Academic Noah Carl, a promoter of eugenics, was dismissed from a prestigious research fellowship at Cambridge University on May 1. His position was rescinded by St Edmund’s College following determined protests by students and academics.
Carl, a former postgraduate researcher at Nuffield College Oxford, was awarded a Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship in November. His recruitment by Cambridge provoked widespread protest, with over 1,500 students and academics signing an open letter opposing his promotion of racist “pseudo-science”.
Signatories opposed Carl’s appointment because his work was “ethically suspect and methodologically flawed,” legitimised racial stereotypes and was being “used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric.”
After appointing Carl, the college did everything possible to defend him, issuing what amounted to gag orders against its teaching staff and threatening protestors. But so great was the outcry that college administrators were forced to launch two separate investigations into his appointment.
On May 1, the College Master issued a short statement that, for all its evasions, vindicated the stand taken by students.
The college’s own internal investigation found that Carl “had put a body of work into the public domain that did not comply with established criteria for research ethics and integrity” and that his “appointment could lead, directly or indirectly, to the college being used as a platform to promote views which could incite religious or racial hatred.”
Carl’s dismissal is a victory against a global campaign to revive far-right ideology on university campuses. Among his published works are those alleging that anti-migrant views are “reasonably accurate” as regards criminality and that having a large “percentage of Muslims in the population” is the cause for an alleged increased threat of terrorism. In another paper, he claimed to correlate average regional IQ with economic prosperity, heavily implying that the former (measured intelligence) is the cause of the latter (prosperity). This is a naked justification for imperialism.
He has collaborated with individuals including Emil Kirkegaard, who has posited the existence of racial tiers based on alleged inherent average intelligence; with Heiner Rindermann, who argues that global inequality is the result of genetic, racial differences in intelligence; and Richard Lynn, who runs the Pioneer Fund that calls for predominantly white states of the US to secede from the union to “preserve civilization.”
Students involved in the protests at Cambridge have welcomed his dismissal. Elsie Linley, a classics student at St Edmund’s College, told the WSWS, “This was student-led from the very beginning. Our persistence and determination since November made this possible, and that shouldn’t be forgotten. I'm humbled to have stood alongside my fellow students and I welcome this long-overdue decision from the college. It is important that they recognise how appointing him in the first place has done irreparable harm to this institution and has fanned the flames of far-right rhetoric. This is all so much bigger than one fellowship and one college."
Carl’s dismissal has immediately evoked a storm of protest from far-right, libertarian and conservative media outlets extending from Breitbart and Spiked to the Spectator and Times.
Munira Mirza, former Cultural Advisor to Boris Johnson, wrote in the Telegraph, “Intolerant zealots are strangling the intellectual freedom of our universities.” Toby Young, the Conservative government’s appointee to head the Office for Students, forced to resign over his own attendance at the London Conference on Intelligence and promotion of “progressive eugenics”, wrote in the Spectator, “Noah Carl’s only crime is being a Conservative.”
The right-wing libertarian publication Quillette published “Cambridge Capitulates to the Mob and Fires a Young Scholar” and a petition expressing “disappointment” with St Edmund’s College “for the injustice visited upon this young scholar.” Its list of signatories is a who’s who of international reaction.
Included in that petition are the previously mentioned Heiner Rindermann; Adam Perkins, a professor at King’s College London who has written in favour of breeding out welfare dependency; Helmuth Nyborg, a Danish researcher who has argued that men are more intelligent than women, that white people tend to be more intelligent than blacks and that immigration from non-Western countries leads to a decline in the average intelligence of recipient countries; Oxford academic Nigel Biggar, who has argued for the civilizing impact of the British Empire; and American academic Charles Murray, author of the infamous The Bell Curve alleging an inherent black-white intelligence gap.
At a “free speech” conference held at Oxford University on Thursday, Carl reportedly “set out evidence on over-representation of leftwing views in British academia.” The Times quotes approvingly Carl’s claim that “There is denial and mischaracterisation of research believed to threaten certain left-wing sacred values.” The organizer of the conference, the above-mentioned Nigel Biggar, is Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford. He told the Times he wants to create a “counter-spiral” against “cultural left extremism.”
Yesterday, the Times carried three separate articles defending Carl, including an editorial claiming he is “the latest victim of an authoritarian leftism that has taken hold at many British universities.”
The editorial explicitly defends Carl’s pseudo-scientific “research” linking crime to specific ethnic groups. Pointing to Carl’s published work connecting “cousin-marriage and electoral fraud among Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities” the editorial baldly asserts, “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 editorial continues, “The Times’s own 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’”.
The fierce backlash from powerful sections of the state and far-right groups to Carl’s dismissal points to the underlying political significance of events at Cambridge.
Noah Carl was a rising star in a network of fascistic ideologues of inequality and racial superiority. His appointment at one of the world’s most renowned universities was a major step in the campaign underway to secure bastions in academia from which to promote far-right politics. Those involved in hiring and protecting Carl at Cambridge were accomplices in this process. It is telling that the full report from the investigations held at Cambridge are yet to be published.
As the International Youth and Students for Social Equality explained at its meeting held in Cambridge earlier this year, “The return of eugenics and Social Darwinism is the product of immense shifts in social forces and powerful ruling-class interests, which demand an ever-more right-wing intellectual climate … An advance guard is therefore being formed in sections of academia to force far-right nostrums back into public discourse.”