So. If you’re on Twitter, hopefully you’ve seen the stream of tweets about this Pschology Today article (Thanks to @racialicious for being the first tweet I saw on the topic) (Extra thanks to @thefiercestgirl for pointing out the google cache here. I had a guest post scheduled for today but I am interrupting that to say all of this:

Y’all, this kind of racist bullshit masquerading as science is unacceptable. It’s vile and on par with the “science” proving black people weren’t human that used to be so popular. If you believe – especially if you are a white person – that we live in a post-racial, post-racist society just because we have a mixed-race guy in the White House (or just because you don’t know anyone personally who’d say this stuff), you need to read this article and you need to spend some serious time thinking with yourself about why something like this can be taken seriously enough to get published. Y’all, this guy got PAID to write this.

There is no objective measure of beauty, first and foremost. And any subjective study of aesthetics (as an entry-level anthropology course would make clear) is going to be informed by the cultural conditioning – and that includes racism – of the study’s participants. If you can’t control for that sort of bias, unless you are actually studying that bias, you can’t do a goddamn worthwhile study.

Y’all, I was an English major and I know that article isn’t how science works. Critical thinking skills for the win!

Seriously, people throw some charts in and expect that to be enough even though the foundation of their hypothesis is some weak ass racist bullshit.

And then we come to this choice bit:

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.

Seriously, this “researcher” can only think of ONE think that will “explain” the results – that black women are too manly. How thinly veiled does a racist attack have to be before Psychology Today sits up and realizes, hey, maybe we shouldn’t be printing this because someone obviously forgot to take their “anti-internalized racism” pills this morning? And how bad does the science have to be before they go, hey, you know what? That’s fucked up.

How about this? Black women score lower on the (totally subjective) aethetics poll because black women are presented as unattractive in our mainstream culture unless they conform to a very narrow (white) beauty standard or appear significantly “exotic” enough to be an exception. How about this? Black men are viewed as more attractive because they are, again in mainstream culture, reputed to have animalistic sexual stamina. How about this? Studying the relative attractiveness of the races is flawed from the get-go because (aethetics aren’t objective) it’s seeking to construct a hierarchy of superiority and supremacy based on (unsubstantiated) race characteristics. Hello, white supremacy! It’s been so long! Except it hasn’t really been!

I think my favorite – and by favorite, I mean it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit – is the part where the writer talks about how black women THINK they are pretty. Though it might also be the “oh, no, I totally controlled for how all black women are fat” part. And controlled, somehow, for net intelligence even though… you can’t really do that.

A list of contacts at Psychology Today is available here. (Thanks to @AfroLez for the tweet and @IAmDrTiller for retweeting the info.)

ETA: They’ve already pulled the article but that isn’t actually an adequate response. An acknowledgement of exactly how fucked up the article was would be a start. I’ll link to screen caps as soon as I have access to them.

EETA: Image cap here. Hotlinking at the moment – will upload it to my own space when I get home from work.

EVEN MORE ETA: Read this response by Karnythia.


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39 Comments

  1. shinobi
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    It’s just so painful that the only thing he could think to do with all that data was talk about how the researchers thing black women are ugly? Pathetic.

    And he didn’t even examine the researchers for racial biases, which I would have done immediately. I tumblred about it in a fit of nerdrage.

  2. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. I am the least scientific person on this planet and *I* could tell that was garbage.

  3. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    OMG I wish I could have read the original article. It sounds like such bullshit! How can someone get paid for that?

  4. attie
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. I think the last time I saw that name, it came attached to a quote from a paper that contrasted “individuals” with “women”. Seems like his expedition up the kyriarchy’s ass is picking up steam.

  5. Alexandra Erin
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure that Psychology Today does *zero* vetting of the things posted in their blogs. I think it’s the same set-up you’ve got here: the blog owner makes a post and up it goes. Because this isn’t the only “white dudes explain it all” blog that’s been posted on Psychology Today recently… similar bias-masquerading-as-science stuff gets posted by Drs. Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam in their “Billion Wicked Thoughts” blog also hosted by Psychology Today.

    NB: This is not a defense of Psychology Today. If they give these people free rein to run anything they like under the PT letterhead, that’s just a different route to the same destination if they’re giving these articles some kind of okay.

    • TR
      Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how they run things – but when you’re pretending to be a magazine about science, you have to do better. I think it’s honestly just a way to keep magazines coated with teflon as far as this stuff goes. “Oh, we didn’t know he was going to post that sort of thing!” Except, yes, you did. Because he posts that sort of thing quite frequently. When someone posts bad science on a regular basis, you monitor their posts.

      • Alexandra Erin
        Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how they run things – but when you’re pretending to be a magazine about science, you have to do better

        I agree. I totally agree. That’s why I said it’s not a defense. It’s a bunch of blogs, no different than a blog you or I could set up on our own servers or using blogspot or tumbler or whatever, but it’s run under their banner.

      • littlem
        Posted May 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Well, apparently it’s deeper than that.

        In previous anti-feminist articles he wrote for them which they also published, the (crap) author thanks the PT editor for being “behind his efforts”, or some such madness.

        Not that we don’t know any sexist apologist women …

        RT @socialitedreams: Don’t let @PsychToday pretend that the appalling article about Black Women didn’t happen! http://t.co/OKk2TcD via @MoreAndAgain

  6. Ashbet
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I just about exploded when I was reading that article. Utter, complete racist garbage, and the “science” was so bad that it made me cringe!!

  7. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Wow.

    Just… WHERE IS MY PUKING BUCKET????

    Can’t develop cogent thoughts. Too busy frothing at the mouth.

  8. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Oh, but thanks for the Ghostbusters quote, TR! It’s been too long since I’ve watched that movie.

    Can I unleash Mr. Staypuft on this racist douchenozzle? Pretty please? I promise I won’t let him step on any churches.

    • TR
      Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I am so glad you caught that!!!

      • Posted May 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if his test subjects didn’t get the five dollars when they stomped out in disgust.

        Oh, and by the time I got done quickly scanning that article I felt like the floor of a taxi cab.

        Can you tell I’m a fan?

  9. Tetra
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I keep TRYING to cut evo psych some slack. Deep down there there’s probably some truth in the statement that, well, we’re primates and that probably influences to some degree the way we act. The problem is evo psychologists is that they have this tendency to deny that social structures could have any degree of influence whatsoever, and then use findings to justify whatever bullshit status quos they want. Psychology in general is somewhat guilty of this, but more often structural inequalities tend to be ignored, or treated as great, mysterious, unknowable things in the discipline as a whole, so instead of getting openly racist drivel like that article, you get more subversive things like this one: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/valley-girl-brain/201105/the-four-types-female-friends-avoid

    About the only wing of psychology I care for any more is positive psch, but, evo psych draws my particular ire for being a discipline that caters so specifically to the denial of structural inequalities and that offers ‘scientific’ justifications for privilege.

    • Tetra
      Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I keep TRYING to cut evo psych some slack. Deep down there there’s probably some truth in the statement that, well, we’re primates and that probably influences to some degree the way we act. The problem with evo psychologists is that they have this tendency to deny that social structures could have any degree of influence whatsoever, and then use findings to justify whatever bullshit status quos they want. Psychology in general is somewhat guilty of this, but more often structural inequalities tend to be ignored, or treated as great, mysterious, unknowable things in the discipline as a whole, so instead of getting openly racist drivel like that article, you get more subversive things like this one: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/valley-girl-brain/201105/the-four-types-female-friends-avoid

      About the only wing of psychology I care for any more is positive psch, but, evo psych draws my particular ire for being a discipline that caters so specifically to the denial of structural inequalities and that offers ‘scientific’ justifications for privilege.

      • Tetra
        Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        Argh. Thought I could edit my initial post (was trying to fix a typo (one ‘is’ in there should be a ‘with’ instead)) and double posted. Apologies!

    • ravenskye8
      Posted May 17, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      I think what the evo folks are missing is that they have already proven that humans are social animals and as such, have a survival instinct to adjust and adapt behavior in order to fit in to the established social heirarchy… So, how hard is it to recognize that the “adjusting behavior in order to fit in” instinct might just lead people to adopt mainstream cultural biases as their own?

      A lot of their theories make much more sense when viewed through the lens of “being bigoted = survival skill”…

      • Charlene
        Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the only way we could find this offensively bad science is if we’re (sigh) just too stupid to understaaaaand it. If we would just understaaaaand it, we’d agree with him. It’s totally our fault for not submitting, meekly and humbly, to his superior male mind.

        PS Pro tip: calling people “folks” doesn’t make you sound smart; it merely reeks of privileged contempt.

  10. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the image cap! I hadn’t heard about this at all.

  11. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I blogged this today. Yikes.

    I interviewed Kanazawa for a story a few years ago about another study he did, on TV-watching and friendship. As I said on my blog, I had some research-method and conclusion-drawing issues with that (far more innocuous) study, too.

    I’m guessing he won’t be doing his “Hard Truths about Human Nature” blog for Psychology Today anymore. Maybe PT can hire away that Marie-Claire blogger! She also has strong feelings about attractiveness and who does not haz it!

    (BTW, I just discovered that if you start typing “Satoshi Kanazawa” into Google search, by the time you get to “Satoshi Kana-” the third suggestion is “Satoshi Kanazawa idiot.” So.)

  12. Posted May 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    He has a huge history of making unsubstantiated claims. Hell he has a whole book about it. From his amazon reviews for his book “Why Beautiful People Make More Daughters” someone wrote,

    “Or take women’s income versus men’s. The authors conclude that “the sex gap in earnings and the so-called glass ceiling are caused not by employer discrimination or any other external factors, but by the sex differences in internal preferences…” and proceed to assert that women in liberal capitalist societies can achieve whatever they want. Any difference in achievement is because women don’t care as much as men about status.”

    I’m all for differing perspectives but not when you ignore reality.

  13. NWHiker
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I am just stunned. Just… stunned. I cannot fathom how anyone could a) think like that and b) think they could some justify is using “science”.

    Ugh.

  14. Posted May 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Holy crap! That’s the most terrible thing I’ve read in a long time. This guy has actually had books published?!

  15. Posted May 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Good grief. How could anybody mistake this shite for science, let alone fit to print on anything other than toilet paper?

    My money’s on Kanazawa being one of those tedious types who considers himself a cheeky, self-styled enfante terrible. What a colossal horse’s arse.

  16. Sha
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Your blog said exactly what it needed to say in response to this evil racist BS. Thank you.

  17. Piper
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    As a fat, black Christian feminist, I was abhorred by the notion that someone could write this but on the other hand, black women are seen as less attractive in mainstream America. I was just on Craigslist.org and looking under men seeking women. There was a guy looking for a BBW but she had to be white, Asian, or Latina. I’ve noticed that a lot of white guys are open to dating a BBW but not attracted to black women. From Big Momma’s House to Norbit, fat black women have been masculinized (sp?) and villified by Hollywood. Dating is rough and I have almost no support system from my family. Every day, I’m constantly reminded by my family that the reason why I’m young and single is because I’m fat. Articles like this just reinforce the stereotypes as society has seemed to de-clare war on the fat, black woman. It’s sad but true.

    • JupiterPluvius
      Posted May 18, 2011 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      The thing is that he flat-out dismisses the possibility that cultural stereotyping influences the results of a non-double-blind survey of adolescents, by doing a sleight of hand with the word “objective.”

      I am willing to believe that a group of US adolescents’s subjective standards of beauty are less likely to include black women. Because, yeah, racism.

      To be willing to believe that a group of US adolescents have some intuitive grasp of “objective” standards of beauty, I would have to be really really sleepy and heavily medicated.

  18. ashley
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    wtf!!!! that’s the first I’ve heard of this. disgusting. thanks for posting it.

  19. Erin
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    You guys are using waaaaaaay too many words for this travesty and mockery of actual science. Let me see if I got this.

    And I quote:

    “Oh, no he didn’t!”

    End quote.

  20. ravenskye8
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Argh – rage inducing…

    And did you notice the part where he just drops how blacks are less intelligent than other races and keeps moving like that’s an accepted fact everyone already knows? WTF?!? I thought we got over that particular grain of bullshit in the 1960s!

    It’s not so much that this guy gets paid to write this crap (political pundits get paid for the crap they spew on TV and radio after all), but that Psychology Today would want to be associated with this kind of nonsense.

    I think I need to take a shower now… ick…

  21. Jackie
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Fail of epic mega preportions!

  22. Christie
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    First of all, thank you for the screen cap. Otherwise I might never have been able to read that steaming pile of horse shit for myself.

    Second of all, I now have a concussion from banging my head on the desk. Thank you, Psychology Today, for the brain trauma.

    Third of all, thank you for posting Esoterica’s response to the article. Had I not been sitting in my cube farm, I’da stood up and clapped at the end of it.

    And finally, I’m having a hard time mustering up a response to the article beyond, “The Hell?” I kept expecting to see a publication date of 1950-something. But no. Somebody wrote that RECENTLY. And someone else EDITED the damn thing. Then another person APPROVED the damn thing. And came up with several titles. And POSTED the damn thing to the effing INTERNET!!!! The Hell???

    It’s almost easier to believe that their site got hacked by Web-savvy KKK members than to believe that the chain of command at a supposedly reputable publication thought that article was fit for print. Or posting. Or whatever you want to call it.

    Again I say, The HELL???

  23. Davide
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m more shocked by the laughable system he used to get these data than by the racism they express. Am I a bad person?

  24. Ro
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t be surprised if his next piece of “scientific research” is titled “Re-thinking Hitler”….TOTAL LOSER

  25. LornaE
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Firstly, I think the Kanazawa’s article is trash. But, his trash does reflect our society’s way of thinking in terms of beauty. For example, if we anonymously polled an equal amount of white and black men asking them who is less beautiful between black women and other women. Honestly, who do you think would win?

    Take that same poll in Kenya and who do you think would win?

    Kanazawa however distasteful is just voicing the thoughts of many men in America.

  26. Beth
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    This article is so very, very, wrong. Is this guy living on a different planet then everyone else? There are just as many beautiful, pretty, and gorgeous black women as women of any other race, anyone with eyes can see that.
    I have seen the over-masculinization of black women in our culture, but I never understood where it was coming from until now. Seeing it as an expression of racism explains a lot. :(
    We need to change this cultural perception, stat.
    Also, this guy needs to stop spreading this sort of bullsh#t ASAP.

  27. Alexie
    Posted May 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Psychology Today can’t hide behind the excuse that it was a blog posting they didn’t see. They have taken to publishing misogynistic rants in their magazine, under the banner of this sort of pseudo-science.

    Evolutionary psychology skirts very close to being quackery. It takes modern behaviour and tries to extrapolate backwards and offer a reason why that behaviour may have evolved.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing that lets you explain anything you want, in any terms you like. But it’s not scientific.

6 Trackbacks

  1. By oy vey, psychology today on May 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    [...] to Marianne for the [...]

  2. [...] We don’t have the scientific background to vet this research properly, but let’s just say we’re more than a bit skeptical. Others have done so, though, including Marianne Kirby. [...]

  3. [...] The Rotund [...]

  4. [...] to therotund for finding the [...]

  5. [...] if you’re curious, somebody mirrored the article here. News and reactions here and here and here and here (and plenty elsewhere). It has been causing a bit of a kerfuffle online. Plenty of people [...]

  6. [...] shows that black women are objectively less attractive than women of other races. As expected, the blogosphere unleashed its (completely justified) raging fury. The post was quickly pulled down, but you can [...]

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