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Satoshi Kanazawa Causes Firestorm After Claiming Black Women Are Less Attractive

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 05/17/2011 6:32 pm Updated: 07/17/2011 5:12 am

Psychology Today blogger Satoshi Kanazawa sparked a firestorm with his latest posting entitled, "A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature."

In it, the evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics argues that black women are less physically attractive than other women. The article was quickly removed from the site, but not before screenshots made their way onto BuzzFeed. Some excerpts:

What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women. (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI: 27.0 vs. 26.9) However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.

[...]

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race difference in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

Kanazawa, whose prior, controversial works can be viewed in part here, was met with widespread backlash. Jenée Desmond-Harris at The Root wrote, "The blog's presentation of the allegedly scientific findings had a decidedly informal tone, especially given the highly contentious conclusions. It struck us as so outrageous that we almost thought it was a hoax of some sort, and we double-checked the URL to make sure it didn't include 'The Onion.'"

Latoya Peterson at Racialicious opined: "Justifying racism using 'science' isn't new, by any means. Every few years, it appears that someone needs to provide a rationale for bigotry, so they publish some sort of madness and hope most of the readers suffer from scientific illiteracy. The problem is that even with a thorough debunking, people latch on to articles like this to confirm their own biases."

Kaja Perina, Psychology Today's editor-in-chief, didn't explain why Kanazawa's piece was removed, however she told NPR, "Our bloggers are credential[ed] social scientists and for this reason they are invited to post to the site on topics of their choosing. We in turn reserve the right to remove posts for any number of reasons. Because the post was not commissioned or solicited by PT (in contrast to a magazine article), there was no editorial intent to address questions of race and physical attractiveness."

Kanazawa hasn't made any public statement, although, as NPR notes, his personal website does disclaim, "Prepare to be offended."

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