12 December 2018, The Tablet

Appointment by Cambridge college provokes academics

'We are deeply concerned that racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge,' the academics write

Appointment by Cambridge college provokes academics

File photo, University of Cambridge
Nick Ansell/PA Wire/PA Images

More than 300 academics have signed an open letter protesting the appointment of a controversial social scientist to a research fellowship at a Cambridge University college with a Catholic history.

Dr Noah Carl, who became a controversial figure after speaking at a conference where eugenics were allegedly discussed and publishing a paper arguing stereotypes about the criminality of certain immigrant groups in the UK are “reasonably accurate”, has been awarded the Toby Jackman Newton Trust research fellowship at St Edmund’s college, which was founded in 1896 to house a small community of Catholic students.

The letter, published last week and signed by academics from Oxford, Cambridge and hundreds of academic institutions in the UK and abroad, says that Dr Carl’s work is “ethically suspect and methodologically flawed”.

Its signatories say that they have reached this conclusion following “careful consideration” of Dr Carl’s published work and in the light of his public stance on various issues, particularly on the claimed relationship between race, criminality and genetic intelligence.

“We are deeply concerned that racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge,” the academics write.

They go on to express concern that the fellowship has been awarded to Dr Carl “despite his attendance at, and public defense of, the discredited ‘London Conference on Intelligence’, where racist and pseudoscientific work has been regularly presented.”

“Mr [sic] Carl’s work has already been used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric,” the letter continues.

The letter concludes by calling on St Edmund's College, the University of Cambridge, and the Newton Trust to issue a public statement “dissociating themselves from research that seeks to establish correlations between race, genes, intelligence and criminality in order to explain one by the other”.

The signatories also call for the University of Cambridge to conduct an investigation “into the appointment process that led to the award of this fellowship”.

A spokesman for St Edmund’s College told the Tablet: “The College is committed to respecting the rights and dignity of all members of our community. We expect our staff and students to treat others with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times, and the College takes allegations of unacceptable behaviour very seriously. We understand that issues of this nature can provoke strong feelings. However, we will not comment on individual cases.”

The University of Cambridge said Dr Carl would not be available for comment and that no one else would be commenting on the matter.




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