David N. Talbott (born 1942) is an American author and long-time promoter of neo-Velikovskian ideas. Inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky, he proposes a "Polar Configuration" involving the five planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars, Earth, in order, which formerly orbited the Sun as a linear assembly while it rotated about its barycenter and influenced human mythology.
Talbott received his B.S. from Portland State University, where he majored in education and political science. He also completed a year of graduate work in Urban Studies. He was the co-founder and publisher (with his brother Stephen L. Talbott as editor) of the journal Pensée produced by the Student Academic Freedom Forum in Portland, Oregon, which between 1972 and 1974 published a ten-issue series, Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered, achieving a circulation of between 10,000 and 20,000 subscribers.
He is the author of several books related to comparative mythology and alternative histories of the solar system, including The Saturn Myth. In 1987 he founded the journal Aeon, where many of his works are self-published. In 1991, despairing of ever finding a physical solution to the "Polar Configuration", Talbott abdicated his life's work for eighteen months. The sabbatical ended when he was shown a tantalizing model which, according to his interview in the documentary Remembering the End of the World, "wasn't a complete answer; but it gave me confidence that the dynamical issues could be resolved." Talbott returned to the staff of Aeon in May 1994. In November 1997 he became the founding president of The Mind Exploration Corporation whose mission is "to identify, investigate and market groundbreaking discoveries on the frontiers of science, technology and human understanding" that follow from the dual concepts of the "Polar Configuration" and the "Electric Universe". In early 1999, he announced a relationship with Atlantis Rising magazine "to develop up to eight pages for each issue." He was an invited speaker as "scientist and author" at the "Earth Changes 2000" Conference, Sept. 8-10, in Emigrant, Montana, sponsored by Atlantis Rising and Ancient American magazines where he "use[d] computer animation to argue that the ancients witnessed the catastrophic collision of planetary bodies including Earth and left the record in myths and legends."
Originally inspired by the controversial theorist Immanuel Velikovsky, Talbott envisioned a congregation of planets physically close to the earth in ancient times in which "the five planets Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars and the Earth orbited the Sun as a single linear unit, which rotated about a point close to Saturn, before its break-up at the end of the Golden Age". He claims that the violent evolution of this "Polar Configuration" provoked the myth-making epoch of human history. Professor of Social Theory, Alfred de Grazia, noted that Talbott was one of several scholars who had "entered the full stream" of Velikovsky's work.
The planetary "polar configuration" envisioned by Talbott has been subject to criticism, for example:
- Roger Ashton concluded it was contradicted by constraints imposed by celestial mechanics, ecological continuity and the survival of flora and fauna which would not have endured the conditions implied by the model.
- Lynn Rose found the model deficient on the grounds of "nomenclature, stability, myth, and transference".
- Peter James explained that the model made no attempt to account for several well-attested, global environmental crises in the Holocene while the "one major event within the memory of the human race - the break-up of proto-Saturn . . . was apparently so gentle that it is not conspicuous enough in the archaeological or geological records to yet be confidently identified."
- The Saturn Myth: A reinterpretation of rites and symbols illuminating some of the dark corners of primordial society (1980) Doubleday & Co., ISBN 978-0-385-11376-2.
- Thunderbolts of the Gods (co-authored with Wallace Thornhill) (2005) Mikamar Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9772851-0-5. (Official Web site)
- The Electric Universe (co-authored with Wallace Thornhill) (2007) Mikamar Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9772851-3-6.
- "Past History of the Planets: The Polar Configuration," Chronology and Catastrophism Review (2008), Society for Interdisciplinary Studies.
- "On the Nature of Cometary Symbolism", (with Ev Cochrane), Kronos, Vol. XI, No. 1 Fall 1985
- In Aeon (ISSN 1066-5145): "Reconstructing the Saturn Myth" (Vol. I, No. 1 1988); "The Ship of Heaven" (Vol. I, No. 3 1988); "On Models and Scenarios" (Vol. I, No. 4 1988); "Mother Goddess and Warrior-Hero" (Vol. I, No. 4 1988); "Servant of the Sun God" (Vol. 2, No. 1 1989); "The Mythical History of the Comet Venus" (Vol. 2, No. 4 1991); "From Myth to a Physical Model" (Vol. 3, No. 3 1993); "The Great Comet Venus" (Vol. 3, No. 5 1994); "The Saturn Thesis" (Vol. 4, No. 3 1995), Part II (Vol. 4, No. 5 1996), Part III (Vol. 4, No. 6 1996), Part IV (Vol. 5, No. 1 1997)
- Trevor Palmer, Perilous Planet Earth: Catastrophes and Catastrophism Through the Ages (2003) Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-81928-2 (p.122)
- "…Talbott is mounting a heresy even more radical than Velikovsky’s. He claims, with complete assurance, that Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter traveled very close to Earth within human memory. He says that together these planets presented a stupendous form in the sky, at times peaceful and at time violent." Parsons, Steve (2005). The Perils of Planetary Amnesia, Chapter 8 in J. Douglas Kenyon (editor), Forbidden History: Prehistoric Technologies, Extraterrestrial Intervention, and the Suppressed Origins of Civilization (Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont). ISBN 978-1-59143-045-2. p. 68; reprinted from Atlantis Rising Magazine.
- Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott, The Electric Universe, Mikamar Publishing, 2007, (p. iii).
- Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, (1984) University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0-02-520114-9.
- Talbott, David N. (1980), The Saturn Myth , Doubleday & Company, ISBN 978-0-385-11376-2.
- The cover date for the first issue with the title The Cataclysm is January 1988, but the copyright date is December 1987.
- "The Saturn Thesis: An In-Depth Interview With David Talbott". Aeon.
- Aeon vol. III, no. 5, May 1994. Staff Listing.
- The Mind Exploration Corporation (1998). SIS Internet Digest, June, No. 1. ISSN: 1362-7686. pp. 4-5.
- Atlantis Rising - Magazine (1999). SIS Internet Digest, April, No. 1. ISSN: 1362-7686. p. 18.
- Atlantis Rising No. 23, Sep/Oct 2000, p. 18
- Atlantis Rising No. 29, Sep/Oct 2001, p. 8.
- Talbott, David N. (1980) The Saturn Myth Doubleday & Company, ISBN 978-0-385-11376-2, (pp. 3-4); Talbott, David (2008). Past History of the Planets: The Polar Configuration, Chronology and Catastrophism Review, Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (pp. 68-84). Addressing the S.I.S. conference "Cosmic Catastrophes--Asteroids, Comets and Planets" in 2007 at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Talbott concluded in summary: "My claim is that the archetypes of world mythology trace to stories about the three spheres, Saturn, Venus and Mars, and what happened to them. The spectacular appearance, unpredictable behaviour, and Earth-threatening movements of these bodies provoked an explosion of human imagination. This was the myth-making epoch of human history" (pp. 83-84).
- Alfred de Grazia, Cosmic Heretics (1984), Metron Publ., Chapter 4. ISBN 978-0-940268-08-1
- Ashton, Roger (1988). The Unworkable Polar Saturn. Aeon 1 (3), 39-55.
- Rose, Lynn E. (2000). Sirius and Saturn. Chronology & Catastrophism Review, 2000(1), pp. 60-65.
- James, Peter J. (2000). The Saturn Problem. Chronology & Catastrophism Review, 2000 (1), 97-107.
- thunderbolts project (Talbott's current web site)
- thunderbolts youtube channel (presents excerpts from Talbott's videos about his catastrophist view of comparative mythology and ancient history)
- Saturn Theory Overview (Parts 1-5), by David Talbott (sketches Talbott's methodological approach to comparative mythology: identifying common themes of world mythology with a focus on visual archetypes)