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Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky

(c) 1995 Charles Ginenthal
ISBN: 1-56184-075-0

Cover art by S. Jason Black
Special thanks to Ralph Dravin for his editing

To Joan

1995 New Falcon Publications

Tempe, Arizona U.S.A.

Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky

Charles Ginenthal

Table of Contents

  • Preface

    Part I Introduction

  • An Improbable Tale
    An interdisciplinary scholar * Tales of upheaval * The cometary 'newcomer' * A case of professional hysteria * Looking for Velikovsky's comet * What is science? * Religion, astrology, superstition * How science operates * Peer review * The origin of craters

  • The Historical Evidence
    Experts * Diffusion or common observation * Teo -- place or god * The shapes of cometary fields * Reading carefully * Fractions -- calendars * Synchronism * The world ages * Aphrodite, Athena -- planet Venus * Pallas -- Typhon * Meteorite thunder * Lightning and magnets * Hail of barad * Sagan's principle * The crescent shape of Venus * The Bible * Earth in Upheaval * Comets and swastikas * Frogs, flies, vermin

  • Velikovsky's theory
    Originality and predictions * Sagan and gravity

    Part II the Scientific Evidence

  • Sagan's first problem: The ejection of Venus by Jupiter
    Ancient observations * The birth of Venus * Jupiter catches comets * The Oort cloud * Explosion * Energy * Big comets * Escape velocity * How long ago? * Other astronomers and comets * It has never been observed

  • Sagan's second problem: Repeated collisions among the Earth, Venus and Mars
    30 thousand, 10 million, 30 million * Gravity and collisions * Sagan's mathematics * Gravitational evidence * Statistical inevitability

  • Sagan's third problem: The Earth's rotation
    Boiling oceans * Solar activity and rotation * Solar magnetism * Geomagnetism * Cometary magnetism * Lineaments

  • Sagan's fourth problem: Terrestrial Geology And Lunar Craters
    Earth in upheaval * The end of the ice age * Climate evidence * Volcanoes * Geomagnetic reversals * Mountain building * Mammoth bones C14 * When was the moon last molten? * Dust * Thermoluminescence tests * Dust again * Craters on earth * Global flooding * Gaunal extinctions * C14 dating the extinctions * Art and drawings of extinct animals * Uniformitarian causes * Alaska and Canada * Siberia * Ipiutak * The bronze age in Siberia * Lakes of the Great Basin * La Brea tar pit * Florida * Agate spring quarry, Nebraska * Elephants * South America * Arctic muck * Whales * Archaeology * The Columbia plateau * Tidal destruction of the moon * Sagan's bitter pill

  • Sagan's fifth problem: Chemistry & biology of the terrestrial planets
    The origin of atmospheric oxygen * Hydrocarbons -- carbohydrates * Jupiter's hydrocarbons * Cometary hydrocarbons * Hydrocarbons into carbohydrates * Manna from heaven * Sky oil * The origin of petroleum * Mars' polar caps * Life in space-anyone's guess * Fine tuning the evidence * Erosion on Mars * Martian asymmetry and mascons * Martian boulders * A Martian flood * Tarsis * How to deal with Martian erosion tidal forces on small bodies * Philosophy as evidence

  • Sagan's sixth problem: Manna
    A taste of cyanide * Do comets have formaldehyde? * A very big calculation * Double rations -- double talk

  • Sagan's seventh problem: The clouds of venus
    Clouds of water vapor * Sagan and water vapor clouds * Velikovsky's hydrocarbon clouds? * Oxygen on venus * Sulfuric acid clouds * Analysis by L.D. Kaplan * Venus' sulfuric acid age * Venus' carbon dioxide age * Mars' carbon dioxide * Mars' nitrogen-15 * Venus' argon-36 and argon-40 age * Venus' oxygen age * The earth's helium

  • Sagan's eighth problem: The temperature of venus
    The greenhouse effect * Venus' water age * Does sunlight reach Venus' surface? * A real greenhouse * The second law of thermodynamics * Hot air rises * V.A. Firsoff's objections * The runaway mechanism * Venus' neon and argon age * Ashen light * Thermal balance * Thermal balance denied * Lies, damned lies and Sagan's chart * A thermodynamic analysis * Sagan versus Sagan * Sagan and his Martian greenhouse effect * What other scientists say

  • Sagan's ninth problem: The craters of venus
    Tectonic features of Venus * Venus' many ancient impact craters * Volcanism on Venus * Weathering of Venus' rocks * Venus' hydrofluoric-hydrochloric age * What holds up Venus' high mountains? * Venus' rotation * Venus lacks a magnetic field * No erosion of rock on Venus * The Venusian regolith * Venus' volcanism like Io's * The super rotating atmosphere * Catastrophism to the rescue

    Sagan's tenth problem: The circularization of the orbit of Venus
    Non-gravitational forces in the solar system * Pendulum experiments * The counter force to gravity * Newtonian mechanics * Jupiter's satellites * Changes in the Solar System * Comets and the rocket effect * Electromagnetism * Halley's cometary orbit * Comets with highly circular orbits * More changes in the Solar System * Ancient evidence of Venus' orbit * Dogma as evidence * Gravity and craters

  • Sagan's other problems
    Deimos and Phobos * Evidence on Mars * More of Deimos and Phobos * Ancient astronomy * Mars' atmosphere * Santorini -- Atlantis

  • Sagan's appendices
    Appendix I * Appendix II * Appendix III * Appendix IV

  • Conclusion
    Velikovsky and Einstein * Sagan's commitment * Halton Arp * This is science today * Atoms and solar systems * Hannes Alfven * The nub of the issue * Scientific ethics


Dogma differs from hypothesis by the refusal of its adherents even to consider the aspects of its validity. Legitimate disagreement or controversy creates dogma when arguments are no longer listened to. Although usually belonging to the realm of theoretical models where direct experiment (or observation) is not possible dogmatism may sometimes induce its followers to misquotation or misrepresentation of the most indisputable facts, even to statements made in print by their opponents.'

E J. Opik, "About Dogma in Science..."
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, (1977). Vol. 15, p. 1

'Yet it remained for the scientific community to launch the most vicious and unreasoning attack on both the ideas and the author of Worlds in Collision.'

Fred Wacshofsky, Doomsday the Science of Catastrophe, (1977), p. 42

'It is extremely difficult for a really radical idea to get a hearing, much less a fair hearing. And if the originator of the radical idea does not have normal credentials, getting a (fair) hearing can be virtually impossible.'

David M. Raup, The Nemesis Affair, (1986), p. 203

Dr. Carl Sagan, a professor of astronomy from Cornell University, a well known public personality and writer of popular books of science, in 1974 at a symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) delivered a paper, "An Analysis of Worlds in Collision ". This paper was later edited and presented in a book, Scientists Confront Velikovsky, published by Cornell University Press. The paper was further edited and presented in Sagan's book Broca's Brain, under the title "Venus and Dr. Velikovsky". Sagan's paper is a critique of Immanuel Velikovsky's book Worlds in Collision.

Having read Velikovsky, I also read Sagan's paper; I thereafter discovered that a group of scientists and scholars had written critiques of Sagan's analysis. After reading these criticisms I began a search of the literature and over a period of time I became convinced that Sagan's critique lacked substance. Most surprising was the number of statements made by Sagan that proved to be clearly untrue. Further reading reinforced this discovery of the glaringly unscientific and unscholarly quality of Sagan's paper. What was much worse, was that it was difficult to imagine that even Sagan was unaware of the misrepresentation of evidence presented as scholarly criticism by him and offered to the public.

Thereafter, I encountered a colleague who, learning that I was interested in the thesis of Dr. Velikovsky, informed me that in Broca's Brain was an essay by Professor Sagan that demolished Velikovsky and his thesis. When he informed me that he had not read any of Velikovsky's books nor any criticisms of Sagan's article I asked, "How can you make a proper judgment if you haven't read both sides of the issue." To my astonishment he replied, "I don't have to read both sides to know which side is right!" His closed-minded attitude made discussion futile and I let the remark pass. Several days later I received a letter in which he presented citations from Sagan's paper and posed, "What possible arguments could be raised on Velikovsky's behalf?"

In response I composed a long letter which dealt with merely one of Sagan's criticisms. This posted I awaited his response, none came. A few weeks later at a monthly conference, we ran into each other. In a very friendly manner he approached me, smiling broadly, he shook my hand. "What did you think of my reply to your letter?" I asked. He admired the scholarship of my reply to Sagan and admitted frankly, "There are two sides to this Velikovsky business." This I followed up by asking if there were any other aspects of Sagan's criticism which he wished to clarify. He shook his head 'no' and I dropped the matter. However, I noted that he seemed shocked by the evidence of the rebuttal presented.

It was at that moment that the realization struck that Carl Sagan's criticisms had been uncritically read by a wide audience. This was soon discovered to be the case among friends and relatives. Seemingly, they had all read Sagan's side, but not Velikovsky's. With little or no scientific background with which to judge, they had accepted Sagan's word on all matters. It was then that I conceived the idea for this book. It is hoped that reading the other side will permit laymen to clarify the issues.

I must admit that doing the research for this book over about an eight-year period has brought to my attention much more than I had imagined regarding Sagan's critique. It has been a deeply saddening experience to discover again and again the crassness of Sagan's work on Velikovsky. It has also been a deeply shocking experience to learn the political nature of the way science operates. Even if Velikovsky's theories are completely wrong, no one deserves to be maligned as he has been. The deceit exposed in the following pages is an outrage to decency.

Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky