February 17, 2011
Haverford Descartes Letter Misidentified

On Thursday, Haverford College’s Head of Special Collections John Anderies issued a formal apology on behalf of the college to Gabriel de Broglie, Chancellor of the Institut de France, after learning that Special Collections had misidentified the “missing” correspondence between famed seventeenth century philosopher René Descartes and his colleague Marin Mersenne. The actual correspondence was between Martin Merser ‘87 and the influential American hip hop trio De La Soul, noted for their 1989 hit “Me Myself and I.”

                Haverford president Stephen G. Emerson (’74) also lamented the mistake, saying that “no one ever really looked at the letter” because it “just looked old.”  “I just assumed it was legitimate,” said Emerson. “Seventeenth century vintage wasn’t really hip in the ‘80s, but I guess if you leave a letter lying around a Lloyd common room for a while, it’ll look pretty haggard.”

                The Institut de France was not dismayed by the discovery, allowing Haverford to keep its reward of 15,000 euros and stating that the letter “honors you and exemplifies the ability of Haverford students to thoroughly enjoy things the rest of society only vaguely appreciates.” De Broglie added that “Feel Good Inc.,” the group’s collaboration with British trip-hop group Gorillaz, was “a sick track.”