Piltdown Man - A Hoax Against Science Not By Scientists
A new paper published by the Royal Society suggests the blame for the Piltdown Man hoax perpetrated against science rests on just one man, Charles Dawson. The link to the actual paper is here:
British anthropologists and many in the British scientific community at the time were dismayed at the fossil evidence for early man coming from Asia and Africa. Piltdown Man was a source of national pride for those who fell for the hoax, but it was not widely accepted in the international community. My copy of Historical Geology by Carl Dunbar, originally published in 1915 confirms this. Piltdown Man was only mentioned once in a chart, while the fossil hominids from Asia and Africa were discussed in detail.
One could compare Piltdown Man to other hoaxes perpetrated against science like Ken Ham's Ark, the Paluxy Tracks, Ica Stones, or Carl Baugh's Erie Baby, a supposed Lake Erie Monster he purchased from a taxidermist in Ohio and was promoted as a living dinosaur by Baugh and Kent Hovind a couple decades ago. Piltdown Man was not a hoax perpetrated by science, but one created by an amateur paleontologist against the scientific community. It has taught us a valuable lesson though.
From a recent article in Science Magazine:
"Dawson’s calculated chicanery underscores why studying Piltdown Man is still important to modern science, De Groote says. Although such a brazen hoax is unlikely to occur again in physical anthropology because of the sophistication of modern analytical techniques, she says, there’s still a danger of being too quick to accept interpretations that adhere to what scientists expect to find. That’s especially true when anthropologists hoard their collections, De Groote says, which remains all too common in her field."
“Piltdown Man sets a good example of the need for us to take a step back and look at the evidence for what it is,” she says, “and not for whether it conforms to our preconceived ideas.”