C. Leroy Ellenberger

Male, Person

1942 –

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Who is C. Leroy Ellenberger?

Charles Leroy Ellenberger is perhaps best known as a one-time advocate, but now a critic of controversial writer Immanuel Velikovsky and his works on catastrophism. He first read Worlds in Collision in August 1969 after discovering it while browsing in the B. Dalton's Bookstore in Crestwood, Missouri. In 1979, he became a contributing editor to the Velikovsky-inspired Kronos journal, and has contributed material to many other publications. In 1980 he was selected by the editor of Astronomy magazine to debate James Oberg on Velikovsky. His confidence in the validity of Velikovsky's ideas was shaken in January 1982 when Kronos sponsored his attendance at the semi-annual AAAS meeting in Washington, D.C., in order to distribute information on Velikovsky. In a wide-ranging conversation with Jeremy Cherfas, then a writer for the British weekly science magazine New Scientist over how the press misunderstood Velikovsky, Cherfas had counter-arguments to many points that Ellenberger was not able to rebut. According to Professor of Social Theory Alfred de Grazia at New York University, "By 1983 Ellenberger was preparing to abandon much of quantavolution and found now that the story of Velikovsky was not without its shady tones, and more important, that Arctic ice cores and bristlecone pine dating technologies were directly contradicting Holocene quantavolutions . . . ; further, that Gentry's studies of the surprising 'instant' polonium halos of creation . . . were probably invalid." Henry Bauer described Ellenberger's role in the Velikovsky scene as follows: ". . . was a confidant to Velikovsky, a frequent visitor from April 1978 to his death in November 1979, and a Senior Editor of the Velikovskian journal Kronos, until the evidence forced him to conclude that Velikovsky's scientific claims were baseless. Velikovsky inscribed his copy of Ramses II and His Time 'To Leroy who is consumed by the sacred flame of search for truth', 20 May 1978, and gave him permission to sell 'Velikovsky's right!' T-shirts. Alfred de Grazia, impetus for The Velikovsky Affair, appointed him chronicler of the continuing Velikovsky controversy in 1980. Ellenberger's last contact with Velikovsky was a phone call from him two days before he died." Also, he "has tried unceasingly but to little avail to have his former colleagues acknowledge the accumulating evidence, for example, from Greenland ice cores, that Velikovsky's claimed catastrophes did not in fact occur. Ellenberger points out, too, that Velikovsky's writings have become superfluous: astronomically plausible argument and speculation about relatively recent cosmic catastrophism can now be found in the work of Victor Clube and Bill Napier, where the testimony of myth and historical records is also taken into account."

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on July 23, 2013


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