More than 200 academics sign open letter accusing Cambridge don of publishing ‘racist pseudoscience’9 min read

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Dr Noah Carl has been accused of 'ethically suspect and methodologically flawed work'

Dr Noah Carl has been accused of 'ethically suspect and methodologically flawed work'

Dr Noah Carl has been accused of ‘ethically suspect and methodologically flawed work’

More than 200 academics have signed a letter accusing a controversial Cambridge academic of publishing ‘racist pseudoscience’.

Dr Noah Carl has previously argued in support of eugenics and claimed that opposition to immigration can be based on ‘rational beliefs’.

The University of Cambridge research fellow has now been accused of publishing ‘ethically suspect and methodologically flawed work’ by academics, the Times reported.

Professors at top universities in the UK and abroad including Oxford, Cambridge and Princeton published the open letter demanding Cambridge carry out an investigation into its appointment process.

In the past few years, Dr Carl has claimed it ‘cannot simply be taken for granted that, when in doubt, stifling debate around taboo topics is the ethical thing to do’.

He has also writen that the ‘correlation between verbal intelligence and economically liberal beliefs could be explained by selfishness, at least in part’.

And Dr Carl found in 2016 that ‘net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with the log of immigrant arrests rates and with the log of their arrest rates for violent crime’.

Dr Carl has previously argued in support of eugenics and claimed that opposition to immigration can be based on 'rational beliefs'

Dr Carl has previously argued in support of eugenics and claimed that opposition to immigration can be based on 'rational beliefs'

Dr Carl has previously argued in support of eugenics and claimed that opposition to immigration can be based on ‘rational beliefs’

In the open letter written by professors, they say: ‘A careful consideration of Carl’s published work and public stance on various issues, particularly on the claimed relationship between ‘race’, ‘criminality’ and ‘genetic intelligence’, leads us to conclude that his work is ethically suspect and methodologically flawed.

They said that they are ‘deeply concerned that racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge.’

They added: ‘This fellowship was awarded to Carl despite his attendance at, and public defence of, the discredited ‘London Conference on Intelligence’, where racist and pseudoscientific work has been regularly presented.

How Dr Noah Carl, 28, has been criticised for ‘racist’ views – but is a big free speech backer

Dr Noah Gilpin Carl was born in 1990 in Cambridge and is a research fellow at St Edumund’s College in the city.

The 28-year-old has a BA in human sciences, an MSc in sociology and a DPhil in sociology from Oxford.

For his doctorate, he looked at how cognitive ability and socio-political beliefs can be related. He also focuses on social identity and immigration.

But he has faced criticism for his views on how opposition to immigration can be based on ‘rational beliefs’.

Critics say his work has been used by far-Right outlets to aid xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

His research has been backed by various far right US media groups, including Info Wars, which is headed by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

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However, Dr Carl is a passionate free speech advocate and has previously stated that ‘stifling of debate around taboo topics can itself do active harm’.

He also writes for The UK in a Changing Europe, a Brexit research website funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

In pictures on his Facebook profile, Dr Carl is seen practising yoga in stone circles with a young boy. 

‘Carl’s work has already been used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric…this kind of pseudoscientific racism runs the serious risk of being used to justify policies that directly harm vulnerable populations.’

The public condemnation comes amid increasing concerns about free speech on campuses.

University College London launched an investigation earlier this year into how a secret conferences on eugenics and intelligence took place on campus.

The London Conference on Intelligence – which academics have criticised Dr Carl for attending – is said to have been run secretly for at least three years by James Thompson, an honorary senior lecturer at the university.

Toby Young sparked controversy after it was revealed he attended the conference. He later resigned from his position as director of the Office for Students amid the public outcry.

In response, Mr Young said: ‘Attendees were only told the venue at the last minute, an anonymous ante-chamber at the end of a long corridor, called ‘lecture room 22′, and asked not to share this infor-mation with anyone else.’

He added: ‘One of the attendees, on discovering I was a journalist, pleaded with me not to write about the fact he was there – he didn’t want his colleagues to find out.

‘But these precautions were not unreasonable, considering the reaction that any reference to between-group differences in IQ generally provoke.’

Full open letter: ‘No place for racist pseudoscience at Cambridge’

We write to express our dismay at the appointment of Noah Carl to the Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship at St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. A careful consideration of Carl’s published work and public stance on various issues, particularly on the claimed relationship between ‘race’, ‘criminality’ and ‘genetic intelligence’, leads us to conclude that his work is ethically suspect and methodologically flawed.

These publications, drawing on the discredited ‘race sciences’, seem nothing more than an expression of opinion on various social matters. As members of the academic community committed to defending the highest standards of ethical and methodological integrity in research and teaching, we are shocked that a body of work that includes vital errors in data analysis and interpretation appears to have been taken seriously for appointment to such a competitive research fellowship.

We are deeply concerned that racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge. This fellowship was awarded to Carl despite his attendance at, and public defence of, the discredited ‘London Conference on Intelligence’, where racist and pseudoscientific work has been regularly presented. Carl’s work has already been used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric. In a context where the far-right is on the rise across the world, this kind of pseudoscientific racism runs the serious risk of being used to justify policies that directly harm vulnerable populations.

We are also concerned that the appointment process for this fellowship was not carried out with the degree of academic rigour, diligence and respect for principles of equality and diversity that we would expect from a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

We call on St Edmund’s College, the University of Cambridge, and the Newton Trust to issue a public statement dissociating themselves from research that seeks to establish correlations between race, genes, intelligence and criminality in order to explain one by the other.

We also call on the University of Cambridge to immediately conduct an investigation into the appointment process that led to the award of this fellowship. Such an investigation, which should be independent of St Edmund’s college, must involve recognised experts across relevant disciplines, and include a thorough review of the appointee’s body of academic work.

What has Noah Carl written about Brexit, immigration and Muslims in recent years?

‘It cannot simply be taken for granted that, when in doubt, stifling debate around taboo topics is the ethical thing to do. (This study) makes three main claims: first, that equating particular scientific statements with racism effectively holds our morals hostage to the facts; second, that the ‘blank slate’ view of human nature also has pernicious moral implications; and third, that there are clear examples of where stifling debate has done material harm to both individuals and societal institutions.’

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Evolutionary Psychological Science, December 2018

‘Examining the relationship between the presence of Muslims and the incidence of Islamist terrorism is now a lively area of scholarly research… Of course, it goes without saying that only a small minority of Muslims are terrorists, and not all terrorist are Muslims.’

Medium, September 2018

‘Remain voters overestimate the importance that Leave voters attach to both regaining control over EU immigration and teaching British politicians a lesson. 52 per cent of Remain voters rank ‘Leavers wanted the UK to regain control over EU immigration’ first, whereas only 39 per cent of Leave voters rank ‘to regain control over EU immigration’ first. And 12 per cent of Remain voters rank ‘Leavers wanted to teach British politicians a lesson’ first, whereas only 3 per cent of Leave voters rank ‘to teach British politicians a lesson’ first.’

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London School of Economics blog, May 2018

‘Britain’s vote to leave the EU is decidedly not without precedent. The country has left the mainland of Europe on precisely three prior occasions, each time carefully weighing up the costs and benefits before doing so. In the Brexit of spring 1940, Britain politely declined to participate in a German-led effort toward European political union. In King Henry’s Brexit of 1534, the country sought to regain competitiveness by unshackling itself from the yoke of papal regulation. And in the original Brexit of 10,000–6,500 BC, the country prudently chose to increase border security, while at the same time putting its long-suffering fishermen back to work.’

Medium, March 2018

‘The magnitude of inward migratory flows increased during the 20th century, and did so dramatically from the 1990s onwards. Between 1900 and 1950, the foreign-born fraction of the population rose, but never exceeded 5%. By the early 1990s, it was well above 5%. In 2011, it was around 13%. And today, it is probably above 15%. Thus, contemporary levels of immigration into Britain are historically unprecedented. Britain had arguably assumed its nationhood by at least the late 19th century. At this point in time, the make up of the British population was largely as it had been more than 1000 years earlier. There is therefore little justification for saying that Britain is an ‘immigrant nation’.’

Medium, March 2017

‘The present study shows that, in the UK, net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with the log of immigrant arrests rates and with the log of their arrest rates for violent crime. This is particularly noteworthy given that Britons reportedly think that an immigrant’s criminal history should be one of the most important characteristics when considering whether he or she should be allowed into the country.’

Open Quantitative Sociology & Political Science, November 2016

‘The fact that the correlation between verbal intelligence and economically liberal beliefs persists after controlling for characteristics like race, education and income suggests it cannot simply be attributed to selfishness on the parts of people with higher verbal intelligence. In particular, it contradicts the hypothesis that such people only have economically liberal beliefs because they believe they have personally benefitted from economically liberal policies. On the other hand, if conditional on current income, verbal intelligence is correlated with a tendency to believe one’s future income will be higher under economically liberal policies, the correlation between verbal intelligence and economically liberal beliefs could be explained by selfishness, at least in part.’

Intelligence, March 2014