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Erich von Daniken 'proved' that the vision of Ezekiel described an encounter with an alien spaceship. This he accomplished by the simple device of picking out those details of the vision that supported his spaceship theory, and ignoring those that didn't. The fallacy of von Daniken's approach was thus made evident not so much by what he actually included in "Chariots of the Gods", but by what he did not include! One of the aims of this book is to show that much of the 'evidence' for the scenario of "Worlds in Collision" is the product of a similar process of selection and rejection, and to demonstrate that a different picture emerges when Velikovsky's evidence is read not in the forms in which it is presented in "Worlds in Collision", but in its original contexts. Since many of Velikovsky's sources are not readily available to the general reader, it seemed a good idea to gather together enough of these 'original contexts' to show just what the problems are.
There is another argument that is bound to occur in connection with any analysis of "Worlds in Collision", and it is this: no known text, myth or legend refers directly and unmistakably to the Venus Comet. The 'evidence' is always either indirect, secondary or symbolic -- and thus open to dispute
I am personally very suspicious of this situation. It seems to me not unlike that in which every published account of the Second World War was suddenly discovered to have studiously avoided any direct mention of Hitler or the Third Reich.
I am well aware that Velikovsky postulated the existence of collective amnesia to explain the shortcomings of the historical and mythological evidence for his scenario, But since collective amnesia is itself a highly speculative and unproven hypothesis, I find it a tall order to accept the vagueness of the evidence as 'proof' of both collective amnesia and the Venus Comet scenario at the same time. Taken singly these hypotheses are highly speculative. Taken together, with each holding the other up, as it were, the situation is logically intolerable,
It has always seemed to me that the collective amnesia hypothesis is no more than an ingenious excuse for the flagging evidence for the Venus Comet scenario, and I shall continue to see it as such until such time as collective amnesia is conclusively shown to happen in contexts totally independent of the Venus Comet scenario. As things stand at the moment, collective amnesia simply puts Velikovsky in a 'heads-I-win, tails-you-lose' situation as regards his cosmic drama : if a piece of evidence fits, it can be claimed as a hit; if a piece of evidence doesn't fit, it can be claimed as a collective amnesiac 'disguise', and thus denied the status of a miss: Such a vetting procedure must surely be regarded with the greatest suspicion.
A second aim of this book is to show, more clearly than "Worlds in Collision" did, the enormity of the gap that has to be filled by collective amnesia, the distance which separates the scenario of "Worlds in Collision" from its historical and mythological 'evidence' is much wider than Velikovsky seems ready to acknowledge. In fact, I would venture to suggest that it is too wide ever to be realistically filled.
A number of other objections to the standard of the evidence in "Worlds in Collision" will be presented, as they arise, in the course of this book. I have deliberately avoided the issues of the physical possibility or impossibility of Velikovsky's scenario. For that side of the Velikovsky debate I would refer the reader to "Scientists Confront Velikovsky" (Editor Donald Goldsmith; Cornell University Press, 1977),
In this took I am concerned only with the problems of whether Velikovsky's sources really say what he says they do, without regard to arguments from physics, chemistry, astronomy and so forth,
For a number of reasons I plan to produce this book in two or possibly three parts, of which this is Part 1. If enough interest and controversy are generated, I would consider producing a Part 4 devoted to discussion of the other three parts. Uproar there will probably be from some Velikovskians -- not least of all because I, a mathematician by trade and training, have ventured into a literary field. On the other hand, Velikovsky himself was no more qualified in these matters when he ventured to write "Worlds in Collision", so I don't see it as much of a presumption that I should write this criticism of him:
Finally, throughout this book, "Worlds in Collision" will be denoted by WIC and Velikovsky by V. Page numbers refer to the 1950 Victor Gollancz edition of WIC, but these can be used to trace quoted passages in other editions using the table on the inside back cover. Context is all-important in any study of V and his sources, and it must not be forgotten that when I extract a quote from WIC for use in this book, I am removing it from its proper context in WIC. Therefore this book should properly be read in parallel with WIC, and my extracts be taken not simply as individual items for consideration, but also as signposts to the sections of WIC from which they are taken. As regards V's sources themselves, I hope I have included sufficiently long extracts to convey the sense and flavour of the full original contexts. There is no substitute for the original, though, and I would recommend the reader to chase up the originals for himself whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Bob Forrest, Manchester, July 1981.