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David Sepkoski

Professor, University of Illinois

David Sepkoski is a historian specialising in the modern natural sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. His latest book is Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline (2012). He is currently finishing a book on the cultural and scientific history of extinction.

Written by David Sepkoski



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DS

Fringe theories stack

David Sepkoski

Nice essay, Michael! One observation I’d make is that “fringe” ideas can sometimes influence scientific conversation in unexpected ways. Geologists were understandably concerned that Velikovsky’s work would taint their own developing interest in geological catastrophes, but I think Velikovsky actually helped prepare the culture to be receptive to other forms of catastrophism. From a cultural standpoint, both “fringe” and “respectible” science was drawing from the same cultural well, which was Cold War anxiety about annhilation…

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