Edinburgh probes 'scientific racist'

April 26, 1996

Edinburgh University is to investigate the teaching practices of psychology lecturer and self-styled "scientific racist" Chris Brand, whose book on IQ was withdrawn by his publisher last week.

Sir Stewart Sutherland, principal, said he was concerned by students' comments about their teaching relationship with Mr Brand. His book The g Factor: general intelligence and its implications was withdrawn by John Wiley and Sons after comments he made to the press about the IQ of blacks and single mothers.

The university's students' representative council this week called for Mr Brand to be suspended from teaching. Its motion said that freedom of speech and academic freedom should be defended, but that Mr Brand had compromised the academic freedom of students.

Sir Stewart said he supported the right of academics to express unpopular opinions. But they should be presented as arguable, and in an open-minded way. Opinions expressed within the law could not present grounds for dismissal or suppression by a university. "The concept of academic freedom is sometimes treated as an inconvenience to be waived if statements made or conclusions reached by a member of academic staff at this or another university attract widespread condemnation," he said.

Sir Stewart said Mr Brand would continue this term's lectures, but students who did not attend would be offered extra tutorials.

John Wadham, director of Liberty, supported Wiley's decision. "Liberty believes in a balance of rights and in this case although we value freedom of expression there would be great concerns about incitement of racial hatred."

The Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards said: "What is deeply disturbing is that he is speaking from an authoratitive position to degrade the major part of humanity."

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