My application to BigThink

Some of you may remember the story of Satoshi Kanazawa, a “scientist” and “researcher” who made fame by raising some “tough questions” about the relationship between race, IQ, and health outcomes. He also pondered the evolutionary reasons why black women are just so damn unattractive (hint: it’s because they have so much testosterone – I’m not making that up). There was a predictable backlash against this brave scholar simply for asking “the tough questions”, and he was drummed out of academia, never to be heard from again.

But the career necromancers that are the BigThink editorial board have raised this errant genius from the depths of oblivion and have restored him to prominence on their group blog site:

Without a doubt, Satoshi Kanasawa is a willful, and highly effective, intellectual provocateur.  In his scholarship, he has boldly overstepped traditional academic disciplinary bounds to posit interconnections and relationships between our evolutionary past and psychological present that address questions very few of his colleagues are even asking, let alone attempting to answer.  In daring to ask these questions, Satoshi has made us think more than most.

His passion for endeavoring to think bigger and his deep-seeded contempt for the constraints of orthodoxy have informed a diverse body of scholarship that have turned a scientific light on an array of taboos, sacred assumptions and unquestioned — even unnoticed — realities.  Like all heretics, Satoshi has become a lightning rod for criticisms across the spectrum which has only hardened his resolve to defy convention and expectation.  In his public writing and blogging, he doesn’t posture or hedge to insulate himself from attack; on the contrary, he opts for the most extreme hypotheticals couched in the most sensitive, real-world contexts — he then stands firm and unflinching against the blowback.

Such a brave maverick! Not letting little things like “proper research design” or “understanding the topic” or “restricting your conclusions to the strength of the data” get in the way of preaching bold truths! Fuck your taboos of scientific rigour, squares! Satoshi is here to blow to roof off your narrow-minded “needing to do things correctly”!

While I have been happy at Freethoughtblogs, I’m always looking for new frontiers to explore, and it seems like BigThink is hiring. The bonus is that I no longer have to pretend that I care about facts or research design. As long as I make wild assertions, back them up with the flimsiest “evidence” possible, and then staunchly refuse to accept the myriad of people who point out that I’m wrong, I will qualify as a “willful and highly effective intellectual provocateur”!

And so, in that spirit, I would like to submit the following abstracts as my resume for a BigThink Blog:

Being gay is just a lifestyle choice

ABSTRACT: I am not gay, but some people are gay. I suspected that they might have just chose to be abnormal. So I went out and kissed a bunch of guys. I didn’t like it. Therefore being gay is a choice.

Trans gendered people don’t exist

ABSTRACT: I have heard a number of people talk about transgender people, but I’ve never met one. I began to suspect that they might not be real. So I asked a bunch of my friends if they knew a trans person. None of them did. Therefore, trans people are made up.

Magic is real

ABSTRACT: I went to watch a magician. He put a woman in a box and sawed her in half. I could not for the life of me explain how he could have possibly done that unless he had actual magic powers. Therefore, magic exists, and that guy has it.

Ireland and Scotland are actually the same country

ABSTRACT: I met an Irish guy and a woman from Scotland. They both had really silly accents that were like English, but harder to understand. They both came from somewhere around England, but not England. Therefore, Ireland and Scotland are the same place.

All Chinese/Japanese/Korean people are identical

ABSTRACT: Seriously. I can not tell them apart. Therefore, they all look the same.

Are my findings and methods provocative enough for you? Well it’s certainly not because they’re a bunch of reheated bullshit based on dumbass conclusions smeared with the thinnest veneer of science. No no no, it’s because you’re all too emotional:

Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter, because this is no longer about empirical facts or scientific truths.  It’s a matter of emotions and feelings, history and culture.  What I have learned in this ordeal is that, in the Year 2011, there are certain questions that scientists may not ask, or, more accurately, for some questions, there are certain answers that scientists must a priori preclude from consideration.  There are certain conclusions that scientists may not reach about some groups of people.

The wonderful thing about science is that you don’t have to actually, you know, learn about the research that other people have done in racialized perceptions of attractiveness, systemic racism and victim blaming, the transcultural problems with IQ measurement, or really anything at all that’s relevant to the topic you’re curious about. No no, the proper way to do science is to pull a hypothesis out of your ass, find some data that supports it, and then ignore all other possible explanations. If people get mad, it’s because you’re being persecuted by the political correctness police.

So, BigThink board, I hope you will see that all of the above research projects reach your rigorous standards of being “provocative” and having the faintest hint of being accurate (if you completely ignore all the other relevant evidence). Also, I promise to be even more belligerent and ruthlessly self-pitying that Mr. Kanazawa could ever hope to be. In other words, I am the ideal candidate to represent the commitment to quality that BigThink so evidently has.

This post needs some otters:

Two otter cubs

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  1. says

    Shorter Big Think editorial blurb:

    Kanazawa makes stupid shit up. People who know something about the subject point that it’s stupid shit he just made up. Kanazawa doubles down on the stupid shit.

  2. mynameischeese says

    What? Satoshi Kanazawa? Does he still exist?

    [reads the rest of the post…]

    Ugh. He still exists.

    I’d be too embarassed to look Big Think in the eye right now. What are they thinking?

  3. troll says

    Wait a second; are you telling me that working backwards from a conclusion and tossing any data that contradicts that conclusion is doing science wrong?

  4. Brownian says

    My first degree was in anthropology, a field initially devoted to demonstrating the hierarchy of superiority among the different ‘races’.

    After data collection the likes of which many modern fields of research cannot even touch, (cf. anthropometry and the data it produced which enables much of forensic anthropology today), such theories of racial superiority/inferiority were widely discredited. This happened long before the advent of ‘political correctness’, by the way.

    Talking about race in the way Kanazawa does is about as edgy and provocative as tearing off a corner of a map and writing “Here be monsters” in the blank.

  5. smrnda says

    This seems to be the false line of reasoning with BigThink and the whole ‘political correctness is stifling the pursuit of knowledge’ crowd:

    1. Some good solid research is provocative.
    2. My research is provocative.
    3. Therefore, I have done good solid research.

    Obviously false (A implies B does not mean that B implies A)

    You’re also correct that these provocateurs think they’ve actually done original and insightful work when there’s plenty out there to show they’re wrong, or at least that they don’t really know what’s already out there.

  6. F says

    But, but… cross-cutting postulates!

    Fantastic article and comments. The rest of the internets is ruined for me today.

  7. smhll says

    Without a doubt, Satoshi Kanasawa is a willful, and highly effective, intellectual provocateur.

    Wow, what a schmancy way to say “troll”.

    Thank you for the otters, they are lovely, esp. in contrast to the hideous S. Kanasawa.

  8. adrianaheguy says

    Thank you for a good laugh, and the otters 🙂

    Kanzawa is a provocateur alright, however, there is nothing “intellectual” in his provocations. Big think confuses intellectual provocation with sensationalism based on cherry-picked data of dubious quality. There is nothing courageous in Kanazawa’s attitude, he is not challenging the status quo (to do that he would need to do, gasp! real science), he’s simply a machine to generate hits by claiming a scientific aura of respectability to anecdotal or purely subjective drivel. And as a scientist, I can tell you that ignoring history or culture or the environment when analyzing human behavior is totally unscientific. What good scientist leaves out some of the most important factors out of his investigations?

  9. says

    The real provocative finding was that the different ‘races’ WEREN’T Different from each other intellegence wise. THAT discovery went AGAINST stronly held assumptions. Kanazawa’s ‘findings’ are going along WITH stronly held assumptions…of bigots

  10. dianne says

    Seriously. I can not tell them apart. Therefore, they all look the same.

    I really, truly have difficulty telling people of European extraction apart. As for knowing which bit of Europe they or their ancestors are from pfft! Does that mean all Europeans (or European-Americans, European-Canadians, etc) look alike?

  11. thomasfoss says

    I know it’s gauche to dismiss people based on bad grammar, but I couldn’t take anything the BigThink post said seriously after “deep-seeded. As long as they’re forking out the cash to bloggers, they may want to hire a competent copy editor for their group blog.

  12. Rodney Nelson says

    I promise to be even more…ruthlessly self-pitying that Mr. Kanazawa could ever hope to be.

    Is this even possible?

  13. medivh says

    I think that’s enough otter for anyone at any time. That may be a fatal overdose of otter under most circumstances…

  14. equisetum says

    Wow. It never even occurred to me that people could get that wrong. I guess that’s why I didn’t see it.

  15. kassad says

    Crommunist, you shouldn’t criticized such a bold thinker that so audaciously rehashed Gobineau’s theories* from 200 years ago (just to be sure I’d like to mention that I’m being sarcastic).

    A little quote from Gobineau in 1855: In every era, science would like to devour a truth that inconvenienced it (sorry for the rough translation). Yep, Mr. Kanazawa definitely looks like a fan.

    Another quote from Gobineau (I could not find it again so it’s from memory): I’ve tried to prove and express what I’ve aways knew deep in my heart .
    Satoshi is just an amazing disciple. A real anchor of honesty in a sea of political corectness. He does not even care being refuted 150 years ago.

    * Note for those who don’t know Arthur de Gobineau, he’s a romantic french writer, author of An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races.

  16. says

    Ireland and Scotland are actually the same country

    Another data point: a lot of McSomething surnames in both places.

    Can haz collaborating researcher credit, plz?

  17. Holms says

    All that ‘brave maverick’ characterisation reminds me of another racist, vapid moron: Sarah Palin. Funny how convenient that characterisation is to anyone spouting pure drivel… “They just hate me because I say what others think!”

    No, you’re just an idiot attracting derision by being an idiot.

  18. F says

    That would probably be something closer to a more accurate description of whatever the hell it was marketingmouth was supposedly describing.

  19. F says

    I see that all the time. It’s like “tenants” for “tenets” or “cut and dry”. And some others I mercifully cannot recall aat the moment.

    So strange: It doesn’t irk me at all when some people make these ‘errors’, but it is intensely annoying from others. Go figure.

  20. pacal says

    No no, the proper way to do science is to pull a hypothesis out of your ass, find some data that supports it, and then ignore all other possible explanations. If people get mad, it’s because you’re being persecuted by the political correctness police.


  21. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    So I asked a bunch of my friends if they knew a trans person. None of them did. Therefore, trans people are made up.

    Well, I live just across the water from you so I must obviously count as a fried, because well, Canada, eh?
    As it happens I’ve worked with several trans people. Thus by the power of my brain I refute your assertion and collapse your entire application to Big Hoodwink.
    Sorry ’bout that dude.

  22. infraredeyes says

    Ireland and Scotland are actually the same country

    I am Scottish and my mother grew up in Ireland. I wish to nominate myself as a data point.

  23. Pro_bonobo says

    You’ve forgotten the biggest question of all:


    Now that’s some big thinking.

  24. rogerhayes says

    Cornwall, in King Lear II.ii:

    These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
    Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
    Than twenty silly ducking observants
    That stretch their duties nicely.

  25. says

    Personally, I can’t tell me apart from any other pale person. Also, the hive-mind would like me to remind you that we are all woman. And we can zeeeee you.

  26. gworroll says

    He can (mis)use linguistics here too.

    Scottish Gaelics parent language is Old Irish, the same parent as Modern Irish. The two are even partially mutually intelligible, you could argue them to be two dialects of the same language rather than separate languages. Using the principle of organizing culture along linguisitic lines, and ignoring developments subsequent to the dialect split, you can claim the Irish and Scottish people are the same.

    And the(not guaranteed to be historical, but we can ignore that) founder of the Scottish Clan Fergusson was an Irish king around 500AD.

  27. mdevile says

    People trying to engage in social justice debates by arguing from a position of ignorance about the base concepts is a pet peeve of mine, thank you for bringing that up.

    However, the important thing to take away from this post is otters. They are awesome.

  28. Midnight Rambler says

    I’m sure they could of come up with alot more for that dinosaur comic, but they probably could care less by reaching that sixth panel. Ultimately though, people will just have to tow the line on these expressions.

  29. Daniel Schealler says

    Damnit Crom!

    I stumbled on a youtube video of that .gif recently and I was saving it to surprise you with it on an occasion when you had something significantly more rant-y than this.

    You spoiled my present.

    *shakes fist*

  30. DPSisler says

    I did my MBA in Paris with a lot of Asians and it was remarked by the Asians that they could not tell Westerners apart. That experience was certaintly eye-opening and helped me understand differences in perspectives.

  31. invivoMark says

    His passion for endeavoring to think bigger and his deep-seeded contempt for the constraints of

    I see that BigThink’s approach to grammar is no better than their approach to science.

  32. No Light says

    This is No Light’s giant goldfish – something’s wrong with her. She was screaming something about “Racist hacks”, then she made an “Aww” sound.

    Then, suddenly, she squealed, fell back waving her arms and legs, and… she’s still doing it. I need flakes and attention!

    How do I reset her? Anyone?

  33. No Light says

    Moar dataz – lots of gingers and a fondness for alcoholic beverages.

    A credit in the appendix will do nicely, referencing “No Light’s Big Book of Celtic Stuffs, based on her wife’s family”

  34. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

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