Satoshi Kanazawa is still a jackass

Every few months I read about some turds dropped by this evolutionary psychologist and his penchant for spectacularly prejudiced Just So stories. Name an oppressive expression of the kyriarchy and the odds are good that Kanazawa has a “scientific” explanation for why it’s right and proper.

This week he let us know that he’s absolutely sure that the whole world agrees with him that black women are “objectively” uglier than other women.

The response from the blogosphere has been a resounding Fuck That Noise. His post has since been taken down, but you can read it in full here.

Some commentary –
Voices: The Satoshi Kanazawa Study
Repeat Offender: Satoshi Kanazawa’s Other Greatest Misses
How to Debunk Pseudo-Science Articles about Race in Five Easy Steps

Transgriot: Satoshi Kanazawa, Black Women Ain’t Ugly

Psychology Today is the place that gives this guy a cyber-megaphone. Why?

NB: this post is tagged pseudoscience because that’s what Kanazawa presents in his web posts. This does not mean that I think that all evolutionary psychology research is pseudoscience. It does however seem to attract a lot of folks with a spectacular line in hand waving.

Categories: media, Science, social justice

Tags: , , ,

18 replies

  1. And the amusing followup is this post by a white male in Psychology Today complaining about censorship, about how “proponents of diversity” don’t want “diversity of opinion” and most amazingly bizarrely, the claim that black women will not be able to dialogue about white supremacist notions of beauty in a racist culture without the help of men–it’s priceless (by which I mean full of shit):

    • @ithiliana, love (BWIMH) how a whole bunch of bloggers being angry with his bloviating from a place of authority, and/or mocking his idiosyncratic use of the word “objective” wrt beauty standards, is supposed to be somehow be a lack of “dialogue” addressing Kanazawa’s arguments. This is what dialogue is, dude.
      I suspect that the main reason the post was withdrawn is either Kanazawa himself or Psychology Today getting really embarrassed about the “objective” bit.
      @SunlessNick, very handy point to remember.

  2. It does however seem to attract a lot of folks with a spectacular line in hand waving.
    Fortunately, they usually identify themselves by saying that “science isn’t politically correct” (which invariably seems to precede an attempt to use it to prove their political positions correct).

  3. It’s not analytical commentary, but it’s awesome: The Angry Black Woman has been featuring beautiful black women all week in response.

  4. Plus commentary here and here, but the pictures are what has stuck in my mind of The Angry Black Woman’s coverage.

  5. I still can’t believe this article was published. Absolute nonsense with toxic levels of fuckwittery.

  6. Crap Psychologist May Lose Job Over Racist Article – the student union at the LSE has voted that Kanazawa should get the sack, and the university is mounting a full investigation into the options for academic punishment.

  7. There’s an interesting point raised in comments on Jezebel: he’s been writing racist things about IQ distributions (alongside sexist rubbish about women) for years. It took this particular article to rise above just some objections from critics on blogs to actual action being taken.
    Why did it take so long?

  8. I’m doing a first year psychology subject at Uni this year, and a few weeks ago we had a tutorial about good and bad science. An article by Satoshi Kanazawa was used to illustrate that just because an article is published in a peer reviewed journal, doesn’t mean that the methods used were scientific. The article was so racist and the evidence so inadequate for the claims made, my tutor actually thought it might be an attempt at irony to highlight how flawed some studies can be. I guess that was wishful thinking.

  9. Amanda: Was it in a peer-reviewed journal? I thought it was only published in Psychology Today. Were they quoting it from somewhere else?

  10. There’s another post there now, talking about how black women should be thanking Kanazawa for bringing up an important dialogue about discrimination. Like no one ever mentioned the subject at all before this guy did.

    • @SunlessNick, that’s the post Ithiliana linked to at #1, but it’s worth mentioning it again just to point out that Psychology Today seems to be scraping the bottom of a few different barrels with their writers. As quite a few WOC bloggers have noted, they didn’t need Kanazawa to start this conversation about the racialisation of beauty standards, they’ve already been having it for years.

  11. Lauredhel: It was a different article written by Satoshi Kanazawa, No, It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That, published in Evolutionary Psychology, a peer reviewed journal, in 2006. I guess it shows he has been writing very racist things, and passing it off as science, for quite a long time.

  12. @tigtog, nice of you to spin my post that way, but…
    @ithiliana, I do apologise for my fail there.

  13. The Blacking It Up podcast (Elon James White, Bassey Ikpi and Aaron Rand Freeman) did basically a full cast on this (Ep 77 here) and a follow up (first part of Ep 78) with the author of this rather good takedown from another Psychology Today Blogger. Incidentally, the blogger pointed out that the way the Psych Today blogs operate, they pick their bloggers and the bloggers have carte blanche with no real oversight. Though it’s worth noting that the title changed 2-3 times before it was taken down.

    • Great links, Jennifer. There’s another good post at Psychology Today where the author refers to the miscreant as “he-who-shall-not-be-named-or-given-additional-publicity” – Giving psychology a bad name, one pseudo-scientific blog post at a time.

      This is precisely what you should expect from someone who considers provocation to be the same as good science–who thinks that empirical inquiry means reading something somewhere and using the first thing that pops into your head to explain it.
      Like it or not, the burden is higher when you’re a scientist blogging about science. And anyone who can only think of one explanation for an observed difference in a data set might simply be incapable of meeting that high burden.

  14. I got an email today from asking me to sign a petition about this. Did anyone else get it? Is it legit?

  15. Hi Mindy – it prob is: I got a bunch of them after I signed the petition with them about Uganda’s bill on homosexuality. I had to delist myself though as between them, GetUp and the news I was getting a bit worn out.

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