Apology from Psychology Today is too little, too late

After all that hubbub surrounding Psychology Today’s “here’s why black women suck” article, their puny apology has been met with little fanfare or public response.

Late last week (I’m sure releasing the apology on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend was no coincidence) Kaja Perina, Editor in Chief of Psychology Today, issued this statement:

“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.”

I’m sorry, but I find this to be totally inadequate.

It seems like they are just trying to cover their asses, but are still not grasping the enormity of what they’ve done. They say the post wasn’t approved by them. Huh? Well then what was it doing on their site? And they say they have taken measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. What sort of measures?

Uh uh. I’m not buying it.

Psychology Today, I’ve got a song for you (don’t worry, it features plenty of “objectively attractive” white women):

Lyrics here.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/mathiastolerain/ Matt

    ^– The article found through the above link does a great job talking about the science (or more appropriately “lack of science”) used in Kanazawa’s “research.”

    What is fascinating is that so RARELY does one see such a perfect train wreck of the scientific method. There is quite literally no argument that can be made in favor of this research. He claims that he can use “factor analysis” to remove all the “bias” from his data. This is wrong in a handful of different ways (if people are curious I can elaborate, but it would take up a lot of space). He then claims that he uses objective measures of beauty which he did not use (it should be noted that “facial symmetry” is often used by psychologists studying “beauty,” and that it is considered “objective,” but Kanazawa did not use facial symmetry). He chose misleading units for the Y-axes on all of his graphs. THEN, as if the above was not enough, his n-size ladies and gentlemen…


    Three. Whole. Data. Points. For a fun family-friendly afternoon, try taking this data to your local university’s statistics department and see how seriously they’ll take you.

  • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam Lindsay-Levine

    I’m sure releasing the apology on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend was no coincidence

    Interesting. What evidence do you have that makes you so sure? They don’t exactly seem to have buried it – as I write this, it’s at the very top of their Latest articles on their front page, and 4th on their list of Most Popular.

    They say the post wasn’t approved by them. Huh? Well then what was it doing on their site?

    Probably when someone has the ability to blog on their site, their individual posts are not edited & approved before going live. For example, I imagine a Feministing editor could hypothetically post something crazy and offensive without anyone else being involved in the process.

    What kind of apology would you have considered adequate?

  • http://feministing.com/members/catnmus/ Chris

    The damage may already be done. Just today, I was using Google to search on a scientific topic. One of the search results on the first page was at Psychology Today. I did not click the link. In fact, I looked at the title of the article on the Google results, and figured that any other result that agreed with the title should be taken with a grain of salt, just in case. All because of that one post.

    Their apology seems sincere, but it seems awfully, awfully late. I may try to assume that the reason for the lateness is “due diligence” – innocent until proven guilty, and they actually followed up by looking at the details of the study before condemning it. But for me, the taint is still there. And who knows how long it will take to dissipate… if indeed it does…

  • http://feministing.com/members/deislily/ Marissa

    Sam is correct. Another Psychology Today blogger appeared on the podcast “Blacking It Up” to explain that P.T. bloggers are subject to no editorial oversight

    Of course, the article was a wretched piece of crap that should’ve been pulled as soon as it was brought to the parent magazine’s attention.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ssssarah/ sarah

    I’m not really sure what you expected here. Yeah, they should have issued this statement immediately, but it seems pretty genuine to me. They probably wanted to announcements and changes to their blog submission rules/approval process/website code before they said they made changes, for the sake of honesty. I know someone who has a (infinitely better) Psychology Today blog and they simply log in and post, meaning that prior to that horrible Kanazawa article they had faith in the integrity of their bloggers.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rk/ Anne Marie

    I emailed them this:
    “When I was in high school, I was always excited to read your magazine. I found it engaging and intelligent. Now I wonder whether it was merely being a teen that led me to that conclusion or whether an editorial tumble into the depths of the worst of evolutionary psychology has come to pass. Recently, I’ve been told by PT that Black women are ugly, feminism is evil, “reverse sexism” is rampant, there’s a “feminist cult,” all women are essentially prostitutes, sexual harassment isn’t sexist, and myriad other unsubstantiated claims. There is no longer much difference between PT and a sleazy men’s magazine. What happened to you, PT? You used to be cool. You were my escape from Cosmo telling me what was wrong with my body, now you’re the source of telling me, along with many women and minorities, what’s wrong with our minds.

    A feminist who cares about women AND men and hates pseudoscience.”

    And got this:
    “This post has been removed. Any residual displays are the result of temporary caching issues.

    Thank you for your feedback.”

    I replied:
    “Why was it there at all? What about the other articles I mentioned? Why has Satoshi Kanazawa continued to be a part of your magazine when all of his work is horrifically unscientific and based on bigotry?”

    No response.

  • just_speak_up

    You do realize that Satoshi Kanazawa is now no longer part of the Psychology Today team, right? He was fired over this. It should never have happened, but it did and PT took care of it–wouldn’t kill you to give them credit for doing the right thing.

    Also, what do you expect by looking to a MAGAZINE for scholarly research?