Voices: The Satoshi Kanazawa Study

Compiled By Arturo R. García

Since bar graphs make everything truer, we present a pictorial representation definitively showing that although Kanazawa was pretty much the worst before his post on black women, he is now even worster.*

*As measured by the Jezebel Worstness Index, developed by leading Worstologist Anna North of Jezebel University, Internet Campus. Margin of error = +/- a million.
- Anna North, Jezebel

Few articles in recent memory have stirred a response from our readers like this piece, originally posted at Psychology Today, in which “evolutionary psychologist” Satoshi Kanazawa states, “As the following graph shows, black women are statistically no different from the “average” Add Health respondent, and far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.”


Kanazawa, a regular contributor to Psychology Today, says he arrived at this theory, based on data in which black women were constantly rated as “less attractive” compared to women from other races. However, he says, “even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.”

After dismissing black women’s “much heavier body mass” or disparities in intelligence, he comes to one conclusion for his findings:

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

The article was pulled from Psychology Today’s website without explanation Monday afternoon. Latoya is putting together a roundtable discussion on the article, which we’ll post here soon, but in the meantime, thanks to our readers who mailed us a tip on it. Here’s a collection of views from around the blogosphere:

“The only thing I can think of”? Really? The blog’s presentation of the allegedly scientific findings had a decidedly informal tone, especially given the highly contentious conclusions. It struck us as so outrageous that we almost thought it was a hoax of some sort, and we double-checked the URL to make sure it didn’t include “The Onion.”
- Jenée Desmond-Harris, The Root

As I hold back my temper thinking as a woman, I already have cultural pressures to be something other than what I am in terms of a beauty standard, but I cannot believe this complete failure of an attempt to scientfically prove I’m less attractive than a white woman (assuming the same general characteristics).

What is absurd about the premise is what is he basing it on? “Black” women run the gamut of able to pass for white, to dark-skinned afro-centric features. We have dead straight blonde hair to ultra-nappy fros. Who participated and what did they look like? Who knows, that information isn’t there.

Any “scientific analysis” is fool’s gold without any context to historical sociological or ethnographic impact on majority and minority populations in regards to notions of physical attractiveness. Yet Kanazawa is trying so hard to make it work that you get the feeling that he gave himself a migraine.
- Pam Spaulding, Pam’s House Blend

Shame on Psychology Today for being a willing instrument to perpetuate racism. But I can’t be surprised, can I? It seems like every other week we hear NFL players saying “they don’t like black girls,” (c)rap songs calling us hoes and b*tches, and news of how some regions of Africa rape 48 black women per hour. Per. Hour. And with no one coming to our defense, it’s just implied that we’re denfense-less. This kind of soul-killing propaganda has got to stop, but I have a feeling it’s going to have to be black women making a concerted effort to work together and say “Enough is enough.”
- Christelyn Kazarin, Madame Noire

Perhaps at another point in my life, I would laugh this off as the musings of someone too stupid to realize how racist he is. But we live in an environment where the President of the United States is repeatedly forced to produce his birth certificate to prove that he was born in this country and where one of the leading candidates on the Republican side repeatedly characterizes the President’s attitude as “Kenyan anti-colonialist” and produces dog whistles like “food stamp president looking to make the entire country like Detroit”. This is not an isolated event by an insulated individual. This is a nasty undercurrent that simmers below the surface all the time and that has been bubbling up more and more frequently. And after being tangentially part of some rather heated online discussions about race and privilege recently, I don’t know that we can ever truly work towards a more progressive future without acknowledging and dealing with this.
- Nicole Belle, Crooks And Liars

Idiot.

This is a long-standing problem with evolutionary psychology proponents, despite the field’s potential use in principle: there’s a desire to reduce any and all perceptions and societal norms as being the result of evolutionary selective pressures. Why? Because if it’s the result of biology—not sociological trends—then we have an excuse to cling to ignorant perceptions, stereotypes, and norms. Kanazawa has a long track record of pushing studies and narratives such as this (this isn’t his first time on the issue of race) and he is unfortunately not unique. All of these studies have one thing in common: they have no methodological basis to link some aspect or behavior being measured with a history of evolutionary selective pressures.

Black women are beautiful.

Black. Women. Are. Beautiful.

F-ck this asshole. Contact Psychology Today to express your disapproval. I think this needs to go beyond taking his article down.
- The Erratic Synapse, The Daily Kos

  • kate

     Does anyone take Psychology Today seriously?  I always thought it was a pile of shit.

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  • http://www.examiner.com/family-in-new-york/rahela-choudhury RCHOUDH

    Kanezawa’s article is such pathetic nonsense I can’t help but think PT only puts his articles up to garner publicity (bad publicity, but publicity nonetheless). I wonder how he would feel if another “scientist” came along and validated that of all men Asian me are the least “desirable” amongst men? Speaking of which why is he only focusing on studying women, I’d like to see him do the same to men!!
    And talk about incomplete sample size he doesn’t include other “groups”-South Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Central Asian, etc. Yeah he’s simply full of it…finally I think that whoever takes this guy seriously is a joke because not only is he racist but also a genocidal racist (see-his support for “nuking” the entire middle east).

    • Shruti

      “And talk about incomplete sample size he doesn’t include other “groups”-South Asian, [...]”

      Oh, thank God, sister!

  • Kim

    I had never heard of this racist junk science clown before this. And now, move over Michelle Malkin, he is currently atop my list of asian self-hating shame.

    Just to reiterate that last quote from dKos:

    Black women are beautiful.
    All. women. are. beautiful.

    F-uck this asshole.

  • Kat

    Sure. And due to low levels of testosterone in Asians, Asian males are latently less physically attractive. / sarcasm off.

  • zindzhi

     we also have this nice bit over here ! http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2011/04/16/white-mens-hostility-to-black-women-a-deeper-look/ .

    It seems no other woman have to defend their beauty like we have to . This is a war on us on our humanity. like is said on my tumbrl after reading this article  time to get out of dodge .you know what happens when people don’t see your humanity.  I’m think many  men from all racial group feels this way this guy is just voicing what they are all thinking.   These article  jsut voices what they think of us WE ARE LESSR THAN.
    If you don’t beleive that this attitue prevelent just go ask  other black woman  of the African diaspora.  Clearly this shit is never going to end. I’m going to invest on a space shuttle out of this fucking sickening place. I’m tired . I feel bad for my little sisters who will have to deal with this shit to the end of  time. This is not an isolated incident . when you hear the you are pretty for a black girl shitck  or the we are manly. welcome to the 21 first century same as all the same cneturies before it.  I have history reapeat fatigue. cause we know this is not going to be the last article the last moron .  to do this

     i ‘m going to rinse my brain  i

    http://darkskinnedblackbeauty.tumblr.com/

  • Greenapple

    I don’t think that it is fair to attack evolutionary biology or psychology as a discipline. There are also a lot of rational things about race that evolutionary biology has shown. First, race is not a biological construct.  Second, that every trait from skin color to hair color to IQ comes in a spectrum. There are people at every single point in that  spectrum. It has also show that 90% of genetic diversity is in-group, whereas 10% is out-group meaning that we may share more in common genetically with a member of another group than our own “ethnic” group.

    Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Native, White, etc - all women are beautiful and all women have estrogen. I frankly thought this was obvious – maybe not to everyone. I don’t understand if black, or any other women, for that matter were so unattractive or unable to produce children, why these people still exist in the population. It is quite easy to use the logic of evolutionary biology to show what an idiot he is.

    Yes, there are idiots in every discipline. He is one of those idiots. Truly, I do not feel bad for black women, rather I just feel bad for him. His comments do not take away from black women’s beauty, rather they reflect they way that he sees society and thinks about himself. It comes off to me as internalized racism and suggests that academia still has a long way to go in creating an enviornment where everyone is accepted and encouraged to see the beauty in one another. (I’m a grad student in the US, so I don’t know the UK, but there is definitely accepted racism in academia and academia is a very insular non-diverse enviornment.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1130483506 Cleo Hines

       First off as a physical/biological anthropologist I would like to say that evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology aren’t even within the same stratosphere. Evolutionary biology uses experiments and research to try to prove theory and gain insight into the past of our species and others, while the other, is theory without benefit of the complete scientific method behind it. This dude is not an evolutionary biologist, but an evolutionary psychologist, and quite honestly, I don’t see where evolutionary theory even comes into play here. The fact that he said that blacks had the most genetic “mutations” proves that he’s not a biologist and has probably never even cracked an evolution or genetics textbook or chose to ignore what he read.

      Sorry, I’m a little snotty about it, because I left psychology for physical anthro exactly because I found it to be a soft “science” that can’t ever provide any hard facts.

  • Guest

     Breaking scientific research conducted by myself concludes that this guy totally looks like the “Y U NO” Guy meme.  As in… Y U NO GIVE  FUCK ABOUT BLACK WOMEN?!

  • Just an FYI, if you want a permanent link to the original article, Something Awful might not be the best host.  Their forums are only periodically visible to guests and it won’t last.

  • RachelW

     Evolutionary psychology is utter bullshit.  It projects the present on the past, and then argues that the past proves the present.  Yeah right.

    As to this particular pile, ‘OBJECTIVELY PROVES”?!?!?!?  Logical fallacy of the highest order right there.  You cannot prove the presence of beauty (or lack of beauty) objectively; it is by its very nature subjective.  

    I cannot believe that Psychology Today thought it was acceptable to print this trash…oh wait, yes I can.  Anything for sensationalism.  The new American way.

  • Hapa

    I don’t understand why some people are so stuck on black women appearing more masculine. Have these racists really taken a long look at black women? Round, soft features are 100% feminine. Many black women have these in spades.

    People like him are so irrational, they can’t see the obvious truth.

    • Shruti

      Indeed, bigger eyes = feminine! Full protrusive lips = feminine! Smaller faces, shorter chins, well-set cheekbones, softer nose = all feminine! What the hell are people on about?! Where are the “masculine”  features?! (I don’t actually buy this rubbish of  “masculine/feminine features” in the first place!)

  • Donald Rilea

    Just read the above excerpt from Kanazawa’s post, though haven’t read the full post, and, if it’s any indication, it reminds me of similar writings, full and excerpted, that have seen from early 20th scientists, etc, about race and other such issues in the kind of upper-class, rather colonialist, descriptions of its subjects used. So, more sherry, Dr. Kanazawa? Or perhaps a pink gin, whisky and soda, or anisette with the crow you’re undoubtedly eating about all this right now? Your choice.

  • Anonymous

    They must be getting slammed b/c I’ve tried going to Psychology Today’s site several times today and the site will not come up at all.  I’ve tried the contact link above, googling it, going to the links I went to to get to their page yesterday and none of them will bring up the page.  I keep getting a server error message and I’ve tried from my desktop and my mobile.    I want to send  my angry screed to complain about this.  I was in shock when I read about this yesterday.

  • Konrad Aderer

    Very bizarre. How would a well-known publication allow something like this to be associated with them? I was trying to find Kanazawa’s other work since this article is now gone, but all I could find were other people’s comments about him. There was one reference to him as a “funnyman.” So I’m basically just mystified. It seems Psychology today will have to respond with some explanation/apology since more people are probably angry at them now than normally read the publication.

  • Guest

    To the researcher – If you’re going to use punk-ass science to justify your self-hatred and white women worship, please leave black women out of it. Seriously, its just pathetic – and dragging other races into your whitewashed hell is just unnecessary and sad. Your not doing yourself any favors. Your just making yourself that much less desirable by reaffirming already racialized stereotypes about beauty.

    • Anonymous

      Your just making yourself that much less desireable by reaffirming already racialized stereotypes about beauty.
       
      Less desireable to whom, though? ( I ask this sincerely.) Kanazawa attempted to use science—even though his shiny new metric he was bragging about in his piece was nothing more than a survey coupled with some retrograde “race scholarship” worthy of Charles Murray—to substantiate that Black women are undesireable. Pick-up artist JT Tran can use Kanazawa’s bullshit for *days.* Can you imagine his new pick-up line? “I got scientific proof you’re more desireable than that Black girl over there. Come over to my place and check it out.”

      Even though I’m (half) kidding, what I’m getting at is quite a few people love using the façade of “hard science” to substantiate their preferences and prejudices under the illusion that no one can argue against the “facts” that science is supposed to empirically “prove.”  That’s why folks like Kanazawa and Murray roll up in the public square in the first place with their “scholarship,” and Kanazawa can say crap like science can’t be racist and it’s not his fault if “science proves” unpleasant racial “facts.”
       

      • Anonymous

        Wow. That’s one of the failures of US education. Science doesn’t prove anything. It’s job is not to prove anything. But you can certainly disprove something or test it through various experiments, sometimes requiring the change of one’s methodologies and hypothesis. One could easily test Kanazawa’s findings for bullshit.   

  • Andrew Kaikai

    Wow…what an asshole

  • Kim

    From what I can tell by glancing at the info on the Add Health study, they couldn’t be satisfied with just labeling respondents as “black.” They instead used the oh-so-much-more-scientific “blacks from well-educated families (with a parent with a
    college degree)” while using the basic ethnic term for all other groups. (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/design/wave1)

    Also, it looks like the whole article was on the linked page, but here is a full-page screenshot of the actual article that was taken down: http://www.yoladies.com/beourguest/psychTodayRacism.jpg

    • Anonymous

      When I clicked on the Add Health link you provided, that page is no longer there (no fault of yours). So now, Psych Today and Add Health are maneuvering themselves away from this shitpile of pseudo-science. 

      • Anonymous

        I fixed the link!

  • Philosonic

     Where was the trigger warning?

  • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

    I’m mad this keeps getting posited as science.  Not one thing I’ve heard about this  article/discussion inclines me to believe the information was scientifically mined, obtained, described, or reported.  Unfortunately, I can’t read the thing for myself.  Or perhaps, fortunately – I can’t say.

    What I know is that the barrage of so-called data claiming the inferiority of black people – black women, in particular – is so anti-science, so anti-humanity.  To even mention such ideas, without discussing racism as the insidious vein of hate that is the jugular of the American social body, is beyond naive or unaware.  It’s lying.  It is BOLDLY lying to set up a fabricated reality where racial hierarchies are legitimate.  And because our social brain has been fed by the tainted hate that has flowed through our collective body for centuries, it takes incredible numbers of us to scream loud enough over the sound of America’s own blood rushing through it’s ears.  (maybe that’s taking a metaphor a little far, but whatever.)

    Hate this crap.  

    • Anonymous

      jen*, if you still have my email address, I can send it to you.  

      • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

        I ended up finding it.  Thanks, Andrea.  I couldn’t even get through it tho, it was so craptastic.  Really, really bad use of charts/assertions that are totally baseless and biased combined with racist/sexist evolutionary psych apologetics that made me want to hurl. 

        Probably best I don’t read the whole effing thing.

  • http://twitter.com/RnRPumpkin Ebony

     I googled Kanazawa after painfully tripping over this “study” yesterday, finding out that he has publicly been referred to as “the great idiot of social science”, which pretty much tells me everything I need to know (i.e; he is actually an idiot)!http://www.alternet.org/story/145903/controversy_grows_over_study_claiming_liberals_and_atheists_are_smarter/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Berdawn-Hutchinson/1345160033 Berdawn Hutchinson

    I wish I could read the entire article and have a  better understanding of how the data was gathered. it’s clear from the linked piece that Kanazawa was NOT the person ascribing attractiveness (his facile conclusions notwithstanding)

    • Anonymous

      Yeah – the funny thing is neither is his source study. More on that at 12.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jarronnelums Javan Nelums

    It’s sad that some people use science for hate. This is the same propaganda they used in Nazi Germany, and in the United States.