Velikovsky, Cochrane, and Ellenberger in Skeptic

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Ev Cochrane

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Jan 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/20/96
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This past month, the journal Skeptic devoted several articles to
a discussion of Velikovsky's place in the history of science. A
relatively pro-Velikovsky position was taken by your's truly, articles
by Henry Bauer and Leroy Ellenberger taking a more critical position.
As there are more than a few skeptics on talk.origins, I suggest that
it might prove enlightening to continue this debate within these
hallowed halls. Tomorrow I will type up my article and post it.
I suggest that someone do the same with Leroy's article. Ihave
already prepared a rebuttal of Leroy's various arguments which I
will also post.

Ken Cox

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Jan 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/22/96
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Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

>This past month, the journal Skeptic devoted several articles to

>a discussion of Velikovsky's place in the history of science. [...]


>Tomorrow I will type up my article and post it.

Before doing this you should check the copyright situation carefully.
I don't know what _Skeptic_'s policy is, or what copyright transfer
forms you may have signed, but if it's anything like IEEE or ACM you
may not have the right to distribute the original article anymore.

If _Skeptic_ does hold the copyright, you are still free to present
your original arguments, as long as you do not re-use the text of the
article. Short quotes from your article are permitted, by the usual
fair-use doctrine.

>I suggest that someone do the same with Leroy's article.

Now *this* is most definitely not allowed, without either Leroy's
or _Skeptic_'s permission -- depending who holds the copyright.

--
Ken Cox k...@research.att.com

Tim Thompson

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Jan 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/26/96
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In article <htMJwwO....@delphi.com>,
Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

> This past month, the journal Skeptic devoted several articles to

> a discussion of Velikovsky's place in the history of science. A
> relatively pro-Velikovsky position was taken by your's truly, articles
> by Henry Bauer and Leroy Ellenberger taking a more critical position.
> As there are more than a few skeptics on talk.origins, I suggest that
> it might prove enlightening to continue this debate within these
> hallowed halls. Tomorrow I will type up my article and post it.
> I suggest that someone do the same with Leroy's article. Ihave
> already prepared a rebuttal of Leroy's various arguments which I
> will also post.

I did not come across this when it was posted, thanks to the
installation of a new computer system, and the subsequent
de-bugging of same. I have been asked by the redoubtable
Ellenberger to paraphrase his remarks for a short reply.
Basically, Ellenberger does not wish to, as Ev put it, "continue
the debate within these hallowed halls. He prefers to do so in the
hallowed halls of Skeptic, where it started. If I understand a-right,
Ellenberger does not intend to reply until Cochrane sends in a
response to Skeptic. Remember, this is me paraphrasing what Leroy
told me in a phone call earlier today (Thursday 25 Jan 96).

I also note that Ev has evidently not posted a copy of his article,
not surprising since it is copyrighted by Skeptic. I would suggest that
anyone who might be considering typing Ellenberger's article (not I)
consider the copyright issue as well.

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Timothy J. Thompson, Timothy.J...@jpl.nasa.gov

California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer.
Atmospheric Corrections Team - Scientific Programmer.


Ev Cochrane

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Jan 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/26/96
to

The most recent issue of Skeptic magazine included a trilogy of
invited articles examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place in the
history of science (Vol 3:4, 1995). Michael Shermer, the editor
of Skeptic, has kindly granted me permission to post the following
article by your's truly.

Title: "Velikovsky Still in Collision"

"If you have had your attention directed to the novelties of thought
in your own lifetime, you will have observed that almost all really
new ideas have a certain amount of foolishness when they are first
produced." Alfred North Whitehead

The theories of maverick scholar Immanuel Velikovsky sparked a
virulent debate upon publication of his Worlds in Collision in 1950.
The central thesis of the book--that spectacular cataclysms involving
various planets recently wracked the solar system, being witnessed
by man the world over and commemorated in countless myths and
sacred rites--was deemed so unpalatable by the academic community
that a Harvard astronomer organized a boycott of the publisher in
an attempt to suppress the book (the most complete account of this
shoddy episode is that of Vorhees, 1993). While this blatant attempt
to subvert academic freedom succeeded in the short term--Velikovsky's
reputation was forever tarnished and Macmillan was forced to give
up the rights to the book despite the fact that it was a bestseller at the
time--it would appear to have failed in the long run, as more and more
readers came to be attracted to Velikovsky's work as a result of the
controversy itself and as various space probes began to report data
predicted by the heretical scholar (radio noises emanating from Jupiter,
remnant magnetism in lunar rocks, the existence of a terrestrial
magnetosphere extending to the Moon, etc.)

How does one summarize the career of a man whose eight published
volumes span the fields of ancient history, astronomy, paleontology,
evolutionary theory, abnormal psychology, comparative religion,
geology, and a host of others? This is a difficult task under any
circumstances, much less in the limited-space available in a forum
such as this. So I will present only a brief summary of Velikovsky's
theory of planetary catastrophism.

Born in Russia in 1895 and educated at some of the finest universities
in Europe, Velikovsky eventually emigrated to Palestine, where he
practiced medicine and psychoanalysis for the better part of two
decades. In 1939, Velikovsky came to America to pursue research
for a book on Freud's heroes. It was while contemplating various
passages in the Old Testament--such as the sun standing still for
Joshua--that Velikovsky arrived at the crucial insight that the Earth
had been brought to the brink of destruction as a result of the near
passage of a celestial body.

In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky challenged orthodox science and
history by claiming that: (1) Great cataclysms have distinguished the
recent history of the Earth; (2) These cataclysms were caused by
extraterrestrial agents; (3) The agents of catastrophe can be identified
with the specific planets in the solar system (Velikovsky, 1950, p. ix)

In addition to these general claims, Velikovsky also offered the
following, more specific, claims: (1) The planet Saturn only recently
loomed large in the heavens, an indication, apparently, of the Earth's
former close proximity to the gas giant; (2) The planet Venus assumed
a comet-like appearance during a particularly spectacular episode in
the not-too-distant past; (3) The planet Mars recently participated in
epoch-ending cataclysms, inspiring its reputation as a war-god and
agent of destruction. The latter three claims are entirely without
precedent in the annals of human thought and underscore the profoundly
unique nature of Velikovsky's vision of the recent history of the
solar system.

Velikovsky's most famous claim--and the one which most drew the
ire of the astronomical community--was that Venus once presented
a comet-like form while threatening the Earth, only settling into
its current orbit well within the historical period. Can there be any
truth to this admittedly bizarre scenario?

A wealth of evidence confirms that Velikovsky's hypothesis is not
as far-fetched as might at first appear. Indeed, the truth of the matter
is that the evidence in favor of Venus' comet-like past is far more
pervasive than Velikovsky himself ever imagined. Thus, in a series
of articles exploring Venus' role in ancient myth and religion, Dave
Talbott and I documented that ancient terms for "comet"--including
"hair-star," "serpent-star", "bearded-star", "tailed-star", "torch-
star", "smoking-star", etc.--were each specifically applied to
Venus! (Talbott & Cochrane, 1984, 1985, 1987). From ancient
Mesopotamia to Mesoamerica, Venus was described as a "hairy"
star, "smoking" star, "bearded" star, "serpent" star, etc. Such
terminology, as we documented, was not only common among most
ancient cultures, but surprisingly prominent in the earliest religious
and mythical traditions, thereby attesting, it would appear, to the
importance accorded Venus/comets in ancient thought.

In addition to this shared terminology, Venus and comets also
shared a similar reputation in ancient tradition. Thus, comets
were universally associated with the following themes: (1)
Disaster (i.e., the appearance of a comet heralded a great epidemic,
earthquakes, a terrifying eclipse of the sun, etc.); (2) The end
of the world (end of a world age or kingdom, etc.); (3) The
death of a great king; (4) The transmigration of a great king's
soul.

Strange to say, and wholly inexplicable from the vantage point
of orthodox modern astronomy, the very same themes are also
associated with Venus. In the New World as well as the Old,
from the most ancient times to the advent of the modern age,
Venus was widely regarded as an omen of disaster, a harbinger
of the end of a world age, the agent of a great eclipse at the
dawn of time, a sign that a prominent king was about to die,
and explicitly associated with the departing "soul" of a dying
king (Cochrane, 1989; Talbott, 1994). Given this striking
correspondence between the ancient lore surrounding Venus
and comets, it is difficult to deny Velikovsky's thesis that
Venus recently presented a comet-like appearance, however
the phenomenon is to be understood in astronomical terms.

According to archaeoastronomical traditions of peoples the
world over, Mars and Saturn were also associated with
spectacular cataclysms in very recent times. And each of these
planets was described in terms which are impossible to reconcile
with their current, relatively staid appearances. Mars, for
example, was associated with prodigious eclipses of the sun
throughout the ancient world (Cochrane, 1993). Saturn was
identified as the ancient sun-god by the Babylonians, Indians,
and Greeks. Helios, for example, was originally a name for
the planet Saturn rather than the current Sun (Talbott, 1980).

Here it may well be asked, "Granted that Velikovsky might
have been on the right track with regard to the presence of
cometary imagery in ancient traditions surrounding Venus,
of what significance is this finding for modern science?"
It is the far-reaching ramifications of this finding for ancient
history and modern astronomy, of course, which have long
intrigued Velikovsky's admirers and incensed his detractors.
Stated simply, if the spectacle of Venus as a comet-like body
threatening the Earth was actually witnessed by ancient humans
the world over, our entire conception of the recent history of
the solar system--not to mention our understanding of celestial
mechanics and a score of other sciences--is destined to be turned
upside down.

It would thus appear that the controversy surrounding Velikovsky's
ideas is far from settled. Is he fated to go down in history as the
epitome of a crank, as Carl Sagan and the astronomical community
would have it? Or is he to be regarded as the decisive catalyst in
a scientific revolution the likes of which has yet to be seen? In my
opinion, the answer hinges on the scientific validity of recent
planetary catastrophism. Should Velikovsky be vindicated on this
score--and I believe he will--its stands to reason that he will be
granted a prominent place in intellectual history.

Like Darwin, Freud and other intellectual catalysts throughout
history, Velikovsky is not only important for what he added to
the storehouse of knowledge, but for the bold new questions
he posed and hitherto unimagined horizons he exposed. To
read Velikovsky is to be catapulted into an entirely new way of
viewing the world and its history. Just as, after On the Origin of
Species, few can contemplate one of Nature's myriad of life
forms without seeing evidence of its evolutionary history in
every feature; and just as, after The Interpretation of Dreams,
few can afford to overlook unconscious determinants of behavior;
so too, after Worlds in Collision, one can never again look at
myth--nay the entire intellectual heritage bequethed to us by
ancient man in the form of sacred literature, heroic epics,
folklore, rock art, etc.--without seeing unequivocal evidence
of the Earth's cataclysmic recent history.

Bibliography

E. Cochrane, "On Comets and Kings," Aeon, 1989, pp. 53-75.

E. Cochrane, "On Mars and Pestilence," Aeon 1993, pp. 59-79.

D. Talbott, The Saturn Myth (New York, 1980).

D. Talbott, "The Great Comet Venus," Aeon, 1994, pp. 5-51.

D. Talbott & E. Cochrane, "The Origin of Velikovsky's Comet,"
"On the Nature of Cometary Symbolism," and "When Venus
was a Comet," in Kronos, 1984, 1985, and 1987 respectively.

I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (New York, 1950).

D. Vorhees, "Velikovsky in America," Aeon, 1993, pp. 32-58.

Ev Cochrane

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Jan 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/26/96
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The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was
an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
Velikovskian Delusions." This article was vintage Leroy:
several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
sources. All in all, it was very entertaining. Having just now
received permission to post Leroy's article from the editor
himself--Michael Shermer--I am hereby requesting that one of
Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and submit it. Here's
your big chance, fellas: Leroy's article is *really* devastating.

Ev Cochrane

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Jan 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/26/96
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[The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy

of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). I presented the
case for recent episodes of planet-induced catastrophe, while
Leroy Ellenberger took a critical position. The following post
examines some of Ellenberger's claims in the aforementioned
article.]

Throughout his long career as a Velikovsky watcher--first as
an enthusiastic (some would say fanatic) supporter of Velikovsky's,
and now as an equally fanatic critic--Leroy Ellenberger has practiced
what might be described as a shotgun approach to polemics: Throw
out several dozen categorical statements together with a handful of
references to otherwise obscure sources and then, when these
statements/sources are criticized or debunked, throw out a dozen
more. Leroy's recent article in Skeptic is no different in this
regard.

While I am prepared to debate any of the arguments raised by
Leroy against the possibility/reality of recent episodes of planet-
induced catastrophism, I would much prefer to concentrate on
issues most amenable to critical analysis--ideally those of some
interest to the readers on talk.origins. The history of the signs
of the zodiac, for example, has formed a subject in several recent
threads on talk.origins, and inasmuch as Leroy has advanced the
extreme antiquity of such signs against the views of Velikovsky,
Talbott and myself, perhaps it would be of interest to examine the
evidence for this claim.

In the article in question, Leroy wrote as follows:

"In the Velikovskian worldview, typified by Mr. Cochrane, the
zodiac has no meaning until Earth's present tilt was achieved.
But, in fact, the earliest signs of the zodiac date from 5500 B.C.,
long before Velikovskians believe the present order began
(Gurshtein, 1993 and 1995)."

This statement is confused in several respects. In the first place,
I hardly "typify" the Velikovskian worldview. Not only do I
not consider myself a "Velikovskian", I have repeatedly stressed
that I do not accept Velikovsky's particular chronology of the
respective planetary catastrophes nor do I accept his evidence
for Mars-events in the 7th century B.C., the period to which
he would refer the establishment of the present tilt of the Earth's
axis. Indeed, Talbott and I have never presented a detailed
chronology of the catastrophic events associated with the
establishment, evolution, and eventual breakup of the polar
configuration associated with Saturn. Inasmuch as such events
were apparently prehistoric, they are naturally difficult to date.
Thus it is entirely possible that the present tilt of the Earth's
axis *was* established before 5500 B.C. (although I very
much doubt it). If so, Leroy's argument--should it prove
valid--would tend to undermine Velikovsky's particular
chronology advanced in Worlds in Collision. But it is of
very little relevance for the thesis defended by Talbott and
myself. The all-important question, however, is whether
Leroy's argument/evidence is valid?

In point of fact, there is no evidence whatsoever for Leroy's
statement that the earliest signs of the zodiac date from
5500 B.C. Not only are there no examples of written texts
from this period which mention any signs of the zodiac, there
aren't any examples of artwork from this period which
provide unequivocal (or even suggestive) references to the
signs of the zodiac. What kind of evidence is Leroy referring
to? The same kind, I dare say, as existed for his equally
unfounded statement that already in the third millennium B.C.
the Sumerians were practicing a sophisticated form of
astronomical observation and reckoning (Leroy made this
claim on talk.origins some time back)?

Equally baseless is Leroy's more recent claim that "B.G.
Sidharth recently showed that part of the Rig Veda dates from
ca. 7300 B.C., when a solar eclipse at the vernal equinox
occurred in the lunar asterism Pushya, located in Cancer; see
Griffith Observer, Nov. 1995." Once again, Leroy offers
no critical analysis of Sidharth's claim, nor does he bother
to provide those of us more critically minded with a reference
from the Rig Veda so we can check it out for ourselves. This
was most fortunate for Leroy. For had he done so, we could
have promptly shown him that there is not a single sentence
in the Rig Veda which dates before 2000 B.C. (and probably
much later than that); there is not the slightest evidence that
the prehistoric Indians were practicing any kind of astronomical
reckoning in 7300 B.C; and there is no absolutely no basis
for Sidharth's claim. Having myself studied the Rig Veda
quite carefully for references to celestial goings-on, I can say
with great confidence that what references there are have
nothing to do with prehistoric preoccupation with the signs
of the zodiac and everything to do with prehistoric catastrophes
involving the respective planets (Mars in particular. See here
E. Cochrane, "Indra...." Aeon, 1991, pp. 49-76; "Indra's
Theft of the Sun-God's Wheel," Aeon, 1993, pp. 71-85.
Complimentary copies of said articles available upon request
by email).

I would close with the following challenge to Leroy: Give
us your most compelling evidence for prehistoric references
to any sign of the zodiac from either Gurshtein or Sidharth.

Tim Thompson

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Jan 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/28/96
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In article <htKqIlA....@delphi.com>,
Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

[ ... ]


> I would close with the following challenge to Leroy: Give
> us your most compelling evidence for prehistoric references
> to any sign of the zodiac from either Gurshtein or Sidharth.

As I did in an earlier note, so I would like to do once more.
I believe that the redoubtable Ellenberger is busily crafting a
*short* response of his own. However, he has once again expressed
to me considerable irritation tha Cochrane has chosen to move the
debate from the pages of Skeptic to the internet. I suspect that
Ellenberger has no intention of replying at all until Cochrane has
submitted a rebuttal to Skeptic for publication.

--
Speaking only for myself ...

Ev Cochrane

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Jan 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/28/96
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On January 27th, Tim Thompson reported that Leroy Ellenberger
has suddenly lost his nerve:


"As I did in an earlier note, so I would like to do once more.
I believe that the redoubtable Ellenberger is busily crafting a
*short* response of his own. However, he has once again expressed
to me considerable irritation tha Cochrane has chosen to move the
debate from the pages of Skeptic to the internet. I suspect that
Ellenberger has no intention of replying at all until Cochrane has
submitted a rebuttal to Skeptic for publication."

I, for one, find Leroy's reluctance/fear of engaging me on
talk.origins more than a little amusing. Is this the same guy
who daily besieges me with faxes bragging about how he's
going to expose me as an ignoramus on talk.origins for all
to see? Consider the following fax which Leroy sent me on
12-31: "Your perfidy shall be displayed on talk.origins and
all will have their suspicions confirmed that you are clueless
in the mythosphere and deluded beyond all redemption."

Here's your big chance, Leroy. Tell us about those Vedic
scribes recording eclipses in 7300 B.C. And do tell us about
those mysterious zodiac signs dating from 5500 B.C.

For the record, here's my previous post outlining Leroy's
peculiar brand of archaeoastronomy

Ev Cochrane

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Jan 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/28/96
to

[The most recent issue of Skeptic magazine included a trilogy of

invited articles examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place in the
history of science (Vol 3:4, 1995). Michael Shermer, the editor
of Skeptic, has kindly granted me permission to post the following
article by Leroy Ellenberger. While reading Ellenberger's article,
it should be remembered that he had my article before him. I, on
the other hand, did not see his article until it appeared in Skeptic.
The next issue of Skeptic will include a short rebuttal to Leroy's
article. Inasmuch as the editor requested that I keep my published
rebuttal short, I intend to examine each and every paragraph of
Leroy's article right here on talk.origins in the days and weeks
ahead. Although I can well understand that Leroy would be
justifiably horrified at such a prospect, I can see no more
appropriate forum for this kind of debate.]



"An Antidote to Velikovskian Delusions" by Leroy Ellenberger

"The fact is that the whole of the ramshackle edifice of nonsense
to be found scattered throughout the Velikovskian corpus is
purported to have a historical... foundation, but that it has none."
John David North

"The philosopher David Hume urged that one should always
hold it more likely that one had been deceived than that the laws
of nature should stand suspended." Frank Close


I am privileged to have this opportunity to provide a counterbalance
to the Velikovskian mindset expressed by Mr. Cochrane. Our
viewpoints could hardly be more divergent, as our respective essays
for a forum in the British Velikovskian journal showed. Whereas
he believes "the ancient traditions (mostly mythological) are our
best guide to the appearance and arrangement of the earliest
remembered Solar System, not some fancy computer's retro-
calculations based upon current understandings of astronomical
principles" (1992, pp. 40-41), my position is that "while myth
may *inform* natural history (e.g., Phaethon's fall), its capacity to
*reform* physics is vanishingly small. Phaethon was almost
certainly a comet, not Venus or the Sun" (1992a, pp. 41-44), as
Bob Kobres has ingeniously shown (1995). In the Velikovskian

worldview, typified by Mr. Cochrane, the zodiac has no meaning
until Earth's present tilt was achieved. But, in fact, the earliest
signs of the zodiac date from 5500 B.C., long before Velikovskians
believe the present order began (Gurshtein, 1993 and 1995). (Of
special interest to Velikovskians is the fact that the near-miss
trajectory for Phaethon *behind* Earth, deduced by Kobres,
produces the illusion of a sun-like body standing still due to the
relative motion as seen from certain longitudes--perhaps the
inspiration for the "Day the Sun Stood Still" for Joshua.

Mr. Cochrane presents his case for Velikovsky's genius. Velikovsky
*was* a brilliant man whose speculations, unfortunately, were
invalidated by his assumptions about his source materials. However,
he was no scientist (see Bauer, 1992, Friedlander, 1995, and Grove,
1989). According to Lloyd Motz (1992, pp. 85-92), whose advice
Velikovsky often sought, "Velikovsky's credentials were not those
of a scientist...he had only the vaguest understanding of such basic
principles as conservation of angular momentum, gravity, and
entropy." My personal experience with Velikovsky regarding
escape velocity (1979) and the relation between Jupiter's surface
temperature and the hot plasma temperatures in its magnetosphere,
verifies Henry Bauer's conclusion that in physics Velikovsky was
"an ignoramus masquerading as a sage" (1984, p. 94).

The "profoundly original nature of Velikovsky's vision of the
recent history of the solar system," praised by Mr. Cochrane, is
belied by the earlier work of Whiston, Radlof, and Donnelly
whose writings prefigured the major themes in Worlds in Collision
(see Clube and Napier, 1990; Bauer, 1984). Velikovsky probably
came to his conclusions independently, but he was by no means
"profoundly original." One interprets myths literally at great risk
because the deeds of gods do not necessarily apply to the action
of the planets named after them. The events in Worlds in Collision
are disproved by the complete absence of relevant physical
evidence on Earth (such as characteristic debris in the world's ice
caps deposited during and after Earth's near collisions with Venus
and Mars 3500 and 2700 years ago, respectively; Ellenberger, 1984).
If the debris Venus deposited in Earth's atmosphere was so massive
it caused 40 years of darkness after the Exodus, where is it today?
There is no sign of it in the world's ice caps or on the ocean
bottoms.

In retrospect, we can see that scientists (and other experts) easily
perceived how wrong Velikovsky was, but they were ineffective
in setting forth a valid refutation that was convincing to Velikovsky
partisans (Ellenberger, 1986 and 1992b).

Although Velikovsky's mythological interpretation and methodology
have been widely criticized (Forrest, 1983/84; Fitton, 1974;
Mewhinney, 1986; Sachs, 1965; and Stiebing, 1992), his followers
are unimpressed and blindly follow their exemplar as naive, literal
interpreters of myth who fail to provide, much less even look for,
independent physical, as opposed to textual or iconographic,
evidence supporting their model. They ignore George Talbott's
sage counsel in Kronos V:3, "The basis of any historical inference
must be physical evidence." As literalists, they do not allow mere
metaphors to becloud their research.

The "ancient lore surrounding Venus" in most cases relates to a
deity associated with Venus such as Inanna or Ishtar. Since Venus
is far too massive *ever* to have had a tail, it is not, contrary to
Mr. Cochrane, "difficult to deny Velikovsky's thesis that Venus
only recently presented a comet-like appearance." The "wealth of
evidence" for a cometary Venus, lauded by Mr. Cochrane, confirms
nothing because it is textual and iconographic, making it susceptible
to the vagaries of interpretation. Any tail ascribed to, say, Ishtar
(Mr. Cochrane would render it as "Venus"), almost certainly was
inspired by a conventional short period comet that has since
disappeared or become inactive. The British astronomers Victor
Clube and Bill Napier (1990), propose that the lore associated with
the progenitor to Comet Encke, which would have been a spectacular
morning and evening object at perihelion, would have been assimilated
to Venus when it disappeared. If the identification of Venus is
defective, how trustworthy can the other mythological equations be?

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" (cf., Boll, 19919; Jastrow, 1910; Krupp, 1994).

Concerning Mars, Mr. Cochrane unjustifiably projects his own
expectations on his sources when he refers to Mars having been
"associated with prodigious eclipses of the sun..." His references
in Aeon to Gossmann and Tallqvist give no warrant for either
"prodigious" or "eclipses." However, we know, from the ancients'
claims about Sirius causing the summer to be hot by heating the
Sun, they were capable of fanciful associations (Ceragioli, 1992).
By virtue of its drastic changes in direction and brightness, Mars
was a perfect subject for exercising our ancestors' imagination.

We have reason to believe our ancestors viewed a sky different
even from that contemplated by Mr. Cochrane. Such terms as
are rendered "morning star" and "eclipse" in translations may
very well refer to phenomena that are no longer present because
the accounts of their activity do not conform to what we observe
today (Clube and Napier, 1990; Mandelkehr, 1994).

Contrary to Mr. Cochrane, the furious reaction to Velikovsky in
1950 was not due to suggestions that were unpalatable to scientists.
According to Henry Bauer, "The absurd gap between Velikovsky's
pretensions and ambitions on the one hand, and his lack of
qualifications and evidence for his views on the other, could well
explain the sarcastic outrage of some members of the scientific
community" (1985, p. 184). This "absurd gap" is even greater in
the pretensions of those neo-Velikovskians like Mr. Cochrane
himself. They are untutored, self-proclaimed experts, who
promulgate the "polar configuration" derived from the "Saturn
myth" (which is the hidden agenda behind Mr. Cochrane's
allusions to recent, drastic changes in the behavior of Venus,
Saturn and Mars.).

They actually believe, because of its alleged vast explanatory power,
that their literal interpretation of certain myths gives results superior
to those of modern science. But explanatory power is no gauge of
validity because incorrect theories can give correct predictions.
Scientism aside, their notions are consciously unconstrained by
the laws of physics. The ad on the back cover of Aeon 4:1 for
"When the Gods were Planets," the first video in a series on
"The New Science of World Mythology," claims it "not only
challenges long-held beliefs, but suggests that the most cherished
assumptions of twentieth century science must give way to a
new understanding of planetary evolution." Do these pretensions
give the appearance of delusions of grandeur?

The "polar configuration" is claimed to have been a self-gravitating
in-line "stack" of Jupiter-Saturn-Venus-Mars-Earth (sans Moon),
that orbited the Sun as a unit in synchronous motion, with Earth
tilted 90 degrees so its axis pointed down the "stack" toward
Saturn. Although this scheme was contrived to satisfy certain
mytho-religious themes and motifs, it is neither as necessary nor
as comprehensive as its proponents claim. Moe Mandelkehr
(1994) has shown that these myths can all be accounted for in
practical terms if Earth acquired a temporary, highly inclined
ring of meteor dust about 2300 B.C. The scheme is also not
as comprehensive as claimed because it does not explain the
sacred number names of the gods in the Sumero-Babylonian
pantheon which Ernest McClain has shown correspond to
harmonic ratios of the octave (1976, 1994).

Contrary to Mr. Cochrane, there is no "debate over the possibility
of recent planetary catastrophism," as conceived by the neo-
Velikovskians. The notion of errant planets in the recent past is
preposterous in the extreme, being decisively contradicted by all
the locked, spin-orbit circular satellite resonances at Earth, Mars,
Jupiter and Saturn, that take far longer to attain than the few
thousand years since the Solar System supposedly settled down.
The synchronous orbits required by the polar configuration are
dynamically impossible, and the present solar system cannot be
derived from them. Mr. Cochrane deludes himself if he actually
believes there is any chance for Velikovsky to be vindicated on
this score.

The recent catastrophism espoused by Clube and Napier,
although based on scientific evidence (Asher, 1994; Clube 1992;
Clube and Napier, 1990), is eschewed by neo-Velikovskians.
Their work is not embraced by astronomers either, in no small
part because of the bad name given catastrophism by Velikovsky.
According to Clube and Napier, the Holocene has been punctuated
by energetic, episodic interaction with the dense portion of the
Taurid-Encke complex, providing an astronomically sound
explanation for the sky-combat myths that concerned Velikovsky
in Worlds in Collision. As Clube and Napier once observed,
"Velikovsky is not so much the first of the new catastrophists...;
he is the last in a line of traditional catastrophists going back to
mediaeval times and probably earlier" (1984). There is, as Mr.
Cochrane states, "unequivocal evidence of the Earth's cataclysmic
recent history," but careening planets have nothing to do with it.
The mythological *and* physical evidence are best explained by
the work of Kobres, Mandelkehr, Clube and his co-workers.

Having parried with Mr. Cochrane on Usenet's talk.origins
newsgroup between May and December of 1994, I have no
illusion that my remarks here will dent his deeply internalized
and hermetically sealed worldview. However, since the limited
space for this exchange precludes detailed replies to Mr.
Cochrane's points, the interested reader is encouraged to pursue
the full analyses cited in the references.

Bibliography

D. Asher et al, "Coherent Catastrophism," Vistas in Astronomy,
38, 1994, pp. 1-27.

H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public
Controversy (Urbana, 1984); "Inside the Velikovsky
Affair," Skeptical Inquirer 9:3 (1985), pp. 284-288.
"The Velikovsky Affair," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 75-84.

F. Boll, "Kronos-Helios," Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft
(1919), pp. 342-346.

R. Ceragioli, "Behind the 'Red Sirius' Myth," Sky and Telescope
(June, 1992), pp. 613-615.

S. Clube, "The Countdown to a New Celestial Hazard," Aeon
2:6 (1992), pp. 94-99.

S. Clube & W. Napier, "Velikovskians in Collision," Kronos
IX:3 (1984), pp. 44-49.
idem, The Cosmic Winter (Oxford, 1990).

E. Cochrane, "Deploring the 'Star-crossed' Marriage," Chronology
& Catastrophism Review XIV (1992).

C.L. Ellenberger, "To Escape or Not to Escape: The 71% Factor,"
Kronos V:1 (1979), pp. 92-93; "Still Facing Many Problems,
Pt. 1," Kronos X:1 (1984), pp. 87-102; "A lesson from
Velikovsky," Skeptical Inquirer 10:4 (1986), pp. 380-381.
"Celestial Hazard vs. Celestial Fantasy," Chronology &
Catastrophism Review XIV (1992), pp. 41-44. A Clube &
Napier primer. "Of Lessons, Legacies and Litmus Tests:
A Velikovsky Potpourri, Pt. 1," Aeon 3:1 (1992b), pp.
86-105.

J. Fitton, "Velikovsky Mythohistoricus," Chiron I:1&2 (1974),
pp. 29-36.

B. Forrest, "Venus and Velikovsky: The Original Sources," Skeptical
Inquirer 8:2 (1983/84), pp. 154-164.
idem, Guide to Velikovsky's Sources (Santa Barbara, 1987).

M. Friedlander, At the Fringes of Science (Boulder, 1995).

J. Grove, In Defence of Science (Toronto, 1989).

A. Gurshtein, "On the Origin of the Zodiacal Constellations,"
Vistas in Astronomy 36 (1993), pp. 171-190; "When the
Zodiac Climbed into the Sky," Sky & Telescope (Oct.
1995), pp. 28-33.

M. Jastrow Jr, "Sun and Saturn," Revue d' Assyriologie VII (1910),
pp. 163-178.

B. Kobres, "The Path of a Comet and Phaethon's Ride," The World
and I (Feb. 1995), pp. 394-405.

E. Krupp, "The Heart of Saturday Night," Sky & Telescope (Sept.
1994), pp. 60-61.

M. Mandelkehr, The Answered Riddle: A Thesis on the Meaning
of Myth (1994). Unpublished.

E. McClain, The Myth of Invariance (York Beach, 1976)
idem, "Musical Theory & Ancient Cosmology," The World
& I (Feb. 1994), pp. 370-393.

S. Mewhinney, "El-Arish Revisited," Kronos XI:2 (1986), pp. 41-61.

L. Motz, "A Personal Reminiscence," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 85-92.

A. Sachs, "Address at Brown University," in Ellenberger, 1992b,
pp. 103-105.

W. Stiebing Jr., "Cosmic Catastrophism," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 58-74.

Paul J. Gans

unread,
Jan 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/29/96
to
Ev Cochrane (ecoc...@delphi.com) wrote:
: The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
: of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
: in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was

: an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
: Velikovskian Delusions." This article was vintage Leroy:
: several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
: with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
: sources. All in all, it was very entertaining. Having just now
: received permission to post Leroy's article from the editor
: himself--Michael Shermer--I am hereby requesting that one of
: Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and submit it. Here's
: your big chance, fellas: Leroy's article is *really* devastating.


I would think that a discussion, started in Skeptic Magazine, should
be continued in Skeptic Magazine. I assume that they would publish
an article by you rebutting Ellenberger. Why do you want to do it
here?

------ Paul J. Gans [ga...@scholar.chem.nyu.edu]

Tim Thompson

unread,
Jan 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/29/96
to
In article <hvJLINH....@delphi.com>,
Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

> The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
> of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
> in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was
> an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
> Velikovskian Delusions." This article was vintage Leroy:
> several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
> with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
> sources. All in all, it was very entertaining. Having just now
> received permission to post Leroy's article from the editor
> himself--Michael Shermer--I am hereby requesting that one of
> Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and submit it. Here's
> your big chance, fellas: Leroy's article is *really* devastating.

After making this slightly-less-than-civil remark about "lackey's",
it seems that Cochrane had a change of heart - he posted a copy of
Ellenberger's article himself. Ellenberger has asked me to post a
response for him, and I expect to receive it by FAX sometime today
(1/29/96). However, I don't want to wait until then to register a
couple of opinions of my own.

First, I have been known to post messages for Ellenberger in the
past, and will (I presume) do so again. Cochrane's reference to "lackey's"
could easily be construed so as to refer to me, and to that extent I object.
I certainly am not a "lackey" of Ellenberger's, and I don't know anybody
around the net for whom such an epithet would be valid.

Second, I think the "moving the debate" to the internet, and away from
the pages of Skeptic is unfair. Ellenberger does not have net access, and
relies on the good will of others to tell him what is posted, and to post
for him. This puts Cochrane in an advantageous position, since he can post
at will, and in much more timely fashion. It should also be pointed out
that the internet is a "free-wheeling" forum for discussion, where the
"your mother wears combat boots" style of argumentation often comes to
the fore. That kind of conduct can be effective on the net, and it's not
as if both Cochrane and Ellenberger have not used it. However, that
particular style won't get past the editor of Skeptic. In that forum
the participants will be forced to deal with reality in a more-or-less
objective and civil fashion, and on terms of equal access.

I do note that in another post Cochrane did say that he was preparing
a rebuttal for publication in Skeptic, and that is a step in the right
direction.

--
Speaking only for myself (and lackey's around the world) ...

Paul J. Gans

unread,
Jan 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/29/96
to
Ev Cochrane (ecoc...@delphi.com) wrote:
: [The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy

: of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
: in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). I presented the
: case for recent episodes of planet-induced catastrophe, while
: Leroy Ellenberger took a critical position. The following post
: examines some of Ellenberger's claims in the aforementioned
: article.]
:
: Throughout his long career as a Velikovsky watcher--first as
: an enthusiastic (some would say fanatic) supporter of Velikovsky's,
: and now as an equally fanatic critic--Leroy Ellenberger has practiced
: what might be described as a shotgun approach to polemics: Throw
: out several dozen categorical statements together with a handful of
: references to otherwise obscure sources and then, when these
: statements/sources are criticized or debunked, throw out a dozen
: more. Leroy's recent article in Skeptic is no different in this
: regard.

[deleted]

What do we call a person who rebuts a printed article by posting
in a newsgroup -- which has never seen the articles in question?

Perhaps Peter Nyikos has a list for such folks... :-)

------- Paul J. Gans [ga...@scholar.chem.nyu.edu]


Benjamin T. Dehner

unread,
Jan 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/29/96
to
In <hvJLINH....@delphi.com> Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

>The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
>of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place

>in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was
>an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
>Velikovskian Delusions." This article was vintage Leroy:
>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
>sources. All in all, it was very entertaining. Having just now
>received permission to post Leroy's article from the editor
>himself--Michael Shermer--I am hereby requesting that one of
>Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and submit it. Here's
>your big chance, fellas: Leroy's article is *really* devastating.

Well, while I don't speak for Leroy -- he is quite capable of
speaking for himself -- I occasionally speak with Leroy, and here's a
couple of points: (A longer article from Leroy is being posted by Tim
Thompson, I think.)

1) The discussion started in the pages of Skeptic magazine, and Leroy would
really like to keep it there. Re-posts on t.o are, for the most part, fine
with him, but the discussion should not be moved their.

2) As everyone -- especially Ev -- knows, Leroy does not have real net
access. He receives aricles en mass via a friend's account, and must
fax/mail his articles to someone to type in and post. Trying to hold a
discussion on t.o is a real inconvenience for him and many other people.

3) The explanation I got from Leroy -- who claimed to be in agreement
with Shermer -- was that Ev was to post *both* his and Leroy's articles,
since Ev has the access and facilities to do so. This is in further implied
from Ev's own statement above, "Having just now received permission to post
Leroy's article from the editor himself ..."

It appears that Ev is trying to present his arguments in this forum
to deliberately inconvenience Leroy. Further, his "request" is stated in
such a way as to preclude the possibility of intellectual debate. "I am


hereby requesting that one of Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and

submit it." Actually, Ev expects us to be HIS lackeys, doing the work that
he implicitly accepted when he decided to move his discussion with Leroy to
t.o. Further, if Ev has no respect for the populace of talk.origins, or
"Leroy's lackeys", then he is not here to debate, but to prosthelytize. Very
well, Ev. Here's your pulpit. I'll get my killfile warmed up.

Ben

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Benjamin T. Dehner Dept. of Physics and Astronomy PGP public key
b...@iastate.edu Iowa State University available on request
Ames, IA 50011

scharle

unread,
Jan 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/29/96
to
Isn't this more appropriate to alt.catastrophism?

--
Tom Scharle sch...@lukasiewicz.cc.nd.edu
G003 CC/MB, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0539 USA "standard disclaimer"

Tim Thompson

unread,
Jan 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/30/96
to
I posted this last night, an inadvertantly posted to talk.origins only.
This is a repost, this time cross-posted to both talk.origins (again) and
to alt.catastrophism.

In article <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu>,


b...@iastate.edu (Benjamin T. Dehner) writes:

>
> Well, while I don't speak for Leroy -- he is quite capable of
> speaking for himself -- I occasionally speak with Leroy, and here's a
> couple of points: (A longer article from Leroy is being posted by Tim
> Thompson, I think.)

Indeed so.

Here, at long last, is what you have all been waiting for, breathlessly
no doubt. This is Ellenberger's reply to Cochrane, faxed to me this morning.
Be it noted by all readers that when Ellenberger wrote this he was not aware
that Cochrane had posted a copy of his article along with Cochrane's own, nor
was he aware that Cochrane had said that he would send a rebuttal to Skeptic.
I have informed Ellenberger of these developments. Nevertheless, I shall post
Ellenberger's message for him, now that I have taken on the mantle of "lackey",
in addition to my other onerous scholarly duties in the Ivory Towers of the
World Wide University of Ediacara. I note in passing that Ellenberger has not
chosen to make a "short" response, as I had expected yesterday. This is long,
but talk.origins has a proud tradition of long posts, and why should Alter and
Holden have all the fun anyway?

As for substance, Ellenberger's words can speak well enough for him, and I
have already made my own relevant opinions known in an earlier post. However,
a comment about form. Ellenberger knows how to punctuate, and dutifully put
the commas and periods at the end of a quote inside the quotation marks. I,
however, took them out. I hate that rule, I think it is an abomination on
the holy sepulcher of the English language, and I do have my limits. I will
*never* post anything with the ending punctuation imprisoned inside the
jail-bars of quotation marks. Blame me, not Ellenberger, and don't start
yelling for pedant points.

Well, OK, since I am posting this, I will make a comment about substance.
I think paragraph 11 is more-or-less "right on", and I really love that
stuff in paragraph 12 about the "distinguished record" of talk.origins.
We do have a distinguished record, and are home to the first virtual university
to hit the internet (as was attested to by Lippard sometime ago, no?). All
of the real geniuses hang out around talk.origins, and the rest of the world
drops by for lessons occasionally.

I have tried to avoid typos and spelling errors, etc. but nobody's perfect.

And now, without further ado, I present for your edification the manifesto of
Leroy Ellenberger.

================================================================================
BEGIN ELLENBERGER POST
================================================================================
A MANIFESTO
Ellenberger's Policy on Engaging Cochrane
(with background)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1) Ellenberger (hereafter "E") favors Cochrane's (hereafter "C") idea of
posting on talk.origins the pro and con articles on Velikovsky in SKEPTIC
3:4 *solely* because it would give the exchange a wider audience and help
neutralize Gresham's Law as it pertains to the market of ideas.

2) E's article/rebuttal to C in SKEPTIC made it clear implicitly that he
did not suffer fools gladly. It was written with relish and in full
anticipation of a vigorous rejoinder from C for publication in SKEPTIC,
as is standard scholarly practice. E is prepared to reply to C in SKEPTIC.
N.B.: C is a self-professed scholar.

3) Since the idea to post the articles originated with C, it is his
responsibility to effect the postings, as Shermer, the editor, also
understands. An attempt to avoid this duty would not be inconsistent
with the character C has consistently displayed on talk.origins, which
belies is scholar-like affectation. He is a convincing anti-scholar.

4) If C refuses to post E's article after he posts his own (planned for
Jan. 26), perhaps some good samaritan with a scanner might volunteer;
else, in the event E's article fails to get into cyberspace, a copy can
be obtained by sending a SASE (or US $1.00 for foreign mail) to Leroy
Ellenberger, 3929A Utah St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

5) However, with respect to "debate" on talk.origins with C, SKEPTIC is
the proper forum of record for *this* discussion since it started at C's
initiative (and then his insistence when Shermer's initial impulse upon
reading C's article was rejection). His surrebuttal would be welcome in
SKEPTIC. There is no legitimate reason why the debate C started in SKEPTIC
cannot continue there unless he does not feel comfortable presenting
ideas -- and defending them -- in a neutral forum with equal access.

6) Therefore, E will not engage C on talk.origins, or any other newsgroup,
until his surrebuttal has been submitted to SKEPTIC for publication. The
issue is not courage or lack thereof. The issue is priority vis-a-vis the
canons of scholarship.

7) After the virtual flamewar with C in 1994 on talk.origins between May
and September, E has no interest in another cockfight, and he therefore
will not indulge C's penchant for shabby, devious, and evasive "debate"
tactics, well known to readers of talk.origins. His perfidy is
unconscionable. As noted in a 1994 post, in contrast C makes Jon Lovitz's
"Pathological Liar" look like George Washington. (The donnybrook with C
began when he took exception to four of the 15 points Lippard posted for
E criticizing Godowski's breathless July 1993 panegyric to Velikovsky,
which had been reposted by one Radtke posing as Alter, and C never
conceded a thing. The tenor of the C-E volleys was presaged by C's
belligerent exchanges with Day and Lippard (among others) over matters
of verifiable fact which no honest broker of ideas would dispute or
misrepresent, e.g., whether or not AEON had accepted E's invited memoir
for publication and whether E's position on KRONOS staff was "secretary"
or "Senior Editor & Executive Secretary".) In brief, C's behavior on
talk.origins has been ethically repugnant; in the words of Lenny Bruce,
"the antithesis of everything right and proper intellectually".

8) C's ability to clean up his act is suspect in light of his Dec 23
and Jan 20 posts dealing with the age of the oldest constellations in
the ecliptic. First, he quotes E improperly and fails to distinguish
between the age of the Gemini quartet of constellations and the age of
the perfected zodiac (a technical point) against E. E's Jan 3 reply
emphasized this distinction, which Michalowski later affirmed to E in
a telecon. E faxed this news to C on Jan 4. Then, instead of verifying
Michalowski's opinion, C chose to reply with a gratuitous insult on Jan
20, reasserting his erroneous point and implying E was a liar because
an authority such as Michalowski could never agree with a dunce such as
E. Behavior such as this is simply not satisfactory and it will not be
countenanced. (Regardless how heated private oral and written messages
may be, they are no excuse for continuing such tone and lack of
circumspection in publications in any formal, or quasi-formal medium).
Neither will referring to such scholars as McClain, Kobres, Gurshtein,
and Mandelkehr as "clowns" (1-26-96 fax to E) be countenanced. A
documented record of clown-like behavior can justify the label "clown",
but unadulterated name-calling, which is second-nature with C, is
intolerable.

9) Since C's favorite response is to reject something out-of-hand
simply because he holds another view, a fruitful debate/discussion is
not likely (though not impossible in principle), especially because
what C usually espouses in terms of physical models is incommensurable
with the laws of physics. Since his beliefs belong to the disjoint set,
he is, more often than not, as Wolfgang Pauli would say "not even wrong".

10) Hans Hoerbiger, one of Velikovsky's precursors, once said to Willy
Ley, later one of Velikovsky's critics, "Either you believe me and learn,
or you must be treated as an enemy". This attitude is reminiscent of C's
comportment on talk.origins. In the event that C disowns this parallel,
as a self-professed psychologist he is exhorted to ponder one of Stuart
Smalley's quips on Saturday Night Live!: "Ev, De-nial ain't just a river
in Egypt". Hopefully, this is easier to appreciate than the elementary
behaviorist precept that an intermittent reinforcer is as good as God,
one of many ideas C twice refused to credit in summer 1994.

11) lest anyone think scientists and their allies assume a Hoerbigeran
role, it is important to distinguish between the relativism entailed by
"social reality" as discussed by John Searle and the absolutism entailed
by "physical reality" as described by the laws of physics below light
velocity. The hard collision between A and B is a fact immune to
interpretation. Some ideas are wrong, and can be shown to be wrong, by
rational, intelligent analysis -- and such findings should be made
known. However, this approach is not credited by those who believe the
best evidence is eye-witness testimony, even as incorporated in myth (!?),
and who have no confidence in conclusions that are not based on the
analysis of in-situ measurements and samples. In other words, they believe
scientists cannot know the rheology of the mantle and crust of Venus
until samples retrieved from Venus are studied in the laboratory. To a
scientist, such notions are balderdash, or worse. True, they cannot know
with certainty; but the degree of probability increases with every new
datum and a-priori assumptions can be quite accurate. In the real world
decisions need to be made with imperfect and incomplete information.
Science has a good record on this score despite its failure in some famous
cases of making vary poor starting assumptions with very little or no data,
e.g., failing to anticipate the extreme surface temperature and pressure
at Venus; but myth would not have been any help on that one. The
Velikovskian standard of "beyond all reasonable doubt", implied by their
writings (esp. that of Lynn Rose), is far too severe; "competitive
plausibility", suggested by Martin Bernal, is more useful in science.

12) Talk.origins has a distinguished track record handling scientific
issues. The contributors are to be commended for their willingness to
evaluate the possibilities in myth as presented by Cochrane, Talbott,
Cardona, and Grubaugh, for example. However, there is no dishonor
suffering culture shock dealing with materials that properly belong on
alt.fantasy and other non-scheduled groups.

13) Velikovskians are fond of Seneca's question quoted at the beginning
of Worlds in Collision: 'Quota pars operis tanti nobis committitur?'. The
behavior of Velikovskians on talk.origins suggests they should also give
attention, in their self-proclaimed "Age of Velikovsky", to the motto:
'Mundus vult decipi ergo decipiatur'. The maxim 'ignotium per ignotius'
governs their research. Since E is neither "clueless in the mythosphere"
nor "deluded beyond redemption", and because the Holocene has only one
"history", he has no interest in allowing Velikovskians to perpetrate
their deception on the world to the detriment of Clube & Napier's
sensible and astronomically feasible alternative to Velikovskian
delusions about the origin of religion and the development of
civilization. As a group Velikovskians are as Kingsley Amis' Lucky
Jim, revelling in pseudo-research, throwing new light on a non-subject.

Leroy Ellenberger, chemical engineer, student of Russell Ackoff,
and member of Pataya '59, AYF; who understands the consequences
of a player's defection in "Prisoner's Dilemma", as C defected
when he cancelled publication of the conclusion to E's invited
memoir in Aeon on 1 June 1993.
St. Louis, Missouri, 28 Jan '96

Vivre est vincre
Question of the day: Why is the word of the day "sociopath"?
Hint: Read M. Scott peck, "People of the Lie" (New York, 1983)

================================================================================
END ELLENBERGER POST
================================================================================

--

Tim Thompson

unread,
Jan 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/30/96
to

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Jan 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/30/96
to
On January 28th, Ben Dehner's inimitable facility with the English
language was on display once again:

In article <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu>,

Benjamin T. Dehner <b...@iastate.edu> wrote:
>
> It appears that Ev is trying to present his arguments in this forum
>to deliberately inconvenience Leroy. Further, his "request" is stated in
>such a way as to preclude the possibility of intellectual debate. "I am
>hereby requesting that one of Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and
>submit it." Actually, Ev expects us to be HIS lackeys, doing the work that
>he implicitly accepted when he decided to move his discussion with Leroy to
>t.o. Further, if Ev has no respect for the populace of talk.origins, or
>"Leroy's lackeys", then he is not here to debate, but to prosthelytize. Very
>well, Ev. Here's your pulpit. I'll get my killfile warmed up.

What Ben means by "prosthelytize" I can only guess: "Try and pound some
sense into his head with a wooden leg?"

Ben's feigned whining on behalf of a whining Leroy is enough to turn
John Rambo's stomach. When Leroy was calling me every name in the
books several months back, Ben was more than willing to serve as
his designated typist and submit it to talk.origins. Whenever Leroy
wanted to impress us with his knowledge of archaeoastronomy, Ben
was there to type in several pages of pseudoscience. Indeed, I see
no evidence that Leroy has had any trouble getting his views submitted
to talk.origins. But now that Leroy has suddenly lost his nerve for
debate--now that someone has exposed his pseudoscience for what it is
and told him to put up or shut up--Ben is there to yell "Foul Play!"
(Recall further that it was Leroy who instigated this debate, challenging
me as follows on Dec. 31: "Your perfidy will be displayed on talk.origins

and all will have their suspicions confirmed that you are clueless in the
mythosphere and deluded beyond redemption." In another recent post,
Leroy advertised his blockbuster article as follows--"see what
Cochrane is so reluctant to deal with forthrightly.")

Ben's post continued as follows:


">1) The discussion started in the pages of Skeptic magazine, and Leroy would
>really like to keep it there. Re-posts on t.o are, for the most part, fine
>with him, but the discussion should not be moved their."

No doubt Leroy would like our debate to be continued within the
pages of Nature and Science in addition to the Skeptic, but there
doesn't seem to be the interest. The fact is that I am amazed that
Skeptic has accommodated us to this point. Michael Shermer granted
us each about two pages for an article and slightly less for a short
rebuttal. But two pages is hardly adequate to fully present the evidence
for Velikovsky theories, as buttressed by the findings of Talbott and
myself. Nor is a brief letter to the editor sufficient to answer each of
the dozen or so objections Leroy raised to the thesis of recent planet-
induced catastrophes. Indeed, in trying to satisfy Shermer's requests
for brevity--but also to avoid appearing like a nut for discussing such
nonsense--I intentionally overlooked some of Leroy's more nonsensical
pronouncements in my rebuttal. Hence my intention to continue the
debate on talk.origins, the designated Velikovsky-forum on the net.

That said, I have a question for Leroy: Tell us about those nomadic
Indians from 7300 B.C. whose advanced astronomical knowledge
later found its way into the Rig Veda? Inquiring minds want to
know.

Benjamin T. Dehner

unread,
Jan 31, 1996, 3:00:00 AM1/31/96
to

Leroy called me and asked me to mention something about the
following:

In <hvJLINH....@delphi.com> Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

>The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
>of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
>in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was
>an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
>Velikovskian Delusions."

Pardon my re-formatting, but the following was the statement that
really got his attention.

>This article was vintage Leroy:
>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
>sources.

>All in all, it was very entertaining. Having just now
>received permission to post Leroy's article from the editor
>himself--Michael Shermer--I am hereby requesting that one of
>Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and submit it. Here's
>your big chance, fellas: Leroy's article is *really* devastating.
>

Below is Leroy's article, as posted by Ev. I have cut out the
actual text, leaving only the references. If one looks through the
references, we have, out of 31 references, the following distribution:
(I marked up the included article below for easier counting.)

Velikovskian (eg., Aeon, Kronos): 13
Popular/Scientific (eg, Skeptical
Inquirer, Sky & Telescope): 7
Books: 6
Assyriology: 4
Unpublished: 1

As we can see, more than one third of the articles come from
Velikovskian sources -- Aeon, Kronus, C&C review, mostly. Is this what Ev
mean by "otherwise obscure sources"? Then there are the 7 articles from
"popular" sources, such as SI, Sky & Tele., Vistas in Astronomy, etc.
Perhaps, given the Velikovskian proclivity to avoid real scientific data
and research, these references are obscure to Ev?

Further, there are 6 books. While I don't claim to own any of
those listed, a few hundred yards from where I now sit there is the large
edifice called a "library". Doind a quick online check, they have 3 of
these texts available. (Though they do not have the Clube reference, they
do have the earlier "Cosmic Serpent" book.) I'm quite sure the others are
easily availabe via interlibrary loan. (The available books below are
also marked with an "x".)

Finally, there are 4 references to what might be considered
"obscure" references in Assyriology. However, these are commonly quoted by
the Velikovskians themself, so if anything, Leroy is guilty of doing the
same thing the Velikovskians are doing. Perhaps Ev was right to take him
to task.

This leaves 1 solitary unpublished reference. Out of 31. Naughty,
naughty Leroy. Go to bed without your dinner.

Perhaps if we were to see Ev address the substance of Leroy's
claims, instead of simply demeaning Leroy and his sources, this may get
somewhere. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

Ben

******** begin include

From talk.origins Wed Jan 31 10:34:59 1996
Path: news.iastate.edu!newsrelay.iastate.edu!vixen.cso.uiuc.edu!newsfeed.internetmci.com!news-feed.mci.newscorp.com!news.delphi.com!usenet
From: Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com>
Newsgroups: talk.origins
Subject: Re: Velikovsky, Cochrane, and Ellenberger in Skeptic
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 96 20:32:23 -0500
Organization: Delphi (in...@delphi.com email, 800-695-4005 voice)
Lines: 304
Message-ID: <xXOJQrf....@delphi.com>
References: <htMJwwO....@delphi.com> <RXNIYHQ....@delphi.com>
NNTP-Posting-Host: bos1f.delphi.com
X-To: Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com>

[... massive snip -- only wanted references ]

Bibliography

D. Asher et al, "Coherent Catastrophism," Vistas in Astronomy, 1 P
38, 1994, pp. 1-27.

H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public 1 Bx
Controversy (Urbana, 1984); "Inside the Velikovsky 1 P
Affair," Skeptical Inquirer 9:3 (1985), pp. 284-288. 1 V


"The Velikovsky Affair," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 75-84.

F. Boll, "Kronos-Helios," Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft 1 A
(1919), pp. 342-346.

R. Ceragioli, "Behind the 'Red Sirius' Myth," Sky and Telescope 1 P
(June, 1992), pp. 613-615.

S. Clube, "The Countdown to a New Celestial Hazard," Aeon 1 V


2:6 (1992), pp. 94-99.

S. Clube & W. Napier, "Velikovskians in Collision," Kronos 1 V
IX:3 (1984), pp. 44-49. 1 B


idem, The Cosmic Winter (Oxford, 1990).

E. Cochrane, "Deploring the 'Star-crossed' Marriage," Chronology 1 V


& Catastrophism Review XIV (1992).

C.L. Ellenberger, "To Escape or Not to Escape: The 71% Factor," 4 V
Kronos V:1 (1979), pp. 92-93; "Still Facing Many Problems, 1 P


Pt. 1," Kronos X:1 (1984), pp. 87-102; "A lesson from
Velikovsky," Skeptical Inquirer 10:4 (1986), pp. 380-381.
"Celestial Hazard vs. Celestial Fantasy," Chronology &
Catastrophism Review XIV (1992), pp. 41-44. A Clube &
Napier primer. "Of Lessons, Legacies and Litmus Tests:
A Velikovsky Potpourri, Pt. 1," Aeon 3:1 (1992b), pp.
86-105.

J. Fitton, "Velikovsky Mythohistoricus," Chiron I:1&2 (1974), 1 V
pp. 29-36.

B. Forrest, "Venus and Velikovsky: The Original Sources," Skeptical 1 P
Inquirer 8:2 (1983/84), pp. 154-164. 1 B


idem, Guide to Velikovsky's Sources (Santa Barbara, 1987).

M. Friedlander, At the Fringes of Science (Boulder, 1995). 1 B

J. Grove, In Defence of Science (Toronto, 1989). 1 Bx

A. Gurshtein, "On the Origin of the Zodiacal Constellations," 1 P


Vistas in Astronomy 36 (1993), pp. 171-190; "When the
Zodiac Climbed into the Sky," Sky & Telescope (Oct.
1995), pp. 28-33.

M. Jastrow Jr, "Sun and Saturn," Revue d' Assyriologie VII (1910), 1 A
pp. 163-178.

B. Kobres, "The Path of a Comet and Phaethon's Ride," The World 1 A


and I (Feb. 1995), pp. 394-405.

E. Krupp, "The Heart of Saturday Night," Sky & Telescope (Sept. 1 P
1994), pp. 60-61.

M. Mandelkehr, The Answered Riddle: A Thesis on the Meaning 1 U
of Myth (1994). Unpublished.

E. McClain, The Myth of Invariance (York Beach, 1976) 1 A
idem, "Musical Theory & Ancient Cosmology," The World 1 Bx


& I (Feb. 1994), pp. 370-393.

S. Mewhinney, "El-Arish Revisited," Kronos XI:2 (1986), pp. 41-61. 1 V

L. Motz, "A Personal Reminiscence," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 85-92. 1 V

A. Sachs, "Address at Brown University," in Ellenberger, 1992b, 1 V
pp. 103-105.

W. Stiebing Jr., "Cosmic Catastrophism," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 58-74. 1 V

************* end include

Tim Thompson

unread,
Feb 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/1/96
to
Despite the implications of the manifesto I posted for Leroy Ellenberger
only a couple of days ago, here is another Ellenberger missive. I should
point out that Ellenberger's lack of access to the internet creates a time-lag
phenomenon - he can't reply to posts he hasn't seen, and he does not see them
until somebody tells him. If nobody does that, he never sees them at all.
Hence, now that he has seen Cochrane's post from last Friday he is able to
respond at long last. As before, I have "corrected" the unfortunately
uniformitarian punctuation practices with respect to periods and quotation
marks.

I am also posting this message to both alt.catastrophism and talk.origins.
Of course, alt.catastrophism is where it really belongs, but since so few
people can see the alt group, I guess it will just have to cross post between
them, like most everything else does.

================================================================================
BEGIN ELLENBERGER POST
================================================================================

Ellenberger Responds to Cochrane
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Friday, 26 Jan, Mr. Cochrane began this thread with a post containing 12
lines of text. Now that I have read it, I shall comment on it, even at the risk
of violating the policy set forth in my "manifesto" posted Monday, Jan 29 by
Tim Thompson.

Consider Mr. Cochrane's sentence: "This article [referring to my 'An Antidote
to Velikovskian Delusions'] is vintage Leroy: several pages of rambling and, at


times, incoherent polemics coupled with scattered references to otherwise
obscure and unpublished sources."

This sentence is vintage Cochrane. It is a travesty of exposition, i.e.,
assert, support, committing several infelicities to which freshmen E. Comp. &
Rhetoric 101 (or its equivalent) is intended to cure budding scholars. It
contains bald assertions giving no examples to support the use of "rambling",
"incoherent", and "obscure".

What does Mr. Cochrane mean by "obscure"? That he does not read, e.g., "The
World & I" which is widely available at newsstands and libraries? That they
cite four publications in the Velikovsky literature [Aeon(6), Kronos(4), and
other(3)] that are/were available by subscription only? (N.B.: *All* nine of
Mr. Cochrane's references are to the Velikovsky literature). That they are
from early 20th century journals in Near Eastern Studies? (N.B.: Both of my
references (Boll and Jastrow) are widely cited by Mr. Cochrane and his fellow
'Saturnists'). He gives no indication what he means. It seems to me that anyone
writing on Velikovskian themes that deal with Assyriology is inevitably forced
to cite "obscure" sources. What is so wrong with that? Such references are
unavoidable in such a discussion.

What is wrong with "scattered" references? What would he charge had I lumped
all 32 references in one spot? You can bet it would not have been the *right*
spot.

Only *one* of my references was unpublished, the one to Mandelkehr's book on
a physical model possibly underlying the imagery in many myths worldwide. But,
shucks, folks, Mr. Cochrane's publication Aeon contains articles that often cite
unpublished material, e.g., Cardona in Aeon 4:1.

To Borrow an appropriate phrase from Carl Sagan, Mr. Cochrane's broadside
"does not survive close scrutiny". Similarly, in other recent posts, he has
cast flippant aspersions (with no specifics) on readily available publications
Gurshtein (in 'Sky and Telescope') and Sidarth (in 'Griffith Observer'). From
all appearances, Mr. Cochrane either cannot have read them (in which case he has
no right to criticize them) or else his reading comprehension is far below grade
(in which case he is heartily encouraged to indulge in an intensive Gates-
Peardon "Reading for Meaning" program).

Briefly, Gurshtein and Sidarth do almost exactly what Mr. Cochrane and his
fellow "Saturnists" do. They *all* identify certain themes in myth and ritual
whose motivation they endeavour to explain in terms of astronomical events or
scenes. The difference between Gurshtein/Sidarth and the "Saturnists" is that
the former use well-established retrocalculation to identify ancient alignments,
etc., while the latter invent totally impossible, indeed fantastical,
astronomical scenarios. Retrocalculation *is* an acceptable procedure because
there is no *independent* physical evidence to suggest even remotely that the
assumptions built into the process are invalid. The tedious quibbling of
Velikovskians against retrocalculation is just plainly misguided, fallacious,
and, yes Prof. Rose, whereever you may be, wrong - alluding to classic
Velikovskian cant, rhetoric, and baseless polemic by Rose against Peter Huber's
work on those notorious Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa, as I explained in Aeon 3:1
(1992). {{ Obscure Reference! Obscure Reference! - editor TJT }}

To claim that retrocalculation is invalid because myths describe or refer to
the the planets (almost invariably such references are to deities with planetary
associations) having different orbits recently, as Velikovskians cum
"Saturnists" do, is to commit the fallacy of asserting the consequent, otherwise
known as "petitio principii" or circular reasoning. As a working hypothesis,
retrocalculation is just fine and certainly superior to any alternative posited
by Mr. Cochrane & Co.

Mr. Cochrane's last post Friday ended by saying "Leroy's article is *really*
devastating", which I have no doubt he meant sarcastically. However, I would
never have written it in the first place had I any doubt whatsoever that that
sentence was literally and emphatically true. With no intention of being self-
serving, I would dearly appreciate those who have read the exchange in SKEPTIC
between Mr. Cochrane and me to kindly post their assessment of our respective
effectiveness. Let the chips fall where they may. it is high time for some
neutral input to inject a dose of reality therapy into Mr. Cochrane's
mythological panglossism and my voiciferous, adamant skepticism. [I understand
both articles have been posted ; but as of this writing I have not had the
chance to authenticate/verify the posting of my article, which I shall do at the
earliest opportunity].

Finally, before I engage Mr. Cochrane in any "discussion" (I am leary of
using the term "debate" given his track record), it would behoove him to clean
up his act with respect to specificity and focus. Bald assertions, ambiguous
adjectives, and glittering generalities will elicit zero, nada, zip response.

Leroy Ellenberger
St. Louis, MO, 31 Jan 96
FAX (314) 773-9273

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Feb 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/1/96
to
On January 31st, Tim Thompson announced that Leroy's long-awaited
reply to your's truly was finally here. Leroy's post concluded as
follows:

In article <4ek8uk$b...@netline-fddi.jpl.nasa.gov>,

Tim Thompson <t...@uzon.jpl.nasa.gov> wrote:

>13) Velikovskians are fond of Seneca's question quoted at the beginning
>of Worlds in Collision: 'Quota pars operis tanti nobis committitur?'. The
>behavior of Velikovskians on talk.origins suggests they should also give
>attention, in their self-proclaimed "Age of Velikovsky", to the motto:
>'Mundus vult decipi ergo decipiatur'. The maxim 'ignotium per ignotius'
>governs their research. Since E is neither "clueless in the mythosphere"
>nor "deluded beyond redemption", and because the Holocene has only one
>"history", he has no interest in allowing Velikovskians to perpetrate
Subject: Re: Velikovsky,(Modified) and Ellenberger in Skeptic

>their deception on the world to the detriment of Clube & Napier's
>sensible and astronomically feasible alternative to Velikovskian
>delusions about the origin of religion and the development of
>civilization. As a group Velikovskians are as Kingsley Amis' Lucky
>Jim, revelling in pseudo-research, throwing new light on a non-subject.
>
> Leroy Ellenberger, chemical engineer, student of Russell Ackoff,
> and member of Pataya '59, AYF; who understands the consequences
> of a player's defection in "Prisoner's Dilemma"......

>
> Vivre est vincre
> Question of the day: Why is the word of the day "sociopath"?
> Hint: Read M. Scott peck, "People of the Lie" (New York, 1983)
>

Now I have a question for Tim: Is it possible for you to keep a straight
face while you type this drivel? I mean, this stuff is hilarious. Now
you can understand why I relish being on Leroy's mailing list--His
postcards are chock full of similar examples of wit and erudition.
Indeed, inasmuch as I recognize most of these phrases, I suspect
that Leroy simply strung together about a dozen postcards in composing
this post, context and coherent discourse be damned.

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Feb 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/1/96
to
On January 31, Ben Dehner lodged the following complaint on
behalf of Leroy Ellenberger, who objected to my characterization
of his recent article in Skeptic as "rambling" and peppered with
otherwise obscure sources:


In article <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu>,
Benjamin T. Dehner <b...@iastate.edu> wrote:

> Pardon my re-formatting, but the following was the statement that
>really got his attention.
>
>>This article was vintage Leroy:

>>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
>>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
>>sources.

It is possible that Ben has a point. Perhaps I was unfair to Leroy. Let's
examine his latest manifesto, posted earlier that same day:


In article <4ek8uk$b...@netline-fddi.jpl.nasa.gov>,
Tim Thompson <t...@uzon.jpl.nasa.gov> wrote:

[several pages of gobbledegook deleted]


>13) Velikovskians are fond of Seneca's question quoted at the beginning
>of Worlds in Collision: 'Quota pars operis tanti nobis committitur?'. The
>behavior of Velikovskians on talk.origins suggests they should also give
>attention, in their self-proclaimed "Age of Velikovsky", to the motto:
>'Mundus vult decipi ergo decipiatur'. The maxim 'ignotium per ignotius'
>governs their research. Since E is neither "clueless in the mythosphere"
>nor "deluded beyond redemption", and because the Holocene has only one
>"history", he has no interest in allowing Velikovskians to perpetrate
>their deception on the world to the detriment of Clube & Napier's
>sensible and astronomically feasible alternative to Velikovskian
>delusions about the origin of religion and the development of
>civilization. As a group Velikovskians are as Kingsley Amis' Lucky
>Jim, revelling in pseudo-research, throwing new light on a non-subject.
>
> Leroy Ellenberger, chemical engineer, student of Russell Ackoff,
> and member of Pataya '59, AYF; who understands the consequences
> of a player's defection in "Prisoner's Dilemma"......
>
> Vivre est vincre
> Question of the day: Why is the word of the day "sociopath"?
> Hint: Read M. Scott peck, "People of the Lie" (New York, 1983)
>

I rest my case.

Benjamin T. Dehner

unread,
Feb 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/1/96
to
Sorry to follow up my own post, but I made a boo-boo.

In <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu> b...@iastate.edu (Benjamin T. Dehner) writes:

>In <hvJLINH....@delphi.com> Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

>>The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
>>of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
>>in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was
>>an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
>>Velikovskian Delusions."

> Pardon my re-formatting, but the following was the statement that
>really got his attention.

>>This article was vintage Leroy:
>>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
>>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
>>sources.

...


> Below is Leroy's article, as posted by Ev. I have cut out the
>actual text, leaving only the references. If one looks through the
>references, we have, out of 31 references, the following distribution:
>(I marked up the included article below for easier counting.)

>Velikovskian (eg., Aeon, Kronos): 13
>Popular/Scientific (eg, Skeptical
>Inquirer, Sky & Telescope): 7
>Books: 6
>Assyriology: 4
>Unpublished: 1

It appears I made a bit of an error in my counting: there are 2
articles by Gurshtein (both in popular/scientific), and I mis-classified "The
World and I" as an Assyriology journal, loosely based on the articles in it,
where it should be classed as popular/scientific. I hadn't heard of it, and
didn't look for it, but it is available here at ISU, and Leroy tells me he
picks it up on a news stand. (Since it is published by The Washington Times,
I think its safe to call it "popular".) This changes the above count to 32
articles, with the distribution being:

Velikovskian 13 41%
Popular/Science 10 31%
Books 6 19%
Assyriology 2 6%
Unpublished 1 1%

With this revised count, we now have 72% from Velikovskian or
Popular, and 91% including books. Which of these is "obscure"? (With 1
out of 32 being "unpublished", unless Ev has a different definition of this
word than I do.)

Ben

pim van meurs

unread,
Feb 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/1/96
to
In article <JFEKREO....@delphi.com>, Ev Cochrane
<ecoc...@delphi.com> wrote:

> >>This article was vintage Leroy:
> >>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
> >>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
> >>sources.

> It is possible that Ben has a point. Perhaps I was unfair to Leroy. Let's
> examine his latest manifesto, posted earlier that same day:

Given the list of references it appears that Ev believes that catastrophic
literature are examples of 'obscure and unpublished soruces'.

I rest my case.



> >13) Velikovskians are fond of Seneca's question quoted at the beginning
> >of Worlds in Collision: 'Quota pars operis tanti nobis committitur?'. The
> >behavior of Velikovskians on talk.origins suggests they should also give
> >attention, in their self-proclaimed "Age of Velikovsky", to the motto:
> >'Mundus vult decipi ergo decipiatur'. The maxim 'ignotium per ignotius'
> >governs their research. Since E is neither "clueless in the mythosphere"
> >nor "deluded beyond redemption", and because the Holocene has only one
> >"history", he has no interest in allowing Velikovskians to perpetrate
> >their deception on the world to the detriment of Clube & Napier's
> >sensible and astronomically feasible alternative to Velikovskian
> >delusions about the origin of religion and the development of
> >civilization. As a group Velikovskians are as Kingsley Amis' Lucky
> >Jim, revelling in pseudo-research, throwing new light on a non-subject.


> I rest my case.


Well, you have no choice now have you ? After such a beautiful paragraph
most people would remain speechless.

Personally I thought this paragraph to be quite excellent.

YMMV though.


Regards

Pim

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
As promised, I hereby launch my paragraph by paragraph analysis
of Leroy Ellenberger's recent article in Skeptic. Here, as elsewhere,
Leroy can be found championing the researches of one Bob Kobres.
For the record, Kobres' article on comet-induced catastrophes in
historical time was originally submitted to Aeon whereupon it was
rejected as unsuitable without significant revisions. Kobres' article
subsequently was published by SISR and The World & I. It is, by
any objective standard, grotesquely inadequate as a work of
scholarship in general or archaeoastronomy in particular. Only
a complete novice in archaeoastronomy--in short, someone like
Leroy Ellenberger--could be impressed by Kobres' "evidence" and
reasoning. And only Leroy could advance the following claim
without any evidential support as if it was self-evident and
constituted some great discovery:


"Phaethon was almost certainly a comet, not Venus or the Sun"
(1992a, pp. 41-44), as Bob Kobres has ingeniously shown (1995).
....(Of special interest to Velikovskians is the fact that the near-miss

trajectory for Phaethon *behind* Earth, deduced by Kobres,
produces the illusion of a sun-like body standing still due to the
relative motion as seen from certain longitudes--perhaps the
inspiration for the "Day the Sun Stood Still" for Joshua."
(L. Ellenberger, Skeptic 3:4, 1995, p. 49).

Now I ask: Is there a single person reading this thread who
isn't laughing right now or who seriously believes that Kobres/
Ellenberger have solved the mystery of Joshua's Sun?

Tim Thompson

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
In article <h5KppkE....@delphi.com>,
Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

Ev, take some friendly advice: if this is the best you can do, quit
while you still can. There is not one single word of substance in this
entire post, a fact which will probably not go un-noticed by most of
its readers. Empty ridicule will not cut it.

Personally, I don't believe that the "mystery of Joshua's Sun"
exists at all, since there is certainly no reason to believe that
there is any reality at all attached to the story. Stopping the
Sun sounds like fun, so some bright early/pre-historic wag wrote
it up in the popular format of the day.

You say that Kobres' article was rejected for publication in Aeon.
I presume that means you rejected it, since you are the editor. So,
why did you reject it? What revisions did it need? Did you check
his trajectory calculation? How close was this comet? What would a
*very nearby* comet look like, say low on the horizon opposite a
rising/setting sun? Is it just too silly to presume that a comet
could come that close (remember, Earth passed through the tail of
Halley during its 1910 apparition)?

I don't know if I would agree with Kobres or not, and I haven't
seen his paper (unless its in a pile of stuff I got in the mail from
the non-postally challenged Ellenberger and haven't completely
examined yet). Nevertheless, I do not find his argument to be so
silly as to be set aside by empty ridicule. Say something meaningful,
or just don't bother.

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
On January 31st, a document entitled "A Manifesto" composed by Leroy
Ellenberger made its appearance on talk.origins. I suspect that this day
will long be remembered as the day Leroy finally offered a detailed,
perfectly coherent rebuttal to your's truly. Several days back, it will be
remembered, I had found reason to poke fun at Leroy's understanding
of archaeoastronomy, posing the following question:


"Tell us about those nomadic Indians from 7300 B.C. whose advanced astronomical
knowledge later found its way into the Rig Veda? Inquiring
minds want to know."

I also raised several other serious objections to Leroy's recent article.
In keeping with his reputation as a fellow who much prefers rational
debate to circumlocution, Leroy responded with a 13 point manifesto.
Although this important text warrants a more painstaking analysis,
the following brief comments will have to suffice:


>1) Ellenberger (hereafter "E") favors Cochrane's (hereafter "C") idea of
>posting on talk.origins the pro and con articles on Velikovsky in SKEPTIC
>3:4 *solely* because it would give the exchange a wider audience and help
>neutralize Gresham's Law as it pertains to the market of ideas.

Say what? What in the Hell is Gresham's Law?

Leroy's second point was as follows:


>2) E's article/rebuttal to C in SKEPTIC made it clear implicitly that he
>did not suffer fools gladly. It was written with relish and in full
>anticipation of a vigorous rejoinder from C for publication in SKEPTIC,
>as is standard scholarly practice. E is prepared to reply to C in SKEPTIC.
>N.B.: C is a self-professed scholar.

E's unwillingness to suffer fools is most unfortunate. It must make living
with himself awfully tough to bear. Seriously, though, Leroy is no
fool--he is simply a novice in archaeoastronomy prone to making
spectacularly foolish statements. Leroy's recent claim about the Rig
Veda preserving advanced astronomical knowledge stemming from
7300 B.C. is a case in point.

Leroy's third point was as follows:


>3) Since the idea to post the articles originated with C, it is his
>responsibility to effect the postings, as Shermer, the editor, also
>understands. An attempt to avoid this duty would not be inconsistent
>with the character C has consistently displayed on talk.origins, which
>belies is scholar-like affectation. He is a convincing anti-scholar.

What is an anti-scholar? To me, it is someone who advances a preposterous
claim like the Rig Veda preserving a detailed astronomical record stemming
from 7300 B.C. and then, when they are challenged to substantiate their
claim, does everything in their power to avoid discussing the evidence
bearing on the matter.

Leroy's 4th point was as follows:


>4) If C refuses to post E's article after he posts his own (planned for
>Jan. 26), ....

Why would I refuse to post his article? From day one my stated purpose
has been to subject Leroy's Skeptic-piece to a paragraph by paragraph
analysis. Such an analysis is best performed, I should think, with
Leroy's article online.

Leroy's 5th point is as follows:


>5) However, with respect to "debate" on talk.origins with C, SKEPTIC is
>the proper forum of record for *this* discussion since it started at C's
>initiative (and then his insistence when Shermer's initial impulse upon
>reading C's article was rejection). His surrebuttal would be welcome in
>SKEPTIC. There is no legitimate reason why the debate C started in SKEPTIC
>cannot continue there unless he does not feel comfortable presenting
>ideas -- and defending them -- in a neutral forum with equal access.

Leroy just doesn't seem to understand that Skeptic isn't all that interested
in this debate. The idea that they would publish lengthy replies from us
ad infinitum is simply ludicrous. And while I have submitted a
short rebuttal of Leroy's article, it hardly does justice to the astounding lack
of scholarship evident in his presentation. In order to fully expose Leroy's
incompetance in this field I have decided to take the debate to talk.origins.

Leroy's sixth point was as follows:


>6) Therefore, E will not engage C on talk.origins, or any other newsgroup,
>until his surrebuttal has been submitted to SKEPTIC for publication.

My rebuttal was submitted to Skeptic several weeks ago. Let's get it on!

Leroy's 7th point was as follows:


>7) After the virtual flamewar with C in 1994 on talk.origins between May
>and September, E has no interest in another cockfight, and he therefore
>will not indulge C's penchant for shabby, devious, and evasive "debate"
>tactics, well known to readers of talk.origins. His perfidy is
>unconscionable. As noted in a 1994 post, in contrast C makes Jon Lovitz's
>"Pathological Liar" look like George Washington.....[drivel deleted]

To reiterate: E (that's Ellenberger, folks) is a fine, upstanding scholar
consumed by a passion for rational analysis and debate; and C (that's
me) is a mean-spirited anti-scholar intent on evasion. Understand
that in Leroy's world my asking him to substantiate his absurd claim
vis a vis the Neolithic Indian astronomers makes me a scoundrel,
while his 13 point manifesto quoting everyone *but* the Rig Veda
constitutes a forthright response to my query.

Leroy's 7th point continued as follows:


>(The donnybrook with C
>began when he took exception to four of the 15 points Lippard posted for
>E criticizing Godowski's breathless July 1993 panegyric to Velikovsky,
>which had been reposted by one Radtke posing as Alter, and C never
>conceded a thing....[del]

The donnybrook with C began when C caught E in yet another colossal
error of fact. E had claimed that the ancient "Sumerians practiced/mastered
configurational astronomy: they knew what star rose and set as each star
culminated." This claim, like so many Leroy has made, is utter nonsense.

Leroy's 8th point was as follows:


>8) C's ability to clean up his act is suspect in light of his Dec 23
>and Jan 20 posts dealing with the age of the oldest constellations in
>the ecliptic. First, he quotes E improperly and fails to distinguish
>between the age of the Gemini quartet of constellations and the age of
>the perfected zodiac (a technical point) against E. E's Jan 3 reply
>emphasized this distinction, which Michalowski later affirmed to E in
>a telecon. E faxed this news to C on Jan 4. Then, instead of verifying
>Michalowski's opinion, C chose to reply with a gratuitous insult on Jan
>20, reasserting his erroneous point and implying E was a liar because
>an authority such as Michalowski could never agree with a dunce such as
>E. [much gibberish deleted]

C quoted E correctly, it's just that E doesn't know his H (head) from
his A (ass) when it comes to archaeoastronomy. In fairness to E,
however, he does have a point: I really do believe that M (Michalowski--
two can play this game) is smarter than to accept Leroy's absurd statement
that "the earliest signs of the zodiac date from 5500 B.C." If M really
does share E's opinion here, then I would suggest that he is wrong
as well. Unlike E, however, I would be willing to bet that M would
be able to cite some evidence for his opinion and not shrink from
debating said evidence. On the other hand, if M does share E's opinion
vis a vis the antiquity of certain constellations, then it is entirely
possible that Q is right and that M has defected to Thrush.

Leroy's 9th point was as follows:


>9) Since C's favorite response is to reject something out-of-hand
>simply because he holds another view, a fruitful debate/discussion is
>not likely (though not impossible in principle), especially because
>what C usually espouses in terms of physical models is incommensurable
>with the laws of physics. Since his beliefs belong to the disjoint set,
>he is, more often than not, as Wolfgang Pauli would say "not even wrong".

My typical response is to reject something which I have good reason to
believe is nonsense. Hence my rejection of Leroy's claim that the Rig
Veda preserves advanced astronomical knowledge stemming from
7300 B.C. I would dearly love to have a "fruitful debate" on this and
numerous other questions pertaining to archaeoastronomy. But Leroy
resolutely refuses to discuss his claim and/or the evidence behind it.

Leroy's 10th point was as follows:


>10) Hans Hoerbiger, one of Velikovsky's precursors, once said to Willy
>Ley, later one of Velikovsky's critics, "Either you believe me and learn,
>or you must be treated as an enemy". This attitude is reminiscent of C's
>comportment on talk.origins. In the event that C disowns this parallel,
>as a self-professed psychologist he is exhorted to ponder one of Stuart
>Smalley's quips on Saturday Night Live!: "Ev, De-nial ain't just a river
>in Egypt". Hopefully, this is easier to appreciate than the elementary
>behaviorist precept that an intermittent reinforcer is as good as God,
>one of many ideas C twice refused to credit in summer 1994.

A better example of gobbledegook it would be impossible to find.

Leroy's 11th point was as follows:


>11) lest anyone think scientists and their allies assume a Hoerbigeran
>role, it is important to distinguish between the relativism entailed by
>"social reality" as discussed by John Searle and the absolutism entailed
>by "physical reality" as described by the laws of physics below light
>velocity. The hard collision between A and B is a fact immune to
>interpretation. Some ideas are wrong, and can be shown to be wrong, by
>rational, intelligent analysis -- and such findings should be made
>known. However, this approach is not credited by those who believe the
>best evidence is eye-witness testimony, even as incorporated in myth (!?),
>and who have no confidence in conclusions that are not based on the
>analysis of in-situ measurements and samples. In other words, they believe
>scientists cannot know the rheology of the mantle and crust of Venus
>until samples retrieved from Venus are studied in the laboratory. To a
>scientist, such notions are balderdash, or worse. True, they cannot know
>with certainty; but the degree of probability increases with every new
>datum and a-priori assumptions can be quite accurate. In the real world
>decisions need to be made with imperfect and incomplete information.
>Science has a good record on this score despite its failure in some famous
>cases of making vary poor starting assumptions with very little or no data,
>e.g., failing to anticipate the extreme surface temperature and pressure
>at Venus; but myth would not have been any help on that one. The
>Velikovskian standard of "beyond all reasonable doubt", implied by their
>writings (esp. that of Lynn Rose), is far too severe; "competitive
>plausibility", suggested by Martin Bernal, is more useful in science.

For the life of me, I can't understand what any of this has to do with
the challenges I have posed to Leroy. Either Leroy has some evidence
to support advanced astronomical knowledge among the Neolithic
Indians, or he does not. Rambling on and on about social reality and
quoting from the cast of Saturday Night Live hardly constitutes "rational,
intelligent analysis." It is terribly entertaining, however.

Leroy's 13th point constitutes the dramatic conclusion of his Manifesto.


>13) Velikovskians are fond of Seneca's question quoted at the beginning
>of Worlds in Collision: 'Quota pars operis tanti nobis committitur?'. The
>behavior of Velikovskians on talk.origins suggests they should also give
>attention, in their self-proclaimed "Age of Velikovsky", to the motto:
>'Mundus vult decipi ergo decipiatur'. The maxim 'ignotium per ignotius'
>governs their research. Since E is neither "clueless in the mythosphere"
>nor "deluded beyond redemption", and because the Holocene has only one
>"history", he has no interest in allowing Velikovskians to perpetrate
>their deception on the world to the detriment of Clube & Napier's
>sensible and astronomically feasible alternative to Velikovskian
>delusions about the origin of religion and the development of
>civilization. As a group Velikovskians are as Kingsley Amis' Lucky
>Jim, revelling in pseudo-research, throwing new light on a non-subject.

> Leroy Ellenberger, chemical engineer, student of Russell Ackoff,
> and member of Pataya '59, AYF; who understands the consequences
> of a player's defection in "Prisoner's Dilemma", as C defected
> when he cancelled publication of the conclusion to E's invited
> memoir in Aeon on 1 June 1993.
> St. Louis, Missouri, 28 Jan '96
>
> Vivre est vincre
> Question of the day: Why is the word of the day "sociopath"?
> Hint: Read M. Scott peck, "People of the Lie" (New York, 1983)

I, for one, think it is only fitting that E's moniker, like the rest of his
Manifesto, is pure gobbledegook.

Benjamin T. Dehner

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
In <BbDqIB-....@delphi.com> Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

>On January 28th, Ben Dehner's inimitable facility with the English
>language was on display once again:

And Ev Cochrane's ability to ignore substantive points and respond
with irrelevant insults is equally well demonstrated.

>In article <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu>,
>Benjamin T. Dehner <b...@iastate.edu> wrote:
>>
>> It appears that Ev is trying to present his arguments in this forum
>>to deliberately inconvenience Leroy. Further, his "request" is stated in

>>such a way as to preclude the possibility of intellectual debate. "I am


>>hereby requesting that one of Leroy's lackeys on talk.origins type it up and

>>submit it." Actually, Ev expects us to be HIS lackeys, doing the work that
>>he implicitly accepted when he decided to move his discussion with Leroy to
>>t.o. Further, if Ev has no respect for the populace of talk.origins, or
>>"Leroy's lackeys", then he is not here to debate, but to prosthelytize. Very
>>well, Ev. Here's your pulpit. I'll get my killfile warmed up.
>
>What Ben means by "prosthelytize" I can only guess: "Try and pound some
>sense into his head with a wooden leg?"

Hmm. Temping thought.

>Ben's feigned whining on behalf of a whining Leroy is enough to turn
>John Rambo's stomach. When Leroy was calling me every name in the
>books several months back, Ben was more than willing to serve as
>his designated typist and submit it to talk.origins. Whenever Leroy
>wanted to impress us with his knowledge of archaeoastronomy, Ben
>was there to type in several pages of pseudoscience. Indeed, I see
>no evidence that Leroy has had any trouble getting his views submitted
>to talk.origins. But now that Leroy has suddenly lost his nerve for
>debate--now that someone has exposed his pseudoscience for what it is
>and told him to put up or shut up--Ben is there to yell "Foul Play!"

First of all, it is my business -- not Ev's or Leroy's -- as to what
and when I'll type or post anything. Second, it was Ev's idea to move the
debate to t.o, so it was his responsibility to see that the relevant articles
were posted. Third, Leroy was at least polite in asking for something to be
posted. Ev is automatically assuming someone is going to post because he
wants to move the debate to talk.origins. Fourth, it was the understanding of
both Leroy and Michael Shermer that Ev would post Leroy's articles. And
since Ev missed it the first time, the point was:

The debate started in Skeptical Inquirer, it should stay there.

Ev responds to this below, but up here put in the insinuation of "lost his
nerve for debate." Not surprising, since Ev's entire case is based on
insinuation and insult, with nary a substantial fact to bolster it.

>(Recall further that it was Leroy who instigated this debate, challenging

>me as follows on Dec. 31: "Your perfidy will be displayed on talk.origins


>and all will have their suspicions confirmed that you are clueless in the

>mythosphere and deluded beyond redemption." In another recent post,
>Leroy advertised his blockbuster article as follows--"see what
>Cochrane is so reluctant to deal with forthrightly.")

I am not sure who started the debate in SI (Ev wrote a short
article, Leroy responed with "An Antidote to Velikovskian Delusions), and
it took off from there. I do know that it was Ev -- not Leroy -- who
brought it to talk.origins.

>Ben's post continued as follows:
>
>">1) The discussion started in the pages of Skeptic magazine, and Leroy would
>>really like to keep it there. Re-posts on t.o are, for the most part, fine
>>with him, but the discussion should not be moved their."
>
>No doubt Leroy would like our debate to be continued within the
>pages of Nature and Science in addition to the Skeptic, but there
>doesn't seem to be the interest.

And what is the point? It currently IS in Skeptic.

> The fact is that I am amazed that
>Skeptic has accommodated us to this point. Michael Shermer granted
>us each about two pages for an article and slightly less for a short
>rebuttal. But two pages is hardly adequate to fully present the evidence
>for Velikovsky theories, as buttressed by the findings of Talbott and
>myself. Nor is a brief letter to the editor sufficient to answer each of
>the dozen or so objections Leroy raised to the thesis of recent planet-
>induced catastrophes. Indeed, in trying to satisfy Shermer's requests
>for brevity--but also to avoid appearing like a nut for discussing such
>nonsense--I intentionally overlooked some of Leroy's more nonsensical
>pronouncements in my rebuttal. Hence my intention to continue the
>debate on talk.origins, the designated Velikovsky-forum on the net.

Ev's stated intentions are nice. Ev's real intentions seem to be
to inconvenience Leroy and the people on talk.origins, since he knows that
Leroy does not have real net access. Then, if Leroy (or others) don't want
to deal with this inconvenience, Ev will count coup points, claiming Leroy
has "lost his nerve." Given Ev's condescending, high-handed tone, I would
guess these type of jeuvenile games are what constitutes real Velikovskian
debates.

Benjamin T. Dehner

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
In <JFEKREO....@delphi.com> Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

>On January 31, Ben Dehner lodged the following complaint on
>behalf of Leroy Ellenberger, who objected to my characterization
>of his recent article in Skeptic as "rambling" and peppered with
>otherwise obscure sources:
>

>In article <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu>,
>Benjamin T. Dehner <b...@iastate.edu> wrote:
>

>> Pardon my re-formatting, but the following was the statement that
>>really got his attention.
>>

>>>This article was vintage Leroy:
>>>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
>>>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
>>>sources.
>
>It is possible that Ben has a point. Perhaps I was unfair to Leroy. Let's
>examine his latest manifesto, posted earlier that same day:

That's odd. The above statement was clipped out of one of Ev's post,
where he was responding to Leroy. I went to a great deal of effort to show
that the references used by Leroy were neither obscure or, with 1 exception,
unpublished. Instead of responding to my charges, Ev instead clips something
out of a DIFFERENT post from Leroy, which has nothing to do with the
statement I was responding too. Further, given that the stuff quoted below
is out of a different thread, and Ev cuts off most of it, the context is
completely lost. Its not hard to get garbage by taking random items out of
context.

Or is this a sample of Velikovsian research when dealing with
textual sources? "Damn the context, full speed ahead!" Ev has no support
for his assertion in Leroy's article that he was responding too, so takes a
different article completely out of context to "prove" his point.

>In article <4ek8uk$b...@netline-fddi.jpl.nasa.gov>,
>Tim Thompson <t...@uzon.jpl.nasa.gov> wrote:

... snip ...

Tim Thompson

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
I posted this only moments ago and suddenly realized that Cochrane
is *not* posting to alt.catastrophism. I do find it a tad peculiar that,
after all the fuss about getting a catastrophist newsgroup on the net,
this perfectly catastrophist thread is not even posted to it. Therefore,
I shall take it upon myself to spread it around. For that reason, I am
reposting this, so that the newsgroups line will carry both groups.
Sorry about that.

In article <4etlkm$3...@netline-fddi.jpl.nasa.gov>,

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
The most recent issue of Skeptic magazine included a trilogy of
invited articles examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place in the
history of science (Vol 3:4, 1995). Michael Shermer, the editor
of Skeptic, has kindly granted me permission to post the following
article by Leroy Ellenberger. For further information re Skeptic:
P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001; 818/794-3119; Fax: 818/794-1301.
skept...@aol.com



"An Antidote to Velikovskian Delusions" by Leroy Ellenberger

"The fact is that the whole of the ramshackle edifice of nonsense
to be found scattered throughout the Velikovskian corpus is
purported to have a historical... foundation, but that it has none."
John David North

"The philosopher David Hume urged that one should always
hold it more likely that one had been deceived than that the laws
of nature should stand suspended." Frank Close


I am privileged to have this opportunity to provide a counterbalance
to the Velikovskian mindset expressed by Mr. Cochrane. Our
viewpoints could hardly be more divergent, as our respective essays
for a forum in the British Velikovskian journal showed. Whereas
he believes "the ancient traditions (mostly mythological) are our
best guide to the appearance and arrangement of the earliest
remembered Solar System, not some fancy computer's retro-
calculations based upon current understandings of astronomical
principles" (1992, pp. 40-41), my position is that "while myth
may *inform* natural history (e.g., Phaethon's fall), its capacity to
*reform* physics is vanishingly small. Phaethon was almost

certainly a comet, not Venus or the Sun" (1992a, pp. 41-44), as
Bob Kobres has ingeniously shown (1995). In the Velikovskian
worldview, typified by Mr. Cochrane, the zodiac has no meaning
until Earth's present tilt was achieved. But, in fact, the earliest
signs of the zodiac date from 5500 B.C., long before Velikovskians
believe the present order began (Gurshtein, 1993 and 1995). (Of
special interest to Velikovskians is the fact that the near-miss
trajectory for Phaethon *behind* Earth, deduced by Kobres,
produces the illusion of a sun-like body standing still due to the
relative motion as seen from certain longitudes--perhaps the
inspiration for the "Day the Sun Stood Still" for Joshua.

Bibliography

D. Asher et al, "Coherent Catastrophism," Vistas in Astronomy,
38, 1994, pp. 1-27.

H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public
Controversy (Urbana, 1984); "Inside the Velikovsky
Affair," Skeptical Inquirer 9:3 (1985), pp. 284-288.
"The Velikovsky Affair," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 75-84.

F. Boll, "Kronos-Helios," Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft
(1919), pp. 342-346.

R. Ceragioli, "Behind the 'Red Sirius' Myth," Sky and Telescope
(June, 1992), pp. 613-615.

S. Clube, "The Countdown to a New Celestial Hazard," Aeon
2:6 (1992), pp. 94-99.

S. Clube & W. Napier, "Velikovskians in Collision," Kronos
IX:3 (1984), pp. 44-49.
idem, The Cosmic Winter (Oxford, 1990).

E. Cochrane, "Deploring the 'Star-crossed' Marriage," Chronology
& Catastrophism Review XIV (1992).

C.L. Ellenberger, "To Escape or Not to Escape: The 71% Factor,"
Kronos V:1 (1979), pp. 92-93; "Still Facing Many Problems,
Pt. 1," Kronos X:1 (1984), pp. 87-102; "A lesson from
Velikovsky," Skeptical Inquirer 10:4 (1986), pp. 380-381.
"Celestial Hazard vs. Celestial Fantasy," Chronology &
Catastrophism Review XIV (1992), pp. 41-44. A Clube &
Napier primer. "Of Lessons, Legacies and Litmus Tests:
A Velikovsky Potpourri, Pt. 1," Aeon 3:1 (1992b), pp.
86-105.

J. Fitton, "Velikovsky Mythohistoricus," Chiron I:1&2 (1974),
pp. 29-36.

B. Forrest, "Venus and Velikovsky: The Original Sources," Skeptical
Inquirer 8:2 (1983/84), pp. 154-164.
idem, Guide to Velikovsky's Sources (Santa Barbara, 1987).

M. Friedlander, At the Fringes of Science (Boulder, 1995).

J. Grove, In Defence of Science (Toronto, 1989).

A. Gurshtein, "On the Origin of the Zodiacal Constellations,"
Vistas in Astronomy 36 (1993), pp. 171-190; "When the
Zodiac Climbed into the Sky," Sky & Telescope (Oct.
1995), pp. 28-33.

M. Jastrow Jr, "Sun and Saturn," Revue d' Assyriologie VII (1910),
pp. 163-178.

B. Kobres, "The Path of a Comet and Phaethon's Ride," The World
and I (Feb. 1995), pp. 394-405.

E. Krupp, "The Heart of Saturday Night," Sky & Telescope (Sept.
1994), pp. 60-61.

M. Mandelkehr, The Answered Riddle: A Thesis on the Meaning
of Myth (1994). Unpublished.

E. McClain, The Myth of Invariance (York Beach, 1976)
idem, "Musical Theory & Ancient Cosmology," The World
& I (Feb. 1994), pp. 370-393.

S. Mewhinney, "El-Arish Revisited," Kronos XI:2 (1986), pp. 41-61.

L. Motz, "A Personal Reminiscence," Aeon 2:6 (1992), pp. 85-92.

A. Sachs, "Address at Brown University," in Ellenberger, 1992b,

Ev Cochrane

unread,
Feb 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/2/96
to
On January 31st, Ben Dehner objected that I had underestimated
the quality of Leroy's references cited in his recent article in
Skeptic:

In article <btd.82...@pv7457.vincent.iastate.edu>,

Benjamin T. Dehner <b...@iastate.edu> wrote:
>
> Leroy called me and asked me to mention something about the
>following:
>
>In <hvJLINH....@delphi.com> Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:
>
>>The most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine contained a trilogy
>>of articles devoted to examining Immanuel Velikovsky's place
>>in the history of science (Vol. 3:4, 1995). Included therein was
>>an article by Leroy Ellenberger, entitled "An Antidote to
>>Velikovskian Delusions."
>
> Pardon my re-formatting, but the following was the statement that
>really got his attention.
>
>>This article was vintage Leroy:
>>several pages of rambling and, at times, incoherent polemics coupled
>>with scattered references to otherwise obscure and unpublished
>>sources.
[statistical analysis of Leroy's sources deleted]

>
> Perhaps if we were to see Ev address the substance of Leroy's
>claims, instead of simply demeaning Leroy and his sources, this may get
>somewhere. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

I have been trying to address the substance of Leroy's claims for several
weeks now. Indeed, I have suggested that most of the claims made in
his aforementioned Skeptic article were devoid of substance. To date,
Leroy has refused to discuss--much less present--the evidence for his
claims. But since you have brought up the matter of Leroy's sources,
I thought I'd include the following comments from my forthcoming
rebuttal to Leroy in Skeptic:

What, then, is the evidence put forward by Leroy in favor of
his thesis of cometary-induced catastrophism? Once again,
Leroy can be found parading forth the researches of one Moe
Mandelkehr as if he represents the final authority on such
matters, claiming that "he has shown that these myths can all

be accounted for in practical terms if Earth acquired a temporary,
highly inclined ring of meteor dust about 2300 B.C." What
myths? No discussion of myth is offered by Leroy. Nor is
any evidence presented in support of this remarkable statement.
All we have to go on is Leroy's judgment that Mandelkehr is
the man with all the answers. Having known Leroy during
the period when he was claiming that Velikovsky had all the
right answers--and disagreeing with him then as well--and having
witnessed several other "conversions" on the part of Leroy in
the meantime, I have long since learned that Leroy's judgment
in such matters is not to be trusted. After all, if he could be so
mistaken about Velikovsky's efforts in mythological exegesis--
as even he now admits--what is to assure us that his assessment
of Mandelkehr, Kobres, and Clube is any more reliable?

Ordinarily, of course, one would simply go to the evidence
presented by Mandelkehr and subject it to scrutiny. This is
how most of us have approached Velikovsky's work, retaining
that which is valid and discarding that which has been shown to be
wrong. In the case of Mandelkehr, however, this proves to be
no easy task, as the work referenced by Leroy is an unpublished
manuscript known, I dare say, only to Leroy. In other words,
as the ultimate authority on myth and the definitive rebuttal of
Velikovsky, Talbott, and Cochrane, Leroy offers an unpublished
manuscript!

Leroy's other references, upon examination, prove to be as
vaporous as that to Mandelkehr. Private conversations with one
Harold Reiche (who?) are cited against the thesis defended by
David Talbott in The Saturn Myth, a massively documented work
in which it was shown that the planet Saturn was described as
"sun-like" and located at the North Pole by peoples throughout
the ancient world. Reiche, apparently, claimed that in ancient
times a planet's name referred to both the orb itself and its orbit,
and thus it could be said of Saturn that it encompassed the whole
sky. This is certainly a novel hypothesis, one which I have yet
to encounter anywhere in the vast literature on archaeoastronomy.
I dare say that few, aside from Leroy, will accept that Mr. Reiche's
explanation will account for Saturn's prominence in ancient myth
and religion.

Jamie Schrumpf

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Feb 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/3/96
to
In article <h5KppkE....@delphi.com>, ecoc...@delphi.com says...

>
>As promised, I hereby launch my paragraph by paragraph analysis
>of Leroy Ellenberger's recent article in Skeptic. Here, as elsewhere,
>Leroy can be found championing the researches of one Bob Kobres.
>For the record, Kobres' article on comet-induced catastrophes in
>historical time was originally submitted to Aeon whereupon it was
>rejected as unsuitable without significant revisions. Kobres' article
>subsequently was published by SISR and The World & I. It is, by
>any objective standard, grotesquely inadequate as a work of
>scholarship in general or archaeoastronomy in particular. Only
>a complete novice in archaeoastronomy--in short, someone like
>Leroy Ellenberger--could be impressed by Kobres' "evidence" and
>reasoning. And only Leroy could advance the following claim
>without any evidential support as if it was self-evident and
>constituted some great discovery:
>
>"Phaethon was almost certainly a comet, not Venus or the Sun"
>(1992a, pp. 41-44), as Bob Kobres has ingeniously shown (1995).
> ....(Of special interest to Velikovskians is the fact that the near-miss

>trajectory for Phaethon *behind* Earth, deduced by Kobres,
>produces the illusion of a sun-like body standing still due to the
>relative motion as seen from certain longitudes--perhaps the
>inspiration for the "Day the Sun Stood Still" for Joshua."
>(L. Ellenberger, Skeptic 3:4, 1995, p. 49).
>
>Now I ask: Is there a single person reading this thread who
>isn't laughing right now or who seriously believes that Kobres/
>Ellenberger have solved the mystery of Joshua's Sun?

Once again, Ev -- in the absence of any real credentialing of either you OR
Ellenberger, your opinions are equal in my eyes; and in fact, since I find
your attitude more condescending than his, you actually lose points.

And besides, there is a simple answer to Joshua's Sun: it's called "artistic
license;" hyperbole. The author was exaggerating the length of the battle to
the point that "the sun must have stood still in the sky" for it to have gone
on so (apparently) long.

Why you Velikovskians fail to allow for human nature and consider myth to be
actual history is beyond me.

--
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jamie Schrumpf
ja...@dcd00745.slip.digex.net
http://www.access.digex.net/~moncomm
Home of the Firesign Theatre newsletter!


L. Drew Davis

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Feb 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/3/96
to
b...@iastate.edu (Benjamin T. Dehner) wrote:

>Given Ev's condescending, high-handed tone, I would
>guess these type of jeuvenile games are what constitutes real Velikovskian
>debates.

I'd have to agree. You're lucky if the actual facts survive the first
response before they get right into the innuendo. Ev isn't even
content with mere out-of-context quoting, but has to rewrite them
to say something different. That's why he made it into the killfile
so fast. I can put up with rude people with a point, but people
that are just purely childish for the attention? Bah.

--
L. Drew Davis dr...@mindspring.com
You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.


Tim Thompson

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Feb 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/4/96
to
In article <hZMoBiP....@delphi.com>,
Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

[ ... ]


> Seriously, though, Leroy is no
> fool--he is simply a novice in archaeoastronomy prone to making
> spectacularly foolish statements. Leroy's recent claim about the Rig
> Veda preserving advanced astronomical knowledge stemming from
> 7300 B.C. is a case in point.

[ ... ]


> What is an anti-scholar? To me, it is someone who advances a preposterous
> claim like the Rig Veda preserving a detailed astronomical record stemming
> from 7300 B.C. and then, when they are challenged to substantiate their
> claim, does everything in their power to avoid discussing the evidence
> bearing on the matter.

[ ... ]


> My typical response is to reject something which I have good reason to
> believe is nonsense. Hence my rejection of Leroy's claim that the Rig
> Veda preserves advanced astronomical knowledge stemming from
> 7300 B.C. I would dearly love to have a "fruitful debate" on this and
> numerous other questions pertaining to archaeoastronomy. But Leroy
> resolutely refuses to discuss his claim and/or the evidence behind it.

First, according to Cochrane, Ellenberger has claimed that the Rig Veda
preserves "advanced astronomical knowledge" from 7300 B.C. Next, he says
Ellenberger claims that the Rig Veda preserves "a detailed astronomical
record" from 7300 B.C. The Cochrane repeats the "advanced astronomical
knowledge" theme. As matters of substance go, this is about all Cochrane
has had to say thus far. Much ridicule, no substance. Cochrane complains
that Ellenberger treats him with ridicule, and it it certainly true that
Ellenberger's language is direct and pointed to say the least. However,
I have yet to see Cochrane attempt to occupy the moral high-ground by
behaving any differently.

However, lets talk about this Rig Veda stuff. I bever even heard of the
"Rig Veda" before it came up here, so I am an excellent "neutral observer",
if I do say so myself. I posted Ellenberger's orignal message along those
lines for him, and I still have it laying around. Here is an extract
showing what Ellenberger actually said (hopefully I have spelled 'Sidharth'
correctly this time):

"Unfortunately for Cochrane's misbegotten, reductionist
Weltanschauung, in "Brahma's Day" Dr. B.G. Sidharth recently
showed that part of the Rig Veda dates from ca. 7300 B.C.
when a solar eclipse at the vernal equinox occurred in the
lunar asterism Pushya, located in Cancer;
see GriffithObserver, Nov 1995

Setting aside Ellenberger's opinion of Cochrane's "Weltanschauung", I see
absolutely nothing here which would in any way justify Cochrane's repeated
paraphrase of Ellenberger's claim. "Advanced astronomical knowledge" and
"detailed astronomical record" are entirely Cochranes unjustified inventions,
used in an attempt to win the argument by ridicule and insult; an indication
that it is Cochrane who is doing what he accuses Ellenberger of doing, namely
doing everything in his power to avoid discussing the matter.

What Ellenberger actually "claimed" was that a source exists, namely
something called "Bhrama's Day", in which one "Sidharth" has shown that
"part of the Rig Veda" (we don't know which part) dates from circa 7300 B.C.
We have a reference, namely the November 1995 issue of Griffith Observer,
and we have a propsed justification, namely a solar eclipse.

I suggest that Cochrane would improve his stock immeasurebly if he would
read Sidharth, apply his own wealth of archaeoastronomical knowledge, and
explain to us why "part of the Rig Veda" cannot date from 7300 B.C., and
why we should consider Sidharth's claim to be "spectacularly foolish",
"preposterous" and "nonsense".

Ted Holden

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Feb 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/4/96
to
t...@uzon.jpl.nasa.gov (Tim Thompson) writes:

[Cochrane...]


>> What is an anti-scholar? To me, it is someone who advances a preposterous
>> claim like the Rig Veda preserving a detailed astronomical record stemming
>> from 7300 B.C. and then, when they are challenged to substantiate their
>> claim, does everything in their power to avoid discussing the evidence
>> bearing on the matter.

...

> First, according to Cochrane, Ellenberger has claimed that the Rig Veda
>preserves "advanced astronomical knowledge" from 7300 B.C. Next, he says
>Ellenberger claims that the Rig Veda preserves "a detailed astronomical
>record" from 7300 B.C. The Cochrane repeats the "advanced astronomical
>knowledge" theme. As matters of substance go, this is about all Cochrane
>has had to say thus far. Much ridicule, no substance. Cochrane complains
>that Ellenberger treats him with ridicule, and it it certainly true that
>Ellenberger's language is direct and pointed to say the least. However,
>I have yet to see Cochrane attempt to occupy the moral high-ground by
>behaving any differently.

> However, lets talk about this Rig Veda stuff. I bever even heard of the
>"Rig Veda" before it came up here, so I am an excellent "neutral observer",
>if I do say so myself.

In literature as well as astronomy it seems...

7300 Years before Christ puts you before the flood and into an age from
which we have nothing written which anybody knows anything about and,
quite possibly, into an age when hominids walked the Earth. The love
poetry of the Rig Veda would have to read like:

...
A gourd of wine, a bunch of bannannas, and thou, shrieking beside me
in the wilderness...


The thing which seems to stand out in Elloenberger's writings is an
attempt to destroy the serious scholarship and refute the findings of the
real scholars who have followed behind Velikovsky, publishing in Kronos
and Aeon, by substituting anything and everything he can get his hands
upon.

Amongst the Ellenberger postcards in my possession, is one which claims:

"Dawn Behind the Dawn" a search for the Earthly Paradise (1992) by
Goeffrey Ashe. "A lively, scholarly detective story in which Ashe turns
his inquisitive eye on the possible truth of a prehistoric golden age."
Prehistorian Ashe claims that an Indo-European people, through contact
with shamans in the Altai mountains 6000 years ago, created a hybrid
culture which exerted a profound, hitherto unrecognized influence on
western cvilization...

"This book [Ellenberger speaking again], even better than J. Godwin's
Arktos, puts the lie, albeit implicitely, to to that perverse corruption
called the "polar configuration"[Saturn hypothesis]...


But you get the idea. What is in operation here is a cause and not
anything resembling a search for truth or history or anything like that.
Readers curious as to whether anything in Western thought or culture
might stem from Mongolia as Ellenberger appears to claim are directed to
Grousset's "Empire of the Steppes".


Ted Holden
med...@digex.com

Tim Thompson

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Feb 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM2/4/96
to
In article <JHDrJ4E....@delphi.com>,
Ev Cochrane <ecoc...@delphi.com> writes:

> On January 31st, Tim Thompson announced that Leroy's long-awaited
> reply to your's