I got an email from The Color of Change with an Action Alert about someone who has a blog on the Psychology Today website which was truly disturbing.
Nearly 20 years after a black parent documented how hard it was to hear, "Mommy, I want to be white,"1 Psychology Today reinforced the false and hurtful sentiment that Black women aren't attractive.
Last week they published an article claiming it to be scientific fact that Black women are less beautiful than women of other races,2 penned by Satoshi Kanazawa, who is notorious for hiding behind pseudoscience to promote discredited racist and sexist ideas.3
By giving Kanazawa a platform and validating his ideas, Psychology Today dehumanized Black women and girls everywhere. After widespread public outcry, they removed the article from their website.4 But that alone won't erase the damage they've done by validating these discredited ideas — the editors need to apologize, explain how this happened, and let us know that it won't happen again. Please join us in demanding they do so immediately, and then ask your friends and family to do the same:
Kanazawa's article is flawed from top to bottom.5 Using a dataset from an unrelated study of teenagers, he draws the obviously false conclusion that Black women are "objectively" less attractive than women from other racial groups.
Kanazawa has a long history of hiding behind pseudo-science to express racist and sexist views. He once wrote an article asking "Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?" and another suggesting that the US should have dropped nuclear bombs across the entire Middle East after 9/11 because it would have wiped out Muslim terrorists.6
So why does Psychology Today continue to give him a platform? Black women constantly face both subtle and explicit messages that they are valued less than women of other races — messages that are especially damaging to Black girls. Now Psychology Today has served as launching point for yet another attack, this time in the name of science.
Almost as if to cover up the racism inherent in his piece, Kanazawa says that black men are, "if anything more attractive" than their counterparts of other races because of "greater testosterone."7 But even here Kanazawa relies on the same pseudoscience to describe black men in familiar terms — brutish, hypermasculine, oversexed, exotic. And that's dangerous, too.
He uses a modern-day version of the faulty logic used to dehumanize blacks as inferior for hundreds of years, from the social Darwinists and eugenicists of the 19th century to The Bell Curve just 15 years ago. Psychology Today has a responsibility not to give such false logic a stage, nor validation.
To undo the damage it's done, Psychology Today needs to explicitly reject Kanazawa's ideas. Please join us in demanding that their editors apologize, explain how this article was published in the first place and what they'll do to ensure it won't happen again in the future. It takes just a moment:
I certainly encourage people to join me in signing the petition.
I started to look at their website, having never read the magazine. One thing I noticed was that the quackery Kanazawa spewed in the removed posting was not a unique occurrence. One of his postings was entitled "If Barack Obama Is Christian, Michael Jackson Was White," which was wildly irrational and showed a complete lack of understanding of Evolution despite the bio referring to him as an "evolutionary psychologist."
This train wreck gets more spectacular. Kanazawa actually refers to his blog as "The Scientific Fundamentalist," oblivious to the fact that such a thing is an oxymoron. He also wrote a review of some other wingnut's book. The review was entitled "Why Liberals and Conservatives Are Both Wrong about Evolution." In it, Kanazawa claims that liberal policies go against Evolutionary principals. once again showing he knows about as much about Evolutionary Biology as the Creationists.
How did this quack get a blog on that website?
Well, I did some more browsing of the Psychology Today website and found just how vacuous and bizarre that magazine really is. "The Four Types of Female Friends to Avoid" article showed less insight, scientific or otherwise, than the typical boilerplate advice articles in womens' magazines. There was another article called "Could Crime Rates be Influenced by No NFL Season?" with speculation about as intelligent and relevant to peoples' lives as Access Hollywood.
The sad thing is that I'm sure some people turn to Psychology Today in hopes that it would actually help them deal with problems in their lives. The best outcome they can hope for would be a waste of time. I sure wouldn't take any of the articles I saw on the website seriously. It is truly reprehensible that a magazine that covers a really serious area of subject matter is so airheaded and is run by people with such execrable editorial judgement.
At least I know that I didn't make a mistake by not bothering to buy the magazine in the past.
Note: One thing I should point out about the Action Alert mentioned in the beginning is that the "Social Darwinists" were completely ignorant of Darwin's writings and Evolution. Evolutionary Biology gets way too bad of a reputation because some racist quacks attached their visceral prejudices to science that completely went over their heads.