Re: "Sagan and Velikovsky" to appear in local book stores

Gerry Palo (
Mon, 23 Jan 1995 20:51:06 GMT

In article <3g0kme$>,
William S. Lawson <> wrote:
>Actually, Einstein is sometimes held up as a "supporter" of Velikovsky. He was
>always cordial to him. What he actually said about the book, however, was:
>"It's not a bad book -- it really isn't. It's just that it's completely
>crazy." (My apologies if this quote is inexact, but it is accurate in spirit.)
> -- Bill Lawson

What he meant by that cannot be ascertained outside the rest of the
context of the conversation and of his ongoing discussions with
Velikovsky, and an objective report of this may never be made
available. It could well be he was speaking of the craziness of a
revolutionary and correct idea that is destined to turn things upside
down once it is fully realized. One can imagine Einstein saying the same
thing of his own discovery of, say, the special theory of relativity.
What the quote does show is that, whatever he thought about Velikovsky's
book, he grasped the significance for all scientific knowledge if it were
to be correct.

Much of the context of the Velikovsky-Einstein dialog and correspondence
remains unpublished in the hands of Velikovsky's children, or whoever has
custody of his literary estate. From what I understand they refuse to
publish any of it or make it available to scholars. Likewise several of
Velikovsky's unpublished books and articles. Of course, in the case of
correspondence, it would be Velikovsky who had the letters from Einstein,
while the Einstein estate would only have Velikovsky's letters plus any
carbon copies (this was pre-xerox) Einstein may have made of his

Velikovsky did say already in Earth in Upheaval that Einstein did not
accept his hypothesis about electromagnetism in the solar system, but he
also says that when, in accordance with Velikovsky's "advance claim"
Jupiter was found to emit radio waves, Einstein's interest was renewed and
he resolved to take steps to appeal for the reevaluation of Velikovsky's
ideas and to undertake experiments he ahd suggested. But within days of
the discovery, Einstein was dead, and nothing more came of it. For this
we only have Velikovsky's own words, for which the only corroboration
seems to be locked up and unavailable. Velikovsky'sideas may or may not
be both crazy and wrong, but what Einstein thought of them, especially
during the last few days of his life, cannot be determined from the
evidence at hand.

It is fair to withold acceptance of Velikovsky's uncorroborated
statements, but Einstein's biographers cannot be held to have been
completely objective either. If I am not mistaken, his first official
biographer did not mention Velikovsky at all, even though, whatever
Einstein's opinion of his book's merits, they had had a long association
with each other and were in correspondence over Velikovsky's books and
the controversy surrounding them. I believe that subsequent biographies
have corrected this lacuna but this is a little late. The suspicion of
bias is great enough to take it all with more than a grain of salt.

Gerry Palo


Gerry and Janet Palo Denver, Colorado