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Big Think Responds on Satoshi Kanazawa

The Big Think editors have written an official reply to my post criticizing their decision to hire Satoshi Kanazawa. Whatever else I may think of that choice, I appreciate that they took my concerns seriously enough to write this lengthy explanation of their reasoning. I encourage you to go and read it first.

That said, I don't think there's anything in it that assuages any of my concerns or that substantially undercuts my critique. The only part of the editors' post that I think merits an additional reply is this:

Satoshi's plight is only complicated by his very British penchant for satire (a past blog post about ending the war on terror with 35 nuclear bombs was reminiscent of Jonathan Swift) and his politics and worldview which don't abide by many of the premises that operate as natural laws on this side of the pond.

I'm not saying I'm immune to being fooled; I've fallen for subtle parody on occasion. But I've gone back and read the columns in question more carefully, and if Kanazawa is engaging in some kind of Swiftian satire, I don't see it. It apparently wasn't obvious to Psychology Today, either, since they effectively fired him for the racist content of his columns (something the Big Think editors concede, if you read their post closely).

The only other thing I want to say is that this isn't a purely abstract debate or intellectual exercise for me. I have friends, loved ones, readers and correspondents who are people of color, who are women with careers and ambitions, who care passionately about social justice and equality. If my blog brings them to this site, and if they find such bigoted tripe as Kanazawa has in the past expressed, they would be deeply hurt and angered. And if they thought it reflected badly on me to share a platform with such views, I'm not convinced they would be wrong to feel that way. I'm neither promising nor ruling out any course of action, and that's all I have to say about this for now.

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