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By Henry Ernest, Dudeney

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There Gobineau claimed that culture was inseparable from each of the three races he recognized (“black,” “white,” and “yellow”); that the white race, descended from pure Indo-Iranian 24 CHAPTER 1 “Aryans,” was superior to the others; and that race mixture led only to moral and physical deterioration. Gobineau saw this process of decline by admixture as already highly advanced in Europe and as the cause of many social woes. Gobineau’s ideas were seized upon almost a century later by the Nazis—although, since Gobineau himself was not anti-Semitic, Hitler and his colleagues found themselves obliged to quote very selectively from his writings.

All Africans except those in the far north belonged to the black, curlyhaired Ethiopian variety; the copper-colored and straight-haired American variety included all the native inhabitants of the New World except for the Eskimos; and finally, the tawny-colored and luxuriantly haired Malay variety embraced today’s Indonesian and Pacific peoples. Yet while he was prepared to give names to these “principal” varieties of humankind, Blumenbach also perceived numerous “insensible transitions” among them.

And they certainly affected the world view of Robert Grant, an anatomist at the University of Edinburgh who taught and deeply influenced the young Charles Darwin during his brief foray into medical studies in the late 1820s. ENTER EVOLUTION As the nineteenth century began, the idea was already in the air that organisms were capable at least of limited change. To Lamarck such change was limitless; to Buffon, it was limited to whatever was possible within species. ” But the framework within which we understand the differentiation of human races today was not yet in place, and biblical notions still held wide sway.

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