I’ve written about this genius before (here or elsewhere or somewhere). He’s an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics (LSE) – one of the top universities in the UK – and he writes, a lot, for Psychology Today. Now, Psychology Today is not, by any stretch of any imagination, a reliable academic source but it does have readership. It’s probably the best feeder of pop-psychology around at the moment.
I’m not a fan of evolutionary psychology. I don’t like its reductivist approach in making everything about sex. Because that’s what it does, when you strip off the big words. The boys have sperm, the girls have eggs, the boys want the girls but the girls need the boys and then a whole host of things happen that bring us where we are today. One of my very favourite colleagues does a bit of evolutionary psychology, and he argues it well, but I just don’t agree with the premise or the implications. No more than I agree with any of the offensive, sexist, racist, ill-informed claptrap that Satoshi Kanazawa is known for on Psychology Today. (Not that I am equating my lovely colleague with Kanazawa, of course). His latest stint involved a piece which was entitled “Why are Black women less physically attractive than other women?” Yeah. Seriously.
The piece was met with uproar, naturally, and was removed from the site almost immediately. (It doesn’t even deserve a critique but if you’re interesting in reading one anyway, you can find an interesting post here on Sociological Images.) Since then, change.org, a petition site, started a petition demanding that Psychology Today stops publishing sexist and racist articles and explains why Kanazawa’s piece was published initially. (If you were cynical of mind and suspected that it was published because it’s good for site traffic, you may not be wrong.) The peititon also called for the removal of Kanazawa as a contributor to the site. And not before time. Indeed, since then, the student body of LSE have called for Kanazawa to be sacked. He is not doing that institution, or the academy, any favours at all.
Two weeks after the offending article, Psychology Today issued an “apology”. It’s very sorry indeed if anyone was offended by the article. (Read: we’re not saying the article was offensive but if you were offended then I suppose we’re sorry. But you should probably be less sensitive.) It’s not good enough. Kanazawa is still listed as a contributer and Psychology Today did not address any of the on-going issues with his pieces, choosing instead to pretend that this piece was an isolated incident. Please sign the petition to keep the pressure on Psychology Today to address this problem properly. Its claim that it doesn’t support the publication of racist or sexist pieces is disingenuous when it had to remove a piece for exactly those problems. We have to put up with, “I’m not racist/ sexist but…” in too many places on the Internet and we shouldn’t have to put up with it on a “academic” site too.
Psychology Today is probably hoping that this will turn out to be a storm in the teacup (and, sadly, it probably will for there’s a lot of -isms around and eventually we’ll have to move on to the next one) but it really, really shouldn’t be allowed to wait it out and get that moron Kanazawa back on the front page again next week.