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Re: A Familiar & Prescient Voice - Lehmberg

From: Alfred Lehmberg <alienview.nul>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 11:22:09 -0600
Fwd Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 12:53:56 -0500
Subject: Re: A Familiar & Prescient Voice - Lehmberg

>Source: The New York Times - New York, USA


>February 13, 2007


>A Familiar And Prescient Voice, Brought To Life
>By Dennis Overbye

>It's been a long 10 years since we've heard Carl Sagan beckoning
>us to consider the possibilities inherent in the "billions" of
>stars peppering the sky and in the "billions" of neuronal
>connections spiderwebbing our brains.


Then - From Robert Anton Wilson on the other hand:




The Astonomer Who Abolished Gravity

The normal is what everybody else is and you're not.
- Star Trek: Generations

My mind is going. I can feel it, Dave.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey

If anybody possesses all the qualifications necessary for a
fully ordained Expert in America today, Carl Sagan certaintly
has that dizzying eminence. Through frequent appearances on TV
and in Parade (a news magazine circulated through hundreds of
newspapers in their jumbo Sunday editions), Dr. Sagan has issued
Expert verdicts on every possible controversial issue in
science, and in politics, and even in theology, for three
decades now. And, like the Experts who authenticated hundreds-
to-thousands of Elmyrs, he has never once admitted he ever made
a mistake.

You may wonder how a man who only has qualifications in
astronomy can also function as an Expert on everything in
general. Well, I think it requires Sagan to have a lot of raw
courage, in the first place, and a strong, well-founded
confidence that those who don't believe his dogmas have much
less access to the media than he does; if they answer him back,
however effective their arguments, very few of his large,
gullible audience will ever hear about it. Let us see how
Expertese works, by examining Dr. Sagan's long series of
polemics against Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky.

First of all, in every page Sagan has written about Velikovsky,
he never once calls him "Dr. Velikovsky" as I just did. Thus,
most people who know Velikovsky only through Sagan's attacks
have never learned that Velikovsky had scientific training* .
The contest thus seems a struggle between "Dr." Sagan, the
learned scientist, and "Mr." Velikovsky, the ignorant layman.
Little tricks like that go a long way in deluding the naive, and
Sagan never fails to use every dirty trick he knows. In what
follows, I reverse this process, just for the hell of it. Sagan
I will call Sagan and Dr. Velikovsky I will call Dr. Velikovsky.
Sauce for the goose can serve, after all, as sauce for the

Sagan continually states bluntly, and falsely, that Dr.
Velikovsky intends his cosmic catastrophe theory to revive the
old-time religion.: "It is an attempted validation of
religion"....." Velikovsky attempts to rescue not only religion
but also astrology." (Brocca's Brain, p 126) We can only
conclude that Sagan either reads very carelessly or engages in
deliberate lying. Any close reading of Dr. Velikovsky shows
numerous expressions of skepticism about both religion and

In addition, Dr. Velikovsky's theory of cometary near-collisions
offers a naturalistic, scientific explanation for many events or
alleged events in ancient history, which the religious prefer to
explain supernaturally, as miracles. Nobody who suggests a
natural explanation for allegedly supernatural events offfers
real support to religion, in either the judgement of the
religious themselves or of those of us with agnostic
disposition. Only Sagan - and a few others, who seem to never
have read Dr. Velikovsky and obtained their "knowledge" about
his works from Sagan - think of the comet model as "validating"
religion, since Dr. Velikovsky uses a hypothetical comet to
replace a hypothetical god in explaining huge reported floods,
and other catastrophes.

Most of us think of Dr. Velikovsky's theory as one which, if
proven, would knock one more leg from under the edifice of Bible
Fundamentalism. Nobody seems likely to worship Dr. Velikovsky's
comet, but millions still worship the Bible's god. In the 30
years or more that Sagan has engaged in diatribes against Dr.
Velikovsky, somebody must have pointed out this fundamental
confusion to him - mis-identifying a naturalistic theory with a
supernatural theory. Evidently, he has a lot of trouble hearing
or remembering such corrections.

You become a leading Expert by acting as if everybody else's
opinion deserves no attention and never even deserves the
courtesy of an answer. For instance, to leave Dr. Velikovsky for
a moment, consider Sagan's hilarious theory of "nuclear
winter."* Briefly, Sagan's theory holds that nuclear war could
result, not just in the horrors we all know, but in a freeze
that would probably abolish all life on this planet. (He
published this notion in Parade, where his mass audience could
see it and gasp.) His refusal to accept valid criticisms of this
sci-fi story led to the following summary in Science, official
journal of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science, "News and Comments" section, Jan 16, 1987:

Sagan's refusal to acknowledge merit in the NCAR [National
Center for Atmospheric Research]'s analysis - known as "nuclear
autumn" - sends some people up the wall. One wall-climber is
George Rathjens, professor of political science at
M.I.T...."(Sagan's) claim that the original nuclear winter model
is unimpeached [he says]...is the greatest fraud we've seen in a
long time"....Russell Seiz, a fellow at the Harvard Center for
International Affairs...gibes at [Sagan and his co-authors] for
mixing physics and advertising.

Most scientists I have spoken to about Sagan share this dim view
of his use of publicity to represent his pet notions as
Scientific Truth even when - or especially when - a large
segment of the scientific community has severe doubts about
these notions. (Similarly, in Brocca's Brain, Sagan rejects data
on so-called "out of body experiences" among near-dead patients
because - he says - nobody in that state has reported anything
they couldn't have heard while unconscious.

But the literature of OOBE has hundreds of cases of such
reports, including numerous incidents in which the subjects
reported things in rooms far away from the operating room. Once
again, we can only wonder if Sagan habitually lies through his
teeth or just doesn't read any of the literature on the subjects
upon which he claims Expertese.) But returning to Dr.
Velikovsky, and Sagan's crusade against his ideas: Sagan likes
to quote a "distinguished professor of Semitics" who told him no
Semitic scholars take Dr. Velikovsky seriously. Like the
"intelligence officer" who told Newt Gingrich about dope in the
White House, this "distinguished professor" remains anonymous,
and thus Sagan's hearsay about him would get thrown out of any
civilized court.

Three distinguished professors of Semitic studies, however, have
all shown cordial support for Dr. Velikovsky: Prof. Claude F.A.
Schaeffer, Prof. Etiene Droiton, and Prof. Robert Pieffer. Look
them up in any Who's Who of Semitic studies, archeology and
Egyptology. They have a lot more prestige in those fields than
Sagan's Prof. Anonymous, who doesn't have a single entry under
his name anywhere in the scholarly journals (although elsewhere
he receives credit for many olde ballads and almost all bawdy

Another choice bit of Sagan's Expert testimony: he accuses Dr.
Velikovsky of believing that ancient cultures had a calendar of
ten months of thirty days each and 360 days in the year. Of
course, 10 x 30 = 300, and this gives Sagan a chance to gibe at
Dr. Velikovsky's inability to handle simple arithmetic. Very
good, wouldn't you say? The only trouble with this brillaint
analysis consists of the simple fact that, once again, Sagan has
either consciously and deliberately lied or accidentally
revealed again that he doesn't read carefully.

Dr. Velikovsky says specifically "the month was equal to thirty-
six days" (Worlds in Collision, p. 344.) 10 months of 36 days
each = 360. See? According to Dr. Velikovsky's model, the year
changed to 365 days (plus a few hours) after the cometary near-
collision. Whether he has proven that or not, he did not make a
crude mistake in arithmetic. Sagan either made a crude mistake
in reading, or followed Elmyr's formula for Expert-ness: "sheer
bluff." Consider next the high temperature of Venus (4800 C.)

As Dr. Roger Wescott and others have pointed out, Dr. Velikovsky
predicted a temperature in this range for Venus when
astronomical orthodoxy believed that planet much, much colder.
Sagan tries to avoid giving Dr. Velikovsky credit for this
confirmation of his model by claiming "many" had predicted a
high temperature before the Venus flyby. Actually, he only names
one other who had made such a prediction, Dr. Rupert Wildt, and
Wildt's work did not win general acceptance. (Others try to get
around Dr. Velikovsky's correct estimate in this and other
instances by describing him as a "lucky guesser."

That seems mere cage-rattling to me. One could as well call any
scientist who made many correct predictions a "lucky
guesser".....) As Harry H. Hess, president of the American
Geoligical Society wrote in a published letter to Dr.

Some of these predictions were said to be impossible when you
made them. All of them were made before proof that they were
correct came to hand. Conversely, I do not know of any
prediction you made that has since been proven to be false.

But the final joker came on page 153 of Brocca's Brain where
Sagan writes (and this really deserves caps):

RUNAWAY GREENHOUSE EFFECT. (all emphasis added, and deserved)

First, Sagan claims that Dr. Velikovsky does not deserve credit
for predicting high temperatures on Venus because everybody knew
it, although historical fact shows that only Dr. Wildt had made
the same prediction before Dr. Velikovsky. Then Sagan either
tells a double lie or else suffers an alarming memory lapse that
may require neurological consultation, claiming that neither Dr.
Wildt nor Dr. Velikovsky had made this prediction (which they
had, and he had noted earlier) - and then he brazenly claims he
had originated it himself.

Quite a performance, wouldn't you say?

Now do you know how to become an Expert? Keep a straight face
and make sure the mass media gives you more coverage than it
gives those who try to correct your mis-statements. I could go
on and on, for hundreds of pages, but instead I refer you to
Ginethal's book listed at the end of this chapter.

Ginethal does spend hundreds of pages documenting one fallacy
after another - literally dozens and dozens of them - in Sagan's
smear campaign against Dr. Velikosky. I will conclude only with
the most dramatic, and funniest, of Sagan's goofs: In several
places, Sagan has published a mathematical proof that several
near collisions between a comet and a planet have odds against
them of "a trillion quadrillion to one."
(1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1.) Sounds pretty
damned improbable, doesn't it?

The problem here lies in the fact that Sagan considers each
near-collision as an isolated or haphazard event, thereby
ignoring gravity. In fact, any two celestial bodies, once
attracted to each other, will tend to contine to approach each
other periodically, according to Newtonian laws unmodified by
Einstein. This periodicity will continue until some other
gravitational force pulls one of the bodies away from the
gravitational attraction of the other. Ask any physics or
astronomy professor about this, if you think I'm pushing too
hard here. As Dr. Robert Jastrow of NASA's Goddard Institute of
Space Studies wrote (New York Times 22 Dec 1979)

Professor Sagan's calculations, in effect, ignore the law of
gravity. Here, Dr. Velikovsky was the better astronomer.

Robert Bass wrote, even more harshly,

This Sagan assumption [ignoring gravity] is so disingenuous that
I do not hesitate to label it a deliberate fraud on the public
or else a manifestation of unbelievalbe incompetence or
hastiness combined with desperation (cited by Ginenthal.)

Well, I always had doubts about Sagan's ability to pronounce
verdicts outside astronomy. When he does calculations inside
astronomy and then ignores or forgets gravity, I begin to wonder
about his competence in general.....


Again... the preceding From a recently deceased RAW...


AVG Blog - http://alienviewgroup.blogspot.com/
U F O M a g a z i n e - www.ufomag.com

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