Sunday, December 23, 2012

Worlds in Collision and The Velikovsky Heresies

Many years ago I picked up a couple of beat up copies of books by Immanuel Velikovsky at a used book store. I knew the name, but not much else. I figured maybe one day I would read them. Over the last year or so, I have become very interested in The Electric Universe theory and has become a favorite site of mine. They often mention Velikovsky, enough so that I finally sat down and read "Worlds in Collision". 

The main gist of Velikovsky's theory is that Venus started life as a comet, and within historical times. It was ejected from Jupiter around 1600 B.C. when a larger mass collided with the gas giant, and it had close encounters with both Earth and Mars before settling into it's current location. Velikovsky was a Russian born psychoanalyst, and a friend and contemporary of Einstein. When this book was published in 1950 it ignited a huge controversy. First of all, he was writing outside of his field. Second, he was contradicting accepted science at the time. Third, he was using ancient texts to support his theory, especially the Bible. None of this sat well with the scientific establishment of the time. It got worse, when various predictions he made, Venus would be hot, not cold as mainstream science believed, for example, turned out to be correct. In fact, the majority of what Velikovsky predicted seems to have been accurate. The attacks on him are astonishing, and have been covered in many other books. Carl Sagan made a special point of trying to take down Velikovsky, and many feel that he was successful. However a clear, unbiased look at what Sagan did, reveals that he actually failed to disprove Immanuel's theory, and that it was more of a hit job than anything else. Back to the book. It is a fascinating read. It was a best seller when it came out, and has held it's own for a long time after. It is well written, and detailed. And, yes, he does take passages from the bible to support his theory. However, he finds equating passages from other parts of the world to substantiate this. If one text says the sun stood still in the sky, he looks for, and finds, other texts from the same time period, from other parts of the world, that say the same thing. He shows that Venus is not mentioned by any cultures prior to a certain point, approximately 1600 B.C. He shows that it flew erratically around the heavens, and was a fearsome thing in the sky. He shows that it had a comet's tail, and was often referred to as comet's were. It is a stunning piece of work. I was pretty blown away when I got done. This book, however, was published in 1950. What I wanted to know was, has anything in our current understanding of science and history been found that soundly defeats Velikovsky's work? It seemed like a massive undertaking. Enter Laird Scranton...

Just about the time I was asking these questions, Laird Scranton published The Velikovsky Heresies, and hey, guess what, it is a book that answers that very question about how the theory has held up. From interviews I have heard with Laird, he went into this book with no bias one way or another. He did the research, took the main parts of Velikovsky's theory and searched to find out whether they stand or fall. For the most part, the theory has been more vindicated than debunked. Of course, when dealing with events of the distant past, it is hard to ever know for certain, but Laird, step by step, takes apart Velikovsky's theory and shows the current science that seems to support it (for example, we now know that Venus seems to still have the remnants of what seems to be a comet's tail!). It is a brilliant piece of work by it's own right, and my only complaint would be that I managed to read through it in about a day. There is a lot packed into the 130+ pages that make up this book, however. No theory is ever completely right, and of course that very much applies to Velikovsky, but Laird shows how much of the theory has held up over the 62 years since it was first published. It is impressive. You can easily read Laird's book without ever reading World's in Collision. I would, however, recommend reading both to get a more complete understanding of a theory that one day may completely change the way we look at our own solar system and planetary origins. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura: Skinwalker

I like Jesse Ventura. Until today, I have never watched an episode of his Conspiracy Theory show. Having read "Hunt for the Skinwalker", and having been very impressed by the work, I was eager to watch this show on the ranch featured in the book. Wow, was this a disappointment on a number of levels. This is the type of thing that gives conspiracy theories their bad name. For one, the book, which is quite detailed, is never mentioned. Nor is the scientist that wrote it, who spent 100's of days on the ranch mentioned or interviewed. Instead we get a setup implying a mystery that doesn't really exist. Really, I would say this is the biggest pile of nonsense that I have heard in quite some time. 

Robert Bigelow is rich. He owns the Skinwalker Ranch, and was the power behind the scientific investigation that went on there. He is also, which he openly admits, fascinated by UFO's. If you read the Skinwalker book, you will find that it has little to do with Flesh and Blood, Nuts and Bolts ET's, and more to do with something we simply do not have a concept for at this point. One of Bigelow's top people is interviewed about the ranch and pretty much says that very thing. They don't believe him. Why? Welll, for one, they clearly haven't done their research. They keep asking what is going on with the ranch. Hey, read the damned book and you will see what is going on with the ranch. Or does that not make good TV? They question why Bigelow would want to launch a space station, which he is in the process of doing. Why wouldn't someone who is fascinated with space want to build a space station if they had the power to do so? Why are they making this sound nefarious? There really is no good reason for it. Jesse outright asks a woman representing MUFON if she thinks Bigelow's backers are ET's, and they stop to cut to commercial before she answers. In fact, they never play her answer, but it may leave one with the impression that she said yes because of the way they cut it. They talk to Bigelow himself and he seems like a genuine and pleasant individual, who is interested in UFO's. They even go so far as to suggest that ET's helped him get the couple modules he already has in orbit up there... What? He used earthly technology to launch them, and we know that, why would they even make that claim? 

This show was a massive insult to my intelligence. I suppose, though, if you don't know much about the subject, they may seem like they are onto something, and that is dangerous unto itself. When you read between the lines, you see that they have nothing, they are building upon rumors that can't be substantiated. In fact, they built a whole show on nonsense, with little to no actual research. Hell, Bigelow, with an admitted interest in UFO's, has for his company logo the face of a grey ET. They view this as proof he may be working with them. Now let's think about this. If you were hiding something like working with ET's, would you use their face as your logo? Not likely. If you were interested in the subject, would you? Yes. Bigelow seemed to be exactly what he seems to be. A guy that is interested in the UFO Phenomenon, who wants to continue moving us up to and exploring space, and this show vilified him. Despite there being a comprehensive book written by one of the scientists who worked on the ranch, they never mention it, nor show that they have any knowledge the book exists. What does that say for their research quality? Instead, they interview people saying that an alien invasion is imminent. Bigelow once made a comment about people being killed in relation to the UFO phenomenon. When asked about this, he states that he was referring to a fairly well known case in Brazil. However, people they talk to here say it referred to the Skinwalker Ranch. Why? Because they want it to, I guess, they really have nothing to support such an assertion. 

I will probably watch some of the other episodes of this that I have DVR's this season, but as a first exposure, this was a ridiculous joke. I am severely disappointed in the show, and Jesse Ventura himself for being a part of this mess. Poorly researched and espousing nonsense theories with no supporting evidence. This is why the term Conspiracy Theory gets looked down upon. 

And for anyone that is interested in the actual story of the ranch, read the book. It is a fantastic piece of work.