An Open Letter to the Editors at Psychology Today
Psychology Today has a responsibility to respond to the Kanazawa controversy
Posted May 18, 2011
Dear Psychology Today:
I suspect your inboxes are overflowing with irate emails from readers commenting on Satoshi Kanazawa's recent blog post, "Why Are Black Women Less Attractive Than Other Women?" I imagine the last few days have been stressful for the magazine. I am confident all of you are working to resolve this issue quickly and with the care and attention it deserves.
I wonder when the magazine intends to issue a public retraction. The Internet is abuzz with this controversy and the issue does not appear to be going anywhere. I had an opportunity to read Kanazawa's post on Monday before it went "viral" on the Internet and was taken down from the site. Prior to this controversy, I had never heard of Satoshi Kanazawa nor was I familiar with his scholarship. Since that time, however, I have been studying his work closely and in doing so have grown skeptical of its merits and the poor science on which many of his conclusions are based. I can't tell whether Kanazawa is truly sincere about what he writes, or if he is choosing to be provocative as a means of promoting his controversial ideas. Regardless, his writing is often spiteful and at times just plain wrong.
I strongly believe in the First Amendment as well as the concept of academic freedom and would never advocate for the restriction of either. With that said, I also agree with your editorial board's decision on Monday to remove Kanazawa's post from the site, not because it was controversial and offended people but because his writing is misleading and unscientific. Psychology Today has a responsibility to hold its writers (including its bloggers) to a high standard, particularly when such writers claim to represent the scientific community. As my fellow blogger Dr. Lyubansky so eloquently wrote on Monday: "extraordinary claims (especially those that hurt and damage marginalized groups) require extraordinary evidence and editorial oversight."
I look forward to following this story in the days ahead and watching how you handle this unfortunate, albeit important moment. I trust you will take the appropriate steps to address the situation while maintaining the journalistic ethical standards to which I believe the magazine aspires.
Tyger Latham, Psy.D.