Is it right to shut up this jerk? has the moto, “Nothing is sacred,” Satoshi Kanazawa’s website says, “Prepare to be offended.” Same thing, almost. But Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, so when he offends he sometimes gets world-class insulted commenters piling on him. Despite the elite source of these attacks, their texture is fundamentally more academic versions of what we see from IC users who just don’t like an idea, can’t properly explain why and often put their foot in their mouths trying. Here are some example attacks on Kanasawa.

1. In 2011 article in Psychology Today Kanazawa claimed to show that black women are less physically attractive than non-black women.  The article caused enough raucous that it apparently threatened funding for the study of evolutionary psychology; enough to cause 68 leading pros in the field to apologize in this way: “The principle of applying evolutionary theory to the study of human psychology and behaviour is sound, and there is a great deal of high-quality, nuanced, culturally-sensitive evolutionary research ongoing in the UK and elsewhere today.” Nevermind the merits of Kanazawa’s article, but what’s this “culturally sensitive” business!? Which chapter in freshman science books is titled, “Cultural Sensitivity Corrections to Newton’s Laws of Motion?” By the way Kanazawa’ was banished from blogging on Psychology Today because of the article.

2. In 2007 Kanzawa published a book explaining why attractive people are inclined to have more daughters than sons. After showing that the theory of evolution predicts this, he presented data that showed attractive people are %26 less likely to have sons than daughters. His critics clobbered him with the fact that more careful data analysis shows that attractive people are only 8% more likely to have daughters, and so Kanzawa was wrong. Wait a minute! He may have been wrong about the numbers, but his prediction was essentially correct. Attractive people do have more daughters than sons, whether by 26% fewer sons or 8% more daughters. Rather than paying attention to what he got right—which was valuable new insight– his critics went after what he got wrong in an attempt to squash this line of inquiry altogether.

3. Way back in the year 2000 Kanazawa coauthored a book titled, Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan. 11 years later, just after the article about black women, an user decided to “review” this decade-old book. The user says, “Consider the source! The co-author of this book, Satoshi Kanazawa, is the very same Satoshi Kanazawa who writes in Psychology Today that Black Women are “less attractive” than other women (?!) because of evolutionary selection, that all women are prostitutes and that prostitution is a favored outcome of evolutionary selection…”

But what did the authors say in the specific book being reviewed? If there is an insidious attempt in the book to propagate a falsehood, that is what needs to be pointed out and challenged, not what the author has written elsewhere. Amazingly 2 out of 7 readers found this “review” useful!

Kanazawa is among the often-wrong sometimes-right intellectuals I oppose most. You can be sure that what he writes makes its way to the most agenda filled websites as supporting evidence. He describes himself as a “Scientific fundamentalist” and favors nuking all Muslims–seriously! Yet when this clever mind writes an article attempting to explain why suicide bombers are all Muslim, I read carefully. Hint, it has nothing directly to do with Islam. 

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