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

Gerry Palo (
Thu, 26 Jan 1995 23:19:37 GMT

In article <>,
Roger Lustig <> wrote:
>In article <3g23m1$> (Dallas Kennedy) writes:
>>The word Einstein used was "meshuggah", Yiddish or Hebrew for "crazy", used
>>humorously in some contexts to mean "offbeat" or "strange", but not literally
>I don't think so.
>>It's the same use when Niels Bohr said that quantum mechanics was
>>so crazy, that it might be true.
>How do you know that? Sorry, what I know about Einstein's language
>(which is my own) suggests that he would *not* have used the word in
>this way.

The point here is that we have a medieval debate over the meaning of a
single quoted statement of Einstein, without a full picture of the larger
context in which the comment was made. The quote is made in a biography
that makes no mention of aspects of that context which Velikovsky himself
wrote about both in the preface to Earth in Upheaval and in more detail in
Gravediggers and Stargazers. The Einstein biographers do not mention (as
far as I know) the (published) letter Einstein wrote to Velikovsky urging
him not to be discouraged by Harlow Shapley's attacks, nor do they deal
with the existence of the extensive Einstein-Velikovsky correspondence
that Velikovsky said he had in his posession and which he planned to

Whether intentional or not, the Einstein biographers have chosen to ignore
as much as possible the friendly association and correspondence between
the two men, which continued up until Einstein's death. Whatever their
reasons, they have left the anti-Velikovsky contributors to this thread to
make pontifical statements about Einstein's scientific assessment of
Velikovsky based on his use of a Yiddish colloquialism and their learned
opinion as to what Einstein most certainly meant by it. This is not
science, nor is it biography, it is scientific fundamentalist paranoia --
paranoia at the very thought (heaven forbid!) that Einstein might just
have entertained somewhere in his mind the possibility that his friend was
right after all and that maybe the rest of us were "meshuggah".

To seriously interpret Einstein's meaning would for any biographer require
corroborating evidence. As it stands, the statement, assuming that
Einstein did make it as quoted, is open to interpretation. Likewise,
Velikovsky's statements about their conversations contradict the whole
sense which the ant-Velikovskian exegetes here try to read into the
fragment. In both his references to his relationship to Einstein,
Velikovsky takes great care to characterize as precisely as possible
Einstein's views, which did change in the course of time, right up to the
time of his death. One does not get the feeling at all that he was
trying to fabricate or exagerate or read anything into Einstein's words
that was not there. But none of this comes into serious consideration at
all, only the single colloquial expression, which is treated as holy writ.

Gerry Palo


Gerry and Janet Palo Denver, Colorado