Biography of Famous Scientist Immanuel Velikovsky Part 1

About the famous scientist Immanuel Velikovsky, biography and history of the Biblical scientist.

IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY (1895- ).

Despite the ingrained human tendency to dismiss out-of-hand that which is new and different, the reaction of the scientific community to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky remains unprecedented in the records of modern science.

The publishing history of the man's work is a story in itself. Dr. Velikovsky's surprising theories were 1st published in early 1950, following 4 years of frustrated attempts to gain a receptive ear in established scientific circles. Public attention was drawn to his ideas through a series of popularized condensations of his manuscript in Harper's, Collier's, and Reader's Digest. Incensed by the popular appeal of his ideas, and by the unscientific forum to which Velikovsky had been forced to resort, several scientists collaborated in an effort to prevent publication of the manuscript. Defying this pressure, the Macmillan Company decided to go ahead, and Worlds in Collision went to press in February, 1950.

What followed was a modern classic case of academic demagoguery. Scientists and scholars who supported Velikovsky's thesis--and even those who simply defended his right to be heard--were shouted down. Some, like the astronomer Gordon Atwater and Macmillan editor James Putnam, were summarily dismissed from their positions. Favorable reviews of the book were killed before their publication, to be replaced by fervent attacks on "irresponsibility" in the publishing industry. All too frequently, these attacks were written by scientists who admitted that they had not read Worlds in Collision, while those who had read the book grossly misrepresented the author's position and ignored or distorted his evidence. The book's publisher, Macmillan, came under such pressure from the academic community that it was forced to transfer the publication rights to Doubleday, even though at that time the book had been 20 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. (Interestingly, the Britannica Book of the Year for 1950 failed to mention Worlds in Collision among its list of that year's best sellers.) Initial reaction culminated in a 1950 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where a discussion was held on the subject of "Books, Civilization and Science." What came out of this discussion, as reported in Science magazine, was a proposal for a prepublication "theory-censoring board," its purpose being to prevent the "wrong kinds of scientific books" from being published.

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