Why does LSE academic Satoshi Kanazawa seem to hate women and black people?
“The Hawaiian sailors are all black and ugly like devils.” This was an entry in the diary of Morita Kiyoyuki, one of the 170 samurai envoys who travelled from Japan as part of the first Japanese embassy mission to America in 1860 during the late Tokugawa Shogunate. The envoys meticulously recorded their views on what they saw during their journey in embassy dispatches, diaries, memoirs, and travelogues.
Kimura Tetsuya, another official on the same trip observed that “The whites are of course intelligent, and the blacks are stupid. Thus the seeds of intelligence and unintelligence are not allowed to mix together.” These as well as other the texts from the diaries, memoirs, and travelogues are now available in English with an interesting analysis in a book titled As We Saw Them (1979) by the late Japanese literary scholar Masao Miyoshi.
According John Russell, a professor at Gifu University in Japan and an authority on Japanese anti-black racism, references to blacks as animals and subhumans in Japanese culture can be traced back to as early as the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2008 a Japanese mobile phone company was forced to withdraw a racist TV advert which depicted Barak Obama as a monkey.
John Russell explains how blacks serve as a reflexive symbol through which Japanese reappraise their status while constructing their identity in relation to Euro-American supremacy. The 16th-17th century Japanese racist imaginations of blacks and the dispatches from the first Japanese embassy to America are widely recognised by scholars as part of the discourses which shaped, and continue to inform Japanese selfhood and their perceptions of blacks.
The introduction of Social Darwinism and eugenics into Japanese society in the late 19th century gave some Japanese intellectuals what they thought of as a “scientific basis” for their representation of blacks. In one of his lectures on eugenics delivered at the University of Oxford on 17 May 1907, English mathematician, Karl Pearson (1857–1936), described how eugenics “Race-preservation and race-betterment” had assumed “the form of a religious cult” in Japan. It was not until recently on June 18, 1996 that Japan abolished the last of its series of Race Eugenic laws. However, the ideas advanced by Social Darwinism and eugenics remain influential today in Japanese intellectual life and popular culture.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Satoshi Kanawaza’s work at the London School of Economics where he has been reproducing and disseminating medieval and early modern Japanese views about blacks and women through the new medium of evolutionary psychology. He is viewed by many as a “eugenicist” working under the guise of an evolutionary psychologist, an area of “study” discredited by many academics as a pernicious political ideology which masquerades as science.
In 2000 a diverse group of 16 of the world’s leading biologists, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, and feminist theorists launched what is the intellectual equivalent of a nuclear attack against evolutionary psychology through a collection of scholarly articles which aimed to prove that “the claims of evolutionary psychology rest on shaky empirical evidence, flawed premises, and unexamined political presuppositions.” Kanawaza’s latest article which has shocked people across the world is a good example of such claims.
In the article submitted to the US website, Psychology Today, he argued that “Black women are objectively less attractive than non-Black women.” He has since emerged a hero on white supremacist websites. However, rather than being based on a sound scientific method, his arguments seem to have been based on or inspired by an old Japanese proverb, “In rice and women, the whiter the better!”
Kanazawa claims to have based his article on a survey carried out by Add Health. Interestingly, he failed to ask the first question that any first year undergraduate student would ask, “What does the research tell us about the participants’ racial perceptions about others?” and not, “What does the research tell us about black women’s physical bodies?” Instead, what he did is what any “fundamentalist” would do, he engaged in an eisegesis which is a process of reading subjective meanings into data. His research over the years is considered so poor, even by fellow evolutionary psychologists, that it is often cited by American professors to students as examples of what not to do in research. In I2010 a group of 35 leading evolutionary psychologists launched an unprecedented attack in a jointly written article against what they described as Kanazawa’s “poor logic, lack of nuance, and blatant disregard for the totality of the evidence.”Tagged in: eugenics, japanese culture, racism, Satoshi Kanazawa, Social Darwinism
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