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Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy Of Race [Hardcover]

Ashley Montagu
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 4, 2008 1443725005 978-1443725002 2 Rev Enl
MANS MOST DANGEROUS MYTH- The Fallacy of Race By M. F. ASHLEY MONTAGU. FOREWORD BY ALDOUS HUXLEY: DR. ASHLEY MONTAGUS book possesses two great merits arely found in current discussions ot human problems. Where most writers over-simplify, he insists on the principle of multiple and interlocking causation. And where most assume that facts will speak for themselves, he makes it clear that facts are mere ventriloquists dummies, and can be made to justify any course of action that appeals to the socially conditioned passions of the individuals concerned. These two truths are sufficiently obvious but they are seldom recognized, for the good reason that they are very depressing. To recognize the first truth is to recognize the fact that there are no panaceas and that therefore most of the golden promises made by political reformers and revolution aries are illusory. And to recognize the truth that facts do not speak for themselves, but only as mans socially con ditioned passions dictate, is to recognize that our current educational processes can do very little to ameliorate the state of the world. In the language of traditional theology so much more realistic, in many respects, than the liberal philosophies which replaced it, most ignorance is voluntary and depends upon acts of the conscious or subconscious will. Thus, the fallacies underlying the propaganda of racial hatred are not recognized because, as Dr. Montagu points out, most people have a desire to act aggressively, and the members of other ethnic groups are convenient victims, whom one may attack with a good conscience. This desire to act aggressively has its origins in the largely unavoidable frustrations imposed upon the individual by the processes of early education and later adjustments to the social environment. Dr. Montagu might have added that aggressiveness pays a higher dividend in emotional satisfaction than does cooperation. Cooperation may produce a mild emotional glow but the indulgence of aggressivness can be the equivalent of a drinking bout or sexual orgy. In our industrial societies, the goodness of life is measured in terms of the number and intensity of the excitements experienced. Popular philoso phy is moulded by, and finds expression in, the advertising pages of popular magazines. Significantly enough, the word that occurs more frequently in those pages than any other is thrill. Like sex and alcohol, aggressiveness can give enormous thrills. Under existing social conditions, it is there fore easy to represent aggressiveness as good. Concerning the remedies for the social diseases he has so penetratingly diagnosed, Dr. Montagu says very little, except that they will have to consist in some process of education. But what process It is to be hoped that he will answer this question at length in another work.

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Editorial Reviews


This timeless work is more relevant today than ever. (Kenneth Hemmerick Israfax)

This classic remains one of the most important must-read books for the educated citizen in our pluralistic society. (Multicultural Perspectives) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Whitley Press; 2 Rev Enl edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1443725005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1443725002
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,729,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ancient truth April 26, 2000
My review of this book is basically a heartfelt one. I read this book over 15 years ago. The thing that struck me as the most prominent theme in this book was that "race", as a differentia- tion among humans, is exclusively a social con- struct.
Race, per se, is non-existent because the simil-arities that are exhibited between humans by far outweigh the differences. In fact, race is a term that is used to disignate groups within a family that are (or are not) able to mate and have viable offspring. Take the genus Canis (dog's) for example: wolves, coyotes, and domesticated canines can all interbreed and produce viable offspring. Therefore, they are "stains" within the genus "Canis". However, lions, tigers, jaguars, etc... are all part of the genus Felis (cats) but can in no way interbreed and produce viable offspring.
Montagu the goes on to provide different exam-ples of how the human population is more alike than different.
I feel that this book is thorough in it's treatment of how the term race is misused and in it's refutation, through social, empirical, and factual data, of the supposition of one groups superiority/inferiority to another.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brillant book August 15, 2000
By A Customer
It really is shocking to discover that race is simply a social construct. Even scientists are duped by the myth of race with sometimes sad results. This book truly exposes how the race myth has disorted our views on society, especially the cognitive abilities of certain groups.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of its time May 30, 2007
Montagu's book was ahead of its time in terms of the DNA evidence on 'races'. There are no such thing as human 'races'. The very idea of 'race' is actually racist. Most biologists, anthropologists, and geneticists ditched the idea of 'race' in the 1950s. The lay public still believes in this myth.

The DNA research against the 'race' myth is very damaging to white supremacists because it undermines their entire worldview. A white supremacist could get their DNA tested and it would demonstrate what DNA haplogroup belonged to their distant ancestors (maternal and/or paternal). The haplogroup would have migrated from Africa and through the Middle East, or Asia and to a white supremacist this violates the mythology that they surround themselves in.

Also, the idea of a "white" person only emerged in the early 1700s. If you were to go to Europe or anywhere else on the planet before the idea of 'race' emerged and ask who is "white", people would look at you as if you were insane. Another funny thing is to compare a piece of paper with the skin color of a "white" person and demonstrate how it never matches.

A modern book by an evolutionary biologist on the 'race' myth is Joseph Graves' (2004) book, "The Race Myth".

Another book that is the most detailed examination of the idea of 'race' is Audrey Smedley's "Race in North America" now in its third edition (2007).
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ESENTICAL BOOK October 21, 2009
This is a great edition and a very good book from one of the most important researcher on Race in last sentury. No all book is about the things I'm working on although the chaper 1, 5, 7 and 8 are important for those who are searching for the development of the concept of race and the relashionship with genetics. Specially those who want to Know how the things start!
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