Ashley Montagu

British-American anthropologist

Ashley Montagu (June 28, 1905November 26, 1999) was a British-American anthropologist and humanist who wrote about issues such as race and gender and their relation to politics and development.


  • The family unit is the institution for the systematic production of mental illness.
    • Interview on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" promoting the latest edition of his book The Natural Superiority of Women (orig. 1952)
    • Quoted in David Berg, Run, Brother, Run, Simon and Schuster, 2013, p. 242.
  • The Eskimos live among ice all their lives but have no single word for ice.
    • Man: His first Million Years, (1957); this quote begins the penultimate chapter of Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
  • Among both the Northern and Eastern Hamites are to be found some of the most beautiful types of humanity.
    • Montagu, Ashley (1977/2011). An Introduction to Physical Anthropology – Third Edition. p. 456. 
  • The ability to play is one of the principal criteria of mental health.
    • Ashley Montagu (1981, p. 156), cited in: Thomas J. Sweeney (1989), Adlerian counseling: a practical approach for a new decade, p. 54
  • Bigotry and science can have no communication with each other, for science begins where bigotry and absolute certainty end. The scientist believes in proof without certainty, the bigot in certainty without proof. Let us never forget that tyranny most often springs from a fanatical faith in the absoluteness of one’s beliefs.
    • Montagu, Ashley (1984). Science and Creationism. Oxford University Press. p. 9. 
    • The second sentence is often misquoted as “Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.” or “Religion gives us certainty without proof; science gives us proof without certainty.”
  • The world is so full of wonderful things we should all, if we were taught how to appreciate it, be far richer than kings.
    • Montagu, Ashley (1989). Growing Young. Granby, Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey. p. 120. 
  • [C]ircumcision, an archaic ritual mutilation that has no justification whatever and no place in a civilized society.

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