December 6, 1950
Professor Robert H. Pfeiffer
57 Francis Avenue
Dear Professor Pfeiffer:
I was informed two days ago by the managing editor of Doubleday that this Friday they will run in the New York Times an ad with a quote from your letter.
When I received your letter with the permission, I said to myself, What a man! You certainly know that many attacked my book, mostly very emotionally; however, nothing fundamentally wrong was exposed by any of my critics. Only recently I received through a friend a reprint of a review by Professor Neugebauer in ISIS. I never saw this review before; otherwise I would already have answered it.
Recently I received from Professor Sarton a letter in which he agrees to give me space to answer Neugebauer. The latter found that one quotation from Kugler was not translated literally and was put in quotation marks by me. He quotes Kugler and me to prove how wrong I was, and he compares Kuglers original with my translation. In the quote from my book he has 33º of variance between the motion of the moon and its movement according to the old tablets. In Kugler he quotes 3º. However, in my book it is also 3º , and thus Neugebauer ascribes to me a quotation which does not exist on Worlds in Collision.
Then he goes on to say about me: He quotes ancient myths for periodically recurrent cataclysms, without mentioning that the very same texts connect these cosmic periods with the presence of all five planets in the same zodiacal sign, Venus included. However, I have quoted very many ancient references to catastrophes, and I do not know a single case that would substantiate this flat statement of Neugebauers. Now I sometimes think the motto which I have put on page 220 and kept in Latin so that the general reader should not lose his confidence in scientists should be translated in the next edition and put somewhere else in the book.
Ego sum Dominus, faciens omnia,
extendens caelos solus, stabiliens
terram, et nullus mecum. Irrita
faciens signa divinorum, et ariolos
in furorem vertens. Convertens
sapientes retrorsum: et scientiam
eorum stultam faciens.
(Prophetiae Isaiae 44:24-25 (Vulgate))
John ONeill, Science Editor of the Herald Tribune, has written to me a letter enclosing a copy of a seven-page letter he sent to Dr. Stephens of the American Oriental Society. It appears that Dr. Stephens tried to influence ONeill not to support my future book. ONeill gave his reasons why he was ready to defend me to the greatest extent possible and offered, if his reasons were not convincing, to resign from the society.
It is no secret that the emotional outburst against Worlds in Collision started at the Harvard College Observatory. It is even possible that a number of reviews were written at the suggestion of Shapley. A review by Haldane, otherwise a clear thinker, gives me the impression of being written in the pattern already known as originating from the Harvard Observatory. It may amuse you to read the reply that I am mailing today to the New Statesman and Nation in London.
It is possible that you also will be subjected to attack for supporting me. I believe the air of the citadel of the Renaissance where you were born, and your life-long occupation with the Old Testament with its Hebrew prophets has made your spirit strong and invulnerable to the stings to which you may be subjected.
With kind regards,