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A coalition of researchers, historians, and journalists is urging that major scientific publishers, including Elsevier and Springer, retract the racist articles of an academic known — and sometimes lauded for — a long career espousing ideas of racial superiority and eugenics.

The call for retraction, made Thursday in a First Opinion published in STAT, focuses on hundreds of papers published by the late Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster, who has described “the decay of European civilisation” resulting from immigration and had served as president of a group, the Pioneer Fund, formed by Nazi sympathizers to push for “race betterment.”


“Given that Lynn’s work is explicitly motivated by white supremacist ideology, its prominence reflects a massive failure among the scientific community to self-correct,” the authors wrote.

“Others have called for Lynn’s papers to be retracted, but the scope of this investigation made it important to publish,” said First Opinion editor Patrick Skerrett.

The seven-person team called for the retraction of Lynn’s publications that use IQ tests to argue that some races are inferior. The work has been debunked by social scientists who describe the work as “distortions and misrepresentations of the data” that “constitute a truly venomous racism, combined with the scandalous disregard for scientific objectivity.


”Although there has been grumbling about Lynn’s work for some time, not much had been done about it, said Dan Samorodnitsky, a science journalist and one of the authors of the essay. “We wanted to do something, instead of letting the problem fester.”

Analyses have shown that Lynn used cherry-picked data in compiling his “National IQ database” to argue that Caucasians were smarter than people from other races. His work is regularly cited by white supremacist groups and used widely on websites, which have also resisted calls from the authors to remove the datasets.

Publications citing Lynn’s data typically make no mention of the flawed underlying methodology or his transparent ideological stance.

The First Opinion authors reached out to journal publishers, journal editors, and managers of websites citing Lynn’s work, but their calls for retractions were routinely rebuffed.

“Much of the discussion about Lynn’s work was in academic journals and conferences. We thought that going to the public, telling everyone what is going on, might light a fire,” said Samorodnitsky.

Lynn published nearly 400 academic articles, one as recently as last year. Some of the papers were published in journals bankrolled by the Pioneer Fund, the authors said, while others appeared in mainstream scientific journals published by Elsevier, Springer, and others. It is these publishers that the authors are urging to retract Lynn’s papers, as well as papers by other authors that used his IQ database.

“Despite decades of criticism of the poor quality and practices of his work, only a few journals have taken any action to retract his papers or even acknowledge the criticism,” the authors wrote in the First Opinion essay.

In a response to the authors, Elsevier leaders said they would consider investigating and retracting some of the articles in accordance with their ethical guidelines, but also said “as publishers, we must follow the principles of academic freedom and editorial independence.”

The authors said the company had done little so far to investigate the articles, despite the authors’ repeated attempts to get them to do so.

“The refusal to correct the scientific record when inconvertible flaws are pointed out,” they wrote, “reflects the lack of priority given to research integrity at academic journals.”

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