Velikovsky’s 1950 book, “Worlds in Collision,” became a controversial best-seller decried by the scientific community as “fringe pseudoscience.” It described an unconventional theory about a comet that was ejected from Jupiter, pulled the Earth into a new rotational axis, and became the planet Venus, sometime during the 15th century B.C. Astronomers and other scientists reacted vehemently to Velikovsky’s ideas, setting the stage for a long-running controversy about the boundaries of legitimate scientific inquiry.

Gordin’s lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at UCSB’s Loma Pelona Conference Center. Seating is limited.

In a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Gordin said: “I have come to think of pseudoscience as science’s shadow. A shadow is cast by something; it has no substance of its own… The brighter the light of science –– that is, the greater its cultural prestige and authority –– the sharper the shadow and the more the fringe flourishes.”

Gordin’s larger interests span the history of science, Russian history, and nuclear issues.

The Badash Lecture Series was started in 2009 with a small gift from Lawrence Badash, emeritus professor in the history of science at UCSB. He was a longtime public intellectual interested in the history of the physical sciences, arms control, environmental issues, and the place of science in civil society. After his passing in 2010, his life partner, Nancy Hofbauer, and his two children, Bruce and Lisa, made a generous donation to continue the series.


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