(See image source info below footnotes)
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Immanuel Velikovsky,* so perhaps today is a propitious day to remember how emotional and blind some scientists can be when their standard models and hard priors1 are challenged with new observations, theories, facts, interpretations, or analyses by such iconoclasts as Velikovsky.
Amongst other things, Velikovsky challenged the “settled science” of uniformitarianism2 and thus severely offended uniformists who are still triggered to this day by the name “Velikovsky.” Many of I.V.’s critics disparaged his research of worldwide myths, legends, and ancient stories as he reconsidered and reconstructed “settled” science and history. How (in their view) could any credence be given to “primitive,” “celestial/terrestrial” myths generated by superstitious ante- and post-diluvians? — this knee-jerk dismissal despite the far-from-primitive art and architecture of these so-called primitives! And much less will these uniformists ever give thought to a simple (catastrophist?) Galilean fisherman turned evangelist who wrote circa 1,900 years before Velikovsky:
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.3
When one looks back over history, one sees so much déjà vu in the dogmas of science — how oft the wagons of old (but transitioning) science encircle offenders so as to constrain their exposure and influence and to more easily target them when they persist in their “pseudoscientific sins.” In our own day, many dogmatists still hold to the inadequate standard model with all its puzzles, inconsistencies, and anomalies, and refuse to consider the possibilities and answers increasingly found in the “Electric Universe” (EU) model4 which they also aggressively disparage with the same dismissive, misrepresenting brush. For them, EU is too tainted with Velikovsky to merit even a sideways glance.
How often has this happened in other fields of serious study such as that very touchy subject, demonic possession?
More might be known about possession had scientists early in the century not defined the phenomenon as nonexistent and simply ignored it. One of the greatest scientists of that day, William James, vehemently objected: “The refusal of modern ‘enlightenment’ to treat possession as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the mass of human tradition based on concrete experience in its favor, has always seemed to me to be a curious example of the power of fashion in things scientific.”5
Once again we witness how power plays play-on to the detriment of knowledge and truth, even in lauded science. So perhaps the coming year 2020 will be a good year to read or re-read Velikovsky; perhaps too, to take up serious study of the Electric Universe, and to make our own judgments instead of just reading minority (disparaging) opinions and reports that claim to be majority ones (without offering a smidgen of scientific proof!).
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Velikovsky (Caution: some of this wiki appears to be a bias-laden entry presenting disparaging opinion as fact.) This writer first became aware of Velikovsky circa 1971 when an acquaintance thought I might be interested in a book, Earth in Upheaval, that he had found in a seat pouch during a flight home.
1. The science writer Sharon Begley gives insight into such motivated reasoning: “If you have a strongly held belief with an emotional component, the brain defends information that reinforces those ‘priors’ and is skeptical of information that challenges them. … People who hold these hard priors filter information to support their perceptions.” (Bold emphasis mine.) These observations are from the work of political scientist Hank Jenkins-Smith of the University of Oklahoma as quoted, in Newsweek, October 13, 2010, pp. 29-30 by science writer Sharon Begley about voter tendencies—observations that seem applicable to almost everything that requires choice or discernment. We all do it, (even this writer) and without awareness of a “priors” bias, are we not all more prone to biased judgment—whether pro or con? Shouldn’t 360° honesty in dealing with all the facts help control that bias?
2. Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity, is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It refers to invariance in the metaphysical principles underpinning science, such as the constancy of cause and effect throughout space-time, but has also been used to describe spatiotemporal invariance of physical laws. Though an unprovable postulate that cannot be verified using the scientific method, some consider that uniformitarianism should be a required first principle in scientific research. Other scientists disagree and consider that nature is not absolutely uniform, even though it does exhibit certain regularities. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism ). Contrast with:
Catastrophism is the theory that the Earth has largely been shaped by sudden, short-lived, violent events, possibly worldwide in scope. This is in contrast to uniformitarianism (sometimes described as gradualism), in which slow incremental changes, such as erosion, created all the Earth’s geological features. The proponents of uniformitarianism held that the present was the key to the past, and that all geological processes (such as erosion) throughout the past were like those that can be observed now. Since the early disputes, a more inclusive and integrated view of geologic events has developed, in which the scientific consensus accepts that there were some catastrophic events in the geologic past, but these were explicable as extreme examples of natural processes which can occur. // Proponents of catastrophism proposed that the geological epochs had ended with violent and sudden natural catastrophes such as great floods and the rapid formation of major mountain chains. Plants and animals living in the parts of the world where such events occurred were made extinct, being replaced abruptly by the new forms whose fossils defined the geological strata. Some catastrophists attempted to relate at least one such change to the Biblical account of Noah’s flood. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophism )
3. New Testament | 2 Peter 3:3-7 (Bold emphasis added,)
4. Electric Universe: https://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/ Also read https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Electric_Universe ; AND NOTICE the same pseudo-science, dismissive labelling as if that were sufficient to bury serious alternative scholarship.
5. (cited without reference by John Richard, But Deliver Us From Evil [London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1974], 91). Wink, Walter. Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence: 2 (Powers, Vol 2) (Kindle Locations 5645-5650). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition. (Bold emphasis added.)
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Attribution: Photographer: Donna Foster Roizen. Copyright holder: Frederic Jueneman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]