Academic freedom?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
May 26, 2011, 9:47 PM GMT+0

Academics should be free to publish their research, even if it might be racist or offensive to others, a significant minority of the British public has agreed. Only one in four people thinks that academics who publish such material should be disciplined or fired.

  • 44% of Brits say that academics should be free to say or publish ‘things that may be racist or offensive to others’
  • While 24% think that such publications should be punished with disciplinary action or see the author lose their job
  • 18% felt that neither sentiment fully reflected their view on the matter

Levels of attractiveness

The results come in the wake of London School of Economics academic Dr Satoshi Kanazawa’s statement that his ‘scientific research’ has proven that black women are not as attractive as other races, and that Asian women are most attractive to the eye.

His controversial statement is based on findings from a survey that asked white, Asian, black and native American men and women to rate each other’s attractiveness from photographs. Black women scored lowest, he claims, because of the apparently elevated levels of testosterone in their blood, which makes their ‘features more masculine’. The individual races or origins of the black women involved were reportedly not taken into account.

Consequences of knowledge

Professor Paul Gilroy, a sociology lecturer at the LSE, said that Kanazawa’s work ‘raises the issue of whether he can do his job effectively in a multi-ethnic, diverse and international institution’, but Kanazawa himself states on his website that ‘Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create.’