Monday, May 30, 2011
Amusing furore: Psychology Today Apologizes for 'Black Women Less Attractive' Post
The data must say what we want it to say, apparently. This is an old, old story in the social sciences. If you don't like a set of findings, you can always criticize the study in some way. Nothing can be proved finally. Only intellectual honesty can lead to a conclusion that a finding is most probably correct. And intellectual honesty will go down to political correctness almost always
The disgrace in this case is that the furore was motivated by the desirability of the conclusions, not by the facts presented. The reality that successful black men like Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson chose white lovers must not be mentioned, of course
Earlier this month, the popular magazine Psychology Today published an article by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa titled “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" that was met, expectedly, with mass outrage. The article used data based on another study to make several claims such as "black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women" yet "subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others."
After some attempted editing of the title, the magazine retracted the post from its website in its entirety. Kanazawa in turn is facing an investigation by the London School of Economics, where he is a professor, after a unanimous vote for his dismissal by the student union.
Contributing writers to Psychology Today moved quickly to do some damage control. Dr. Kaufman, in his blog for the magazine "Beautiful Minds," wrote a post re-analyzing Kanazawa's data.
We retrieved the data from Add Health on which Satoshi Kanazawa based his conclusions to see whether his results hold up to scrutiny... Kanazawa mentions several times that his data on attractiveness are scored "objectively"... [However] the low convergence of ratings finding suggests that in this very large and representative dataset, beauty is mostly in the eye of the beholder.
Because raters differ strongly in terms of how they rate... this source of variation needs to be taken into account when testing for average race differences in ratings of attractiveness. Kanazawa does not indicate that he did so.
Moreover, Kaufman noted that "the majority of [Kanazawa's] data were based on the ratings of attractiveness of the participants when they were teenagers." When the data was stratified based on age, he concluded that "as adults, Black Women in North America are not rated less attractive by interviewers of the Add health study."
In another post on magazine's website, Dr. Stanton Peele leveled his criticism at the field of evolutionary psychology as a whole.
[T]he logic underlying [Kanazawa's] racism is exactly that which drives the field -- i.e., there are biological imperatives that determine social behavior, attitudes, and undeniable human reality... [But] the only inevitabilities are (a) in Kanazwa's head and (b) ev psych's fantasy version of the human species as the end result of a deterministic evolutionary process that makes people think and act in the ways they say people must -- that is, according to their own preferred prejudices (like Kanazawa's ideal woman -- who is NOT African-American!).
However, many were still waiting for a direct response from the magazine, who, according to Stanton, "is probably the most popular PT blogger." Considering the level of outrage, the apology was some time coming. Kaja Perina, the Editor-in-Chief, issued the following statement on Friday:
Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published--and promptly removed--from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today's mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.
However, there was no word on whether the magazine will continue to publish articles by Kanazawa. He has not published on entry on his blog since the one removed, although there is no indication that the blog will be terminated.
Two thirds of British serial criminals dodge jail: Thousands with 15 convictions or more 'let off' with fines or community service
Nearly two thirds of criminals avoid jail despite amassing at least 15 convictions, shocking figures show. Instead of being put behind bars, more than 62,000 offenders were given lesser punishments, such as community service or a fine, last year.
More than 4,000 walked out of court with only a caution. The figures reveal that serial offenders are less likely to be given a jail sentence today than at any time in the past decade.
And they further raise concerns that career criminals, including drug dealers and burglars, are getting only a ‘slap on the wrist’.
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Many of my constituents are losing faith in the criminal justice system because – as these figures show – even when people have become habitual offenders they are not actually brought to justice. ‘The criminal justice system simply doesn’t administer what my constituents regard as justice.
‘If the Government wants to claim to be a government that puts victims and the law-abiding first, it urgently and desperately needs to take action on this.’
The figures showed a total of 96,710 criminals sentenced last year for more serious ‘indictable’ offences had 15 or more previous crimes against their name. They included violent muggers, burglars and drug dealers.
Of those, only 36 per cent – around 34,600 offenders – were given immediate custody. That means around 62,100 were given other sentences.
Of that total, 8,200 were given suspended sentences, leaving them on the streets unless they committed other crimes. More than one in five were handed community service and 16 per cent – around 15,000 offenders – were fined. One in ten was given a conditional discharge.
The figures also showed that 4,340 criminals were given a caution for their most recent offence despite 15 or more previous offences. In 2004, the custody rate for offenders after 15 or more crimes was 42 per cent.
Blair Gibbs, head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: ‘Most people would expect a serial offender with over a dozen previous convictions to be sent to prison, if only to protect the public and give communities some respite.
‘We need to cut reoffending rates but we also need to protect the public by ensuring that those prolific offenders who keep committing crime are locked up.
‘Over the last decade, sentences got longer in law but shorter in practice and more repeat offenders were diverted on to ineffective community sentences instead of going to prison.’
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to cut the number of prison places by 3,000 over the next four years, to save millions from the justice budget. But he has faced a backlash from right-wing Tories concerned about the party’s reputation on law and order.
Ministers have faced criticism for cuts to policing and criminal justice of 20 per cent or more, while aid spending is increased.
But Mr Clarke has insisted cuts are necessary and has pledged to toughen up community sentences. He also wants to start a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ in prisons to turn offenders away from crime. Currently three out of four offenders return to crime within nine years.
Mr Clarke will use private and charity groups, paid by results, in an effort to stop the ‘revolving door’ justice system.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We are clear that the justice system will continue to protect the public by locking up serious and dangerous criminals. ‘Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts, as only they have the full facts in front of them.
‘These statistics highlight that the number of criminals committing multiple crimes has nearly doubled in the last decade. This underlines why it is so important to focus on taking a new approach specifically designed to tackle reoffending, and so cut crime.
‘The consultation on our proposals for doing this has closed and we will be publishing our final response shortly.’
'Bradford is very inbred': Muslim outrage as British professor warns first-cousin marriages increase risk of birth defects
Inbreeding among British Muslims is threatening the health of their children, a leading geneticist warned yesterday. Professor Steve Jones, from University College London, said the common practice in Islamic communities for cousins to marry each other increased the risk of birth defects.
‘There may be some evidence that cousins marrying one another can be harmful,’ he told an audience at the Hay Festival. ‘We should be concerned about that as there can be a lot of hidden genetic damage. Children are much more likely to get two copies of a damaged gene. ‘Bradford is very inbred. There is a huge amount of cousins marrying each other there.’
Studies have shown that 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins – and in Bradford, this rises to 75 per cent. Other research has found that children of first cousins are ten times more likely to have recessive genetic disorders and face deafness, blindness and infant mortality.
But Prof Jones’s comments provoked anger among some Muslim groups yesterday. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, which promotes the image of Muslims in Britain, said: ‘I know many Muslims who have married their cousins and none of them have had a problem with their children.
‘Obviously, we don’t want any children to be born disabled who don’t need to be born disabled, so I would advise genetic screening before first cousins marry. 'But I find Steve Jones’s comments unworthy of a professor. Using language like “inbreeding” to describe cousins marrying is completely inappropriate and further demonises Muslims.’
Concern about the risks to children from first-cousin marriage has been described as the last great taboo.
Former environment minister Phil Woolas was rebuked by Downing Street in 2008 for saying British Pakistanis are fuelling rates of birth defects by marrying their cousins, with the spokesman for then prime minister Gordon Brown saying the issue was not one for ministers to comment on.
Mohammed Saleem Khan, chief executive of the Bradford Council for Mosques, said: ‘It is important to discuss these issues, but I just do not know of any firm evidence backing up Professor Jones’s claims. I think we need more conclusive studies so we can know for certain if there is any genuine risk.
‘Marriages between cousins is certainly common within south Asia, but it is becoming less so in Britain and also in Bradford. Islam allows you to marry anyone you want, so in many ways Islam promotes diversity.’
In his talk, Prof Jones said inbreeding was not confined to Muslims, and historically had occurred in every part of society, including the royal family. He said: ‘We are all more incestuous than we realise. In Northern Ireland lots of people share the same surname, which suggests a high level of inbreeding.
‘There’s a lot of surname diversity in London but if you look at the Outer Hebrides there are rather fewer surnames in relation to the number of people.’
Australia: Children's play equipment too safe for their own good, expert warns
PLAY equipment designed by "safety Nazis" shouldn't prevent children from taking risks and enjoying themselves, a child expert has warned. More kids aged two to seven were getting injured in playgrounds because they didn't know how to take calculated risks.
A speaker at the Early Childhood Education Conference in Melbourne this week, early childhood specialist Prue Walsh said modern "plastic fantastic" playgrounds were too safe.
"Often playgrounds are designed by engineers who have no knowledge of children," she said. "Children need to actively explore and discover the world around them and to do that they need to learn to take calculated risks," she said.
Playground injuries were often a result of children being poorly co-ordinated because they did not know how to negotiate risks, Ms Walsh said. "I worry about children who don't run up slippery slides," she said.
Ms Walsh said commercial pressures, such as insurance premiums, had influenced the design of today's playgrounds. "Parents are scared of their precious children getting injured and teachers are scared of getting sued," she said.
To improve playgrounds, Ms Walsh suggested longer and bigger slides built into embankments to eliminate falls. Also, smooth boulders for balancing, shallow ponds for exploring and plenty of vegetation to provide nooks and crannies for children to crawl around.
Triple P Parenting Program founder Professor Matt Sanders said children should be in a place safe where they can have accidents and falls. "You want equipment that are in parks and children using toys that we buy to be basically safe so that kids can't be easily injured on them or accidents that easily occur," he said.
"But at the same time we should be encouraged kids to be kids and to enjoy themselves. "Exploring, climbing and experimenting is part of childhood but when it's done when adequate supervision the risks are minimal."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.