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Pensée: Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered

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Pensée: Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered Vol.VII (Spring 1974) depicting a parody Immanuel Velikovsky by artist Robert Byrd that appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, April, 1968

Pensée: Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered ("IVR") was a special series of ten issues of the magazine Pensée produced to "encourage continuing critical analysis of all questions raised by Velikovsky's work",[1] published between May 1972 and Winter 1974-75 by the Student Academic Freedom Forum,[2][3] whose president was David N. Talbott, with the assistance and cooperation of Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon. Velikovsky -- "the man whose work was being examined 'objectively'" insinuated himself into the editing of the May 1972 issue,[4] just as he had done earlier for the April 1967 "Velikovsky" issue of Yale Scientific Magazine.[5]

It achieved a circulation of between 10,000 - 20,000, with the first issue reprinted twice totalling 75,000 copies,[6][7] and resulted in a book, Velikovsky Reconsidered [8] containing selected articles.



In the final issue of Pensée IVR, the publisher recalled that the original magazine was:

"Founded in 1966 and soon thereafter allowed to lapse for several years, it was revived in 1970 as an unofficial student magazine distributed on University of Oregon campuses [..] Late in 1971 the editor and publisher, personally familiar with the work of Immanuel Velikovsky, conceived the idea of finding someone qualified to write a major article describing Velikovsky's theories, their implications, and their reception. Subsequent contact, first, with Velikovsky himself, and then with several persons knowledgeable about his work, led to the May, 1972 issue of Pensée."[9]

Association with Velikovsky

Science magazine writes:

"Pensée serves as a forum for Velikovsky's views and those of his supporters and critics. There appears to be no financial connection between the magazine and Velikovsky, but there is a kind of symbiotic relationship -- he is good for circulation and circulation is good for him -- and Velikovsky has on occasion, exerted editorial influence. (In an interview, Velikovsky said he gave the editors and "ultimatum" last year to make them publish his response to a critical article in the same issue, not the next one, "I said if they didn't do so, I would never write for them again," Velikovsky said. Faced with the boycott by its leading author, Pensée backed down.)[10]


The staff consisted of publisher David N. Talbott and his brother Stephen L. Talbott as editor, and built up to five associate editors: Lewis M. Greenberg, Ralph Juergens, William Mullen, C.J. Ransom, and Lynn E. Rose.[11] Professor of Social Theory, Alfred de Grazia noted that:

"... there came Pensée, a production of the young Talbott brothers, Stephen and David, whose enthusiasm for his [Velikovsky's] work crystallized into a conversion of their small magazine on human rights into a forum on the Velikovsky Affair, at least for ten issues. Stephen Talbott was a brilliant editor and organizer, bent upon opening the world to quantavolutionary ideas, but also to criticism of them. After spectacular successes, Pensée collapsed under a load of debt and overwork. As it was ending, it promised to broaden its interests beyond Velikovsky and to discuss ideas irreconcilable with his. Velikovsky would have no part of this, and several of his Eastern supporters -- with Lewis Greenberg and Warner Sizemore leading -- issued the first number of Kronos.[12]


The "Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered" period also included sponsoring two three-day symposia which were attended by Dr. Velikovsky. In August 1972, the "Velikovsky Symposium" at Lewis and Clark College (who was also co-sponsor) convened 50 invited scholars, many from the ranks of Velikovsky's supporters, with 200 attendees.[13] In June 1974, "Velikovsky and the Recent History of the Solar System" at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, convened 38 invited scholars with a generally higher and non-aligned profile than in 1972, including such mainstream scientists as David Morrison (Univ. of Hawaii), James Warwick (Univ. of Colorado), and Derek York (Univ. of Toronto), and registered over 350 attendees.[14]


See also: List of contributors to Pensée

Pensée IVR published contributions from Velikovsky himself, and others in academia and industry, including:

  • Dr Robert W. Bass, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Brigham Young University
  • Dr Albert W. Burgstahler, professor of chemistry, University of Kansas.
  • Dr Cyril D. Darlington, Professor of Botany, University of Oxford.
  • Prof. Thomas Ferté, Humanities Dept., Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon.
  • Dr Cyrus H. Gordon is chairman of the department of Mediterranean studies, Brandeis University
  • Dr Lewis M. Greenberg, assistant professor of art history and history, Moore College of Art (Philadelphia)
  • Dr Horace Kallen, professor emeritus of philosophy, and research professor in social philosophy, New School for Social Research
  • Prof. Martin Kruskal, Program in Applied Mathematics, Princeton University
  • Prof. W. F. Libby, director, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California
  • Dr Euan MacKie, assistant keeper, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow
  • Dr Irving Michelson, professor in the Department of Mechanics and Mechanical Aerospace Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Dr William Mullen, departments of classics and comparative literature, University of California (Berkeley).
  • Dr Lynn Rose, professor of philosophy at the State University of New York
  • Dr George W. Spangler, Associate Professor of Physics, University of Tennessee
  • Dr William H. Stiebing, Jr., Associate Professor of History, University of New Orleans.
  • Dr David Stove, Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney.
  • Dr Carter Sutherland, professor of medieval English, Georgia State University (Atlanta)
  • Dr Sidney Willhelm, associate professor of' sociology at the State University of New York (Buffalo).
  • Dr Derek York, associate professor of physics in the geophysics division, University of Toronto
  • C.E.R. Bruce, Melvin A. Cook, Vine Deloria, Jr.


A number of magazine and journals refused to accept advertisements for Pensée, including American Scientist, Sky and Telescope, and, Scientific American whose publishers wrote:[15]

"We have not encountered a single scientist working in any of the many fields, from archaeology to astrophysics, on which Velikovsky touches who finds any interest whatever in anything he has to say. That is why you have not seen any account of Velikovsky in our pages. . . . The controversy seems to be generated wholly by Velikovsky and his sympathizers. They cry "foul" because he is ignored and attempt to make an academic freedom case of it. The controversy is thus quite secondary. As I see it, the threat to academic freedom comes the other way around: by such tactics the Velikovsky party tries to compel interest by scientists in work in which they can find no interest."


At the end of the ten issue Velikovsky feature, the subscribers were informed that "Pensee may not survive the future" in the back of tenth issue while soliciting subscription renewals for up to three years on the inside front cover[16] while the magazine was "seriously encumbered with debts".[17] Publication ceased with the tenth issue and in early 1976 subscribers were informed "Pensée has discontinued publication indefinitely".[18]

Velikovsky himself noted "When Pensée (1972-1974) completed the planned ten issues on the theme 'Velikovsky Reconsidered' I made it clear that I would not continue my cooperation as a regular contributor, not only because of a lack of time, but also because of disagreement with certain aspects of their editorial policy."[19]


The successor Research Communications Network with Stephen L. Talbott as coordinator, which was "committed to no man and no theory", sent a newsletter to its "more than 16,000 U.S. members" six months later.[20] The Network served as a clearinghouse for developments in and information about catastrophism, with special attention to Robert V. Gentry's radiohalos[21] and David N. Talbott's "Saturn Thesis",[22] as well as offering a book service through its mailings of newsletters and resources fliers. The Network ceased operations in spring 1978 with a single sheet flier announcing a book close-out sale and an offering of Velikovsky's Ramses II and his Time.[23]

Issue schedule

IVR = Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered

1: Pensée IVR-I  	Volume 2, No. 2	May, 1972
2: Pensée IVR-II	Volume 2, No. 3	Fall, 1972
3: Pensée IVR-III	Volume 3, No. 1	Winter, 1973
4: Pensée IVR-IV 	Volume 3, No. 2	Spring-Summer, 1973
5: Pensée IVR-V  	Volume 3, No. 3	Fall, 1973
6: Pensée IVR-VI 	Volume 4, No. 1	Winter, 1973-4
7: Pensée IVR-VII 	Volume 4, No. 2	Spring, 1974
8: Pensée IVR-VIII	Volume 4, No. 3	Summer, 1974
9: Pensée IVR-IX  	Volume 4, No. 4	Fall, 1974
X: Pensée IVR-X   	Volume 4, No. 5	Winter, 1974


  1. "A Look At the Evidence: Editor's Page", Pensée Vol. 2 No 2: (May 1972) "Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered I"
  2. Trevor Palmer, Perilous Planet Earth: Catastrophes and Catastrophism through the Ages, Publ. 2003, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521819288. Page 118
  3. Donald Goldsmith, Isaac Asimov, Scientists Confront Velikovsky, "Introduction", publ. 1979, W. W. Norton & Company. Page 21
  4. 20 March 1978 letter from Tom Ferté to Jan Sammer, Velikovsky's then-assistant.
  5. John W. Crowley, "Some Background on YSM's VELIKOVSKY Issue", 10 July 1984, sent to Henry H. Bauer.
  6. Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, Publ. 1999 University of Illinois Press, 354 pages ISBN 0252068459
  7. Scott McLemee, "Catastrophe Theory (Review of Michael D. Gordin, "The Pseudoscience Wars", in Inside Higher Ed, February 6, 2013
  8. Velikovsky Reconsidered by the Editors of Pensée, 184 pages, Publ. Doubleday & Co (1976), ISBN-10: 0283983140
  9. Pensée Vol. 4 No 5: (Winter 1974-75) Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered X. "Why Pensee?"
  10. "Velikovsky: AAAS Forum for a Mild Collision (News and Comment", Science 15 Mar 1974: Vol. 183, Issue 4129, pp. 1059-1062. DOI: 10.1126/science.183.4129.1059
  11. Pensée IVR X, p. 4.
  12. Alfred de Grazia, Cosmic Heretics (1984), Metron Publ., Chapter 4. ISBN: 0940268086
  13. Talbott, S. (Fall 1972). Compendium. Pensee II, 2 (3), 33.
  14. Anon. (Summer 1974). Report on the Symposium. Pensee VIII, 4 (3), 37-8.
  15. Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, page 78-79, Publ. 1999 University of Illinois Press, 354 pages ISBN 0252068459
  16. Anon. (1974). Why Pensee? Pensee X, 4 (5), 41.
  17. Stephen L. Talbott, Pensee Newsletter, February 26, 1976.
  18. Stephen L. Talbott, Pensée Newsletter, February 26, 1976.
  19. "Dear Professor Greenberg", Kronos., Vol. II No. 2 (Nov 1976)
  20. Research Communications Network Newsletter #1, 10 September 1976.
  21. Anon. (1977). Mystery of the Radiohalos. Research Communications Network Newsletter #2, February 10, 1977, 3-6.
  22. Gibson, John (1977). Saturn's Age. Research Communications Network Newsletter #3, October 15, 1977, 1-7.
  23. RCN Mailings in C. Leroy Ellenberger Archives.

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