More than 4,200 Northwestern University students have signed a petition demanding that administrators ban from campus an evolutionary psychologist whose research they deem “offensive” and “nonsense.”
The petition, “Ban Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa from conducting research at Northwestern,” takes aim at Dr. Kanazawa, a psychologist who researches topics such as sex differences and intelligence. (See his list of published research here).
“Problem: Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa’s request to conduct research on Northwestern’s campus was approved without scrutiny. … [H]is past research … is considered to be offensive,” claims student Deborah Shoola in the petition.
In an interview with PJ Media, Shoola cited articles from as far back as 2010 to prove her claims. These include one on terrorism, titled “What’s Wrong with Muslims?,” and “Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?,” which concludes that “women are not inferior versions of men.”
Shoola also told PJ Media that Kanazawa’s research perpetuates stereotypes. For example, one of Dr. Kanazawa’s studies found that racial minorities are less happy. To be fair, this is a reasonable finding considering the economic exclusion and discrimination that racial minorities face.
But regardless of the fact that his research in that study was technically correct, Shoola claimed that his research “plays into the idea of ‘model minority’ and only attaches narratives of trauma to marginalized folk.”
She also accused Dr. Kanazawa of racism for using the word “minority” in his research articles. “Marginalized is a more encompassing term when talking about the systematic discrimination groups of people face,” said Shoola.
While Shoola is just one student, it seems as if the majority of Northwestern students agree.
Many students and alumni have condemned Kanazawa, writing comments on the petition such as “People like him reinforce the violence of science,” “This makes me feel so unsafe,” and “His presence is a threat to all students on campus.
Provost Jonathan Holloway condemned Dr. Kanazawa in a statement to the student body.
“I find that his scholarship presents ideas that are antithetical to values that Northwestern University holds dear,” wrote Holloway. However, Dr. Kanazawa has been publishing in peer-reviewed journals since 1992, and, as such, many academics in the field of evolutionary psychology are familiar with him. PJ Media reached out to three and asked what they made of the petition.
“Some of his research is sloppy, and he tends to pursue controversial topics in fairly inflammatory ways,” said one evolutionary psychologist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“However, this petition to get him banned from doing research at Northwestern is purely politically motivated; if he was a Leftist scholar making equally inflammatory statements, he would provoke very little backlash,” he added.
Dr. Kanazawa admits his work is controversial. He has one more year at Northwestern before he returns to the London School of Economics to teach psychology.
“If the truth offends people, it is our job as scientists to offend them.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.