That’s an unimpeachable authority

Creationists often bring up Piltdown Man* as an example of an evolutionary fraud, and claim that it was the foundation of huge volumes of research. It was a fraud, and it did linger unpleasantly in the scientific literature for far too long, but you’d be hard pressed to find a serious work of science that used it any more. Until now. That genius of the modern era, L. Ron Hubbard, cited Piltdown in Scientology: A History of Man.

*By the way, if you haven’t been reading Richard Harter’s World, you should. It’s a sort of antediluvian blog, with none of the conventions we’ve grown accustomed to, but it’s an amazing pile of entertaining and random oddities…including the Piltdown information, monthly joke collections, bits of math and poetry. It’ll keep you busy for days, at least—the archives go back to 1996.


  1. Membrane says

    The Gorilla Goals were a series of implants created by invaders from Helatrobus “between about 319 trillion years ago to about 256 trillion trillion years ago” (or 89 trillion trillion years ago in another Hubbard lecture). They were given in an amusement park with a single tunnel, a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel … The symbol of a Gorilla was always present in the place the goal was given. Sometimes a large gorilla, black, was seen elsewhere than the park. A mechanical or a live gorilla was always seen in the park.

    This activity was conducted by the Hoipolloi, a group of operators in meat body societies. They were typical carnival people. They let out concessions for these implant “Amusement Parks.” A pink-striped white shirt with sleeve garters was the uniform of the Hoipolloi. Such a figure often rode on the roller coaster cars. Monkeys were also used on the cars. Elephants sometimes formed part of the equipment.

  2. says

    Creationists never seem to recall that the Piltdown hoax was exposed by evolutionary scientists who (a) noticed that Dawson’s “dawn man” made less and less sense in light of the accumulating evidence relating to human descent and (b) did the work of carefully re-examining the bones to uncover the truth. Creationists can’t take any credit for that. Perhaps Piltdown survived longer than it should have because people wanted to believe in it, but ultimately it serves as an example of science’s self-correcting nature.

  3. Carpenter says

    Ward Churchill wrote an essay about Piltdown Man and Carlos Casteneda’s “Teachings of Don Juan”. He basically thought that both hoax’s were a result of insufficient peer review and certain members of the academy and the public believing what they wanted to instead of what was true. In both cases people were not skeptical enough. I’d say the fundies read some Churchill, if the mere thought of him didn’t burn their faces off.

  4. Membrane says

    The clam and its supposed eventual evolution into humans is what Hubbard claims explains some of the “engram” troubles most people suffer from. According to Hubbard, many engrams can be traced back to clams. The clam’s big problem was that there was a conflict between the hinge that wanted to open and the hinge that wanted to close. It was easy to restimulate the engram caused by the defeat of the weaker hinge, Hubbard pronounced, by asking a pre-clear to imagine a clam on a beach opening and closing its shell very rapidly and at the same time making an opening and closing motion with thumb and forefinger. This gesture, according to Hubbard, would upset large numbers of people.

    Hubbard warns in A History of Man, “your discussion of these incidents with the uninitiated in Scientology can cause havoc. Should you describe the “clam” to someone, you may restimulate it in him to the extent of causing severe jaw pain. One such victim, after hearing about a clam death, could not use his jaws for three days.”

  5. Robert P. says

    What’s even more amusing are the principal conclusions that Hubbard drew from the Piltdown remains:

    “The PILTDOWN contains freakish acts of strange “logic,” of
    demonstrating dangerous on one’s fellows, of eating one’s wife and
    other somewhat illogical activities. The PILTDOWN teeth were ENORMOUS
    and he was quite careless as to whom and what he bit and often very
    much surprised at the resulting damage.”

    “Obsessions about biting efforts to hide the mouth and early familial
    troubles can be found in the PILTDOWN. It is a wonderful area in which to locate GE overt acts.”

    L. Ron Hubbard, _A History of Man_, p. 27

    Well, there are certainly plenty of examples of “freakish acts of strange logic” and “demonstrating dangerous on one’s fellows” to be found within the creationism movement. I’m not so sure about “eating one’s wife and other somewhat illogical activities.”

  6. Steve_C says

    So Tom Cruise thinks we’re descendant from Clams????

    Oh snap! Wonder how badly he would lose it if someone questioned that belief.

    It’s too bad Giovanni Ribisi is a scientologist too.

  7. ChrisO says

    Oh, it gets even better than that. Hubbard was a creationist – just not the type that Pharyngulites usually come across. He denounces evolution as the “man from mud” theory:

    Far from having come from “science” the “Man from Mud” theory was taken by these scientists from a body of religious demonology and foisted off on man as “modern thought,” what you’d expect from fakes.

    What religious demonology? Why the Egyptian, of course.

    In the Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology, the standard work, we find in column 4 page 11 under “Divinities attached to the ennead of Heliopolis and the family of Osiris” the following paragraph:

    “Nun (or Nu) is chaos, the primordial ocean in which before the creation lay the germs of all things and all beings.”

    Well, of course! See for more Hubbardian lunacy.

    I think it’s rather significant that the vast majority of Scientologists live in the United States and that it’s attracted only limited traction elsewhere. What makes Americans more attracted to Scientology than people in other countries?

  8. Membrane says

    So Tom Cruise thinks we’re descendant from Clams????

    To be fair to our dear friend Mr. Cruise, there was at one point serious speculation concerning a urochordate origin for vertebrates through neoteny. I rather doubt an origin in tunicate larvae would seem any less shocking at first glance to an unschooled layperson than descent from clams.

  9. Graculus says

    What makes Americans more attracted to Scientology than people in other countries?

    I think it’s the other way around, Scientology is attracted to Americans.

    Gullible *and* wealthy.

  10. says

    I’ve always wondered why so many Hollywood celebrities are Scientologists.

    I mean, I know why, they have the money, but it’s still weird to me. Do they like, send people to your house after your movie makes a certian amount of money or something? Do they fight with the Kabbalists for the best access to you?

    It must be bizarre to be a celebrity.

  11. lo says

    @plucky punk: That is because they are highly educated, advance this very world, brought us into the 21st century, and are everything to be desired for and an ideal role modell for you.

    Did it every occur to you that stupidity is in fact defined as illiteracy, as neurologically there is just no basis for such a claim, and science is about logic. Moreover did it ever occur to you that there is a direct proportionality between the learning of logic (science) and educational lack thereof, wherefore a direct proportionality exists between believe and logic.

    This doesn`t mean that a farmer is stupid, in fact he can just be as smart as anyone else, it doesn`t matter how he derived his logic – it sure is however for the most part his environment, or have you ever heard of a bushman pondering about the mathematical description of the world.

    The stupid will always be exploited. Did it ever occur to you that what basically ANY conman exploits is faith and believe (and physical disabilities – but way less, as clearly disabled are less common than -let`s be blunt, stupid people), think about that.

    If you wanna make a career for yourself, become a conartist like Ron – the Con, or for fu***s sake write a novel about atlantis and their alien heritage.

  12. says

    ChrisO: I would guess: compartively poor school-age education, extreme affluence, cults of personality (which need to be explained too) and, paradoxically enough, extreme religious tolerance.

  13. Nix says

    And yes, the Scientologists do explicitly target Hollywood celebrities, not charge them as much, treat them far better than the common run of ‘fresh meat’ and so on and so forth. It’s all quite intentional.