SCIENTISTS AND SCOUNDRELS by Robert Silverberg
Kirkus Star

SCIENTISTS AND SCOUNDRELS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Scientific hoaxes may impede the course of progress, but they have been great popularizers. Probably the best-known name in anthropological history is the makeshift Piltdown Man. This and 12 other phonies have been recorded here by the popular author of The Man Who Found Nineveh (1964) and many other books. The perpetrators, all motivated by various forms of ambition, are almost as intriguing as their work. A desire for wealth led John Keely to claim the invention of a perpetual motion machine, caused the sale of fake Etruscan sculptures, ""Dr."" Koch's construction of the skeleton of a supposed sea serpent, and ""Dr."" Mesmer's spiritualistic sessions (he was actually the first to use hypnotism). Dr. Cook begged for fame with his claim to have preceded Peary to the North Pole. To obtain good newspaper copy, one reporter described life on the moon and another claimed to have gone for a rocket trip. Paul Kammerer was so convinced of his theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics that he faked his evidence. Other claims include the discovery of Atlantis and the appearance of sculptures by God. Still under surveillance are the Kensington stone and the Venezulan ape man. The effects of these deviations, and the methods of their discovery, are intelligently discussed and enlivened by humorous and personal detail. Irresistible reader bait.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1965
Publisher: Crowell