Bauer, Henry H. Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy. Chicago: The

 

Bauer, Henry H. Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy. Chicago: The
University of Illinois Press, 1984.

Here is a remarkable review of the Velikovsky Affair. Bauer's judgment is:

"But Velikovsky's critics were not only ineffective; many of them also behaved offensively. It
cannot be gainsaid that literally inexcusable steps were taken to prevent the expression of
opinion: a respected publisher was boycotted, individuals were caused to lose their livelihoods,
advertisements for books and journals were refused, previous available meeting rooms were
withdrawn ... Many of Velikovsky's critics argued tendentiously and untruthfully ... while
accusing Velikovskians of doing just that: acts of intellectual dishonesty on the part of the critics.
As in similar controversies ..., the bulk of the criticism was dogmatic labeling and name calling,
not the reasoned discourse in which scientists claim to partake when ideas are under discussion."
(p. 181)

Not only were sympathetic professionals ostracized by their colleagues, not only were publishers
threatened with boycott, but other meanspirited tactics were employed:

"...(A) number of scientists sought to prevent
Velikovsky from publishing books and article and even
from giving lectures. A major theme of the whole
controversy was: to what extent might this treatment
of Velikovsky be symptomatic of something generally
‘rotten in the state' of science? - a situation of
importance and significance beyond the particular case
of Velikovsky. Was it still possible nowadays that
scientific hypothesis could be criticized and
suppressed on dogmative grounds - as heretical in
relation to the conventional wisdom of science - so
that revolutionary, possibly worthwhile ideas would not
be granted a fair objective hearing? A number of
people continue to believe that the Velikovsky affair
shows that, indeed, it could happen, here and now."
(pp. 59-60)

That is the major gist of it. Bauer sees the Velikovsky case as representative of what may be very
wrong with organized science: it is dogmatic. The dominant paradigm becomes the faith, the
crucial belief, and those who question that belief may be harshly treated. The danger of structure
is appreciated by this chemist turned historian: the system is capable of protecting itself even at
the cost of its oft-touted rationality.

This is not an attempt to defend Velikovsky's physics. Indeed, this author makes it very clear that
Velikovsky did not appreciate or understand physics and his book, Cosmos Without Gravitation,
written in 1946, is clearly the physics of a fool. It is as a case study in the sociology of science
that this story is told here.