Scientific Methods

Sunday, March 12, 2006

PILTDOWN HOAX: COUNTING THE COSTS TO SCIENCE

"The fossil remains of early humans are exceptionally rare. Scientists trying to reconstruct the evolutionary history of our species often have to draw long, dotted lines between a few key fossils.

So introducing a bogus ancestor into our family tree can throw the entire study of human evolution off course. This is exactly what happened with the Piltdown skull, which was exposed as an elaborate hoax exactly 50 years ago this month."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3264025.stm

Additional reference

http://http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3264143.stm



Dr Richard Knight
Co-ordinator: National Information Society Learnerships - Ecological Informatics
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville 7535

Phone 27 + 21 + 959 3940
Fax 27 + 21 + 959 1237

Email Rknight@uwc.ac.za

Web http://nisl.uwc.ac.za

11 Comments:

  • Booked

    Thanks

    ANNAMARIE MARTIN

    By Anonymous ANNAMARIE MARTIN, at Sunday, March 12, 2006 10:42:00 PM  

  • Thanks Rich, i'm really into this hoax thing, and i endvour to do my best to get to the bottom of it!!!
    Annamarie

    By Anonymous annamarie martin, at Tuesday, March 14, 2006 9:41:00 AM  

  • hi everyone,

    I'm interested on the piltdown hoax,becouse it seems like this construction of fossil happen as the way to outcompete the findings of other reseacher and also to put their country on the map as the first place where the fossil found or where human being orignates.


    thanks
    elelwani muanalo

    By Blogger Elelwani, at Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:02:00 AM  

  • Thanks Rich,i am happy to heard about our evolution. i'm really into this "African eve" theory and i need more evidence that support this.

    By Blogger lmukwevho, at Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:07:00 AM  

  • hi there...

    i just want to know if we are still evolving and if that is the case might it happen that we will end walking in one foot?

    By Blogger lmukwevho, at Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:12:00 AM  

  • Hi: Rich

    I am still amazed by the Scientific community by letting such a Hoax of human evolution to perpetrate for a long time without its detection. Dawson and his colleques were supposed to be dismissed from the scientific community of that time.

    By Blogger peter, at Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:32:00 AM  

  • I wonder how Dawson and his colleques managed to construct their fake fossil and the scientific community accepted it so why did the scientific community perform tests to prove that Dawson and his colleques found the missing link betwwen apes and man? why it took the scientific community so long to prove that Dawson's finding was a fake? scientific community rejected Dart Taung child skull witout even performing some tests first, they performed the test after the have rejected the findings these shows that the scientific community was lazy or they do not know what they are actully looking for.

    By Blogger lethabo, at Thursday, March 16, 2006 2:30:00 PM  

  • Hey guys - this is great that you are commenting on this web... I am really impressed. I will try and answer some of your questions.

    The Piltdown fake was simply amazing - it took a scientific brain and some access to really interesting bones and fossils. I am fairly sure more than one person was involved see further in my comments. There is evidence that lower Jaw was from the Natural History Museum since an item was reported missing at that time.

    "Where the hoaxers obtained their specimens is a mystery. One possible trail leads to the Natural History Museum. In 1911, the British Museum bought a collection of animal remains from Borneo. An original inventory appears to list the lower jaw of an orang-utan as missing."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3264025.stm


    If we now move to the skull

    "Radiocarbon dating showed the human skull from Piltdown was less than 1,000 years old. Its unusual thickness suggests the owner suffered from Paget's disease, a hereditary thickening of bone.

    A similar skull reportedly disappeared in the 1900s from Hastings Museum, an institution with which Charles Dawson had strong connections"


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3264025.stm


    So how did it go undiscovered? ... the Museum was quite protective about it - especially in the beginning so there was no real access for testing, and also scientists had pre-conceived ideas (this was what they expected and they got what they expected) and they were not applying their critical faculties or for that matter scientific methods of falsification. There was also misplaced patriotism - a "British Man" is our ancestor. But it fool many in the world - but there were sceptics, even at the time, and especially the German and French scientists and an American one as well and they openly declared it to be a possible fake. The Natural History Museum has to take blame - they rather attempted to keep the idea going that they possessed the "Missing Link". Exposing this as a hoax made the fossil worthless scientifically not a very nice thought!

    The British Scientists now think that

    "Ninety-nine per cent of the evidence points towards Dawson. But Hinton might have been behind the cricket bat,"

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3264025.stm



    The best site for some audio and video clips (streamed) is

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/sci_nat/03/piltdown_man/html/default.stm


    Finally the word "Piltdown" has come to mean a term of abuse, used to label any fraudulent or shoddy research.

    By Anonymous Rich, at Saturday, March 18, 2006 12:01:00 PM  

  • hi there!

    Thanx to the radio carbon dating. because if it was not for this method of dating who knows maybe even today the scientific community wouldn't have realizes the fake piltdown fossils.

    By Blogger Maleka Evelyn, at Monday, March 20, 2006 8:46:00 AM  

  • I am just concerned about the punishment that was offered to the hoax team because what they did is wrong and they ruined science reputation seriously.

    By Blogger Dianah Nangammbi, at Tuesday, April 11, 2006 11:11:00 AM  

  • I read the website on how the piltdown made a fake fossil. This was totaly bad.

    By Blogger linette, at Tuesday, May 02, 2006 9:27:00 AM  

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