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Scientific Reaction to Velikovsky – Symptomatic of Climate Science Debacle

Written by Professor Timothy Ball

Many years ago, a colleague approached the President of the University with our plan to hold a conference on the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky. immanuel velikovskyHe angrily rejected the plan saying he would not allow anything on campus associated with that charlatan. The President was a physicist and Velikovsky (pictured) had challenged prevailing scientific views.

In some ways, it doesn’t matter whether Velikovsky was right or wrong. The problem was the reprehensible actions of the scientific community. His treatment holds many lessons for today’s debate over climate change.

Complexity of the corruption by the few scientists who hijacked climate science is revealed by comparison. They quickly established their views as the prevailing ‘truth’ through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by deliberately misusing climate science and also misusing basic science. They isolated anyone who challenged either part of their false science in the same way Velikovsky was marginalized.

Dogma Replaces Dogma

Western science and religion battled for hundreds of years. Many conflicts involved new ideas and their final victories were considered turning points in the fight for people’s beliefs. In winning, science became more dogmatic than the religion it replaced.

Gradually the focus shifted from a conflict with religion to rejection of new ideas by practitioners of the prevailing scientific views.

Historically, new scientific ideas were vigorously resisted and their proponents attacked by religion. That comment is now true within science. Usually most people don’t care or don’t understand the significance of the new ideas. Copernicus put the Sun at the centre of our solar system but it doesn’t matter for most as long as the sun rises and sets.

A critical change in the adoption and infiltration of ideas came with extension of government-controlled education. From kindergarten through university, it became indoctrination not education.

Graduation is allowed once you’ve demonstrated a grasp of the current ‘truths’. Questioning those truths poses a threat to your assessment and even progress. The quandary is that this contradicts advancement of knowledge and understanding, especially of science. Consider the general reaction to Gore’s comment about global warming theory that “the science is settled.”

Rapid spread and lack of understanding of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory occurred because it quickly became part of school curricula. This was exacerbated because knowledge of science is necessary, but the subject was mostly covered in social sciences. It reflects the political nature of the subject and resulted in extensive indoctrination of ignorance. Graduates of this ignorance now control education, science and politics at all levels.

The Velikovsky Affair

Velikovsky was a Russian medical doctor with a lifelong interest in providing possible explanations for events recorded in historic records. A multi-linguist, he read original works from several middle-eastern cultures. He was on sabbatical in the US researching a book when World War II began. He stayed and began producing works on what the establishment categorized as catastrophism. Putting him in that category is part of the attack on his ideas from mainstream scientists.

Consider the pejorative nature of this quote from Wikipedia. Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become notorious.” Why “radical” or “notorious”; these are judgmental adjectives used because he dared to suggest there is another interpretation of the evidence.

His views became problematic when Macmillan published Worlds in Collision in 1950. The book immediately became a best seller. There were several problems for establishment thinking.

  • Catastrophic events were contrary to the prevailing philosophy of uniformitarianism.

  • He was trained in medicine not geology or astronomy.

  • He was Russian, a serious problem in the McCarthy era.

  • He dared to suggest that historical records were of actual events – an idea problematic in climate science even today.

  • Worse, he used the Bible as a source of evidence. Wikipedia comments again show the bias. “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.” Ah, the dreaded anti-science word creationism.

  • He was not indoctrinated by formal education in academic science – the bastions of dogmatism and intellectual tunnel vision.

  • His ideas did not conform to established astronomical views on planetary motion.

  • He published his ideas in popular magazines and trade books that went directly to the public who might challenge official science.

  • He followed success of World’s in Collision with another bestseller Ages in Chaos.

  • His work was interdisciplinary at a time of specialization. Worse, it blended science with the humanities and the social sciences.

Velikovsky’s story is fascinating, but my focus is on the reactions of the establishment, especially of Harlow Shapley. He had a checkered career apparently shaped by his rigid thinking and personal animosities. After graduating from Princeton, he worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory, then Harvard College Observatories. He attended the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, which is at best a most pointed title. He was influential in forming government funded science institutions including the National Academy of Sciences. The latter has an ignominious part in the global warming debacle.

Macmillan was the only publisher in history who surrendered a best seller at peak sales. Shapely denied any involvement in the action. Velikovsky subsequently exposed his role in a letter to the Harvard Crimson. Macmillan was vulnerable to Shapley’s threats of curtailing academic textbooks because that was their major source of income. As with all these matters, the action is blameworthy, but the cover up compounds the error. Velikovsky discusses the events in Stargazers and Gravediggers.

Velikovsky’s major ideas built on the claim that Earth has experienced natural global disasters throughout its history. The major cause of natural catastrophes was brushes with other objects in the solar system and beyond. It’s probably thanks to Velikovsky that Walter and Luis Alvarez were able to propose the claim that a collision with an asteroid 65 million years ago led to extinction of dinosaurs. The father/son connection serendipitously allowed cross-discipline discussion between physics and geology. The intellectual isolation of specialization has undermined the ability to understand.

Science is the Ability to Predict

In the end, Velikovsky succeeded because he passed the ultimate test of science: the ability to predict. More important, they were in contradiction to prevailing views.

He made many and apparently, none is incorrect to date. The interesting one was the temperature of Venus which was almost double what the textbooks said.

The same textbooks that incorrectly use Venus as an example of runaway CO2 induced Greenhouse Effect.

Failure of the University President to approve a conference on Velikovsky was symptomatic of the dogmatic, closed minds that pervade modern science.

The few scientists involved with the AGW debacle deliberately exploited and practiced that condition.

Their actions indicate they saw this as a battle, but it was against the truth and as Aeschylus said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Read more by Professor Tim Ball at  drtimball.com

Comments (5)

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    Come on Doug – I thought you were above citing bullshit to support your theory – I thought you were better than that.

    You know the Sun supplies far more energy than 168 W/sqm when it is shining – except for a short period just after sunrise or before sunset and zero when it isn’t.

    You know you cannot use an “average” energy input to calculate temperatures.

    Even the really stupid know the temperature increases and decreases daily and this depends significantly on the rate of energy in or out and accordingly the period of a planet is a major factor in its “average” temperature – climate scientists excepted apparently.

    I do not pretend to be an expert in anything but how about this:-

    The Sun heats the Earth’s surfaces during the day – less than a quarter of the incident radiation is directly absorbed by the atmosphere.

    The Earth heats the atmosphere primarily by conduction at the interface and by convection – most of the atmosphere is only slightly affected by the IR emitted by the Earth at terrestrial temperatures and it seems unlikely even 3% of the “wet” atmosphere could be responsible for heating the rest by absorbing IR from the ground and heating the rest by collisions of molecules.

    The Earth’s oceans are heated to lower temperatures than land surfaces due to water’s specific heat plus evaporation.

    This produces areas of differing pressure in the atmosphere and enhances circulation.

    Of itself this induces a pumping mechanism which changes local temperatures by inducing “heat”.

    The atmosphere is obviously heated and cooled all the time – there is never equilibrium – and this fact is reported daily – sometimes ad-nauseum when alarmists spruik their BS.

    99% of the atmospheric gases have a low radiating power so no wonder some of the day’s heat is retained.

    The Earth’s 12 hours of night does not allow sufficient time for significant “cooling” unlike the 14+ days of night on the Moon.

    However if you look at the diviner data for the temperature around 300 K the Moon seems to cool at a rate of about 2 degrees per hour for many lunar hours. It is also noteworthy that the measured lunar temperatures for rocky surfaces show much slower rates of energy exchange – they don’t heat to the same high temperatures or cool much below 225 K.

    Places on Earth exhibit similar cooling rates – 2 degrees per hour – even places like Baghdad in summer.

    The really cold places on Earth are where the Sun does not “rise high in the sky” or where it does not shine at all for month’s.

    The oceans and the atmosphere retain “heat” because they circulate from hot areas to cold and back thus spreading the warmth around.

    Shit I thought they taught stuff like this to schoolkids – or used to.

    A watt is a unit with a time factor after all.

    But you lost me entirely with “the 168 W/sqm bullshit and -40C “fact”.

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    Louis Hissink


    Harlow Shapley did more to damage science with his intransigence over Velikovsky’s ideas than almost anyone else during the time.

    Velikovsky also had a blind spot but his primary observation, that electromagnetism is the dominant physical force in the cosmos, has been verified by the discipline encompassing the physics of the plasma universe, complemented by the physics of the electric universe.

    His reconstruction of ancient history was a start, but as an observant jew, could not accept any changes to jewish chronology, his blind-spot, as it were, but it did not go far enough and we now realise that human history was replete with global climate catastrophes of 1500 BC, 750BC, and more recently the last catastrophe that terminated the roman era as the comet of Justinian ~ 235 AD, what spawned the appearance of Islam and institutionalised Christianity, among other religions.

    The present day population explosion is a species adaptation to the fear of impending catastrophe in which, as before, large numbers of humans died from catastrophic global events attributed to comets or meteors, and codified as religion and myth; the present day CO2 catastrophe is but the latest of many ending-time beliefs humans seem to have become enthralled.

    To understand Velikovsky’s insights you must read his Mankind in Amnesia book published posthumously, and readily available on Kindle etc.

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    What is very concerning today is how the politically correct are intolerant of views they reject. They don’t want to discuss or debate. They shut down debate. They personally attack those with opposing views.

    The biggest culprit, who is quite proud about doing this, is none other than President Barack Obama, who has abandon freedom of expression and the democratic way, in favour of an authoritarian style… forget the scientific method; condemn sceptics, ban any consideration of opposing views.

    It’s what we can expect more of should the ‘new world order’ and AGENDA 21 displace western democracy.

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      Have you noticed Doug’s comments – talk about intolerant of views they don’t support !

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    “The Sun only achieves for the Moon a measured mean surface temperature of minus77C..” says Duggie.
    That’s because the Moon has this big planet called Earth interposed between it and the Sun a lot of the time…so the 340 w/sq.m. solar on the surface of the Moon, just isn’t happening….hence the Moon has places of extreme cold. Dark side of the Moon and all that stuff Duggie. It’s called… lack of Sun. Nothing to do with any “heat creep” or any Gravito-thermal crap concocted in your head…it’s the Sun, stupid.

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