‘Psychology Today’ Asks Why Black Women Aren’t Pretty

Controversial piece draws fire, is deleted

Mental health bimonthly Psychology Today came under fire Monday after it published a blog post by Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa titled "Why Are African-American Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" 

In response to the perhaps predictable backlash, the magazine softened the provocative headline by changing it to "Why Are African-American Women Rated Less Attractive Than Other Women, but Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?"

But by Monday afternoon, the publication had entirely removed the post from its website, as outcry spread.

According to a cached version of the article, Kanazawa extrapolates from an unrelated third-party study, before speculating the answer that higher testosterone levels make black women more manly—and therefore less pretty.

Slate's The Root registered disbelief. "It struck us as so outrageous that we almost thought it was a hoax of some sort, double-checking the URL to make sure it didn't include 'The Onion,'" wrote Jenee Desmond-Harris. Feministing declared it "obvious racist pseudo-science bullshit," and Feministe's Jill Filipovic noted that "assholery, like attractiveness, is usually subjective . . . But sometimes someone is objectively a total asshole."

Academics piled on. "Among the many reasons that I detest evolutionary psychology, one has a name: Satoshi Kanazawa," opened PZ Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, before picking apart Kanazawa's case.

It's not the first time Kanazawa's theories have sparked controversy. He drew fire in 2006, for example, after arguing that poverty in African nations was caused by the lower intelligence of their populations.

Psychology Today and Kanazawa did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But in the past, Kanazawa has stood by what he considers "purist" science:  "No other criteria besides the truth should matter or be applied in evaluating scientific theories or conclusions," he wrote in 2008. "They cannot be 'racist' or 'sexist' or 'reactionary' or 'offensive' or any other adjective."


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