Since there was a pre-conceived notion that man's brain must have developed to its human size before other changes occurred in human structure, a human cranium with an ape's jaw didn't arouse as much suspicion as it would today.
To those who have a better understanding of the nature and limits of science, Piltdown is little more than a wrong turn down a series of roads which, despite such detours, eventually arrives at the right destination. It demonstrates, too, the way theories and facts are related in science.
Theories are the filters through which facts are interpreted (Popper). On the other hand, facts are used to test theories.
Gould notes that today a human cranium with an ape's jaw is considered to be extremely implausible and far-fetched.
But in the early part of this century, anthropologists were imbued with the cultural prejudice which considered man's big brain as his ticket to rule, the main evolutionary feature that made it possible for man to develop all his other unique features.
Piltdown was an archaeological site in England where in 19 human, ape and other mammal fossils were found together.
In 1913 at a nearby site was found an ape's jaw with a canine tooth worn down like a human's.The general community of British paleoanthropologists came to accept the idea that the fossil remains belonged to a single creature that had had a human cranium and an ape's jaw. The skull was modern and the teeth on the ape's jaw had been filed down.To those who are skeptical of science, such as Charles Fort and the Forteans, such episodes as Piltdown are taken to be proof that science is, more or less, bunk.Instead of focusing their attention on examining the "facts" more closely with an eye to discovering the fraud, scientists weren't even allowed to examine the physical evidence at all!They had to deal with plaster molds and be satisfied with a quick look at the originals to justify the claim that the models were accurate.Another reason some scientists were duped was probably because it was not in their nature to consider someone would be so malicious as to intentionally engage in such deception.