Science vs. progressivism: the Kanazawa affair
Satoshi Kanazawa is the latest casualty in the war against science.
His now-infamous post on race and attractiveness stirred the modern-day Tommaso Caccinis of the leftist blogosphere to condemn him as a blasphemous racist, and even attempt to get him fired from his position at the London School of Economics. His science was admittedly questionable at best, since the data that he used (which, keep in mind, was generated by a widely respected study with significant government backing) turned out to be subjective enough to open the door for legitimate criticism, and there is definitely room for legitimate criticism here; I am not convinced that his study says what he thinks it says, or even that it says anything at all. But that criticism was hardly brought up, and it was eventually lost in the flood of blasphemy charges from pitchfork-waving progressives.
The authors of the article pointing out the problems with the Add Health data, not satisfied by merely criticizing the data like actual scientists, went on in the same article to blast Kanazawa for coming to conclusions that did not still hold true once half the data got thrown out the window, because obviously it is impossible for people to be reasonably considered sexually attractive before the age of 18 (never mind that many countries, and even many states in the US, set the age of consent lower than that), and therefore it is “inappropriate” to point out that existing data is compatible with Kanazawa’s conclusion and incompatible with the absurd progressive response that everyone in America, even in black-dominated areas such as the one I currently live in (where, interestingly, even the worst of the black supremacists tend to limit their sexual activity to white women), has been brainwashed into supporting a standard of beauty more useful to the evil, culture-controlling Je… um, whites. Of course, thinly veiled accusations of pedophilia are not a valid argument for throwing out half of the data, and statistics is enough of an art that analyses from authors who throw out such absurd ad hominems are questionable. (I’d run the numbers myself, but my statistics class was taught by a miserable alcoholic who spent most of the semester talking about his drinking habits, so I am decidedly unqualified for such analysis.)
What do we have here? A scientist used data from a seemingly credible source to come to a certain conclusion, and it turned out that that source might not deserve the reputation it enjoys. One could even legitimately go so far as to call the study pseudoscience, and given the overreaching claims and use of obfuscatory buzzwords in the article, it is clear, at least to me, that it is at best another example of the absurdity of science journalism. This would be the limit of the controversy over that article in a world that had any sort of respect for science, but, since the dominant ideology of the Western world relies on the belief, different only in degree than that of the creationists that adherents of that ideology so love to mock, that the processes of evolution ceased to operate on the human brain as soon as Homo sapiens first set foot on Earth, we do not live in such a world. Progressivism is not concerned with truth, and therefore will not limit its criticism to the truth value of Kanazawa’s claims, of the data and methodology that led him there; they are instead concerned with conformity to progressivism, and will largely limit their attacks to those grounds. “To hell with truth; we have the Truth!”
So, of course, the controversy broke completely free of the constraints of rationality, and progressive bloggers took up arms against not Kanazawa’s methods, but his results. Jezebel, a crypto-feminist spinoff of an online tabloid, spewed forth a Two Minutes Hate that simply called Kanazawa an “awful”, “crappy” racist who hid his racism behind meaningless bar graphs. Crooks and Liars dismissed “Zantoshi” Kanazawa’s conclusion out of hand with the unsupported progressive non-argument that beauty is entirely subjective. Pam’s House Blend, a self-proclaimed “Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community” (shades of “Fair and Balanced”?), claimed, in an ironic yet predictable denial of reality, that races are too diverse for statements about racial trends to be valid. The Guardian, in what may be the first use of Reductio ad Hitlerum in the mainstream media (if that anti-science Pravda of radical New Left trash can even be considered mainstream), compared Kanazawa to peddlers of Aryan pseudoscience, and then claimed that Kanazawa’s article was morally objectionable because it “insulted and denigrated women of African descent all over the world, insinuating that some inevitable genetic development forces them to the lowest rung of his imaginary rigid scale of ‘attractiveness’”, as if science should be suppressed if it has the possibility of hurting anyone’s self-esteem. (One can imagine a similar objection to Darwin; does it not hurt the self-esteem of humans everywhere to learn that they are not God’s special snowflakes, but instead the descendants of apes?) And so on.
If this were an isolated incident, or if the criticism focused on his scientific failings and not his un-PC results, it would be effectively irrelevant; Kanazawa is a sensationalist, and I doubt many people would care if his bombast cost him his career. But this is not isolated; considering the particular objections that were raised to his article (note the title of the post announcing the petition to get him fired: “Fire Racist, Sexist Satoshi Kanazawa”), he is the latest victim of a pattern of progressive opposition to science that has claimed the careers of many other scientists of far more merit, including Lawrence Summers, who lost his position as president of Harvard after drawing fire for a conjecture that there might possibly be a biologically caused nonzero difference in scientific aptitude between the sexes, and Nobel laureate James Watson, who lost his job for pointing out the established fact that the average IQ of Africa is lower than the average IQ of the US. And in cases such as these, the ends do not justify the means; attacking even the worst hack for ideologically motivated reasons may bring about a desirable immediate result, but that result comes at the cost of strengthening the ideology behind it.
History has seen this pattern many times before. The progressive insistence that science be subordinated to its essentially faith-based beliefs differentiates itself only in rhetoric and ideology from the Soviet attacks on geneticists as “fly-lovers and people-haters” and puppets of the bourgeoisie and the Catholic charges of heresy against heliocentrism. Instead of defending their beliefs in the arena of rational debate, they attempt to shut down all opposition, regardless of its accuracy. And, judging by the fact that Kanazawa’s career is currently threatened not by his possibly unscientific methods, but by his politically incorrect results, it looks like they’re getting away with it.
Is there now any doubt as to who holds power? Is there now any doubt as to what is the dominant ideology of the Western world?