Immanuel Velikovsky and especially his theories in his books Worlds in Collision and Earth in Upheaval have been debunked, ridiculed and dismissed as pseudoscience by most of the scientific world and the public. This is not surprising due to their content.
But surely Immanuel Velikovsky was and is defended by his followers, those interested in catastrophism and chronology revisionism? And those who follow the ideas of the Electric Universe theory (EU theory) which seems to be partly inspired by his radical views of an alternative solar system history?
Immanuel Velikovsky debunked by his followers?
Immanuel Velikovsky debunked by Velikovskians and those interested in the Electric Universe theory is perhaps a big surprise to mainstream science and those wishing to destroy Velikovsky's ideas.
It seems that a significant number of those who support Velikovsky and have seriously investigated Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, Earth in Upheaval and his Ages in Chaos (chronology revisionist series of books) seem to now suspect that the fine details of some or a lot of his interpretation or investigations are perhaps not correct, but that the general ideas he had are correct or at least have shown us the way forward.
For example SIS (The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies) who were inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky's works and were formed to study and investigate his works have been looking into it for over 40 years. As new information, ancient texts, modern translations, updated reconstructions of chronology and history, new scientific data and evidence has come to light, some of the SIS members believe that some of Velikovsky's ideas need to be updated or have been shown to be wrong. There are now even Velikovsky Chrononology variations or radically different chronology lists.
Velikovsky's Worlds not in Collision
One point I will concede to the astronomers. Velikovsky’s book title is misleading. It is not about colliding planets or asteroids. It seems there is an intrinsic avoidance mechanism involving cosmic electric discharges.
The impact of pseudo-science | Holoscience (Wal Thornhill)
Planets do not collide. Electrical forces and modification of orbits by charge exchange dominate in a close encounter.
Assembling the Solar System | Holoscience
Alfred de Grazia reports that Velikovsky never accepted Juergens' theory, because the thermonuclear theory seemed sound to him. de Grazia writes that he asked Velikovsky, more than once, whether he could accept Juergens' theory, he would reply with a definite negative. He adhered to internal thermo-nuclear fusion as the secret of the Sun's radiation.
The publishers of Pensée note: In this issue we feature a paper by Ralph Juergens, whose theses represent a pioneering effort to bring electromagnetic considerations to bear upon celestial mechanics, and thereby to illuminate the physical side of the events described in Worlds in Collision.
While Velikovsky urges discussions of this sort, he does not, of course, feel that final answers have been found, and retains reservations about Juergens' conclusions.
Velikovsky's views - Electric Sun Model | velikovsky.info
Since then sceptical scholars have shown Velikovsky’s historical perspective of cataclysmic events to be wrong. However, his basic premise of planetary encounters has been confirmed and the details fleshed out to an extraordinary degree. Several pioneering researchers in this new field now agree that awe-inspiring planetary encounters did occur in pre-history.
A Little History | Holoscience
Ever since 1950, ‘Velikovsky’ has been a household name, associated with a set of adventurous but highly unorthodox claims that remain contested today.
In his writings, Immanuel Velikovsky documented his ideas with copious references, but gave the impression that the ideas themselves were the spontaneous fruits of his own creative mind. As it happens, however, almost every generation since the Enlightenment had its own ‘Velikovsky’, advancing remarkably similar ideas. This is true to the extent that virtually none of Velikovsky’s core hypotheses were original.
On the Shoulders of Suppressed Giants Part One | Thunderbolts TPOD
Even Velikovsky’s musings on the potency of the electromagnetic force in space could draw on precedents such as the concepts of ‘charged planets’ and ‘electric comets’ pondered by Elias Loomis (1868), Richard Anthony Proctor and Osborne Reynolds (1871), Sir William Huggins (1885) and Kristian Birkeland (1913).
In retrospect, Velikovsky’s immensely influential reconstruction boils down to a spirited rehash of assorted ideas lifted from others’ works, borrowed along with the same tired examples drawn from myth and history. All that is novel appears to be limited to specifics, such as the particular details of the revised chronology, the relocation of the land ‘Punt’, ‘name games’ such as ‘Persians’ (prst) meaning ‘Philistines’ (plst) or ‘first-born ones’ (bǝkōrīm) meaning ‘chosen ones’ (bāḥūrīm), the preferential treatment given to Hebrew mythology, or the idea that the comet Venus was expelled from Jupiter. Sadly, these innovations are also the weakest aspects of Velikovsky’s theory, unlike the general underlying notions that had been around for centuries.
None of this detracts from the potential value and quality of the mythological data and the favourite thought experiments promulgated for so long by catastrophist thinkers. However, Velikovsky’s resolution not to credit any of the above chain of authorities, except Whiston, Donnelly and Bellamy, seems profoundly questionable. Was Velikovsky unaware of some of these works, such as Boulanger’s unpublished manuscripts, Carli’s letters or Radlof’s pamphlet? Was he loathe to cite fringe writers, such as Beaumont? Or did a desire to arrogate the most spectacular insights to himself constitute an ulterior motivation? Revealing is Velikovsky’s unpublished statement that he ‘came across the name’ of Boulanger ‘very late’ in his research, in 1963, admitting that Boulanger was ‘my predecessor’. Yet even so, surely Velikovsky, widely read, could not have missed the output of his contemporaries Beaumont and Braghine?
Whatever the case, critics rarely levelled an accusation of plagiarism against Velikovsky. Instead, they vilified the ideas themselves more vociferously than the modern era had ever witnessed.
On the Shoulders of Suppressed Giants Part Two | Thunderbolts TPOD
Here, on the other hand, is the opinion of the two authors of Thunderbolts of the Gods, each having investigated the thesis of Worlds in Collision for more than three decades. David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill write: "The authors of this book believe that Velikovsky was incorrect on many particulars, some of them crucial to a proper understanding of ancient events. But his place among the great pioneers of science will be secure if he was correct on the underlying tenets"
Talbott and Thornhill do not accept Velikovsky's specific chronology of events, and they place the age of planetary upheaval just prior to the flowering of monumental civilization, which they see as a creative act of human REMEMBERING. Rather than declare Velikovsky to be categorically "right" or "wrong", they cite these claims as crucial to any assessment of Velikovsky's contribution to science--
1. The present order of the planets is new. In geologically recent times the planetary system was unstable, and at least some planets moved on much different courses than they do today.
2. Erratic movements of the planets led to global catastrophe on Earth.
3. Through rigorous cross-cultural comparison of the ancient traditions, an investigator can reconstruct the celestial dramas.
One more principle must also be included, according to the authors. Velikovsky said that the key to reconciling his claims with scientific theory would be ELECTROMAGNETISM, a force in which astronomers and cosmologists had no interest in 1950. He stated that if the Sun and the planets are not the "electrically neutral" bodies astronomers assume, then even "the law of gravitation must come into question."
... It has been said that no great advance has ever been made without controversy. More than 5 decades after the Velikovsky firestorm, questions first posed by Velikovsky can no longer be ignored ... No matter the outcome of this long-standing battle, the time of reckoning is at hand. The voice of Velikovsky's ghost WILL be heard.
Velikovsky's Ghost Returns | Thunderbolts
From a study of ancient sources, the catastrophist polymath Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) famously concluded that the planet Venus had presented a comet-like appearance just a few millennia ago.
Instead of a puerile response of outright condemnation and censorship, the academic world ought to have invested its energy in a careful and dispassionate evaluation of Velikovsky’s individual sources.
Velikovsky’s evidence for the ‘comet Venus’ included the claim that “the peoples of Mexico” passed on “early traditions …, written down in pre-Columbian days” according to which “Venus smoked”. The savant does not appear to have consulted the single primary source he adduced, misspelling the name of an early editor of it. This is the Aztec Codex Telleriano-Remensis annotated by Spanish friars (1553-1563 CE), which contains several illustrations of Venus’ ‘smoking’ as a hemispheric, oval or circular “patch of sky … with a large central star and smoke volutes arising from the form.”
Smoke Without Fire Part One (Rens Van Der Sluijs) | Thunderbolts Picture Of the Day
Several criticisms have been levelled at Velikovsky's work.
His view that the Hittite Empire is simply an invention of modern historians, and that the supposedly Hittite archaeological remains in modern Turkey are actually Chaldean (i.e. neo-Babylonian) appears extremely problematic, and he only began to address the problems here in his fourth work on ancient history, Rameses II and his Time.
Although most of the theories presented in Ages in Chaos are considered quite unacceptable by most scholars, some of the ideas have been confirmed by independent research by notable scholars. For example, his hypothesis that the Ipuwer Papyrus belongs not in the First Intermediate Period but rather in the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egyptian history was confirmed in 1966 by John Van Seters in The Hyksos: A New Investigation. Van Seters' analysis was based on sound linguistic criteria and has never been refuted. His conclusions were reached quite independently of Ages in Chaos. Van Seters was probably not even aware of Velikovsky's work.
Henry Zecher’s analysis, “The Papyrus Ipuwer, Egyptian Version of the Plagues – A New Perspective,” published in The Velikovskian, January 1997, was the first scholarly work in nearly half a century to challenge Velikovsky’s view of the papyrus as an Egyptian version of the plagues, proposing instead that Ipuwer’s was the second half of a two-part story in which Moses wrote Part 1 and escaped with the Israelites and then Ipuwer wrote Part 2, describing the Hyksos takeover of Egypt which followed the Exodus.
Critique - Ages in Chaos | The Velikovsky Encyclopedia
Worlds in Collision debunked
There are a lot of mainstream articles and arguments about how Worlds in Collision is wrong. Below are some from people who have knowledge of Velikovsky or the EU theory. The first few quotes are from Leroy Ellenberger, perhaps the ultimate Immanuel Velikovsky gamekeeper turned poacher.
One might have thought that the Velikovsky movement would have ended with the "crucial test" of the Greenland ice cores (Kronos 10:1, 1984), first proposed by R.G.A. Dolby in 1977.1 A visible layer of debris in the ice caused by Velikovsky's planet-juggling catastrophes, especially from the 40 years of darkness at the Exodus, was never found.
Most surviving Velikovskians now see Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos as seriously flawed, if not completely wrong. Many instead propose that the real interplanetary catastrophes occurred earlier than Velikovsky thought.
... What of Velikovsky's revision of ancient history? Chronology revisionists exist today in two schools: modest and drastic. The modest revisionists shorten Egyptian chronology less drastically than Velikovsky's 500 year compression, eliminating only a century or two by various schemata, e.g., (http://www.centuries.co.uk). The drastic revisionists claim, in essence, that the second millennium B.C.E. is a fiction that duplicates the first millennium; see (http://www.knowledge.co.uk/sis/ancient.htm).
... The disdain of Velikovsky's supporters for "crucial tests" comes honestly since their exemplar emphasized confirmation from supposedly "correct predictions" over falsification from "crucial tests". When Velikovsky wrote Worlds in Collision, he reasonably believed no trees survived the first encounter with Venus 3500 years ago because the oldest trees then known, the Giant Sequoia, started growing 3300 years ago. Then the bristlecone pines in California were found to be over 4000 years old.
When I first met Velikovsky, at his invitation, on Palm Sunday 1978, the survival of the bristlecone pines was on my list of questions. When this question was asked, Velikovsky responded immediately and with the nonchalance of a Borsht Belt comic, "So? They survived." Obviously to him, their survival did not mean Venus did not nearly collide with Earth when the heavens rained fire, continents writhed and shattered apart, and most of mankind was destroyed
Worlds not Colliding (Velikovsky not Colliding) | Leroy Ellenberger
Over the past four years I have come to appreciate that, even if Velikovsky were right, there are good physical reasons why astronomers and other scientists have opposed him so tenaciously. Unfortunately, many of these reasons, often based on information developed since Velikovsky wrote his books, have never been discussed in Velikovskian forums or have never been discussed in a fully informed manner. Examples of the former include the Worzel Ash, ice cores, and plate tectonics. Examples of the latter include tree rings, ice age dynamics, geomagnetism, and cosmic electricity.
Still Facing Many Problems | C Leroy Ellenberger quote on wikipedia
Velikovsky's reference to ancient "cometary" prodigies of Venus are no more compelling since atmospheric refraction can make Venus appear with a "beard," or tail. Varro's report of an account from the time of Ogyges, many centuries earlier, quoted by Velikovsky from Augustine's City of God, in which Venus "changed its color, size, form, course" (Tr. M. Dods), can also plausibly be understood in terms of effects of atmospheric refraction (Forrest, 1987, pp. 24-5, wherein the attributes of Venus are rendered "colour, magnitude, figure, and motion" (Tr. J. Healey)) together with prudent allowance for the uncertainties attending the vagaries of translation over the centuries and for the hyperbole and magico-mystical propensities that color the reports of pagan, pre-modern observers, whose reports Varro related.
Velikovsky's notion, mentioned by Mr. Cochrane, that "planet Saturn only recently loomed large in the heavens" because of "Earth's former proximity" is a red herring. To the ancients, as the classicist Harald Reiche explained to me, a planet's name referred both to orb and orbit. As the most distant visible planet, Saturn's orbit, indeed, can be said to have"encompassed the whole sky," a phrase used in Aeon's promotional material in 1988. Interestingly, our ancestors developed a complex, complementary relationship between the Sun and Saturn. But it is fallacious to believe, as Mr. Cochrane does, that the Sun in a very radical way was subordinate to Saturn in some bygone "Golden Age"
An antidote to Velokovskian delusions | Leroy Ellenberger
THE VELIKOVSKY AFFAIR and OTHER MUSINGS - Lots of arguments, articles and links about Immanuel Velikovsky including this below on the Velikovsky symposium organised by the AAAS where Carl Sagan argued his '10 problems'
Sagan intended his “10 problems” to provide a definitive answer to Velikovsky as well as an example of how scientists analyze new hypotheses. However, Velikovsky and his followers considered Sagan’s paper to be an unforgivable catalog of errors. It may be useful, therefore, to assess Sagan’s 10 problems from the perspective of 25 years later. In doing so, I will use two terms common in the space sciences. One is “back-of-the-envelope” or “rough order of magnitude” estimates, abbreviated ROM. These are simplified calculations to obtain a very approximate numerical solution. Often a ROM estimate is sufficient to reject an implausible hypothesis. Second is the concept of the “strawman”—a simplified version of an idea that is used as a first rough estimate. Both ROMs and strawman arguments appear extensively in Sagan’s critique.
Problem 1: The ejection of Venus by Jupiter. Velikovsky had not explained how or when the Venus-comet got loose on a planet-crossing orbit, but he did say it was ejected from the Jupiter system. (Later he would suggest that Jupiter split apart as a result of interactions with Saturn). Sagan analyzed a strawman in which Venus is ejected from Jupiter like a bullet shot from a cannon. He used a ROM calculation to show that the energy of such an expulsion is more than sufficient to melt the proto-Venus and probably to splatter it all over the solar system. Unfortunately, he used a slightly wrong value for the escape velocity from Jupiter. This did not invalidate his ROM argument, but it undercut the credibility of the entire exercise for the non-science audience, who usually expect calculations by scientists to be precise.
Problem 2: Repeated collisions among the Earth, Venus, and Mars. Velikovsky had asserted that multiple collisions occurred between these three planets during roughly one millenium ending about 700 BCE. Sagan performed a ROM calculation of the probabilities of repeated planetary near-encounters. Since Velikovsky provided no information on the orbital dynamics that would make these events happen, Sagan tested a strawman in which the events are stochastic (unrelated), showing that the odds against such a series of near-collisions are absurdly high (one in 10^23). But Sagan did not consider coupled or resonant orbits, which would invalidate his strawman. His is also a post hoc probability calculation—after the fact, almost any specific sequence of events seems improbable, as Velikovsky correctly stated in his rebuttal.
Problem 3: The Earth’s rotation. Velikovsky asserted that the Earth’s rotation changed dramatically about 3000 years ago; in his preferred scenario it actually stopped, then began rotating again in the opposite direction. Sagan raised many valid objections to the idea that tidal or electromagnetic forces could have stopped the Earth’s rotation, let alone start it up again. These are among the principal flaws in Velikovsky’s scenario.
Problem 4: Terrestrial geology and lunar craters. In Velikovsky’s theory, the Earth suffered extreme geological disruption from the close passes of Venus and Mars. Sagan noted many contradictions between Velikovsky’s scenario and the geological record. There was not a general eruption of terrestrial volcanoes a few thousand years ago, mountains were not thrown up, and the lunar surface was not melted.
Problem 5: Chemistry and biology of the terrestrial planets. Sagan pointed out that Venus’s oxidizing chemistry is inconsistent with its supposed Jovian origin and noted many other problems in Velikovsky’s chemistry, such as the composition of the martian polar caps. Velikovsky responded by quoting old astronomical authorities in support, but that is beside the point, since these references had since been proved wrong.
Problem 6: Manna. Velikovsky concluded that manna (edible carbohydrates) fell on the Earth from Venus, perhaps manufactured by microorganisms out of the hydrocarbons of the comet’s tail. Sagan set up a strawman in which the Venus-comet shed manna over the entire inner solar system, and he used a ROM calculation to show that the quantity of manna exceeded the entire mass of the Earth—a reductio ad absurdum. The exercise doesn’t prove much, since Velikovsky never postulated a model to explain the production of manna, but it went over well with audiences and Sagan, like Velikovsky, was a showman.
Problem 7: The clouds of Venus. Sagan, who was one of the world’s experts on the atmosphere of Venus, effectively demonstrated that Velikovsky’s ideas on this subject were completely at odds with the facts, concluding “Velikovsky’s idea that the clouds of Venus are composed of hydrocarbons or carbohydrates is neither original or correct.” Velikovsky’s reply stressed that hydrocarbon clouds had been suggested by others, but again this is beside the point—by 1974 we knew the clouds were sulfuric acid, although Velikovsky could not accept that fact.
Problem 8: The temperature of Venus. Again Sagan was on solid ground, speaking as one of the originators of the greenhouse model for the atmosphere of Venus. (30) Velikovsky categorically rejected the greenhouse model as “contradicting the second law of thermodynamics” (31) and apparently believed it was a fabrication designed solely to repudiate his theory. He also continued to assert, in contradiction to the astronomical data, that Venus emitted more energy than it absorbed from the Sun. There was no contest here, with all the facts on Sagan’s side. Unfortunately, Sagan added a quantitative appendix on the heating of Venus during a close passage by the Sun that makes no sense to me and has been widely criticized, undercutting his temperature argument.
Problem 9: The craters of Venus. Sagan noted that the presence of craters on Venus (recently discovered by cloud-penetrating radar) contradicted the claimed youth of Venus. This is at best a weak uniformitarian sort of argument, based on an assumption of roughly constant impact rates to form the craters. However, Velikovsky thought the craters resulted from recent interplanetary electrical discharges and did not accept the idea of widespread impact cratering in the planetary system. Neither perspective is very edifying.
Problem 10: The circularization of the orbit of Venus and nongravitational forces in the solar system. Sagan pointed out that there is no evidence that electromagnetic forces play any role in planetary dynamics, and that even if such other forces were at work it would be extremely difficult to change an elongated orbit into a circle (and Venus has the most circular orbit of any planet). These are sound arguments, and neither Velikovsky nor his supporters provided a coherent theory to rationalize the planetary motions that were central to his theory.
VELIKOVSKY AT 50 - THE AAAS DEBATE | DAVID MORRISON