Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

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Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Spambot5546 » Sat May 21, 2011 3:26 pm UTC

Or something.

In a move significantly less surprising than the fact that they published it in the first Psychology Today has taken the article down. I've posted the google cache of the article because it's damned funny. I'm told this guy has a lot of similarly comical articles, but I haven't read them.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby podbaydoor » Sat May 21, 2011 3:39 pm UTC

Is he...is he serious?

He says this like this isn't a planet where Zoë Saldana exists.

Edit: Further perusal of his archive reveals
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby natraj » Sat May 21, 2011 3:44 pm UTC

Also like this isn't a planet where our dominant media and culture and society are geared to portray white women as the standard of beauty, and that isn't supposed to shape and influence our ideas of what is attractive in any way?
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby podbaydoor » Sat May 21, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

Yeah, even just skimming the article, he doesn't appear to address the more fundamental question of "What's beautiful anyway?"

As far as I know the only really commonly proved thing is symmetry. With all the different examples of different cultural standards of beauty throughout history (fat, thin, long necks, pale, dark, big noses, small noses, small feet, big feet, tall, short...) it's hard to say anything about any other quality.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 21, 2011 4:07 pm UTC

Well just remember;
Recall that women on average are more physically attractive than men.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby podbaydoor » Sat May 21, 2011 4:10 pm UTC

Ah, yes. How could I have forgotten.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 21, 2011 4:18 pm UTC

What's funny to me is no mention of the sample size, and the inclusion of an image of a womans face with ratio's depicted given that one of the criticisms of black women is their BMI.

I wouldn't be surprised if different cultures found different racial phenotypes more attractive, but that should be mentioned in the study; if you're only sampling Japanese men from one precinct of Tokyo, and only showing them photos of European pornstars and pox stricken Africans, I think it makes sense that you'd get those results.

It's too bad, because there's a lot of really interesting research to be had in attraction and race, and this 'study' looks pretty ridiculous.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Spambot5546 » Sat May 21, 2011 4:25 pm UTC

This other article of his sheds some light on what his real problem is.
This article wrote:In reality, however, women do often say no to men. (In my experience, they always do.)

Dude needs to get laid.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Wodashin » Sat May 21, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

Why is everyone acting like this article is serious? Or is it not supposed to be humorous?

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 21, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

My family forwards me American Thinker articles: I don't think they're supposed to be humorous, but they kind of are. Same thing here.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby SlyReaper » Sat May 21, 2011 4:42 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Yeah, even just skimming the article, he doesn't appear to address the more fundamental question of "What's beautiful anyway?"

As far as I know the only really commonly proved thing is symmetry. With all the different examples of different cultural standards of beauty throughout history (fat, thin, long necks, pale, dark, big noses, small noses, small feet, big feet, tall, short...) it's hard to say anything about any other quality.


I vaguely remember hearing some stuff about the Golden Ratio, and how faces with features that conform to that ratio tend to be regarded as attractive. Or something.

But yeah, that article is a crock of poo, for the reasons already stated. The first thing that was glaringly obvious to me is how he calls an answer to the question "on a scale of 1 to 5, how attractive is this face" as objective. As well as completely failing to take into account how white women (tall blonde skinny ones with ample assets) are pretty consistently portrayed in the media as the standard of beauty.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jules.LT » Sat May 21, 2011 4:52 pm UTC

The blog's title is "The scientific fundamentalist", but he should really include a disclaimer somewhere telling people that this is supposed to be funny...

Also, I think I read somewhere that there was a hip to waist ratio that was considered best across cultures?
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 21, 2011 4:58 pm UTC

jules.lt wrote:Also, I think I read somewhere that there was a hip to waist ratio that was considered best across cultures?


Thisis an interesting read about what is considered 'best'. It's kind of old, so I don't know what else has come up, but I remember a SciAm article that looked at this phenomenon.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Darkscull » Sat May 21, 2011 5:16 pm UTC

Saw the screenshot version of this yesterday, and having read over the whole thing, I can only conclude that the author* thinks that 'objective' means someone judging another person, and 'subjective' means someone judging their self.

There are ~10,000 things wrong with the article (and possibly the author) besides that, but working that out helped my brain stop hurting quite so much at the idiocy.




*Who apparently is a reader of management at LSE, not evolutionary psychology, but I haven't checked that.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Wodashin » Sat May 21, 2011 5:39 pm UTC

Darkscull wrote:Saw the screenshot version of this yesterday, and having read over the whole thing, I can only conclude that the author* thinks that 'objective' means someone judging another person, and 'subjective' means someone judging their self.

There are ~10,000 things wrong with the article (and possibly the author) besides that, but working that out helped my brain stop hurting quite so much at the idiocy.




*Who apparently is a reader of management at LSE, not evolutionary psychology, but I haven't checked that.


What makes my brain hurt is when people don't read the first post of a topic and get things totally wrong.

I can't believe they let a Republican like Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. He's sooooo Republican and he always says stupid things. Totally unprofessional.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jules.LT » Sat May 21, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
jules.lt wrote:Also, I think I read somewhere that there was a hip to waist ratio that was considered best across cultures?


Thisis an interesting read about what is considered 'best'. It's kind of old, so I don't know what else has come up, but I remember a SciAm article that looked at this phenomenon.

Hum... Your link says that average is attractive, and that reminds me of this: OkTrends - The Mathematics of beauty

Non-averageness gets you more dates, not because you're on average considered more attractive, but because reactions tend to be more extreme on the plus AND minus side. Food for thought :-P
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby CorruptUser » Sat May 21, 2011 7:10 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:He says this like this isn't a planet where Zoë Saldana exists.



Errm, she's Dominican/Puerto Rican. Which means she is a combination of Spanish, African, and Native American. IMO, mixed women are far more attractive than inbred women. In highschool, there was one girl whose family came from Milan, meaning she was a combination of Italian and Norse. Redhead with relatively dark skin. Mmm...

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Darkscull » Sat May 21, 2011 7:26 pm UTC

Wodashin wrote:What makes my brain hurt is when people don't read the first post of a topic and get things totally wrong.

I can't believe they let a Republican like Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. He's sooooo Republican and he always says stupid things. Totally unprofessional.


The OP points out that the articles are comical, but things aren't always comical on purpose. As far as I can tell reading the thing, it seems like it's meant to be taken seriously, no matter how hilarious it was. Most statements in the article are completely wrong and stupid, but that won't be apparent to everyone reading it (it's a magazine for the general public, or that's what I've always seen it as anyway).
If the purpose of the blog was satire, and that was well-known, the article probably wouldn't have been taken down. I've seen much more offensive (if taken seriously) satire withstand waves of people not getting the joke.

Having skimmed through a few other of his articles, there seem to be a mixture of ones that have vague hints that they're not serious (mostly just jokes inserted, which doesn't really say much either way) and ones that while still stupid, aren't in any way funny as satire.

If the article was not meant to be taken seriously, it's more like editing conservapedia than Colbert.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby *bird » Sat May 21, 2011 7:48 pm UTC

Please take a look at the author's credentials. He has no background in psychology and very little background in biology. Why should we even pretend to listen to him again?

By the way, I think he actually believes all the nonsense he's spouting. It's kinda scary.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Belial » Sat May 21, 2011 7:57 pm UTC

Satoshi Kanazawa is a complete fucking wanker. News at 11.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Silknor » Sat May 21, 2011 8:09 pm UTC

I do think the article is supposed to be serious, even if the level of science involved is pretty funny.

So yeah, objective apparently means what an average of people in the sample think. Of course, if the sample of raters is representative, that's kind of as close to objective as possible. The ratings are all subjective, but I'm not sure there's a more objective standard than what people think on average when it comes to beauty (though of course that means it's only valid for the given time and place the raters were drawn from, and even then only if it's a representative sample).

That said, it's really not to surprising to me than in a culture with a particular standard of beauty in the media, then people surveyed in that culture will report that people who match that standard look better. What is surprising to me is how the author seems so sure that the different results for races must be due to testosterone levels and not culture or problems with the pictures/raters not being representative. This seems like an assertion that he doesn't even bother to back up, which seems consistent with the sloppy level of science in the rest of the article (no mention of sample size, doesn't say what the "Add Health" survey is, who rated the images, the idea that all random measurement errors can be eliminated, if it was men rating men, men rating women, men and women rating each [in which case, were the results the same for both male and female raters], etc).

I do think the edited title of the article asks a more interesting question though: “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?” Or at least a question that acknowledges the most the study can tell us. Certainly it's a question less likely to provoke a knee-jerk reaction than the title the OP gave this. But really, if the two statements in that question are accurate, should we really be surprised given how the media portrays beauty and race?

The qualifications issue certainly raises doubts about his ability to opine why a rating differential exists, but a decent methodology (which there's no indication there is here) and simply averaging ratings and reporting them if they're statistically significant (another thing completely lacking) is something you could pick up in a high school statistics class.

I wonder if there's a reputable author though who in a real study has shown if Americans (while the Kanazawa guy works in London, it seems the study used was of Americans, though where the raters were from I have no idea) rate certain races more or less attractive. Anyone know?
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Wodashin » Sat May 21, 2011 8:10 pm UTC

Darkscull wrote:
Wodashin wrote:What makes my brain hurt is when people don't read the first post of a topic and get things totally wrong.

I can't believe they let a Republican like Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. He's sooooo Republican and he always says stupid things. Totally unprofessional.


The OP points out that the articles are comical, but things aren't always comical on purpose. As far as I can tell reading the thing, it seems like it's meant to be taken seriously, no matter how hilarious it was. Most statements in the article are completely wrong and stupid, but that won't be apparent to everyone reading it (it's a magazine for the general public, or that's what I've always seen it as anyway).
If the purpose of the blog was satire, and that was well-known, the article probably wouldn't have been taken down. I've seen much more offensive (if taken seriously) satire withstand waves of people not getting the joke.

Having skimmed through a few other of his articles, there seem to be a mixture of ones that have vague hints that they're not serious (mostly just jokes inserted, which doesn't really say much either way) and ones that while still stupid, aren't in any way funny as satire.

If the article was not meant to be taken seriously, it's more like editing conservapedia than Colbert.


If that is true, then my mind is blown. I can't believe this not being satire. Otherwise, this is all really depressing.

E: For the guy/girl who posted about Zoe Saldana, she's not black. She's Dominican and Puerto Rican.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jules.LT » Sat May 21, 2011 8:46 pm UTC

I just the wikipedia article on the guy. He seems serious :?
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Nath » Sat May 21, 2011 9:25 pm UTC

Wodashin wrote:For the guy/girl who posted about Zoe Saldana, she's not black. She's Dominican and Puerto Rican.

Black people exist in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby CorruptUser » Sat May 21, 2011 9:58 pm UTC

She's mixed (as is everyone, really), but people that say "group X is all ugly/inferior", will say "well, it's not the X in her that makes her beautiful/superior"

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Jahoclave » Sat May 21, 2011 10:11 pm UTC

Can we please have an accurate title. "Study proves evolutionary psychology still bullshit."

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jakovasaur » Sun May 22, 2011 12:59 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Can we please have an accurate title. "Study proves evolutionary psychology still bullshit."

What does this have to do with evolutionary psychology?

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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Silknor » Sun May 22, 2011 1:52 am UTC

This title is even more misleading than the original one. It wasn't a study of evolutionary psychology, it wasn't even a study using the methods of evolutionary psychology. The author didn't even use evolutionary psychology to interpret it. The interpretation (which seems to me to skip over the obvious socialization possibility) was:

1. Study Finding: Black women were rated less attractive while Black men were rated more attractive.
2. Assertion of Fact without citation or supporting evidence: On average, black women and men have more testosterone than others of their sex.
3. Unsupported Assertion 2: More testosterone is positively correlated with attractiveness for men, but negatively correlated for women.

You could try to use evolutionary psychology to explain why #3 would be the case. But the author, despite seemingly writing a lot of pop evolutionary psychology doesn't seem to actually do this, instead just stating it without giving a reason why.

The interpretation of the data seems to be at best speculative and very incomplete. Not enough information is presented on the data or the statistical analysis to actually know if it's valid, useful, statistically significant etc. But titling it like this not only doesn't relate to the story, it just looks like a hallmark of anti-empirical thought: I don't agree with the result, therefore the method is flawed. Rather than providing an intriguing question, even if the answer isn't backed up by good science, it just grinds a pre-existing axe. Shouldn't there be a higher level of discourse here?
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Glass Fractal » Sun May 22, 2011 2:10 am UTC

jakovasaur wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Can we please have an accurate title. "Study proves evolutionary psychology still bullshit."

What does this have to do with evolutionary psychology?

The guy is an evolutionary psychologist, it's what his analysis are based on, bringing him to such insightful and totally not trolling conclusions as "virtually all stereotypes are empirically true" and that Islam is passed on genetically.

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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby jules.LT » Sun May 22, 2011 2:04 pm UTC

The guy is a nutcase with no understanding of proper experimentation.
If he was an economist/sociologist/whatever, would you conclude that "economics/sociology/whatever is junk"?
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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Mokele » Sun May 22, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

jules.lt wrote:The guy is a nutcase with no understanding of proper experimentation.
If he was an economist/sociologist/whatever, would you conclude that "economics/sociology/whatever is junk"?


While you can't judge the whole by one, I think it *is* perfectly valid to ask what the hiring / tenure of such an individual says about the standards of scholarship in their field.
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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Spambot5546 » Sun May 22, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

This article actually finally did it.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jakovasaur » Sun May 22, 2011 3:49 pm UTC

Glass Fractal wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Can we please have an accurate title. "Study proves evolutionary psychology still bullshit."

What does this have to do with evolutionary psychology?

The guy is an evolutionary psychologist, it's what his analysis are based on, bringing him to such insightful and totally not trolling conclusions as "virtually all stereotypes are empirically true" and that Islam is passed on genetically.

There is zero evolutionary psychology in this article, as far as I can see.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Jahoclave » Sun May 22, 2011 10:34 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:
Glass Fractal wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Can we please have an accurate title. "Study proves evolutionary psychology still bullshit."

What does this have to do with evolutionary psychology?

The guy is an evolutionary psychologist, it's what his analysis are based on, bringing him to such insightful and totally not trolling conclusions as "virtually all stereotypes are empirically true" and that Islam is passed on genetically.

There is zero evolutionary psychology in this article, as far as I can see.

It's because it's the foundation of the work. He may not explicitly state it, but that's where he's coming from. As glass stated.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jules.LT » Sun May 22, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:It's because it's the foundation of the work. He may not explicitly state it, but that's where he's coming from. As glass stated.

He may claim that, but what he actually does is only remotely related to science.

Edit: a more appropriate title would be "evolutionary psychiologist" claims to prove black women are ugly
Last edited by jules.LT on Sun May 22, 2011 11:22 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jakovasaur » Sun May 22, 2011 11:06 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:
Glass Fractal wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Can we please have an accurate title. "Study proves evolutionary psychology still bullshit."

What does this have to do with evolutionary psychology?

The guy is an evolutionary psychologist, it's what his analysis are based on, bringing him to such insightful and totally not trolling conclusions as "virtually all stereotypes are empirically true" and that Islam is passed on genetically.

There is zero evolutionary psychology in this article, as far as I can see.

It's because it's the foundation of the work. He may not explicitly state it, but that's where he's coming from. As glass stated.

What particular claims are based on evolutionary psychology here? Unless you can demonstrate that his conclusion (black women are ugly) is based on evolutionary psychology, than the title you suggested is just you being a douche who makes claims about things without adequately supporting them (ie. exactly what this guy does). If that was your point, or this was supposed to be some kind of joke, then...kudos on your "wit" I guess.

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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby jareds » Mon May 23, 2011 12:22 am UTC

Mokele wrote:While you can't judge the whole by one, I think it *is* perfectly valid to ask what the hiring / tenure of such an individual says about the standards of scholarship in their field.

He's a Reader in Management (cache) in the Managerial Economics and Strategy Group in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics, so it's difficult to see what his hiring/tenure has to do with the standards of scholarship in evolutionary psychology.

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Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby Jahoclave » Mon May 23, 2011 12:24 am UTC

jules.lt wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:It's because it's the foundation of the work. He may not explicitly state it, but that's where he's coming from. As glass stated.

He may claim that, but what he actually does is only remotely related to science.

Edit: a more appropriate title would be "evolutionary psychiologist" claims to prove black women are ugly

Which, evolutionary psychology is pretty much only remotely related to science.


For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races. And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness

That's evo psych right there. He then continues with more nuanced evo psych from there.

He's trying to explain a psychological phenomenon--largely based on cultural standards--and arrives at a biology explanation rooted in evolution to explain them. Evo psych: or, how to say "I'm not a racist/sexist/asshole but," in scientific terms.

And, in terms of the dude specifically, given his past publications, he's a racist prick.

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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Silknor » Mon May 23, 2011 12:44 am UTC

His interpretations of the study are not the study, nor really anything but idle speculation. This is made pretty explicit when he says: "The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone." So we have a study which has nothing to do with evolutionary psychology, then he tries to explain the results using some speculation based on evolutionary psychology (and doesn't even bother to cite the claims of fact he makes).

Going from "a study was interpreted using evolutionary psychology" to "study proves evolutionary psychology wrong" is just ridiculous axe-grinding. Evolutionary psychology may be a bunch of crap. This was not a study about the quality of the field. Nor was it a study using the methods of the field. The study itself was just asking people how attractive they thought faces were, averaging the results, and sorting by race. There may well be legitimate issues with that study in both internal and external validity, but because it's a crappy blog post, there's really no way to know since there's no mention of methodology.
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Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Belial » Mon May 23, 2011 1:01 am UTC

It's like the sarcastic topic title is somehow sarcastic as opposed to 100% semantically accurate and informative.

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