This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Michael Gordin, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University. This thought-provoking, extensive conversation examines the strange case of Immanuel Velikovsky, author of the bestselling book “Worlds in Collision” that managed to provocatively combine unbridled scientific speculation with ancient myth, as a way of probing the often-problematic boundary between science and pseudoscience.
By all accounts, Velikovsky was a decidedly curious character. The notorious Russian-born doctor-turned psychoanalyst-turned astronomer-historian-autodidact not only had a flair for writing and boatloads of charisma and energy, he also was on record for making a couple of concrete predictions of his radical new theory of the solar system that turned out, much to the dismay of the authorities of the day, to actually be correct.
This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Harnessing the Fringe, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:
A Counterculture Hero - Introducing Immanuel Velikovsky
An Ideal Case - The historical allure of Velikovsky
The Lysenko Lesson - Science meets politics
A Freudian Cosmology - Validation by hostility
Enter Einstein - Velikovsky makes predictions
Responses and Reactions - Publicity and hostility
Digging In - Unorthodox, up to a point
Science vs. Pseudoscience - In search of a bright line
Fringe Benefits - Seeking a balance
Learning From History - Towards better science?
Anthropic Digression - Falsifiability today
Better Science? - Educated by history
About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series:
This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert in a focused yet informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks. For other books in this series visit our website: https://ideas-on-film.com/ideasroadshow/.