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Cambridge 38, Massachusetts

May 1, 1952

Dr. Robert H. Pfeiffer
Semitic Museum
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear Dr. Pfeiffer:

At a meeting next week a considerable group composed of Harvard Faculty plus the Nieman Fellows, I am asked to speak on Velikovsky, the dowsers, and the wave of credulity. This is an off-record comment on a number of current unorthodoxies. Dr. Albright has sent me a copy of his review of “Ages in Chaos,” published ten days ago in the Herald Tribune, and I have a considerable report on the meeting of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia last week when Dr. Velikovsky was present for Mrs. Gaposchkin’s paper.

Naturally in commenting on “Ages in Chaos” I shall want to comment also on the jacket, and the statement credited to you on the top of the front cover page. The statement is pretty obviously out-of-context. It occurred to me that you might like to give me the whole of the context., just so that unfair conclusions will not be drawn. And also we should be very happy to know what your reaction is to this use of your correct statement of the facts concerning “Ages in Chaos.” I and others would naturally like to show whether the quotation has been used with your permission; and if not, whether you are inclined to protest.

Please do not take these inquiries of mine as criticisms, or as invading your privacies and freedoms. I shall want to present to my Faculty colleagues the actual facts in the case.

Incidentally, Dr. Walter S. Adams, former Director of the Mount Wilson Observatory, wrote a kind letter to Velikovsky with respect to “Worlds in Collision” and he is unfortunately used extensively by the publishers to sell and vindicate that volume.

Sincerely yours,

Harlow Shapley

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