to be closer to 75 percent. And even after that amount of abuse, they still don't fit today's orbits.
The press and the custodians of truth who had taken it upon themselves to educate the public were evidently satisfied that the interests of the public were in good hands. The following month, Owen Gingerich, one of the organizers, was quoted in Science (March 14, 1974), in an interview by Robert Gillette, as saying that "He [Huber] demolished Velikovsky" and "There was no point in continuing after that." As with the Egyptian dating figures that we talked about earlier, whatever didn't fit the assumptions was thrown out, and what remained was pointed to as proving the assumptions. The logic is totally circular. Or anything else if you like. On this basis you could pick four points from a circle, alter the rest to suit, and show that it's a square. Small wonder that modern translations fit the approved theory better.
A final argument by Huber was again one that had been used before, namely that dates of eclipses retrocalculated from modern observations match records from before the events that should have made them invalid. Velikovsky responded that none of the instances he was aware of proved much at all, since the locations and dates are not specified, the year alone typically being named or inferred indirectly. One of Huber's examples, taken from the Chinese Spring and Autumn Annals, was given as occurring in the 8th century B.C. In his later study, however, Rose points out that the furthest back this document can be traced is 500 to 600 years after that time. So the question arises of whether the eclipse was actually observed, or was it inferred through retrocalculation by the compilers of the Annals a half a millennium later?--known to be a not-unusual practice. In support of his cautioning against relying too much on such sources, Rose cites a work entitled Science Awakening II, The Birth of Astronomy, by Bartel L. Van der Waerden, where Chapter 4 contains the statement, "Very often it is difficult to decide whether text data were observed or calculated. We know from the diaries of later times that missing observations were filled in by calculation sometimes without explicit indication of the fact . . ."
A contributor to the book, who in his Preface Van der Waerden says wrote considerable parts of Chapters 3 and 4 . . . was Peter Huber.
Sagan, on Planetary Physics and Surfaces
Problem 8. The Temperature of Venus
The conventional view before results from Mariner 2 showed, in early 1963, the surface temperature of Venus to be 800oF had been that it would be slightly warmer than Earth. By the time of the symposium Sagan's recollection had become, in effect, that "we knew it all along." In fact, the only person--apart from Velikovsky--who had predicted a high temperature a Dr. Rupert Wildt, whose work was based on a greenhouse mechanism and not generally accepted. (By 1979 Sagan's memory had evidently suffered a further lapse, for in Broca's Brain he states [p.153] "One now fashionable suggestion I first proposed in 1960 is that the high temperatures on the surface of Venus are due to a runaway greenhouse effect.") When the conventional view was shown to be spectacularly wrong (one is tempted to say "catastrophically"), Wildt's proposal was hastily resurrected in an attempt to explain why, while preserving the doctrine of a long-established planet and slow, uniformitarian change.
But it doesn't really wash. Contrary to current media fictions, the main agent responsible for Earth's greenhouse effect (a natural phenomenon, without which we'd be around 33oF cooler) isn't carbon dioxide but water vapor, which contributes over 90 percent. Back in the days when Venus's atmosphere was believed to contain a considerable amount of water, the suggestion of an enhanced greenhouse effect yielding temperatures considerably higher than those generally proposed wasn't unreasonable. But it just doesn't work as a plausible mechanism for sustaining the huge temperature gradient that exists down through Venus's atmosphere. Especially when it turns out that the heat source is at the bottom, not the top.
Besides an efficient medium for absorbing and reradiating incoming radiation, an effective greenhouse also needs adequate penetration of the medium by sunlight to utilize the available mass. With Venus, for a start, only about 20 percent of the incoming sunlight gets past the cloud tops 40-45 miles above the surface, the rest being reflected back into space--which is why Venus is so bright. The surface pressure on Venus is around 90 times that of Earth's, which translates into something like 75 times the mass of gases, giving it more the optical characteristics of a sea--in fact, corresponding to a depth of about 3,000 feet. Virtually all the sunlight entering the oceans is absorbed within the top 300 feet. Likewise, any greenhouse mechanism on Venus would be confined to the top 15 percent of the atmosphere. These objections were well known. In 1968 the British astronomer V.A. Firshoff, in The Interior Planets, put it like this:
"The greenhouse effect cannot be magnified ad lib. Doubling the [glass] thickness may enhance its thermal insulation, so raising its temperature, but it will cut down the transmitted sunshine, so reducing its heat. In the end the process becomes self-defeating. . . . The sea is a perfect 'greenhouse' of this kind--none of the obscure heat from the bottom can escape into space. But it is not boiling; in fact it is not much above freezing point. Sagan's deep atmosphere would behave in exactly the same way. . . . An adiabatic atmosphere of a mass envisaged by Sagan is possible only if it is heated from below. In other words, the surface of Venus would have to be kept at a high temperature by internal sources."
By the time the official version of the proceedings was published over two years later as Scientists Confront Velikovsky, Sagan had embellished his argument by reference to the Soviet Venera 9 and 10 landings in October 1975. (True to the spirit of the whole affair, while Sagan was permitted to add a revised appendix of new points, Velikovsky was denied space to respond to them.) The Soviet craft, Sagan claimed, were able to obtain clear pictures in sunlight of surface rocks, showing Velikovsky wrong in saying that light does not penetrate the cloud cover. This doesn't seem to appreciate the fact that the Soviet landers were equipped with floodlights. Further, as reported by Professor Lewis Greenberg, the Venera instruments detected nothing but gloom and darkness after descending through the clouds, until a glow appeared and grew brighter as they neared the surface. The atmosphere at the surface was much brighter than had been expected. V.A. Avduevsky, deputy director of the Soviet Space Flight Control Center, described the terrain as showing distinct, dark shadows that persisted even when the floodlights were turned off, which was unanticipated since sunlight from the clouds would be diffuse. He and his colleagues agreed that it indicated a direct light source on the surface but they could not guess what it was. Velikovsky had proposed that there could still be hydrocarbons burning on the extremely hot surface.
If Sagan is permitted to draw on information from after the symposium, then so shall we. In Scientists Confront Velikovsky and also in Broca's Brain, Sagan charges that the reflected spectrum from Venus is entirely consistent with the infrared cloud temperature of 240oK, in other words the temperature is what would be expected for the amount of sunlight, and this negates Velikovsky's prediction of Venus giving off more heat than it receives from the Sun. That is to say, Venus is in thermal equilibrium with its surroundings, whereas Velikovsky says it shouldn't be. Well, in an article headed "The Mystery of Venus' Internal Heat," the UK journal New Scientist reported in 1980 (November 13) that data from the Pioneer Venus orbiter showed Venus to be radiating 15 percent more energy than is received from the Sun (later figures put it at 20 percent). This would mean that Venus is producing 10,000 times more heat than the Earth--stated as being "inconceivable, according to present theories of planetary formation."
It was so inconceivable, in fact, that the scientists resorted to "correcting" the data that clearly pointed to it. Calculation of thermal balance is quite sensitive to the figure used for albedo, the fraction of sunlight that's reflected. Ground based measurements (examples: 0.878, Muller, 1893; 0.815, Danjon, 1949; 0.815, Knuckles, Sinton & Sinton, 1961; 0.80, Travis, 1975) and measurements from space probes (0.80, Tomasko
I think this is quite a good look at the academic hatchet job done by our brightest lights.