Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hoax of the Century!!

    In the 1900's scientist around the world were fooled by a team of archaeologist, for more than forty years. In 1912, in louis, in a little village called, Piltdown, a man named, Charles Dawson, found something that would change the way evolution was looked at for forty years. This something was a piece of a skull, said to be of an ancient human. Two other men, Arthur Woodward and Father Pierre Tehard, were hired to the team to excavate. This three men, found all kinds of fossils that completed an skull of a ancient human. The discovers would help one scientist prove his ideas that the human, "Big Brain" came before we could walk on two legs, which today, we know is not true.We walked on our legs before we had bigger brains. These men said, they found a skull that would be millions of years old, changing a lot of things in evolutionary findings. This would soon be proved wrong, almost forty years later.
     The Hoax was first starting to look fishy, when fossils of ancient humans much younger than its piltdown counterpart, were being found in different countries. The odd part was these newer skulls that were only hundereds of hundreds of years old didn't have the development of bone structure the piltdown skull had. Then the invention that cracked the egg, a process called, Flourine dating. The process works because bones are primarily made up of calcium hydroxy apatite. The bone is exposed to water mixed with flouride and soaked. To measure it you use a Flouride Selective Ion. When ion is placed in water, it produces a volt proportional to amount of flouride in solution. The calibration curve give you a rough date that fossil is from. When they used this process to figure that the skull was no more than a couple 100 years old. Further investigation showed that the teeth was filed down, that the jaw bone was from an ape. The scientific community was devastated when, they found out that the skull was really a hoax. They thought that no scientist, a gentlemen of scholarly honor, would ever do something so immoral. Scientist were astonished and outraged that they would lie about such a thing, from that day forward, the science community would have to make sure everything published was a verifiable source. This was a mistake that shook the scientific community to their core.
    The cause of this terrible hoax was something we call the human factor, the idea that humans make mistakes and do wrong things to gain more for themselves. I believe that if the human factor could be removed and all processes be error-free would be a somewhat bad thing, I would not want it to happen. This idea scares me because it is already happening today,with assembly lines. If this happened humans would no longer need to think or do anything. This would cause a world of idioticy, and when machines failed humans as a race would die. In this hoax, it has a very good life lesson, don't trust an unverified source. Trusting an unverified source could make you look bad, have you make terrible mistakes, or cause another person to cause terrible mistakes. They say don't trust the internet because it is an unverified source, this is true, unless you make sure you find trustworthy sources only. People believed these scientist because of their honor and scholarly education but, in the end the truth must always be challenged because if you don't this might happen over and over again.
  -Austin Gibbons


  1. Austin-

    I liked the last section of your post when you were talking about the human factor. I agree with you that removing our human nature from science is not necessarily a good thing. In fact in many ways it could be a very bad thing. This is where you pulled in examples from our modern world which drove your point home. I like how you stated clear examples that I know that I can relate to, it was easy to understand what you were stating. However, it was a little difficult to read your words with you choice of font and white lettering on a black ground. Other then that good post!

    Jaqi Gibson

  2. Great job pulling in the new idea of the brain developing before the ability to walk. This was one of the key "finds" of this fossil and turned the paleoanthropological world on its ear.

    Great synopsis throughout. Well-described and thorough.

    There was a certain "gentleman's honor" involved in science back then that led to some assumptions that turned out to be false in this case. Were their any other factors the led to the development of this hoax? What was going on in Europe during this time?

    You stray into a discussion about removing the human factor and replacing them with machines, but could that be done in the scientific world? What are some positive human factors necessary for science that balance out the danger of the human failings of pride and greed? How about curiosity? Skepticism?

    Good final discussion.