Monday, May 16, 2011

Psychology Today, Printing Silly Stuff As Usual

The name "Psychology Today" might give you the impression that you're going to get rigorous, cutting-edge research from academic psychology. Similarly, the name "Fox News" might give you the impression that you're going to get news about foxes. In both cases, you would be mistaken.

This is by way of introducing Satoshi Kanazawa's comment in Psychology Today that "The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone." As Jamelle writes: "Yep, it must be the testosterone! It can't possibly be that we live in a culture where black beauty was demonized and dehumanized for hundreds of years. Nope, black women are just too much like men! Exactly."

(Evolutionary biologist PZ Myers on Kanazawa: "He's like the poster boy for the stupidity and groundlessness of freakishly fact-free evolutionary psychology. Just ignore anything with Kanazawa's name on it." Generally when I've talked to actual evolutionary biologists about evolutionary psychology, they've said things roughly along these lines.)


Blue said...

I always love seeing mockery of pop-evo-theories, but I think you must have so many examples of bad writing by then, that you probably really REALLY want to stay away from anything discussing "beauty" in a political context. The trolling that results is never good, and there's really nothing intellectually respectable and interesting to say about comparing the beauty of different groups.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Well, I think I've learned some things from those discussions. The story about how beauty norms in most cultures tell you "look like our upper class" impresses me.

DBake said...

Beyond Neil's point about the social aspect of beauty, where beauty = characteristic of the upper classes, having money in our society correlates pretty well with having access to doctors, education, healthy diet, and exercise. Part of the issue might be the fact that it takes money to take care of your body, and that black people are poor.
Or testosterone.

Lotus said...

The post appears to have been removed. Perhaps someone at PT (which, believe it or not, was at one time a decent magazine) got an attack of the sensibles.