Author: Richard Adams
The list of Nigel Farage’s wayward moments is chunky – like when he said migrants with HIV should be kept out of the UK, or referred to a Chinese person as a “ch**ky”, or said the gender pay-gap is down to women being “worth less”.
So to hear him say he is quitting Ukip because its brand has been “so tarnished” gives us cause to stop and look at what is happening with Britain’s erstwhile third party.
Farage once pitted himself against Ukip moderates like ex-Lobby journalist Patrick O’Flynn and former Conservative councillor Suzanne Evans.
University of Cambridge professors and academics from around the world have criticised the appointment of a social scientist whose work they say has stoked “racist, xenophobic, fascist and anti-immigration rhetoric”.
A letter protesting about the appointment of Noah Carl to a prestigious research fellowship at St Edmund’s College claims that Carl’s work focuses on “academically discredited lines of inquiry” involving race and genetics.
“A careful consideration of Carl’s published work and public stance on various issues, particularly on the relationship between race and ‘genetic intelligence’, leads us to the unambiguous conclusion that his research is ethically suspect and methodologically flawed,” states the letter, which is signed by seven Cambridge professors and more than 700 other academics.
The group calls on St Edmund’s College and Cambridge to condemn “any association with research that seeks to establish correlations between race, genes, intelligence and criminality”.
They write in the letter to the college: “It especially worries us that some of his research, now apparently legitimised through his association with us as a postdoctoral researcher at University of Cambridge, is being used by extremist media and far-right journals to the aim of stoking racist, xenophobic, fascist and anti-immigration rhetoric.
“We are disturbed by this association and we urge the college to immediately reconsider the award of this fellowship and issue a statement fully dissociating itself from these academically discredited lines of inquiry.”
Clément Mouhot, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge and one of the organisers of the letter, said he considered much of Carl’s published work to be pseudo-science.
“Academic scrutiny of Noah Carl’s papers clearly reveals selective use of data and unsound statistical methods which have been used to legitimise racist stereotypes about groups,” Mouhot said. “In my view, he has done several things which are unacceptable in the academic world and which can be legitimately described as pseudo-science.”
The protest erupted after Carl was named as the Toby Jackman Newton Trust junior research fellow at St Edmund’s College, a paid position that lasts for three years and includes an allowance for accommodation and college dining rights.
A spokesperson for St Edmund’s College said: “The college is looking into the complaints it has received. Once the full facts are gathered, appropriate action will be taken. In the meantime, we continue to expect our staff and students to treat one another with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times.”
Carl, 28, was previously a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and attended the notorious London Conference on Intelligence, where “race intelligence” and eugenics were discussed. After news of the closed-door meeting emerged, University College London said it would bar the conference from using its facilities in future.
Mouhot said Carl’s writings included associations between cousin-marriage and electoral fraud within Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Britain.
“The conceptual premise of such work is so obviously ethically suspect, and the ensuing methods so flawed, that it begs the question how such weak scholarship – which doesn’t meet scientific standards – was ever considered for such a prestigious and competitive fellowship,” Mouhot said.
Carl could not be contacted for a response, but he has previously defended his work on race and genetics by arguing that “stifling debate around taboo topics can itself do active harm”. He said the London Conference on Intelligence had been “widely mischaracterised” by the media and in fact encompassed “a range of theoretical orientations and research interests”.
Cambridge said Carl would not be available for interviews and that no one else would be commenting on the matter.
Nita Sanghera, the vice-president of the University and College Union, which represents many university staff, said the union condemned “any individual or organisation that perpetuates the pseudoscientific myth of a genetic hierarchy”.
She said: “I was extremely concerned to see that St Edmund’s College has appointed someone to a research position, despite his appearance at the discredited London Conference on Intelligence, and urge both the college and the university to act on the calls of the signatories to the letter.”