In 1950, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky postulated that around 3,500 years ago, Jupiter ejected a planet-sized "comet" that danced around the planets of the inner solar system for thousands of years, altering Earth's orbit and axis in the process, and causing various mythological events described in Biblical texts, including the cinematic Parting of the Red Sea.
To make such a situation physically possible, Velikovsky also contended that electromagnetism is just as integral to celestial mechanics as gravity. He based all of this on absolutely nothing. You can't really blame scientists for being vexed. Almost a quarter-century after Worlds in Collision stirred the pot, Velikovsky's erroneous ideas had become so pervasive in the U.S. that the American Association for the Advancement of Science addressed the situation, devoting a session to debunking his ideas at their annual conference.
However, in today's lesson, we look at how the backlash against Velikovsky was unwarranted. When confronted with stances counter to our own cherished thoughts and beliefs, it's often our first impulse to lash out verbally or even physically, to quell any challenging, disquieting notions. But that is not the proper course. Instead, we must respond calmly and sensibly, using evidence, logic, and reason as guides. Heck, we might even learn something, or realize that we were wrong!