Satoshi Kanazawa has once again used his magical powers of shitty interpretation to bastardize an otherwise decent study, and while he’s at it, the good name of science. He’s the author of such gems as “Why Liberals are More Intelligent than Conservatives” and even a book about “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters“.*** 

With every blog post, he takes the already sketchy field of evolutionary psychology to a new low. His latest installment, titled “Why Black Women are Rated Less Attractive” is no exception. In fact, this one is so bad, Psychology Today pulled the article (good for them). But don’t worry, a copy can be found here. Poor Satoshi; PT may have to start requiring approval before he blogs, because once he posts something on the internet, it’s there to FOREVER embarrass Psychology Today.

In a nutshell, Kanazawa says that women as a whole are rated more attractive than men, but that African American women are consistently rated less attractive than women of other races. He demonstrates this with enough charts to choke a horse (not in the copy of the article, but some of them were posted here). His charts were compiled from Likert scale ratings taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health for short). Here he explains in his own words: 

…the interviewer rates the physical attractiveness of the respondent objectively on the following five-point scale: 1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about average, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive. The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.

 When he first said that the attractiveness of the respondant was rated objectively, I assumed he meant they would be measuring feature symmetry or something. As it turns out, he could have compiled his data from hotornot.com – with a lot more than three ratings per participant.

I think I’ve figured out the formula of the self proclaimed “Scientific Fundamentalist”: 

Sensational statement that will piss people off + Contrived post hoc rationalization = Amazing insight of Satoshi Kanazawa!

And don’t forget the graphs. Graphs are created from numbers, and numbers don’t lie!

In fact, I did an impromptu study just today to guage the sexiness of Satoshi Kanazawa. I used three random participants from my household: a man, a woman, and a parrot. I’ll just let the data speak for themselves:

 

 

 So then it’s settled: 


***PZ evidently owns the book, but couldn’t finish it. His comments are priceless: 

“[The book] sent multiple wtf signals bouncing around in my brain — the premise of the title is the product of statistical shenanigans, and I don’t think the authors would recognize a mechanism if it advanced menacingly on them and threatened them with physical dismantlement.”

Stacey

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56 Comments

  1. Avatar of sexycelticlady
    May 17, 2011 at 10:18 am —

    It is pretty frustrating to see crap science – actually, it does not even deserve the term science – pseudo-sciency stuff getting press releases and being published (even if it has now been withdrawn) when scientists who work diligently and go through the proper channels have a much harder time getting published and the press to go with it.

    I think I am in the wrong field…

  2. Avatar of TheNerd
    May 17, 2011 at 10:47 am —

    “Objectively, he looks like a douchebag.” Wow, that was your objective conclusion too? It’s great when two different researchers like you and I come up with the same objective version of reality. Smells like science.

  3. Avatar of andiis
    May 17, 2011 at 10:55 am —

    I had a great deal of trouble reading his…ahem…article. So can I just say this.
    Does Kanazawa ascribe a color to womens sexiness, or is he talking of a place of birth? Are all BLACK women ..i.e. Papuan, Nigerian, Australian Aboriginal, Sudanese ( you get my point ) less..ummm..sexy thann.. ahhh, I can’t go on!!!! F**** you Kanazawa, and your graphics.

  4. Avatar of mrmisconception
    May 17, 2011 at 11:32 am —

    My formula recipe is more like this;

    1 Less-than-exciting psychological study
    1 Self-important half-assed “researcher”
    1 Heaping teaspoon of evolutionary psychology (raw)
    1 Cup self-congratulation

    -Mix study with “researcher” until a good froth is acheived.
    -Add raw evo. psych. until entire mixture resembles preconcieved conclusion.
    -Apply to half-baked blog of disgraced “magazine”
    -Bake at Defcon 3 until good and pissed.
    -Sprinkle with self-congratulation and enjoy, you’ll need your strength for your next abomination.

  5. Avatar of scribe999
    May 17, 2011 at 11:39 am —

    He doesn’t “look” like a douchebag. He is one.

  6. Avatar of Stacey
    May 17, 2011 at 11:43 am —

    @sexycelticlady: If you’re one of the good ones, this guy’s presence makes you all the more important.

    @andiis: good point about lumping all black women into one category!

    @mrmisconception: haha…love the recipe!

    @scribe999: touche.

  7. Avatar of steviewire
    May 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm —

    Not sure if I’m a peer, but I reviewed your work and came to the same conclusion. Douchebag.

  8. Avatar of mrthumbtack
    May 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm —

    Man, confirmation bias really got me with the “Atheists and Liberals are smarter” study that Skepchick linked to a few months ago. It wasn’t until i realized the source of that study was this guy that I even questioned its conclusions.

    I think even using the term “black women” in your study already renders your results meaningless. Otherwise, like Andiis notes African immigrants are lumped together with African Americans who are lumped together with my cousin and our president, who’s ‘black’ despite being half-white.

    ‘Black women’ and ‘black men’ are not the kind of ill-defined terms you use in science. UGH!

    And I’m still annoyed that I believed his other study after reading about all its methodological flaws as well.

  9. Avatar of mrthumbtack
    May 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm —

    And the more mutations thing? WTF.
    Seriously….What…I…This guy has a PhD…..?

  10. Avatar of Draconius
    May 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm —

    Hi there!

    See, and I can totally believe this. The question is not “Are black women less attractive”, but “Why do sso many people surveyed see black women as less attractive?

    I think that if you interviewed a few thousand random people with a perfect sampling distribution, black women would still be judged “less attractive” than women of other races. Why?

    What does the Great American Media Machine constantly bombard us with? How do Hollywood and 7th Avenue define “Beautiful”? Here’s Cameron Diaz, Here’s Angelina Jolie (Even her NAME is “pretty”), Here’s Kate Moss, Here’s Michelle Pfeiffer. Here’s Kirsten Dunst, Here’s Winona Rider, Here’s Helena Bonham Carter, Here’s Kate Hudson, Here’s Piper Perabo, Here’s Katherine Heigl, Here’s Heidi Klum, Here’s Kiera Knightley, Here’s Natalie Portman, Here’s Julia Roberts, Here’s Uma Thurman, Here’s Evangeline Lilly, Here’s Eva Longoria. (She’s almost COFFEE-colored! Well okay, you want some diversity? How about we give you Salma Hayek. Good? No? Okay, we throw in some Penelope Cruz. We’ve got lots of diversity! We’ve even got Lucy Liu and Michelle Yeoh!

    Well, okay … BLACK women? You want a pretty BLACK woman? Well, alright we can go as dark as Halle Berry, but any darker than that and we’re sticking her in the “Serious Empowerment Roles” category with Angela Bassett”.

    Is it any wonder that people surveyed don’t see gorgeous black women as “attractive”? :(

    (I don’t think Satoshi is particularly good looking either, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a “douchebag” until I know what exactly he hoped to prove by this survey)

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      May 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm —

      Read his other “conclutions” and you may change your mind.
      Just saying.

      • Avatar of Draconius
        May 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm —

        Well, he does say that Liberals are smarter than conservatives, so I’m just going to sit back and ride the nice comfortable wave of confirmation bias on that conclusion, Mr. Mis.. ;P

        But I do disagree with him on the “Beautiful People Have More Children” study, strictly on the grounds that my Wifey and I don’t have any kids. Ah yes, nice comfortable wave of confirmation here … [glides]

        (And just pretend that I used something approximating proper punctuation in my previous post)

        And I’m not saying that the guy is RIGHT, just that Black women are pitifully under-represented in what the media call “Beautiful”) :(

    • Avatar of mrthumbtack
      May 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm —

      Yeah, but you wouldn’t and shouldn’t call that an “objective” analysis of attractiveness. You can read about some of Kanazawa’s other positions, including the flawed conclusions that Sub-Saharan African countries are poor because of lower IQ and that attractive people have more female babies. A brief survey of the criticism leveled against this guy shows that he routinely engages in bad scientific analysis geared to support his own points.

      He unequivocally stated that “On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost. Yes, we need a woman in the White House, but not the one who’s running (Hillary Clinton, ed.)”

      Equating an unimaginable war crime, the likes of which the world has never seen, with one act of terrorism is both insane, disgusting and morally reprehensible. I think calling him a douchebag is perhaps the least offensive thing I personally can call him.

      • Avatar of Draconius
        May 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm —

        Oh, absolutely. That’s not an objective analysis at ALL. There’s no such thing as “Objective Beauty”. It’s completely anti-science and doesn’t even prove anything. (Unless he was trying to say that Holllywood and the Fashion Industry need to recognize that Black Women … um … exist) I think he’s more of a blowhard than a douchebag, though. Was he really saying that America should elect Anne Coulter to the Presidency so that she can wipe out the Middle East, or was he being loud and obnoxious for the sake of political rhetoric? He DID say that Liberals were smarter, so I can’t imagine that he votes Republican. Or maybe he’s just a whack-job? 0_o I honestly don’t know.

        You’re going to make me actually go back and read all of these studies he published, aren’t you? I’m a highly intelligent Liberal, I don’t have time to actually EDUCATE myself before I form an opinion! :P

        • Avatar of Stacey
          May 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm —

          Here’s his blog – have fun! Also, PZ has written about him several times and his eloquent smackdowns are pretty entertaining to read.

  11. Avatar of Andersson Mike
    May 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm —

    Human Female/Male really, is he trying to be an asshole or is he just completely ignorant. Objective subjectivity, yeah that sounds like a good area of research. And with everyone having to go rate 3 people, thats statistic gold right there.

  12. Avatar of Stacey
    May 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm —

    @Draconius: You make an interesting point about the lack of darker black women in the media’s portrayal of beauty. It’s definitely a possible explanation for why “black” women were subjectively rated as less attractive in the Add Health study.

    • Avatar of Draconius
      May 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm —

      And of course, I’ve cherry-picked my results the same way that Satoshi did. I’m sure if I were more literate with regard to the glorious women of Hip-Hop, or women of BET, I’d have been able to pick many more beautiful Black Women than just Halle Berry. (Even with “mainstream” media, I could have mentioned Beyonce, I totally forgot about Tyra Banks, etc …) But I really do think that our standards of beauty are entirely too far to the “White” end of the spectrum. :(

      • Avatar of expowarrior
        May 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm —

        Something I’ve noticed is that many black women who are viewed as “beautiful” in the media fall into one of two categories – 1) light-skinned black women who may or may not have “blacker” features (wider noses, thicker lips, kinkier hair, bigger build etc.) and 2)dark-skinned women who have “whiter” features (thinner/smaller noses, thinner lips, straighter hair, thin frames, etc.)

        Examples of type 1 – Beyonce, Tyra Banks (who seems to have gotten a nose job in recent years),
        Examples of type 2 – Liya Kebede (my favorite model!), Jessica White (seems to have gotten a nose job, too), Naomi Campbell
        And of course there are ones who fall in the middle, as well.

        I just sort of feel like society or mainstream media prefers its ethnic beauties to have some semblance of “whiteness” in them. I’ve always found this very discouraging as a woman of color. Perhaps equally as discouraging as these sorts of studies that seem to validate the self-hatred and internalized racism that leads black mothers to bleach their children’s skin and relax their hair. (But mind you, this is coming from someone who straightens their hair)

      • Avatar of expowarrior
        May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm —

        a few other examples that I forgot to mention:
        type 1 – Chanel Iman, Nicki Minaj, Rhianna
        type 2 – Tika Sumpter, Fatima Siad, Waris Dirie
        middle/?? – Gabrielle Union, Janelle Monae
        some exceptions – oluchi onweagba, …

        I’m sure many people would disagree with where I’ve placed some of these women, and I think that’s another problem – how we define “black” and “dark/light skin” is incredibly subjective.

  13. Avatar of TheSkepticalMale
    May 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm —

    As Respondent #1, I have to point out that the response for Respondent #3 is incorrect. Said parrot-parents would never give said parrot beer … On the other hand, Respondent #1 has noticed that Respondent #2 (who works from home) has recently become the parrot’s favorite person, so Respondent #1 must ask Respondent #2 if there has there been a change in said parrot’s diet that Respondent #1 is not aware of?

    • Avatar of Stacey
      May 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm —

      It’s probably best if we discuss the parrot’s drinking problem at home. xo

  14. Avatar of Skepotter
    May 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm —

    We all have skin. Our skin has colour. What a wondrous and lovely tapestry; a gorgeous mosaic of shades and tints. No sunset can challenge the richness of hues, neither in repose, nor enhanced by the glow of joy or the subtlety of a blush. The Satoshis of the world are to be pitied, for they self limit their experience to the dull drabness of dirty darkness.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      May 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm —

      Or maybe the answer is like Bulworth said, “Everybody just gotta keep fuckin’ everybody ’til they’re all the same color.”

  15. Avatar of mlegower
    May 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm —

    To be fair, the article is title “Why Black Women are RATED (emph. added) Less Attractive”, so obviously putting the word “objective” anywhere is misleading. It’s like saying, “We asked a bunch of teenagers and they said they like pizza so teenagers objectively like pizza.”

    HOWEVER, the subjective rating of black women as less attractive than other women is an empirical fact that warrants investigation. His hypotheses may be total bullshit, but that is for further scientific investigation to decide. Is it inflammatory? Sure. Is his proposed mechanism wrong? Probably. Should it make you angry? Probably. That doesn’t make the statistical regularity that he detected untrue. In fact, all the more reason to scientifically study what is generating the variation and discover the root cause. This is what drives science. Somebody points out an empirical regularity and posits an explanation. Somebody else posits an alternative explanation. CAGE MATCH: may the best idea win. This guy’s idea probably won’t

    As for douchebaggery, it seems that this guy’s business is detecting empirical regularities and then offering hypothetical mechanisms for producing them. This is a valid scientific endeavor, especially in the behavioral sciences. However, if somebody offers evidence to invalidate his proposed mechanism and he continues to ascribe to it, then he is not a scientist obviously. OR if somebody analyzes the statistical phenomenon more closely and finds it to be spurious, rendering his proposed mechanism unnecessary, and he sticks to his guns, he is not a scientist.

    • Avatar of Stacey
      May 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm —

      I agree with your first two paragraphs. I would add that he’s the one who said his method was objective, when it is actually subjective.

      As for “offering hypothetical mechanisms”, I personally hold evolutionary psychology in pretty low regard. To me, an untestable, post hoc hypothesis about why something occurs is not science, and I find a lot of it to be non-credible and offensive. But it is technically a field of science, so many people disagree with me.

      • Avatar of mlegower
        May 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm —

        “I would add that he’s the one who said his method was objective, when it is actually subjective.”

        Sure. I didn’t mean to imply he did not.

        “As for ‘offering hypothetical mechanisms’, I personally hold evolutionary psychology in pretty low regard. To me, an untestable, post hoc hypothesis about why something occurs is not science, and I find a lot of it to be non-credible and offensive.”

        Sure, it’s not totally responsible for a scientist to offer an explanation that is unfalsifiable and probably incorrect. Still, I would argue that the detection of the statistical regularity itself is enough to make it a valid scientific work.

        But to offer an example from antiquity: Someone was the first guy to document the empirical regularity that when you leave carcasses around, maggots appear. He probably wrote this finding up with some bullshit explanation like spontaneous generation (or maybe even something untestable). That doesn’t mean the guy was not a scientist.

        • Avatar of Stacey
          May 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm —

          I agree. Draconius & I discussed this a little above in the comments. He proposed the theory that the subjective ratings were the result of the media portraying mostly white & lighter-skinned ethnic women as beautiful in the media. I thought that was a possible explanation, but again, hard to test.

    • Avatar of sexycelticlady
      May 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm —

      I disagree, the scientific validity of the data itself is questionable. We have no methodology to go from, no idea what demographic of the population was asked, no idea how many people were asked and under what circumstances the questions were asked other than an interview. on top of that, there is the issue of whether people were truthful or not (it may be that a perception about how you should vote came into play, driven by societal pressures rather then honest answers, especially considering the race of the interviewer may also have had some affect).

      But we are unable to see if any of that was factored into the analysis because we have no methodology to work from.

      I have searched for methods ad more info, I have not found it, anyone else know if it is available?

      A better method would be to show images of humans and measure arousal levels, possibly changing skin colour artificially to factor that into the analysis.

      But beyond that and the very poor charts displayed in the link above, the use of the term objective is false and misleading. Also, looking at the charts, I don’t see how the conclusion that black men are significantly more attractive than non-black men has been reached.

      We then go onto the conclusions. Even had the data been collected and presented in manner that minimised bias, the conclusions reached are completely out of proportion to the data.

      From a small subset of humans in a (I am guessing this was done in the USA) society predisposed (via media influences discussed about and probably many other factors) to hold certain values about attractiveness, a conclusion that African women are less attractive (note how black has now been changed to African even though there are other regions of the world where black skin is found) is related to 1. Gene mutations and genetic health (Africans apparently have higher mutation rate and therefore have lower “genetic and developmental health”) and 2. high testosterone levels, without any basis other than it is the only thing the author can think of.

      As posters have already mentioned, high levels of genetic diversity are more healthy. We all have the same genetic history and length of time over which mutations can occur (or is there now evidence that humans didn’t migrate out of Africa), it is the amount of variation that is significant, not the amount of mutations.

      It might be an interesting topic to discuss, but it is not any where near scientifically valid and certainly not to the level to which these inflammatory claims have been made.

      • Avatar of Stacey
        May 18, 2011 at 8:45 am —

        @sexycelticlady: Fantastic points! More information about the methodology, demographic, & # of participants in Add Health can be found here.

        I like your idea of measuring arousal levels – another possible way to measure attractiveness objectively.

        • Avatar of sexycelticlady
          May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am —

          Thank you for the link. I had not come across this scheme before, it is very interesting.

          Measuring arousal levels is relatively simple, it can be anything from pupil expansion to imaging the participant with a heat sensing camera. I have been looking into funding a small study myself, using such techology and looking at female sexuality in more detail as it is something I am interested in. :) Unfortunately, time and resources are limited and as it is outside of my normal field I would have to do a lot of work to get to that point.

      • Avatar of mlegower
        May 18, 2011 at 9:07 am —

        A few things. I’m not going to defend the evo psych mechanism because, as has been discussed, it’s almost certainly bullshit. But we know that the people rating were Add Health interviewers. It would be nice to know something about them, if only very basic demographics (race, age, etc.). You are right that it’s very important we know if this was just a bunch of white men, or a diverse group of interviewers.

        As for whether they were lying, this is always a problem with survey data. That said, Add Health is a pretty reputable survey so I’m sure their methods were designed to eliminate incentives to lie. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and I guess there could be a concern that measurement error could be systematically penalizing black women, but I can’t think of a really good reason for these people to lie.

        In any event, if someone can do this same analysis on the same data rigorously (i.e. controlling for whatever interviewer and respondent characteristics are available and presenting real statistical evidence instead of just correlative charts) and eliminate the pattern, I will be more than happy to label this guy a sloppy scientist. But I maintain that even with the caveat that the ratings are subjective and among a potentially homogeneous group of raters, the finding (if robust to the stuff I mentioned) is interesting and deserves further analysis.

        • Avatar of mlegower
          May 18, 2011 at 9:31 am —

          Let me put this another way… If I were a reviewer on the journal to which this article was submitted, and I didn’t see a least the tiniest shred of evidence that the result wasn’t being driven by all the interviewers being non-black or something else spurious (for example, respondent black being correlated with low-income and the interviewers finding the low-income surroundings distasteful and taking it out on the attractiveness rating), I would laugh all day before shredding it and rejecting.

          The only point I was trying to make was that I feared this guy was being ridden out on a rail because of a knee-jerk reaction to the distastefulness of the finding and all his previous findings. SO I came to the defense of rigorous statistical analysis that produces results we may find repugnant as scientifically valid (maybe in a knee-jerk way myself). From the discussion of this man’s methodology, I’m not sure this qualifies as that, so I concede (mostly) the points being made.

        • Avatar of sexycelticlady
          May 18, 2011 at 11:32 am —

          Yes, I agree that if the study was rigourous in eliminating influencing factors and the methodology used for the statistical analysis was robust then the findings could be of interest, even if it was from an homogenous sample set.

          However, the scientist in me, rather than being repelled by the conclusions themselves (and i think you are right, there is a tendancy for a knee-jerk reaction against this), is alarmed by the significant leap made from the findings to the conclusion without any form of supporting evidence and it seems indicative more of the authors bias than an actual effect. This throws into question how unbiased the analysis has been, something we are unable to assess without the methods. There are too many other factors that could be the underlying cause for this perception in attractiveness (and note it is a perception of what people find attractive, not an actual measure) and it would be interesting to see if the results are consistent across generations and at an international level.

  16. Avatar of delphi_ote
    May 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm —

    If Africans had “more mutations”, that would mean their population has more variability in it. More variability means there are more alleles for natural selection to act on. The rest of humanity went through a bottleneck (or has a higher coefficient of inbreeding) so we wouldn’t be giving evolution as much to work with.

    Even granting his stupid premises, Africans should be MORE attractive than everyone else. His bullshit evolutionary argument literally favors the other side. The stupidity hurts…

  17. Avatar of Anne Marie
    May 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm —

    Direct link to their feedback form: https://my.psychologytoday.com/feedback

    My e-mail:
    When I was in high school, I was always excited to read your magazine. I found it engaging and intelligent. Now I wonder whether it was merely being a teen that led me to that conclusion or whether an editorial tumble into the depths of the worst of evolutionary psychology has come to pass. Recently, I’ve been told by PT that Black women are ugly, feminism is evil, “reverse sexism” is rampant, there’s a “feminist cult,” all women are essentially prostitutes, sexual harassment isn’t sexist, and myriad other unsubstantiated claims. There is no longer much difference between PT and a sleazy men’s magazine. What happened to you, PT? You used to be cool. You were my escape from Cosmo telling me what was wrong with my body, now you’re the source of telling me, along with many women and minorities, what’s wrong with our minds.

    Sincerely,
    A feminist who cares about women AND men and hates pseudoscience.

    Their response:
    [email protected] wrote:

    This post has been removed. Any residual displays are the result of temporary caching issues.

    Thank you for your feedback.

    My second e-mail:
    Why was it there at all? What about the other articles I mentioned? Why has Satoshi Kanazawa continued to be a part of your magazine when all of his work is horrifically unscientific and based on bigotry?

    -Anne Marie

  18. Avatar of
    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm —

    In the blog entry, the author states:

    “Satoshi Kanazawa has once again used his magical powers of shitty interpretation to bastardize an otherwise decent study, and while he’s at it, the good name of science.”

    and

    “PT may have to start requiring approval before he blogs, because once he posts something on the internet, it’s there to FOREVER embarrass Psychology Today.”

    Why is that? Articles, and blog entries in particular, do not necessarily have to express the views of the editorial board of any given publication, if said board even has one. And even if he is a shitty scientist, that does not mean that the good name of science is in any way bastardized, for the very same reason.

    Michael Shermer had Dr. Laura Schlessinger on the board of advisors of Skeptics Society, even though she was fervently – strike that, *fiercely*, religious. His reason, described in the preface of his book “How we believe”, is because as a general principle the Skeptics Society does not believe in excluding people from organizations based on their religious beliefs. James Randi also has had religious people on JREF’s board of directors.

    I think that’s good thinking. It would be disastrous, if science and skepticism became a place where only those you totally agreed with were welcome. If you said something unpopular with some people, you would be FOREVER shamed out of the Good Company?

    Really?

    Isn’t it better, more productive, to fight ignorance and superstition talking *with* people, rather than *down to* them?

    Personally, I think so. Others may disagree, of course. I, however, do not find that embarrassing to the whole field of skepticism and science. Why would I?

    Why should I?

    • Avatar of Stacey
      May 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm —

      I agree with pretty much everything you said: diversity of views is good, skepticism shouldn’t become a place where only those who agree are welcome, don’t talk down to people, etc. Of course, I don’t think any of that applies here.

      First of all, criticism of this “study” is in no way comparable to criticism of someone’s religious beliefs. Religion is a personal and spiritual endeavor – it’s not science. This a ostensibly a scientific study, therefore, it is subject to scrutiny.

      Second of all:

      How did he bastardize science?

      By interpreting data in a manner that’s completely inconsistent with the scientific method just to get a rise out of people. Maybe you don’t respect my opinion – fine, how about the Director of the Add Health Study from which he pulled his data?

      “The director of the Add Health project, Kathleen Mullan Harris, contradicted Kanazawa on the nature of her project’s research in a telephone interview Tuesday. “He’s mischaracterizing the objectiveness of the data — that’s wrong. It’s subjective. The interviewers’ data is subjective.”

      This isn’t a matter of nuanced disagreement – this is blatant bad science.

      Did he embarrass Psychology Today?

      Publications don’t generally remove articles they’re proud of. Draw your own conclusions.

      So yeah, I own my opinion. And I think bad science should be called out for what it is. Being inclusive doesn’t mean giving undue credit to severely flawed work.

      • Avatar of
        May 19, 2011 at 2:24 am —

        Why isn’t criticism of Kanazawa’s interpretation of the data comparable to criticism of someone’s religious beliefs? Both are based on bull caca, both come to the wrong conclusion. Kanazawa purports to do science. Dr. Laura is going much further than Kanazawa, since her conclusion bypasses science altogether. Why isn’t Skeptics Society criticized for their decision to include Dr. Laura, who has a heck of a larger audience than Kanazawa does? It seems inconsistent, considering Skepchick.org’s rather firm stance against religion. Why, Skepchick.org is even religious about being anti-religious! Yes, tongue firmly in cheek here.

        Think about this: In your criticism of Kanazawa, you jumped to an unsupported conclusion, by stating that he did it, just to get a rise out of people. Kanazawa may genuinely believe what he finds. He does not necessarily do it just to get a rise out of people. I think that he does believe what he says – which, of course, makes it much worse. However, should we now shame you, and consider that Skepchick.org has embarrassed skepticism because of your unfounded conclusion? Of course not. You may genuinely believe that, and that is fine. As you rightly say, you own your opinion, as we all do with ours. Of course you should criticize Kanazawa’s conclusions, and of course you are right to call bad science. That is even your obligation as a skeptic.

        But I think you are being grossly unfair to PT, and to science in general: You chide PT for letting Kanazawa blog about this, even going so far as to state that PT was embarrassed by it – yet, you also recognize that they did, in fact, pull it. They did recognize it for what it was. Science was triumphant, once more.

        So, what’s your beef? That they didn’t preapprove his blog entry? Science does not do everything right the first time, quite contrary. It is a noble endeavour paved with errors. Without errors, and subsequent correction, science would not exist at all.

        Are all blog entries on Skepchick.org preapproved by Rebecca?

        • Avatar of Stacey
          May 19, 2011 at 9:39 am —

          This will be my last reply to you because (1) I’m having to repeat myself, and (2) you clearly need to get more familiar with Kanazawa before you craft your arguments:

          Religion is different because it doesn’t purport to be science. It’s not a “study”, it’s a personal and spiritual endeavor. The existence of a “god” can be examined scientifically, but that’s not a necessary prerequisite to being religious, which is a personal and spiritual choice. See Gould’s non overlapping magisteria for further reference.

          Also on that note, an opinion is also not a study. It can be scrutinized like a study, but we don’t have to perform studies before forming opinions. Nonetheless, if you think my opinion of Kanazawa as purposely inflammatory is “unfounded”, then you need to get more familiar with his work. Here are a few links to help you get started:

          Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?

          Married Women Want Their Husbands to Cheat

          Atheists are More Intelligent than the Religious

          Why Liberals are More Intelligent than Conservatives

          Why Modern Feminism is Illogical, Unnecessary, and Evil

          Fat Chicks get Laid More

          African Nations are Poor and in Ill Health due to low IQ

          What’s Wrong With Muslims?

          Ann Coulter Should be President Because she Would Have Nuked the Entire Middle East

          ULU Unanimously Calls for Satoshi Kanazawa’s Dismissal from LSE

          Also FYI, I really don’t want to have an argument about how Kanazawa may just coincidentally believe a bunch of things that piss people off. If you research him & think he’s a good guy, just misunderstood, then we’ll agree to disagree. And that will be a nuanced disagreement, not bad science.

          • Avatar of
            May 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

            We are in total agreement re. Kanazawa’s pseudoscience: He is as wacky as they come. I do not in any way think that he is a “good guy” (a term I dislike, because we shouldn’t fight people, but what they believe of superstition and pseudoscience).

            I am just pointing out that your opinion of Kanazawa as *purposefully* inflammatory is unfounded. Bear in mind that it is *you* who finds his work inflammatory. It is *you* who claims that he is saying these things *because* they are inflammatory. The burden of proof is on *you*, and what do you base it on? Your opinion of what is inflammatory or not. “Inflammatory” is in no way an objective measure, not even if a larger group thinks he writes inflammatory stuff. However, I respect your decision not to discuss it further.

            The larger point still lingers, though: While we are also in total agreement re. what religion is and whether it can be tested scientifically or not, that doesn’t answer the question why Skepchick.org isn’t critical of Shermer’s decision, yet critical of, well, just about all things religious, elsewhere on the blog. Since no answer seems to be forthcoming, other than “religion is different”, it looks very much like an unsolved issue within your group of bloggers. Which is fair enough, of course – as long as it is made clear that such an issue exists. Otherwise, it looks very much as if Skepchick.org is giving Shermer – and religion, when paired with some skeptics – a pass.

        • Avatar of sexycelticlady
          May 19, 2011 at 10:42 am —

          Well in my opinion scientific criticism should be the same as criticising religious belief, in that you are not criticising the individual but rather their findings, whether that is their findings in the realm of science or in the realm of reality.

          In life no one can dictate how we believe or what opinion we hold. But science is not about belief or even about personal opinion. If is about hypotheses and conclusions based on observed data. The conclusions reached in this “study” cannot be made from the data presented because too many factors have not been taken into account or even considered in passing and rejected on the basis of data derived from other sources. Science has a process of rigorous criticism, and rightly so. It is not a field you get into to feel good about yourself. It does not matter who the person is presenting the study, it is the validity of the study itself. You are the one who seems to be equating shooting down this study by parodying it is because the conclusions reached are unpopular. It is not, it is a shitty study and PT is right to have withdrawn it (they do not have to publish or host anything, even if it is stated that the views do not represent those of PT). If the study were not shot down and there were not articles to demonstrate to people that this is not how science is conducted, then I would consider that an embarrassment to science.

          • Avatar of Stacey
            May 19, 2011 at 10:55 am

            “Like”

          • Avatar of
            May 19, 2011 at 11:54 am

            You wrote: “You are the one who seems to be equating shooting down this study by parodying it is because the conclusions reached are unpopular.”

            I’m not. I objected to *Stacy’s* claim that Kanazawa did it, just to get a rise out of people. As for his conclusions, I have been very clear as to what I think of them: They are bunk, pure and simple.

            On all else, we agree – especially that religion should be subjected to criticism as well as pseudoscience.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          May 19, 2011 at 10:57 am —

          Because it’s the difference between saying “this herb will make you live longer” with no proof and saying “I believe that cloud looks like a horse” with no proof.
          One is subjective the other is objective.

        • Avatar of Stacey
          May 19, 2011 at 11:50 am —

          I’m not the right person to answer your question about religion because I personally feel that religion, as a concept, shouldn’t be exempt from scrutiny. I also understand that people choose to be religious for a host of reasons besides “truth seeking”, such as community, family tradition, and psychological solace (it provides reassuring answers for most of life’s toughest philosophical questions). And for that reason, providing solid reasoning/evidence against the “truth” of religion doesn’t address the fundamental reasons why many choose to be religious, and therefore has no chance of shaking their beliefs. It’s like trying to talk your best friend out of dating a jerk – if she’s highly emotional about him, good luck.

          The skepchicks don’t agree on everything behind the scenes. Some, while atheist or agnostic themselves, don’t advocate fighting religion and even find the actions of some militant atheist groups misguided. Maybe one of these skepchicks will jump in and address your question better than I can. My two cents are that being an atheist doesn’t obligate you to take issue with scientific organizations hiring religious people.

          I remember Rebecca saying something years ago that made sense to me. She said that there’s a place for all types of skeptics: those that want everyone to get along (Shermer) and those that want to rile people up (Dawkins). Individuals are so…individual, that the more role models you have, the more types of people you reach. -That’s not a quote, it’s my memory of the general point and I hope I haven’t misstated it.- My point is that there’s no one right way to approach it.

          • Avatar of
            May 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

            I quite agree that there is a place for all types of skeptics – I’m delighted to learn that Rebecca and I agree on this. That is why I raised the point of censorship-by-shame, because, let’s be honest here, that is exactly what was proposed: PT should not even consider letting Kanazawa blog, before his entries were preapproved. Or even let him blog in the first place, because his woo reflects poorly on PT, not just now, but forever.

            Being an atheist certainly does not oblige you to take issue with scientific organizations hiring religious people (Schlessinger wasn’t ‘hired’, she was on the board of advisors). But when you, as an organization, strike out against one organization for letting one type of woo put the organization in a bad light, even to the point where it should be *shamed* forever, then you are obligated to be consistent.

            You *say* that criticism of any type of woo should be founded on what is being argued, not who argues it. But that is not what you *do*. As a result, Skepchick.org is presenting itself as an organization which criticizes some, but not others, solely based on who they are, not what they say or do.

            Shermer gets a pass, PT does not. That’s the clear picture here. And that’s a shame.

          • Avatar of Stacey
            May 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

            Oh no, you’ve drifted back to the topic that’s going in circles. And here I thought you wanted to have a thoughtful discussion about skepticism and religion.

            I don’t have much to say except that not only do I completely disagree with you, but now you’re wildly misquoting me. Thank goodness my blog post is still up there!

            Although I’m tempted to devolve into the BS again, I’m going to keep my word. I’m aware that you believe anyone who scrutinizes a scientific study should also be intolerant of religious beliefs, and you’re aware that I think your logic is deeply flawed. I think we can agree to disagree and move on.

          • Avatar of
            May 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

            I am *always* more than ready to have a thoughtful discussion about skepticism and religion!

            I am puzzled to hear that you think I have misquoted you. I would like to know where I do that, so I can correct it. I would also like to know how my logic is deeply flawed.

            I can assure you that I do not believe anyone who scrutinizes a scientific study also should be intolerant of religious beliefs. You are reading way too much into what I write. I am merely pointing out that if Skepchick.org criticizes one organization for letting in woo, it should be consistent, and also voice similar criticism of Shermer and Skeptics Society. It does not, and it reflects poorly on Skepchick.org.

  19. Avatar of expowarrior
    May 19, 2011 at 2:29 am —

    Whatever, I’m frakking hot. :D

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