Michael Gordin

Science and Pseudoscience is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Michael Gordin, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University. This wide-ranging 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:

  1. A Counterculture Hero – Introducing Immanuel Velikovsky
  2. An Ideal Case – The historical allure of Velikovsky
  3. The Lysenko Lesson – Science meets politics
  4. A Freudian Cosmology – Validation by hostility
  5. Enter Einstein – Velikovsky makes predictions
  6. Responses and Reactions – Publicity and hostility
  7. Digging In – Unorthodox, up to a point
  8. Science vs. Pseudoscience – In search of a bright line
  9. Fringe Benefits – Seeking a balance
  10. Learning From History – Towards better science?
  11. Anthropic Digression – Falsifiability today
  12. Better Science? – Educated by history

Available in electronic format on all major booksellers, including:

Science and Pseudoscience is also part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow CollectionConversations About History, Volume 1, which is available in hardcover, paperback and electronic format.