The internal review and formal disciplinary hearing into a controversial blog posting by Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, Reader in the Department of Management, at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has now been completed.
It has concluded that some of the arguments used in the publication were flawed and not supported by evidence, that an error was made in publishing the blog post and that Dr Kanazawa did not give due consideration to his approach or audience. Disciplinary action has been taken and Dr Kanazawa has written a letter of apology. Measures have also been put in place to ensure an incident of this nature does not happen again. In particular, Dr Kanazawa must refrain from publishing in all non-peer reviewed outlets for a year. Further, he will not be teaching any compulsory courses in the School for this academic year.
On 15 May 2011 Dr Satoshi Kanazawa posted a blog entry on the Psychology Today website entitled “Why are black women less physically attractive than other women?”. The School received considerable criticism from LSE students, academics and members of the public about the blog article.
In response, the School appointed a committee of senior academics to investigate the blog posting and its impact. It was clear that a number of people had been greatly offended by the blog and for this Dr Kanazawa has apologised. The review and hearing also considered the quality of the research underlying the article. After examination of the blog and detailed discussion with Dr Kanazawa, the hearing concluded that some of the assertions put forward in the blog post were flawed and would have benefited from more rigorous academic scrutiny. The view was that the author ignored the basic responsibility of a scientific communicator to qualify claims made in proportion to the certainty of the evidence.
It was the opinion of the hearing that the publication of the article had brought the School into disrepute. During the internal investigation and at the disciplinary hearing Dr Kanazawa expressed regret for the offence caused by the article and the damage to the School’s reputation. The School has accepted that Dr Kanazawa has learnt from this experience and will not make the same errors in future.
The letter of apology by Dr Satoshi Kanazawa to LSE Director Professor Judith Rees reads as follows:
Dear Professor Rees:
I am writing to express my sincere apology for the controversial post on myPsychology Today blog and the damage it has caused to the reputation of the School. I regret that the controversy surrounding its publication has offended and hurt the feelings of so many both inside and outside the School. The blog post in question was motivated entirely by my scientific curiosity and my desire to solve an empirical puzzle. It was not at all motivated by a desire to seek or cause controversy and I deeply regret the unintended consequences that its publication nevertheless had because of my error in judgment. I accept I made an error in publishing the blog post.
In retrospect, I should have been more careful in selecting the title of the blog post and the language that I used to express my ideas. In the aftermath of its publication, and from all the criticisms that I have received, I have learned that some of my arguments may have been flawed and not supported by the available evidence. In my blog post, I did not give due consideration to my approach to the interpretation of the data and my use of language.
The past three months have been most difficult for all concerned, and I would never want to relive the experience. I give you my solemn word that in the future I will give more consideration to the approach to my work and I will never again do anything to damage the reputation of the School.