The 1908 discovery of “Piltdown Man” is universally considered a forgery and hoax. PluribusOne™ agrees that the skull is a careful fabrication that does not represent a stage in the evolution of Man as theorized by Charles Darwin. We have been challenged to address not the matter of whether the skull found in the Piltdown gravel pit represents a hoaxed “missing link,” but the matter of the perpetrator/s’ motivation for this apparent crime against science, and the potential effects of the fiasco on future research into the mystery of the origin of Life and shaping of life-forms over eons on Earth and elsewhere.
It seems certain that the fabricated assemblage consisting of a human skull, an orangutan’s jaw, and modified chimpanzee’s teeth, was engineered to fill a gap in the imagined and anticipated chain of evidence for Darwin’s theory. However, the party responsible for the false evidence and his purpose was never proved. In fact, the whole matter to this day involves more mystery than certainty. It is somewhat similar to the Kennedy Assassination where the only absolute certainty is that the president is dead. It remains arguable whether there was one shooter, or two, or three, and controversial whether the fatal shot came from behind, from the front, or from a side angle. Etcetera.
In the Kennedy mystery someone wanted him dead—that much is clear. Kennedy was not killed by a meteorite or shot by a man cleaning his gun somewhere across town. In the Piltdown matter the impetus is harder to determine. Did the apparent hoaxer/s (Dawson and friends) want to convince the world that Darwin was correct, or did an unidentified hoaxer trick Dawson and expect the hoax to be discovered eventually and thereby discredit Darwin, Dawson, and all evolutionists? Or did Dawson and friends do such a fine job of deluding themselves that they un-maliciously assembled false evidence? Without firsthand examination, the third possibility seems closest to the truth.
If so, within that truth lie potent implications for future research into the nature of Life, its origin and unfolding, and for scientific methodology. What PluribusOne™ is seeing, beyond reasonable doubt, are researchers whose perceptions were so influenced by long-held belief and deep desire—by indelible personal bias—that the line between discovery and creativeness became blurred such that the natural artifacts could not escape the force of unbridled subjectivity. And, at this point, ever-closer skeptical meta-examinations of the researchers and tangible evidence can never do more than add to the uncertainties surrounding the Piltdown fiasco. Somewhere, Heisenberg is laughing.
The fact that acceptance of the reality of “Piltdown Man” persisted for forty years is alarming. Yet we find far more alarming the posture of a renowned man of science—namely Sherwood Washburn (1911-2000), Harvard-trained anthropologist—who was quoted as having said this about the Piltdown affair: “I remember writing a paper on human evolution in 1944, and I simply left Piltdown out. You could make sense of human evolution if you didn’t try to put Piltdown into it.” It is hard to misinterpret that astonishing admission of an unscientific attitude borne of academic inbreeding and intellectual prejudice. Similar thinking infests every field of science although few scientists are arrogant enough to express their narrow-mindedness so bluntly and publicly.
Subjectivity cannot and should not be completely eliminated from the processes of science; however, it can be controlled and guided through Enhanced Human Perception™ enabled by use of the Noetitek™ system of mind-tools available exclusively through PluribusOne™ Consulting.