Piltdown at 100: A Look Back on Science's Biggest Hoax

Friday, May 02, 2014


A hundred years ago, a human-like skull and ape-like jaw were presented at a special meeting of the Geological Society in London. The so-called "Piltdown Man" became widely accepted as a crucial link in the human evolutionary chain; crucial, that is, untilĀ 1953, when the bones were exposed as a total hoax. In an interview from December of last year, Nova Senior Science Editor Evan Hadingham talks to Brooke about this tantalizing example of "scientific skullduggery."


Evan Hadingham

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [2]

NikFromNYC from New York

The biggest scientific hoax of *all* time isn't some little paleontology debate, or Ancel Keys' junk science that created the diabetes-causing Food Pyramid, but today's whole field of climate "science," corruption of peer review being complete, proven here in a single glance:


May. 06 2014 05:32 PM
Barbara Mende from Cambridge, MA

Among the forgotten victims of the Piltdown hoax were many thousands of seventh graders who had to study Piltdown Man before 1953. I was crushed when I heard he didn't exist, because I'd spent hours memorizing his characteristics for a test on archeological finds of human progenitors.

I must have been so resentful that I complained loudly over the years - because when my son heard this interview, he called me to say, "So you were right about Piltdown!" I guess it's one of life's mysteries why children never believe that their parents are telling the truth; but thank you, Brooke, for enhancing my credibility.

May. 04 2014 08:16 PM

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