Only limiting the damage?

September 22, 2011

Both the debates about David Starkey's Newsnight appearance (THE passim) and the work of Satoshi Kanazawa are being discussed in terms of professionalism and whether academics are entitled to express offensive opinions, when the real issue is the social implications of such flawed assertions.

On the "race" front, unsubstantiated allegations jeopardise hard-won gains because the essentialist thinking that scholars have been working to eradicate is being revived. In Kanazawa's case, the LSE took appropriate action, but what will the future bring when his 12-month ban on publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets is lifted, given that he caused an earlier race row five years ago?

Will social and ethical accountability structures stop future research misconduct or are they merely designed for damage control?

Ruth Mieschbuehler, PhD student, University of Derby

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