This article first appeared in:|
SIS Chronology & Catastrophism Review 1993 Special Issue:
Evidence that the Earth has Suffered Catastrophes of
Cosmic Origin in Historical Times
Proceedings of the 1993 Cambridge Conference
When David Salkeld invited me to speak here it came as quite a surprise. I did attend an AGM a couple of years back but otherwise have not taken part in any Society activity for many years. So I am very flattered and I thank you for the invitation.
David has introduced me as the first Secretary of SIS: on doing the research for this 'keynote address' I found that I was the first Editor as well! In fact I had collated the first Newsletter as we called it then. I can well remember our present Review Editor, Bernard, in my kitchen helping me sort out all the pages into the right order - and he did a marvellous job. I like to think that he learned a lot from me and that the experience served him in good stead when he eventually became Editor of the Review. With the benefit of hindsight, I suppose I should have kept a diary, something like the political diaries which are so fashionable nowadays, but I didn't have hindsight then.
My brief is to outline the history of the SIS (as far as I can recall it anyway) so if I use the word 'I' too often it's not out of conceit or arrogance: these are my impressions of how the Society was formed. I'll start long before, way back in 1940-something when I was about 13 or 14 and at school. There was one particular teacher who taught us about 'old history' (I suppose we would call it palaeontology) and I can vividly remember the lesson in which we were taught about fossils. My reaction was to stand up in class and to ask why, if fossils were formed in the past, are there such great gaps between them? I was told off for asking silly questions. Then I wanted to know why weren't fossils being formed today. There was no answer to that one, either, and I still don't know to this day, as a matter of fact. When we came to learn about mammoths she cheerfully explained to us how marvellous it was to find their carcasses frozen in the tundra. There was grass stuck in their teeth, they had full stomachs, and the most amazing thing of all, if you cut into the meat it was still edible, it was so freshly frozen. "Actually, they died of starvation," she said. "Please Miss, how could they have died of starvation with full stomachs?" Then we came to coal and its formation. Trees fell over, they settled, rotted, were crushed and heated and eventually coal was formed. "Please Miss, why isn't coal being formed today as trees fall over and rot?" Again, I was told off for being impudent. I was reported to the Principal of the college, and my father was duly sent for to reprimand me for asking impertinent questions in class.
I'm pleased to say it didn't stop me from asking awkward questions, otherwise you might not all be here tonight. When I left school I took an interest in science fiction, like lots of young people, because that was the only sort of adventurous type of story that was acceptable - to a certain extent - and one particular science fiction story book I picked up was called Worlds in Collision. I read it straight through: it was a jolly good story even though it had no heroes or heroines. Much later, in about the mid-1960s I went into a library and found Worlds in Collision in the sociology section, not with the science fiction books. So I lifted the book off the shelf, thinking it was in the wrong place but found that the number code on its spine was correct for sociology, so it must be in the right situation! Whilst looking at it I found on the inside cover a reference to Earth in Upheaval, another work by the same author. So I tootled over to the librarian and asked where do I find Earth in Upheaval, which they got for me, so now I had two books to take home and read. When I read Worlds in Collision again it dawned on me that it wasn't a science fiction story at all; it was a form of history. It seemed a bit far-fetched, so before making up my mind I read Earth in Upheaval because, after all, I'd had arguments with teachers about fossils and things. On reading Earth in Upheaval through I was hooked. It answered a lot of questions: both books did, so where could I find out more information?
This was, as I have said, the mid-1960s, long before anything was happening on the Velikovsky scene. The only person I could discuss these matters with was my wife and fortunately she had a reasonably open mind and she agreed with me that there was something in what Velikovsky had written. So, how do we find out more information? We could not ring up the SIS or Pensee or Kronos because they didn't exist. I decided to see what was in the newspapers. Living in Borehamwood, it wasn't a million miles away from the Colindale Newspaper Library, so for the following few weeks I was going up there getting them to find the dates and reviews of Velikovsky's books. As I gradually read through these I found a great contrast in the attitudes of reviewers: some wrote that Worlds in Collision was a jolly good book worth investigating, others said it was a load of old rubbish and should be burned - so that didn't help very much!
None of the reviewers had particularly inspired me to ask them what they really thought, so I left it at that. The only thing I could do at that stage was to start doing my own lines of checking up. The best way to do that, I decided, was to begin checking through anything that Velikovsky had referred to in his books. This was also useful: it refreshed my memory as to what the conventional theories were and allowed me to compare them. The more I read the more I became puzzled because it seemed to me that whichever way you looked it was just so: it wasn't just geology and ancient history that were affected - his theories seemed to affect everything. Astronomy, yes, that was affected. I discovered physics, chemistry, even sociology were affected. I should have given up then because it has been an obsession ever since, chasing it through. I suppose I have spent the best part of 40 years doing all this, and still haven't got very far! In fact, as I once said to my wife, it's sometimes like having a tiger by the tail: you want to let go but if you do you're finished.
One of the things I did learn was how to read. It sounds rather silly but I suppose you've all come to the point in your lives when you've been reading books on serious matters and you suddenly realise that what you're being told is not quite what is intended. You will find that writers, academics, on their pet theories will bring in lots of ifs and a lot of presumptions; they'll take generalities and turn them into specific cases as it suits them; or they'll take specifics and turn them into generalities. You soon learn to read what is being said and how shaky most of the information they're trying to pass on to you really is.
But that's by the by. Eventually all I could do was stop reading for a while and just mull over what I had assimilated. One day I was lying on my settee having spent a thinking session, when suddenly I went hot with a sweat and cold with the shivers having just come to the conclusion that the Venus catastrophes were perhaps the tail end of the original Saturnian catastrophe, or Jupiter catastrophe as I thought at that time. We had to have been orbiting another planet: the shock of this was so great that it brought on the shakes, the heats and the sweats, but it wasn't premature menopause. But again, since conventional wisdom didn't check with all these things I felt I must be daft to think them because if what I was thinking was right then everything I had been taught at school was completely wrong.
Well, there was only one person to write to and that was Velikovsky himself. So I sent off a letter to Velikovsky asking various things. One of the questions I put to him was 'had we orbited Jupiter or was it Saturn?' and could he please let me know? Somebody attached to him did reply to the effect that Dr Velikovsky is very busy doing his research, he is sorry he cannot answer you personally but do continue your researches and keep him advised of any developments. I had asked him when he was going to publish Part Two of Worlds in Collision, called 'Saturn and the Flood', but had no reply. There might be someone I could contact here: had anyone from the UK written to him? Alas, there was no reply on that score, either.
I carried on reading again, read newspapers, periodicals, New Scientist, Nature, Scientific American, indeed everything I could handle, anything to find more information. During all this I made the greatest mistake of my life, and it's a warning to us all, as Bernard will tell you I never made a note of anything I read and I live to regret that lots of things I know I cannot tell you where I know them from, or in what context.
During the early 1970s I thought to write to Patrick Moore: he does 'The Sky at Night' programme on the TV. I was honoured with a reply from him, a postcard. Written across the middle in minute typeface were the immortal words: 'Velikovsky is a charlatan and a fraud'. I also wrote off to Julius Norwich who was doing a programme on Egyptian history. He wrote back using a normal typewriter but his letter contained the statement: 'Velikovsky is an intellectual deceiver'. I responded to both, asking, OK so that's your opinion but what did you think of the book? I am still waiting for them to reply.
A little later I wrote a second letter to Velikovsky, asking for UK contacts. I explained it was rather galling being alone in the UK, getting no information about what was going on elsewhere. Velikovsky wrote back in his own hand to say that Pensee was being published and to suggest that I subscribe to that, which of course I did pronto. I discovered to my horror that it had been going for 3-4 years before I'd got hold of it. Anyway, I received the current issue, read it, and I think I telephoned over to ask for the back issues. When they came through they opened a whole new world - there were others who actually thought there was something in Velikovsky's theories. This led me to write off to C. J. Ransom and Fred Jueneman: we corresponded and got on famously. Here were people who knew what I was talking about and I they. Finally, I decided to write to the Editor of Pensee, Steve Talbott. 'Dear Steve, any Brits over here who I can communicate with?' And lo and behold, I eventually had a favourable answer from him: he sent me a list of four names.
In the meantime I had also thought of writing off to Sidgwick & Jackson (the publishers of Worlds in Collision, etc) and eventually I got through to the Editor, a man called de Saunteroy. I explained to him I was a lonely Britisher and keen on Velikovsky; was there anyone else I could talk to? He replied that it wouldn't be right for him to let me know the names of those who had written in about Velikovsky - and no persuading would make him change his mind.
As I said, Talbott's letter came in with four names, including those of Euan MacKie, Brian Moore and Martin Sieff, so I wrote to them. There were telephone calls, more telephone calls, exchanging of notes and eventually on 5th November 1974 (notice it was Guy Fawkes day) we had a meeting in London to see whether we got on together and whether it would be feasible for us to form a Society. We [Tresman, Moore, Seiff & MacKie] met in Piccadilly and decided to go to the carvery of the then very posh Regent's Palace Hotel where we had a meal over which we would mull over things. And lo and behold! we all spoke the same language, all had the same ambitions. If America could turn out a Pensee, and it obviously had a good subscription list, there must be other people in Britain who would want to know about Velikovskian happenings, so we decided to have a shot at it. I became the acting Secretary, Organiser and, as I noted earlier, first Editor.
Empowered by being the Secretary of a Society for the appreciation of Velikovsky, I rang up Sidgwick and Jackson again, spoke to de Saunteroy and asked since we're a Society now might we borrow the list from Sidgwick and Jackson?de S: "I can't make that decision."
HT: "Well, who can?"
de S: "Have a word with my secretary."
Unfortunately I cannot remember the secretary's name, but I had about half and hour's chat and convinced her in the end that I was genuine and I got a list of about 80-90 people, all of whom had written to Velikovsky. All the letters had been forwarded but of course the publishers had kept the names and addresses so that when the next book would be published these people could be advised. We circulated the 80-odd people and were surprised at the replies we had! If my recollection is correct, we had positive responses from all but three on the list and we discovered in 1975 that we had enough people to sit down and actually do something about it. So on 29th June 1975 we organised an informal meeting in the Library Association Building in central London. It was a venue we would use often in our early years, obtained through Brian Moore's connections. At that first meeting we had, I think, 46 people. Somebody told me it was 50, but we'll take the lower figure as those who actually attended. The meeting decided that, yes, we could form a proper association, a Society. So we planned to contact more people if we could find them and then to have an inaugural meeting later in the year.
This in due course happened. On 19th November 1975 The Interdisciplinary Studies Group was formed. 70 people attended, a number of academics from various disciplines, but mostly lay people and at this meeting we acquired Ralph Amelan as our first proper Secretary. Brian Moore became our first Information Officer, Alan Hooker was our Treasurer and I was elected as Chairman. At this inaugural meeting the four who organised presented the following aims:
- we were going to provide a written Constitution, which in due course appeared,
- we undertook somehow to provide an up to date internal information service, as in a review or newsletter,
- we were going to encourage any academic submission to be in a little more simplified language (there is nothing worse than being confronted by the technical terms of a subject you're unfamiliar with, and not finding them in your dictionary),
- we aimed to provide more informal news and information, which eventually became Workshop,
we undertook to provide study groups in most of the main headings (we hoped for astronomy and perhaps geology) but only one was formed, and that was the Ancient History Study Group which started way back in 1975 when Clarice Morgan was our main hostess. It's rather sad that Clarice could not be here tonight: I think she has done a fantastic job at entertaining ancient history study groups for getting on for 18 years now, always with a smile, always very courteous - a marvellous hostess.
We also recognised the need for original research to supplement and complement what Velikovsky was doing. We appreciated that it would be wrong to dwell on Velikovsky only. There was the temptation to call ourselves 'The Velikovsky Society' but others, a lot of other people, were making contributions and there might be some contributors who'd be put off, perhaps, if the Society was to concentrate exclusively on Velikovsky. So we compromised on 'The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies', the SIS. (As an aside, my room number here is S15!)
Among our then long-term goals was the holding of an International Conference. Early in 1976 Brian Moore discovered Malcolm Lowery, who apparently lived quite near him in Teesside. Malcolm became our first Editor and he set out the guidelines for how the Review should be conducted. We found Peter James at Birmingham University where he studied (I think) archaeology and I gather he had a hard job getting his degree - not because he wasn't a good student but because he was too argumentative, which is a fatal disease if you're trying to take a degree. Also early on in 1976 we decided to change the name from ISSG to the SIS, and that it has remained ever since.
Other highlights of 1976 were the visits made by overseas celebrities. Alfred de Grazia, who wrote The Velikovsky Affair, came over on two or three occasions; he was quite smitten with us! He used to attend the meetings of the Americans and he reckoned that over here we were so friendly and so gushy he just couldn't keep away, which was very good because we needed that sort of contact. Irving Wolfe, who will be talking here, came over on a couple of occasions to give us his interpretations of the Shakespearean classics in catastrophist terms. He's here, so I say what I've told other people - it was quite a tour de force - you came away reckoning that Shakespeare was a predecessor of Velikovsky. And Irving's probably right, too!
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world there were a number of notable developments. In 1975 Lewis Greenberg and Warner Sizemore started to publish the journal Kronos. For some reason they were regarded by our Editors as competition and we by them likewise, which is rather sad because we were all trying to do the same thing. Also in 1975 there was apparently the centenary of Lyell's discovery of uniformity. A celebration was held in London and a Dutch geologist called Johann Kloosterman went there with a whole batch of leaflets knocking the bottom out of geology theory, showing that what Lyell had intended didn't square with the evidence he had collected. Kloosterman eventually produced a journal called Catastrophist Geology which regrettably only appeared for 4 issues. Another loss was Pensee, which folded in 1975. This was sad from any point of view because it was a very well produced magazine and was the benchmark for all that we published. We aimed to emulate them because they had quite a good mix of academic presentation, speculative articles, culling from papers that were supportive or of interest to Velikovskians and catastrophists, a good letters page and comment. They set a high standard.
Naturally, I wrote off to Steve Talbott commiserating but I asked if SIS could have the Pensee mailing list. He took a little persuasion but shortly it arrived with 1500-odd names, which was very useful. I also asked about the back issues of Pensee. Back came the reply from Talbott asking what we planned to do with them. Our response was simply to offer to find good homes for them. The cost of mailing them over came to over £100, but we obtained oh, I don't know how many sets of Pensee, which we had on sale for years. They've all sold. So we had the Pensee mailing list, back copies of the publication, and our members had the chance of acquiring full sets of the wonderful Pensee publications to refer to.
Peoples of the Sea was also about to be published. I contacted de Saunteroy again and asked how we could utilise the publication to publicise this fantastic Society, which is supportive of Velikovsky and his ideas, so that the readers can contact us? He told me it could not be done without Velikovsky's express permission. Lengthy negotiations followed, but eventually we produced a leaf insert to go into the books sold in the UK. Membership was then about £5. The latest one came back to us in March 1993. It means that people are actually getting Peoples of the Sea in mint condition, still with the original inserts in!
We also managed to place sympathetic reviews in a lot of outlets when Peoples of the Sea came out. We had them in the Times Literary Supplement (nearly a page); the Listener (a review by Hyam Maccoby, this ran to nearly 2 pages); New Society had a page. But these were pages of sympathetic reviews of Velikovsky. When I saw them I thought to myself that had I seen similar 10 years earlier when I was going through the Colindale Library I could have written to these people. These were people in the know.
That was the formative period of SIS. So what did SIS achieve in those days? Well, first of all, we set the ground work for today. The Society has lasted over 18 years and I think by right 1995 will be our 20th anniversary and I do hope we will mark it with a celebration because, I believe, we'll be the only surviving interdisciplinary organisation from that period.
In my opinion, SIS has survived because of the qualities of our publications. At our peak we brought together some 500 members (c.1976-1977), and again, people just love receiving information on Velikovsky. We've been lucky with Review Editors: our first, Malcolm Lowery, was very good. Peter James succeeded him and of course now we have Bernard Newgrosh who's doing a superb job. And in 1978, at long last, we brought out the first Workshop. Its Editor was a guy called Derek Shelley-Pearce, who was its life-blood until comparatively recently. I was very shocked to learn of Derek's death; I had no idea he'd even been ill. With his demise the Society lost one of its staunchest supporters. If I am not mistaken, he was one of the people we got from Sidgwick & Jackson, who'd written in to them about Velikovsky. I can always visualise Derek at my right hand side grinning support, and it was great support in those days. We miss you, Derek. A word wouldn't come amiss about Alasdair Beal, current Workshop Editor, who's also doing a fine job.
Another Society achievement has been the Book Service, which in its day was fantastic. We could acquire all the interdisciplinary books and magazines at reasonable prices, and the person who has organised it all from year one - and that's a long time as well because she had dark hair then - is Val Pearce.
One of the great strengths of the Society has been its ability to hold meetings. We have seen regular speaker meetings with an extraordinary variety of subjects, and at various venues. And of course there have been a couple of trips to Egypt. I didn't go on them - they came after my period as Chairman - but they were well supported and gave rise to the splendid Egypt Tour special issue (Review volume VIII).
To my mind, the best thing we did was the 1978 Glasgow Conference. Held in April, I can remember the journey up, as David Roth just reminded me. We literally raced up to Glasgow by train, jumped into a bus or something and shot into the University. We had the Conference, jumped into a bus and shot back to the station and sped back down to London. I didn't see much of the University, let alone of Glasgow!
But it was a fabulous affair, truly international. There were people from Sweden, Switzerland, Israel, California. I was amazed at the time that people would come 6,000 miles to attend a Conference but I had a bigger shock today to discover the little group of Australians who have come 10,000 miles just to attend this Conference, Wal, Allan, Eric, etc. It's very good to see Irving here, who spoke to us a lot in the early days. It's nice to see John Bimson, a speaker at the Glasgow Conference. Geoffrey Gammon produces a nice double, too. He spoke at Glasgow and is moderating here: I moderated at Glasgow and am speaking here.
One of Glasgow's memorable personalities was Archie Roy, professor of astronomy at Glasgow University. Staunchly uniformitarian, though unconventional, he leant over backwards trying to accommodate our ideas into what he knew about. An amazing person, he could pick up a piece of chalk in one hand and another piece of chalk in the other and simultaneously drew a perfect circle with each. He said it was the greatest aid to astronomy lectures he'd come across because often you need to draw two bodies. According to him, most Solar Systems are either binaries or trinaries; we seem to be an exception. I asked him if this seems to indicate something having gone wrong somewhere. "On no account," he said, "what could go wrong?"
Now to the present. It could be sufficient to note that SIS has survived but it would be better stated as thrived. The current high point is this second Conference. It's been 15 years since the last - I have a note saying 'too infrequent' but I see I've been pre-empted on that because the next one is scheduled for 4 years time. Well, that's better than 15.
In these 15 years there have been great changes in scientific perception. Catastrophism is no longer a dirty word. It's obviously becoming accepted that disasters have befallen the planet. What goes on on this planet is no longer confined to just this planet, we can be affected by other bodies. It's quite surprising they've come round to that. I referred earlier to Lyell's centenary. Many years ago I came across a paper by George Grinell giving the background to the evolution of Lyell's Uniformity Theory. Quite an eye-opener it was, almost a political thing.
How many people know when the last catastrophe was? [Audience interjections, including "5 million years ago" and, in Canadian, "the British elections of 1992": much hilarity]. I'd agree with that. I discovered many years ago a guy called Larry Arnold wrote a paper in 1974 called 'Reconstruction of Ancient History by Modern Day Catastrophes in the Solar System'. It seems the last catastrophe occurred in Chicago at the turn of the century. The great Chicago Fire wasn't caused by anyone knocking a lamp over. We're not quite sure what the cause was. Arnold did something a lot of people should have done a lot earlier: he analysed what all the newspapers carried by way of reports on the Fire. And that produces an entirely different light on the matter. So what I suggest you all do is read about the last catastrophe but, again, do please let me have the paper back.
Continental Drift has become acceptable. I would query the rate of movement, as some of you know. Theory has it that it has taken millions and millions of years; I reckon a lot less, but at least we can accept now that we were once all one continent.
There's been a revolution in Darwinian evolution. Once upon a time nobody dared to criticise Darwin's theory. Neo-Darwinism has come in quantum leaps, with punctuated equilibria and all sorts of things. We now give lip service to Darwin and the theory is forever changing. Rupert Sheldrake has had a go at genetics with, in my opinion, some success. Even that branch of science is all a-changing.
An electrically charged Solar System (and possibly Universe) has become accepted. Magnetic reversals were documented. They've also invented 'the greenhouse effect' theory for the heat of Venus. Not many people know it, but Rupert Wildt in 1939 theorised that a planetary body could increase its mean temperature by about 10 degrees C if blanketed by cloud - under certain extreme conditions. When they discovered that Venus was a bit too hot for comfort, Carl Sagan calculated that if you covered the planet with thick clouds it will heat up a few hundred degrees - based on the work of Rupert Wildt. Apparently the mathematics have since been queried.
The Big Bang theory is something I have never liked, either. I even read about it in Steven Hawkins' book and it's one of the classical examples of how to cloak a hypothesis in vague terms. A month ago I read in a US periodical about an astronomer at the University of Arizona who discovered there was something wrong with the 'red shift' idea* on which the Big Bang theory is ultimately dependent. The 'red shift' operates rather like the 'Doppler effect' and can be applied to the study of the light from stars. Well, apparently 'red shifts' took on discrete values rather than randomly distributed ones, or in other words, 'red shifts' appear to increase in quantum leaps. It was concluded that 'red shifts' of some galaxies were distributed at intervals of a third or half of 95 miles per second, but the basic idea remains that galactic 'red shifts' are quantisized like the energy of an atom. That's important because 'red shifts' have to be gradual, not something in chunks. I'm expecting great things of the astronomy community in the future.[ * Halton Arp was the first to claim this and was banned by his fellow astronomers from his telescope - Ed.]
Nothing yet has been done to shake gravity. They're still working on a 'combined field theory' but are having great difficulty with it. I've read in The Guardian this week they've invented a detector for gravity waves, a machine that can detect the minute vibrations of a gravity wave. But they've got grave problems. If they set it up on an ordinary table the background 'noises' would distort the experiment. In order to make it work they've got to put it in a vacuum, surround it by liquid and wait for the next cataclysm in the Universe, for when you get two hunks of matter colliding one of the things that comes out is a gravity wave and sets off the machine. While the wave is intense, it is really very weak. They're going to put one machine in Europe, one in Asia, one in Australia, one in America, at a cost of about one million pounds each (good research funding, you see). Then they'll wait for the next collision but meanwhile they still haven't found the so-called missing neutrinos from the Sun. When they don't detect gravity waves it'll be the fault of interference - just you wait and see!
Another thing that is vanishing is reductionism. I've never been able to understand how scientists could go in for reductionism. It's like sitting in a forest, picking up half a leaf and knowing what a forest is.
A scientist discovered some years ago that not all fishes are cold blooded; some of the larger species, like sharks and tuna, actually have warm blood. It's quite possible that more fishes are warm blooded. Not only that, but that they can detect their prey by their electrical field; not only can they detect electrical emissions but they also seem tuned in to them. Consider, for instance, the blind fish which have holes where their eyes might have been: they usually live in pitch darkness but can detect their prey. I can remember well when a German diver discovered the coelacanth and was quite concerned when, having raised this fish from the depths of the ocean, it just did not like being radiated upon. It dawned on me it was being upset by the radiation from the electrical equipment they had down there.
Then they discovered that pigeons actually use magnetic fields upon which to home. I remember watching a TV programme 30 years ago ridiculing the idea. Putting blindfolds on pigeons did not affect their homing ability but when one day they tried putting a magnet on the pigeon's head it totally confused its sense. Now it is accepted that pigeons and many other bird species use magnetic fields to find their way. Not only that, but quite recently a guy called Joseph Caltech discovered magnetite in humans. So it is possible that all life has some form of electromagnetic control or senses. I don't know how many people here have a homing instinct, but it is documented for many animals and exists in man also.
But what about the future? As you'll have noticed, I am growing old and I am still waiting for 'Saturn and the Flood' and I want to see it before I go. I would like the Society to start nagging Jan Sammer and the Velikovsky estate to get the book published in some form or other, whether for general consumption or just for the eyes only of the Society I don't care. We've been supporting Velikovsky for many years and I think it's the least we can do.
I suggest that somebody ought to get in touch with Ralph Juergens' widow to get his combined works published. He might not have got it all right in the first place but he had a damned good shot at it and made a lot of very pertinent points. We should see if we can persuade her either to let us have the rights to republish some of his work (I know we hate reprinting works but I happen to think his are particularly important) and maybe try to freshen his work up a little.
I feel we ought to contact some of the ex-Pensee, ex-Kronos contributors maybe to write for us because much of their output was highly creative. Whatever happened to William Mullen, for instance? I'm sure Fred Jueneman would be only too pleased to help us. I had a long correspondence with Fred; he has a wonderful turn of phrase and writes lightly on some very heavy subjects. I'm sure he's worth chasing up.
I think we can also have a go at rebuilding the SIS membership. It's all right for me, as one of the lay audience as it were, to stand up here and say this, but I've actually turned up a 1976 membership list and there's hundreds of us on it. I'll rent it out to you and you can start writing to them all.
Finally, I would like the Society to undertake one of the first things we wanted to do, which was to do some original research. I would particularly like to see research into some of the previous catastrophes. We have the Mars and the Venus catastrophes, of course. I've told you about the Chicago event of 1905. One of the early events was Sodom and Gomorrah, but was it reported anywhere else in the world, did anyone else experience it? What about Babel? What about the Noachian Flood? What happened then, was it the acquisition of the Moon (when did we acquire the Moon?) as I think it was, or something else? There must be lots of us here who, if asked, would be prepared to start researching. We all must have a pet interest, we all must fancy ourselves as researchers. You don't have to be very bright to be a researcher - even I can do it and I'm thick. But if a group got together, 3, 4 or 5, picked a catastrophe and started to find the answers... I'm sure between us we could do it.
I will close with a quotation. Carl Jung, writing in 1938, said that nothing is more venerable than scientific theory, which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts and not in itself an everlasting truth. Remember this when you start researching and you come across things written from the conventional viewpoint that you cannot swallow. Hypothesis is not necessarily truth.
Thank you all very much!