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The development of the anthropological conception of "race" may be traced from the scholastic naturalization of Aristotle's doctrine of the predicables of genus, species, dif- ference, property, and accident. From the Middle Ages through the seventeenth century it may be traced to the early days of the Age of Enlightenment, when Linnaeus, in , took over the concepts of class, genus, and species from the theologians to serve him as systematic tools. But Buff on did not use the term in a classificatory sense; this was left to Blumen- bach. As used by Blumenbach the term "race" merely represented an extension of the Aristotelian conception of species, that is to say, it was a subdivision of a species.

Like Buffon, Blumen- bach recognized that all human beings belong to a single spe- cies, as did Linnaeus, and he considered it merely convenient to distinguish between certain geographically localized groups of man. Thus, when with Blumenbach, in the late eighteenth century, the term assumed a classificatory value, it was under- stood that that value was purely arbitrary and no more than a simple convenience. It had no other meaning than that. The Aristotelian conception of species, the theological doc- trine of special creation, and the natural history of the Age of Enlightenment, as represented particularly by Cuvier's brilliant conception of unity of type, namely, the idea that ani- 1 Myrdal, An American Dilemma: the Negro Problem and American Democ- racy, p.

It is, however, important to remember that Darwin conceived of evolution as a process involving continuous materials, which, without the operation of natural selection, would remain unchanged. Hence, under the Darwinian conception of species it was still possible to think of species as relatively fixed and immutable, with the modification that under the slow action of natural selection they were capable of change.

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For the nineteenth- century anthropologist, therefore, it was possible to think of "race" or "races," not as Blumehbach did in the eighteenth century, as an arbitrary convenience in classification, but as Cuvier did at the beginning of the nineteenth century for all animals, as groups which could be classified upon the basis of the fact that they possessed an aggregate of common physical characters, and, as Darwin later postulated, as groups which varied only under conditions of natural selection, but which otherwise remained unchanged.

This is essentially a scholastic conception of species with the one fundamental difference that a species is considered to be no longer fixed and immutable. As far as the older anthro- pological conception of "race" is concerned, the anthropolo- gist, unaware of the significance of the findings of modern genetics, still thinks of "race" as the scholastics thought of spe- cies, as a knowable fixed whole, the essence of which could be defined per genus, propria, et differentia. In explaining the object of her investigations, she writes: "The purpose of these anthropo- metric measurements is the establishment of various physical types.

The more generalized characteristics of the inhabitants of any one locality can be determined, the resemblances to and differences from their near and remote neighbours, the ideal being to discover the various strains which are there combined. In anthropology there is as much information to be gathered from these physical measurements as from the study of social habits and customs. They have all taken completely for granted the one thing which required to be proved, namely, that the concept of "race" corresponds with a reality which can actually be measured and verified and descriptively set out so that it can be seen to be a fact.

Nobody had tried to answer the questions why certain measurements were taken, why they were considered significant, whether they were subject to other influences. Stated in plain English, this is the conception of "race" which most anthropologists have held and practically every- one else, except the geneticist, accepts. When, as in recent years, some anthropologists have admitted that the concept cannot be strictly applied in any systematic sense, they have thought to escape the consequences of such an admission by calling the term a "general" one and have proceeded to play the old game of blind man's bluff with a sublimity which is almost enviable.

For it is not vouchsafed to everybody com- pletely to appreciate the grandeur of the doctrine here im- plied. The feeling of dissatisfaction with which most an- thropologists have viewed the many laborious attempts at classification of human groups has not, on the whole, suc- ceeded in generating the unloyal suspicion that something is probably wrong somewhere. If there is a fault, it was gen- erally supposed, it lies, not with the anthropologist, but with the material, with the human beings themselves who are the subject of classification, and who always vary so much that it is difficult to put them into the group where they were con- ceived properly to belong.

This was definitely a nuisance, but, happily, one which could be overcome by the simple expedi- ent of "averaging" the principal occupation of the student of "race. It may be good cooking, but it is not science, since it serves to confuse rather than to clarify. When an omelette is done, it has a fairly uniform character, though the ingredients which have entered into its making have been varied. So it is with the anthropolog- ical conception of "race.

An indigestible dish conjured into being by an anthropological chef from a number of ingredients which are extremely varied in character. The omelette called "race" has no existence outside the statistical frying pan in which it has been reduced by the heat of the anthropological imagination. It is this omelette conception of "race" which is so meaning- less meaningless because it is inapplicable to anything real.

When anthropologists begin to realize that the proper de- scription of a group does not consist in the process of making an omelette of it, but in the description of the character of the variability of the elements entering into it its ingredients they will discover that the fault lies, not with the materials, but with the conceptual tool with which they have approached its study. That many differences exist between various groups of human beings is obvious; but the older anthropological con- ception of these is erroneous, and the older anthropological approach to the study of their relationships is unscientific and pre-Mendelian.

Taxonomic exercises in the classification of assemblages of phenotypical external characters will never succeed in elucidating the relationships of different groups of mankind to one another, for the simple reason that it is not assemblages of characters which undergo changes in the forma- tion of the individual and the group, but the single units which determine those characters.

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One of the great persisting errors involved in the anthropological conception of "race" has been due to the steady refusal to recognize this fact. The parallel in the history of biology is very striking here and has been well illustrated by Dobzhansky, who writes: "Many studies on hybridization were made before Mendel, but they did not lead to the discovery of Mendel's laws.

In retrospect, we see clearly where the mistake of Mendel's pred- ecessors lay: they treated as units the complexes of characteris- tics of individuals, races, and species, and attempted to find rules governing the inheritance of such complexes. Mendel was first to understand that it was the inheritance of separate traits, and not complexes of traits, which had to be studied. Some of the modern students of racial variability consistently repeat the mistakes of Mendel's predecessors. These chemical packages are the genes, sit- uated within the chromosomes, structures with which some anthropologists are still scarcely on terms of a bowing ac- quaintance.

These genes retain both their independence and their individual character more or less indefinitely, although probably they are all inherently variable and, in time, may undergo mutation. For these reasons any conception of "race" which operates as if inheritance were a matter of transmitting gross aggregates of characters is both erroneous and meaning- less.

To quote Dobzhansky once more: "The difficulty. Such a concept is obviously out- moded and incapable of producing much insight into the causative factors at work in human populations. Evolutionary changes are brought about through the rearrangements in the combinations of genes in consequence of the operation of many secondary factors, physical and social, and changes in the character of the genes themselves. In order to appreciate the meaning of the variety presented by mankind today it is indispensably necessary to understand the manner in which these agencies work.

Thus, in man it is practically certain that some forms of hair and skin color are due to mutation, while still other forms are due to various combinations of these mutant forms with one another, as also with nonmutant forms. The rate of mutation for different genes in man is unknown, though it has been calculated that the gene for normal clot- ting mutates, for example, to the gene for haemophilia in one out of every 50, individuals per generation. It is highly probable, for example, that such a mutation occurred in the person of 'Queen Victoria, a fact which in the long run may perhaps constitute her chief claim to fame.

If anthropologists are ever to understand how the different groups of mankind came to possess such characters as dis- tinguish the more geographically isolated of them, and those of the less isolated, more recently mixed, and therefore less 7 Ibid. Haldane, Heredity and Politics, p. What must be studied are the frequencies with which such genes occur in different groups or populations.

The gene frequency method for the study of the distribution of human genes is a very simple one and has now been available for some time, 10 as likewise, has been the method for the study of genetic link- age in man. If we consider the newer concepts, which recognize that the adult individual represents the end point in the interaction between all these genes, the complexities become even greater. To sum up, the indictment against the older anthropologi- cal conception of "race" is i that it is artificial, 2 that it does not correspond with the facts, 3 that it leads to confu- sion and the perpetuation of error, and finally, 4 that for all these reasons it is meaningless, or rather, more accurately, such meaning as it possesses is false.

Based as it is on unex- amined facts and unjustifiable generalizations, it were better that the term, being so weighed down with false meaning, were dropped altogether than that any attempt should be made to give it a new meaning. If it be agreed that the human species is one and that it con- sists of a group of populations which, more or less, replace each other geographically or ecologically and of which the 10 For a clear exposition of the facts see Strandskov, "The Distribution of Human Genes," Scientific Monthly, LII , , and "The Genetics of Human Populations," American Naturalist, LXXVI , Physical anthropologists must recognize that they have un- wittingly played no small part in the creation of the myth of "race," which in our time has assumed so monstrous a form.

I am glad to say that since the appearance of the first edition of the present volume a number of anthropologists have seen their responsibility clearly and are taking active steps to exor- cise the monster and deliver the thought and conduct of man- kind from its evil influence.


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Morant, England's most distinguished physical anthropologist, in delivering the address on physical anthropology at the centenary meeting of the Royal Anthropological Institute, said: "It seems to me that the time has come when anthropologists must fully rec- ognize fundamental changes in their treatment of the problem of racial classification.

The idea that a race is a group of peo- ple separated from all others on account of the distinctive ancestry of its members, is implied whenever a racial label is used, but in fact we have no knowledge of the existence of such populations to-day or in any past time. Gradations be- tween any regional groups distinguished, and an absence of clear-cut divisions, are the universal rule.

In order to understand the end effects with which the physical anthropologist has been so much concerned it is necessary to investigate the causes producing them, and this can only be done by studying the conditions under which they come into being, for it should be obvious that it is the conditions pro- ducing the end effects which must be regarded as the efficient causes of them.

Comparing numerous series of metrical and nonmetrical characters relating to different varieties of man may provide us with some notion of their likenesses and differences and tell us something of the variability of some of their characters; this is necessary and important, but no amount of detailed description and comparison will ever tell us how such groups came to be as we now find them, unless a serious attempt be made to discover the causes operative in producing them. Such causes are at work before our eyes at the present time.

In this country and in many other parts of the world where different "racial" groups have met and interbred determinate sequences, if not the actual mechanism, of "racial" change may be studied. The discoveries of geneticists concerning the manner in which genetic changes are brought about in other organisms and what little is known of human genetics renders it perfectly clear that the genetic systems of all living things behave fundamentally according to the same laws. If this is true, it then becomes possible, for the first time in the history of man, to envisage the possibility of an evolution in genetical terms of the past stages through which man, as a variable spe- 38 THE GENETICAL THEORY cies, must have passed in order to attain his present variety of form and also, in the same terms, to account for that variety.

The principles involved in the genetic approach to the study of the evolution of the variety of mankind cannot be fully discussed here, because such a discussion would demand a treatise in itself. Here we have space only for a very condensed statement of the genetical theory of "race. Genetic drift describes the fact that, given a genetically heterogeneous or heterozygous group, spontaneous random variations in gene frequencies will, in the course of time, occur, so that such originally relatively homogeneous groups will come to exhibit certain differences from other isolate groups which started with the same genetic equipment.

Mutation defines the condition in which a particular gene undergoes a permanent change of some sort, and its action ex- presses itself in the appearance of a new form of an old char- acter. Mutations have almost certainly occurred independently in different human isolate groups, at different times and at different rates, and have affected different characters. We cannot, however, make a similar assumption for all or many of the characters which distinguish the four divisions of man from one an- other.

Skin color, for example, cannot be so simply explained, for the probabilities are high that even in early man there were already in existence various skin colors and also, inci- dentally, hair colors. Up to this point we have seen that it is possible to start with a genetically heterogeneous, but otherwise relatively homo- geneous, population from which independent groups have migrated and become isolated from one another and that by random variation in gene frequencies and the change in the action of genes themselves disregarding for the moment the operation of such factors as selection of various sorts new genetic combinations of characters have appeared which, in so far as they differ from those which have appeared in other groups, define the differences existing between such groups.

In brief, random variation in gene frequency and the action of mutant genes are the primary agencies responsible for the production of physical differences between human groups. In fact, these constitute the basic processes in the evolution of all animal forms. But there are also other factors involved which, though secondary in the sense that they act upon the primary factors and influence their operation, are not less important in their effects than the primary factors.

Indeed, these sec- ondary factors, ecological, natural, sexual and social selection, inbreeding, outbreeding, or hybridization, and so forth, have been unremitting in their action upon the primary factors, but the character of that action has been very variable. The action of these secondary factors does not require any discus- sion here hybridization is discussed in Chapter VIII. I wish i Among apes of the present day, for example, one encounters animals that are completely white skinned, others that are completely black or brown skinned; still others are mixed or differentially colored, thus the face and hands and feet may be black and the rest of the body white or brown.

The hair on the crown of a gorilla's head may contain almost every color that is tp be found among men today. It is here being suggested that "race" is merely an expression of the process of genetic change within a def- inite ecologic area; that "race" is a dynamic, not a static, con- dition; and that it becomes static and classifiable only when a taxonomically minded anthropologist arbitrarily delimits the process of change at his own time level.

In short, the so-called "races" merely represent different kinds of temporary mixtures of genetic materials common to all mankind. As Shelley wrote, Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Naught may endure but mutability. Given a sufficient amount of time, all genes presumably mutate. The frequency with which various genes have under- gone change or mutation in human groups is at present un- known, but when anthropologists address themselves to the task of solving the problem of gene variability in different human groups, important discoveries may be expected.

The immediate task of the physical anthropologist interested in the origins of human variety should be to investigate the prob- lem presented by that variety, not as a taxonomist, but as a geneticist, since the variety which is loosely called "race" is a process which can only be accurately described in terms of the frequencies with which the individual genes occur in groups representing adequate geographic isolates. If "race" and "racial" variability can best be described in terms of gene frequencies, then among the most important tasks of the anthropologist must be to discover what roles the primary and secondary factors play in producing that varia- bility.

The approach to the solution of this problem is twofold. Such studies as those of Fischer, Herskovits, and Davenport and Steggerda have already shown what can be achieved by means of the genetic approach. And as Dobzhansky so cogently put it in a pre- viously quoted passage which, however, cannot be too often repeated, the error of the pre-Mendelians lay in the fact that "they treated as units the complexes ot characteristics of in- dividuals, races, and species, and attempted to find rules gov- erning the inheritance of such complexes.

Mendel was first to understand that it was the inheritance of separate traits, and not of complexes of traits, which had to be studied. We have already seen that the mechanisms involved in differentiating a single collective genotype into several separate genotypes, and the subsequent development of a variety of phenotypes within these genotypes, are primarily genetic drift or gene variability and gene mutation, and secondarily, the action of such factors as environment, natural, social, and sexual selec- tion, inbreeding, outbreeding, and the like. Many of the physical differences existing between the living races of man probably originally represented the end effects of small gene mutations fitting harmoniously into gene sys- 2 Fischer, Die Rehobother Bastards und das Bastardierungsproblem beim Menschen; Herskovits, The American Negro and The Anthropometry of the American Negro; Davenport and Steggerda, Race Crossing in Jamaica.

Judging from the nature of their likenesses and differences, and from the effects of intermixture the number of genes involved would appear to be relatively small in number, each being for the most part independent in its action. Quite as important as the primary factors in the production of the genetic variety of mankind are the secondary factors, such as migration, social and sexual selection, inbreeding, 6 outbreeding, and the like. These processes are akin to those practiced in the production of domestic breeds of animals from wild types, in whom generic, specific, and racial charac- ters which, under natural conditions, in the secular period of time concerned, would have remained stable, are rendered markedly unstable, as in our artificially produced varieties of cats, dogs, horses, and other domesticated animals.

The common definition of "race" is based upon an arbi- trary and superficial selection of external characters. At its very best it may, in genetic terms, be redefined as a group of individuals of whom an appreciable majority, taken at a par- ticular time level, is characterized by the possession of a cer- tain number of genes phenotypically that is, on the basis of certain visible characters selected as marking "racial" bound- aries between them and other groups of individuals of the same species population not characterized by so high a degree of frequency of these particular genes.

This is, perhaps, granting the common conception of "race" 5 One form of inbreeding, namely, own mother's brother's daughter own father's sister's son marriage, that is, cross-cousin marriage, is probably very ancient and is still very widespread. In this connection Buxton has observed that "herein may lie one of the explanations of the slight differences which appear in the physique of different groups of mankind. If two groups exist side by side, do not intermarry, but each practise within their own group some form of consanguineous marriage, provided that it be physical and not clas- sificatory consanguinity, each will tend to become a pure strain, but according to the laws of chance each of these pure strains will tend to differ to a greater or lesser degree from the other.

We shall thus, in time tend to get those differ- ences in physique between neighbouring tribes which are often so puzzling to the physical anthropologist. Once the pure strains have become established, so long as outside blood is not introduced into the tribe, this difference will tend to be perpetuated.

What, for in- stance, does "an appreciable majority" refer to? What are the characters which are to be exhibited by this "appreciable ma- jority? What aggregation, then, of gene likenesses and differences constitutes a "race" or ethnic group? The answer to this question awaits further research. Mean- while, we may venture, in a very tentative manner, a defini- tion of an ethnic group here. An ethnic group represents part of a species population in process of undergoing genetic dif- ferentiation; it is a group of individuals capable of hybridiz- ing and intergrading with other such ethnic groups to produce further genetic recombination and differentiation.

In an expanded form this definition may be written as fol- lows: An ethnic group represents one of a number of popula- tions comprising the single species Homo sapiens which indi- vidually maintain their differences, physical and cultural, by means of isolating mechanisms such as geographic and social barriers. These differences will vary as the power of the geo- graphic and social barriers, acting upon the original genetic differences, vary. Where these barriers are of low power, neighboring groups will intergrade or hybridize with one an- other.

Where these barriers are of high power, such ethnic groups will tend to remain distinct or to replace each other geographically or ecologically. When Ameri- can Negroes marry and have a family, their children more closely resemble other American Negroes, as well as Negroes elsewhere in the world, than they do American or other whites.

This merely means that the offspring have drawn their genes from a local group in the population in which certain genes, say for skin color, were present that were not present in other local groups of the American population. Now, the manner in which such genes are distributed within a popula- tion such as ours is determined not so much by biological fac- tors as by social factors. This may be illustrated by means of a homely example. If Negroes were freely permitted to marry whites, the physical differences between Negroes and whites would eventually be completely eliminated through the more or less equal distribution of their genes throughout the popu- lation.

That this has not occurred to any large extent is due principally to the erection of social barriers against such "mis- cegenation. In this way such barriers act as isolating factors akin to natural geographic isolating fac- tors, which have the same effect in maintaining the homo- geneity of genetic characters within the isolated group.

Is it not clear, then, that the frequency distributions of cer- tain genes within a population no matter how those genes have arisen which serve to distinguish one ethnic group from another for the most part represent the effects of the action of different isolating agents upon a common stock of genetic materials? Such agencies as natural, social, and sexual selection result in different frequency distributions of genes ural history of birds and fishes, a classification into many small families is based on a surer foundation than where large sections are separated into a few but large divisions; so it also appears to me, that in the determination of races a preference should be given to the establishment of small families or nations.

Whether we adopt the old classification of my master, Blumenbach The extremes of form and colour are certainly separated, but without regard to the races, which cannot be included in any of these classes. Such, from the stand- point of the naturalist, is an ethnic group. It denies the unwarranted assumption that there exist any hard and fast genetic boundaries between any groups of mankind and as- serts the common genetic unity of all groups. Such a concep- tion of "race" cuts across all national, linguistic, religious, and cultural boundaries and thus asserts their essential independ- ence of genetic factors.

All varieties of man belong to the same species and have the same remote ancestry. This is a conclusion to which all the rele- vant evidence of comparative anatomy, palaeontology, serol- ogy, and genetics points. On genetic grounds alone it is vir- tually impossible to conceive of the varieties of man as having originated separately as distinct lines from different anthro- poid ancestors.

Genetically the chances against such a process ever having occurred are, in terms of probability, of such an order as to render that suggestion inadmissible. Up to the present time no satisfactory classification of the varieties of mankind has been devised, and it is greatly to be doubted whether such classification is possible in any manner resembling the procedure of the purely botanical or zoologi- cal taxonomist. The reason for this is that all human varieties are very much more mixed than are plant or animal forms, hence there is a greater dispersion or scattering of characters, which has the effect of producing a considerable amount of intergrading between ethnic groups or varieties.

The more or less great variability of all ethnic groups constitutes a genetic proof of their mixed character. From the biological stand- point the physical differences which exist between the va- rieties of mankind are so insignificant that when properly evaluated they can only be described in terms of a particular expression of an assortment of genes which are common to mankind as a whole.

At most, human varieties probably differ from one another only in the distribution of a comparatively small number of genes. There are numerous varieties of cats, dogs, and horses, many of which represent highly selected strains of animals which have been developed as more or less homogeneous strains and domesticated by man.


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Man, too, is a domesticated, a self-domesticated, animal, but unlike our domestic animals man exhibits varieties that are very much mixed and far from representing homogeneous breeds. The range of variation in all human varieties for most characters is very much more con- siderable than that which is exhibited by any group of animals belonging to a comparatively homogeneous breed. All the evidence indicates that the differences between the so-called "races" of man merely represent a random combination of variations derived from a common source, which, by inbreed- ing in isolated groups, have become scattered and more or less stabilized and hereditary in a large number of the members of such groups.

Furthermore, the evidence suggests that such selection of variations as has occurred in different groups has been primarily restricted to physical characters. There is no evidence among the ethnic groups of mankind that any proc- ess of mental selection has ever been operative which has acted differentially upon mankind to produce different types of minds. The conception of selection for mental qualities seems to be a peculiarly modern one, adapted to modern prejudices.

Man has bred dogs for certain temperamental qualities useful in the hunt for many centuries dogs like the Irish setter, for example. The Irish setter is always red-haired, but his red hair has no connection with his temperamental quali- ties. The Irish setter has the same kind of temperament as the English setter, but the hair color of the English setter is white and black.

The only difference between the white, the black, the white and black, and the red setters is in their coat color; there is no difference at all in their mental or temperamental qualities. For such an assumption there is about as much justification as there would be for the assumption that there exist substantial mental differences between the differ- ent color varieties of setters. We know this to be false concern- ing setters only because we have paid more unprejudiced attention to the mental qualities of dogs than we have to those of human beings.

But those of us who have paid some atten- tion to the character and form of the minds of peoples belong- ing to different varieties of mankind and to different cultures have satisfied ourselves by every scientific means at our dis- posal that significantly or innately determined mental differ- ences between the varieties of mankind have thus far not been demonstrable. It may be that some such differences do exist, but if they do, they have so far successfully eluded every at- tempt to prove their existence. There is every reason to be- lieve that such mental differences as we observe to exist be- tween the different varieties of man are due principally to factors of a cultural nature and are in no demonstrably sig- nificant manner inseparably related to biological factors.

We shall presently refer to the nature of the mental differences which are alleged to exist between different ethnic groups. Whether the varieties of mankind have a common origin or not is strictly a matter which need concern us little, in view of the fact that structurally, in spite of superficial differences, they are all now so very much alike. No one physical trait is limited to any particular variety, Although different varieties show higher frequencies in the possession of certain physical traits than others.

Such differences in the distribution of the frequencies of physical characters in different human groups simply mean that at some time in the past individuals of dif- ferent heredity interbred, and in isolation continued to do so, with the result that a new combination of characters became more or less evenly distributed throughout the group. In this way a new human variety or ethnic group was produced. The fundamental genetic kinship of all the ethnic groups of mankind would, therefore, seem to be clear.

With respect to the nature of those physical characters in the frequency distribution of which varieties differ from one another, it needs to be said that not one can be classified as either "higher" or "lower" in the "scale" of development. Every normal physical character must be appraised as equally valuable for the respective functions which it is called upon to perform. Such a character, for example, as black skin proba- bly represents a variety of the original skin color of man.

Whatever its origin, a black skin is undoubtedly a character of adaptive value, since it enables the individual to withstand the dangerous actinic rays of the sun. Hence, for groups living in areas of intense sunlight a black skin would, in terms of natural selection, in general be superior to a white skin. By definition all members of the human species belong to the same classificatory and evolutionary rank, and the varie- ties of the human species, for the most part, merely represent the expression of successful attempts at adaptation to the en- vironment or habitat in which they have been segregated.

It is not altogether an accident that we find dark skins associated with regions of high temperatures and intense sunlight and light skins associated with cooler climates and moderate de- grees of sunlight. In this same connection, compare the habi- tat of the white bear with that of the black or the brown bear; also, the frequency of black insects in deserts; Gloger's rule melanin pigmentation in mammals and birds increases in warm and humid and lighter pigmentation in arid countries.

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Lukin finds that darkly pigmented races of insects are found in countries with humid and lightly pigmented races in coun- tries with arid climates. Thus, most apes and monkeys which possess an abundant hairy coat have white skin beneath the hair. It may, therefore, be assumed that the skin of early man was probably white; but the opposite assumption may be equally true, that is, some groups of the earliest men may have been black.

In that case we would have to say, disregarding for the moment all other considerations, that white-skinned peoples have a lesser amount of pigment in their skin merely because the shift from the birthplace of their ancestors, which there is good reason to believe was either eastern Asia or At- rica, to the cooler regions of Europe gradually resulted in a de- crease in the amount of pigment in their skin, so that in the course of time, by means of selection of genes for low pigmen- tation, this has become considerably reduced.

To the present day, exposure to the intense sunlight will bring about the production of an increased amount of pig- ment in many whites, so that depending upon the degree of exposure the skin may turn dark even black. This latter phenomenon will occur more readily in brunets than in blonds, simply because brunets possess a great amount of the substances required for the production of pigment, whereas blonds possess a much lower proportion of these substances.

In hot climates those individuals would be most favored who possessed skins sufficiently dark to cut off the dangerous actinic rays of the sun. In cool cli- mates, where the rays of the sun are not so intense and the body requires a certain amount of sunlight in order to func- tion properly, those individuals would be at an advantage that is to say, over a considerable period of time who were characterized by a lesser amount of pigment in the skin.

The darkening of white skin under sunlight has, of course, no effect on the genes for white skin. Any permanent change in skin color would have to come by selection of genes for more pig- mentation. Their pigmentless tissues are incapable of taking care of the sun's rays; in other words, they have no adaptive mecha- nism to protect them from the rays of the sun.

In so far as they lack such a mechanism they are biologically unadapted to meet efficiently the demands of their environment and to that extent they are physically inferior to those of their fellows who are so adapted. But there is no evidence of any associated men- tal inferiority in such cases.

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The Negro is much better adapted to meet the demands of the conditions of intense sunlight to which his ancestors were born than the white man is, 8 just as the white man is better adapted to meet the rigors of the cooler climates of his adopted homelands. Is the one therefore superior or inferior to the other? Is the white man superior to the Negro because he has lost the greater part of his pig- ment, because biologically his organism has not required its presence under the conditions in which he has lived? And is the Negro superior or inferior because he is the descendant of ancestors who were able to survive by virtue of the selective value of their darkly pigmented skins?

Clearly, there can be no question here of either inferiority or superiority. Both the Negro and the white man have survived because they and their ancestors were possessed of characters of adaptive value which, under the respective conditions of their differing en- vironments, enabled them to survive. Characters of adaptive value, whatever form they may take, are always desirable, because from the standpoint of the organism and of the group they enable it to survive under the unremitting action of the processes oi natural selection.

Is there any sense, then, in condemning a person because of the color of his skin, that self-same color which enabled the ancestral group that gave him birth to survive the rigors of this world? Of course there is none, and there can be none from any possible point of view. The same is true of hair and eye color.

Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race

But, as our racists point out, it is not only the color of the 3 Lewis, The Biology of the Negro, pp. These, surely, are all marks of inferiority? We may well ask: "Marks of inferiority in what sense? In the cultural or in the biological sense? Even Negroes when educated in Western cultures, as in North America, owing to the cul- tural norms which are everywhere set before them as stand- ards, frequently come to consider that lank hair and white skin are to be preferred to black skin and kinky hair.

The three characters in question, namely, kinky hair, thick lips, and general lack of body hair, are not marks of inferior- ity, but are very definitely, in the biological sense, examples of characters which have progressed farther in development than have the same physical structures in whites. In these very characters the Negro is from the evolutionary standpoint more advanced than the white, that is, if we take as our cri- terion of advancement the fact of being furthest removed from such conditions as are exhibited by the existing anthro- poid apes, such as the gorilla and the chimpanzee.

If some of our racists would take the trouble to visit their local zoo and for a moment would drop their air of superiority and take a dispassionate look at either one of these apes, they would find that the hair of these creatures is lank, that their lips are thin, and that their bodies are profusely covered with hair. Seller information shopspell Contact seller. Visit store. See other items More See all. Item Information Condition:.

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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Man's Most Dangerous Myth was first published in , when Nazism flourished, when African Americans sat at the back of the bus, and when race was considered the determinant of people's character and intelligence. It presented a revolutionary theory for its time; breaking the link between genetics and culture, it argued that race is largely a social construction and not c Man's Most Dangerous Myth was first published in , when Nazism flourished, when African Americans sat at the back of the bus, and when race was considered the determinant of people's character and intelligence.

It presented a revolutionary theory for its time; breaking the link between genetics and culture, it argued that race is largely a social construction and not constitutive of significant biological differences between people. In the ensuing 55 years, as Ashley Montagu's radical hypothesis became accepted knowledge, succeeding editions of his book traced the changes in our conceptions of race and race relations over the 20th century. Now, over 50 years later, Man's Most Dangerous Myth is back in print, fully revised by the original author.

Montagu is internationally renowned for his work on race, as well as for such influential books as The Natural Superiority of Women, Touching, and The Elephant Man.

This new edition contains Montagu's most complete explication of his theory and a thorough updating of previous editions. The Sixth Edition takes on the issues of the Bell Curve, IQ testing, ethnic cleansing and other current race relations topics, as well as contemporary restatements of topics previously addressed.

A bibliography of almost 3, published items on race, compiled over a lifetime of work, is of enormous research value. Also available is an abridged student edition containing the essence of Montagu's argument, its policy implications, and his thoughts on contemporary race issues for use in classrooms. Ahead of its time in , Montagu's arguments still contribute essential and salient perspectives as we face the issue of race in the s.

Man's Most Dangerous Myth is the seminal work of one of the 20th century's leading intellectuals, essential reading for all scholars and students of race relations. Get A Copy. Hardcover , 6th edition, abridged , pages. Published December 2nd by Altamira Press first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Man's Most Dangerous Myth , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Man's Most Dangerous Myth.