On Thursday, the University of London Union Senate, which represents 120,000 students, voted unanimously in favor of calling a campaign for the dismissal of evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa. The London School of Economics professor made international headlines this week after publishing a scathing set of pseudoscientific bar graphs meant to prove how black women are “objectively and subjectively” less attractive than white, Asian and Native American women.
Kanazawa is currently on sabbatical, reports the BBC.
Our own Gender Matters columnist Akiba Solomon issued a brilliant takedown of Kanazawa’s work, and points to a fact that the ULU also makes clear: this isn’t an isolated incident. A press release issued by the group notes that Kanazawa’s previous work includes “Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?” and “What’s Wrong with Muslims?”, which estimates there to be “120 million potential suicide bombers worldwide.”
Before sharing a few personal anecdotes about black womens’ alleged ugliness, Solomon wrote about the true danger of Kanazawa’s research:
Change.org has also started a petition to fire Kanazawa from Psychology Today, which continues to publish his work.
Most women I know have such stories, but what makes them real and dangerous rather than one-offs of bad luck or true indications of attractiveness is the legacy of racist pseudoscience like Kanazawa’s. His mess is overt and sloppy, so it’s easy to debunk. I’m worried about how the underpinnings of his ideas have transcended centuries and nations, and how there’s still a financial incentive for publishing them.
Students in London are primarily concerned with his academic influence.
“Kanazawa deliberately manipulates fundings to justify racist ideology,” Sherelle Davids, anti-racism officer-elect of the LSE Students’ Union said in a press release. “As a Black woman I feel his conclusions are a direct attack on Black women everywhere who are not included in social ideas of beauty.”
Meanwhile, LSE administrators have said that Kanazawa’s views are “his own and do not in any way represent those of LSE as an institution.” In a statement obtained by the BBC, the university said, “the important principle of academic freedom means that authors have the right to publish their views — but it also gives others the freedom to disagree. We are conducting internal investigations into this matter.”
Some students at the institution aren’t buying it. “We support free speech and academic freedom, but Kanazawa’s research fuels hate against ethnic and religious minorities promoted by neo-Nazi groups. Not only does he use LSE’s credentials to legitimize his ‘research’ but this jeapordises the academic credibility of the LSE,” said Amena Amer, a London School of Economics Education Officer.
Notably, the university also faced criticism earlier this year for its dealings with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.