Kanazawa Confesses, Repents

Andrew Gelman’s blog links to an article describing Satoshi Kanazawa’a punishment for posting a blog entry stating that black women were rated to be less attractive than women of other races.

As I recall from jounalists’ accounts when the Kanazawa kerfluffle hit the news Kanazawa did not say that black women were less attractive, he reported on evaluations of attractiveness made by researchers of participants in some longitudinal study.

The topic is of some applied interest: orthodontists and plastic surgeons for example would like very much to understand an objective route to making people attractive.

The resolution by LSE reads like a sophomoric parody of political correctness run amok. “Disciplinary action” and a public apology for reporting in a blog about ratings by others? What a poor excuse for a university LSE must be.

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13 Responses to Kanazawa Confesses, Repents

  1. Tod says:

    “Dost not know that old Mansfield, who writes like the Bible, Says the more ’tis a truth, sir, the more ’tis a libel?
    R. Burns 1787

  2. Tod says:

    Kanazawa had been using a non scientific tone in his blog posts before the attractiveness of black women post, one was (originally) called “If Beautiful People Have Daughters, Why Do Posh and Becks Have Three Sons?
    The answer: Because Posh is a whore.”
    He had legitimate science to back up what he said but he let the science down by conveying it in a sensational tone. The science was good but his manners were bad.

    Re orthodontists, crowded teeth are less attractive than straight teeth, in some contexts that is salient. If you’ll look at the women’s interest magazine covers you will see that most of them have a female model showing off her excellent set of even teeth.

    However if you’ll look at the men’s interest magazine covers you will notice that their female models, who are trying to look sexually appealing, do not usually showing off their teeth, even if their teeth are perfect. Do black women need relatively more orthodontic treatment ?

  3. LemmusLemmus says:

    I’m afraid you have the content of Kanazawa’s post somewhat wrong. Kanazawa assumes that there is such a thing as *objective* beauty and that the interviewer ratings are a decent measure of that. He then goes on to submit the hypothesis that black women’s poor looks are due to high testosterone loads. A copy of the post can be found here (may take a while to load):


    That is not to condone what the LSE did. Kanazawa’s letter immediately reminded me of the standard practice in the eastern block when someone had made fun of The Party, and I’m not being hyperbolic here.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to Tod and LemmusLemmus for the information. No one likes bad manners and tastelessness. I could support the Dean sitting him down and chewing him out, but not much more than that.


  5. Tod says:

    LemmusLemmus, no he he is talking about physical attractiveness not the rather abstract sounding “objective beauty’. There is good reason to think humans can detect physical attractiveness. Please note: he says black men are more physically attractive

  6. LemmusLemmus says:

    Tod, I’m fine with replacing “beauty” with “physical attractiveness” in my above post, but, more importantly, Kanazawa quite clearly sees this as an objective trait, as the post I linked to makes quite clear. Also, he explicitly says that physical attractiveness does not vary significantly by race among men.

  7. Tod says:

    He explicitly says that physical attractiveness (net of intelligence) does vary significantly by race among men and that black men are more physically attractive. Intelligence is not really a part of PHYSICAL attractiveness.

  8. LemmusLemmus says:

    Yeah, well, that’s a very different statement from the one you made above, is it not? Also, adjusting for intelligence is perhaps not all that meaningful, given that, according to Kanazawa, the item he’s using explicitly asked about physical attractiveness only, not overall attractiveness.

    But be that as it may – it is hardly the central issue in the affair at hand.

  9. Anybody who has not been inhabiting a cardboard box in Antarctica must have heard of the massive line of research, with many hundreds of publications over more than twenty years, that uses panels to rate attractiveness of faces, bodies etc – the best known is related to the Waist Hip Ratio – and was popularized by Devendra Singh, and heavily feautured in the mass media on numerous occasions.

    It seems a bit late in the day to pile the ‘blame’ for this almost ubiquitous methodology onto Kanazawa – who was merely reporting a very standard – indeed dull – experimental paradigm, used without comment and indeed with approval… until it came up with a finding that people didn’t like.

    @Henry – I commented on this obviously-coerced ‘apology’ at Mangan’s – saying it resembled a Stalinist ‘show trial’ – but I was gently corrected: this is actually a Maoist technique, termed a ‘struggle session’.

  10. dearieme says:

    “What a poor excuse for a university LSE must be.” That goes without saying.

  11. jay says:

    my understanding is that forensic analysts have more difficulty distinguishing the sex of a black skull than those of other races.

  12. Boggot Globule says:

    What sells more in the porn industry: black or white women?

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