Education, recent, Science

Noah Carl: An Update on the Young Scholar Fired by a Cambridge College for Thoughtcrime

Quillette has been unwavering in its support of Noah Carl, a young conservative scholar who was targeted by an outrage mob after getting a research fellowship at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge. After an “open letter” was circulated by a group of activist academics last December describing Noah’s work as “racist pseudoscience” and calling for an “investigation” into his appointment, we ran an editorial denouncing this witch-hunt. We published supportive comments by Jonathan Haidt, Jeffrey Flier, Cass Sunstein, Tyler Cowan, Jeff McMahan and Peter Singer, and asked people to sign a counter-petition which attracted over 1,400 signatories.

Unfortunately, St. Edmund’s College did the bidding of the protestors, launched two separate investigations and last month terminated Noah Carl’s employment. We ran a follow-up piece, this time criticizing St. Edmund’s cowardly decision, and invited professors and lecturers to put their names to a letter of condemnation. That got over 600 signatures, more than the number of academics who signed the original “open letter.”

Since then, Noah has received widespread support from a variety of sources. The Spectator has taken up his cause, as has Spiked Online, the Daily Telegraph and the Times of London, which ran an editorial in defense of academic freedom:

One of Mr. Carl’s topics concerns the link between cousin-marriage and electoral fraud among Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Britain. A leading critic described this subject as “obviously ethically suspect.” It is not at all obvious why investigating such a link is ethically suspect. It may be there is no such link, but researching the possibility of one is a fitting task for a social scientist. By the logic of Mr. Carl’s critics, The Times’s groundbreaking investigations into the link between Anglo-Pakistani communities and the sexual abuse of children in several northern cities must be denounced as “ethically suspect.”

In addition, Carl has written two posts for Medium, one an FAQ defending himself from the charges set out in the “open letter,” the other a description of the underhand manner in which his critics set about getting him fired.

The reason Carl’s research has provoked such controversy is because it has touched on the link between genes and intelligence, but as he points out in the FAQ everything he has written on the subject is supported by mainstream science:

Last December, 586 academics signed an open letter accusing you of “racist pseudoscience.” That many academics can’t all be wrong, can they?

Given that the open letter demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of the relevant science, it would seem that 586 academics can indeed all be wrong. For example, as Jeff McMahan pointed out in his comments for the first Quillette Editorial:

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.

And Professor McMahan is absolutely correct: the signatories of the open letter were calling for St. Edmund’s College to “issue a public statement dissociating themselves” from research backed by overwhelming scientific evidence. In fact, the contribution of genes to variation in human intelligence has been widely accepted by psychologists since at least 1996, when the report ‘Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns’ was published by the American Psychological Association (APA). This report, co-authored by Ulric Neisser and his colleagues in the aftermath of The Bell Curve debate, concluded that “a sizable part of the variation in intelligence test scores is associated with genetic differences among individuals.” Evidence for a genetic contribution to variation in human intelligence has only strengthened since the publication of the APA report.

Okay, so individual differences in intelligence might have a genetic component. But what about differences between groups—they couldn’t possibly have a genetic component, could they?

Contrary to the implications of the open letter, I have never actually done any original research on racial or population differences in intelligence. The only contribution I have made to this area of study is a research ethics paper arguing that “it cannot simply be taken for granted that, when in doubt, stifling debate around taboo topics is the ethical thing to do.” While this paper does not claim that genes do contribute to group differences in intelligence, it does entertain the possibility that they could contribute to such differences.

I consider this to be a perfectly defensible scientific position. We know that there are group differences in intelligence, both across countries, and between groups within a country. The question is why. And there is no good reason to rule out the possibility that genes do make some contribution to these differences. It may turn out that genes make zero contribution, or it may turn out that they make a contribution greater than zero. Deciding in advance that they make zero contribution is not science. It is proof by assertion. As James Flynn has noted, the hypothesis that genes contribute to group differences “is intelligible and subject to scientific investigation.” I trust one James Flynn a lot more than 586 petitioners.

The FAQ is worth reading in full to grasp the sheer scale of his accusers’ dishonesty. So, too, is Noah’s detailed account of their campaign to defenestrate him, breaking it down into 10 parts. Most Quillette readers will be familiar with these tactics, but it is worth refreshing your memory since the same playbook is used by activist academics to attack their dissenting colleagues on a weekly basis. Here is tactic number six, organizing public protests:

By the end of January, the student activists were growing increasingly impatient, so they decided to organize what would be the first of two public protests against me. Like the activists who forced Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying out of Evergreen State, they photographed all of their exploits, and proudly posted them online.

The fact that Noah Carl’s story does not have a happy ending—at least, not until he sues St. Edmund’s College and is awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation—doesn’t mean all these efforts have been in vain, any more than the widespread condemnation of Harvard’s decision to defenestrate Ronald Sullivan as dean of Winthrop House is a waste of breath. One of the most effective ways of persuading university administrators to defend intellectual freedom is to raise the cost of not doing so. Consequently, we should continue to condemn spineless officials like Matthew Bullock, the Master of St. Edmund’s, up-ending a trash-can of bad publicity on their heads in the hope of making them and their colleagues think twice next time they’re tempted to capitulate to the mob.



  1. AJ says

    ‘The fact that Noah Carl’s story does not have a happy ending—at least, not until he sues St Edmund’s College and is awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation

    Is this a realistic propsect? Hsi employment was far shorter than the the two years qualifying period to be able to sue for unfair dismissall and there are exceptions to this if he was discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic or because he was refusing to take part in illegal activity etc but none of that seems to apply.

    It may be pessimistic but I think the only negative consequence for St Edmunds will be the bad publicity and that the lesson they may learn is not to defend academic freedom and integrity but to vet potential candidates to make sure they do not have controversial opinions or research interests

    • DT says

      I’m not an attorney, but if St. Edmund’s is like most academic institutions, his contract likely had language about academic freedom in it. If the university failed to honor the terms of their agreement, then it seems to me that he could have a valid case.

      • Dave says

        At Cambridge the norm is 5 years probation, though it looks like his contract was with the College rather than Cambridge University itself, so who knows.

        As a result of press coverage on other issues, the institution is desperate to be seen to be “doing the right thing” and will invariable side with protesters or simply back down when it comes to anything to do with race.

        Its unfortunate as Cambridge is substantially less infected with SJW-ism than most other UK universities and serious scholarship, as you’d expect with an institution of its standing, is the norm. Why management feel the need to acquiesce is unclear.

        • Andrew Roddy says

          A large settlement might be a welcome vindication and a victory of sorts but it could be considered neither happy nor an ending.

          • TarsTarkas says

            Especially since as far as the culprits are concerned a settlement would be house money, the funds most likely coming out of the pocketbooks of the taxpayers. It would also enhance the reputations of these cowards among their peers for their martyrdom at the hands of the evil racist patriarchy. Only if they are held personally and financial responsible will this BS end.

    • Watching in Cam says

      Could he go for breach of statutory duty under s43 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986, instead of constructive dismissal?

  2. Ray Andrews says

    “Contrary to the implications of the open letter, I have never actually done any original research on racial or population differences in intelligence.”

    But they know your heart Dr. Carl and they know what you are thinking and they are right. Yes, you are a thoughtcriminal. You hate Big Brother don’t you? It is no use at all to protest that you have not done any research into forbidden areas; that no more exonerates you than someone guilty of conspiracy to commit murder is exonerated by the fact that they didn’t actually pull the trigger. Suggesting that it should be ok to research forbidden subjects is about like suggesting to the Inquisition that they host a round-table on the merits of heresy. Should you do so, you are ashes and it matters not that you protest that you are not actually a heretic. It is heresy to suggest that heresy could be discussed. The Church of PC has ruled on this matter and it is closed to discussion.

    • William Fankboner says

      This is to assume that human ‘intelligence’ is actually measurable.

      • Andrew Roddy says

        @William Fankboner
        Aye, and there’s the rub. But it is commonly assumed. An intelligence that is emergent and empathetically engaged with the irreducible complexity of cultural dynamic will never sit still long enough to subject itself to measurement. In short; a living, human intelligence. For this reason intelligence must be reduced to something which can be rigidly defined to suit the dubious motivations of those who choose to insist that it can be measured. It is arguably a profoundly misguided approach. And yet the accepted wisdom is, ‘Mission Accomplished!’

        • mirrormere says

          Sigh. Pomo-speak once again. Really, it would help if you could at least try to make your sentences intelligible.

      • @William and Andrew: 50 years of intensive research has shown without question that “intelligence” is measurable. Read Richard Haier’s recent book. You sound like members of the Know-Nothing Party.

        • Miguel Delagos says

          I question anyone who says research has shown anything “without question”. That is not how scientific research works. There is always room for questioning. Yes, you can measure this phenomena we call “intelligence” but only when you constrain its parameters to the point it may not represent what you think it does.

          • David says

            I think you are misreading the meaning of “without question.” It indeed cannot be questioned that research has shown something. Whether that research is correct can, of course, be questioned.

      • John Davis says

        This is to assume that human ‘intelligence’ is actually measurable.
        Of course it is. Since IQ tests are reproducible and can be used to predict outcomes, they obviously measure something. And the something they measure we choose to call “intelligence”.

    • Heike says

      “Do you remember,’ he went on, ‘writing in your diary, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four”?’
      ‘Yes,’ said Winston.
      O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
      ‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’
      ‘And if the party says that it is not four but five — then how many?’”

      — George Orwell, “1984”

      Freedom is the ability to say 2+2=4.

    • Francisco d'Anconio says

      BRIAN: I’m not the Messiah!

      ARTHUR: I say You are, Lord, and I should know. I’ve followed a few.

      FOLLOWERS: Hail Messiah!

      BRIAN: I’m not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand?! Honestly!

      GIRL: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.

      BRIAN: What?! Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!

      FOLLOWERS: He is! He is the Messiah!

      BRIAN: Now, fuck off!

  3. ALAN WHITE says

    It should be clear by now that the ultimate aim of those denying a link between genes and IQ is to put an end to all research into the question. If they were certain no such link exists they would advocate and support such research so as put an end to the question.

    • Respek Wahmen says

      The main aim is equality (of outcome). Reality conflicts with their ideas about current hierarchies. It can’t be based on competence because they’re ideologically committed to the position that we’re all the same, so it must be the result of oppression. Science, logic, and basic reason are all oppressive, because asian and white males have an advantage.

      For some reason everyone keeps on forgetting that the most salient point about the left is that they cannot think; most literally can’t, and the rest refuse to. Just look at those silly princess and plaza characters.

      • ALAN WHITE says

        RW, You underestimate the far left. They understand precisely how to win their struggle against IQ research because they follow the lessons of Mao’s Red Guards.

        • Respek Wahmen says

          Ok, a small minority only refuse to a point. It’s not hard to understand the strategy since it’s the only one available. The current system actually really is oppressive/unfair. The problem is we also need competence.

        • Barry Blackmun says

          If somebody from the left disagrees with you, they must be Maoists. If somebody from the right disagrees with you, they must be Nazis. Got it.

          • Bob says

            You should judge them by their methods. Do they work from the Brownshirt playbook? Then it doesn’t matter. The extremes circle around to meet in totalitarianism.

  4. Morgan Foster says

    “spineless officials like Matthew Bullock, the Master of St Edmund’s”

    Okay, that’s the name of one of the cowards.

    Names and photographs and a brief biography of all those involved in this, and a list of their other outrages against scientific enquiry would be welcome in future articles.

    I’m sure there are plenty of students and academics in Britain who can help with that project.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      No, you don’t sound like an insane Nazi. Not at all.

      I thought we were opposed to thoughtcrimes? Or only just the ones we disagree with?

  5. David Laird says

    Worth noting: the petition had 586 signatories, of which 111 were from Cambridge, which has a total of 1687 academic staff. So Dr Carl was dismissed at the urging of less than 7% of his fellow Cambridge academics.

    It is also worth noting that only one of over 130 fellows of St Edmunds (Dr Carl’s former college) appears to have signed the petition. The tyranny of the minority is alive and well and living in Cambridge.

    How well qualified were these academics to evaluate Dr Carl’s work?
    Of the 107 signatories who can be directly linked to a faculty, 12 belong to faculties which specify A-level mathematics as an entrance requirement, while 95 do not. Even adding fellows in Carl’s own field of sociology, which presumably provides students with some grounding in statistics, the number of signatories with a verifiable understanding of statistical analysis is no more than 19, leaving 82% with no obvious credentials to pass judgment on the quality of his research. The clear motivation for the petition was political, not scientific.

  6. Farris says

    The problem herein has nothing to do with race but statistical averages. For instance, imagine three groups white, black and Asian. Randomly select 100 individuals from each group. Would you be willing to bet a year’s salary upon how the groups would rank on a given task or test? The odds may favor some rankings over others but that is hardly definitive. You may have chosen 100 low preforming whites, 100 high preforming blacks and 100 average Asians. This isn’t simply true for intelligence but any genetic factor, height, artistic ability, speed, strength and so on. Any decision based upon statistical averages remains a gamble. Would you prefer to risk your wealth or health on a gamble or your personal assessment of the individual in question?
    Said another way is it more prudent to judge upon race or the content of one’s character?

    • That depends to some extent on what you mean by Asian. Asia is a big place. Further to that, what the word means depends greatly on where the writer lives – about which I have absolutely no idea.

      If you are American, then by Asian you probably mean what used to be called Oriental, comprising Japanese and some Chinese in the main. That group consistently outperforms Caucasians of European origin in intellectual tasks. South Asians, particularly from Pakistan, not so much. (Which is what Brits mostly mean by the term.) Partially, in the latter case, because of their cultural habit of closely related marriages (such as first-cousin) leading to a rather large number of children with “special educational needs” as the current PC cant makes us say. Obviously, people who are barely functional will skew the numbers somewhat.

      Perhaps, also, the substitution of “it’s all the white oppressors’ fault” and “inshallah” for any sort of work ethic in the second group has an influence on this.

      • Azathoth says

        Ian, the European ‘East Asian’–people from Pakistan, India and the like, as well as the peoples of the Middle East are included, for IQ test purposes (unless explicitly excluded), as ‘white’ because they are all part of the ‘caucasian’ family tree.

    • Azathoth says

      “For instance, imagine three groups white, black and Asian. Randomly select 100 individuals from each group. Would you be willing to bet a year’s salary upon how the groups would rank on a given task or test?”

      If they were totally random, absolutely.

      The data is too consistent.

      If the ‘white’ group does not separate out some on the basis of their religion then the finals will be*

      white, Asian, black.

      If they DO separate out some whites based on their faith it will be

      Asian, white, black.

      In either case, white and Asian will be very close, and black will be about one standard deviation behind white.

      This has been done so many times, always with the same result.

      *Some years back, Ashkenazi Jews were separated out so that the line ‘Asians score better than whites’ could be used. Which is fine–except that Ashkenazi Jews are also white, and score best. This attempt to make the results PC serves only to put white at two points on the list–first and third.

      But I mention all of this with the sole purpose of providing an example of how stable these results are.

  7. Ann-Marie says

    How is it that some people just unquestionably accept that it is easy to “measure IQ by country “? It is an absurd proposition; at best you could study how individuals from these countries perform on standardised tests but even then, it is hardly possible to conduct a study large and replicable enough to constitute any type of rigorous evidence.
    To be clear – I am not saying that such studies should not be done – I am merely pointing out that in order for such studies to have any sort of validity, the scientists carrying them out would have to go to extreme lengths to ensure they are done rigorously.
    Even MENSA tests vary across countries – for example, in the UK, both Cattell III B and Cattell Cultural Fair III A are accepted but Mensa US allows for a variety of tests.
    To reiterate, I am not saying that such studies should not take place but to just accept it with blind faith that IQ by countries CAN be measured shows to me that those proposing this don’t know what constitutes a scientific enquiry. Reading Quillette for a bit, I am quite disappointed that a lot of the commentariat subscribes to that flawed belief that we “just know that some countries have lower IQ”. In fact, studies published to that effect were using questionable methods that had little to do with standardised tests.

    • Ray Andrews says


      “it is hardly possible to conduct a study large and replicable enough to constitute any type of rigorous evidence”

      You say that, but why would one expect it to be true? Are Finland and Japan and Bolivia not competent to measure the IQ of their people? Why would they not be? IQ tests are standardized and it is not hard to see that they are done properly, you need a quiet room and no cheating. I’ve taken IQ tests in several different countries and the experience was almost identical each time.

      • Bill says

        Clearly inhabitants of Finland, Japan, and Bolivia are too low IQ to competently measure the IQ of their people!

    • AJ says

      This is a bit of a blind alley. I am quiet sceptical about IQ tests. I think they have a very large cultural bias and the Flynn effect shows that a very large part of measured variation is not innate and cannot be genetic. This makes me very sceptical of how meaningful comparisons between national or economic groups can be. It is hard to disentangle the non-genetic factors.

      This is not the point genetic contributions to variations in cognitive abilities is a legitimate and appropriate thing to study. It is not inconceivabe that it could lead to discoveries which have medical applications. The only reason to criticise research should be if it is flawed in the methods used so the results are misleading or cannot be relied on.

      The problem is political groups who believe ideology should overrule evidence. This is a very bad path to start down wihich ultimately has implications outside of politics and in the rule of law.

      • Why would the Flynn effect trend over time indicate variance that is not innate or genetic? Genetic or innate traits are coupled to their environment. For example, height has a substantial genetic component, but, feed people on 19th century diets, & they do not grow as tall, but genetics favoring better outcomes are still present, just with diminished effects. Remove the diminishing effect by providing (for example) better nutrition, and the genes express themselves more fully.

      • Heike says

        Modern intelligence tests removed cultural bias long ago. They don’t ask questions like “how many innings in a baseball game” any more. Some are completely nonverbal.

        Standardized intelligence testing has been called one of psychology’s greatest successes. Unlike the most of the rest of humanities research, the science is replicable and falsifiable. If we don’t pursue it, the Chinese will beat us to it. My prediction is that such research into human intelligence will be funded in China and will produce the result that (almost) everyone knows to be true but many dread to admit.

        This will be followed by a wonderful display of anti-racists saying you can’t believe any result published by Chinamen.

    • TarsTarkas says

      IQ tests measure knowledge, not basic intelligence. If it measured intelligence, IQ test results would not increase (or decrease) over time (assuming the test was not significantly changed in the meantime).
      BTW, Binet intention for the original version of his test was to identify children with learning disabilities in order to help them improve. Terman reversed Binet’s intention, using the test to pigeonhole students in order not to waste valuable scarce resources on the ‘slow’.

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        You make an excellent point. As Daniel Okrent says in his recent book The Guarded Gate, “……..When the French psychologist Alfred Binet and his associate Theodore Simon developed the test, they explicitly eschewed any suggestion that intelligence was innate, believing their scale of measurement useful only to compare children of similar educational and cultural backgrounds….”

        Unfortunately, their test was soon co-opted by persons with a very different ideological agenda.

  8. Ann-Marie says

    @Ray Andrews
    You’re talking about measuring the IQ of a portion of population large enough for it to constitute an IQ of a nation. I, too, took IQ tests in more than one country, UK and Poland. Both were for MENSA – for a study of any significance you’d have to measure across a given nation’s demographic which in itself is a huge undertaking. And as for standardisation, for a study that encompasses more than one country, you’d have to at least agree if you are using a Cultural Fair type of test (in which case, the language of the test would be different for each country in your sample) or one with Raven’s matrices only (that removes the language barrier and is more fair IMO but as I stated before, different countries use different tests). I am not disputing that for example UK can measure IQ of its citizens but for ONE study to compare for example UK, US and another country, you’d have to agree and measure like for like and even then, obtaining a large enough sample that is representative is problematic.
    To give you my example, I scored as 96th percentile on Cattell IIIB (Ravens) and 94th percentile on Cultural Fair in one country but 96th in the other (both tests taken in two different languages). It might seem as insignificant differences on an individual level but these details are what could potentially make a difference in a rigorous study including more than one country.

    • Ray Andrews says


      “you’d have to measure across a given nation’s demographic which in itself is a huge undertaking”

      That’s a fair point. It’s not just giving the test, but making sure the sample is representative. I give the benefit of the doubt to the people who do this sort of thing tho. That is, I’ll presume they know their business until I see evidence that they don’t. Mind, you’ve already sewn the seeds of doubt. But in which direction? Take some African country where the average IQ is reported to be in the 70’s — it would seem to me that the folks being tested would probably be the more educated and smarter people in the country, so the figure reported would be biased high, no?

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        ‘……Take some African country where the average IQ is reported to be in the 70’s — it would seem to me that the folks being tested would probably be the more educated and smarter people……’

        How could you know how IQ tests are administered in African countries? And if education is biasing the results upward, doesn’t that defeat the claim that the tests are measuring intelligence and not educational achievement?

        I DON’T give the benefit of the doubt to people who use IQ test results to make sweeping generalizations about human capabilities and how these vary among countries and cultures.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Jack B. Nimble

          “How could you know how IQ tests are administered in African countries?”

          I don’t, but why would they deliberately make themselves look unintelligent? And it is not PC to suggest that Africans are incapable of something.

          “doesn’t that defeat the claim that the tests are measuring intelligence and not educational achievement?”

          The tests are designed to be blind to educational achievement, nevertheless one would expect to find the more intelligent kids being educated, no? Thus education and intelligence tend to go together and that’s true everywhere is it not?

          “to make sweeping generalizations about human capabilities and how these vary among countries and cultures”

          For those of us who believe in individuality, sweeping generalizations are just that, and they say nothing about any particular person. You presume evil intent on the part of intelligence researchers whereas I suspect that most of them are just trying to tell the truth.

          World IQ rankings put St. Lucia 2nd from the bottom at 62. Having lived there for two years I can confirm that St. Lucians are not very bright in aggregate. The smartest of them strike you as average and the dumbest … one gets the impression that they would not even be able to take an IQ test. But they have universal child education and all the kids take the test and I expect that’s where they get their numbers. I’ll presume they are accurate until I have some solid reason to suspect them, but that they are not PC is not such a reason.

          It seems to me that denialism of IQ differences between races is the PC equivalent to climate change denialism among the Right — both are anti-science and in both cases we have folks believing what they want to believe and calling out the evil motives of unbelievers. In the 21st century perhaps we should start facing facts.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            ‘……….You presume evil intent on the part of intelligence researchers whereas I suspect that most of them are just trying to tell the truth….’

            Wow — you can see what IQ tests are like in Africa, and you can see that I think IQ researchers are evil! Do you have a crystal ball? Can you predict stock market and horse race winners too? In reality, I don’t think that IQ researchers are evil–I’m agnostic about that. Also, motive-based explanations [e.g., evil] are always suspect, especially when there are simpler explanations available.

            ‘…….denialism of IQ differences between races is the PC equivalent to climate change denialism among the Right……..’

            There are [modest] genetic differences among groups of people commonly assigned to different ‘races,’ and there are also mean IQ-score differences among these groups. Those are facts. But to conflate correlation with causation is a basic error in logic. Mean IQ scores are such reified and assumption-laden numbers as to be downright misleading without a long list of caveats. Among other issues, working only with means gives a spurious impression of precision in the data.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Jack B. Nimble

            “I don’t think that IQ researchers are evil”

            OK, I withdraw the remark. That seemed the quick conclusion from your saying you don’t trust them.

            “But to conflate correlation with causation is a basic error in logic.”

            Sometimes. But inductive reasoning is often quite correct. Smoking does cause cancer. The genetic research I’ve been following links IQ to specific genes and thus proves causation. It’s always a mixed bag tho — of course there’s far more than race/genes involved. But the blank slatists are simply wrong. Asians are smarter than whites, on average, and that’s just the plain fact of the matter.

            “as to be downright misleading without a long list of caveats”

            It seems that IQ is the most predictive of socio-economic success of all sociological metrics. This isn’t going to go away.

          • Jack B. Nimble says


            ‘……I withdraw the remark….’

            OK, thanks.

            ‘………… inductive reasoning is often quite correct……’

            NO!! Inductive reasoning leads to the formulation of interesting hypotheses that can then [maybe] be tested with randomized experiments and appropriate statistical analyses. That, of course, is deductive reasoning, which Karl Popper [and other philosophers] argue is the only true form of science.

            ‘……….blank slatists are simply wrong……….’

            I’m not a blank slatist [slater?]. Go argue with someone else.

  9. @Ann-Marie: I’m always surprised when people like you make assured statements like yours when they are clearly not familiar with the extensive research in this are, including by country studies. Your anecdote is exactly that: an anecdote.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Jack B. Nimble

      “I’m not a blank slatist [slater?].”

      I didn’t say you were. But this topic as well as many other related issues boil down to the Blankies vs. the Messies so I’m just cutting to the heart of the dispute.

      “NO!! Inductive reasoning leads to the formulation of interesting hypotheses”

      I agree nevertheless inductive observations can be accurate. It is true that if you jump off a very tall bridge you are likely to die, and that truth is irrespective of an understanding of gravitational theories. At the same time we do search for theories as we should. Absolute proofs are rather difficult which is why the cigarette industry could spend decades saying that there was no proof that smoking caused cancer. Similarly our Denialist friends can say their is no proof of AGW. Sometimes strong correlation is quite good enough.

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        If correlation and induction are ‘quite good enough’ in some cases, then medical scientists, for example, would not need to use animal models for studying human carcinogenesis. Replication and blind-testing of experiments are critical! Inductive reasoning can easily be ‘captured’ by confirmation bias.

  10. FSW says

    What happened to Noah Carl is an absolute travesty.

    Going forward:
    1) Please, future scholars, hold off on publishing HBD research as much as you can until you get tenure;
    2) There should be essay contests to try to get people to publish journal articles on IDW/HBD-like topics – a young student can make the best case for these issues by pointing to fruitful research published in journals;
    3) People with big money need to donate to (probably private) colleges to establish chairs so that HBD researchers can work without fear of being fired.

    It sucks that it’s come down to this, but I don’t see the state of play changing within the next 25 years. You may say I suffer from a deficit in imagination, but better safe than sorry.

  11. Nakatomi Plaza says

    Carl’s work was not adequately vetted or rigorous enough for academic publication. The guy has some very serious credibility issues, and he was a fool for expecting his work to stand up to scrutiny, especially if he’s going to deal with something so controversial. Stupidly, Carl allowed his work to be co-opted by the right-wing and applied in some very toxic ways. This guy isn’t some sort of academic martyr; he’s a shitty scholar with an agenda.

    And sure, 586 academics are all wrong. Every single one of them. Only the guy who avoids peer-review and uses internet polls knows the truth, sure.

    • ga gamba says

      I suppose on the surface 586 seems like a large number, yet that’s 2.8% of the UK’s approximately 29,940 professors.

      I have’t dug into who signed the document, but if academics includes non professors such as readers, lecturers, and fellows (non F1 academics) as well we’re looking at a very, very small percentage of the tertiary-level academic community (roughly 212,000 people in the UK) who signed.

      Seems plausible that 0.3% of the entire academic community are, as you put it, shitty scholars with an agenda. Coincidentally, it happens to be the shitty agenda you like.

      • ga gamba says

        Sorry, typo. It’s 20,940 professors.

      • ga gamba says

        Oopsie, I made an oopsie. The number of professors is 20,940 in the UK.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ga gamba

        “we’re looking at a very, very small percentage of the tertiary-level academic community”

        Is this not a textbook example of confirmation bias combined with self-selection bias? A useful number might be the percentage of academics who signed this letter when asked to do so, in other words, some account should be made of the people who were offered the letter but declined to sign it. And then of course we’d have to try to factor in the number of people who signed out of peer pressure or out of fear of the thoughtpolice and of course the number who signed because they thought it would look good on their DIE resume. It’s easy points, no?

    • X. Citoyen says

      If this is a vote, it’s plus-or-minus 2,000 to 586. Unless you’re the Electoral College of Unmath, you have to concede defeat.

      As an aside, your respect for academics quixotic. Be a Sancho Panza to an academic for awhile; you’ll be disabused of that notion.

  12. Matt says

    How to lower the IQ of a group: Get all of its smartest women to focus on their education and career until it is too late to have children.

  13. Joana George says

    Not all research on race and intelligence is controversial. Part of the field is still researching the applicability of western IQ tests to other cultures, how to compare data from different tests and samples, and environmental factors (they accept the likelihood of genetic differences but argue that we can’t quantify it). The controversial part of the field ignores the methodological concerns of the first group, calls the numbers facts and are mostly focused on genetic aspects.

    This second part of the field, comprises of a relatively small number of people and their papers, especially when read together, have a very strong stench of ideology. By that, I mean that there are glaring omissions which all point to the same bias.

  14. Miguel Delagos says

    Wait a second, here you have a guy that is known to be involved in the “London Conference on Intelligence”, a clandestine group Mr. Carl presented at that promotes race baiting, neo-Nazi sentiments and eugenics. His own work is heavily criticized for poor data analysis and methodological error. If you look up his work on Google Scholar, it is obvious why. And now he wants to research a possible link between cousin-marriage and electoral fraud, these are the variables, but only in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Britain? Is it not obvious this guy has a political agenda he is trying to promote which very likely contaminates his research with confirmation bias, overstatement of statistical significance and, according to the petition, systemic methodological abuse?

    I want everyone here to consider the first lines of the abstract of a “research” paper authored by Mr. Carl: “Research has consistently shown that intelligence is positively correlated with socially liberal beliefs and negatively correlated with religious beliefs. This should lead one to expect that Republicans are less intelligent than Democrats. However, I find that individuals who identify as Republican have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who identify as Democrat (2–5 IQ points), and that individuals who supported the Republican Party in elections have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who supported the Democratic Party (2 IQ points)” [Source: N Carl “Verbal intelligence is correlated with socially and economically liberal beliefs”. Intelligence Vol 44, May-June 2014 pg 142-148]

    St. Edmund’s didn’t have better candidates for the fellowship than this? What a crappy school.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Miguel Delagos

      “that promotes race baiting, neo-Nazi sentiments and eugenics”

      Do they really? Or are they merely coming to conclusions that are not PC, thus making them automatically bad people?

      -Good people believe good things.
      -Bad people believe bad things.
      -It is good to say that the races are identical mentally.
      -It is bad to say the converse.
      -Good people don’t associate with bad people.
      -Dr. Carl associates with bad people (who do not say the races are identical mentally).
      -Ergo: Dr. Carl is not a good person.

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        Holding a secretive conference on race and eugenics at University College, London [UCL] is somewhat like holding a secret conference on Holocaust denialism at Auschwitz. UCL DESERVES to be notorious for its history of promoting eugenics:

        “………In October 1901, Galton gave the Huxley Lecture at the Royal Anthropological Institute and used the occasion to re-launch his [eugenic] vision. Gradually, the tide was turning: Galton had influential admirers; the mathematician Karl Pearson, for example, had established the School of Biometry at University College, London and – as a keen eugenicist –pioneered the use of statistics to develop Galton’s ideas further, with more academic rigor. During the same phase Mendel’s laws of inheritance were re-discovered and swiftly applied to human attributes – including to behavioural characteristics – introducing ideas of genetic determinism to the scientific and popular mind. Galton’s contribution to the study of heredity and evolution was recognised by the award of the Darwin Medal by the Royal Society in 1902, and the election to the position of Honorary Fellow by Trinity College Cambridge in the same year…..

        Later in 1904 Galton established a research fellowship in eugenics at University College London (UCL), and the Eugenics Record Office was installed in Gower Street. The following year the ominously named German Society for Race Hygiene was created in Berlin by followers of Galton.

        Galton spent his declining years examining the outputs of the Eugenics Record Office, including its register of noteworthy families. He planned an endowment that would create the Galton Chair of Eugenics at UCL for Karl Pearson, and, in preparation, he arranged for Pearson to be appointed as the new director of the Eugenics Record Office, which was renamed the Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics. One of the first studies to emerge from the new laboratory was one on the demography of London, where it was found that the people from working class areas were making a disproportionate contribution to population growth, thus fuelling eugenic fears……..”


        Note that the German preoccupation with ‘race hygiene’ preceded by decades the coming to power of Hitler. He was surfing on a wave that had been stirred up by Galton, Pearson, and others:

        “The right to live does not connote the right of each man to reproduce his kind … As we lessen the stringency of natural selection, and more and more of the weaklings and the unfit survive, we must increase the standard, mental and physical, of parentage.” ~ Karl Pearson


  15. dirk says

    Two centuries ago, Prof Blumenbach and other anthropologists did similar studies on the IQ (though the term and precise description had not been invented as yet) of different populations and races. They found that the skulls of the so called Caucasoids (whites, but also Ethiopean and Indian types) was somewhat larger in square inches than those of the two other groupings, the Negroid and Mongoloid). This knowledge was at the time not contested at all, it was official ethnological knowledge of respected professors, until quite recently (and even now exposed in antrhopological musea, such as the one in Madrid, as I recently saw). However, one of the enlightened biologists and almost all humanists of the last half century did not approve and contested the knowledge on the ground of a closer look (biologist) or SJW ideology (humanists). I see with pleasure that the discussions flame on again, in a British University and here in Quillette. Never a dull moment in subjects such as the races , equality and diversity!

  16. labbes says

    Aren’t we witnessing some serious wallowing in victimhood culture here? Also, I object to the author’s concept of “thoughtcrime” as applied to a straightforward case of, well, patently bad (or badly handled) science. @Quilette: Widening quality gates will invariably result in loss of relevance.

  17. polijunkie100 says

    The problem with defending genetic research into intelligence is it’s association with ‘groups’. This will always be politically charged and the resulting research is of limited application to specific individuals. Better to do research into exact genes or sections of the genome and their statistical connection to intelligence. We have the technology. Then you can test individuals or track family groups to see how this changes over time and generations.

    • Ray Andrews says


      “Better to do research into exact genes or sections of the genome and their statistical connection to intelligence.”

      This is now being done all over the place. Check out ‘A New Radical Centrism’ on facebook, the boss has something almost every day. It seems that the frequency of certain genes is very strongly correlated with IQ and that these same genes are very strongly correlated with race. It seems that race can be determined with something like +80% accuracy simply by looking at an MRI. Or a skull. Or with +95% accuracy looking at a genome.

      One striking example: the ‘warrior gene’ is strongly correlated with criminality and is (I can never remember the exact numbers) what was it? 200X more common in Negroes than in Asians. It seems if you graph the frequency of this gene in various racial/ethnic groups against their rates of criminality you get a straight line. Thus if criminality was all down to whitey’s oppression, it is strange that Asians show less criminality that whites even tho they are Victims of whitey’s oppression too. If criminality = oppression, then it would seem that whitey is oppressing himself vis a vis Asians.

      • dirk says

        I wonder, Ray, what can be meant with that warrior gene. Read the classical treatise on war and warriors -Vom Kriege-, Clausewitz, who reasons that courageous and passionate, not fearing the danger, does not make the best warriors. Instead, he reasons, it is the intelligent, hardy, sustainable character that does the trick. He doesn’t speak about genetics (he couldn’t have), OK, but it is clear that experience and discipline (cultural) for him count more than just a courageous character.

        • Ray Andrews says


          I didn’t name the gene, but that seems to be how it is commonly referred to. Of course it has some formal name too. The ‘warrior gene’ , as you say, might not make you a good soldier but it does seem to be linked to violent and anti-social behavior.

  18. Steven Carr says

    There is no more of a link between genes and intelligence than there is a link between genes and homosexuality. Both are social constructs, not innate,

    • dirk says

      If not innate and just a construct, Steven, do you think it can be cured? Or should be cured? And let’s forget about curing a too high intelligence, because I think, it can be, at times, advantageously too (though, in my surroundings, see only disadvantages, mostly because of social shortcomings).

    • martti_s says

      You have no way of actually knowing that.
      Which does not in any way affect your right to express your opinion.
      Opinions tell more about the speaker than about the subject under discussion.

  19. martti_s says

    I am glad that this institute is not involved in building anything that is supposed to fly, float, or carry heavy loads.

  20. Mal O'Justaid says

    People place far too much importance on IQ tests, and I’m not really that sure why we really need a lot of research on correlations between race and IQ, unless there is the potential for a solid, practical strategy for narrowing any gaps. Which I instinctively doubt anyway, as I think the point of IQ tests is for revealing weaknesses that can be given more attention and improved, but the type of intelligence measured is limited, and not necessarily that relevant in many situations.

    I decided to go back to university in 2013, and I noticed I was having significant attention and concentration issues when trying to read the materials, and I tried to get tested for dyslexia (then ultimately ADHD), and I didn’t realise at the time that the elaborate and detailed test I sat was for all intents and purposes an “IQ test”, and I was told (to my surprise) that my IQ was in the top 2%/98th percentile. After failing most of my school life I was genuinely surprised.

    My ex also had to do a basic IQ test once as part of a job application. I think she actually failed it, but knowing her very well, I feel pretty sure that was mostly due to her lack of interest in it, and not knowing what it was, or caring. I don’t think she would have failed as a result of a true, realistic test, I think it’s far more likely she just thought “What? I have no idea what do do with these six sided shapes or what you call them, or why you’re asking about them” and she just genuinely wouldn’t have given a shit about it, so she would not have engaged with the “IQ test” anywhere near sufficiently to determine her score.

    Likewise, my son took a test, similar to mine, or for similar reasons, and a couple of months later I mentioned the “IQ test”, and he said “IQ test? I wish you’d told me it was an IQ test, then I would have tried!”

    I did something similar when I was in Primary School — I sensed the teacher was taking the tests of the kids who were finding it too difficult, so I started deliberately getting things wrong in the hope she’d take mine too.

    In other words, those tests are far from scientific.

  21. dirk says

    In my newspapaer today: why select medicine students (there are not enough places available on our universities) on IQ, a letter to the editor asks? Makes an IQ of 150 a better doctor than one of 110, but a more patient, scrutinous, empathetic, stress resistent etc one? Indeed, I think he is right there, and not only in the field of medicine! Though, a few with an IQ of 150 might be advantageous for research or special,exceptional services (the Pasteurs and Kochs and Roentgens, though, again here, it seems that Rontgen was a rather mediocre student).

    • dirk says

      Forgotten in the list above: Ignaz Semmelweis!

  22. Melissa Kanhai says

    Mr.Carl’s research has no real basis. I have to agree with Farris’s sampling point noted above. Randomly selecting individual’s for an intelligence study does not represent an equal sampling population to determine if genes among ethnic groups are related to intelligence. Also, the level of education will also contribute to an indivual’s intelligence among groups.

    Moreover, Gardner proposed different types on intelligence such as spatial, naturalist, musical, logical or mathematical etc. This suggests that there are intelligence is a complex field.

    Furthermore, what role does socioeconomic status and nutrition play to a person’s developing brain and intelligence? with regards to attention and memory that is all linked to intelligence such as, the way an individual store, encode and retrieve material.

    Lastly, the physical body and brain is a complex network so to find genes and ethnicity link to intelligence would incude the study of biology and cognitive studies which would be costly and the research would still not have alarming results.

    I hope that this is helpful.

    Melissa Kanhai.
    Clinical Psychologist

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