-- The Other Group --
the success and failure of arguments
countering alternative cosmologies

[RCS started 2009.07.16] $Revision: 1.16 $

Introduction

Efforts to debunk the cosmologies proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky (Worlds in Collision in 1950), David Talbott (The Saturn Myth in 1980), and work by Wallace Thornhill, Don Scott, and others have continued unabated for 60 years for those who need to convince themselves that they live in a stable Universe where things have always been as they are today. Even recently, in 2012, two more books are being published which are intended to disprove Velikovsky, The Velikovsky Heresies by Laird Scranton, and The Pseudoscience Wars by Michael Gordin.

As the critic Leroy Ellenberger holds, the radical cosmologists are "ignoring the constraints of physics, alternative explanations, and the absolute veto-power of negative evidence." But the same is true of orthodox cosmology, which may be one reason that the arguments against the alternative cosmologies are so weak and fall on deaf ears.

Alfred de Grazia, in the introduction to the second edition of The Velikovsky Affair (1978), wrote..

"Is there nowhere an anti-Velikovsky treatise of serious consequence? The answer, regrettably, is still 'no.' Not in general nor even in a special discipline such as astrophysics or archaeology."

"Thousands of scientists and scholars have impugned his work. A few have stepped up to bat against him or one of his team: they put on airs; they dance about; they come up unprepared; they take blundering swipes at the ball; they strike out."

That was in 1978, and things have not improved for the followers of orthodoxy. Ellenberger, on the other hand, has laid the blame for the failed debunking with the stubborness of the radical cosmologists, characterizing them by quoting a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, "When Prophesy Fails" (in Daniel Cohen, 1967 Myths of the Space Age)..

"A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point"

What is interesting about the quoted material is that is offers the reactions -- "he turns away", "he questions your sources", "he fails to see your point" -- but does not address the causes for these reactions.

These are the reponses you get when you try to talk to other people about religion, politics, or sex. The supposed facts and opinions on these topics are learned -- as dogma -- at an age before people have the ability to reason things out, before they are able to step through alternatives in their mind, and make selections based on common sense, other experiences, and a knowledge of the world and its functioning. The "age of reason" is the age of eight.

But 'facts' learned from authority figures obviously extends well beyond the age of eight. At one time (13 Jul 94), in another diatribe, Leroy quoted Roger Jones and David Leveson as..

"The acid test of any scientific theory is, first and foremost, its agreement with the FACTS of the physical world. It is empiricism, not aesthetics, that is the backbone of science."

"In scientific as opposed to pseudo-scientific polemic, evidence has priority over hypothesis. That is, hypothesis must conform to evidence, not evidence to hypothesis."

But consider the FACTS. Consider the Big Bang, where evidence is consistently conformed to theory, where is, in fact, no evidence, but where there is a great deal of philosophical aesthetics. But if you are on a PhD track in physics, and you need to pass tests and need to make choices about a thesis, you will accept the authority of those who govern the process..

"A nonbeliever, I felt guilty in the midst of all those believers. And since it seemed to me that they were in the right, I decided to believe, as you might decided to take an asprin: It can't hurt, and you might get better."

-- Umberto Eco Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

The reactions offered by Cohen (Myths of the Space Age) are entirely reversable. The frustrations the Orthodox have with the Radicals, are entirely the same frustrations the Radicals have with the Orthodox. They express the impossibility of a dialog between camps which see the world in completely different terms. Two dogmas, no talk.

Dogma is learned facts (including the "reasoning" behind them) which have no basis in the active inquiring imagination of the holder of the dogma. It is passed-on information which has been absorbed from authority. So Leroy additionally quotes from Cohen..

"We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defense with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks."

What self-serving pomposity; I want to barf. It's the Orthodox Science Police speaking. It has all the flavor of a religious tract. Two hundred years ago there would have been calls to torture the unbelievers to death.

Scientists are being turned into mandarins and missionaries. One thing Leroy could do, is to stop denigrating people for not having a degree in physics or astronomy. It would hurt his cause to continue to do so, because the opinions of academics will be the first to be dismissed. We should welcome radical practicioners from diverse non-academic backgrounds, they are more likely able to think. The whole edifice of 19th century archeology is due to rank amateurs, just like chemistry in the previous century.


The following are a few answers to 'issues' which are still alive today. Some are long dead, as far as I am concerned. Others, when presented, easily match the chronology and physical mechanics I have used at another web site, [SaturnianCosmology.Org].

Worlds in Collision

[updated 3/10] Here, in brief format, is the content of Worlds in Collision. The text is from Alfred de Grazia's Cosmic Heretics (1984). I should note that some of this just doesn't hold up. Many of the claims can be traced to more likely causes, some of which I will enumerate after each paragraph.

"Worlds in Collision is a book in two parts, one on the Venus catastrophes, the second on the Mars catastrophes. These conform to two sets of events that are claimed to have befallen the world in the years around 1450 and 700 B.C., about seven hundred years apart. The planet Venus, argued Velikovsky, began its career as a comet that probably exploded from the giant planet Jupiter sometime, whether a few years or thousands of years before its disastrous encounters with Earth."
"Flaming Venus passed with its huge cometary tail close by the Earth occasioning general disaster by flood, fire, pestilence, electric shock, and fallouts of various materials, and incited a horrendous fear that affected all areas of culture everywhere down to the present day. Mankind lived virtually in a Venusian world for seven centuries, for other near passes occurred at 52-year intervals, until the comet disturbed Mars, sent Mars to molest the Earth and Moon, and brought a Martian period that endured for rather less than a century. All of this had severe and prolonged after-affects geologically, biologically, and culturally."
"Velikovsky endeavored to be exact, allowing the series of Mars incidents to occur between the years -776 and -687 on the basis of legends and historical-archaeological evidence from around the Mediterranean and wherever else in the world it cropped up. For example, an incident of the year -776 would be the founding of the Olympic Games, those sacred manifestations of aggressive competitive sport that brought the Greek communities together and were said to have been founded by Hercules, who has been identified by several scholars with the god Mars or Ares; an instance of the year -687 would be the destruction by natural disaster of the army of the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib while besieging Jerusalem."

People

Below I am introducing a few of the vocal defenders of orthodoxy. I'll get to the strayed souls later.

C. L. Ellenberger

Leroy Ellenberger has been hacking away at the theories of Immanuel Velikovsky and David Talbott for years, originally with letters and postcard mailings and posts to Usenet talk groups, and currently with broadcast emails to a large group of people.

Leroy has been my inspiration in developing this collection of notes. Read [more]...

W. T. Bridgman

W. T. "Tom" Bridgman, Phd, at http://dealingwithcreationisminastronomy.blogspot.com/, presented a critique of Don Scott's book, "The Electric Sky" (2006). Bridgman wrote..

"I found I could hardly go 2-3 pages in Scott's book without finding major ridiculous claims."

Tom points up what real scientists do..

"The difference between the successful scientists and the unsuccessful or crank is the latter's continued pursuit of unsupportable claims."

You may want to read [more]...

Tim Thompson

In 2001 Tim Thompson wrote, also in response to Don Scott's "Electric Sun" [webpage] (which was published in 2006 as the book, "The Electric Sky"), the following..

"I contend that the detailed and powerful predictability associated with standard theory far outclasses the prose-based sentimental approach of the electric-sun hypothesis."

This is an introduction to his response. Read [more]...

Issues

Clube and Napier

"The Cosmic Serpent" (1982) by Victor Clube and Bill Napier is a book which attempts to suggest a basis for ancient catastrophes in meteors strikes. Clube and Napier are astronomers, but show an incredible ineptitude when it comes to antiquity, and perhaps especially when it comes to astronomy. Read [more]...

The Moon

The Moon is not a good example of the stability of the Solar System, especially since the Earth's Moon is only a recent addition. Even Plato makes note of "the time before the Moon." Read [more]...

Venus from Jupiter

The idea that Venus was expelled out of Jupiter is an idea first entertained (in modern times, as apposed to antiquity) by Velikovsky, and based on the Greek notion (in antiquity) that Athena (Venus) jumped fully armed from Saturn's skull or forehead. This was justified (in antiquity) on the basis of what was seen in the skies. This "Venus from Jupiter" was justified (today) on the basis of the "red spot" of Jupiter which has been noted since about the 16th century. This is hardly plausable, for a number of reasons. Read [more]...

Dust in Greenland ice cores

Velikovskian investigators have always assumed that the "fallen sky," which, from various sources, lasted 20 or 40 years, was made up of dust from the tail of Venus. Thus there was some disappointment among Velikovskians that no record of "dust" was found in the Greenland ice cores at a location corresponding to 1500 BC. As I have stated, there was no dust in the tail of Venus, and, etc. Read [more]...

Other Cosmologies

Taken from http://saturniancosmology.org/other.php. As an introduction, it can be said that the following are some alternative cosmologies which do not explain or do not hold together, even though many are well researched. I have added my comments only as needed. Most are not so much complete cosmologies as they are explications of catastrophic events in the era from 10,000 BC to the 7th century BC. Most take for granted the current state of the Solar System and the handed-down narratives of its genesis. That will do, although, as described on these pages, it is seldom correct. But first a note from Phil Burns (originally at http://www.pibburns.com/catastro/myths.htm), who has commented on some of these..

"My personal feeling is that any historical content that might underlie myths of cosmic catastrophes is difficult to extract and remains subject to multiple interpretations. Interpreting such myths literally is likely to lead to untenable hypotheses involving large scale disruptions of the Earth and solar system that cannot be sustained from physical evidence."

I agree, but I think, first, that "large scale disruptions of the Earth and solar system" can be sustained, certainly and unquestionably, from physical evidence. Burns should get off his couch and fly across the Western United States in a Piper Cub. Burns goes on..

"Myths tell us how the ancients perceived the universe, not necessarily how the universe really worked. Trying to rewrite physics and astronomy based upon mythological interpretation is a fundamentally incorrect procedure."

There are, at any rate, also broad concepts among the various catastrophic cosmologies which are inured to the details of different retellings. As remarked by Kurt Godël, "Concepts indifferent to the details of their formulation are absolute." One of these, or some of these, or various parts of some of these cosmologies are absolute, and will represent the true history of the past. But I should add to these the works by Immanuel Velikovsky, David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill, Tom Van Flandern, and any number of others.

And who would rewrite physics and astronomy? I think the real question is, Why are we afraid to enter the imagination of the ancients? Certainly we should be able to make sense of what lies behind "how the ancients perceived the universe." Could we not excercize our imagination to find possibilities without rewriting physics?

The following is a sampling of the work of others who believe this to be true, ranging from bizarre to sublime. I started to understand 'fringe' as a border of loose threads, rather than 'outer edge,' although I respect the work that went into these. Some are followed by comments. Others require none.

If I have misrepresented any, it is an oversight. I will gladly correct the capsule descriptions below, although my evaluations will (probably) remain the same.

Zecharia Sitchin's Muddled Mesopotamian History

Zecharia Sitchin has taken all the implied dates of the Sumerian "King List" at face value, as well as those of the Bible, producing a series of fantasy books, "The 12th Planet" (1976), "The Stairway to Heaven" (1980), "The Wars of Gods and Men" (1985), "The Lost Realms" (1990), "When Time Began" (1993), and more. Read [More]...

Planet X, the Dark Star

Taking Zecharia Sitchin seriously, Andy Lloyd creates Planet X, or alternately 'Nemeses', or 'Nibiru' after Sitchin, or some such interloper, the topic of his website, to be followed by a book titled "The Dark Star." He writes..

".. the potential for a small brown dwarf to be found orbiting the Sun is not only scientifically plausible, but would enable us to tie up a great number of loose ends in ancient religion and mythology."

Read [more]...

Erich von Däniken's Ancient Astronauts

Erich von Däniken's book "Chariots of the Gods" is alive at a site, where the Archaeology, Astronautics & SETI Research Association publishes the quarterly "Legendary Times" on the web. Read [more]...

More of These

Some additional alternative cosmologies will be found at an off-site [file].

Weird Stuff on the Web

Some things do not surprise me anymore, but every now and then I run into Pyramidiots and other true believers who have attacked some subject with religious zeal. Here are a few examples, which stand up well as spoofs of the same insane work of others.

An analysis of a mass of stones at Waitapu in New Zealand. This will move the science of "ancient alignments" far into the future.

The identification of the ancient Egyptian was scepter as a water turn-off key. And the further [uses] of this instrument in ancient Egypt.

Twenty two pages of a mythologically based rant, called THE SACRED MOUNTAIN by Charles H. Seitz. I had to stop reading after a few pages. But enjoy all of it. Can't find the site currently (2009).

Richard wrote to me in 2006 to inform me of the true chronology of the world, "there are things i know to share with you."

Four outraged e-mails from Jayden. Jayden writes, "You arrogant presumpteous amateur know it all." That's me.

List of Things to Do

close calls of planets

Jupiter named last in 8th century

twin mountains in 2349 BC

the Sun's electrical circuit


URL of this page: http://othergroup.net/intro.php
This page last updated: Saturday, September 8th, 2012
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jno (at) othergroup (dot) net
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