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We feel like bumbling Dr. Watson rather than rapier-witted Sherlock Holmes in trying to follow the latest case involving Holmes's author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It seems there are clues suggesting that - aha! - it was Conan Doyle who perpetrated the hoax of the Piltdown man early in the century. This was the supposed fossil evidence of a ''missing link'' between man and monkey. It took decades for the fossil to be exposed as fabricated.

Did Conan Doyle have a hand in it? Did he want to put down what he regarded as scientific materialists by showing they could be taken in so easily?

Really, Holmes, you mean it wasn't Professor Moriarty after all?

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