Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"The Boldest Hoax": a NOVA Program on the 'Piltdown Man' Fossils

As a teenager, I was a big fan of PBS's NOVA science series. I eventually lost interest when they started airing too many programs that were 'politically correct', and really weren't true science. That notwithstanding, I noticed that NOVA will air a program on the Piltdown Man hoax.

The Piltdown Man fossils were purportedly human-ape 'missing links' that were dug up in England in the early 1900s; in 1912, a largely-complete skull was presented, that featured a human-like cranium with an ape-like jaw. These and other fossils found nearby were eventually discovered to be hoaxes in 1953.

What makes this hoax compelling is that it took forty years to discover the forgery, and of the many notable people who were possibly involved in it. From the NOVA transcript:
The story begins in the early 1900s, in the rolling hills of Sussex, a rural county in southeast England. A laborer, digging at Barkham Manor near the village of Piltdown, unearthed a strange piece of skull. He's reported to have passed it on to Charles Dawson, a local amateur archaeologist. Dawson later claimed he noticed that the skull was extremely thick and appeared rather primitive. This would be the first in a series of discoveries at Piltdown.

They would transform and pervert scientists' understanding of the origins of man for decades. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution had been published just 50 years before, in 1859.

In his Origin of Species, Darwin presented evidence that all living things descended from a common ancestry. Through a process of mutation, adaptation, failure and success, he claimed that all life on earth today, including man, is the result of millions of years of evolution. It was a revolutionary idea.
When a new scientific theory develops, scientists go out seeking evidence that either supports or refutes the claim of the theory: for the theory of evolution, a 'missing link' was needed. Some were found, but none yet in England:
Then in Germany, quarrymen working in the Neander Valley, made a remarkable find: strange bones, skeletal remains that resembled humans, but not those of any living humans. The creature was named "Neanderthal" and Germany the birthplace of early man.

But soon evidence of early man was being found in France and Spain as well. To their annoyance, the British had none.
Why was this important? In 1871 Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man which argued that some races of men were more highly evolved than others. Although he thought that all races were of the same species, it was natural that the more advanced races would soon eliminate their uncivilized competitors. Darwin's cousin and supporter, Francis Galton, started the eugenics movement, to help strengthen the race; the development of these ideas from mere description to actual policy led to Planned Parenthood and the Nazi extermination camps.

Victorians took a narrower view of race than we do nowadays: back then, they would speak of the British, Celtic, and Nordic races; so to the scientists of that era, it was critical for national pride that their own country's race was to be seen as the most highly evolved. These Enlightenment rationalists thought that the ideal State would be made up completely of members of one nation—or race—to the exclusion of others: all Germans would be in the State of Germany, and only Germans would be in that State, and likewise for France, England, and so forth. And the theory of evolution would predict, or even require, that these nation-states would compete with each other for evolutionary supremacy. So we end up with a positive feedback loop: the theory of evolution predicted that one race would be supreme, and the nation-states struggled for supremacy, with the strongest winning, which leads back to the theory of evolution. Enlightenment nationalism and evolution therefore go together.

If fossils of Modern Man appeared very early in Britain, then this could be proof that the British Race was the most highly evolved.

As the story goes, an amateur scientist, Charles Dawson, brought the fossils to Arthur Smith Woodward, head of the Geological department at the prestigious British Museum; together, they found more fossil fragments and reconstructed an ape-man skull. While this particular reconstruction of fragments was challenged—other scientists reconstructed copies of the fragments to make a more modern-looking specimen—no one suspected forgery, although many, primarily amateurs, suspected that this was a mixing of bones from two separate individuals. However, a second site, two miles from Piltdown, had other fragments, leading to a similar reconstruction; this strengthened the 'missing link' in Britain.

For a while, Piltdown was the most famous place in the world, and it proved that mankind came originally from England, and not from Africa, France, or Germany.

But in 1953, forgery was certain. All of the fossil fragments were chemically treated to appear old, teeth were filed to fit in the jawbone, and the jaw had a piece broken off so as to fit the cranium. The question remains as to who committed the forgery, when it was done, and who knew about it. Also, was this an elaborate prank that got out of hand?

Dawson and Woodward would most certainly be involved in the hoax, with the majority of evidence pointing to Dawson, who was an avid self-promoter who had a history of spectacular finds, many of which are now known to be hoaxes. Dawson died in 1916 and no more fossils were found after that time. Woodward is also implicated: he failed to do common chemical tests which would have shown the forgery, also, simple examination with a magnifying glass would have revealed that the bones had been filed and cut.

The writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is also implicated. That the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the detective and consummate scientist, could perpetrate a scientific hoax is at first unthinkable. However, Conan Doyle was also a spiritualist, and he was felt that he was attacked by the scientific establishment for these occult beliefs. The theory is that he started the hoax to "get back" at the scientists. The theory goes that he did not reveal the hoax due to the start of the First World War: he was hoping to influence Parliament on the war and did not want this matter to be revealed.

A clue to this may be found in Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World, published just before Piltdown. Here scientists discover prehistoric animals in remote Venezuela. The protagonist in the novel, modeled after Conan Doyle himself, wants a way to prove their discoveries; photographs may be dismissed as fakes, so instead they bring back bones; however he says, "if you know your business a bone can be as easily faked as a photograph".

Conan Doyle and Dawson were friends, moved in the same social circles, and the golf course where Conan Doyle played was adjacent to the Piltdown dig site. Also Conan Doyle was trying to get Dawson admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal Society, which he did get after finding Piltdown Man. He also gave the paleontologists the use of his car. Conan Doyle was also an avid collector of fossils and artifacts, who visited some of the places where forged Piltdown fossils are known to have come from. He also was an expert in the preservation of fossils, especially of the type preservation that was used on the Piltdown forgeries to make them look ancient. On the contrary, many think that Conan Doyle could not be implicated because unlike Dawson, he was a very decent man, and "considered a man of truth and integrity".

NOVA makes the claim that Conan Doyle, if he was involved with the hoax, did it as a joke against establishment science. However, the dirty little secret of the Enlightenment is the involvement between modern science and the occult. Conan Doyle, promoting both science and the occult arts, was not unique, especially among the Anglo-Americans. It's been said that the Enlightenment New Man would practice science by day and magic by night; and by magic, I don't mean stage-tricks, but instead the occult arts: what modern pagans call 'magick' (with a 'k' on the end) in order to distinguish the two. Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and many others scientists to our current day had an interest in the occult. C. S. Lewis, in his book The Abolition of Man makes the point that both technology and magic are means for the control of nature, and that both of these subjects were developed during the Renaissance, a time of great religious decline.

Piltdown Man occurred during time when the eugenics movement and scientific race theory were developing, and this was paralleled by an occult race spirituality, often practiced by those who were implementing the new eugenic government policies. Margaret Sanger, founder of what is now known as Planned Parenthood, was a disciple of Theosophy, which pioneered this kind of race occultism. Eugenic spirituality was quite common among the elite of the day, having lost their Christian faith. According to this occult system, there evolved a number of race-souls, which were single souls shared by members of a race, and which could be considered a kind of immanent god. According to this mystical cult, the most highly evolved god was the nordic or aryan race-soul: due to interbreeding, the nordic race had weakened, which required eugenics to bring it back to its godlike glory. Of course, the question was open as to which northern European country had the purest aryan stock.

This situation could have encouraged the forgery, if only to push forward the racialist agenda, and too many prominent scientists were in favor of this movement. Communists were against this racialism, but they had hardly a good alternative. Of course, orthodox Christians and Jews were also against it, but we have the Separation of Church and State, as well as an entrenched Liberal religionism to prevent any effective opposition.

According the story of the Piltdown Man discovery, when Dawson brought the fossil to Smith Woodward of the British Museum, the latter insisted on absolute secrecy: and when they commenced joint excavations of the site, they were joined by none other than the French Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist who had been friends with Charles Dawson for the past several years.

Teilhard de Chardin is also the theologian responsible for much of the thinking behind the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council. This document has been highly criticized by Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, as being overly naturalistic, unhistorical, too optimistic of progress and modernity, unbiblical, insufficiently cognizant of sin and its consequences, ignorant of the failures of conscience, and ultimately "is downright Pelagian". This document is responsible for inspiring much nonsense in the Church today, when it is not read in continuity with other teachings of the Church.

Teilhard de Chardin found the crucial missing piece of Piltdown Man that convinced many skeptics: a canine tooth that was ape-like in shape, but had human-like wear markings. This tooth was later also found to be a forgery: it was filed and painted. He also found an elephant tooth at the site, later found be radioactive and from Tunisia. Teeth from a species never found in England were also at the site. Another piece of evidence that casts doubt on Teilhard is a forged flint: he claims to have dug it out of undisturbed soil, which does not seem possible, and so implicates him in the forgery. The other fossils were found in disturbed gravel, which makes placing forgeries quite possible.

He was enthusiastically an evolutionist, and proposed a teleological (or goal-driven) form of evolution distinctly different from today's atheistic or Intelligent Design theories of evolution. His thesis was that intelligence and consciousness turn the biosphere into the noosphere, causing life to become self-aware; this consciousness eventually evolves, filling the entire universe, and its end, the Omega Point, is God. This naturalistic theory of divinity has affinities with the race-soul theory mentioned above, so I do not think it is a coincidence. His form of evolution theorized that many parallel, converging evolutionary tracks would be present in the fossil record; but he rarely mentioned the one fossil find that best fit his theory: Piltdown Man. He avoided Piltdown as much as possible during his life; some see this as his guilt, others say that he might of heard about the hoax in the confessional, and had to remain quiet about it. It seems, however, that the hoax fit in too well with his own thinking, and that he must have had guilt about any role he may have played in the scandal. Teilhard, now a guru of the New Age, seems clearly implicated.

Teilhard de Chardin died in 1955, and his writings, long suppressed by his superiors, were published, and his fame increased even more. After the hoax was announced in 1953, Teilhard de Chardin tried very hard to prove the innocence of Dawson and Smith Woodward: but if these men are innocent, then the evidence of forgery points directly to himself. Apparently Teilhard made some crucial blunders in his letters, which strongly conflict with the accepted story of the fossil finds: he had to know ahead of time about the fraud to have made these errors. The thinking of the day, however, tended to place the blame completely and solely on Dawson, who was long dead and otherwise untrustworthy.

Smith Woodward continued working on the Piltdown site for nearly twenty years after the last significant find there, so some think he was innocent. Some think that the hoax was created by rivals at the British Museum, who sought to discredit him. But this seems unlikely, because they waited until he was dead to expose the hoax, and could not benefit from his downfall.

It seems to me that the fraud was not a short-term joke, but rather a means to help push along a world-view held by many of the elite of that time period; it was done on purpose and was intended to fool as many people as possible for as long as possible. The evidence that the aryan race-soul was purest in England had great propaganda power. Certainly the British Museum was staffed with people who had the mixed scientific and occult worldview. The New Age movement claims to be totally in tune with the latest scientific theories, and evolution is just one of the theories; indeed the Theosophists were very pleased with the original Piltdown discovery. Also this type of discovery is positive for the heretical style of Catholicism being practiced by many today.

One of the final objects purported to be found at the Piltdown site, under a hedge, and taken very seriously by the scientists, was a cricket bat made of bone. How British!

1 comment:

  1. Evolution Was - A Nazi Hoax

    Long before the Piltodown affair, all of evolution was based on the man know as "THE DARWIN OF GERMANY." His name was Ernest Haeckel, and he was found to use fake drawings in support of his supposed proof of evolugion! Before Haeckel was exposed, however, evolution got of to a roaring start internationally. That was when Haeckel's fakes were accepted as a formal proof of the ideas of Darwinism! Then, after all that was passed off as teachings based on Darwin's evolution, it was all further developed in the literature as being the real explanation of the dark world, soon to be headed by Germany! Insisting on the literal transfer of Haeckel's fakes, his laws of biology, and his inventions on evolution, the supposedly true facts as presented by Haeckel were actually drawn up to be passed into German literature, and from there into the World literature, and from there into the social realm as if it were all real, or all true!

    Adolf Hitler's mind led the nation of German as another real target. History says that he was "captivated by evolutionary teachings." So the evolutionary ideas of Haeckel came to form "the basis of all that is the worst within Mein Kampf," but even this was attributed to Darwin! Thus neither Hitler or the Nazi Party viewed itself as wrong or inhumane. The Nazi Party openly "prided itself on its scientific ideology, (which was faked,) and it's modern view of the world."

    When viewed from this perspective, the fake of the Piltdown man was then produced to confirm what had been produced as a faked scientific ideology. Moreover, all of evolution yet exists to this very day, across the nations, as if it were actually ture and factual. This is how the hoax of evolution was introduced to the nations!

    It can also be proven that all this was also absolutely no accident on Haeckel's part. It was a very deliberate hoax. After the Piltdown hoax was exposed, some clear thinking individuals began to realize that something had gone wrong within the evolution side of the logic of the sciences. Dr. Michael Richardson, an embryologist at St. George’s Medical School in London, traced everything that had happend back to Ernest Haeckel, and he began to again question Haeckel's embryo drawings! They, in turn, had long been said to demonstrate that humans share a common ancestry with the "hog, calf, and rabbit."

    Even more notably, all this had also led, or fed in as the supposed proof of the idea that man and everything else had emerged from a single cell! But the supposed proofs had all been a hoax! Nevertheless, "despite Haeckel's conviction of fraud and early exposure, Western educators (had) continued using the pictures for decades as proof of the theory of evolution." But then, after all that happened or took place across all the nations of the world, Dr. Richardson "found there was no record that anyone ever actually checked Haeckel’s claims by systematically comparing human and other fetuses during development! So this led Richardson to assemble a scientific team that did just that – photographing the growing embryos of 39 different species.

    In a 1997 interview in The Times of London, Dr. Richardson stated: "This is one of the worst cases of scientific fraud. It’s shocking to find that somebody one thought was a great scientist was deliberately misleading. It makes me angry. ... What he [Haeckel] did was to take a human embryo and copy it, pretending that the salamander and the pig and all the others looked the same at the same stage of development. They don’t. ... These are fakes."

    Today – believe it or not – Haeckel’s drawings still appear in many high school and college textbooks. Among them are "Evolutionary Biology" by Douglas J. Futuyma (Third Edition, Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1998), and also the bedrock text, "Molecular Biology of the Cell" (third edition), whose authors include biochemist Dr. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences. For reference, click on: www.worldnetdaily.Com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23532

    As another research has written, "though his fraud, comparable to the Piltdown hoax, (which was but another part of this vast scheme) has been known to the scientific community for over 100 years, the exposures were not translated from German into English. The zeal with which the evolutionary community of the period was willing to accept any support for Darwinism unfortunately resulted in widespread propagation of Haeckel's work, but as quietly received the fraud exposure as it later did the Piltdown exposure. Unfortunately, many of the zealots preferred to let fraud exposures die out quietly rather than vocally admit that many scientists unquestioningly accepted and science writers wrote textbook chapters based on fraudulent information. Because science text writers typically pass on matter already well publicized in previous texts and are not within the inner circle of those conversant in the field, Haeckel's frauds and evolutionary concepts based on these frauds are still unfortunately included as fact in many science textbooks in U.S. School systems in the 1990s." For reference, click on:

    Even the widely used textbook, A Civic Biology, which Scopes used in the class he taught is thus brought into question. In 1925, it "became the basis for the famous Dayton, Tennessee Scopes Trial discussed 'man's place in nature.' Under the section of evolution, in a mild, but openly racist statement it concludes that,

    At the present time there exist upon the earth five races . each very different from the other in instincts, social customs and. . . structure. These are the Ethiopian or Negro type,. . the Mongoloid or yellow race, and finally, the highest type of all, Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.

    This American high school textbook which went through several editions, is mild compared to others of the time." For reference, click on:

    In conclusion, if evolution was all a hoax from the very start. . . if the logic has been twisted by Haeckel to set up the faked pseudo-scientific "ideology" of the Nazi Party, etc., and it has all been a great hoax that has floated among the nations over all these years - then what's the big problem in terms of getting evolution out of the text books and other resources of this world, and actually begin recognizing evolution as a true scientific hoax?

    Pass it on! Pass it on!
    By, Bruce D McKay, Elijah