Satoshi Kanazawa And The Freefall Of Evolutionary Psychology
    By Hank Campbell | May 19th 2011 02:49 PM | 106 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Last weekend, Satoshi Kanazawa wrote in Psychology Today that black women are considered less attractive than other women but black men are considered more attractive than other men.   Being a good evolutionary psychologist, he set out to do a 'whatsupwiththat?' article and map some data to that topology and piece the whole thing together.

    As you can imagine, it will involve sex and surveys of college students.  This is evolutionary psychology, after all.  As you can also imagine, Psychology Today was thrilled at the prospect of all those controversial pageviews but, apparently, some psychobabble kookiness is too much for even them - and they loved his claiming things like that pretty people have more daughters and liberals are more intelligent than conservatives so their boundaries are fairly broad.

    The standard line for this kind of gibberish is that the writer is examining 'hard truths' and taboo subjects, where others fear to tread, etc., but really it is more like he thought 'that black woman is unattractive but I see a lot of attractive black men' and decided to science it up with a diagram.  So what?  It isn't even the goofiest thing to come out of evolutionary psychology this month, so why the hubbub?  Well, black men were not complaining about being better looking than white guys and hispanics, but black women couldn't have been all that pleased reading that they are uglier than everyone else but think they are much hotter.    Let's look into the mind of Kanazawa once again.   Bring goggles. 

    Satoshi Kanazawa
    See?  If it is has a chart, it must be good science.

    This chart tells you what he was talking about but doesn't tell the whole story and Psychology Today has pulled the article so you need to rely on Google cache to giggle on the actual article.    This piece, and its legacy, has apparently taken on a life of its own among broad Internet webizens but barely got any notice here, aside from one blogger who used data even more sketchy than Kanazawa to validate he is a racist.

    Since you can't read it, his article has all kinds of science-y sounding words so his conclusion had that element of truthiness Psychology Today readers usually like.  He's got 'factor analysis' which supposedly eliminated any random measurement errors - no, seriously, he said 'eliminate' - but what does that even mean?  It means correlation to him and that is all that mattered.

    Basically, he asked people some questions and then had them rate the attractiveness of someone, but how many?  He doesn't say and to do even a modest factor analysis you need 10 subjects per variable and 100 minimum so this may have been junk right out of the gate.

    And then there's the core issue of whether or not they are attractive at all.    Rating someone 0 to 5 sounds pretty arbitrary but blowing up your career at the London School of Economics over the conclusions he draws from that is downright crazy.   And believe me, he had the grudging support of progressives saying goofy stuff like that they are 'evolutionarily' more intelligent than conservatives, but he is not going to get away with this. Black woman have a higher BMI than average, he says, and that is bad for a variety of reasons, but is it really bad to the current generation?    Jessica Simpson, back when she was doing that "Dukes of Hazzard" movie, had to get butt implants because hers was not big enough.  In fact, girls are getting butt implants all over the place - some even die from it - so they can look more like black women.   

    So, armed with barely circumstantial data he made an obvious (yet kind of silly) correlation and rationalized it with
    The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.
    "The only thing I can think of that might potentially " - that's three qualifiers in one sentence.   If that doesn't hit about 8.3 on your Bullshit Richter Scale, I don't know what will.

    Now, I couldn't find anything to corroborate that Africans - much less the bulk of American black women, since the importation of slaves was outlawed by Thomas Jefferson in 1808 - have more testosterone 200 years of marriage later so it seems like he was just making up nonsense.  Do they?   Who measured that?   How big was that sample size?

    In defense of the Psychology Today folks, and I do so despite the fact they have tried to poach practically every writer we have to give their network some credibility, they didn't read this thing first.    They knew who he was and invited him to write there and knew what they were getting but they don't have editorial control over him.  

    I tried to look around for other perspectives, basically one that is not an old white guy like me or some shrill, lefty do-gooder reflexively saying how awesomely beautiful all women are, and found Chinonye O. at Purple Rain, and she was surprised at his maybe racism because he was Asian.   Her piece is pretty good, so give it a read, but the notion that anyone with an Asian name, much less a Japanese one - they are arguably the most xenophobic people on the planet - couldn't be racist was funny.

    But the real problem is not Kanazawa.  Every discipline has someone who creates a goofy study.  Others criticize it, science moves on.    The problem is evolutionary psychology is chock full of this stuff and virtually no one inside the field is willing to police their own.   Marc Hauser just got suspended for questionable practices.  And now they have taken to fuzzy epigenetics to make the picture of the human condition even murkier.    

    Here are other outstanding samples of evolutionary psychology studies.    What surprises me is that people are shocked by virtually anything that comes out of the field.  But if you like this stuff, here is more quality science you can enjoy.

    Why We Love Evolutionary Psychology - People Assign Personalities To Cars, Says Study

    Stop The Madness - Female Shopping Is Evolution And The Mall Is The Lab?

    Nail Is To Sex As Hammer Is To Evolutionary Psychology?


    Men Forgive Girlfriends Who Cheat - If It's With A Woman

    Atheists And Liberals More Intelligent, Says Atheist, Liberal Psychologist

    Chess, Psychoanalysis, Evolutionary Psychology And The Nature Of Pseudoscience

    Evolutionary Psychologists Sex Up Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs

    Is This Your Brain on Evolution?

    There's Science To Dancing Also - bonus, Lady Gaga!

    'Personality Gene' Makes For Great Tits

    Evolutionary Psychology – The Good, The Bad Or The Ugly?

    You Are Being Manipulated By Flowers

    Does Selective Brain Damage Underpin Spirituality?

    Bagpipes, The Sound Of Cheese And What Evolution Can Teach Us About Cowardice


    thumbs up for this article.

    Thanks for the insightful comments. I have been studying evolutionary biologists like Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, for several years now. A particular type of male is oftentimes drawn to this subfield, in order to explore so-called racial differences in attractiveness, IQ, muscularity and male genitalia. They are unwilling to acknowledge the findings of modern genetics, which show that the three races of blacks, whites, Asians, are a socia-construction. . Given the genetic diversity of human beings, the human family cannot be pigeon-holed into three broad categories. But why would a well-educated psychologist like Kanazawa reject discoveries about the human genome in favor of 19th century pseudo-science? He like other evolutionary biologists are invariably male. But, why then would Dr. Kanazawa present bogus findings on the lack of attractiveness and high testosterone levels in "black women?" Given that some of these women will become mothers to black male athletes, Kanazawa uses a backdoor approach to devaluie the kinds of people that might make him feel uncomfortable or inadequate, i.e. black male sports figures. In fact, J. Philippe Rushton, a leading figure in Kanazawa's field, made the truly bizarre statement: "either you have a big brain or a big penis, but you can't have everything."

    Researchers like Kanazawa and Rushton remained consciously blinded to, while subconsciously mired in the kinds of masculine issues that preoccupy insecure males.

    Gerhard Adam
    I would offer the correction that Kanazawa is an evolutionary "psychologist" and not biologist.  While you may not have intended it, it's a point of clarification that is relevant.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thanks for the correction Gerhard. And now I've noticed a couple more. Since there's no way to correct comments once they've been published, I will just have to be more careful in my writing.

    "They are unwilling to acknowledge the findings of modern genetics, which show that the three races of blacks, whites, Asians, are a socia-construction."

    Actually cluster analysis proves that races are a biological reality, only idiot "progressives" argue otherwise.

    Maybe there is a lot of "idiot progressives" defending things they don't really understand. Maybe even a lot of people who aren't quite idiots and who are also against racism don't really understand the specifics of the findings they use to back up their positions. But, are you contending that you are different from all of them? Your position also comes from some irrational creed, a rationalization of emotional views, a mix of how you do perceive things and what you want them to be. I don't claim to have deep understanding of statistics, maybe a little bit more of scientific methodology. But I'd bet some money you don't have enough knowledge to defend your position against me past initial consistency/conceptual questionings. I bet you don't understand cluster analysis enough, its uses and its limits. Maybe someone else who claims to understand it also makes claims about races and you choose to believe in him without understanding his methodology, merely because his conclusions suit well your pre-existing world views.
    To be fair, I'm accusing you of something I could also accuse 90% of the population of(even myself every now and then, I'm surely not perfect). On one hand, people don't understand science and believe what they want to believe, and on the other media outlets don't really care about properly educating(and not misinforming) viewers, unless they could profit enough from it.

    This is truth because you want this to be, but you're unable to challenge the establishment, if you could you certainly would have written a much more elaborated response that could finish off us "idiot progressives".
    Also I would say the actual reason that it's mostly men is because there are more intelligent men than intelligent women. But you just keep spouting your ignorant bullshit honey.

    Gerhard Adam
    Wouldn't be able to tell by this post.  Presumably you're a man, and clearly you aren't in the "more intelligent" camp, so I guess we'll just have to wait for more evidence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Adam makes snarky contentless comments on blogs to compensate for his small penis.

    Gerhard Adam
    I'm so deeply wounded by your rapier wit and the stark originality demonstrated by your comment.

    I stand by my original assessment.  You lack the fundamental intelligence to even recognize that what you're saying is idiotic. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am not sure that your correlation/causation arrows are working.  I have a magnificent penis and I make snarky, contentless comments all of the time.  Like this one.
    I suggest you read this:

    You think Razib is endorsing evolutionary psychology crackpottery in that article?  You would be wrong.
    Of course not, I was replying to the original poster, Constance Hilliard.

    I can't imagine where Kanazawa got his data. When I got my Anthropology minor a few years ago, we learned from a huge study that ALL humans find the artificial "human average" the most attractive, with each continent radiating away from that average on their own spoke of slight anatomical differences. This meant that Europeans, rather than finding average (in feature structure) 'whites' more attractive than uber-whites, instead found whites who were closer to the human average more attractive. So the ultimate over-expression of any continental trait is found unattractive by the continent's own residents! Each 'race' sampled, all over Earth, the results were the same for their own races, and each also found others of other continents more attractive if they were closer to human average. I wish I had the study to link to, because it was fascinating to me, because it solved the riddle of why so frequently when you see a very attractive continentally blended person, then you see their relatively "pure" parents, they themselves are more often than not less attractive than their kids (c.f., Halle Berry). By this genetic blending, the kids are pulled closer to the human average by the features their parents have on opposite sides of this, making them automatically more attractive in some features. We also learned that, with the exception of a handful of genes less than 50kyo, humans share almost all alleles for looks and intelligence, differing only in ratios from group to group. BTW, one of my BAs is in Psychology, so I am sensitive to BS in the field. I am willing to use my imagination, such as understanding that something working a certain way in us likely works that way in other animals, but I need to see some genuine scientific corroboration. I love Evolutionary Psychology, not for the BS that you sometimes find, but for the cool insights it occasionally lends.

    It does sound interesting and researchers have long sought a 'golden ratio'/phi for humans but discovered that to most people, actual symmetry is rather creepy.   Where did he get his data?  He did a survey of attractiveness and went downhill from there.   I am separating evolutionary psychology from other psychology because it is infuriating in its sloppy conjectures and correlations.   We have plenty of terrific psychology writers here but if they wrote that female shopping habits in a mall are a result of biological evolution, we would still make fun of them.
    He mentions on his article he got his raw data from Add Health ( ). But his methodology and conclusions, that he got from his own imagination.

    I would've loved to read that article so I could drawn out my own conclusions. First of all, I think he should've looked at history starting from slavery. Almost all blacks in America (4-8 removed from slavery) are not even 75% African anymore. Why is this? White men raped our women and castrated our men. Thomas Jefferson has a long line of kids from his "ugly" slaves. So what? If black women weren't physically attractive then why is the race so mixed? Was it for white superior domination? Were they seen as exotic compared to the wives they had? What's the reason? We have more testosterone? Ehmm... so where is the science claim of that one? I would love to see it. So many questions and yet not a real answer. Being a black woman myself I have always heard this, bit yet in still I have no problem being approached in the room. Am I different from other black women? Are my features less afrocentric? Who knows but I cannot draw conclusions without reading the article.

    Humans, like all other animals, will mate with virtually anything that comes strolling along.

    The Indo-Europeans who settled in the Indian subcontinent in the second millennium B.C. established the caste system to preserve their lineages. Though vestiges of said system exist to the present day, it doesn't seem to have succeeded. Mixing of racial groups through settlement, slavery, colonialism, etc., pretty much ensures some degree of miscegenation.

    Bear in mind Kanazawa lives in Great Britain not the USA.  So slavery and jim crow as we knew them are not relevant to his day to day existence.    

    Black African women have gotten an unfair shake.

    I for one remember a website which was about "Facial Feminization Surgery"  which got into trouble for saying that Whoppie Goldberg needed surgery to appear feminine. They more or less defined all of her distinctively African features as being "masculine".  I thought that was rubbish.

    I wrote in my blog it comes down to one thing.  People fear and loath those who are different.  Black people very  different looking from the other races.  So our women get the shaft.  It goes back to the stone age.   When we saw people who looked very different or spoke a different language it usually didn't end well. :(
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Bear in mind Kanazawa lives in Great Britain not the USA. So slavery and jim crow as we knew them are not relevant to his day to day existence.  
    What history are you reading?   The English brought more slaves to America than Americans did - they just didn't need them in England because it was a small island and they migrated from a feudal economy to a peasant one.    They outlawed slavery 20 years before America.  Big difference?  No, it was easy for them to outlaw it because they had peasants in Manchester working for practically nothing, de facto slaves.    Contending he doesn't 'understand' black people's situation 50-125 years ago when he can drive into the country and see "pikeys" oppressed and stereotyped far worse than black people ever were here is silly.

    I don't think he is racist, I think he believes his data but, like I said in my other comment, he is just an idiot.  Not all stupid people are racist because they say something you don't like.     

    I mean, come on, enough with the race card.  When Sascha criticized a speculative physics post  of yours you wrote "since you don't want to believe a lowly negro "- if you see racism everywhere, it's because you are wearing the glasses, not the rest of the world.
    How many of those slaves live in Britain Hank?  
    The brought those slaves to America not Britain.  With all due respect do not pretend to know black history better than a black american lest you enact the very racism you are speaking against. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    This is complete B.S.   It's like saying an expert on World War II history knows less than some guy who fought in World War 2.   Your constant recent efforts to dictate no one else can dispute what you say because you are black is tiresome - you weren't always like this so I don't know why it changed but it's a science site so you need to quit making everything about how oppressed you are in 2011.   When you showed up here, you were a black transsexual with a Muslim hejjab in your avatar and no one disputed any of your science based on any of those things.  Why you now continually seek to demean this community, and science, with race baiting is unclear.

    As I said earlier, the Brits needed no slaves in England because they had serfs already working for nothing - Britain is a tiny island.   That is simple history.  You call me a racist again for disagreeing with you, and despite me never issuing a racist word in my life, and one of us will be gone.

    I don’t want to interrupt the dialogue between yourself and Hontas, but you seem to have forgotten the West Indies.  Slave-grown sugar was a big item in the British Economy.

    Anyway, I first became aware of the West Indies through Calypso.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Slave-grown sugar was a big item in the British Economy.
    Sure, I objected to the assertion that America invented some sort of industry in slavery that Europe magnanimously avoided and I noted that they didn't need slaves in England because they had plenty of peasants who worked for food without being formal slaves.    It's as ridiculous as the assertion there is no racism anywhere but here.    Hontas has gone pretty far over the line so I am being testier than I usually would be, but perhaps if anything were backed by fact and/or data rather than yelling racist at everyone who disagrees, I would be more patient.
    "So slavery and jim crow AS WE KNEW THEM are not relevant to his day to day existence"

    Are you really trying to equate the social situations created here and there by this practice, because I think in just your attempt to do so one can observe some pretty jarring differences. I mean, for one thing, those slaves wound up in America, so how they're affecting his day to day existence now, I don't know. You may also remember that when they outlawed slavery, their country didn't break in half and start eating itself. Seems like a socially relevant "Big Difference" to me.

    Also, I don't think a black person should be accused of "playing the race card" simply for commenting on something that concerns her race. If anything, it seems like a play by you to discredit her, especially since you had to pull some instance from the past to justify it.

    What I do see is you being a bit too spirited on the attack. I totally agree with you in the argument, but it's hard to take someone seriously when they constantly fall into the trap of ad hominem attacks. You have intelligent things to say, find an intelligent way to say them :)

    Certainly castrations did occur, but I doubt that this was on sufficient scale or the main factor leading to the genetic balance of Black Americans.

    Moreover, it wasn't the Europeans, but those loosely called "Arabs" who went in for "industrial" scale castration of African captives.  And not just Africans - at the Turkish court, at one time, the harem was guarded and services provided by separate brigades of white and of black eunuchs, as a kind of artistic statement.
    Hank, it's always been refreshing to read your clear-headed views on things racial. But the idea that white women are trying to look black by blooming their lips and/or butts is inane.

    There are plenty of white women with full lips and/or posteriors, so these are not identifiably black characteristics. When black women straighten their hair or use extensions, OTOH, they are most certainly striving for a non-black appearance by altering a feature (short, very kinky hair) that is identifiably black.

    And for what it's worth, I do find black women to be, as a group, rather masculine, although I agree that testosterone probably has little or nothing to do with it.

    the idea that white women are trying to look black by blooming their lips and/or butts is inane.
    I was making the point that attractiveness is subjective.  To an aging asian-heritage evolutionary psychologist, the black women he sees may not have a body type he likes, but I can't say that applies to younger people.     As proof I cite the fount-of-all-important-science-knowledge, Sir Mix-A-Lot.  

    Now, is it racist that the only white people in the video are unattractive, sub-literate valley-girl idiots?   Not to me but I generally think we risk devaluing actual racism if it becomes colloquially "I don't like what this person said" as a metric.
    Actually, I do find such depictions of whites to be "racist."

    Double quotes employed because the word has been no more and no less than a wickedly effective part of a political toolkit from the get-go.

    'Young people?" Dude, this was a hit when I, and Satoshi I'll bet, were undergrads.

    As to the larger point, I think the data building up in the real world, for example from dating sites, is that black women are overall less attractive as mates. Or let's look at film -- there really is no female equivalent of Will Smith or Denzel Washington -- thus mulato Hally Berry is the exception that proves the rule. Now that might be cultural, biological, or some combination. But the weight of evidence points to females of African descent being, on average, less attractive to males of other races and even their own race.

    The thing is, there's a huge difference between saying that attractiveness is a biologically designed imperative among humans and that attractiveness is a social construct.Kanazawa took the former as one of his premises, but there isn't proof of that as of yet. And he built on top of that to make ridiculous speculations, just read the thing and you'll see.

    About some dating websites, that may be what their data says. But our society(and everyone in it,whites,blacks,asians..)  tend to be taught to unconsciously perceive a priori the white stereotype as synonymous of goodness in almost all aspects. If you ever took an IAT(implicit association test), then you can concur with I'm saying. Here's one if you feel like trying it though there are many others accross the internet. Whites are the society role model, if attractiveness is a social construct then it would go along with that fact.
    Does the color of one's skins predict their ability to love, to be fair, to be friendly? Of course not. But according to IAT results many people may unconsciously make that kind of connection.

    Other arguments are extrapolation of correlation towards causation per se and framing of the question in a too much simplistic fashion(something specially dangerous in social sciences). Ex: Most people anywhere in the world, regardless of underlying causes of death, die in a bed. So, the correlation is extremely high. Could one say that beds kill people then?
    You're contending that black women are lousy actresses and that evo psych has a basis for that?  I fully agree that some evolutionary psychologist, somewhere, is surveying college students to prove exactly that.   Luckily, the world now knows - what few did not before - that evo psych is not science.
    Given the status of Kanazawa's field is his "study" really that surprising or out of line.  Not all sciences can be numerically precise and stringent as say particle physics is.   We should not demand that they are.

    As for the "sketchy" nature of OK Cupids data... care to explain?  They simply counted up who gets the most messages and who gets the least.  Why is it that black women don't get messaged as often?  Can 100% of it be attributed to culture. 

    Bear in mind by the definition given by this culture (the one drop rule) I myself am black.  I have all my life heard black women complain of how unappreciated they are.  I have seen how few of them appear on the  covers of major fashion magazines.

    Why are so few black women on the cover of fashion magazines in a country with so many of us?  WHY?  (Check out Henry Louis Gate's "Black in Latin America where he hits on this phenomena as it exist in Brazil.)

    I don't think his answer is right... but there is a strong bias against black women in particular of that there can be no dispute.  His attempt at an explaination should not cost him his job any more than Hawking's comments on religion should cost him his religious people they stung no less.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    There is a strong bias against black women. Ask any white man who Kenya Moore, Melyssa Ford, Bria Myles, etc is, they have no idea. They only black women they can name are Oprah and Halle Berry LOL.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...but there is a strong bias against black women in particular of that there can be no dispute.
    Of course there can be a dispute and there should be.  What is the basis for this claim beyond anecdotal evidence?
    I have all my life heard black women complain of how unappreciated they are.
    How is this anything except anecdotal?
    Why is it that black women don't get messaged as often?  Can 100% of it be attributed to culture.
    Why should this be cultural or anything for that matter?  Without knowing a great deal more information, this doesn't even rise to the level of gossip, let alone a "finding". 
    Not all sciences can be numerically precise and stringent as say particle physics is.
    What does that have to do with anything?  This isn't a free pass to be sloppy and simply make stuff up.  In fact, this should be all the more reason to question the use of mathematical techniques when the data is so "fuzzy".

    For some reason it appears that you're trying to advance a stereotype that almost nobody can agree with.  I won't rise to the bait and call this study racist ... it's simply stupid and absurd.  Anyone that takes this study seriously or assigns it any credibility needs to seriously examine their own motives, because there isn't the slightest thing scientific about it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    A dating site statistic is not data except in evolutionary psychology - so you were using junk methodology the same as he was.    You then drew a specious conclusion like he did - namely, that he must be racist.   I don't think he is racist, I think he is an idiot, and you can search the site to see how many times I said it long before this week.

    About the rest of your comment and the other people with anecdotal stories, it doesn't mean much, because the plural of anecdote is not data.

    If Brazil has 60 races that all look the same to you and me - and they do - how can you determine how many of 'you' there are in America and what number there should be for magazine covers?   There are more latin women in America than black women, can you prove some endemic racism against latin women in the magazine industry?   I don't see a lot of Chinese or Indian women on magazine covers either - and no men on women's magazine covers, even though we are 50% of America.     You see the problem goofy reasoning leads to.
     but there is a strong bias against black women in particular of that there can be no dispute. 
    is just playing the race card, which you do virtually every time you write any more.

    I don't think he should lose his job either.  They knew who he was long before he wrote his latest stupidity and letting people throw out knee-kerk charges of racism and drum his out of his school is unfair.   If they were going to fire him for making up a hundred other stupid articles, studies and books, that would be okay.
    By your reasoning a scientific Gallup Poll is more reliable a measure of the electorates wishes than the actual voting on election night.
    For what OKC measured was who people were actually dating.... not who they would say they will date to a researcher.   If anything OKC's data is a more honest reflection of peoples actual bias's which really exist. 

    As for the whole saying a black person is playing the race card.. that is not an argument in this sort of discussion.  The whole subject is about race..the black race.   Every card in this discussion is a race card. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
     The whole subject is about race..the black race. Every card in this discussion is a race card.
    He said black males were more attractive than whites too.   Yet where is the outrage from you for the white race?   If I had your sense of entitlement I would be talking about white prejudice.   And hispanics of both genders apparently mean little in your race discussions, though they lost out in both cases in his analysis.     

    If that OKC nonsense is legitimate data, then so is Kanazawa's factor analysis surveys, because he at least attempted a factor analysis.   You started with calling him racist, found anything you could to support it, and went from there.
    "I started with calling him racist"  Huh? 
    I posed the question  "racist, or honest reporter of human behavior?" or some such. 

    As for factor analysis  try to remember their data is not from a questionarie in which that would be needed.  Their information is much more like the vote tally on election nite than a gallup poll.

    Look at the tables where they compare reply rates by race and gender.  Black women get the fewest replies to messages they send and yet are the most likely to reply.  

    Their dataset is composed of hundreds of thousands of people who were just going about their dating business and did not know they were going to be researched.  This means they weren't going to try to give a PC answer.  

    My conclusion about this is that Kanazawa while wording what he wrote in an insensitive manner is not being racist by writing it.  There is a very real phenomena of black women not getting as much love as women of other races. 

    You may also find the following interesting regarding black models and fashion magazines and the very real racism there.   (One could argue is that merely a reflection of what the market will buy?)

    Speaking as London Fashion Week drew to a close, Carole White, co-founder of Premier Model Management, which supplies models to top fashion brands, admitted that finding work for black clients was significantly harder than for the white models, because both magazines and fashion designers were reluctant to employ them.

    "Sadly we are in the business where you stock your shelves with what sells," she said.
    "According to the magazines, black models don't sell," White continued. "People don't tend to talk about it, but black models have to be so beautiful and perfect because we can't have a lot of diversity with black models; it's harder work for the agency because there's not so much on offer. White models can have more diversity."

    You may also find this more recent article interesting.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    "racist, or honest reporter of human behavior?"
    Your original title included 'ok cupid says the former' so you asked and answered - again, with evidence even less sound than what Kanazawa used - because you want to find racism everywhere.  Saying you were treated like a "house negro" because physicists who actually know what they are talking about told you that you were wrong was a real low point.   And it doesn't seem to have changed.    It's no different than white supremacists who see any article about a black demographic and declare something sweeping.
    "Given the status of Kanazawa's field is his "study" really that surprising or out of line. Not all sciences can be numerically precise and stringent as say particle physics is. We should not demand that they are. .."

    That is just the problem. By labeling itself "science", evolutionary psychology wants to give itself the cachet of particle physics (among lay-people at least) without adhering to many of the rules that govern science. As a physics major, we were always made aware of the difference between the "hard" and the "soft" sciences. Using scientific nomenclature and terminology, graphs, and all the requisite "aesthetics" of science does not make it science. This is an ongoing issue in contemporary society where science is still highly regarded and, by default, anything that is associated with it.

    In the past, I have been bothered by much of Kanazawa work. His research and reasoning is specious, at best, and irresponsible at its worse. The saddest part about this current controversy is that it has only gotten so much traction because it violates some of our sensibilities, not because it violates the proper rules of scientific inquiry.

    That's not a problem GMJ such is the nature of science.  
    Particle physics and chemistry can be so precise because we can brutally coldly and with out many ethical questions experiment on physical and chemical systems.  No one will sue on behalf of a quark. 

    While social scientist have both hands tied behind their backs by comparison.  

    Further each science has to be judged on it's own merits. If all science were compared to particle physics and it's theoretical mathematical and experimental rigour then almost all other science would have to be branded pseudo science. 

    It is the method of inquiry that makes science what it is... not what ever legitimacy or cache that laypeople think it should have.   
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Gerhard Adam
    While social scientist have both hands tied behind their backs by comparison.
    Now you're just getting ridiculous.  What's your game here, because it certainly isn't about science.
    Particle physics and chemistry can be so precise because we can brutally coldly and with out many ethical questions experiment on physical and chemical systems.
    What's with the "brutally coldly"?  We can do those experiments because they involve systems that are predictable and repeatable.  Nothing more.  To suggest that somehow sociology is only missing the ability to perform experiments and hamstrung by ethics and legalities is both disingenuous and foolish. 
    It is the method of inquiry that makes science what it is... not what ever legitimacy or cache that laypeople think it should have. 
    What method of inquiry allows for anecdotal data, incomplete definitions, and playing fast and loose with mathematical analysis? 

    Even your example of comparing particle physics to other sciences is misleading because it suggests that it is the mathematics that provides the validation.  You know better.  What does that even mean to argue that each science is "judged on its own merits"?  The scientific method doesn't provide such allowances and to suggest otherwise is flatly wrong.

    You can't simply make stuff up and pretend that there's any science involved. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I like how you say that full lips/posteriors are not identifiable black characteristics, but quickly cite short very kinky hair as being so...when Ihave plenty of Italian and Jewish friends with the same type of hair and they are white. If you think we are masculine...well that is just your opinion when all you have to do is hit google and type in black women and you will see that is far from the case. America has taught us to equate white= Angelina Jolie, Black= Whoopi Goldberg.

    I've known plenty of Italians and Jews. None had what one might call "black" hair. Even the decidedly kinky-coiffed Gotti grandkids don't have that kind of hair, despite the not insignificant amount of African admixture in the Mediterranean region.

    And really, your comment about "America" promoting Whoopi as the ideal black woman is truly one for high Earth orbit. Does rolling in perpetual victimhood really deliver that much more of a rush than reality?

    Oh snap, the evolutionary psychology sky is falling!

    "Basically, he asked people some questions and then had them rate the attractiveness of someone

    He didn't ask anyone. It's not even Kanazawa's data, but that of a University of North Carolina project.

    "but how many?"

    "This dataset... consists of one-half of the core sample, chosen at random, and one-half of the oversample of African-American adolescents with a parent who has a college degree. The total number of... respondents in this dataset is approximately 6,500." - Add Health (originator of data in question)

    "He doesn't say and to do even a modest factor analysis you need 10 subjects per variable and 100 minimum so this may have been junk right out of the gate."

    6,500 should just about cover that.

    Evolutionary psychology/biology has explanations for many of the things you cavalierly dismiss. Costly signaling theory (Zahavian signaling or the Handicap Principle) quite tidily handles your Jessica Simpson example. Aside from the economic cost of such surgeries, your highlighting of the fact that it can be fatal amplifies the cost and therefore the signal value. Ignoring mate competition via intrasexual selection does make it easier to paint evolutionary psychology as a joke, but it also demonstrates that you're using worst-case scenario examples to maintain your narrative.

    "I was making the point that attractiveness is subjective."

    Some of attractiveness is sometimes subjective. You really do have to ignore mountains of research on non-human animals and humans to completely deny some biological basis for attraction. Don't take my word for it; ask a king-of-Saxony bird of paradise. It's hard to say you're out of date since Darwin first wrote about this way back in his 1872 work, "The Descent of Man". You're writing on evolutionary psychology vaguely reminds me of Robert Kurzban's "The Pop Anti-Evolutionary Psychology Game".

    And since you cite a music video by Sir-Mix-a-Lot, here are 5 references to get you started.

    And yes... Kanazawa's testosterone claim seems to be completely false... from a 2005 paper in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: “Serum estrone sulfate, estradiol, androstenedione, and testosterone levels were significantly lower in African-American women than in Caucasian women.”

    Gerhard Adam
    You really do have to ignore mountains of research on non-human animals and humans to completely deny some biological basis for attraction.
    Well, which is it?  Biological or psychological? 
    Evolutionary psychology/biology has explanations for many of the things you cavalierly dismiss. Costly signaling theory (Zahavian signaling or the Handicap Principle) quite tidily handles your Jessica Simpson example.
    Sorry, but evolutionary psychology likes to make up stories.  If the"Handicap Principle" is true, then it would argue for a genetic interpretation and have little or nothing to do with psychology.  More importantly, the "Handicap Principle" has got enough problems of its own in explaining what actually happens, and it invariably involves someone throwing a liberal interpretation against something that they don't fully understand.

    The most common example of the "Handicap Principle" are peacocks, and the one thing that is absolutely true, is that no one knows what specifically attracts females.  Certainly general characteristics and attributes, but it is simply impossible to know by examining comparable males, which one a female is likely to choose.  In the second place, there's a presumption that the tail is necessarily a huge cost, because of its size ... yet there is little or no evidence for this.   Since peacocks molt annually the tail isn't present throughout most of their lives.  Secondly, it doesn't inhibit the peacocks limited ability to fly.  It also provides a benefit by acting like a gecko's tail in that the feathers are easily detached if a predator grabs them.

    Especially with this latter ability, a strong argument can be made that the tail is beneficial in the same manner as the gecko, by allowing a distraction for the predator and providing an opportunity for escape to the bird.  If any other part of the bird were grabbed by a predator it would certainly be a much more serious problem, so this "explanation" of the "Handicap Principle" isn't much of an explanation at all.

    It seems that the fundamental problem is a misunderstanding of what constitutes "fitness".  In many animal species males are ultimately expendable once they have contributed their sperm for reproduction.  So, it doesn't come as a big surprise that males are the most likely to be more conspicuous in their appearance and displays.  After all, it is their job to draw away predators and, if necessary, potentially sacrifice themselves in defense of their offspring (females raise their young without help from the male).

    The fundamental flaw with the "Handicap Principle" is that if it were are bonafide handicap, then the peacock's ability to survive would be severely impacted and natural selection would've eliminated such displays.  Instead we find that it has a minimal impact on the male's survival capabilities (considering their biggest threat is due to poaching and pesticides).
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Well, which is it? Biological or psychological? "

    Great question (if we assume that biological brains have nothing to do with psychology). I included both simply as a nod to applicable research that has come out of non-human research, not to play word games with you.

    With each paragraph that you added, you further demonstrated that you don't understand Zahavi's theory. Typical of evolutionary psychology deniers, you dismiss someone who's spent decades researching something and written multiple papers and an entire book on it without taking the time to even understand what's being said. Behold the "just ain't so story".

    Gerhard Adam
    ...if we assume that biological brains have nothing to do with psychology...
    That's simply dodging the question.  You think that knowing something about the biological brain equips you to understand psychology? 

    I understand that Zahavi's theory still has much to account for and there has been nothing decisive in determining its validity.  However, even the most optimistic assessment of this theory does nothing to advance the position of evolutionary psychology, so I'm not even sure why you brought it up.  This is a classic example of attempting to take something from evolutionary biology and simply "piggy-back" it onto evolutionary psychology as if including the word "evolutionary' is sufficient to gain credibility.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't usually correct other people's grammar but there's one flexion in your text I find important to get straight:

    "Evolutionary psychology/biology have explanations for many of the things you cavalierly dismiss."

    Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Biology are two different fields. EP has still challenging explanations to do on its own. For starters EB is usually falsifiable. But I've read your answer to Gehard. Ok, you're not playing word games. Glad we got that sorted out.
    You touch on something important - by putting 'evolution' in the name of the discipline, they do seek to legitimize it by lumping it in with biology.    It should be called Theoretical Anthropology instead.
    "Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Biology are two different fields."

    Sorta kinda. Evolutionary psychologists and evolutionary biologists may be two different people. However, there is no way to disentangle evolutionary psychology from evolutionary biology; to insist as much is a superfluous distraction. I mention both, again, as "a nod" to evolutionary biologISTS. AFAIK, Amotz Zahavi does not identify himself as an evolutionary psychologist. I'm fine with my flexion. Onward.

    Steve Davis
    Zahavi??? His explanation of stotting by gazelles is nonsense, typical of EP. Yet it is now text-book fact. How sad!
    So you made it to the book's introduction? Lofty proclamations of "nonsense" with no substantive explanation or argument whilst ignoring the other 5 zillion examples in 4.5 zillion species, typical of anti-evolutionary psychology pundits. Behold another example in the endless stream of "just ain't so stories" in Moribund Science Theater 3000.

    Steve Davis
    It's nonsense as I've explained elsewhere. Thompson's Gazelle is not the only animal to display this behaviour. You see it, (if you get out of the air conditioning) in herd animals that have poor vocal capacity. You do not see it when those animals have a predator one metre from their backsides. They do it when they are relatively safe. So why do it at all? The only reasonable explanation is that is a "for the good of the group" behaviour. But Zahavi's interpretation was used as an argument against group selection. EP got it wrong again.
    Saying you have an argument tucked away elsewhere isn't really an argument. Link?

    "Thompson's Gazelle is not the only animal to display this behaviour."
    Since costly signaling applies to myriad behaviors in myriad species, this might as well be an argument for Zahavi.

    "You see it... in herd animals that have poor vocal capacity."
    Zahavi describes contextual use of (apparently) similar signals at length. As you point out, species with poor vocal capacity have limited means of communicating multiple messages.

    "You do not see it when those animals have a predator one metre from their backsides"
    Mischaracterization of Zahavi's argument.

    "They do it when they are relatively safe."
    See previous two points.

    "The only reasonable explanation is that is a "for the good of the group" behaviour."
    [il]logical leap.

    Wait... I'm picking up a pattern...

    Step 1: Commonsensical argument
    Step 2: Commonsensical argument
    Step 3: Dismiss all of EP

    Gerhard Adam
    Step 3: Dismiss all of EP
    How can you make this argument when Zahavi is an evolutionary biologist, not psychologist?  Why what stretch of the imagination do you get to claim any of Zahavi's work in evolutionary psychology?

    The pattern I'm picking up is that you want to claim that evolutionary psychology is being unfairly characterized and then simply hijacking all manner of biological work to bolster the case for EP.  Show me a paper that is actually about evolutionary psychology, written by an evolutionary psychologist.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Calling it 'hijacking' is a bit melodramatic. Science doesn't fit in boxes; ideas build on ideas. You've used this segregationist line of thinking a few times, and it remains spurious.

    I'm alluding to Geoffrey Miller's theory integrating Zahavi's work with sexual selection as outlined in "The Mating Mind" (2001) and elucidated in "Spent: Sex, Evoluiton, and Consumer Behavior" (2010). Miller isn't alone in using this approach, but he's written about it more than most.

    It would also be a mistake to leave Darwin's work out of the equation. His original work on sexual selection laid the groundwork for connecting evolved behavior with Zahavi's theory (The Descent of Man, 1872), which was built upon by Fisher, then Zahavi, then Miller (and others).

    I would also note that while Zahavi is primarily an "evolutionary biologist" or "ornothologist", his theory explicitly deals directly with animal behavior. As such, strict delineations between behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, and evolutionary psychology are, to some extent, arbitrary when discussing his work. That is assuming we're not applying a strict anthropocentrism to completely sever evolutionary psychology from behavioral ecology.

    Miller's aforementioned books address the coalescence in some depth, but the following papers touch on it (however briefly).

    "Blatant benevolence and conspicuous consumption: When romantic motives elicit strategic costly signals." Journal of Personality. (2007)

    "Mutual mate choice can drive costly signaling even under perfect monogamy". Adaptive Behavior. (2008)

    "Women's fertility across the cycle increases the short-term attractiveness of creative intelligence". Human Nature. (2006)

    All 3 PDFs

    Gerhard Adam
    Just as a rough first cut, I can describe the problems I have with these types of studies:

    In "Blatant Benevolence and Conspicuous Consumption: When Romantic Motives Elicit Strategic Costly Signals" we begin immediately by a false assumption.

    "On Valentine’s Day 2003, America’s leading authority on philanthropy announced that real estate mogul Donald Trump had pledged $1 million to charity (Foundation Center, 2003)."

    "Yet each of these seemingly selfish tycoons chose to give away a phenomenal amount of their own money to complete strangers. What motives might underlie such costly and apparently selfless deeds?"
    Say what?  This is the equivalent of someone earning $50,000/year giving away $185.  While there may certainly be people that think of this as a large amount of money, it's a complete exaggeration to characterize this as "costly".
    "The current research investigated the idea that self-sacrifice might actually be self-presentation."

    "Donating one’s own resources to a charitable cause seems to be the essence of altruism—an action that provides a benefit to others while incurring a cost to the self..."
    Then why not find examples that truly involve a cost to oneself, instead of this superficial example of a fractional percentage of one's resources constituting a "sacrifice".

    NOTE:  This is also a misrepresentation about the definition of "altruism", since the "cost" is a fitness cost and not some arbitrary item of value to the author.  Unless one can demonstrate that this loss of economic resources as biologically affected the individual's fitness, it's a ridiculous argument and incurs no cost.
    "A high-quality tail is costly to have because it takes much metabolic energy and resources to grow and maintain such a resplendent ornament, which is useless and even detrimental in other aspects of a peacock’s life..."
    In the first place this statement isn't true, since the tail only exists during the mating season before the male molts.  In the second place, this "high cost" is simply being assumed.  Where is the evidence that the tail is actually detrimental?  Is there any information or study that has ever shown that such a tail increases the mortality of peacocks?  If not, then it's simply being assumed.  This is the worst kind of anthropomorphism because it uses human attitudes about what is "valuable" to determine whether something is costly to the animal.

    The paper freely bounces between selected animal examples and human social organization (especially modern economics).  None of these have been established as operating with specific parameters, yet they are invariably used to make a case.  The case is ultimately its power to attract mates, despite no indication that it is ever used in that capacity.  The most obvious problem being that when a mate has already been chosen, then why should such behavior persist.

    In any event, these are all cases of biology/psychology vastly over-reaching itself without having built a step-by-step case.  In addition, the most obvious problem with this entire assertion is that it fails to address exactly the same phenomenon among eusocial insects for whom mate selection is not an option.
    "First, it must be costly to the signaler in terms of economic resources, time, energy, risk, or some other significant domain, whereby the costlier the behavior the more likely it is to be an honest indicator."
    This statement is simply funny.  To be so bold as to mention economic resources in the same discussions about the honesty of signaling for genetic fitness defies imagination.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I certainly agree that if we employed a simplistic and superficial analysis, we would certainly assume a perpetually dismissive tone.

    We might then accuse the authors of failing to build "a step-by-step case" in a paper that managed to pack 94 references (that you've no doubt also read and understood) in just 18 pages.

    "The most obvious problem being that when a mate has already been chosen, then why should such behavior persist."

    The most obvious problem with this is that you appear to even lack an understanding that there are such things as short-term and long-term mating strategies that are often practiced simultaneously. This is further insight into your complete lack of understanding of the foundational principles of evolutionary psychology, and in turn, how skeptical anyone should be of your criticisms of a field in which you're clearly out of your depth.

    Perhaps I'll write a piece on signal theory in lieu of further responses, but I've invested about as much time in this comment thread as I'm willing.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...such things as short-term and long-term mating strategies that are often practiced simultaneously...
    Except that they don't manifest in actual human society.  More to the point, how it plays out in modern society is irrelevant except where one might be able to indicate an artifact from our history.  Modern society does not provide insight into our evolution.  No matter how many references you cite, it never will.

    The "step-by-step" case has NOT been presented.  Altruism is not understood.  Even the concept of cooperation is fraught with difficulties.  There's a complete lack of representation regarding the cultural influences on our biological origins and no sense of how these elements fit together.  Kin selection has not been established and yet it is used as a jumping off point to entertain even more novel ideas.

    There are fundamentals that are still missing or in dispute and you cannot simply examine modern society and attempt to extrapolate solutions from principles that have not been established yet.    You seem to have no problem with ill-defined terms being used as a reference (consider:
    "Giving blood: The development of an altruistic identity")  How is giving blood altruistic in any sense of the word?  In incurs no fitness cost to the donor, so whatever you may use to describe it, altruistic is not the word for it.

    However, it's not surprising that "The Selfish Gene" is also referenced and indicates another instance of where these ideas are simply accepted as jumping off points into even less realistic theories and ideas.

    I don't really care what you want to call it, but evolutionary psychology is little more than wishful thinking.  Too many actual biological principles still need to be addressed and resolved before there's any chance on meaningful results.  I have no problem in considering many of the published papers as speculative and contributing little or nothing to our actual understanding of biology.

    I can't believe that anyone would seriously consider modern economics in a modern society as a basis for examining "signaling" behavior.   It's little better than granting royalty "divine rights".  It doesn't get much goofier than that.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Lofty proclamations of "nonsense" with no substantive explanation or argument whilst ignoring the other 5 zillion examples in 4.5 zillion species, typical of anti-evolutionary psychology pundits.
    Despite your obvious exaggeration of the numbers, you are doing exactly the same thing creationists do.  You demand proof against your assertion instead of recognizing that you require proof for it.  Much of what is presented in EP has little or no proof beyond asserting that a particular phenomenon must be "selected for" behavior.  Even your claim of how many species provide examples should be a major red flag, since we hardly know anything about their psychology, let alone the selection pressures that would've lead to certain behaviors.

    This is why evolutionary psychology has no credibility.  It should be intuitively obvious that even if we examined humans alone (which arguably we probably possess the most psychological information about), it would be extremely difficult to trace backwards the psychological state our ancestors might have shared.  From here to determine which behaviors were adaptive would be even more difficult to establish, so we would expect to see only a few examples that stand up to scrutiny.  Instead you claim "zillions" which already indicates that there is no science involved.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hogwash. I asked for and argument... any argument. That's a pretty reasonable request if we're going to at least pretend to discuss "science".

    The rest of your comment is basically a philosophy of science argument as to whether a hypothesis generated by evolutionary theory can be connected to data that appear to confirm said hypothesis. I'm not willing to play the game of considering all evolutionary psychology hypotheses as a monolith any more than I'm willing to say that all guys who wear cowboy hats are cowboys. I will say that the approach you employ fails to reconcile the data from each study under the umbrella of EP. If you don't have a better hypothesis to explain the data, then your problem is bigger than the philosophical argument as to whether or not we can know the data support the hypothesis proffered. The data are the data, and dismissing EP doesn't dismiss the data. If you can't dismiss the individual data, then you have to either come up with a better explanation, accept the hypothesis, or stop pretending to know what you're talking about. Otherwise, you're just worshiping at the altar of the "god of the gaps".

    Your literal argument against my use of 'zillions' is tedious. Next time I'll be sure to count up each example in Zahavi's book that are being ignored while someone attempts to refute all of them by rhetorical fiat so we may dwell in further minutia and discuss things more obliquely.

    "The English language has a number of words for indefinite and fictitious numbers — inexact terms of indefinite size, used for comic effect, for exaggeration, as placeholder names, or when precision is unnecessary or undesirable." - Wikipedia

    Next time I'll use oodles.

    Gerhard Adam
    The handicap principle does not provide a reliable foundation for empirical research on the signalling in sexual selection because multiplicative sexual selection is not similar to additive sports handicapping. The handicap principle has had an important role in stimulating theory
    development and empirical research, but it has outlived its usefulness and become an impediment to progress.
    However, you seem to think that you can simply file all manner of biological research under the umbrella of evolutionary psychology without actually providing any theories or claims made by evolutionary psychology.

    If your point is to lend some credibility to EP, then provide some papers that can be assessed.  Since Zahavi doesn't identify himself as an evolutionary psychologist, I'm not sure what your problem is.

    As I said originally, I recognized the obvious exaggeration of your use of "zillions", however if you weren't focused solely on being a smart-ass you might recognize that I requested what large scale data you might be referring to, since it is obvious that neither "zillions", nor "millions", nor even "thousands" of such examples exist.  I'm only asking for one that can be evidence for a generalized statement that could be credited to evolutionary psychology and not biology.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aside from the obvious point that Getty's argument is largely in the context of comparing Zahavi's work to analogies in sports, my response to the his (2006) opinion paper comes from the following book which deals largely with Zahavi's theory:

    William A. Searcy, Stephen Nowicki, "The Evolution of Animal Communication: Reliability and Deception in Signaling Systems". Princeton University Press. 2005.

    "We have reviewed major segments of that theory in this book. A pivotal idea for much of this theory has been Zahavi’s handicap principle, the idea that signals can be honest if they are costly in some appropriate way.

    Taken together, signaling models lead to a series of empirical expectations, or predictions, about the nature of animal signaling systems. These predictions are: (1) that receivers will respond to signals, (2) that signals are reliable enough to justify receiver response, and (3) that signals are costly in a way that explains why they are reliable.

    ...we briefly summarize this evidence as a prelude to considering how well theory is doing...

    ...when these signals are artificially manipulated, individuals move up or down in dominance status as expected, demonstrating that the signals must have an effect on receivers.

    ...available evidence suggests that mating signals can be highly reliable, in the sense of conveying information about signaler quality that receivers benefit from knowing...

    Reliability seems even less of a given in aggressive signaling, since in this context the interests of signaler and receivers are usually in direct opposition. Measuring reliability acquires an extra layer of complexity... Nevertheless, at least some aggressive signals appear to be reliable about aggressive intentions.

    We concede that it would be better to have direct rather than indirect evidence of fitness costs. Nevertheless, we are comfortable with the assumption that indirect costs lead to fitness differences, at least for most of the kinds of costs that have been described...

    [Other] data [also] provide evidence for a direct fitness cost... If we assume that original tail length reflects male quality, we can conclude that males of low quality pay a higher cost for an enhanced signal than do males
    of high quality.

    Overall, support for the kind of cost structure assumed by the handicap principle seems good for some signals..."

    Yes, the book was published before Getty's opinion paper, so I offer Stewart Saunders' even more recent review of Searcy & Nowicki in the journal Biology & Philosophy (2009).

    Note: Saunders also references Getty (2006) in this review yet concludes the following about Searcy & Nowicki's work:

    "There is little to criticise about this book. The coverage is vast, it is well organised, well-written, and conceptually sophisticated. For anyone interested in animal signalling, it is a must read. I heartily recommend it."

    Gerhard Adam
    Aside from the obvious point that Getty's argument is largely in the context of comparing Zahavi's work to analogies in sports...
    Zahavi's work WAS a sports analogy, which is why it was called the "handicap principle".  That's not to say that others aren't moving it in a different direction, but that is the basis of Zahavi's hypothesis here.

    So I will review these papers, but this seems like normal evolutionary biology types of discussions.  I see nothing specific about evolutionary psychology in these other than the notion that it appears that animal behavior has been arbitrarily reclassified under a new name.

    After all, where's the psychology in all of this?
    Mundus vult decipi
    When we have an entire book about the the theory, some historical analogy seems like the least important point to dwell on and attempt to use as a refutation of the theory in its totality.

    See my comment to you above citing 2 books and 3 papers integrating Zahavi's work by evolutionary psychologist, Geoffrey Miller.

    I've grown weary of your attempts to disconnect and isolate biology and behavior and psychology, and won't be further addressing that tangential distraction beyond this comment. The main evolutionary psychology journal is even called Evolution and Human Behavior after all. Humans are animals; get over it.

    Gerhard Adam
    Oh, I understand that humans are animals.  What I don't understand is how you think you can pull examples from animals without explaining or exploring their psychology and simply extrapolating them into human situations. Even the claims regarding human behavior have little to say on the psychology by focusing almost exclusively on elements normally considered to be part of evolutionary biology.  So forgive me if it seems that there isn't much of a "science" in evolutionary psychology beyond suddenly claiming all manner of biological work for itself.

    In a nutshell, work that has traditionally been within the "segregated" fields of anthropology and biology can't suddenly be rolled up into "evolutionary psychology".  I'm not really interested in what these papers say about biology, since that is a separate discussion.  The point is what is being said about psychology that matters, and I haven't seen anything particularly scientific at this point.
    Mundus vult decipi
    It's hasn't happened "suddenly", you're just now starting to look at it and the bulk of work that's happened in the field is coming faster than you're willing to evaluate. The pieces are there for those with a genuine interest. Alas, you demonstrate repeatedly that you assessment that evolutionary psychology is wrong has been made a priori. While that's your prerogative, it doesn't qualify you to pejoratively add quotes to "science", and it certainly doesn't incline me to respond further.

    The data are the data, and dismissing EP doesn't dismiss the data. If you can't dismiss the individual data, then you have to either come up with a better explanation, accept the hypothesis, or stop pretending to know what you're talking about. Otherwise, you're just worshiping at the altar of the "god of the gaps".
    If Kanazawa had your level of insight, there'd be no article.    Pretty good comment.

    Some over on Psychology Today are noting that not all of EP is Kanazawa but he is the most popular writer there by far - so his school, PT and the readers buy his nonsense as long as he is saying things they want to agree with - and an alarming number of EP proponents were hands off on the many other stupid things he wrote before now.   EP suffers from the black mark climate science has started to suffer from - if you don't police kooks in your own field, the outside world will do it for you.
    Mr. Cambell, are there any credible scientific theories regarding race or gender that contradict what your personal politics would desire and, if so, could you be specific as to which ones they are?

    are there any credible scientific theories regarding race or gender that contradict what your personal politics would desire 
    Perhaps I don't understand the question.  I don't have any 'desire' for anything, and certainly no personal politics in race or gender, other than wishing people would stop inventing race and gender issues even when there are none.    I mostly desire that evolutionary psychology stop making things up.
    I just came here from PZ Myers blog and it's disheartening how much politics (and group thuggery) plays into the evaluation of scientific claims. Quite simply, I distrust the left more than the right to honestly evaluate scientific matters with social implications--especially as concerns matters of race or gender that run counter to ideological orthodoxy. I've read more of what you've written and I apologize for barking up the wrong tree.

    What scientific claims LOL? Why didn't he put which group of men was rated the least attractive and provide reasons. The only reason he gave was “testosterone” may attribute to these reasons. He just left it at “even though black women see themselves as attractive, other generally do not” which is bs. I go to clubs and ALL women check out and hate on other women regardless of race. I find it miraculous that when he did this study barely anyone found ANY black women attractive?…COME ON now. Why did he only include the races he did? Why not Latinas/middle easterners or other groups. He had Native Americans, how many Native Americans are even left? Seriously?

    Well, I was speaking more in general terms, but I knew after I used the phrase "scientific claims" someone might mock my use of the term "scientific" in conjunction with a post on Kanazawa's article. In any case, your mockery is reflective of the tone and lack of seriousness I saw over at Myers's blog as well. However, that said, I did notice that not many of the comments wrestled with what I think most would agree was Kanazawa's most interesting point--the role testosterone levels play in perceptions of beauty. You reference it in ironic scare quotes and then (quickly, I note) move into anecdote territory where you do doubt feel most comfortable.

    Actually no, I was talking about his use of "science" not yours- so what mockery are you talking about? Science would be if he measured testosterone levels and/or gave pictures of the actual people he used to come to his conclusions. What was the age ranges, the weight ranges, the body types etc., why did he chose the people he did, where did they come from, etc. All he mentioned was BMI-what about body shape,waist to hip ratio, breast size, hips size ( All reasons why people have higher BMI's)?, etc . If he said after the people gave their choices- "I asked them why they came to that choice and they said "X, Y, Z" Than that is legitimate. And for the rest of what you said at the end, I have no idea what you are talking about- But what is there to feel uncomfortable about? People are backlashing because we know this is untrue. Even the fact that black men are rated higher- which again some men are nice looking, some are not-it is not racial. Which group of men came out on the bottom and why? Why was that not discussed-is it becuase they have less testosterone?

    For my girl
    is not just any old girl
    and I believe that determines that no girl is as beautiful as she – is

    Little girls, big girls, skinny girls, fat girls
    blonde girls, black girls, brown girls, ......

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Gerhard Adam
    ...the role testosterone levels play in perceptions of beauty...
    The reason it doesn't seem to be much discussed is because there was no information provided.  Instead of describing what the average differences were, what physical attributes seemed to be different, and how that compared to other races, it is little more than idle speculation.

    For example, he would have to demonstrate the differences in testosterone and physical appearance among black women themselves.  What physical traits seemed to be more common or pronounced and their role or influence in perceptions of "attractiveness".  This would then have to be compared to females in general, in addition to various races to determine whether the testosterone level could be a "predictor" of attractiveness.

    In the absence of any of this information it is worse than meaningless.

    More importantly, one of the most fundamental problems is making "attractiveness" essentially a one-dimensional attribute by focusing solely on physical appearance.  The heaviest influences here would be pictures and how they were taken, etc.  There are so many factors that would go into such a simplistic assessment and yet none of these metrics were quantified either.

    Even if all of this was resolved, there's still the fundamental problem that the majority of human beings (male and female) will never live up to any arbitrary "attractiveness" standard, so it needs to be established what role (if any) this actually plays in any material way.  After all, it's not as if people aren't getting married or having children and, it's equally safe to say, that the majority are not married or in relationships with any kind of "ideal" representation of the opposite sex. 

    Therefore, when it's all said and done, I'm not clear on how this has any effect on social reality among real people in real relationships.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Yawn. Such trite and tired anti-EP sentiments, injected with the usual dose of effete sarcasm and strawmen, and probably (secretly) emotionally motivated. "Attraction and beauty are subjective". Not true. Studies - and there are plenty - aren't even needed: anyone with rudimentary honesty and self-awareness can attest to the obvious falseness of the lickspittle PC claim that "attraction and beauty are subjective".

    That said, I have a big problem with the garbage Kanazawa comes out with.

    If more people in the field came out and said it, it might save evolutionary psychology.  Instead, the guy is a rock star to others there despite foisting off classic pseudoscience.    Now, you make another point, in that there is an objective biological metric for beauty.

    On that one, you have to show your data.
    Gerhard Adam
    Oh, pardon us ... trite and tired anti-EP sentiments?  How about some actual evidence instead of the drivel that passes for evolutionary psychology?

    Point to some studies that demonstrate that attraction and beauty are NOT subjective?  I'm also not talking about EP studies that are self-congratulatory in the stories they tell.  Something that demonstrates a confirmed biological and/or evolutionary basis.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Nothing new -- this guy beat Kanazawa to the punch:

    Lewis, MN. (2011) Who is the fairest of them all? Race, attractiveness and skin color sexual dimorphism.
    Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 159-162.

    Interesting.  I wonder what M Lewis of Cardiff has to say on it.  The timing is a little strange so maybe Kanazawa is not only a schlock pseudoscientist, he is lifting the ideas from everyone else. 
    First he is a "pseudo-scientist."

    ...then the same findings are found to be corroborated with an independent dataset by another researcher and previously published in a peer reviewed, scientific journal.

    So, now you call him a plagerist:.

    ...but he used a different dataset, and did an independent analysis. No plagerism.

    Let's see -- what words might we use to denigrate you?

    Gerhard Adam
    You might try reading the paper and see what kind of nonsense is passing for science in this area.

    In the first place Lewis' paper (pre-publication copy only) regards the issue of whether mixed-race individuals are more attractive than single-race individuals.  So mixed-race would be found to be more attractive than either white or black individuals.  This "study" used 1205 random images for assessment.

    However, only twenty (20) white psychology students did the evaluation of faces.  From these meager, biased set of students, we draw this sweeping conclusion.  It's amazing how little effort it takes to produce bullshit these days.
    "Twenty white psychology students rated each face on its attractiveness on a 9-point scale (5 being of average attractiveness)."
    He also states his hypothesis (without qualification) and then proceeds to stage the "study" to produce exactly the result he's looking for:
    "For heterosis to affect attractiveness, it is necessary that attractiveness be related to genetic fitness."
    It is interesting that none of these studies actually quantifies what "genetic fitness" is since only pictures are used.  So, even if their conclusions were completely true, the connection between "attractiveness" and actual "genetic fitness" is never established.  It is only assumed to exist.  This is so far beyond simple-minded, I don't even know what to call such ignorance.

    From this small sample he concludes:
    "The results presented here confirm that people whose genetic backgrounds are more diverse are, on average, perceived as more attractive than those whose backgrounds are less diverse."
    Of course, anyone that is actually a member of the human race would know that physical attractiveness is only one of many factors that determine attractiveness necessary to establish a relationship or reproduce.

    Yet, from these types of studies we are to draw sweeping biological conclusions that suggest that humans are completely one-dimensional regarding mate selection.  

    Mundus vult decipi, let's see, when in doubt, censor, name call, suggest that someone what actually saying "humans are completely one-dimensional regarding mate selection."

    But, you are right... we do need more data.

    Er... but what if the results come out the way we don't want them to?

    Better not do more research in case that happens. Let's just call people names, and call for censorship instead...

    Gerhard Adam
    What are you babbling about? 
    Mundus vult decipi
    This makes no sense.  No one called for censorship, had he used a legitimate method and simply came up with results that were politically incorrect he would be defended - not by everyone, academia is chock full of insufferable lefty do-gooders just like actual society is, but some would.  Instead, no one can defend him because (a) he has been an idiot too many times to count, they teach whole science classes using him as examples of how not to do research and (b) his data was suspect, since he knew nothing about it and simply performed a bogus factor analysis and (c) both his hypothesis and conclusion were ridiculous.

    When I noticed that Psychology Today had Robert Lanza listed as a blogger, it lost what credibility it had left. The ads in the print magazine are woo; I've run across articles with pretty bad errors, too. This latest blog mess is just another nail.
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Please consider signing this petition to hold Psychology Today accountable for its content ( Over and above the content of the recent blog post, which just so happens to be race-related, this is an act of abuse and irresponsibility. This was not "a study." This was not "research." The findings were not "objective." Conjecture is not "proof." And credible research does not use language such as "I think" and "I believe." I am a psychologist and it takes me YEARS to get research published. There is integrity in my work and how I disseminate that work. Kanazawa's rantings were purely editorial, coupled with rather primitive statistics and presented as credible. It was a joke. And it should have never, ever been presented as scientific. Psychology Today should be held accountable.

    Gerhard Adam
    Why does Psychology Today need to be any more accountable than they have been?  I think the overall tenor of the reaction demonstrated that there is no special policing action required.  Since it is a non-peer reviewed magazine, I don't think there's anything gained in trying to brow-beat them into some type of stricter controls. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I side with Gerard on this one. And I shall add, this whole thing sharpened my perception about that site. Despite their reputation and the fact that there are still some excellent scholars there, there's a lot of low quality bloggers too. SK stands out less due his poor grasp of statistics than due his subjects of choice, and because of the relative popularity(amount of sales) of his books.
    Kanazawa has never done a study, nor ever done research, yet he writes nonsense and Psychology Today, who will recruit everyone and take anyone who might add a few pageviews, loves him, as does their audience.    They aren't a journal, they aren't even a science magazine, they are basically the Huffington Post of pseudoscience.

    If you're in evolutionary psychology, I can understand (and appreciate) that someone in that field finally wants to stand up to his nonsense.  If you aren't in evo psych I wouldn't sweat it, though.   No one takes them seriously, unless they are inclined to believe that voter registration impacts how likely you are to be a binge drinker or have casual sex, so they aren't painting psychology or neuroscience with his quackery just because 'psychology' is in the title any more than biology is damaged because he insists he knows anything at all about evolution.
    Yeah, I think I'm being too generous, among the over 1200 PT bloggers (source of the number: Kanazawa), I know and respect the work of 10-15. 
    Well, I think your article is well written and entertaining, Hank. And I guess I find the pseudoscience entertaining also. Yet, sad, of course.

    The comments here are also very lively. hahaha

    I have trouble seeing what could possibly be decent science within psychology all together. Too easy to let one's subjective being come in the way of scientific methods, I'd say. (as I lay my head on the block to be chopped off....;-))
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    We are a society comprised of many easily-offended people. For example, consider the recent Psychology Today article in which journalist Satoshi Kanazawa reported on research gathered by Add Health. In it, he listed the resulting statistics and offered a possible answer to the question this study introduces – “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?”. Admittedly, the controversy surrounding this article pretty much passed me by. I had heard about the research, but the subject matter didn’t interest me enough to digest it … until a few days ago when I heard it discussed on the talk show, Insight, by the host, a guest and a bunch of outraged callers. The majority of the callers seemed to be black women. But black women are definitely not the only group of people to get offended over something that was meant to be informative. If you think about it for a minute, you’ll come up with plenty of examples of other races, genders, religious groups, etc, getting worked up over news stories that painted them in a negative light. The article appeared nearly a month ago, and Kanazawa has since been fired, seemingly because of the backlash surrounding it. However, I respect and admire his willingness to present this controversial information in a logical, research-based, objective way. I am hardly saying that I agree with his conclusions, but if you disagree, attack the research, not him. The same goes for relationships. How often have your partners (past and current) civilly and respectfully made statements about you that felt uncomplimentary? And how often have you reacted by going off on them? Consider this: When we change the dynamic of the conversation from logical and objective to emotional, we usually do so because: 1) It is a topic about which we are overly-sensitive (like religion, politics, or race, as in the case of Kanazawa’s article), or 2) There is some truth to the information, and we are uncomfortable addressing it. So, instead of pondering the merits and weaknesses of the statements, we get offended and start an argument – making the discussion about hurt feelings rather than the real issue. But if we keep the argument on the level at which it was presented, and discuss what was said in a rational and substantive way, we participate in an exchange that gets everyone a lot further than lunging into a fight. And even if we don’t ultimately accept what our partners are saying to be true, the ability to have logical conversations will help them want to be open and honest with us over time. In Stephen Covey’s highly-acclaimed book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he urges us to always “seek first to understand.” Before you get offended or react, hear your partner out – and make sure that you understand both the point as well as the spirit in which it was intended. Though the information might feel insulting, consider that fact that your partner’s intention might be to be helpful – to inform you, or to help you grow, be happier, or better navigate life and relationships. This possibility is reason enough to allow for a give-and-take discussion. And even if the intention is mean-spirited, and your mate is speaking out of frustration, anger or hurt, there is still a learning opportunity there. For example, you may become more aware of your mate’s perceptions, biases or misconceptions. If you can avoid the urge to react emotionally, you may effectively dispel the aforementioned, and ultimately grow closer with your partner. When this happens, everyone wins. Appreciating your mate’s willingness to talk to you and present potentially sensitive information will make you a more Powerful Person in a Partnership. Keep Rising, Frank Love  
    The article appeared nearly a month ago, and Kanazawa has since been fired, seemingly because of the backlash surrounding it. However, I respect and admire his willingness to present this controversial information in a logical, research-based, objective way. I am hardly saying that I agree with his conclusions, but if you disagree, attack the research, not him.
    You're trying to make it sound like the outrage (here) is over him daring to ask hard questions about women or a minority.    No, we are not a science site that avoids issues that way.   Instead, we attacked his research because it was utter crap, devoid of any logic or methodology - it was more akin to sifting through dung or throwing bones on the ground than research but he tried to make it sound like he had a basis.

    Sure, it seems to be about him because he is the biggest name in evolutionary psychology, which he has insured is a load of nonsense.     
    Gerhard Adam
    I am hardly saying that I agree with his conclusions, but if you disagree, attack the research, not him.
    The problem is that he seems to revel in this lack of scientific evidence to spout all kinds of speculative nonsense.  His firing wasn't due to the article, but rather the students arguing that he was an embarrassment to their institution because of his lack of scientific rigor.

    Mundus vult decipi
    why doesn't he study why asian men are less attractive than other men?

    Nice try but that article was garbage. Anybody with eyes can see that black women are far less attractive than any other race.

    I had to laugh out loud at the way the author derides Kanazawa for being unscientific and then tries to present as counter evidence a couple anecdotes about women getting butt implants "to look more black". Or maybe it's just to look like they're not starving themselves.

    It is sad that the author obviously puts political correctness ahead of sincere scientific inquiry. Mediocre minds have always tried to assert themselves by punishing heresy and today questions pertaining to race are the equivalent of Galileo's questioning of the geocentric universe. Orthodox commentators have always ridiculed minds far superior to their own.

    Gerhard Adam
    Ah yes ... a prime example of a mediocre mind.  Then again, perhaps that's a stretch.  On reflection, I have plants that display more mental acumen than your post, so perhaps I was being too liberal in my interpretation of your comments.

    Such feeble-minded thinking, somehow always manages to surface in these discussions.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You bore us man. Do you even really know what science is? Would it be... ratifying what "anybody with eyes can see"?
    What does it mean for something to be what "anybody with eyes can see"?
    Anybody with eyes can see atoms? Anybody with eyes can tell the chemical formula of, say, bleach?
    Anybody with eyes nowadays who see someone talking to invisible beings might conclude that this someone has schizophrenia, while in the times of Galileo the person would be considered by most possessed. But people with eyes existed in both times..... what changed?

    Galileo was not fighting the scientific community, he was fighting the church. Not to mention that, Kanazawa's work is out there for ANYBODY to read and evaluate its scientificity. There's no conspiracy here. 

    It is sad that the author obviously puts political correctness ahead of sincere scientific inquiry. 
    It's certainly rare that I get accused of political correctness.  While I agree there are many politically correct militants in science communication, I can't be counted among them.   While Kanazawa may have written something you happen to like for other reasons, it was not science.  It wasn't even close to science.   Had he used anything remotely close to a science foundation, I would have supported anything he wrote.   But, like all prominent people in evolutionary psychology, he relied on gullible people willing to believe that statements like "the only thing I can think of that might potentially"  count as data.
    I find 'masculine' men repulsive, and heteronormatively perceived 'masculine' traits in women are what make women women, and some of the most singularly attractive - none of this nonsense about male preferred 'femininity'. The whole concept of 'masculinity' is a male-hijacked logical fallacy in itself. It does not exist.