Communicator (communicator) wrote,
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Kanazawa found wanting

I keep planning to post about evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa. A few weeks ago an article by him was published in Psychology Today in which he claimed that he had proved by statistical means that black women were 'objectively' uglier than white women.

Because this is such a repulsive claim in so many ways I want to say straight up, and link to the proof, that someone re-analysed his source data, and the numbers do not support his conclusion (my emphasis below):
It is obvious that among the women in the sample, there is no difference between ethnicities in terms of ratings of physical attractiveness. Differences in the distributions for females when tested with a regular (and slightly liberal) test of independence are non-significant and hence can be attributed to chance (Pearson's Chi-Square=15.6, DF=12, p =.210)
I do know that this is not in itself sufficient response, and that the very framing of the issue is offensive, but I just wanted to get that out the way.

Psychology Today has taken down the article. But before analysis of source data definitively proved he was wrong, many people were saying that criticising him was 'Political Correctness gone mad'. But to my mind his article was wrong regardless of the data. Why?

For one thing it is obvious that assessment of attractiveness is linked to consideration of social status and the cultural representation of 'beauty'. And it is clear that ethnicity is not culturally neutral. But leaving this significant issue to one side, his very argument about why people of African origin were less attractive than Europeans is barking mad. This is a direct quote from his article, and it is unbelievably stupid:
Because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races. And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness.

This is idiotic rubbish. All human beings on earth have precisely the same 'length of evolutionary history'. The genetic slate was not wiped clean of faults when people left Africa. If anything - as they ultimately descend from small migrant groups - Europeans are slightly more likely to exhibit genome defects than Africans (apparently).

And even beyond this I think people should start asking why this keeps happening. Why is the spurious science always this way round. Why is it always 'black people are ugly', 'women are talkative', 'white men are clever'. Why does every 'brave and controversial' article support the interests of the powerful, never challenge them? It's a strange kind of courage to my mind.
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