Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Godfrey, Eleanor P.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Science--Methodology; Research; Communication in science


This project hopes to determine the degree of validity reflected by two opposing explanations of the manner in which the body of scientific knowledge is formulated. The explanations are the ideal model of the reception system. The ideal model utilizes normative operating concepts stressing the purity of science and minimizing social conditions in the creation of know ledge. The political model, on the other hand, stresses social conditions (particularly as influencing change), authority, and elitism in the on-going scientific enterprise. Thus, a dichotomy may be visualized between universal-rational and authoritarian-consensual foundations of scientific knowledge. The two models were applied in an analysis of a case history of the Velikovsky affair. This controversy erupted in the early 1950s with the publication of Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky, and continues even today. This dispute centers around the thesis that the earth has suffered at least two global catastrophes within recorded history. Since many of the participants are still living, yet a number of years have passed since the original dispute began, the Velikovsky affair becomes a good subject for analysis. In addition, both sides were able to marshal strong support and waged the battle for community approval in the public eye. The data, applied to test the constructed typologies, consisted of articles, correspondence, and interviews from six respondents. The respondents represented varying degrees of expected idealism about the reception system. They were chosen because they were professional scientists, but antagonistic towards Velikovsky. Their responses were independently thematized and content analyzed by three individuals who were naive as to purpose of the experiment. Unfortunately, the content analysis did not yield reliable results and no conclusions as to the utility or validity of the models can be drawn. The thesis concludes with a discussion of problems inherent in research of this type and several suggestions for future research are made.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 148-161)


161 pages




Northern Illinois University

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