No he wasn't. He was a very serious, sober, and intelligent medical doctor willing to look at things from a perspective outside that of the the academic institutions. most scientific establishments are designed to exclude new ideas (that is what they are SUPPOSED to do), and Velikovsky's ideas were just too far fetched, but he was a pioneer in trying to tie together information from very different fields...
His research was non-the-less very thorough and his ideas were worth considering.
Albert Einstein was a big fan -- one of Velikovsky's books was next to his bedside when Einstein died -- but he did not necessarily "believe" what Velikovsky suggested, but was willing to entertain the possibility to see where it took things if true. this is the way one should approach supposedly wild-arse theories: sometimes they will be shown to be true and open up science to the NEXT level.
what Velikovsky was to his era, Rupert Sheldrake is to our own...
Albert Einstein was a big fan -- one of Velikovsky's books was next to his bedside when Einstein died -- but he did not necessarily "believe" what Velikovsky suggested, but was willing to entertain the possibility to see where it took things if true.
Einstein wrote the preface to Velikovsky's "Earth in Upheaval" and stated that it and his other work, "Worlds in Collision" were the most important works in science produced to date.
One test of a theory is how well does it make predictions about unknown but knowable things.
At the time Velikovsky wrote "Worlds in Collision", astronomers were convinced that Venus was a (water vapor) cloud covered, ocean world, only slightly warmer than Earth, with a very similar atmosphere. Science fiction writers of the era, including such hard science based authors as Roberty Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, were busy churning out novels based on an oceanic and tropical Venus. And why not? This model was the accepted opinion of all "rational" astronomers, based on the difference between Venus' calcuated "Solar load" and the measured "Solar Load" of Earth. In this model, temperatures would average about 20 degrees hotter than Earth's averages.
Velikovsky, using his theoretical model, predicted (in 1953) that Venus would be extremely hot, hot enough to melt lead and tin, have an atmosphere that would be many times higher pressure than Earth's and primarily made up of Carbon Dioxide with clouds of hydrocarbons and aldehydes. He also made the statement that the heat was from the core of the "new planet" exhibiting high temperatures because it had had little time to cool since its "creation" in the bowels of Jupiter.
In fact, it was THIS theory of Velikovsky's that was the primary example used by his detractors and attackers that, in their words, demonstrated his ignorance of science and his stupidity. One of those attackers was a science fiction and science writer named Isaac Asimov. The scientific community and the world's press, gleefully and enthusiastically piled on in their efforts to discredit Velikovsky's impeccable scholarship on history and mythology.
When we were finally able to send space probes to Venus (attempts made from 1964 to 1978), much to the scientists' surprise, they found that the surface temperature of Venus was 476 degrees Celsius (888 degrees Fahrenheit) at 90 Bars (90 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth's atmosphere at sea level!), that the atmosphere was primarily composed of Carbon Dioxide, and that the clouds contain a surprising amount of hydrocarbons.
The "accepted" explanation for the high temperature (that was not predictied by anyone other than Velikovsky) was "Global Warming" caused by the cloud layer of "Greenhouse gasses." In the "orthodox" view, Venus is heated by absorbing more infra-red from the sun that is captured and contained by the cloud layer of "greenhouse gasses," which, not surprisingly, supports the eco-freaks theories of Terrestrial Global Warming where Venus is used as the "Horrible Example" of what Earth will be like if we don't approve the Kyoto protocals RIGHT NOW! However...
Venus, as a planet system, radiates MORE heat than can be accounted for by its total solar load. In other words, it puts OUT more heat than it takes IN.... shooting down completely the orthodox model and indicating an INTERNAL SOURCE OF HEAT.
Sounds like Velikovsky has made a theoretical slam dunk from the three point line to me.
Letter from Einstein to Velikovsky:
July 8, 1946
Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky
526 West 113 Str.
New York City
Dear Mr. Velikovsky:
I have read the whole book about the planet Venus. There is much of interest in the book which proves that in fact catastrophes have taken place which must be attributed to extraterrestrial causes. However it is evident to every sensible physicist that these catastrophes can have nothing to do with the planet Venus and that also the direction of the inclination of the terrestrial axis towards the ecliptic could not have undergone a considerable change without the total destruction of the earth's entire crust. It were best in my opinion if you would in this way revise your books, which contain truly valuable material. If you cannot decide on this, then what is valuable in your deliberations will become ineffective, and it would be difficult finding a sensible publisher who would take the risk of such a heavy setback upon himself.
I tell you this in writing and return to you your manuscript, since I will not be free on the considered days.
With friendly greetings, also to your daughter,