Man's Most Dangerous Myth


PHYSICAL anthropology got itself into trouble by JL attempting to divide mankind into sub-groups that were supposed to be, or to have once been, mutually exclusive. Schemes of division based on colour, on hair, on head and face form, on blood groups and so on differ deeply from one another because these various characteristics have different kinds of evolutionary histories. Starting in all probability from a widespread primeval occurrence of brownish skins and wavy hair, evolution has produced darkening or lightening of the skin, crisping or straightening of the hair, according to circumstances of which our appreciation is incomplete. We think the response of head form to circumstances has been less marked and direct, though Ashley Montagu goes further than most thinkers towards accepting Boas' conclusions on changeability of head form, conclusions which were statistical rather than biological.

Man's Most Dangerous Myth

The Fallacy of Race. By M. F. Ashley Montagu. Second edition, revised and enlarged. Pp. xvi + 304. (New York: Columbia University Press ; London: Oxford University Press, 1945.) 22s. net.

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FLEURE, H. Man's Most Dangerous Myth. Nature 157, 424–425 (1946) doi:10.1038/157424a0

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