Bauer, Henry H. "The Velikovsky Affair," La Recherche 208 (December, 1988), pp. 1448-
Bauer is a Professor of Chemistry and Science Studies at VPI. His work on Velikovsky is
annotated elsewhere in this file. (This briefer rendering of the affair is published in French; the
author was kind enough to send me an English translation.)
The affair is simply and quickly stated. But the summary judgments are different from the
elaborate conclusions of his book, Beyond Velikovsky. "In my view, the most important things to
be learned from the Velikovsky Affair have to do with the role of science in contemporary
society." Bauer emphasizes that the affair centered around the idea that science was the ultimate
arbiter of truth, scientism. Both Velikovsky and his opponents were victims of scientism. They
both appealed to the scientism implicit in our culture, and both thought because they did, they
Furthermore, the Velikovsky Affair could happen again. Scientism remains an assumption of
society and science. Indeed, the affair is happening all the time. With the expectation that science
can save us, can arbitrate the good life, we expect science to have answers. We demand it of
those in whom we have put such trust.
The point here is that Velikovsky may well have been a fool and his work unorganized, but he
was still treated shabbily by the scientific community.