Why would a reputable website like Psychology Today post evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa's unfounded study, provocatively titled "Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women"?
Was it simply "driving web traffic" psychology? It couldn't have been the soundness of the study, which basically asked random people to rate the attractiveness of other random people on a scale of 1 to 5.
Was the subsequent conclusion - that black men are actually considered the most attractive - proof that Kanazawa, known for his controversial and questionable scientific conclusions, is not a racist?
At this point, it doesn't really matter.
His article, posted Sunday afternoon, drew so much Internet traffic after heating up Facebook and Twitter that the Psychology Today website was practically disabled. By Monday afternoon, the posting, with all of its pretty graphs and wacky conclusions, had been taken down.
The folks at Psychology Today did not return calls, but its editor-in-chief, Kaja Perina, did e-mail NPR. "Our bloggers are credential[ed] social scientists and for this reason they are invited to post to the site on topics of their choosing," Perina wrote. "We in turn reserve the right to remove posts for any number of reasons."
It's not that black women are psychologically damaged by such a flimsy study. Psycho-babble about black beauty is nothing new. And beauty-bashing black women isn't limited to outsiders. Sometimes it's from black men or worse, from within.
Nor does it matter that obviously attractive women such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Halle Berry are at the center of mainstream media. It is not news to black women that beauty magazines often ignore them, and that designers are loath to use black models on the runway.
Black women understand the subjectiveness of fashion, and have for a while. That is why many will tell you they believe they are beautiful despite what anyone says. Weight, hair texture, complexion - all factors that have been used to rate them less beautiful in the past - just don't matter.
But now, it's time for it to be tuned out.
"If black women take this on as a reasonable argument or assumption, we would be taking on other people's baggage," said Helen Miller, a retired director of public services for the Free Library of Philadelphia. Miller is African American, and with her clear ebony skin and bouncing pageboy, most people would say she was pretty.
"That is his problem, and we should not make it ours. We should not dispute it. We should not condone it. We should not embrace it as a reasonable conversation, because it isn't."
For Philadelphian Kelly Williams, a motivational speaker and founder of Singlemamahood.com, the story is a non-issue. Yes, she saw it pop up multiple times on her Facebook news feed, but she ignored it - for her own sanity.
"It doesn't faze me one way or the other," Williams said. "I say: 'Keep moving. Do not skip a beat.' If we skip a beat every time someone tells us we aren't attractive, we'll keep getting tripped up."
Tukufu Zuberi, a professor of race relations at the University of Pennylvania and author of the book Thicker Than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie, agrees that this kind of research is just, well, annoying.
There is no scientific study, Zuberi said, that can be used to determine beauty, because what is beautiful is so subjective and is fueled not only by what we see but our own life experiences.
"He's just feeding into the minds of those who are already biased, who have arcane ideas of what's going on," Zuberi said.
For the record, Kanazawa teaches evolutionary psychology at the London School of Economics. His other titles include the study "Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent." Among his controversial findings is that terrorists are sexually frustrated.
Teri Agins, an African American fashion writer and a freelance columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Vogue, boils it all down to subjectivity.
"It's like anything else. The people who don't like Obama won't like Obama. The people who say Michelle is ugly will say she's ugly. It can't even be chararacterized as racist. It means nothing."