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Piltdown man was the subject of 500 doctoral dissertations (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Piltdown man was the subject of 500 doctoral dissertations (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC001.1:

500 doctoral dissertations were written about Piltdown Man.


Parker, Gary, Origin of Mankind Acts & Facts, November 1981.

CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

The claim is false. In all probability, there were no doctoral dissertations on Piltdown Man. The claim probably arises from an editorial in Nature which says, "More than five hundred articles and memoirs are said to have been written about Piltdown man." [Nature editors 1954; Harter 1996]

This was at worst a minor error on Gary Parker's part. Talk.Origins is making a mountain out of a molehill here.

More likely, it was a misreading of a claim from the evolutionist camp.[1]

Andrew Lamb, CMI-Australia, has this to say:

With respect to Piltdown dissertations, there is company called Proquest that publishes a Dissertations and Theses database which includes entries for theses from universities around the world, dating from at least as far back as the mid 1800s, many decades before the Piltdown fragments were publicised in 1912. Proquest records only two theses involving Piltdown man12 and both these theses were written long after Piltdown Man was confirmed as a hoax, which was in 1953.

The idea that over 500 doctoral theses were done on the Piltdown man is incorrect, and probably derives from the second paragraph of a 1954 Nature article which said ‘More than five hundred articles and memoirs are said to have been written about Piltdown man.’

Catholic scholar and former atheist Malcolm Muggeridge may have been the source of the 500 Piltdown doctorates claim, which he makes on page 59 of his book The End of Christendom, published in 1980. Muggeridge was a satirist and journalist, and these are occupations notorious for hyperbole.[2]


  1. The Piltdown Bones and ‘Implements’ Nature 174(4419):61–62, 10 July 1954; p. 61.
  2. Evolution by fiat and faith by Andrew Lamb, Creation Ministries International-Australia