The post appeared on May 15th 2011. News of it spread quickly across the Internet. Only then did Psychology Today see its mistake. Kind of. They changed the title to:
Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?
and then to:
Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?
And then, when that did not work, they removed the post without a word. Since then they have put up posts about why it was bad science – but not about why such a bad scientist blogs for them.
Kanazawa’s argument: According to the Add Health study, black women are rated lower in objective attractiveness than other women, as shown by this chart:
He says it is not because they are fatter than other women or have less intelligence – they are still less attractive even when you take those things into account. It is not because of the “mutation load” in African genes: that would not account for why black men are better looking.
The only possible reason he can think of is that blacks have higher levels of testosterone. That is why black men look so manly and why black women look so – manly.
Add Health is a health study that follows 90,000 Americans from their school years onwards. Each one is interviewed every five years or so to see how they are doing. One question is to rate the person’s attractiveness on a five-point scale.
Some holes in Kanazawa’s argument:
1. Ratings for attractiveness are subjective. For a given person the interviewers’s ratings are all over the place, as you would expect if beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Despite that, Kanazawa calls this measure “objective” and builds his whole argument on it.
2. We know nothing about the race of those doing the rating. Yet even Kanazawa, in his backhanded way, notices that race affects how people see beauty:
It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.
But then why should the interviewers be regarded as any more objective than blacks?
3. Kanazawa’s chart of physical attractiveness is based on “women” from ages 12 to 26. Yet if you take the very same women from ages 24 to 32, nearly half the black women (48%) were rated as attractive or very attractive – the same as for white women. For Asian American women it was four points higher (52%) and for Native American women it was four points lower (42%):
Of course, a post on “Why Are Native American Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” would not get as many hits – and seem just plain heartless. Why is that?
- Satoshi Kanazawa: Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?Why black women, but not black men? – a copy at quora.com.
- Scott Barry Kaufman: Black Women are Not (Rated) Less Attractive!: Our Independent Analysis of the Add Health Dataset – one of Psychology Today’s rebuttals
- Are black women ugly or is it racism that makes them seem so?
- Are white women beautiful or is it society that makes them seem so?
- The physically perfect woman – my own subjective preferences