I feel like I have to explain who Immanuel Velikovsky was, it’s been so long that he pinged on the radar. He was a crackpot who published a series of pseudo-erudite books in which he used a combination of bullshit Bible scholarship and bad physics to bamboozle audiences –and it worked, because physicists couldn’t address the claims about what the Bible said and the Bible scholars were cowed by the physics. But he had Venus erupting out of Jupiter and ping-ponging around the solar system at the time of the Exodus, and sailing past Earth to rain down manna on the Hebrews (turns out he couldn’t tell the difference between carbohydrates and hydrocarbons, either). It was stupidity squared, but had a brief surge in notoriety when some scientists suggested that his book be banned.
Anyway, I hadn’t heard much about Velikovsky in years, and was thinking that was one kook who’d finally been forgotten, but now I learn that a remnant strain of Velikovskyism lurks in an unsurprising place: among the climate change denialists.
This doesn’t warrant a long article but it ended up being longish. It’s just to comment on the fact that Anthony Watts has published another article from Tim Ball, pushing Velikovsky’s crank ideas as science. Tim argues that scientists shouldn’t point out dumb and wrong notions posing as science. Tim calls such behaviour “scientific elitism”.
Anthony Watts gives an excuse (if you can call it that) for publishing such nonsense, saying that he promotes Velikovsky “in the context of learning” and seems to think the Director of GISS NASA is a coward for not doing the same.
Well, hey, Velikovsky does well among those who don’t understand physics or chemistry, so I guess it’s not unusual that he would thrive among the denialists. He has found his people.