the offensive mr. kanazawa

you prolly heard by now that satoshi kanazawa says black women are ugly.

of course, he didn’t really, but who cares about silly little ol’ details like that.

what happened was kanazawa got some “attractiveness” data from add health. the evaluations were made “three times by three different interviewers over seven years” (during waves i – iii). the data showed that, consistently, black females scored lower in attractiveness than white, asian, or native american women; this did not happen in the case of black males.

andrew over @evolvify makes a good point about how attractiveness was rated:

“At this point, we have no idea who the interviewers who rated the students were. The attractiveness ratings would have been altered by varying degrees of prior familiarity between the individuals… whether the interviewers were of a certain age… the same sex or opposite sex breakdown… ingroup/outgroup… interviewer race… et cetera. There are simply a lot of variables that bring the reliability of attractiveness data into question. Perhaps this information is available, but it wasn’t in Kanazawa’s article, and I couldn’t find it on the study’s website.”

well, add health (a university of south north carolina entity) apparently outsourced its fieldwork positions to both the national opinion research center (norc) of the university of chicago (waves i and ii) and rti international (wave iii).

fieldworkers seem to be part-time, contract workers, afaics. with the connection to the unversity of south north carolina and the university of chicago, i was guessing that the fieldworkers were likely college students — maybe grad students interested in the field — sociology or whatever the heck it is (i’m talking about the interviewers here — i realize that the add health people are in the medical field). and, who winds up in sociology? mostly white women, with perhaps a few asian women thrown in. so, i was thinking that a lot of the interviewers might’ve been young white college women — and they might not find black women to be very attractive.

however, on the norc website, there are some videos of field interviewers explaining why they love their job, etc., etc., and they’re all older folks, i.e. not college students. of course, i’m sure this group is a pc-selected group — they’ve got almost all the races included there. but, still, three out of the five are white folks. if that is at all representative, then, yeah — there could, again, very well be some bias introduced here.

it’s still interesting that black women were consistently evaluated as the least attractive, but who were the evaluators? if they had been all black men, perhaps the results would’ve been different.

what i think is even more interesting is that blacks — both men and women — consistently rated themselves as attractive or highly attractive, more than members of the other races. black and proud! good for them!:

update 05/19 – charts with y-axes starting at zero:

update – see also ANOTHER watsoning in the air?!

update 05/27 – wicherts and kaufman’s criticism of kanazawa’s number crunching: An independent analysis of race differences in ratings of attractiveness in the Add Health Study. “Kanazawa interpreted his results incorrectly as having a bearing on attractiveness of women because the ratings were taken mostly when Add Health participants were teenagers.” update 06/07: see silly refutations of kanazawa’s blog post

update 06/07: see also on the add health interviewers

(note: comments do not require an email.)


  1. Those are gee-whiz graphs.

    I prefer to start at 0 when possible. It may waste space, but it doesn’t trick your eye with the impression that something is twice as much as something else when the real difference is smaller.

    Here, racial differences in self-perceived attractiveness are optically exaggerated.


  2. Yes, much better now! :)

    The graphs look about right now. “I’m Black and I’m proud! (of how I look)” is a major factor, but not to an inhuman extent. There is an Asian modesty factor, or something like it, but it’s small compared to how Whites and Native Americans.


  3. You succeed!

    Possible implications, if the revised graphs point to truths.

    (1) As culture becomes more Black-influenced (as it may through merit, demographic changes or politically correct subsidies of various kinds) it will probably be more narcissistic. “I’m so pretty, I’m the business!” will be a popular message from Blacks, and also from Whites, Native Americans and Asians imitating Black styles and tropes. This will be true even if the scripts and songs aren’t written by Blacks, as long as they are written for Blacks and Black-influenced performers.

    (2) On the other hand, if you want less boastful Muhammed Ali talk, just let Asians into the field, and let then dominate it as much as they like. Then you’ll see more modesty, and more discussion of diligent, skilled performance.

    So, if ballet and figure skating becomes more popular, and Asians continue to shine, popular culture will probably become more modest and less beauty-obsessed, even if the newly popular performers are on average much better looking than (say) the tattooed rappers they displace.

    (3) A rule of manners that it’s rude to say that people are less beautiful than they seem to rate themselves is very advantageous for Blacks, because their self-ratings are so inflated (even when the graphs start from 0). Though there is a rule that it’s unacceptable for Whites to talk like that about Blacks, there does not have to be for Blacks to be publicly credited with greater beauty than they possess.


  4. (4) If “I’m so beautiful!” is true (and nobody can publicly say otherwise, because “you’re as beautiful as you think you are”), the thought will naturally arise in many minds among the population most inclined to high self-ratings:

    .o0(Why am I not being REWARDED for this great beauty, which nobody denies I possess? RACIST!!)


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