Many schools proclaim as a matter without any doubt that man has derived from the African apes. Many textbooks in primary schools in my country, Italy, have on the cover page the illustration of an ape (usually a chimpanzee) gradually rising from its bent posture, to assume the elegant figure of man.
This is a falsehood which any honest scientist should protest against. It is not balanced teaching. That which science has never demonstrated (and therefore which no serious scientist in the world would ever assert) should be erased from any textbook and from our minds and remembered only as a joke in bad taste.
One should also teach people how many hoaxes have been plotted to support the theory of the simian (ape) origins of man.1 This began with Java ‘man’ in 1891 which was nothing but a giant ape-like skull-cap and a human leg-bone found 15 metres and one year apart.
It continued with the Piltdown skull in 1912, which was a combination of an ape’s lower jaw with a modern human skull-cap (probably planned and executed within the British Natural History museum), and the last was Peking man in 1923, whose controversial interpretation was solved with the ‘disappearance’ of 10 skeletons in 1925 and the ‘loss’ of the whole collection of fossils in transit to America in 1941.
Surely these events (among others) justify the sad statement of Professor W. R. Thompson, FRS, that ‘The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity.’ Professor Thompson also said, ‘A long-enduring and regrettable effect of the success of the Origin was the addiction of biologists to unverifiable speculation’.
And even, I would add, to disproved hypotheses.
(This article is an abstract, approved by the author, from a longer paper.)
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