Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of Black women being less attractive and expending energy on pseudoscience

Firestarter: Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa

Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has left a lot of people irate. It appears Kanazawa has a regular blog on the Psychology Today website which is ironically entitled The Scientific Fundamentalist: A look at the Hard Truths about Human NatureIn his latest post, Kanazawa put forward his views on why he feels Black women are less physically attractive than women of other races. Within one day, his inflammatory comments set the blogosphere, twittersphere and world-wide web alight. The result was an avalanche of comments from across the globe. 

His views have left me pretty much unfazed. This is not because I have the powerful backing of the Union of Blue Collar Workers of the World (UBCWW) whose members rate my looks highly regardless of their race, colour or creed but rather because one can hardly expect a publication in an online magazine's blog to be taken serious.

Did any of the irate people ask themselves why this so-called academic did not submit his observations to Nature, Science or ANY peer-reviewed journal of note? Could it be  that scientists publishing their findings on blogs instead of in journals is the new sign of a failed academic? Food for thought.

After the furore created by the article, I sought to find a copy of Kanazawa's fine piece of academic research. Unfortunately, it had been taken off the web but the snippet I did read showed:

1. No clearly defined sampling strategy or outline establishing who were the target population for his study
2. No clearly defined sample or sample size 
3. No clearly outlined methodology

In summary, regardless of the conclusions he reached, this piece of research is not fit to be published in the Journal of My 3 year old Nephew's Kindergarten Class so its no surprise that it made it into a blog post. In his article, Kanazawa conveniently bypasses the scientific methodological process which states that to be
 "termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning."


I hope Kanazawa realises that positions of academic tenure are not won by shameless attention-seeking, media blitz and sensationalism. In addition, research funding  does not come from being featured in tabloid newspapers. The interesting question is whether the LSE, recently rocked by controversy over  links to the the Gaddafi family, is at all concerned about their reputation and perceived falling standards. 

18 comments:

novisi said...

i'm not 'racer' (racist, i mean) but my attration for towards black women can never be undone by some image-saving so called findings by some other race.

Adaeze said...

I read about this. It's just outrageous. And I agree, it is food for thought whether the new blog trend means that science is no longer serious :-\

grahamghana said...

Adaeze - on the contrary this post shows that science IS serious. Note that it did not appear in any serious journal, nor receive backing from the scientific community and further more did not use the scientific method. This was indeed a wonderful example of pseudoscience as the title of this post points out.

kitkat said...

woow..he shld be bitch-slapped.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

Apart from being a racist

1. He is shallow
2. He is lost
3. He is blind
4.He is ignorant!

Mena

http://efemenaoreoluwa.blogspot.com/2011/05/uk-us-canada-cost-of-living-many.html

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

What Novisi said...

LadyNgo said...

Man did that article have major backlash or what. Like within the blink of an eye bloggers everywhere were writing all kinds of retaliation/response posts. The first thing i noticed (being a former psych student) was how haphazardly the "study" was thrown together and with so little regard to the scientific method (which we learn about in freakin elementary school). I took it with a grain of salt. The only thing i dislike about this (other than the fact that its pure rubbish) is that it's fueling the fire of the people who already think those thoughts and giving them a pseudo-scientific justification for the racist/ignorant thoughts.

Qalil.com said...

Maybe he achieved his goal. You know? Maybe the post was written for the express purpose of inflaming the African audience everywhere so that he could get attention for something else.

Unfortunately, this is NOT positive attention and it backfired in the worst possible way. If he has a book about to come out or some other published article for which he wants accolades... well... he needs to go back to the drawing board!!!

Abena Serwaa said...

Thank you all for stopping by with your interesting and thought provoking comments!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Novisi Glad to hear that! From the way Kanazawa reported his results, it almost seems to suggest that if the same study was conducted among African males, Black women will still come up as being less attractive. Judging from what some of my male African males say, his study findings will be severely contradicted!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Adaeze Sadly, science may be serious but when members of the scientific community attached to respected institutions come out with pseudo scientific results like this, its a serious blow to science.

Abena Serwaa said...

@grahamghana I agree with you wholeheartedly!!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Kitkat and @MenaUkodoisReady Well put points from both of you!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Nana Yaw Glad to hear that!!!

Abena Serwaa said...

@LadyNgo That's the exact problem I have with the article! The pseudoscientific justification for racism!!Reminds me of the time when respected Nobel Prize winning geneticist came out to say Black people are less intelligent in 2007. How can 1 argue with a point like that being made from someone who elucidated the structure of DNA? Even if he was talking absolute #$@#, his reputation gives whatever he says credibility.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Qalil.com You may be right; it does smart of blatant attention seeking behaviour! I'm glad it backfired....

gamelmag said...

I wouldn't say science is becoming less serious because more scientists publish their work on the Internet or in the mass media. Will we brand science as becoming less serious if a better researched paper was published on a blog?

There is a general trend among the scientific community to make their findings more understandable to the public, hence the use of social media alongside peer-reviewed journals.

That should not be an excuse for the misleading, unprofessional, stereotypical, "this-will-sell" science that the likes Kanazawa and even the famed Watson peddle from time to time.

Kanazawa has betrayed the empowering platform the web offers him to educate the public on the ways and insights of science. While his actions should be condemned, the positive role the web plays in the enlightenment process should not be belittled.

Abena Serwaa said...

Wow @Gamelmag, well put. You made a good point that I overlooked; there is indeed a trend towards making science relevant, interesting and fun for the general public.The internet and social media are just part of the tools in achieving this end. I can't agree with you more about Kanazawa's use/misuse/abuse of this platform!