Editorial, Education, recent

Academics’ Mobbing of a Young Scholar Must be Denounced

The latest victim of an academic mobbing is 28-year-old social scientist Noah Carl who has been awarded a Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship at St Edmund’s College at the University of Cambridge.

Rarely has the power asymmetry between the academic mob and its victim been so stark. Dr Carl is a young researcher, just starting out in his career, who is being mobbed for being awarded a prestigious research scholarship on the basis of his peer-reviewed research.

While getting a position like this is normally a time for celebration for junior academics, Dr Carl has gone to ground, unable to defend his reputation from libellous attacks, as he has been instructed not to talk to the media.

Three hundred academics from around the world, many of them professors, have signed an open letter denouncing Dr Carl and demanding that the University of Cambridge “immediately conduct an investigation into the appointment process” on the grounds that his work is “ethically suspect” and “methodologically flawed.” The letter states: “we are shocked that a body of work that includes vital errors in data analysis and interpretation appears to have been taken seriously.” Yet the letter contains no evidence of any academic misconduct. It does not include a single reference to any of Dr Carl’s papers, let alone any papers that are “ethically suspect” or “methodologically flawed.”

Drawing on disparate fields of research in psychology, psychometrics and sociology, Dr Carl’s papers have been peer reviewed and published in journals such as Intelligence, Personality & Individual Differences, The American Sociologist, Comparative Sociology, European Union Politics, and The British Journal of Sociology. His papers have been cited 235 times since 2013.

Much of Dr Carl’s research focuses on how intelligence and other psychological characteristics affect beliefs and attitudes. Papers include: Leave and Remain voters’ knowledge of the EU after the referendum of 2016, Cognitive Ability and Political Beliefs in the United States, and his most cited paper, published in Intelligence in 2014, Verbal Intelligence is correlated with socially and economically liberal beliefs.

Which of these, or any of Dr Carl’s other papers, contain “vital errors in data-analysis”? We’re not told. Nevertheless, on the strength of these allegations alone, with no supporting evidence provided, the letter’s authors have invited people to sign the petition—and hundreds have.

So why all the fuss? Dr Carl’s crime is that he has defended intelligence researchers who’ve written about the taboo topics of race, genes and IQ and argued that stifling debate in these areas is likely to cause more harm than allowing them to be freely discussed by academics. It appears to be this, and the fact that he spoke at the London Conference of Intelligence in 2017 alongside some of these researchers (although he did not himself speak about race, genes or IQ at that conference), that is the basis for the accusation, made in the letter, that he is guilty of “pseudoscientific racism.”

One of the signatories is Professor David Graeber, the anthropologist and left-wing political activist, who described Dr Carl on Twitter as a “very creepy ‘race scientist’.” When asked to justify this accusation of racism and clarify what aspects of Dr Carl’s research he found “methodologically flawed,” he replied“that’s easy. The concepts “race” “genetic intelligence” and “criminality” are all concepts with at best questionable scientific validity, so any study that assumes all 3 as unproblematic is so wildly methodologically flawed that one can only assume a racist motive in the author.”

Yet Professor Graeber did not specify a single research paper by Dr Carl that includes any of these concepts, let alone all three. And we couldn’t find any instances in Dr Carl’s academic writing of his using the term “genetic intelligence.” The implication of Professor Graeber’s response, as well as the letter, is that Dr Carl has linked average differences in intelligence between races to genetic differences, when, in fact, he has stated that a genetic contribution to racial gaps in IQ has not been conclusively demonstrated. Perhaps Professor Graeber is confusing references in Dr Carl’s work to the fact that individual differences in IQ are genetically influenced (although not genetically determined) with claims about group differences being genetically influenced? The second would be controversial, but the first is one of the most robust, oft replicated findings in all of psychology.  

David Graeber

Given that Dr Carl has not linked group differences in IQ to genetic differences, and does not appear to have ever used the term “genetic intelligence,” it is reasonable to assume that professor Graeber has not read the work he has publicly denounced. If Professor Graeber’s cavalier approach is representative of the group of academics who have signed the petition—and it doesn’t seem probable that many of them will have taken the trouble to examine Dr Carl’s work before signing the letter—it can be assumed that most of these scholars have denounced a junior colleague, and publicly trashed his reputation, on the basis of hearsay, and as a convenient way to advertise their opposition to the discussion of race, genes and IQ in the academy.

Accusing a young scholar of “psuedoscientific racism,” and claiming his work is “ethically suspect” and “methodologically flawed,” is not something that should be done lightly, given the likely impact on his career. So for a group of over 300 academics to sign their names to this charge sheet without appearing to have conducted even the most cursory examination of Dr Carl’s work is an absolute scandal. These are trumped up charges, brought against Dr Carl because he dissents from the prevailing orthodoxy about a controversial field of academic research. He hasn’t even waded into these dangerous waters himself—he has just defended the right of academics to do so. But that alone is enough for a group of his colleagues to attempt to ruin him. So much for the principles of academic freedom and open inquiry, not to mention diversity, tolerance and inclusion. This is academic McCarthyism.

We believe that this disgraceful attempt to smear a junior scholar by a powerful cabal of senior academics poses a far greater risk to the reputation of the academy than any work authored by Dr Carl or those researchers he has defended. Anyone who cares about intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity should join us in denouncing this witch-hunt.

*  *  *

Editor’s note: Quillette sought comment from several high profile academics in response to the open letter to Cambridge University. Their unedited responses are reproduced below.

Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University Stern School of Business—

“Greg Lukianoff and I open chapter 5 of The Coddling of the American Mind with a Durkheimian analysis of witch hunts. It works beautifully to explain the otherwise inexplicable and shameful open letter denouncing Rebecca Tuvel and calling for the retraction of a philosophy article that hardly any of the hundreds of signatories had read. That whole affair was an embarrassment for the academy and those who signed the open letter. Here we go again. If hundreds of professors think that Noah Carl conducts bad science, let them make the case, with quotations and citations. The “open letter” denouncing Carl is just a list of vague assertions and charges of guilt by association. If the signers think we should condemn anyone who gives ammunition to “extremist and far right media,” they should write a new letter condemning themselves.”

Jeffrey S. Flier, M.D., Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, and Higginson Professor of Medicine and Neurobiology and former dean of Harvard Medical School—

“The open letter filled with damning accusations, unsupported by any argument, and designed to end a young career, violates ethical norms of the academy—at least any academy that I would be proud to associate with. In response, I read one recent Carl paper, “How stifling debate around race, genes and IQ can do harm,” and found it to be an original and very useful addition to this topic, quite ironic given what the author has just been forced to endure.”

Cass R. Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard—

“Academic freedom is always a good idea. Signing joint letters accusing academics of terrible things in connection with their academic work, and demanding investigations, is usually a bad idea. Academics should have a strong presumption against signing such letters, especially in view of the risk that they will work to punish people because of their point of view.”

Tyler Cowen, Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics, George Mason University—

“I do not know the full case of Noah Carl. But from what I can see about this matter, neither do the academics protesting him, without argument or citation. This is a classic case of a politically motivated witch hunt.”

Jeff McMahan, White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University, a distinguished research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a fellow of Corpus Christi College— 

“One passage in the open letter demands that the various institutions cited “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.” This seems to imply that it is illegitimate to seek to explain any one of the four characteristics by reference to any one of the others, and thus that no aspect of intelligence can be explained by an individual’s genes.  I would not trust the competence of anyone who endorses a claim that has that implication to judge the work of a candidate for a research fellowship.”

Peter Singer, AC Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University and Laureate Professor, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne—

“I am dismayed that so many academics are willing to sign a letter calling for the rescinding of an academic appointment, without offering any specifics either as to the errors that the appointee has allegedly committed, or to flaws in the appointment procedure.

The letter states: “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.” If that is the case, why does the letter not give—either in the body of the letter or in a link to a further document—any details about the suspect ethical aspects of Carl’s work, or its methodological flaws?

Academic freedom is a foundational principle of the modern university, while the principle that one provide evidence or reasoning for the claims one makes is the basis of any rational inquiry. For a university to act on a letter that attacks an appointee without offering any evidence to support the sweeping claims it makes, would be to go against both these principles. How could so many academics sign a letter that asks a university to do that?”


You can support this young scholar and register your opposition to academic mobbing by adding your name here.


  1. Truthseeker says

    The opposite of “Diversity” is “University” …

      • peterschaeffer says

        You folks have this wrong. The opposite of ‘University’ is ‘Truth’.

    • The intolerable notion that black people, (to take one example at perfect random) are in any wise intellectually inferior to white people for genetic reasons is as hideously mistaken as the proposition that humans and rattlesnakes are immiscible, another form of racism that must be excised from the western mind. Not to mention paramecia.

      • dfgfdgdfgg says

        I would hope so, if the quality and cogency of your ‘prose’ could be taken as a reflection of the cognitive abilities of white people.

      • Andrew Leonard says

        “A review of the world literature on brain size and IQ by Rushton [Rushton, J. P. (1995). Race, evolution, and behavior: a life history perspective. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction] found that African-descended people (Blacks) average cranial capacities of 1267 cm3, European-descended people (Whites) 1347 cm3, and East Asian-descended people (East Asians) 1364 cm3. These brain size differences, containing millions of brain cells and hundreds of millions of synapses, were hypothesized to underlie the race differences on IQ tests, in which Blacks average an IQ of 85, Whites 100, and East Asians 106.”

        If reality hurts, you’re doing something wrong

        • hmmm…and how are IQ tests ‘standardized?’…something about adjusting questions until the standard bell curve distribution is achieved…as ‘blacks’ and ‘asians’ would be under represented in the sampling and ‘whites’ would be over represented the tailoring of the questions would continue until the majority – whites – were in the middle of the curve at 100 – it really is not science at all since the IQ test presupposes that all other factors distinguishing individuals and groups have been normalized – which is impossible…it has been demonstrated ‘scientifically’ that the best indicator of academic achievement is the socio/economic background of a child’s parents…IQ tests were created to establish which students had a predisposition to ‘school’ and therefore the state could allocate funding in the public education sector accordingly…

          • Tom Fox says

            Oh! Were the IQ tests rigged to favour the Chinese and east Asians who on a population basis score 5 points higher than white Europeans? How can that be? And if the tendency of sub Saharan black migrants to European and American cities and do so badly there (on a population basis) is caused by our white racism, how come the Chinese who one would imagine suffer the same kind of prejudice, do very well indeed and do not only prosper, but exceed the performance of the white indigenous populations? Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen have produced a considerable body of work comparing the ability of different groups to form functioning and prosperous societies. The left ignores the way colonisation, deemed to be the cause of chaos in Africa seems to have been weathered rather better in China and the whole of North East Asia where the economies and society in general are creating a massive boom.

        • Cranial capacitiy of the neanderthalers was 1400 cc average, with cranials found of above 1500 cc. I wonder what the scores would have been on IQ tests, in case they had survived (quite possible in theory, but history went the other way). One thing is sure, it would be very low (because the tests are made by white western H.sapiens males), but, in case they themselves would have been able to construct them, another thing is sure: we would score miserably low on average. I also wonder, what kind of problem solving questions would they have concocted? Abstract ones? Emotional ones? Practical ones? Deep thought (wise, philosophical,poetic) ones?

          • Andrew Leonard says

            My understanding is that, at the neurological level, IQ is determined by three factors.

            1. Neuron count (~87 billion in homo sapiens)
            2. Neuronal density (size of neurons)
            3. Neuronal interconnectedness (average number of incoming and outgoing connections, per neuron, and length of those connections).

            According to Wikipedia:

            Male and female Neanderthals had cranial capacities averaging 1,600 cm3 (98 cu in) and 1,300 cm3 (79 cu in), respectively, within the range of the values for anatomically modern humans.


            If we supposed that points 2 & 3 were also within the range of the values for anatomically modern humans, we might also suppose that Neanderthals would score similarly on IQ tests to ourselves. The problem is, we do not know if 2 & 3 are the same as humans.

            On the other hand, 2 & 3 are identical for homo sapien men & women (although the distribution of lateral versus forward/back connectedness is somewhat different). The only difference being point 1 – men have more neurons than women. The implication of this being that men could be more intelligent, on average, than women. So which of the following is true?

            1. Men score higher on IQ tests (on average) than women, due to their larger brains.
            2. Men and women score equally on IQ tests, in spite of differing brain size.
            3. Men would score higher on IQ tests, but these tests are manipulated to ensure the sexes score equally.

        • Actual neuroscientist says

          There is no meaningful connection between brain size and intelligence in humans. Blood flow, connectivity, and a host of other factors all matter and that summary is utterly incorrect and would not be supported by any actual neuroscientist. This is just dumb as fuck. It would imply that short people are two standard deviations dumber than tall people.

      • There are obviously racial differences in IQ. These well-intentioned researchers need to dance around the truth to avoid the wrath of the cultural revolutionaries. An average schlub could wander around Sub Sahara Africa for a few days, and then go to Switzerland or Japan and write a common sense memoir that would reach the correct conclusion.

        • TD2000 says

          Yes, but are those differences due to genetics or 400 years of oppression/exploitation of Africans by Europeans? Or both?

          • Tom Fox says

            My family too had hundreds of years of oppression by the rulers of society, This has not held me back in any way at all,

          • Well, I’m not saying one way or another, but technologically speaking sub Saharan Africa was woefully behind the rest of the world. There could be many reasons for that, but we don’t need “oppression” , something many Europeans faced at the hands of each other, to explain it. Again, I’d argue that it’s multifaceted, the left argues everything, all differences in all outcomes is due to racial oppression. Sorry, but too simplistic an answer.

      • John McCormick says

        @tito, scientifically speaking, there is no such things as “black people” or “white people”. Also, no one proposes that any randomly selected person of African descent is assuredly intellectually inferior to any person of European descent as no one proposes that any randomly selected female is assuredly shorter than any randomly selected male. Lastly, why is it that it is only the western mind from which “racism must be excised”? Is it because you believe fundamentally that Europeans are superior to peoples of other continents? Shouldn’t it be excised from all human minds? And why only humans? After all ethnic chauvinism is present in nearly any animal species with a social structure.

        Here’s a book to help you in your quest to make sense of reality: The Social Conquest of Earth, E.O. Wilson. It’s very common and a library near you will have it. Good luck.

        • Many of his ilk DO believe only whites (people of European descent) are racist because they believe Europeans invented what is really just another word for ethnic tribal superiority. One gets a heady feeling to see oneself as he engaged in noble resistance to the “oppressor”. They are righteous in their innocence and vindicated in their hatred. It’s just another form of heads I win, tails you lose. Or the blank check that encompasses the goal of ending “hate” or “inequality”. They are unattainable goals and thus lend themselves to those on a moral crusade to destroy their perceived enemies.

      • You do realize that your claim is exactly the one the article cites as Dr Carl not making yet being accused of making, yes?

      • Whose making that argument? No one is. Its got to be such a simple existence, to be able to erect hideous strawmen of your imaginary enemies and then self-assuredly knock that phantom down.

    • L - $0.00 32 says

      That’s a good line. You should publish that and get your name attached to it.

    • Tom More says

      Doesn’t the word literally reference the one meaning and purpose of all in the classic western Aristotelian and Thomistic (Saint Thomas Aquinas) metaphysical view that gives us form and matter, actual and potential etc. Geniuses. I am so blessed to have been able to study them. Cheers

  2. Jack Wilde says

    It is of the gravest concern that activists disguised as academics could have such influence in the one place that evidence and critical thinking once called home. It is time decent serious academics put an end to this nonsense and thoroughly shame anyone who behaves so strongly contrary to the very ideals of academia. Root them out!

    • Heike says

      This is just standard left-wing values. They see the world in black and white as they have only one value: harm reduction. The science supports the idea that conservatives have this value too, but have four other values in addition, thus they see the world in full color. As the leftists see any honest discussion of intelligence variance among hominids as being harmful to marginalized populations, they will pile on and commit all sorts of intellectual crimes to stop discussion.

      The sooner we can have these conversations, the sooner we can give assistance to the members of our species with lower intelligence. From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs. Let’s face it: there are people out there who are not cut out for our complex modern society and they are suffering. It is our responsibility to help them. But the first step in solving a problem is admitting that a problem exists. Our culture is like an opiate addict who doesn’t see anything wrong with the lives she’s destroying.

    • Tom Wright says

      Unfortunately many of the signatories are academics moonlighting as activists. These problems can be systemic and related to norms.

  3. Doug Deeper says

    Why do so many academics, even high profile academics, not see this phenomenon of academic mob shaming for what it is; powerful academic elites, with no patience for either academic freedom or free speech, simply securing their own power?

    Is it so hard to see the dearth of respect for “rational inquiry?” These people do not even believe in the freedom of other academics to condone subjects that they consider taboo.

    The only question that remains is, when will the rationally-inclined academics gather the will to retake the academy?

    • Charlie says

      Until the early 1980s, most academics had worked outside of university during WW1 or 2 either in combat, intelligence or developing technology. They had maturity from being involved with making life of death decisions. Nowadays very few academics actually undertake breakthroughs as there are too many of them. The most important period for an academic is the first post Doc and by their mid 1940s their capacity for innovation is over. A combination of immaturity, mediocracy and awareness their best years are behind them makes them desperate to be relevant; therefore they will jump any bandwagon.

      C Northcote Parkinson was one of the few academics who leave the profession. His three books on bureaucracy starting with Parkinson’s Law made him a fortune so he could afford to leave. One of his many criticisms of the expanding state was also the expansion in the numbers of academics, especially mediocre ones.

    • Tom Wright says

      Because they are busy most likely and concerned about academic matters. One imagines if they were interested in personal politics they would not have become academics.

      I imagine their views will change when one of their friends or colleagues that they respect holds a more nuanced view point.

    • Kent M. Gold says

      “The only question that remains is, when will the rationally-inclined academics gather the will to retake the academy?”

      Herein above lies the fallacy that so many labor under right now. Tolerance is not a value derived from reason. Tolerance is a matter of faith. There is no rational justification for tolerance of free speech. Many brilliant minds have tried and failed to find one.

      The folks mobbing this young man are quite rational, both by their own estimation and by objective analysis. We may not AGREE with them, but that doesn’t make them irrational.

      Tolerance for uncomfortable viewpoints rests secure in the *belief* that truth will win out in the end because of guidance of a higher power; and that those who seem unreasonable at first may in fact have value in their viewpoints. If one has no faith in a higher truth not yet revealed, or any yardstick but reason, then common sense dictates that you muzzle people who have unreasonable viewpoints so they don’t wreck society with their misbegotten ideas.

      As anathema as it is for most in the academy to admit, Western tolerance comes down to us from the lynching of a Jewish heretic to suppress his speech; the catastrophic mistake it was later deemed to be; and that same heretic’s example of forgiveness and tolerance of those in error, both among his own followers and among the people who killed him.

      Don’t forget: rationalism was the tool used explicitly to justify the mob Terror in revolutionary France. Statues to Reason were erected; a Church of Reason was established. Holidays for Reason were declared. A great deal of the genocide of the last 300 years has been done in the name of Reason. Most of the suppression of speech as been done because such speech was deemed unreasonable and therefore dangerous.

      “Rationally inclined academics” may well repeat or even surpass the mistakes of their social justice-y antagonists if they try to “retake the academy.” Trying to show the social justice crowd that they are unreasonable is a non-starter, because they reason from different premises of faith: that equality is always the proper outcome; that inequality must be fought by all means until it is corrected; that faith things will balance in the end is outrageous superstition that leads to oppression.

      One could say that social justice has faith that faith doesn’t work. It’s a puzzler, but that’s people for you.

      • Innominata says

        @KentGold: “Tolerance is not a value derived from reason. Tolerance is a matter of faith. There is no rational justification for tolerance of free speech. Many brilliant minds have tried and failed to find one.”

        I think you’ve brought up a fundamental and EXTREMELY important point. Another way to say it is that this isn’t just about “reasonable” and “unreasonable” but about “gnosis” : that is, now does one fundamentally KNOW something?

        For these woke crusaders in the academy doing the blacklisting, they don’t have to read this young man’s research papers because they already KNOW that he is misguided.

        How do they KNOW? Because at their core they KNOW that worldly equality among people is the Absolute Truth. Therefore, if this young researcher is (in their minds) undermining equality among people by exploring inequality of intelligence among racial groups, he must necessarily be in error and a bad person. Graeber outright says as much.

        This is a serious perversion of Enlightenment and older Christian thought. Paul, James, and other early theologians posited spiritual equality in 100 AD (“God is no respecter of persons”), saying that women and men, free men and slaves were equal souls before God, even though they have different worldly privileges and roles (one of the reasons early Christianity was so popular among Roman women converts and non-citizens).

        The American Founders and other Enlightenmenti said it’s “self-evident that all men are created equal … with certain unalienable Rights”, taking the same line of thinking a step further and giving birth to fundamental human rights and equality of opportunity. Both were enormously successful in practice, leading to relatively prosperous societies for their times.

        Woke doctrine, however, seems to rely on the axiom that it’s self-evident all men/women/men-who-feel-they-are-women/races/intelligence-levels/nationalities/et al. deserve equal outcomes in the world, and not as spiritual entities but as physical persons with their position and property. This is very similar to the thinking that brought on the Witch Trials: “Elijah Smith has a larger farm than I do, but we are all supposed to have the same amount. Ergo, Smith must be in league with Satan and needs some hanging, and I get his farm” (and accusers often did wind up with the executed’s property).

        This woke tangent of thought seems to veer toward delusion. While a person raised in China or Saudi would probably say that the Founders’ declaration of fundamental human rights is also delusional and unprovable, it really worked in practice. Social justice, on the other hand, seems to wind up producing Orwellian denial, economic collapse, and fantastical relativism. It also seems to produce persecution, as True Believers seek to forcibly redistribute not only opportunity but also position and property among people with wildly different endowments from nature and/or society.

        It makes me sad and a bit sick that a young man like the subject of this article has walked into the middle, probably without realizing that he’s standing in between two armies doing battle over how Western societies KNOW things.

        • Steve says

          “Tolerance is not a value derived from reason. Tolerance is a matter of faith.”

          Somewhat off-topic, but ultimately reason is itself a matter of faith. The Quillette set have made a god of Reason without the slightest epistemological justification. Reason is grounded in pure faith — faith in a consistently comprehensible cosmos. Pace Godel, human reason cannot prove itself.

          Theological foundations for reason actually attempt to provide something other than the dismissive hand-waving on offer from today’s popular intellectual pygmies.

      • Marsha Marsha Marsha says

        “Tolerance is not a value derived from reason. Tolerance is a matter of faith. There is no rational justification for tolerance of free speech.”

        That’s actually really coincidental. I was reading John Gray’s book “Seven Types of Antheism” the other day (because someone here recommended it … really interesting book). I don’t have it in front of me, but he said something like:

        “It’s no accident that the New Atheists [whom he rips apart] never mention tolerance as a cardinal value of their movement.”

        He’s right. I almost never hear anyone mention tolerance anymore, even those who are supposedly the champions of reason. It seems so important. Now, everyone seems to be intent on righteousness… which is almost always intolerant.

        • Farris says

          @Marsha x3

          Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” G.K. Chesterson

          Today tolerance means moral relativism.

          Should this mob action be tolerated? Should unreasonable arguments or actions be tolerated? How far does tolerance go? Tolerance for the sake of tolerance is irrational. The problem is not a lack of tolerance but rather no limits or agreement as to what constitutes civilized debate. Freedom of speech is a blessing, freedom from the consequences of untruthful, defamatory, malicious speech and conduct is anarchy.
          I appreciate your need for open honest debate but tolerance is not the answer as it is too vague and broad. Open and honest debate requires standards.

      • Windy Girl says

        I’m curious as to how you find so many people signing this petition without investigating it’s veracity, rational or logical.

      • rickoxo says

        @KentGold – “Herein above lies the fallacy that so many labor under right now. Tolerance is not a value derived from reason. Tolerance is a matter of faith. There is no rational justification for tolerance of free speech. Many brilliant minds have tried and failed to find one.”

        No clue where you got this idea from but I don’t think it could be further from the truth. First, faith and tolerance are much more often enemies than friends. Unless you mean faith in something mystical or metaphysical, religious faith almost always includes some level of having faith that what you believe is capital T-truth. As apostle Paul demonstrates, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Gal 1:8). Islam is even more militant.

        In terms of tolerance not being a value derived from reason, it’s foundational to the scientific method that people be free to argue the relative merits of any theories or ideas and that ideas be evaluated based on their ability to explain existing data. You cannot have the scientific method without free debate.

        Tolerance is the wrong word and the wrong way to think about the issue the author is discussing. I’m betting the author couldn’t care less if you tolerate him, what he needs is that you don’t try to control what he says or use power to shut down his ability to present a reasoned argument. The issue is free speech and the main places defending free speech are political and scientific, not faith-based.

        @KentGold – “Tolerance for uncomfortable viewpoints rests secure in the *belief* that truth will win out in the end because of guidance of a higher power;”

        This is a statement of pure religious belief and completely disregards basic scientific thinking. Free discussion and debate is essential not because a divine power will make it work in the end but because there is no other system that provides anywhere nearly as good of an opportunity of discovering truth.

        I fully get that the liberal left has abandoned most of their commitment to free speech and unfettered debate, but this has nothing to do with faith.

      • Doug Deeper says

        @Kent Gold, I think you are taking my comment down an unproductive path.
        I am only making the point that the academics who still believe in enlightenment values are being run over by the campus orthodox. It is unimportant whether the orthodox believe themselves reasonable, noble or holy-rollers for equality.

        Those who believe in Enlightenment values need to take greater risks. Heterodox Academy should be trouncing the totalitarian left, but it is not. I believe the “good” academics do not want to address the powerlessness of their position. The entire academic establishment with few exceptions is either against them or feckless. In an unfair fight one must retain one’s most precious values, but still take enormous risks. The “good” academics simply do not take such risks, and this is largely understandable because their careers and reputations are on the line. But what outcome does this suggest?

        This is why I believe as do far more insightful people than I (Clayton Christensen, Peter Thiel, Jordan Peterson) that the current academic system will be turned on its head in the next ten years or so.

      • Jim le Messurier says

        Excellent comment, Kent M. Gold. But there’s nothing ‘unreasonable’ about Noah Carl’s research, nothing which goes against the idea of ‘reason’ being of paramount importance. That’s the thing. Perhaps abject cowardice and/or the pleasure derived from being part of a mob could explain this behaviour, to a greater extent?

      • An utterly brilliant assessment of both the discourse lamented by the article and the comment responses. You really cut to the heart of the matter. I applaud your intelligence and erudition.

      • @KentGold An utterly brilliant assessment of both the discourse lamented by the article and the comment responses. You really cut to the heart of the matter. I applaud your intelligence and erudition.

      • js cantrell says

        @Kent M. Gold

        “There is no rational justification for tolerance of free speech.”

        “Tolerance for uncomfortable viewpoints rests secure in the *belief* that truth will win out in the end because of guidance of a higher power”

        Not necessarily “belief” in a higher power! What about “belief” that the “marketplace of ideas” is the most powerful engine in human affairs for finding truth and advancement. Therefore, the belief in the virtues of the human marketplace of ideas is indeed “a rational justification for tolerance of free speech.” Especially for those with the humility to believe others may sometimes have better ideas.

  4. Emmanuel says

    Academics love to see themselves as rebels on the side of the little guy, fighting oppression and resisting power at the level of society. However, within the academic world, which has its own strong relations of power, hierarchy and authority, they often behave in a way that would make Caligula look like a tolerant and enlightened man, and will do anything to suppress dissent.
    Regarding the topic of race differences, as David Reich stated last year, if serious researchers do not investigate the topic, they will leave it open for any smooth talking fraud. I don’t know Noah Carl but I assume he must be serious in his research to have been granted a post-doc in Cambridge. It would be a massive loss for the scientific community to reject promising researchers only because they study topics that left-wing activists don’t like.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      > However, within the academic world, which has its own strong relations of power, hierarchy and authority, they often behave in a way that would make Caligula look like a tolerant and enlightened man, and will do anything to suppress dissent.

      There is no modern-era employer more abusive than a tenured Marxist who has been provided with a collection of graduate student slaves.

  5. tomoncapecod says

    The purpose of research is research. The purpose of liberal academic policy is limiting research to topics that can only bolster liberal ideals.

  6. E. Olson says

    Perhaps a task force should be put together that carefully goes through the publications of each of the petition signees to document if any of their work is “ethically suspect” or “methodologically flawed.” Given all the recent fraud and replication problems found in so many fields, I suspect there would be quite a few that would be found to have committed some serious research sins themselves.

    • Nate D. says

      @ E.Olson

      My thoughts were similar to yours. If these folks are calling him out, I’m very curious to see their work. Drag it into the daylight and lets see how methodologically airtight their work is. I’d love to be proved wrong, but I’d wager you’ll find a pile of P-hacked, politically correct, white noise.

      This mobbing is just what’s happening on the surface. We’re seeing the scarlet-letter-esque fundamentalism as it’s being acted out in one observable instant. But what about the slow-boil of “scholarship” and “research” this mob has been quietly producing in the background?

    • Windy Girl says

      E. Olson: You’re referring to the Trump effect? Accusers beware because Karma is a B!

    • mezmer says

      Academics are creating the conditions of their own irrelevance. When research isn’t research, but a distortion of fact to fit one’s desired outcome, one might as well be working for pharma.

    • Idiosyncratist says

      How about publishing a list of the scholars who signed the letter and inviting their colleagues to ask them, individually, to explain their reasoning.

  7. Bryn Jones says

    Of course, @emercurial_ lists their pronouns in their twitter bio. OF COURSE THEY DO.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Bryn Jones

      I couldn’t help but notice the same. I’m somewhat ashamed to even admit to this, but I caught myself reading his posts… everyone… line-by-line… for at least a good half-hour it must have been. It was like, I was caught in the grip of his unbounded delusions.

      He’s clearly insane, by the way. I mean, this dude (is he a dude?) is fit for a straitjacket and a lithium drip. How could seeing that level of crazy not be addictive. It was like finding a unicorn, a really, really crazy unicorn. I was on his page for half an hour and I still don’t know if “they” were a guy or a girl, if that tells you anything.

      I don’t know, really I’m just ashamed of myself for having experienced it. Honestly, I feel like I need a shower.

    • ga gamba says

      Null and void if xir failed to preface xem pronouns with an Acknowledgement of Traditional Land and Indigenous Peoples.

  8. This is the first I’ve heard of this case, so I have no idea whether this person is being treated unfairly or not … but did it even occur to you too ask some non-white, non-male scholars what they think? You seem to think it appropriate that the final word on whether certain behaviour is racist should come from white people.

    • Andrew Worth says

      Why is the race and gender of the people speaking in support of Carl relevant?

    • Alice Williams says

      Rebecca Roache, your response is exactly what would be expected from the detractors of this young man. .

    • @ Rebecca Roache

      It was the first i’d heard of the case as well. I considered seeking out a person of colour to figure out how I should be responding to this. Then i realised i have a mind of my own, so I decided to use it instead. I just checked out Carl’s Researchgate page:


      Having skimmed the abstracts, I couldn’t find anything in his publications that suggested he argues for a relationship b/w ‘race’, ‘criminality’ and ‘genetic intelligence’. The closest he comes in this article:


      Note that here he doesn’t argue that there is such a relationship, but rather that others ought to be free to do so.

      • ga gamba says

        Then i realised i have a mind of my own, so I decided to use it instead.

        A hate crime in action before our very eyes. I’ve notified the internet police.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @ga gamba

          Thanks brother, you saved me the trouble. Goodthink has nothing to do with having a mind, we strive for collective unconsciousness because only the collective lives. Thoughtcrime, OTOH does not entail death, thoughtcrime is death because one has become detached from the collective — one is already dead, one is simply a transient nothing rather like a termite that has decided to leave the mound. Carl did not exist. He had never existed.

    • ga gamba says

      My aching sides!

      Becky, I’m not buying the underlying premise of your objection, but for the sake of argument and amusement I shall examine.

      non-white, non-male scholars…. whether certain behaviour is racist

      Do females have some unique insight based on their sex about racism men are incapable of? Please substantiate including relevant research.

      Examining your comment I find that you fell into the ritualised recantation of “non-white, non-male”, a.k.a. the sacred chant, without pausing to consider the relevance the scholars’ sex in this context. There is none.

      Appropriate to have written: “…but did it even occur to you to ask some non-white scholars what they think?”

      You seem to think it appropriate that the final word on whether certain behaviour is racist should come from white people.

      This sentences hinges on the idiom the final word. Let’s examine the Editor’s note: Quillette sought comment from several high profile academics in response to the open letter to Cambridge University. Their unedited responses are reproduced below.

      I don’t see the word final. I don’t see any words synonymous to final. Definitely no declaration the matter is settled. Not even the family friendly full stop. I don’t even see a hint of this. Becky, I conclude the asserted finality of word is a fabrication of your alone, one that bounced around in your noggin and popped out prematurely… like a miscarriage.

      What I read is a group of scholars offering… brace for it… an opposing view. Point and counterpoint. Standard fare amongst academics. Regular folks too.

      Editing your sentence to be accurate we’re left with, “You seem to think it appropriate that opinions on whether certain behaviour is racist should come from white people.”

      Underpinning this statement is the barmy idea whites don’t experience racism, thus they are not only unqualified to opine, it is also an impropriety to do so. They lack knowledge as well as are ill-suited to the task simply because of the immutable characteristic of their race. (This is bad news for the white fella named Dr David Graeber, who shouldn’t have opined to begin with, yeah?)

      This is a sweeping and racialised assertion. Yours is the racist statement, Becky.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ga gamba

        Pardon brother, but you’re using the oldspeak meaning of ‘racism’. We now know that whites cannot experience racism because non-whites are incapable of racism. Only the Oppressor can be racist because racism is about maintaining Privilege.

      • James Lee says

        The underlying meta-structure of SJ religion is converging towards the old underlying meta-structure of Bolshevik Communism.

        In Communist Russia and Mao’s China, no right thinking person would ever listen to a bourgeois person on any topic of social import, at least not publicly. Such a person’s views were tainted by their class, a priori. The taint could only be purged by ritual self denunciations, sometimes years of slave labor, and sometimes death.

        We all know who the new “bourgeoisie” are.

        The SJ extremists don’t have the power yet to institute another totalitarian hellhole, but their ideology bears too many similarities for comfort.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Rebecca Roache

      did it even occur to you too ask some non-white, non-male scholars what they think?

      No, no it didn’t occur to me, I have to admit. Maybe I’m missing something here, but it’s not obvious how one’s race and/or gender would effect/change/alter empirical facts. It seems like you’re saying that anthropological facts will either cease to exist or be altered in some way depending on a person’s gender and/or race. Is that what you’re suggesting? And if so, I would love to hear more. Does this also apply to the constraints of deductive logic? Does 2+2 not equal 4 for black women? If that’s not what you’re saying then you’ll need to explain to me why it matters what non-white, non-male scholars think, since everyone should observe the same facts regardless of race/gender.

      You seem to think it appropriate that the final word on whether certain behaviour is racist should come from white people.

      Imputing uncharitable motivations is generally considered anathema to scholarly debate, if not qualifying as behavior unbecoming of a lady. But that’s not the problem here. Not really. The problem with your statement is that you seemed to have confused scientific inquiry with the dictates of social propriety.

      You may be surprised to hear this – and if your comment is any indication of your understanding of the scientific method, you will be – but no serious person, much less scientist thinks anyone has or should have “the final word” on objective evidence. That type of thing is not within a mile of best practices. It’s kind of silly to even suggest it really.

      Just to be clear, no one, regardless of their race or sex, gets to have “the final word” on empirical data. Objective data speaks for itself; it’s either valid or it’s not regardless of a person’s opinion or feelings about it. In other words, you’re effectively saying, “You seem to think it appropriate that the final word on whether 2+2 = 4 should come from white people.” Now consider that this statement is just as nonsensical as the one you made. Racism’s got nothing to do with it, b/c there’s no such thing as racist scientific inquiry, or sexist scientific inquiry; there’s just scientific inquiry – the data speaks for itself.

      • Cassandra says

        2+2 does not necessarily equal 4 in the mind of the British Shadow Home Secretary

        • D.B. Cooper says


          Well, certain allowances will have to be made, of course. Just as, “blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls had never met a black person before,” Diane Abbott should not be expected to count to 1,750 pounds she charged the University of Birmingham, in 2011, for the privilege of letting proving to them hear a black woman speak King’s English. Some people’s children, what are you going to do?

          Speaking of people’s children, have you heard the former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, enumerate any number with more than three figures? If not, enjoy…

    • peanut gallery says

      I think people replying to this are missing the benefit of this statement. By this metric, all we have to do is ask a black person that probably agrees with us. Get Coleman Hughes to write the same article and we’re done. Get Thomas Sowell. Bam! We’re wasting time trying to use logic and reason.

    • northernobserver says

      No I didn’t because I’m not a bigoted fool who believes in race essential-ism like Hitler did or Robin DiAngelo does.

    • Steven says

      I don’t make a decision or form any opinion until I run it by someone who is non-white and non-male. Who better to inform me what is morale and just? I’m genetically incapable of forming that framework by my own experiences and judgment. Thank you so much for be brave enough to say what others might see as sexist and racist.

    • Defenstrator says

      Excuse me, but are you really so racist as to think that the amount of melanin in your skin determines how you reason out ethical issues?

    • R Henry says


      So…you believe people of color have different tnoughts? How dare you, racist!

    • The definition of racism is still the same regardless of who is looking. The irony….to suggest otherwise is in fact racist and sexist.

    • martti_s says

      @Rebecca Roache

      No other species were consulted.
      People of color have no fur.
      This is epidermism!

    • mezmer says

      Nobody is qualified to criticize someone’s research based solely on genitals or melanin levels. That isn’t how research works. You should go to school. Oh, wait.

  9. George Igler says

    It leaves me desperately sad for my alma mater. Roundhead rebellious Cambridge was the wellspring of Protestant dominance in England, which is why as religious divisions softened the foundation of Eddie’s was so significant in its history. The first Catholic college re-admitted after the Reformation.

    Though that religious element has long passed at St Edmund’s, the college’s existence at all was an act of recognition, of a still deeper principle which placed both universities in rural locations distant from the capital in the first place. That academe was the proper location for the examination of heretical beliefs, which certainly had their dangers, but were nevertheless necessarily a fundamental source of innovation and enlightenment.

    Regrettably, I am not surprised, my last alumni magazine’s cover was soaked in forced SJW ideology and not a single page in this Armistice centenary year had even the slightest nod, towards the thousands whose blood drips from the memorials on the walls of every college chapel, dying as they did for the freedoms the fallen had once cherished and enjoyed there. The place has gone mad. More so even than when Communism gripped it in the 30s, which had such desperate consequences for the ruling class of the country in the decades which followed: far worse is destined yet to come.

    • I woudln’t dispair yet. They have not caved in to the mob yet and if they do not do so that is a small victory.

      A major victory woudl be if the cambridge academics who signed up were rebuked for behaviour which I am sure falls outside the universities cod eof conduct.

  10. Andrew Worth says

    It’s this lynch mob that’s using faulty methodology, if a paper is faulty you refute the paper, if Carl’s work is as faulty as the lynch mob claims his work would have been refuted on sound academic grounds.

    • What do you expect from people who are convinced they are so much more rational than everybody else they don’t even have to try?

      It was interesting that Peter Singer provided a quote above, since he’s one of the philosophers most revered in the rationalist movement.

  11. Andrew Worth says

    One of the signatories: “Dr John Elliott, Auckland University, NZ”. While there is an institution called “The University Of Auckland” there’s no such institution called “Auckland University”, and The University Of Auckland does not have a “John Elliott” listed in its staff directory.

    • Wadsy says

      There seems to be two people of that name in new Zealand …. One in Canterbury and one in Otago so Andrew has stuck gold it seems …. well done sir 🙂

  12. And people wonder why we have little respect for those in the “Soft Sciences” who really don’t consider the Scientific Method in their approaches, just their “Feelings Method”, apparently.

    If they can’t refute scientifically, then all it means is they are acting politically/emotionally.

    Science invites discussion and argument. Attempting to shut it down because of viewpoin is not Science but Religion.

  13. Carl Irvine says

    I wonder whether the signatories to that letter are conscious that their letter is potentiallly defamatory or are aware of how plaintiff-friendly UK defamation law is.

    A defamation suit is a difficult and awkward response to these sorts of false allegations, but it’s one that might make academics think a *bit* harder about what they allege about their colleagues.

  14. Steven Weber says

    Some academics can be such morons. Soft sciences aren’t science.

  15. Whyaxye says

    “The concepts “race” “genetic intelligence” and “criminality” are all concepts with at best questionable scientific validity…”

    Attention all criminals! Go and rob scientists! They won’t even recognise what you have done!

    • Vincent says

      Sometimes the seemingly simple isn’t so simple. With the vast amounts of legislation that most people know nothing about, we’re likely all criminals. But “criminals” as far as statistics go are those who are charged with a crime, not necessarily those that commit them.

      Of course, since minorities are disproportionately charged with crimes, using crime statistics probably works well with Dr. Carl’s arguments.


      • Whyaxye says

        Sometimes people like to over-complicate things so they can get their own way. I bet if these people thought there was a chance of convicting Noah Carl of an actual hate crime, they would rediscover the validity of the concept of criminality. Likewise, if he had been convicted of another crime in the past, it would be dragged up as a reason for him to not get the job.

  16. Identity politics and intersectionality are embraced by academia and multinationals because they are effective administrative control mechanisms. Anything that invokes fear in the control group is good, and it is even better if the boundaries of transgression are poorly defined, or not in need of definition. That makes everyone potentially guilty and the fear more pervasive.

  17. Vincent says

    It’s odd that this article criticizes the open letter for not exploring Dr. Carl’s work head on and then does the same thing.

    I did a quick search of articles by Dr. Carl and the titles alone bring up methodological problems:

    “Ethnicity and election fraud in Britain”
    “IQ and socio-economic development across local authorities of the UK”
    “IQ and political attitudes across British regions and local authorities”
    “Does intelligence have a U-shaped relationship with leftism?”
    “Can intelligence explain the overrepresentation of liberals and leftists in American academia?”

    I understand that these probably seem like reasonable titles to many commenters on Quillette, but these are the type of studies that have led to the psychology/sociology replication crisis. Even disregarding that concern, the titles are fraught with loaded terms with are problematic in themselves. When you start building correlations off of terms that are problematic by themselves, there’s no way the results of the study will be informative in any way.

    For example, IQ is a horribly misunderstood measurement. It does not measure one’s potential intelligence, as most people believe. It merely tests one’s ability to figure out certain types of problems. IQ isn’t a reliable measurement of anything. It’s not like a measurement of weight or length, but it’s evident that Dr. Carl (and pretty much every “intelligence” researcher”) does.

    This leads us to our second problem. “Intelligence” is only meaningful in the most abstract sense. To reify it as a summation of one’s cognitive abilities woefully overlooks how the brain actually works neurologically. Different people excel at different types of cognitive tasks, and one’s ability to perform a particular cognitive task may be the result of natural ability or practice. For example, if you practice problems similar to those found on an IQ test before taking the test, you will probably score very highly.

    Finally, to try to tie a problematic measurement, such as IQ, to an equally problematic political identification (“leftist” and “liberal”) reeks of methodological problems. How exactly, does one go about doing this? How does such a study differentiate between the ardent socialist who votes for Labour vs. the centrist who votes for labour? And what would these comparisons really tell us? Just like how “intelligence” provides a limited amount of information regarding one’s cognitive abilities, political affiliation provides very limited information about one’s actual political beliefs. For instance, here in America, there is a large conservative voting block that only cares about banning abortion. These people might vote for someone they view as incorrect on every other issue because they feel morally compelled to combat legal abortion. Would it make sense to place these people in the same category as a John Birch Society member or one of the Koch brothers?

    I’ve downloaded a few of these articles to take a further look at them, but the methodological problems are stated in the titles. Psychometrics are by and large a pseudoscience, so it’s not surprising that so many scholars have a hostile reaction to the goals of this researcher alone.

    • Vincent says

      Okay, I hate to reply to myself, but I only had to get a few sentences into one of Dr. Carl’s articles to discover a great laugh:

      “Intelligence research has a long history of controversy” – No shit

      “Arthur Jensen, Charles Murray, Thomas Bouchard Jr., Sandra Scarr and Linda Gottfredson, to name a few, have all experienced hostile media coverage and politicized misrepresentation of their research.”

      Oh, great, he cites racist pseudoscience in the third sentence of his introduction.

      Then, this article continues to track correlations between the terms “IQ” and “racist” in publications and whine about how Stephen Jay Gould’s Mismeasure of Man led to an increase in this correlation. The article is no more scientific than the average screed on Quillette.


      I mean, I’m all for the war on postmodernism and its pseudo-intellectual babble that Quillette conducts, but the cite does itself a disservice in this effort when it promotes pseudoscience with racist undertones.

      • Breakfast Bear says

        There’s nothing racist about talking about how the mob calls people racist. You cited two incredibly benign statements. The only thing harmful about both of them is that a Leftist will immediately decry the topic as taboo. Read those to sentences to a Chinese person and ask how offended they are.

        And it doesn’t really hit on the topic of “is this guy a raging racist?”, and “is the mob right?”

        The fact is that the Left had no problem with him for years until he tripped a trigger and the mob was created. It’s not about his content. It’s about the attack and groupthink, which is highly, highly valued in the Left.

        We can either talk about race or we can’t. The Left has to make up its mind. Currently, the Left’s race-research motto seems to be “Talk about race as long as it paints everyone but white people as oppressed, and please ignore all history outside of the U.S., especially in India and Asia and Russia because it really upsets our whole groupthink model.”

        What the Left doesn’t realize is that we can’t fix issues regarding race until we can talk about it. The Left LOVES to say they are the party of science, but they absolutely do not want massive swaths of science to take place, because they deem the results as too dangerous (even Dawkins admits this). So they want to have their cake and eat it too.

      • rickoxo says

        My best guess is you’re not a researcher and you strongly disagree with him.

        1. Any good researcher critiquing an article would cite the article so folks could check the context of your quote. Instead you pick a few lines out of an entire article and cite them as examples of obvious pseudoscience and racism. That’s just as bad as what the 300 signators did.

        2. But even worse than critiquing the actual content of his research, you critique the title of his articles with no idea what’s inside them. You say that the titles of his articles are “fraught with loaded terms”, but there’s a key concept in research called operationalizing. I get it’s a stupidly big word academics love to overuse, but the idea is that you can take a problematic concept like intelligence, socio-economic development or political attitudes (all loaded terms) and come up with specific, quantifiable measures that will be used to represent them. Part of the value of any research is making a reasoned argument regarding the ways in which whatever measure(s) can be understood to represent the concept in question and what shortcomings they represent. That is research 101. And if you want some absolutely ridiculous research titles look in almost any left-leaning social science journal and see what they write about–with rarely any attempts to meaningfully operationalize the critical concepts.

        3. Most people who critique research do so using horribly over-simplified arguments that discount volumes of careful, published research. When you write, “IQ isn’t a reliable measurement of anything. It’s not like a measurement of weight or length”, either you’re arguing for disbanding all non-hard science research or you have no idea about the methodological and statistical tools used to demonstrate the usefulness of concepts like IQ. Reliability in research has a specific meaning and there is extensive evidence that IQ is a reliable (produces stable and consistent results) measure of something. There’s also a large body of research demonstrating that intelligence is a complex concept much broader than IQ. That in no way means that IQ is meaningless.

        4. You wrote, “To reify it as a summation of one’s cognitive abilities woefully overlooks how the brain actually works neurologically.” I would bet a bunch of money this is your idea and not Dr. Carl’s. I don’t believe for a second that he argued that intelligence is the summation of one’s cognitive abilities. Again, a common strategy used by people to discount research is to misrepresent it, often egregiously, then argue against their own straw man. I would love to see any quote where Dr. Carl says anything like what you attribute to him.

        5. Finally, to try to tie a problematic measurement, such as IQ, to an equally problematic political identification (“leftist” and “liberal”) reeks of methodological problems. How exactly, does one go about doing this?

        I’ve got a great idea, why don’t you actually read his article and see how he did it? Off the top of my head I can think of multiple ways he could have designed his research. There will always be limitations in any social science research, but your argument that it’s obvious pseudoscience with racist undertones is ridiculous when all you did was read a few titles and look for a few lines that you could quote and say how wrong he was.

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        Here is another critique by an expert of a ‘briefing paper’ by Carl:

        Carl’s article:


        The critique:


        An excerpt:

        “……..Adam Smith Institute ‘lurch to the left’ report: flimsy figures By John Morgan

        I recently wrote a piece for Times Higher Education suggesting that, as populism gains in strength, US “culture wars” attacks on universities as systematically biased against right-wing academics and students are likely to intensify and to spread to other nations.

        The piece appeared today; on the same day, The Times ran a piece based on a report from the Adam Smith Institute about “overrepresentation” of left-liberal views among UK academics, under the headline “Academia’s lurch to the left raises concerns for campus free speech”.

        The report from the Adam Smith Institute, which describes itself as a thinktank promoting neoliberal and free market ideas, has been covered by The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, City AM, The Australian and Huffington Post.

        The report, titled “Lackademia: Why Do Academics Lean Left?”, claims that “evidence suggests the overrepresentation of left-liberal views may have increased since the 1960s”.

        While it may be true that academics are generally more slanted towards the left than they were in previous decades, the report’s evidence for this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. And I speak as one of the main sources of evidence cited by the report, written by Noah Carl, a PhD student at Nuffield College, Oxford.

        The report’s sole evidence for the current political leanings of British academics is a THE online survey published prior to the 2015 general election, which asked UK university staff how they were planning to vote. The survey gained 1,019 responses – and my article on the results carried the major caveat that the survey was self-selecting (a caveat Carl repeats).

        The survey found that 46 per cent of UK university staff planned to vote Labour, followed by Green (22 per cent), Tory (11 per cent), Lib Dem (9 per cent) and Scottish National Party (6 per cent).

        Not only is this 2015 self-selecting survey the sole evidence cited by the Adam Smith Institute report to judge the current balance of political opinion in British academia, it produces a table in which those THE figures are conflated with totally separate figures on political party support among academics in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s gathered by the late A. H. Halsey in his 1995 book Decline of Donnish Dominion.

        I referred to the Halsey figures in my original THE article after Higher Education Policy Institute director Nick Hillman drew them to my attention (it’s nice Carl was reading so closely).

        The Times reproduces the table conflating the Halsey-THE figures as evidence for its headline’s “lurch to the left” claim.

        Carl writes in his report: “It is important to be aware that Halsey sampled his respondents differently to the THE, and posed a slightly different question, which means the comparison over time should be treated with a certain amount of caution.”

        I’ll say.

        Using a self-selecting survey as a rough guide to possible voting patterns in a forthcoming election is one thing. It is another to conflate that survey with totally separate data and use this flimsy base to make sweeping judgements, as Carl does in suggesting that growing “ideological homogeneity” has led to “the trend towards curtailments of free speech on university campuses” or that it “has arguably led to systematic biases in scholarship”. There is no evidence in his report that this is true.

        That British academics tend towards the left is pretty obvious and unsurprising. A sector that has until now not been marketised will attract people who don’t want to work in a marketised sector (although the government is now seeking to create a higher education market in England).

        It would be intriguing to see some genuine evidence about the experiences of right-wing academics in British academia.

        But Carl’s wafer-thin report looks like an attempt to import a US-style campus culture war into the UK. I would expect plenty more such attempts in the coming months and years…..”

    • Heike says

      For example, IQ is a horribly misunderstood measurement. It does not measure one’s potential intelligence, as most people believe. It merely tests one’s ability to figure out certain types of problems. IQ isn’t a reliable measurement of anything.

      This is incorrect. Perhaps it was once true, but this is a solved problem in the field. Intelligence tests are culture-neutral and produce reproducible results. They don’t ask questions like “how many innings in a baseball game” any more, and they haven’t for several decades.

      On the other hand, I appreciate your attempt to throw shade on the researcher using facts, no matter how out of date. You’re a darn sight better than all those professors.

    • The problem with your comment is that the argument that his research is flawed was not made by the signatories of the open letter. If you or anyone else thinks his work is so poor he does nto deserve the post then the way to challenge it is to systematically identify flaws in his recent papers. The problem is that the quality of his research is not the motivation for the letter which is quite clearly hi interest in and association with people who research and investigate areas which are not policially correct. It may be that there is no meaningful way to investigate an association between intelligence and genetics but this seems very unlikely to me and what I am sure of is that researchers should be free to make the attempt.
      Bad research is hardly novel at universities, I could be cynical and say it is the norm, but overall knowledge is increased because the good and reproducible is ove rtime filtered from the bad or merely mediocre. Effectively banning or socialluy ostracising those who work in areas which may produce uncomfortable results is not a good policy.

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        Very few commenters here have addressed the question of whether Noah Carl’s work is methodologically flawed. As it happens, one of his papers has been critiqued at length and found to be “dumb”:


        Here’s a lengthy excerpt [bold font in original text]:
        “……………Noah Carl, a graduate student in the UK, published a paper titled “Net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with their arrest rates in the UK“. I was struck by a combination of 1) how bad the paper is and 2) the potential impact of the results on public perception and policy. Nobody is perfect, so it’s reasonable to be at least somewhat forgiving of bad research, especially of early career scholars. However, given the ease with which debates about immigration can be hijacked by misinformation, accusation and racism, I think academics should ensure that their contribution to the debate is beyond reproach (or at least close to it).

        It’s worth noting that the paper was published in an bottom-tier online journal. Further, while my review is very critical, my intent is not to pillory the student, but rather critique his work. Finally, I have no idea what is true. His conclusions could be right or wrong; I simply contend that this particular research offers no insight on the matter either way, and that research this bad should never be published in any form.

        What does the researcher claim?

        The paper looks at the association between British perceptions of immigrants by country of origin and the crime rates of these immigrant populations in the UK. The paper concludes that since the rate of crimes committed by immigrants correlates with the perception of immigrants, ‘public beliefs about immigrants are more accurate than often assumed.’

        The conclusions are inconsistent with the evidence

        I will go through the specifics of the paper as I critically assess it.

        1. Ecological study design problem

        The research design is ecological. This means that the data are not individuals, but aggregates (groups) of individuals. This is probably the weakest study design in the social sciences; it is not only observational, but does not actually measure anything about people, but rather, just aggregations of people. One consequence of this is that these research designs tend to over-estimate model fit. That is, any effects estimated tend to fit more poorly in the real world than they do in the model. This is because these study designs usually under-estimate variability. In this example, had the author used individual data on the perception of immigrants rather than averages to fit his models, he probably would have seen a weaker relationship than he observed.

        2. Small sample problem

        In addition to being a weak study design, the author relies on 23 observations to draw his conclusions. Statistics can make up for small samples when study designs are strong and variables are measured without systematic error, but the small sample size used in this study is particularly troubling when combined with all the other problems with the study. Small samples are a multiplier of all other problems.

        3. Bad sample

        The researcher did not look at all immigrant data in the UK, but a small non-random sample of 23 countries. There are a large number of Italian and Portuguese immigrants to the UK, but these data are not included in the study. If they were included, the results may have looked different. When the data we use are not exhaustive (complete) and not selected randomly, there is always the possibility that the selection of data used will affect out findings in a systematic way. This is particularly problematic when the sample is small; a small non-random sample is the holy grail of statistical badness.

        4. Missing variable problem

        The author uses a multiple regression model to control for the ‘confounding’ effect of things like whiteness, English speaking, being from a Western country, and religion on his observation that crime rates influence perception of immigrants. He did not control for other potential confounding effects, however–like the economic wealth / productivity of the country of origin, historical tensions or media portrayals. I added per capital GDP to his data set an observed that the log of per capita GDP correlates more strongly with perception of immigrants than the the log of crime rate. It’s hard to know what variables to include in an analysis like this, but it matters, as the inclusion and exclusion of variables can change how data are interpreted.

        5. Non sequitur

        Carl draws the conclusion that ‘public beliefs about immigrants are more accurate than often assumed’, but the bulk of his analysis does not meaningfully address this claim. Carl has not defined what ‘accurate’ is, but no reasonable definition can be boiled down only to crime rate–that is, the negative contributions of immigrants. If public opinions were really ‘accurate’, their perceptions would also correlate with the positive contributions of immigrants, and in fact there would be strong correlation between net utility of immigrants and the perception of immigrants. But Carl focuses only on one possibly useful measure, and ignores the rest. As such,even if the technical difficulties above were overlooked, his conclusion is a misdirection since he’s not really measuring accuracy of public opinion.

        My conclusion

        There is more bad to say about this research, but I think I’ve made my point.

        The author may respond by saying he did the best he could given the data available, but this is not an appropriate defense. There is a useful saying about putting lipstick on a pig; this research is an attempt to make good use of bad data, but it would have been better to have simply collected better data first rather than trying to dress it up to look pretty.

        In short, it is never OK to publish research this bad, even in a inconsequential online journal. Let me repeat, I have no idea what is true here–the author may or may not be correct–I have no idea. What I know is that this research leaves so much to be desired that it requires more qualification than the word limits of a journal article would typically allow…..”.

        • rickoxo says

          This is getting annoying, the folks complaining about this guy’s research for really bad reasons. The first 300 signators were bad, the guy reading the titles and cherry picking a few quotes was bad, and this article finding someone who read it and said it was dumb is equally bad.

          This response at least attempts to give specific reasons why Carl’s research is bad, but the reasons show a serious lack of understanding of Carl’s work and hint at the prejudice of the reviewer much more than the quality of the research.

          1. Ecological studies are bad. Great, tell that to every single social scientist using these terms in their research. What a dumb thing to say. Identifications of racial identity, gender identity, beliefs, etc. are used constantly across social science research and no one is saying that all social science research is dumb (well some folks do :-). Of course using these types of variables have limitations, but calling Carl out for using racial identifiers when a huge percentage of social science/ed/psych research uses these kinds of terms or identifiers is ridiculous. Responsible social scientists know how to work with aggregate variables like race, country of origin, etc. They understand the advantages and limitations and those are reflected in the discussion and conclusion.

          2. Small sample size. This study doesn’t have small samples. Picking 23 countries to test for correlations is not like picking 23 high school students and using their test scores to infer the national average. He has some data set that includes broader UK resident perspectives on people from different countries. He picked out 23 different countries to test his hypothesis that there’s a correlation between incarceration rates and UK residents perception of people from those countries. Problems with sample size would be if the UK perceptions data didn’t have a large enough sample to be representative, but picking 23 countries to analyze for this correlation is totally reasonable.

          3. He didn’t look at all the data. When you’re doing statistical analysis of a large data set, of course you don’t look at everything. To teach stats in grad school in CA, we let students work with a huge data set that has tons of information about students along with information about their scores on various standardized tests. We let students play around to see what they can find about correlations. A student might pick out what parental education factors affect African American and Latino families. They’re not cheating by having a research focus they’re interested in.

          If he intentionally left out the Portuguese and Italian data because it weakened the correlation you’d have a stronger point, but I can think of a number of complicating factors about the two groups you mentioned, which might have explained why he excluded that data. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he has a discussion of the reasons why he picked the countries he picked and why he excluded certain data. That’s standard practice.

          4. missing variable – since we’re now talking about multiple regressions, we’re not talking about correlations and it doesn’t matter that per capita GDP explains some of the variance in perception scores as long as the variables that Carl was looking at uniquely explain some of the variance in perception scores. If they don’t then say that, but the fact that GDP explains more isn’t the research question he’s looking at. If you want to say that the amount incarceration rates explain is tiny and not worth considering, that would be easy to argue as well. But just saying something else explains more doesn’t in any way discount what Carl demonstrated.

          5. non sequitur – this paragraph more than any other shows the critic’s bias. He complains that Carl is at fault because he doesn’t demonstrate how positive contributions of immigrants correlate with UK perceptions. Complaining that someone didn’t do the study you wish they did isn’t a fault in their research. Whether or not UK perceptions correlate with positive contributions of the people from the different countries isn’t what Carl tried to demonstrate.

          So far I haven’t seen a single valid criticism of anything in Carl’s work. I haven’t read a word of it, other than the tiny bits that have been quoted here. But with even the most basic willingness to think openly about the critiques, not one of them has come close to demonstrating a single methodological flaw or underlying bias of the author.

          • Jack B. Nimble says


            The critique I cited is a good-faith attempt to highlight some problems with one of Carl’s papers. Your response to that critique…. not so much.

            ‘…..1. Ecological studies are bad. …..’

            The author [Dr. Niko Yiannakoulias] argued that the paper in question had an ecological study design problem, not that ecological studies in general are bad. The main flaw is that Carl analyzed group means rather than individual data points. As the author points out, this method collapses much of the variability, leading to higher levels of statistical significance than are actually present in the raw data. There is really no excuse for Carl’s statistical methodology here–modern computational methods can handle complex data with ease. As the author notes, working with group means is most problematic when the sample size of groups is small, and that is a second problem with the study [his point #2].

            It may be that Dr. Carl is being unfairly singled out for public criticism, but that doesn’t automatically mean that his work is praise-worthy or above reproach.

        • Breakfast Bear says

          This, again, highlights several issues.

          This takedown of Carl may be legit (or may not). But it was never part of any of the reasoning behind the mob. They actually don’t care for facts or intellectual debate, and a takedown of his arguments in a systematic method was never part of the debate. They are part of the sensationalist, bloodthirsty Left.

          And second, nearly everything in that refute has been re-refuted by Jonathan Haidt et al, and it has yet to be challenged.

          In America, the Left:Right ratio in higher ed is nearly 30:1, yet there is still tons of cries for diversity, which proves just how racist the Left really is. They are so racist and sexist that all they see is race and gender. The whole point of wanting diversity is that the ends provide a diversity of viewpoints, which is supposed to be economically valuable. The means would be diversity campaigns. But in reality, the Left doesn’t want viewpoint diversity at all. They want control.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Breakfast Bear

            It’s ironic that you call ‘the Left’ sensationalist, when various commenters in this thread have used insults like bloodthirsty, scum, lynch mob, scourge and morons against the signers of the open letter in question.

        • Breakfast Bear says

          There is a difference between the sensationalist Left and the sensationalist Right.

          The Right wants to conserve their rights. They are interested in maintaining the status quo, and want to preserve their way of life. The want to be left alone, and want to be able to establish the rules that govern themselves and be able to determine the application of their resources (determined by themselves).

          The Left wants to change the Right. That’s the definition. If the Right packed up and lived on the moon, the immediately, the furthest Left would start eating the least furthest Left, because to be far Left merely means to be anti-Right. It’s a dependency problem.

          So the sensationalist Right is almost always a defense, not an offense. The Right is conservative & doesn’t want to disrupt the status quo, so the outrage is always going to be less than the Left because of the temperament of the demographic. The difference is that the Left will come to your doorstep and go on the offense.

          The Left is out for blood. They are ready to take down anyone and want to consistently steal the narrative and form it into one of divisiveness and identity.

          This board and its commenters are going to be an example. It’s conservatives on what is a semi-conservative board. So they are going to run defense. That’s what I am doing. I’m not going to Vox or wherever and trying to comment (that’s an offensive position).

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Breakfast Bear

            More irony!

            I accept that many on the right are playing defense [see Dreher’s Benedict Option for a recent quasi-religious example]. But isn’t playing defense just another way of wanting to create a safe space–by excluding those who are imagined to be ‘out for blood’?

            How can those on the right demand safe spaces for themselves while denying the same option to those on the left?

            To be clear: I don’t support safe spaces–except for those who are physically threatened [like battered women’s shelters].

    • Event Horizon says

      IQ ” … does not measure one’s potential intelligence, as most people believe. It merely tests one’s ability to figure out certain types of problems. IQ isn’t a reliable measurement of anything. ”

      What the hell are you talking about?

      • What’s the surprise here, Event? IQ is something invented by the Western world, a socalled objective measuring tool (if you may believe it), and no doubt with different outcomes, here, in the Western world, among us, our own people, with the same upbringing and education ,a measuring stick to check children on some abstract and educational/genetic (nature/nurture) performance. But has it anything to do with the ability to succeed in the Western world? I see here, around me, some highly intelligent friends (with IQ above 140,only A’s on university, eminent chess players, and philosophers) develop into complete misfits, I,m sorry for them, they can’t help). What are the IQ’s of Amazonian tribesmen? Without a doubt much below 100, but what if we, Westerners had to pass a test developed by them? I wonder why Quillette all the time (again and again, it never stops, Ashkenazy Jews with IQ 115, you won’t believe it, negroes with 85) comes along with such stupid issues about IQ and race. What hell, why?? Shut up please, it’s not worth it.

        • Jay Salhi says

          ” But has it anything to do with the ability to succeed in the Western world?”

          Nonsense. IQ is a better indicator of future income than parental income.

    • Daniel Flehmen says

      Yes, IQ measures a certain kind of problem solving. That pertaining to the ability to reason through complexity and deal with abstract concepts, pretty much the core of intellectual life and the modern world. Dismissing measures of IQ is dismissing most of what it means to be a functioning modern human.

  18. I notice a complete difference with anthropological and social studies and sympathies compared to the ones of my old alma mater, an agricultural one in the NL. At that time, we focused on the succesful farmers, the intelligent ones that were first to adopt the new practices, techniques , modern inputs, and administration asides. The challenge of the sociologist was, how to ensure that also the middle mass could join as quickly as possible those forerunners, and winners in the game. The loosers and backwarders better moved out of the scene, somewhere to a factory, or what-else. There was little concern for the loosers of the lowest quartile. And then you had also kind of Non-Western sociology, there, we had to understand the type of psychology of those Non-Westerners, their economics (survival, not so much gains and investments), available resources (very, very modest, but no CO2 emission, though, at that time, of no concern at all, at the contrary) and different law system and cultural ideals.
    How can the academic (western) context and ideology and teaching of the soft sciences change so quickly!

  19. David Ziebeck says

    In general you’ll find that signatories to we-the-undersigned’s have not read that which they are protesting. And in general 2/3’s are not even in the right field to be qualified to have an opinion.

    • ga gamba says

      i’m presuming you’ve done your due diligence unlike the undersigned. So, how many of the three hundred are in the right field to have a qualified opinion?

  20. Dr. Emma B says

    I hope Dr. Carl has a few friends in the law school side of the academy who will be willing to file a civil lawsuit for libel and slander as well as work with the local DA to file RICO charges against the signed professors.

    This is criminal negligence and the STATE is going to need to get involved if they want to retain academic freedom.

    And those signatories? They need to be shamed every minute of the day until they publically apologize for joining in on this witchhunt.

  21. Are you really using this obvious hit piece as evidence> It criticises people and istituitions through their association rather than anything concrete and ends up criticisng UCL as being scientifically racist. It highlights Francis Galton and Karl Pearson as racists both of whom were instrumental in establishing modern statistics and its applications. I am no expert in these areas but being associated with these figures even if only through being jpointly criticised can only enhance someones reputation.

  22. Heike says

    Your logical fallacy is guilt by association. Aliases: Bad Company Fallacy, The Company that You Keep Fallacy. Guilt by association is the attempt to discredit an idea based upon disfavored people or groups associated with it. This is the reverse of an appeal to misleading Authority, which argues in favor of an idea based upon associating a favored person or group with the idea, whereas guilt by association argues against an idea based upon associating it with a disfavored person or group.

    What’s often called “McCarthyism” was a specific version of guilt by association in which an individual, organization, or idea was associated in some way with communism. An association was made between the target of McCarthyism and communism by linking both through some shared idea. For instance, in the 1960s some anti-communists attacked support for civil rights by pointing out that the Communist Party of the United States also supported the civil rights movement. It was then argued that supporting civil rights was tantamount to supporting communism. Here is the form of the argument:

    Target Link Bad Thing
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Support for civil rights Communism

    Since the fall of Soviet communism, the McCarthyist version of guilt by association has become less common. The current most common version of guilt by association attempts to link the target with Nazism or, more specifically, Adolf Hitler.

    It is important to focus upon the argument itself and not the arguer. Read more: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/guiltbya.html

    • Kalle says

      Dude stop all this “fallacy” nonsense copy and paste and keep it real.

      So in your opinion Noah Carl writing a paper with a pedophile apologist Emil Kirkegaard is perfectly acceptable?

      Let me ask you Heike would you write a paper with someone that believes raping children is acceptable in their sleep? A simple no or yes would do. The majority of normal people wouldn’t but Noah Carl did.

      • Heike says

        To refute an argument you must address it, which has not been done. Apparently your positions are that the Guilt By Association fallacy isn’t a fallacy? You are arguing against logic itself. And losing.

        • Matthew says

          Kalle just ignore Heike. The alt-right is obsessed with defending pedophiles. They go to the end’s of the earth to defend one of their “own”. He would rather set up a straw man “guilt by association” then address the real issue at hand – Why is Noah Carl publishing papers with a pedophile-apologist Emil Kirkegaard? Heike ignores that question, he can’t answer it and he will refuse to answer it.

          He’s the sort of guy who would sit in a court room and defend a child molester with his list of argument fallacies, whilst ignoring the main point, the child was raped. These people are irrational and disease of society.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        Given that Marxists have murdered > 100 million people within living memory, one can only assume that, by your standards, you’d also be fine with ejecting from the academy anyone who is a Marxist (or, indeed, anyone who has ever published a paper with a Marxist). Surely actual murders trump theoretical pedophilia apology?*

        I mean, I’d be perfectly fine with that, but I suspect you wouldn’t be.

        * If one were to assume that your characterization of Kirkegaard’s work is accurate, which I personally would not. You appear to be quite intellectually dishonest.

    • Farris says

      Guilt by association fallacy

      The Clintons associated with Harvey Weinstein.
      Top democrats have associated with Louis Farrakhan.
      Jeremy Corbyn and Labor
      Robert Byrd and the KKK
      Just to name a very few.

      It would appear Guilt by Association is a one way street. Rosalyn Carter was once photographed with John Wayne Gacy. Was she endorsing serial killing?

  23. Barney Doran says

    Academia seems to be making a very strong case for not attending university.

  24. Happily academia still has good honest people like Noah Carl. Others should remember: “Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago)

  25. abhisaha says

    Someone should set up a counter-letter to this. I will happily sign it.

  26. Mike J. says

    “The concepts “race” “genetic intelligence” and “criminality” are all concepts with at best questionable scientific validity”

    Amusingly, I have yet to see any proof of this yet plenty that it’s true. Genetic clusters match up with with the classical and “plebian” definitions of race almost perfectly.

    Also the idea that an anthropologist or a “professor” of “critical race theory” (see: anti-white hatred) could criticize anyone of anything when the former field has been politicized into uselessness while the latter was never real science is absurd.

  27. In earlier times Rational Wiki may have been a useful tool a long time ago but nowadays it is a disgrace. The lemmas are not even trying to be NPOV anymore. It is only slightly better than Conservapedia now.

  28. Concerned Australian Academic says

    Presumably the many professors who put their names to this accusation against Noah Carl are academic researchers and draw grant money from national research councils? In Australia we have an “Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2007” and within it, it states:

    “Researchers must foster and maintain a research environment of intellectual honesty and integrity, and scholarly and scientific rigour.”

    Since the accusations against Noah Carl appear to be unfounded and, indeed, vexatious, if this had happened in Australia I would think the accusations might possibly be judged a breach of the code. I imagine the regulations in other western nations are worded similarly. If/when the accusations against Noah Carl are dismissed, should not the institutions and research councils supporting the accusation signatories be informed of the signatories’ behaviour?

    Sadly, I did see a few Australian signatories on the list, only one of which would seem to have expertise coming in any way near to the interest area of Carl.

    • And what is the enforcement method of that code? I’ve found many “codes” are honor based codes. Since the administrators lean heavily left, there is little to no enforcement against left defaming against anti-left dogma. The reverse being to the opposite extreme, of course.

      It’s the self-policing problem with the only other alternative being “Oh, let Government police it!” which is more leftist big-government so the elites that are so smart can make sure you think correctly.

  29. Noah Carl is doing pretty well to get 300, the Duke Lacrosse Team could only get 88 faculty members to prejudge the evidence. The good news is that we now have a list of the identities of 300 card carrying members of the Flat Earth Society, some of who probably don’t have tenure.

    • Someone really needs to start compiling a data base with all these Lysenkoist charlatans.

      • Farris says


        Please be mindful only the Right is anti-science. When the Left claims an assertion based upon science the Right replies, “Prove it.” This is considered anti-science. When the Right claims an assertion based upon science, the Left replies, “Racism and de-platform.” This is considered Social Justice.

    • Ray Andrews says


      Good point! I dream of the great Take Back when all the nitwits are driven out in a single great purge. Jesus wept, to have lost Cambridge and Oxford to the twiterii, it is not to be endured. Let them have universities of correctness, but let’s take back Cambridge and Oxford for civilization.

  30. markbul says

    “Cass R. Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard—”

    Mealy-mouthed, non-specific, luke-warm general principle defense. Given the source, that’s about what I’d expect. Platitudes, but don’t let me get my fingernails dirty – they might come for me.

  31. Can a counter letter/petition be created, in support of Mr. Carl? I think many Professors, students and private citizens would be happy to sign it. I know I would. And for the record, (and as Prof Haidt points out) it is actions to silence others that feed the right, not the studies or even the results of those studies. The “right”, which basically means anyone who is not on the “left” include a huge number of people who have left the left precisely because of this nonsense!

  32. Ray Andrews says

    @Tom Fergunde

    Thanks so much, that made me laugh out loud. A fan of Peterson! A fan of Peterson! Got to stop the fans of Peterson! Got to stop the fans of Peterson! Rationalwiki is it? Ah well, better to die laughing than crying.

  33. I don’t know Claire personally, but adore her for having started this superb blog. What I read about her in Rationalwiki is more or less the image I have of her. A rather positive one, as you can guess (though, less where again another article on race and IQ appears, you better stop with that Claire, no need for that, the discussions on that bring nobody anywhere).

  34. Manzell Blakeley says

    This piece needs an editor, hard. I shouldn’t have to read like 6 paragraphs in just to find out what the controversy is. This is unreadable as journalism.

  35. Dear Cambridge student (and Gerard Harbison),

    I don’t, in fact, want to think about a single line abstracted from a larger body of text. That’s hardly how one thinks intelligently. Do you agree that abstracting a line here or there without taking into account the context in which that line appears is hardly an intelligent way to operate? You end up with something that is almost devoid of all meaning – thus allowing you to inject whatever meaning you want into that little abstracted line.

    Which is exactly what seems to be have happened here.

    You ask: “Which normal person would invent a ‘thought experiment’ that discusses pedophilia and publish it online?”

    Entire books are written on the subject, Cambridge student, and I’m sure you could find many ‘thought experiments’ like the one given by Kirkegaard in their pages (although much more elegantly expressed, no doubt). It’s called moral reasoning. As Kierkegaard notes in one of his updates to the original posting, moral philosophers such as Peter Singer present such thought experiments involving taboos all the time. Why don’t you go hit the stacks and get back to me?

    Apparently, to you, the only “normal” response to a taboo like pedophilia is to at once cry out, “that’s evil!” and to never talk about it, or think about it (the evil may rub off on you, you know), in any other terms than those of extreme and unmitigated moral revulsion. Well, all I am saying is that people discuss this topic all the time in various ways without vomiting, or having to cross themselves. Do a Google Books search.

    It is as obvious as day to anyone who does not double over in moral/emotional paroxysm as soon as the concept of pedophilia or child rape is mentioned, that Kirkegaard is not seriously advocating in that blog post that drugged children should be given to pedophiles so they can be raped.

    Oh yes, but I forgot the real cause of his demonization. He’s into that racist stuff! He’s evil! He traffics with the devil! He’s right-wing! He’s “insane”! So obviously he lacks our (we good, normal people) oh so sensitive moral sense, and is probably a pedophile himself.

    In short, I find it difficult to reason with you people. I really wish you would lay off the disingenuous moral indignation and just admit you don’t like the guy’s politics. (P.S. If anything I said doesn’t apply to you, I take it back.)

  36. Matthew: “He’s the sort of guy who would sit in a court room and defend a child molester with his list of argument fallacies, whilst ignoring the main point, the child was raped. These people are irrational and disease of society.”

    Which other sort of defense lawer is there? You are conflating the evidence that a crime occured with the evidence that the accused is the one who did it. Do you have a superior alternative to the right to defense? I’m all for avoiding irrationality and disease.

  37. Your anger blinds you, Angry Reader.

    Let me just tell you, you’re not going to get complimented on your rationality any time soon if you insist on equating writing words about child rape with actual child rape.

    I leave you to your magical universe.

    P.S. I haven’t heard of any of these guys until I read this Quillette article.

  38. Jesse Parker says

    Sue Graeber and the signatories for slanderous libel

    • Andrew Worth says

      “Among Carl’s OpenPsych papers is one arguing that an increased Muslim population leads to more terrorism in the country.”

      Not quite right, the paper offers evidence that there’s a correlation between the size of the Muslim population and the amount of Islamist terrorism, so to me the only problem with the paper is that it states the obvious: If you have a larger population the number of people within that population that display certain characteristics is also likely to be larger.

      You’ll probably argue that Carl’s motivation is based in Islamophobia, and you’re probably right, but so what? Lots of people write papers about things they have opinions on, as long as the papers methodology is correct why should it be judged on anything other than what it actually says?

    • @ Cyril

      You seethed: “Among Carl’s OpenPsych papers is one arguing that an increased Muslim population leads to more terrorism in the country.”

      Well, we all know that there’s certainly no empirical evidence for that, right?

  39. Christina Arasmo Beymer says

    This situation is pathetic.

    Ahh, love Pete Singer. So consistent.

  40. Sydney says

    I’m trying to locate a link to the list of signatories. (Did I miss it someplace here?)

    Can anyone provide a link, please?

  41. The main feature of any debate on human intelligence (especially if genes and race are introduced into the conversation) is the profound disconnect between what the scientists actually studying human intelligence know and what those persons who don’t study it think they know about it.

    Here are some examples of statements you’ll often hear from left-wing “blank slatists” (some of them even appear in this comments section), and what the scientists who actually research and publish on the subject know.

    STATEMENT 1: “There’s no such thing as human intelligence.”

    Scientists: “Virtually none of us would agree with such a statement.”

    STATEMENT 2: “Intelligence cannot be measured.”

    Scientists: “Virtually none of us would agree with such a statement.”

    STATEMENT 3: “IQ tests don’t measure anything other than the test-taking ability of the test taker.”

    Scientists: “The great majority of us disagree with this statement, and believe IQ tests accurately measure general intelligence. Completely apart from this majority view, though, is the following significant and highly reproducible research finding: IQ scores are one of the best –- and, in many cases, the single best -– predictors of positive life outcomes that exist (even after controlling for things like parental SES, race, etc.). For this reason, even if such a thing as ‘intelligence’ did not exist, a higher IQ would be something everyone would want. Whatever it is -– you want as high an IQ score as possible (up to a point). Therefore, any assertion that an IQ test does not measure anything meaningful is incorrect, and is not supported by the evidence found in dozens of published and widely-accepted research studies.”

    STATEMENT 4: “Intelligence has little to do with genes.”

    Scientists: “Only a very small percentage of us believe this anymore, and that percentage is getting smaller and smaller every year as the findings from the latest advances in genetics research come in. Geneticists have now begun to identify hundreds of genetic variants that associate with intelligence. Genetic tests just recently became available that can ascertain intelligence before a child is even born. The majority opinion now in our field is that by the time a person is firmly within mid-adulthood, probably about 80 percent of their intelligence can be attributed to genes.”

    STATEMENT 5: “There is no difference in measured intelligence between the races.”

    Scientists: “Virtually none of us would agree with such a statement. IQ differences between racial groups have been empirically established over a very long period, are consistent over time, and produce the following hierarchy (expressed in average IQ points): Ashkenazi Jews (110-115), East Asian descent(105), European descent (100), African-Americans(85).”

    STATEMENT 6: “IQ tests are culturally biased.”

    Scientists: “This subject has been extensively studied and researched, and it would be fair to say that the great majority of us disagree with your statement. Numerous different types of IQ tests have been scientifically designed, some even specifically to hypothetically ‘favor’ certain low-scoring population groups, with the results always conforming to the typical hierarchy.”

    STATEMENT 7: “Just because we know that most of intelligence is due to genes and that there are differences in average IQ scores between races does not necessarily mean that the reason for the differences in average IQ scores between races is genetic. The existence of INDIVIDUAL IQ differences due to genes does not necessarily mean that GROUP differences in IQ are due to genes.”

    Scientists: “The majority of us now believe that the most of the IQ gap between races probably has a genetic basis, but it’s also probably accurate to say that we’re officially agnostic on the subject because we believe that advances in human genomics research will likely have a definitive answer within a decade or two, assuming such research is not restricted. Even though, theoretically, the existence of individual differences in IQ due to genes does not necessarily mean that measured group differences are related to genes, the following statement from Dr. Richard Haier, one of the world’s leading figures in intelligence research and the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Intelligence, probably represents the majority view in our field: ‘Since there is overwhelming evidence that genes influence [individual differences in IQ], it would not be unreasonable to hypothesize that genes at least partially influence group differences.’ “

    STATEMENT 8: “Race is not a real thing. It’s a social construct.”

    Scientists: “We know that’s what you’re often being taught in the humanities and sometimes even in the social sciences, but in the hard sciences that’s an unsophisticated statement. We can now identify a person’s race by genetic testing, and even by cutting-edge brain scanning, so therefore it is not purely a social construct. However, many of us believe that there are more precise and descriptive ways of defining ancestral groupings, and some of these can be described as “genetic clusters” or “geographic clusters.” For example, a particular region of west coastal Africa might be a significantly tight and scientifically-meaningful cluster, as might be Korea. However, the notion of race, while certainly not perfect, retains much of its utility. David Reich of Harvard, perhaps the leader in the field of genomics research, has already stated that his findings of ‘clustering’ broadly ‘conform to our present notion of race.’”

    STATEMENT 9: “The five-point difference between the average IQ of persons of East Asian descent and the average IQ of persons of European descent isn’t all that significant.”

    Scientists: “It’s perhaps not all that significant toward the middle of the curve, where the great majority of individuals within each group are located, but at the high end, especially toward the tail of the curve, where the highly intelligent are located, it is very significant and probably predicts much of the current gap observed between the two groups in standardized testing results on exams like the SAT and ACT.”

    STATEMENT 10: “There are a lot of right-wing, white-supremacist academics who study intelligence.”

    Scientists: “A very recent survey indicated that the majority of published scientists in the field are politically left-wing, and that most of these self-identifying liberals and progressives believe that much, if not most, of the average IQ difference between whites and blacks in America is due to genetics.”

    For those who are interested in this subject, you can find links to scientific studies and articles posted occasionally here:


    Although these links on intelligence are interspersed with other subjects over a lengthy timeline, a fair number of them were posted around October 30 of this year, so you may want to scroll down to that date and start there.

      • @Jim – Interesting, I had the opposite reaction. A New Radical Centrism’s (RC) argument struck me as a rather ‘low IQ’ comment.

        RC made a number of embarrassingly unsophisticated points of his own. That he tried to palm off his own words as though they could have been uttered by a legitimate scientist is dishonest, and potentially negligent.

        In response to “Statement 8: Race is not a real thing. It’s a social construct”, RC offers a nuanced retort,

        “However, many of us believe that there are more precise and descriptive ways of defining ancestral groupings, and some of these can be described as “genetic clusters” or “geographic clusters.” For example, a particular region of west coastal Africa might be a significantly tight and scientifically-meaningful cluster, as might be Korea. However, the notion of race, while certainly not perfect, retains much of its utility.”

        But RC’s earlier response to “Statement 5: There is no difference in measured intelligence between the races.”, where he writes,

        “Virtually none of us would agree with such a statement. IQ differences between racial groups have been empirically established over a very long period, are consistent over time, and produce the following hierarchy (expressed in average IQ points): Ashkenazi Jews (110-115), East Asian descent(105), European descent (100), African-Americans(85).”

        we are forced to question his understanding of ‘race’ and ‘genetic clusters’ as scientific terms.

        RC compares ‘Ashkenazi Jews’, whose population number at most 11 million people, with ‘People of European Descent’, whose population number ~ 1 billion people, and ‘People of East Asian Descent’, who number perhaps 1.5 billion, and then ‘African American’ who number 50 million people? None of these groups represent a ‘tight’ or meaningful genetic cluster and so his claim is dubious/unscientific in the extreme.

        For example, ‘Ashkenazi Jews’ are generally regarded as those descended from Jews who settled Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. However, many Ashkenazi Jews migrated further East (and later much of the world) due to the discrimination that Jews have faced throughout history. Furthermore, the majority of Jews alive today do not marry within their population group (https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/us/poll-shows-major-shift-in-identity-of-us-jews.html) ‘Ashkenazi Jews’ could easily be categorized as being part of those of ‘European Descent’. A more appropriate comparison might have been to compare ‘Ashkenazi Jews’ to those of ‘Northern German’ or ‘Germanic’ descent.

        His characterization of people of ‘East Asian’ descent and ‘African American’ descent is equally faulty. Consider the disparate outcomes for South Koreans compared to North Koreans. For obvious reasons, scientists do not have a meaningful measurement of North Korean IQ, and so have estimated this group by reference to its nearest neighboring countries. As such, they have ‘estimated’ North Korea to have the 3rd highest average IQ by nation in the world – 10 points higher than Israel. Surprised? Me too.

        I could go on but I won’t belabour the point. I found RC’s post defective.

        • @ Jon

          It’s very late where I am, but I’ll try to quickly respond to your criticisms.

          You wrote: “That he tried to palm off his own words as though they could have been uttered by a legitimate scientist is dishonest, and potentially negligent.”

          Oh, c’mon, it was nothing more than an organizational device. A way to present my points in a straightforward and easy-to-digest way. How did you not know this?

          You wrote: “None of these [broad] groups represent a ‘tight’ or meaningful genetic cluster and so his claim is dubious/unscientific in the extreme.”

          As I indicated in my comment, specific “clusters” are better subject populations to test than broad “racial” groupings — so how are we in disagreement on this point?

          But, as I also wrote in my comment, the traditional, broader “racial” groupings are not without meaning, either – even someone like David Reich has said as much. If they lacked meaning, we wouldn’t get the same results every time we tested these groups. Describing the testing of these groups, as you do, as “dubious/unscientific in the extreme” is more than a little hyperbolic.

          And, of course – as anyone knows – Ashkenazi Jews are a special and very unique case. I included their IQ figure because it is so interesting and exceptional.

          You wrote: “A more appropriate comparison might have been to compare ‘Ashkenazi Jews’ to those of ‘Northern German’ or ‘Germanic’ descent.”

          I probably agree with you. But my post wasn’t intended to be comprehensive. You seem to be offended that I left out this particular comparison.

          You wrote: “Consider the disparate outcomes for South Koreans compared to North Koreans.’“

          I’m not aware of any IQ testing performed on North Koreans. If anyone can point me to such data, I’d be very curious. Nutrition – which was very poor in the North during much of the past two decades might affect the testing outcome there. (Some types of nutritional deficits, and severe malnutrition, have been shown variously to affect IQ scores, as I recall, in the range of 2 to 6 points.)

          You wrote: “[Scientists] have ‘estimated’ North Korea to have the 3rd highest average IQ by nation in the world – 10 points higher than Israel. “

          I’m suspicious of any “estimate” of the average IQ of a nation without any actual testing, but, let’s say the estimate is correct, in which case the claimed gap of ten points between the North Korean and Israeli IQ scores is easily explainable – high-scoring Ashkenazi Jews are now a minority within the state of Israel. Most Israelis are now Sephardic Jews, whose average IQ is much lower than their Ashkenazi cousins .(If I recall correctly, it’s around 90.) Therefore, a gap between the South Korean and Israeli scores is not surprising, at all.

  42. Nigel says

    The letter is very vague. They need to be far more specific with their objections to be taken seriously by the university. What exactly did Carl do wrong, is there any form of misconduct or a breach of ethical standards? If not, the university will ignore it.

  43. Mechan says

    So Sarah, based on your use of https://rationalwiki.org to denigrate Noah Carl, we are both associating ourselves with an alt-right website that pushes homophobic, racist and misogynist agendas. I would guess that if you are in the academia, you would now have a rationalwiki.org page proposing that you are associating with the Alt-right(insert some kinda supremacist tag).

    The point that was being made is that if this open letter had ACTUAL real information to why we should not support Noah, then we could ALL support the motion to remove him from the faculty. But there is none.

  44. Zach Bristow says


    Wow, I don’t think many people were aware of this pedophilia apologism. Absolutely disgusting. Do you have any idea who contacted Cambridge regarding this?

    • Zach Bristow says

      @Cambridge Student

      Perhaps you know — any idea who contacted the university regarding this disgusting individual? They deserve to be praised for keeping this sort of folk out of academia (or at least trying to… read another article recently that Noah may still be appointed. Yuck).

  45. Pete Marsh says

    This sounds like the modern lefts version of Soviet Lysenchoism.

  46. Andrew Leonard says

    Dr Carl’s crime is that he has defended intelligence researchers who’ve written about the taboo topics of race, genes and IQ and argued that stifling debate in these areas is likely to cause more harm than allowing them to be freely discussed by academics.

    From a hypothetical interview with an unusually honest academic…

    Interviewer: Why are race, genes and IQ, taboo topics that must not be discussed by academics?

    Academic: Western society has a widespread phobia, I guess you could call it a collective phobia, caused by the shock of the holocaust. This is not a fake phobia like xenophobia or Islamophobia, because these areas are not associated with a specific shock, or ongoing series of shocks, that could be claimed to have caused the so-called phobias, within individuals. On the contrary, Holocaustphobia is a real phobia, and one that we struggle to admit to, let alone make efforts to deal with. In fact those fake phobias only exist to hide this one true phobia, which plagues scientific research and discussion in the West. Anything we associate with the holocaust triggers Holocaustphobia. This includes the topics of race, genes and IQ. This is very unfortunate, given the importance of these topics, but Holocaustphobia has such a stranglehold on our emotional centers that abstract thinking on these matters is almost completely inhibited. I’m not sure what we can do to overcome this, short of a program of mass systematic desensitization.


    • But, but, but Andrew……., the Holocaust mostly concerned those hyperintelligent Ashkenazy Jews, so, resulted in the oppposite of eugenics. I agree, eugenics and race questions ever since can’t be seen any more as purely scientific studyfields, but it was really a very lopsided way of annihilation: destroy the very best and highest, so that the middle class survives. Maybe not that different from the French revolution and the Guillotination of the upper classes ,the scientists and artists of the time.

      • Andrew Leonard says

        I’m not sure how that is relevant to the point the academic is making.

        Hitler, like todays SJWs, divided the world into oppressors and oppressed. For Hitler, the Jews were the oppressors of non-Jewish Germans. For the modern SJW, the role of oppressor is taken by the white male. Other than that detail, Nazism and Social Justice are pretty much the same philosophy.

  47. Andrew Leonard says

    We believe that this disgraceful attempt to smear a junior scholar by a powerful cabal of senior academics poses a far greater risk to the reputation of the academy than any work authored by Dr Carl or those researchers he has defended.

    How well does the concept of reputation work at the level of abstraction at which ‘the academy’ exits? Individuals can have reputations, organizations kind of have reputations, but what about domains? Does the political left and right have reputations? Who with, the other side? Isn’t that just an opinion, in that case?

    The academy is too big to have a reputation, so this form of social regulation doesn’t apply. Academics can “regulate” each other through peer review, but there is no mechanism by which society regulates the academy, and therefore it is a law unto itself.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      Funding can be pulled (research grants, student loans, direct institutional funding)

      Tax exemptions can be removed, making endowment funds and real estate fully taxable.

      Ultima ratio regum, baby.

      • Andrew Leonard says

        That would surely require evidence that academic output and/or behavior was below standard. Given that academia sets its own standards – a luxury not even afforded to governments – that is going to be difficult.

        We are getting closer to the point at which society does a complete rethink of all aspects of education, and consequently a complete overhaul of the industry.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          > That would surely require evidence that academic output and/or behavior was below standard.

          I think you are grossly underestimating just how unhappy the general public is becoming with the antics of academia.

          > Given that academia sets its own standards

          No. They may be able to set standards among themselves. That doesn’t mean they get to ignore the standards of those who write the checks. Indeed, they ignore those standards at their peril.

          Now, in the past, many outside of academia have been sympathetic to the idea of free intellectual inquiry, but when it becomes clear that modern academia fosters nothing of the sort, that argument becomes utterly unpersuasive.

          • Andrew Leonard says

            I hope you’re right. However, ‘academic independence’ versus ‘he who pays the piper, calls the tune’, is going to be a tough contest.

  48. David of Kirkland says

    These “academic” leftists appear to use the same intellectual skills and have the same focus on evidence and reason as Mr. Trump. “I’ve been hearing bad things about this guy. The letter said so.”
    I guess his next research should be on how reactionary modern “intellectuals” are. He can focus on their abilities to generate group hatred, how they disdain research and reason and evidence, and how groupthink is the new pseudo-intellectual babble.

  49. Quite. One is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and the other is indeed ewww

  50. James Lee says


    Thank God.

    The comment section here used to be a treasure. Recently it has turned into a sandbox full of turds. Entire sections have been dominated by a small number of unbalanced narcissists.

    It needs more moderation, not less.

    • Agree James , again,100%, as said also in other threads, with the warning that, from now on, the civil and intelligent commenters and writers may stay away from this place. Turds stink! The risks of free speach and pure democracy, maybe the germs of collapse of any forum of certain standards. You can’t have your cake AND eat it. In the NL we say, you can’t save the goat AND the cabbage, either you eat your cabbage and have less goat’s milk, or you feed the lousy cabbage to your goat.

    • Andrew Worth says

      I agree that there’s been an influx of unbalanced narcissists since Quillette was started, but I really hate a comments policy that allows removal of comments without any indication they were deleted. I prefer a system that hides poor comments but still allows them to be seen by interested parties, so people can easily skip the trash, but still know that the Quillette moderators have not gone power mad.

  51. Doctor Locketopus says

    None of those comments actually engaged with Carl’s work. Not one.

    • Andrew Worth says

      Doctor Locketopus: “None of those comments actually engaged with Carl’s work. Not one.”

      How to you know?

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        Because I was here yesterday and read them.

        If you have a substantive critique of Carl’s work, post it. If not, STFU.

        • Andrew Worth says

          You read them all? Immediately before they were deleted? If that’s your claim your second sentence demonstrates you lie and your third sentence demonstrates you’re no better, a sheeple, a foul mouth with no substance to back it up.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          In other words, you do not have a substantive critique of Carl’s work.

          Bye now.

  52. The best way to challenge the research of Dr. Carl (or any other academic researcher), even if some people consider his work racist, is to write another article criticising his research, and demonstrating that he is wrong. If his errors are clearly demonstrated it will be difficult for his wrong research to become accepted as right.

    The worst way to do so is to mob him as a person, to attack what the mob considers his motives or biases by demanding his firing. If he is fired in response to mobbing it will never prove that he is wrong. It will only prove that he was mobbed, and turn him into a victim. Victimising someone through mobbing will only gain sympathy for the victim and a larger audience.

    More importantly, mobbing by the science community is not scientific. It is bullying by people with science degrees. The exercise of what I might call “mob privilege” to terminate an academic career is just as immoral as the transgressions of which they accuse their target.

  53. Anybody else find it ironic that the hashtag anti intellectual nonsense is spewing out anti intellectual nonsense.

  54. Nakatomi Plaza says

    I guess the readership here is really so unbelievably arrogant and ignorant that they can’t even be bothered to consider how a non-white person might feel profoundly threatened by the implications of this story. And yes, the readership here is almost certainly mostly white males with absolutely nothing to lose by defending such problematic research. If we were talking about phrenology a hundred years ago you’d be making the exact same arguments with the same level of self-righteousness and self-assurance as you are right now. And if somebody says or does anything that threatens the status of white males, well, you just shit yourselves with outrage and wrap yourselves in victimhood without a second thought. Making the rules has certain benefits, does it not? I’m almost inclined to call it a form of privilege, but doing so presumes a level of self-awareness that is clearly not available here.

    • Andrew Leonard says

      Phrenology was wrong because it was wrong, not because it hurt anyone’s feelings. Likewise, how anyone feels about the implications of Noah Carl’s work is irrelevant. All that matters is the quality of his research. You’re feelings count for nothing. Zero.

      By the way, a hundred years ago, Progressives like yourself were self-righteously and self-assuredly arguing for polices based on Eugenics, albeit with more sophistication than the emotionalized anti-white, anti-male, racism and sexism that emanates from the minds of Progressives of the current era.

      You Progressives really are a scourge on humanity.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Andrew Leonard

        Your history thumbnail leaves out the fact that in the US of the early 1900s, eugenics was most popular in states like Indiana and Virginia–hardly bastions of progressive politics.

        In reality, the push for compulsory sterilization laws for those thought to be ‘unfit’ attracted supporters from across the political spectrum–mostly people who can be called reformers or–less charitably–busybodies. These folks were also interested in other reforms, like anti-vice laws, prohibition, anti-corruption laws and labor laws (such as outlawing child labor). The common thread is an interest in regulating other peoples’ lives.

        Similarly, when the restrictive 1924 immigration law was enacted, it passed with virtually unanimous support in the US Senate from both political parties.

        Eugenics laws ARE a stain on American history, but the blame for this is shared widely, not just by one political party or group.

    • Sydney says

      @Nakatomi Plaze,

      Quillette’s founder and publisher is a woman. MANY readers here – myself included – ARE NOT “white males,” and the trendy term as you use it is racist, dismissive, and demeaning (but of course you knew that). I am not a “white male” and I’m not “threatened” by the idea that certain groups are likely superior at a number of different pursuits. Get over yourself.

      If you’re “threatened” by FACTS that some types of humans tend to be more successful at certain things than other humans, then a productive response is to research the entire subject rather than to attack the messengers like a rabid dog.

      Everyone knows that the howl of “threat” is disingenuous, since the more minority-identity boxes you can check, the greater the likelihood of getting picked, getting hired, getting an award, getting recognized, and getting admitted (but you already knew this, too).

      “Status of white males” in 2018? Hahaha! Did you fall asleep in 1950 and just wake up? Suggested non-“white” reading for you to start with: Candace Owens, Larry Elder, and Thomas Sowell. These are humans who are not “threatened” by “white men” or their research.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Nakatomi Plaza

      “such problematic research”

      You do not identify that part of his research that you find problematic. You do not say you have read any of his work.

      So far, there seems little reason to take you seriously. You can fix that very easily, however. Can you not?

    • rickoxo says

      I’m curious, imagine with me for a second the article was about artificial intelligence and the ways in which robotics and AI will change employment over the next 20-30 years. That topic potentially threatens just about every single worker in the US including me. It’s a threatening topic. Do you think that means no one should write about it? Should people only write about how it’s not true and it’s not gonna happen and how we stop it?

      Some things in life are threatening, some are dangerous, it’s the nature of life. Are you really trying to argue that all threatening topics should be banned? Or are there certain topics that are threatening to certain groups that singularly deserve banning?

      If I wrote an article about global warming and the possibility the planet might become too warm to inhabit, that’s threatening as well. But somehow I doubt you’d complain about that topic. My best guess is that you’re not on message boards telling global warming scientists to stop publishing their findings because you feel threatened.

  55. Doctor Locketopus says

    > I guess the readership here is really so unbelievably arrogant and ignorant that they can’t even be bothered to consider how a non-white person might feel profoundly threatened by the implications of this story.

    There are many things that are threatening (for example, knowledge of one’s own mortality).

    That is completely orthogonal to whether they are true. Academia is supposed to be seeking truth, not institutionalizing untruths (no matter how comfortable they make their proponents feel).

    Are Carl’s theses true? I don’t know, and neither do the people mobbing him.

    > If we were talking about phrenology a hundred years ago you’d be making the exact same arguments with the same level of self-righteousness

    Marxism is no more “scientific” than phrenology, and is as utterly evil as Naziism (indeed, far worse than Naziism, if one uses the pragmatic measure of body count).

    Yet it still has no end of fans in the academy.

    Why aren’t you concerned by how “profoundly threatened” the survivors of communism might feel about that fact?

  56. Srini Kalyanaraman says

    Suffocating freedom of expression will be the death-knell of left-liberalism. Defend Liberty.

  57. martti_s says

    The only conclusion I can make is that there is a skeleton in the closet and the ‘progressives’ so everything in their might to keep it there.

  58. Peter from Oz says

    Any academic who signs that petition or who has publicly called for Carl to lose his fellowship should be sacked immediately. Such people are scum who need to taste a bit of their own medicine.

  59. Erik Friesen says

    It is very hard to respect much of what is happening in the academy today. But despair not. It is open to Noah Carl to file a lawsuit against every single signer of the letter; all 300 of them. It’s not that expensive to file this lawsuit. Then he has to serve it on as many of the 300 defendants as he can. With help from allies and some grunt work this is not impossibly difficult either.

    At that point each person who has received the statement of claim is in the crucible. First , they must file a proper defence. Repeating the allegations in the letter is not going to be enough. That approach will simply get them laughed out of court.

    The truly beautiful part comes when a good lawyer cross-examines the likes of Professor Graeber in open court. Graebers mind and thoughts will be dissected with a skill and precision he has never encountered in the faculty club or the peer review process. Every flaw and failure will be exposed for all to see. It’s beautiful to watch the skillful application of real justice.

    With todays resources for fund raising and the global effect of the defamation by Prof Graeber and the 300 signatories, it should be relatively easy to undertake this litigation. And the prospects of a court awarding damages well into 7 figures will make people like Prof. Graeber and all other signatories to this and similar letters in the future search their souls very deeply before they attempt another character assassination.

  60. As an ex-Cambridge don, I can’t say definitely whether this man is a charlatan, but it seems unlikely. If he is, it is odd that he was able to dupe both Nuffield College Oxford and St Edmunds Cambridge. What’s really nasty about this is (a) the lack of specificity, with merely a vague allegation of pseudoscience without any reference to what he has written, (b) an argument that the bone-heads of the racist lunatic fringe might cite him in support of their crazy ideas, which ought to be irrelevant. What I suspect also gets these professors’ goat is that this man makes no secret of his political views, which he is prepared to publish on websites like ukandeu.com and to defend at events like the Battle of Ideas.

    • Alice Williams says

      Hear, hear, Dr Tettenborn. I miss you on TCW. I also miss Rebel Priest. Why did you go?

  61. estepheavfm says

    Does he weigh more than a duck or less than a duck ot the same as a duck? We are living in Mental Python and the Holy Pail (of sheisse).

  62. Thomas Brown says

    Accusing a young scholar of “psuedoscientific racism,”
    I assume the editors are aware of the spelling of “pseudoscientific” and retained it thus. But, the denotation “(sic)” should have immediately followed the offending word. Just saying, is all…

    • Thomas Brown says

      Whoops. TeeHee! The first line should have read:
      “Accusing a young scholar of ‘psuedoscientific racism’ “

  63. A calamity of coercion
    Has made my mind unclean.
    They’re sewing in a pattern
    And have hidden all the seams,
    For they can’t see the beauty
    In Chaos’ natural gleam.
    They think our thoughts, unkempt,
    Should be trimmed nice and lean.

    And in a moment of utter weakness
    My natural state of mind
    Was bent and broken to their form
    With conformity in my rhymes.
    But soon the crowds subsided
    Like a wave upon the beach
    And my mind’s chaos returned
    To see what it could teach.

    It taught me I’d been in error
    To desist my natural thoughts.
    It taught me that true courage
    Could never be sold nor bought.
    It taught me to resist the mobs
    In their unholy group-think.
    It taught me to write my words
    And not drown them in the sink.

    So I suggest you grow your courage
    In any way you can
    For the ever-shifting waters
    May soon be upon your sand.


  64. Dr Robert Cook says

    Dear Nakatomi Plaza, Why should you find any research topic be threatening? It is either good research or bad. That is what the scientific method is all about. Why should I feel “profoundly threatened” by the suggestion (as some research has it) that the average white IQ is less than the average Chinese IQ? If it is reality (as I suspect it is) then it is worth knowing, it does not make me a lesser person – and certainly doesn’t make me “shit myself with outrage”. Your (probably reasonable) concern, I think, is about how that knowledge might be used. This however, is a socio-political consideration which is a different matter. To prevent research because reality might be unpalatable is putting the cart before the horse and will only inhibit human understanding, development and wellbeing.

  65. Charles G says

    Quillette to the rescue with real journalism! Thank (a Jordan Peterson-themed) God.

  66. Fred Doobs says

    Dr. Carl’s research brilliantly demonstrates why blacks are much more likely to get shot by police at traffic stops than the white majority.

    Because they have higher IQ’s, most whites will confidently display their white faces to police and say “Sorry Officer, did I do anything wrong”?

    Blacks, due to their lower IQ’s, will fidget nervously and tend to appear dangerous and potentially armed. So it is hardly surprising when they are inevitably shot.

    It is so refreshing to have a website where my so-called “dangerous” ideas can be stated openly without fear or favor. Thank you Quilette!

    • Charles G says

      So in fact Dr. Carl does directly state, or at least imply, that whites have higher IQs than people of color. Well that clears things up. Please cite where this takes place in his published work. We’d all love to see.

  67. Campbell Williams says

    I’m pleased to be the 621st signatory on the counter-protest. Now we are at 2x the original blinkered non-thinkers from the original. Nothing must be out-of-bounds from scientific inquiry, or we are doomed.

  68. I wonder whether this thread is being read by professional biologists or geneticists, and would like to ask them advise on a purely technical question (so, forget your political stance for just a while, even if on Quillette):

    -Race is not a real thing, but a social construct- (by NRC and others, above, though ironic here, of course). By coincidence, I found an old world-atlas (titled- a new world-), in the library of my parents, 50 yrs old. What’s explained there about human races (by geographers, ethnologists) is, maybe, now difficult to believe. There were three ”main” races, the negroids (sub Sahara), the mongoloids (with subgrouping American natives), and the Europid (=Caucasian) whites. With skin colour this had little to do, Ethiopians and Somali were also white, due to their facial features. But around the 1980s, all of a sudden, in the professional world of ethnology and anthropology, scientists and others came to the conclusion that race did not exist, was nonsensical, due to the large diversity in groups. Now, I have worked long time in breeding of crops and animals, and know that man is an animal species (H.sapiens), so wonder what all this means, just abolish the whole concept to get rid of all those discussions on the issue? There is something that these anthropologists are confused about, I think, and that is that the race concept in plants and animals is quite different as in humans. Due to selective breeding and inbreeding in the domestication process, diversity is, indeed very small, and sometimes even completely absent (clones), but that is only recently so, the so called LANDRACES of old types of crops an domesticated animals are similar to the human races, large diversity, but unmistakably common features, well adapted to the geographical region or specific ecology (e.g.,high altitudes) , forming robust and stable populations(in agriculture, helped by artifical isolation and selection). True, in agriculture and breeding, these landraces now are mostly gone, replaced by the pure races or hybrids, much more productive or faster growing ( this loss is not always wise, because of the loss of robustness and other useful characteristics). My question: why do away with this very useful biological categorisation, are humans not also biological (if only for the medical world), iso super beings??
    Every marathon here in town is won by an East African black (they also end up as the numbers 2,3,4 and 5), and that has nothing to do with race?? Come on, I would say. Anybody who knows more about this? The disappearance of the race concept?

    • Jack B. Nimble says


      “…..My question: why do away with this very useful biological categorisation, are humans not also biological (if only for the medical world)….”

      The argument from pragmatism–i.e., ‘racial categories’ are not only objectively biologically real but also needed for the optimal delivery of medical care–has been made by Carl and many others. Here’s Carl on the subject:

      “….To deny the existence of ‘race’, or to insist that it is a wholly ‘social construct’, as many critics of the ‘hereditarian’ view of human nature do (see Wade, 2014, Ch. 5; Winegard et al., 2017; Sesardic, 2005, Ch. 4), is to commit oneself to an erroneous view of modern medicine, one which could conceivably come at the cost of people’s lives…..” Link: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs40806-018-0152-x.pdf

      At least in the US, doctors routinely inquire about the health and longevity of a patient’s close relatives–and this is a good and useful thing to do. Having an affected relative DOES increase the risk for many genetic conditions. Genetic counselors do a similar analysis for couples contemplating having children, and there are also direct molecular tests for mutations associated with certain kinds of cancers and other diseases.

      In contrast to this fine-grained analysis, ‘race’–however we think about it–is too blunt or coarse-grained to provide much useful information beyond what can be learned from data on near relatives. So why include race and/or ethnicity on a medical survey or intake form? Mainly because they can easily be coded using discrete labels in a multiple-choice format, whereas genetic risk factors are not discrete and would have to be ‘binned’ before coding. Also, most physicians don’t understand the concepts of relative risk and odds ratios, so the use of discrete labels represents stubbornness or conservatism on their part. Note that medical intake forms often conflate race and ethnicity, such as having categories like ‘White’ AND ‘Hispanic.’

      Bottom line: race and ethnicity are poor substitutes for a detailed medical history of each patient,

    • Daniel Flehmen says

      The traditional three human races and the subdivisions within them are perfectly ordinary and biologically uncontroversial examples of subspecies: morphologically (anatomically) distinguishable populations which are geographically separate but interbreed freely where they meet. These can be due to local adaptation to local ecological circumstances, or may arise simply due to separation and lack of interbreeding, what biologists call genetic drift. Examples are ubiquitous – nearly all wide ranging species show subspecific (racial) variation. Humans are no exceptions, and it would be surprising if they were.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Daniel F

        The idea that humans are subdivided into three [or more] races that are morphologically, geographically and genetically distinct–but that interbreed with other races in recognizable ‘contact zones’–is appealing to a lot of people.

        Unfortunately for them, the reality of human genetic structure is quite different. Rather than explain the issues from scratch, I direct interested readers to this paper:

        Alan R. Templeton [2013] Biological Races in Humans. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. 2013 September ; 44(3): 262–271. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.04.010.
        NI Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737365/

      • That, Daniel, sounds very much of what was taugt to us about speciation by ornithologist Ernst Mayr. I wonder whether there is enough discussion and understanding (about speciation and subspeciation) between zoologists and anthropologists.

  69. Aerth says

    “Every marathon here in town is won by an East African black (they also end up as the numbers 2,3,4 and 5), and that has nothing to do with race??”

    Of course it has. Africans are dominating long distance runs and it is no coincidence or purely effect of hard training. They just have natural predispositions for it, while at the same time they are not so strong when it comes to sprints and middle distances.

  70. That petition is a list of “Professors” who need their credentials checked and confirmed immediately. They are supposedly teaching the next gen of our youngsters to lead and think.

  71. Offhand, it looks like Noah Carl’s paper of note with regards to suspect methodology was over strong correlation between arrest rates and strong opposition to the same immigrant groups – https://openpsych.net/paper/48

    A friend of mine dug into the details of this paper in full – he found that all that Carl really did here was regress the results of one poll against the crime rate, finding that the higher the crime rate the less people liked immigrants from that country.

    Carl responds to this line of critique and more here – https://openpsych.net/forum/showthread.php?tid=292&pid=4388&fbclid=IwAR2pTofITC4Uo44C1nvafsXWhvfwF6a-J1ijBBPDj9ckbPzpMfqTfR_kIf0#pid4388

    But he primarily cites the methodology of Lee Jussim as corroboration for his own method of analysis – IE, a slightly odd way of looking at stereotypes (as he notes, the prevalence of the groups is massively overblown by the general populace).

    Which is where we get into an analysis of Jussim’s own claims on the matter. Per my friend, his own work is not free of controversy, in that he over-represents the findings on stereotypes (possibly just to gain journal brownie points). A discussion of this can be found here – https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/comments/8pd6e6/cmv_lee_jussims_criticisms_of_stereotype_accuracy/

    PreacherJudge provides the best analysis and rebuttal, and a set of well sources on the same.

    What emerges is somewhat open to debate, but I think it can be described as nominal idea-washing – with Jussim providing a flawed methodology that is used to justify Carl’s, who relies on his work near single-handedly.

    At best, this indeed looks like a bad bit of research.

    But I think the main issue was that this then hit the deeper reaches of fringe right sites (such as InfoWars) and was misrepresented as saying that “bad stereotypes about immigrants are correct”. This is not quite what the paper claimed, but we’re now at two steps of idea-washing.

    The primary problem, in my view, is that the ideological process involved in shallow research, the shallow presentation of research, and the shallow reading and misrepresentation of the same. This in turn casts some doubt on Carl’s methods and objectives.

    That said, the writers of the letter are far from innocent here – far from it, they provided none of this context, took it for granted that others would look it up, and essentially relied on appeal to authority and the public relations issues to make this go their way.

    I think we need to take a good, long look at the many flaws in this process as a system – IE, as a chain that brings us closer to the facts, but which is an abused truth network at basically every step of the way.

  72. Daniel Flehmen says

    We are always told that data suggesting significant group differences in IQ are junk science or psuedoscience. I have not yet read all the comments on this article, but is there a peer-reviewed data set which does not show the usual differences?

    • Thanks Daniel Aerth and Jack, yes, where you come up with “clustering” (see also the 10 of NRC above) you more or less avoid the naming of the r-word, but are hooked with just the same thing. The word race stinks like a turd, at least since Hitler. Just read R.Lewontin: there is no justification for using the concept of race, the racial classification has no taxonomic significance. If I once come across a book in which “the rise and fall of the race concept” is described (with psychological backgrounds of the scientists or pseudoscientists involved), I will certainly buy it.

      • This morning, googling around, I see to my surprise that the 5 clusters of Rosenberg exactly concur with the 3 main races of my parents atlas of half century old (also in the 5-clustering of R., whites including middle east, n.afrika and near east), plus, indeed two less clear groupings/taxes, the Pacific and the Amerindians (why not, as of old, as a subgroup of the mongoloids??). In fact, if I have it well, only those pacifics are additional, the taxonomy matches almost perfectly, as noted above already by Mike. Nothing new under the sun, so. As long as nobody lets slip the word RACE from his mouth, everybody content and happy, except altright, of course!!

  73. Nancy Hildebrandt says

    I simply cannot believe that all those years of education still result in mob behavior. The signers of this shameful open letter are idiot savants who should be the first to lose tenure.

  74. The Bottom Line says

    As a political and social moderate, I have to admit this whole series of events the author describes is pretty scary. It doesn’t take a mastermind to realize these “outraged” academics are trashing a man’s reputaiton over what amounts to their subjective opinion of him as a person (or who they perceive him to be). The proof is in the pudding: you don’t make accusations of shoddy work or questionable research and the like without directly showing everyone what it is you’re referring to. And they’ve shown absolutely nothing it seems. Not one link to one paper or even a sketchy quote. That says it all.

    Ask yourself this question: if you determined that a coworker was cutting corners and basically cheating at their job (be it an accountant fudging numbers, a manager admitting to some unethical practice, or the like), and you were of a mind to accuse them. When it came time to go to their supervisor or the president of the company or whoever… would you go without any evidence and make the claim? No, you wouldn’t.

    This is less a witch hunt than academia reapting the fruits of the backwards and grouping-thinking “culture” that is endemic to all social media. A couple people don’t like some person or what they say or do, and they trash them on social media. Next thing you know 300 of their “friends” are jumpoing all over you with a petition or other self-righteous bunch of nonsense.

    If this kid really is that bad / really has that bad of ideas about race and IQ, then f-ing SHOW US, you 300 piss-poor excuses for “educators.” Show us, or STFU. And apologize for inciting the academic equivalent of mob-rule.

  75. Pingback: Quillette: Young scholar denounced as "racist" by mob of 300 elders; evidence not cited | Uncommon Descent

  76. Chris says

    ! 236 comments on a post consisting of a small handful of column inches connecting a few other tweets and communications supporting the victim. Yes, I realise that the post refers to research by him and others on the topic of intelligence, criminality and race, but this is old news. Since Pinker published “The blank slate” at the start of this century and the publication three years ago of the quantitative heritability of all human traits, no-one who can do joined-up-thinking and is not blinded by their dogma can be in any doubt about these topics.

    It may be that the article contains a list of the names of the mob ( Is this really an appropriate activity for a member of the Cambridge University maths department?) and the fact that the post is a call for action against such libel, but even so, defending the usual liberal-left stream of alt-facts against reproducible scientific research is old hat. Methinks they do protest too much, so is there another issue?

    One of the annoying facts about left wing dogma has been the liberal left/PC bias in all forms of media, even in the face of claimed of management attempts to control it. Every time such bias is
    mentioned it is denied and claimed to be ground truth from neutral journalists. Attempted analysis of coverage gains little traction an the face of alt-analyses from the left.

    Perhaps what deserves more attention is the publication by Emil O W Kierkegaard and Noah Carl on “The left- liberal skew of western media”. A summary of their article in ResearchGate summarises results of an investigation of the political leanings of journalists. It reports relative rates (RR) of journalistic preference for topics like: green(2.9), social liberalism(2.4), feminist(2.3), proEUism(2.2) and communism(1.9) whereas enthusiasm for nonPC topics is ten times lower. Topics like: national conservatism(0.19), right-wing populism(0.26), populism(0.35), agrarianism(0.43), conservatism(0.57) and nationalism(0.57) are almost completely suppressed.

    This is an AVERAGE of journalists of many western nations and it appears there are some countries that recognise the similarity between populism and democracy and where nationalism and conservatism are not banned,.. … yet.

    This is clear evidence of widespread and intense left wing bias and surely is actionable!

    The usual response, after outright denial, is that this is just an academic storm in a teacup and no-one believes what they read in the papers any more. Unfortunately, the Academic Indoctrination Machine has been running for at least a couple of generations and every non STEM degree holder has had to join, be indoctrinated by, and pass exams set by university departments staffed by people, 90% of whom, now self identify as left wing.

    Unfortunately this is not just journalists. Remember this , not just when you next pick up the paper, but when you switch on the TV, (especially if its tuned to BBC or Channel4) or when you need to go to law or seek welfare assistance or help from almost any organ of state. Remember it particularly when you have to introduce your children to state education.

    This is more vital to the left than nature-nuture, than gagging scientific thought like the GMVH
    paper. Dr Carl’s “crime” is exposing the scope of the left wing’s control mechanism. 237 comments is just the start of it. I wonder if the paper will disappear like the GMVH paper?

    • @Chris: there are 2 Ki(e)rkegaards, both Danes, one very famous, Soren Kierkegaard, the founder of the philosophy of Existentialism, and the much less known (only in small circle) your Emil Kirkegaard (without an -e- after the -i-), white supremacist (see also Ryan,s comment here below), altright hero and colleague and penfriend of Carl. All comments in this thread that mentioned connections of Carl with this Kirkegaard have been deleted by the moderator.

  77. Pingback: Hundreds of Academics Attack a Young Researcher – Washington Insider

  78. Once upon a time, students attended Western universities for intellectual enlightenment, broadening the limited thinking of the cultural indoctrination with which they grew up. Now they go to these same universities for cultural indoctrination.

    Modern education is nothing more than multiculti racialists, teaching students that color/ethnic differences require academically assigned cultural/racial differences. Educators are intentionally destroying independent thought, and with it the possibility of escaping the self limiting horizons of cultural indoctrination, necessary to personal development and intellectual growth.

    Always amazing how quickly politicians can convince educators to spew racialist propaganda in return for a tax funded paycheck. And then proceed to collect trillions of taxes, from every one of _every_ color, keep most of the loot for their luxurious lifestyles, while proselytizing to education prepared ignorance that they aren’t looting the entire population but “equalizing racial disparity.”

    The folks discussing IQ scores as though they proved intellectual proficiency are contradicted by this spectacular stupidity on the part of most of the American population, currently believing that equalizing financial disparity between themselves, requires them to tax each other into penury, so as to enrich the political scum of D.C. Just a few hundred self serving, tax and power engorged millionaires, currently running the most profitable scam in history. And no one notices, because multiculti/racialist propaganda has convinced them they must elect political profiteers to victimize every one in the entire country, as the “defense” from historical racial/cultural victimization.

    Human civilization is not only stalled, but has been replaced by a society of animalistic predators, convinced by their political pack leaders that “civilized behavior” requires all human beings to use taxation, rather than teeth and claws, to prey on each other.

  79. rickoxo says

    @jack nimble

    Jack, my best guess is you found someone who agrees with what you think but you aren’t a researcher or a statistician and you’re relying on things someone else is saying that aren’t true. I went and read the critique you cited (seeing if there was anything more to it) and the author makes some embarrassing mistakes and is clearly much more focused on his political take of the research than on a methodological analysis of Carl’s work.

    I will give you credit on one thing, however, you finally got me to go read Carl’s paper. Turns out it’s only 5 pages, a super simple data analysis project. Carl’s paper is about what you might expect from a grad student with limited statistical background–a very simple analysis of survey data compared to some external data he gathered. Critique it all you want for being too simple or having far too many limitations because of the limited scope and design. But there are no methodological flaws in the research. What the author is mainly bugged about is what he sees as the “potential impact” on public policy and society of talking about perceptions of immigrants related to criminal behavior.

    The first big point of confusion is the “small sample size” of the 23 countries. Yiannakoulias writes, “This is particularly problematic when the sample is small; a small non-random sample is the holy grail of statistical badness.” I’m not sure whether you get this or not but it sure seems that Yiannakoulias doesn’t get it, but Carl didn’t do the survey of UK perceptions of immigrants–he’s analyzing a data set that comes from a survey done by a different organization (YouGov, published August, 2016, available online).

    So when Yiannakoulias complains that Carl’s research is bad for picking only 23 countries or not including data from Portuguese and Italian immigrants, he’s actually critiquing YouGov’s survey. At best he could be arguing that Carl should have seen that the data from YouGov’s survey was so limited and flawed that he chose not to do the analysis. But Carl is a PhD student wondering about a question who analyzed an existing resource to see what it had to say. There is no methodological problem here because Carl didn’t do the survey.

    When you say, “There is really no excuse for Carl’s statistical methodology here–modern computational methods can handle complex data with ease.” again, you’re showing that you don’t get what this paper is about.

    There is no way to compare each of the individual respondents in the YouGov survey to data about the incarceration rates for people from different countries. It can’t be done. It’s not about statistical methods or modern computational methods, the individual perceptions of the different respondents don’t have anything to do with incarceration rates for Norwegian or Nigerian immigrants. That’s because it’s an ecological study and you have to use group means since the different types of data have nothing to do with each other.

    Ecological studies are initial studies, often used to see if there’s anything worth looking at here. I’m betting you and Yianna wouldn’t mind an ecological study showing that driving while black or brown correlates strongly with higher likelihood of being stopped by the police. It’s a perfect application of an ecological study, looking at group averages to see if there’s a big enough effect to be worth digging down into details to see what’s really going on.

    All Carl did was a simple ecological analysis of data from an existing survey to see if the common complaint that people’s negative perceptions of immigrants are unjustified. Carl’s big take away at the end, “While the results are circumstantial in nature, they suggest the public beliefs about different immigrant groups may be reasonably accurate.”

    It’s far too simple and basic of a paper to say the problem is methodological. If the problem isn’t methodological then given all the political commentary in the critique, it seems the issue is much more that you and the author and the 300 other folks don’t like someone saying that people’s perceptions of immigrants are colored by the degree to which immigrants from those countries are incarcerated.

    • Markus says

      [i]I will give you credit on one thing, however, you finally got me to go read Carl’s paper. Turns out it’s only 5 pages, a super simple data analysis project.[/i]

      I noticed that too when I tried to get a better picture during the early phases of comments here.

      I guess the overall issues is somewhere in the middle. Coming down on him with the full weight of 300 academics and superficial and technically false accusations is certainly hard to justfiy.

      But the article, describing him as this oh-so-innocent and bright star with groundbreaking research is probably also not quite realistic.

      While I think, this rational-wiki (which is quoted a couple of times), is quite over-exaggerating the players, this Kikegaard guy looks quite shady to me. I’ve read is alleged child-rape justification post … while it’s not as clear-cut as the rational-wiki wants to paint it, it’s still something that would raise a red flag for me. And this OpenPsych page does look weird to me too.

      In my opinion, that open letter is quite wrong and over-exaggerating. But the article isn’t exactly unbiased either. It would even be more credible in my eyes, if it acknowledge a few some of the facts.

      • Markus: the right name is: Kirkegaard, so,not Kierkegaard either,oh, oh, those continental words and names, horrible. Many who came into the USA, changed their names a little bit, so that they could be understood by the natives there, to adapt or integrate? One of the finest I know is: Hobsbawn, the original German name was Obstbaum. Hohohoho!

    • Jack B. Nimble says


      “…..So when Yiannakoulias complains that Carl’s research is bad for picking only 23 countries or not including data from Portuguese and Italian immigrants, he’s actually critiquing YouGov’s survey. At best he could be arguing that Carl should have seen that the data from YouGov’s survey was so limited and flawed that he chose not to do the analysis. But Carl is a PhD student wondering about a question who analyzed an existing resource to see what it had to say. There is no methodological problem here because Carl didn’t do the survey……..It’s far too simple and basic of a paper to say the problem is methodological……..”

      Your argument that a simple, basic paper can’t have methodological flaws is itself flawed. Methodology is mostly about choices…. which data sets to analyze……. which possible variables of interest to include or exclude……etc.

      Dr. Yiannakoulias discussed this problem in his item “Missing variable problem.” In multiple regression models, it really isn’t possible to ‘control’ for the effects of other variables in the same way that an experimenter uses a control group and a treatment group. So adding or removing variables can have a big effect. Bottom line–Carl’s results are not statistically robust and can change depending on variable selection

      Choice also involves which published data sets to analyze. If there are no appropriate data sets available–and even you acknowledge the limitations of the YouGov survey–then Carl might have done better to pick another topic to work on. Analyzing a politically sensitive topic with simplistic models and inappropriate data sets is going to create some pushback from others working in the same general research area–and that is what happened here.

      • rickoxo says

        Ok, we’re getting closer.

        I never said a simple paper can’t have methodological flaws, I said this one doesn’t. Those words mean something specific. Read Carl’s methods section, it’s just a few lines. Unless you want to argue how he came up with his arrest rate data, it’s not a flaw to take an average for data you want to compare across to other data. It’s a broad brush technique to see if there’s something worth looking at related to his question. That is not a flaw.

        The “flaw” you keep pointing to has to do with the data set and you not liking it. Sorry, but that’s not a flaw either. The survey data is limited, but so is every set of survey data. You can never ask every question you want to ask, or the questions you realize in hindsight, you should have asked. This data set has 1668 respondents, a huge number, and the 23 different countries represent a fairly broad range of countries with immigrant populations in the UK. If you want to argue that the wording on a specific question is bad or something like that, go for it. But since every data set is limited and since Carl acknowledges the limitations of this data set, there’s no flaw.

        The way you could prove flaw or evil doing would be if he ignored better data sets out there so he could pick this crappy one so he could get the results he wanted. If you want to say that, then say it and provide the evidence. Otherwise, stop saying flaw.

        In terms of the missing variables problem, like I said the first time around, just because other factors affect the regression model doesn’t mean there’s a flaw–that is always the case. Even if another variable accounts for a greater percentage of the variance, that doesn’t mean flaw at all. Mother’s education is the biggest predictor of most educational outcomes for stuents, but just because that’s true, it doesn’t mean I can’t look at participation in after school athletics and the effect it has on educational outcomes. Picking a variable to look at is not a flaw, even if you don’t like it and think it is problematic.

        The most damning thing you, Yianno and the 300 folks can say about Carl’s paper could be summarized as, “We don’t like Carl’s research question or his findings”.

        Sorry to be rude, but here’s where you put on your big boy pants and do what actual researchers do when presented with a paper like this. They go out, find a better survey, do a better job of analyzing factors, write it up more clearly and get it published in a better journal. You can cite Carl repeatedly throughout the paper to show that your data and analysis clearly provides a better explanation of perceptions of immigrants than Carl’s does.

        But calling someone’s work crap because you don’t like it and don’t agree with it is a crappy way to deal with this.

        • Jack B. Nimble says


          Even the reviewers of the MS on the OpenPsych website wanted Carl to find and analyze a better data set:


          Lurking behind the question of whether the paper has flaws and/or limitations is the issue that Carl chose to do a quick, superficial analysis of a politically-sensitive topic. I’m guessing that he wanted to improve the publication count in his curriculum vitae and chose to ignore the fact that his headline finding [minus all the methodological and statistical caveats]:

          ‘………opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with their arrest rates……’

          would be like junk food for the hard right.

          • rickoxo says

            Again, you say something that just isn’t true. I read every single comment at the link you gave. Not one single person said find a better data set. Most of them said things like, “I read the paper. I have no particular objection to the methods or interpretation.” That particular person said he wished the data set had been analyzed further so we could get more insights out of it.

            What the comments do show is that Carl is a junior researcher, getting feedback from other folks (not sure if they actually are more seasoned researchers), but at least being open to feedback, making rational arguments in addressing people’s concerns and adjusting his analysis to take the best comments into account.

            He even got to see the article you first listed and wrote a response to it. Funny, his response sounds a lot like mine 🙂

            And as for him wanting to improve his publication count, of course he does, that’s part of the game of being in a PhD program and wanting to get hired. But instead of critiquing this because he chose a small, online journal, how about give the guy credit that he picked a reasonably appropriate source for a fairly simple paper. He didn’t submit it to whatever the main journal is for political science or stats and politics or whatever. He knew it was a simple paper, simple analysis and looked for a low tier publication space that matched the level of his work.

            You seem to be about as firmly convinced by your own thinking as you can be. I’d love to see the comment you found that said he should choose another data set, cause I didn’t see anything that said that.

            And again, the big take away is, you don’t like that the data actually support the title of his paper and you wish he didn’t write it …

  80. Chris says

    I hope I have not made Dr Carl’s situation worse or dropped Emil Kirkegaard in the brown and sticky. Perhaps Quillette could inform us why and how Dr Carl is being prevented from defending himself.

  81. This article is heavily biased. It omits to mention that Noah Carl published papers with Emil Kirkegaard a figure on the far-right. He published papers in Kirkegaard’s openpsych journal, not a proper peer-reviewed journal. A Cambridge don writing papers with a white supremacist? So you all support this?

    • physicsgal says

      You are using an ad hominem attack. You must be really desperate. Attack his WORK and IDEAS, not the people or journals he has published in. It’s not rocket science. Here, I’ll even link to a list of logical fallacies so you can try to respond without using one. Can you, or is your entire argument based on them?


      • Billy says

        The only fallacy is yourself. You are a man in real life yet pretend to be female on here. Sad and disturbing ain’t that right physicsguy?

  82. PhysicsGal says

    It shouldn’t matter if he IS researching the connection between genes and the intelligence of racial groups, his work should still be protected by academic freedom, if such a thing is real. It’s clearly it is not.

    Every single one of those professors should have their tenure challenged, since they are clearly working against the concept of academic freedom and are completely unethical themselves, willing to denounce a researcher based on lies (or an un-PC research topic that is still a part of the search for truth about the universe, which is supposed to be the goal of academic research.) The point of tenure is to strengthen academic freedom, not for established scientists to make sure they don’t ever have to think outside the box. Ugh. I feel so sick.

    This stuff makes me sick. I’m ashamed to share academia with these religious nutjobs. Is there some way to test for this kind of personality so that we no longer let the type of people who are prone to witch hunts into academia? We need fewer group thinkers, not more! Academia ideally should have controls to avoid this kind of thing, not encourage it, the way it is today.

  83. Aleph from Paris says

    Sue them. Aren’t there anti-deffamation laws? Why not striking back with appropriate weapons? If they want to avoid the competitions of ideas in academia aimed at sorting them, and prefer brutalizing people outside the academic arena, it’s time to have them stop by detrreing them to do so and silence any abusive mob, so that the debate of ideas is heard again and people are encouraged to speak their mind freely.

    When I read the victim was advisd not to talk to the press, I want to scream more at the “advisers” than at the mob. Cowards. It’s not to the press one should talk. It’s to a prosecutor a hired barrister should write, asking for heavy deterring, damaging penalties.

  84. The Running Head says

    “Must be denounced”? Really? I had hoped that Quillette (which I enjoy even when/because I don’t agree with some of the pieces) might show some more self-awareness here. If the methods of reply suggested by your title only repeat the banality of the first denunciation, there can be no move to depth, generativity, richness – dare I say “truth”?

    What about a public debate? Let’s have some proper dialogue. Each side can put forward their point of view – they can discuss. Cambridge is my home town – I might even organise it …

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  86. ccscientist says

    The study of genetics and intelligence offends those who subscribe to absolute egalitarianism, which means that we are all absolutely equal and any differences can only be due to social factors such as racism. But to take a simple example, the very low IQ are way over-represented in prison, which makes sense because they have trouble navigating the world of work and keeping a job and are also more easily caught after committing a crime. Are we to be not permitted to know this fact? As another example, in spite of discrimination, European Jews in the US have something like 20 times more nobel prizes than expected. A conspiracy? A pretty good one then.
    But the comments here suggest that even acknowledging basic facts gores a bunch of oxes.

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  88. I see that this article was not signed with the name of the author, but signed as “Quillette Magazine”. I have not seen this in previous articles published here. Is that because authors feared a backlash and wanted to avoid identifying himself/herself. Is there some other reason?

  89. Realworldman says

    When academics start banding together outside of the normal peer review process, you know that there are nefarious agendas in play. If his research were truly flawed and deficient the normative scientific process would have sifted it out as such. It will not be long before mirrors are deemed racist, as they show the unvarnished truth about the object being viewed. The interesting question is who has hijacked the system, to what ends and how are they enlisting academics to cater to their unnatural agenda? Despite the granular qualities of IQ tests, I find it laughable that pointing out a difference in White to Black scores is racist, while pointing out the differences between White and Asian is just fine. It may be time for thinking people to unite and stand. Why not sue for slander? Clearly he is suffering a loss caused by provably false statements by other parties. I would contribute to the cause.

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  91. The perennial idea that different races have different genetically inherited intelligence, and that this intelligence produces positive outcomes is falsified by a simple cursory view of history.

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  97. NowIsTheRealTime says

    Graeber must have gone off the deep end over the past several years. I read two of his books, and while I didn’t agree with his left-wing anarchist stance, he was at least thoughtful, reasonable, and made a few valid points amongst the usual #Occupy-style sloganeering. But it’s sheer hypocrisy for him to claim that terms like “criminality” and “intelligence” lack scientific backing, and are therefore methodologically unsound and without academic merit, when that same critique applies threefold to so many of his own cherished theoretical concepts like “structural violence” and “power/knowledge”. He takes things such as standpoint theory as obviously true, despite the fact that they are completely unfalsifiable, and hence unscientific, but he makes no calls for the ejection of such scholars on “methodological” grounds.

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  99. mjazzguitar says

    For those interested in this subject, I would recommend watching ‘Empire of Dust’. It’s about the Chinese Railway Engineering Company in the Republic of Congo.

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  102. Pingback: Neurotic Leftists Mobbing Noah Carl, Un-PC Cambridge U. Researcher—Establishment Right Dithers, by Lance Welton - open mind news

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