Elsewhere, however, the new theory drew steady if cautious support. In 1950, a vote at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science showed that about half of those present now embraced the idea of continental drift. (Hapgood soon after cited this figure as proof of how tragically misled British geologists had become.) Curiously, Holmes himself sometimes wavered in his conviction. In 1953 he confessed: "I have never succeeded in freeing myself from a nagging prejudice against continental drift; in my geological bones, so to speak, I feel the hypothesis is a fantastic one."
Continental drift was not entirely without support in the United States. Reginald Daly of Harvard spoke for it, but he, you may recall, was the man who suggested that the Moon had been formed by a cosmic impact, and his ideas tended to be considered interesting, even worthy, but a touch too exuberant for serious consideration. And so most American academics stuck to the belief that the continents had occupied their present positions forever and that their surface features could be attributed to something other than lateral motions.
Interestingly, oil company geologists had known for years that if you wanted to find oil you had to allow for precisely the sort of surface movements that were implied by plate tectonics. But oil geologists didn't write academic papers; they just found oil.