Varsity’s Latest Hit-Piece on Me

Responds to misrepresentations, distortions and omissions in Varsity’s latest article about me

The Cambridge student newspaper, Varsity, has published yet another article about me, bringing the total number of such articles to ten. In a previous blog post, I explained how the student activists that got me fired from St Edmund’s College co-ordinated their efforts with journalists at Varsity. Not content with having had me fired, these journalists are now spreading more misinformation about me.

Incidentally, it is true that I was “contacted for comment” prior to the article’s publication, but since the author (Rosie Bradbury) appeared to be acting in bad faith, I decided not to respond.

1. Were there “failures of disclosure” on my part?

Bradbury writes the following:

The full report of one of St. Edmund’s investigations into the appointment of Dr Noah Carl has revealed new details around his appointment process, including that a senior Eddie’s fellow has suggested there were “potential failures of disclosure” of Carl’s academic papers and of his participation in the London Conference on Intelligence […] The review, led by retired Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Patrick Elias, has argued that despite Carl’s non-disclosure, there was “no material failure on [his] part”, as there is no legal duty for job applicants “to disclose information which might undermine his application”

Although Bradbury does acknowledge that there was “no material failure on [my] part”, she presents a rather misleading picture of what Sir Patrick Elias found. In particular, her last sentence from the quotation above seems to imply that I did not disclose any of my ‘controversial’ research activities during the application process, which is completely false. (For a detailed response to criticisms of my research and my collaborations, see this FAQ.)

When I originally applied for the fellowship, I submitted a list of publications, which included all of my then-published articles in the OpenPsych journals. Later, after I had been appointed by the selection committee, I was asked to submit a CV for sending to the Isaac Newtown Trust (a funding body). I decided to submit a version of my CV that only mentioned articles in journals with impact factors. It is reasonable to presume that a funding body would be primarily concerned with a candidate’s ‘high impact’ academic outputs.

In other words, although my OpenPsych articles were not mentioned on the CV I submitted after I had been appointed by the selection committee, these were mentioned in my original application materials. As Sir Patrick Elias notes:

[In] his application for the Fellowship itself, Dr. Carl did refer to four of the five articles to which [the senior fellow] refers, and the fifth was not published until after Dr. Carl’s application was lodged. He cannot be said to have sought to conceal them from the College in any way. Nor has he concealed his connections with Mr. Kirkegaard who is identified as a joint author of some of the papers. When I asked Dr. Carl why they were not also mentioned these articles in his CV, he said that it was because they were not published in journals which had an “impact factor” [… The senior fellow] accepts that this would be a good reason for not referring to them.

I did not disclose my attendance of the London Conference on Intelligence (LCI) in my original application materials. However, I was not asked to disclose my conference presentations, and I did disclose two published articles that were based on presentations I had given at the LCI. Hence if I had disclosed my LCI presentations, I would have been including the same material twice (once in the form of conference presentations, and once in the form of published articles.) As Sir Patrick Elias notes:

He did not identify his connections with the London Conference on Intelligence or set out the conference papers which he presented there in 2015 and 2016, but the application form did not include portals for this kind of information and I can see nothing in his application which can be said to be misleading or inaccurate [… With] respect to the failure to mention papers delivered at the London Conference on Intelligence, Dr. Carl told me that this was because both of those conference papers had been turned into full papers which he had disclosed (identifying what they were) and Dr. Carl did not think that he should pad out the CV by referring to what were, in essence, drafts of papers for which benefit had already been claimed.

Sir Patrick Elias concludes the relevant section of his report by noting that “there is no basis for saying that Dr. Carl acted improperly in the manner in which he filled out either his application form or his CV.”

2. Did Sir Patrick Elias note that many of my papers are “racist and Islamophobic”?

Bradbury writes the following:

The Elias report also notes that “it is obvious, even a cursory reading of some of [Carl’s] papers, that many are racist and Islamophobic and that the methodology is inadequate and often confuses correlation and causation”

This is an extraordinary misrepresentation. It seems to imply that Sir Patrick Elias, the author of the report, considers many of my papers to be “racist and Islamophobic”. What Sir Patrick Elias actually wrote is the following:

First, it is said that it is obvious, even on a cursory reading of some of his papers, that many are racist and Islamophobic and that the methodology is inadequate and often confuses correlation and causation.

Note the difference between “it is obvious” and “it is said that it is obvious”. In other words, Sir Patrick Elias was summarising the complaints against me, not stating his own view of my work. As a matter of fact, Sir Patrick Elias was very careful not to make any judgement about the substance of the complaints:

I should not be taken to be accepting that if the papers had been read in full and in isolation, they would have been seen to be self-evidently racist or Islamophobic. That seems to me to be a highly contentious claim.

3. Important omissions from the article

Bradbury writes the following:

Members of St Edmund’s CR took their concerns to the college about Carl’s work attempting to link race, criminality, and IQ in November, and an open letter condemning Carl’s appointment has been signed by over 586 academics.

Bradbury fails to mention that, as explained in my FAQ, “I have never actually done any original research on racial or population differences in intelligence”. The only contributions I have made to this area of study are papers dealing with research ethics and epistemology.

In addition, while Bradbury notes that “an open letter condemning Carl’s appointment has been signed by over 586 academics”, she fails to mention that over 650 academics signed a petition supporting me, including many who actually have expertise in intelligence research. Interestingly, Sir Patrick Elias made the following observations about the open letter against me:

This letter made largely unparticularized allegations and assertions. It is surprising to me that so many academics — mostly outside Dr. Carl’s discipline and most of whom could not possibly have verified the facts for themselves and had not sought any response from Dr. Carl — were willing to give their support to a letter of that kind. In any event it is wholly irrelevant to my (and I would have thought any) investigation charged with determining facts in an objective way.

I have saved an archived version of Bradbury’s article, in case she decides to take it down.

Independent researcher