Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cue the Outrage. In 3... 2...

It appears that evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa has, for the umpteenth time, proven something that I've known for years - that we spend too much time worrying about race and racism. While I understand the concern, the very fact that Kanazawa's research findings, that women of African descent are objectively less attractive than other women, weren't greeted with a collective "meh" from his detractors is a bad sign.

Even though a number of people have stepped up to say that Kanazawa's findings are full of it, so what if he WAS correct? There are African-descended people all over the planet - it's not like they're suddenly going to stop marrying and having children. "I'm sorry, honey, but with this latest research, I realized that I was horribly wrong to think that you were beautiful. But know I know better. I can't be with you any more. The wedding's off, and if you're pregnant, please have an abortion. I'm leaving you for someone of a more attractive race." Yeah. Uh-huh. Not anytime soon, I think. And besides, if you're the sort who considers any relationship that ends in something other than the death of one or both partners a failure, must of us suck pretty hard at picking partners anyway, so you can't make the case that men who date black women have worse taste than anyone else. Really. I don't see what the big deal is.

Kanazawa's research is getting a lot of play because it plays on the fear of many Africans and a good number of non-Africans (and perhaps African-Americans and white Americans in particular) of being delegitimized, albeit for different, but related, reasons. There are a number of things that humans excel at, and segregating into in-group and out-group cliques is near the top of the list. Being in the out-group has had serious consequences throughout history, and because of that, looking for reasons to out-group people now meets with serious social disapproval. While it's true that the human capacity to see their fellow humans as "the other" is liable to wind up with us all being killed one day, it's not like this is a trait that things like science and knowledge can suppress. I'd sooner expect that we'll find a way to walk unprotected on the ocean floor first. By the same token, when people are really intent on finding a reason to throw their fellow citizens under whatever bus happens to be handy, they don't go looking for scientific studies to bolster their cases. They simply take whatever's at hand - but if nothing's at hand, they simply make something up.

Given this, it doesn't make sense to get all bent out of shape out of information (about this, or anything, really) that one considers verifiable bullshit. It's simply not going to do any good. Other than let random jerkwads realize that if they want worldwide news coverage, and to demonstrate that they can throw everyone into a tizzy on demand, all they have to do is push the "controversy" button, then sit bask and bask in the worldwide spotlight.

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