Diseased and deformed humans were exploited as sideshow ‘freaks’ for decades to ‘prove’ Darwinism. These displays were a major attraction of many leading circuses and shows for over a century, and likely influenced millions of people to accept evolutionism. One recent example was in 1974, and no doubt more recent ones exist. Darwin, Haeckel and Wallace discussed these examples as potential evidence for macroevolution. Although most anthropologists and textbook authors do not use circus ‘freaks’ to try to prove Darwinism, a thorough search failed to reveal even a single case where they exposed their use as fraudulent support for Darwinism. By their silence, they allowed the dishonesty to continue for decades. Some medical doctors examined these putative Darwinian missing links and verified that they were diseased but otherwise normal humans.
From the early 1800s until today, hundreds of millions of people the world over have visited amusement fairs and circuses. Circuses were the leading form of commercial entertainment for almost a century until the introduction of motion pictures.1 A major circus attraction for decades was side-show displays of a deformed human who was widely advertised as “Darwin’s missing link”, a “man-monkey”, or an “ape-man” or “ape-woman”. Actually, these shows were historically one of the most convincing evidences of Darwinism for the populace at large. These circus displays were usually deceitfully made to appear to be convincing ape-human links, as Darwin’s theory required.
It is now known that all of these claimed ‘missing link’ cases were normal humans afflicted with various genetic deformities or diseases which, in most cases, have now been accurately identified by medical researchers.2 One of the most famous circuses, Barnum and Bailey, regularly featured displays of diseased or deformed humans that they claimed proved Darwin’s theory of human evolution or, more often, dishonestly led visitors to conclude they were valid scientific evidence for Darwinism. Many of the advertisements for these exhibits were specifically designed to satisfy the public’s curiosity about Darwin. Kunhardt et al. even state that Barnum’s missing link “was strengthened by an unwitting Barnum ally, the English scientist Charles Darwin”.3….
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