SCIENTISTS CONFRONT VELIKOVSKY by Donald--Ed. Goldsmith

SCIENTISTS CONFRONT VELIKOVSKY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1974 the American Association for the Advancement of Science sponsored a symposium to air the arguments of leading astronomers versus Velikovsky. This book is based on the lectures augmented by an introduction by Isaac Asimov and one additional paper by an astronomer. The results of this latest chapter in celestial soap opera--a continuation of the 19th-century tale of catastrophists versus uniformitarians--make for exhilarating reading. Asimov is good on the subject of ""endoheretics""--iconoclasts within a formal discipline--versus ""exoheretics""--outsiders who usually gain popular adherents. Norman Storer continues the sociological-science-in-perspective arguments, and astronomers J. Mulholland and David Morrison contribute reasoned anti-Velikovsky arguments. But the capstone of the work is Carl Sagan's ten-point putdown which assembles arguments from archaeology as well as from physics and astronomy to demonstrate that Velikovsky is either wrong, or, where some of his conjectures have held up, has been unoriginal. As a coda there is a piece by archaeoastronomer Peter Huber which, among other things, presents evidence for ancient sightings of the planet Venus. This would refute Velikovsky's premise that the planet was originally a comet spun off from Jupiter which collided with Earth. Unfortunately neither Velikovsky's paper nor that of one of his supporters at the symposium is included, although editor Goldsmith makes it clear that both papers were requested. No doubt The Other Side will be heard from later. Readers of this volume may already be convinced of the cogency of the anti-Velikovsky arguments. For them, or for beginning students, the essays are excellent demonstrations of scientific reasoning explained at the popular level.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1977
ISBN: 0393009289
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press