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Society for Interdisciplinary Studies

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The SIS logo, designed by the then editor, Malcolm Lowery.
An early ad-hoc design of the SIS logo by Malcolm Lowery.

The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS) is a membership-based organization "formed in 1974 in response to the growing interest in the works of modern catastrophists, notably the highly controversial Dr Immanuel Velikovsky".[1] Based in the United Kingdom, it publishes the journals, Chronology & Catastrophism Review, a more informal publication Chronology & Catastrophism Workshop, and sponsors occasional conferences. It is a non-profit organization that is registered as an educational charity.[2] Henry Bauer notes that "Some groups within the British Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, by contrast, have proposed major revisions to Velikovsky's revision of ancient chronology".[3]

"... it was made clear right from the start that the Society had been formed to examine the ideas of Velikovsky and other catastrophists, not to promote any particular point of view".[4]

The SIS is run by an elected Council that includes a Chairman (with a five year tenure), Secretary and Treasurer, and nine other officers. It has been noted that the Society's "membership is not large".[5]

Contents

Publications

SIS C&C Review Vol.III No. 4 cover, an early issue from Spring 1979

Chronology & Catastrophism Review (C&C Review)

ISSN: 0953 0053

Called SIS Review until 1996, C&C Review is "the most successful Velikovskian journal"[6], a "revisionist journal"[7], and the flagship publication of the Society is published annually, though it has appeared as frequently as four times a year. It describes itself as:

".. a forum for the continuing debate on the subjects of revised chronologies (of Immanuel Velikovsky and later revisionists), biblical studies, mythology, geology, catastrophism, evolution, archaeology, ancient history, cosmology, physics, astronomy, palaeontology and other disciplines. It also provides a forum for independent and critical assessment in the field of cosmic global catastrophism of the kind described by Velikovsky, plus the theories of more recent catastrophists. Topics covered include the role of electromagnetism in cosmology, space probe findings about comets and planets, modern scientific dating methods and evidence for cosmic catastrophes during historical times."[8]

Velikovsky himself took "a dim view of its revisionist attitude".[9] Alfred de Grazia recalls that "the first issue of their Review, later to be attractively printed, was in mimeography and, at that, barely readable, but its contents were of excellent quality".[10]

Chronology & Catastrophism Workshop (C&C Workshop)

ISSN: 0951 5984

Called SIS Workshop until 1996, C&C Workshop is a more informal publication that appears three times a year. It is dedicated to the memory and spirit of Derek Shelley-Pearce, its first editor, who died in 1992. Workshop did not appear between 1996 and 2002.

SIS Internet Digest

ISSN 1362-7686

14 issues of SIS Internet Digest appeared between 1996 and 2002, as a means of communicating Internet-sourced information to members.

Conferences and meetings

At the Society's Annual General Meeting, the SIS organizes a free talk to members. And on a less regular basis, the SIS organizes an international public conference, that have included:

  • 1978: Ages in Chaos? How valid are Velikovsky's views on Ancient History?
  • 1993: Evidence that the Earth has suffered Catastrophes of Cosmic Origin in Historical Times
  • 1995: Velikovsky's 100th Birthday Memorial Weekend.
  • 1997: Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations: Archaeological, Geological and Astronomical Perspectives.[11] (Second SIS Cambridge Conference)[12] including contributions from: Benny J. Peiser, Trevor Palmer, Mark E. Bailey, Robert A. J. Matthews, Bill Napier, Gerrit Verschuur, Bruce Masse, Marie-Agnès Courty, M. G. L. Baillie, Amos Nur, Lars G. Franzén and Thomas B. Larsson, Bas van Geel, Oleg M. Raspopov, Johannes van der Plicht, Hans Renssen, Euan MacKie, Gunnar Heinsohn, David W. Pankenier, William Mullen, Irving Wolfe, and S. V. M. Clube.
  • 1999: SIS Silver Jubilee Event, Incorporating a conference on Chronology & Catastrophism.
  • 2002: Ages Still in Chaos: An investigation into progress made in the revision of ancient history since 1952, and possible ways ahead
  • 2007: Cosmic Catastrophes - Asteroids, Comets and Planets: Possibilities and Probabilities in the Light of Today's Findings and the Testimony of Ancient Man

Founding and constitution

The Times newspaper (London) writes:

A British Society for Interdisciplinary Studies was founded in 1974 with the aim of encouraging a rational approach to Velikovsky's theories."[13]

Then:

"In Britain, the Glasgow University archaelogist Euan MacKie [..] went on to become a founding member of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS), an organisation designed to provide a forum for open-minded discussions of all aspects of catastrophism and chronology."[4]

An SIS-sponsored conference notes:

"The SIS was formed in 1975 to provide a forum for the discussion of all aspects of catastrophism and chronology [..]
.. in 1973, archaeologist Euan MacKie wrote in New Scientist that, no matter whether Velikovsky was right or wrong, he had formulated hypotheses which should be tested in the normal way [17]. In the same year, he suggested in Pensée that radiocarbon dating might provide the evidence for a test of Velikovsky's theories of global catastrophes and chronological revisions [18].
A year later, on the 5th November 1974, MacKie discussed related matters with Harold Tresman, Brian Moore and Martin Sieff over a meal at the Regent Palace Hotel in Picadilly and, as a direct consequence, the SIS came into being".[14]

Professor of Social Theory, Alfred de Grazia noted that:[15]

"The early 1970's witnessed the founding in England of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS), conceived by a gang of four, and on a Halloween night. The first issue of their Review, later to be attractively printed, was in mimeography and, at that, barely readable, but its contents were of excellent quality. The founders, and those who signed up, many of them American, settled into a flexible oligarchy. [..] The Constitution of the Society adopted in 1978 declared as its principal objectives:
  1. to promote a multi-disciplinary approach to scientific and scholarly problems and in particular to promote the active consideration by scintists, scholars, and students of alternatives to the theory of uniformity in astronomy and earth history:
  2. to promote a better understanding of the nature of the earth, the solar system and human history, through the combined use of historical and contemporary evidence of all kinds, and to encourage a continuous reassessment of the validity of the basic assumptions of the discipline concerned by testing these against evidence;
  3. to promote better co-operation between workers in specialized fields of learning in the belief that isolated study is sterile;
  4. to foster research among scientists and scholars towards achieving these aims.

Henry Bauer notes:

"An English group interested in catastrophism in general and Velikovsky in particular is the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies; the membership is not large, but its S.I.S. Review gained wider circulation through the services of the Research Communication Network and mentions Kronos."[16]

Notes

  1. Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop, 2007:2 (back cover)
  2. Under the UK Charity Act, it is registered Charity No: 286264
  3. Henry H. Bauer, "The Velikovsky Affair", Aeon II:6 (1991)
  4. a b Trevor Palmer, Perilous Planet Earth: Catastrophes and Catastrophism Through the Ages, Ch.12 Heretical Catastrophists", Publ. Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0521819288, 9780521819282. page 118
  5. Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, Publ. 1999 University of Illinois Press, 354 pages, ISBN 0252068459
  6. Michael Gordin, The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth Of The Modern Fringe, publ. University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (27 Aug. 2013), ISBN-10 022610172X, ISBN-13 978-0226101729 (304 pages) page 197
  7. Michael Gordin, The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth Of The Modern Fringe, publ. University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (27 Aug. 2013), ISBN-10 022610172X, ISBN-13 978-0226101729 (304 pages) page 188
  8. Chronology & Catastrophism Workshop, 2007:2 (inside back cover)
  9. Frederic B. Jueneman, "Velikovsky: A Personal Chronological Perspective of His Final Years", Aeon III:1 (Nov 1992)
  10. Alfred de Grazia, "Cosmic Heretics", Aeon II:6 (1991) (excerpted from A. de Grazia's Cosmic Heretics)full text
  11. Proceedings published in British Archaeological Reports S728, 1998, "Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations: Archaeological, geological, astronomical and cultural perspectives", edited by Benny J. Peiser, Trevor Palmer and Mark E. Bailey. ISBN 0 86054 916 X., pp.252. 39 photos, 46 figures, 13 tables, Publ. Archaeopress, Oxford.
  12. Trevor Palmer, Perilous Planet Earth: Catastrophes and Catastrophism Through the Ages, Ch.29 "Natural Catastrophes and the rise and fall of civilisations", Publ. Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0521819288, 9780521819282. page 346
  13. Obituary: Dr Immanuel Velikovsky, The Times, November 20, 1979
  14. Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations: Archaeological, geological, astronomical and cultural perspectives, edited by Benny J. Peiser, Trevor Palmer, Mark E. Bailey, BAR International Series 728, 1988. ISBN 0 86054 916 X. (Full text) Inline references [17] MacKie, E.W., 1973, A challenge to the integrity of science, New Scientist 11 January, 76-77. [18] MacKie, E.W., 1973, A quantitative test for catastrophic theories, Pensée IVR III(Winter), 6-9.
  15. Alfred de Grazia, Cosmic Heretics (1984), "Ch. 5: The British Connection", Metron Publ., Chapter 4. ISBN: 0940268086
  16. Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, Publ. 1999 University of Illinois Press, 354 pages, ISBN 0252068459. (page 68)

See also

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