Piltdownian science: experts won’t mention the possibility of hoax


Allan Krill
Feb 4  

We need a new adjective in science, especially in the science of paleoanthropology. 
Piltdownian: Remarkable evidence that cannot be tested by impartial experts, and where the possibility of hoax is unmentioned. 

The true extent of the Piltdown hoax has been kept covered. All the blame has been placed on the solicitor Charles Dawson. But all three anatomy experts: Sir Arthur Keith, Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, and Sir G. Elliot Smith, must have suspected that the jaw of Piltdown man was actually an orangutan, and that it was planted by Dawson. 

Sir Arthur Keith, in his famous book Antiquity of Man, compared the cranium to that of a human, a gorilla, a chimp, and an orangutan. He showed that the cranium was human-like, not ape-like. He compared the jaw to that of a human, a gorilla, and a chimp. He never compared it to an orangutan. He showed that the jaw was ape-like, not human like.

For the next thirty-five years, Piltdown Man was accepted as authentic. But it was secretly doubted by many experts and kept unavailable for study or chemical testing by impartial scientists.

A few brave experts wrote that it was probably an error, and Weidenreich, the Peking-Man expert, wrote that the Piltdown jaw was probably an orangutan. But no expert could study or test  it, and no respected person could mention the hypothesis that it was a hoax. After it was discredited by chemical analysis, no respected scientist has suggested that the experts were involved in this hoax. 

Lucy, Turkana Boy, and Laetoli footprints are modern examples of ‘piltdownian’ evidence in the science of paleoanthropology. The evidence is unavailable for study or testing, and no respected scientist can mention the legitimate scientific hypothesis that these are hoaxes.


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