This update is part of a series of posts concerning the late Professor Hans J Eysenck, one of the most prolific psychologists of all time. Eysenck worked at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London.
The context is the publication by the psychiatrist Anthony Pelosi of a penetrating critique of the research publications by Professor H J Eysenck and an editorial and Open Letter to KCL in the same issue of the Journal of Health Psychology published in February 2019.
This post begins with an article in the Guardian in which the author of the Eysenck critique, Tony Pelosi, gave a first person account of his role in the affair.
The Guardian Article
On Friday 11 October, 2019, at 11.05 BST Sarah Boseley’s Guardian article is published. The article begins:
“The work of one of the most famous and influential British psychologists of all time, Hans Eysenck, is under a cloud following an investigation by King’s College London, which has found 26 of his published papers “unsafe”.
King’s says the results and conclusions of the papers “were not considered scientifically rigorous” by its committee of inquiry. Prof Sir Robert Lechler, the provost at King’s, has contacted the editors of the 11 journals where the papers appeared, recommending they should be retracted.”
The first of the 11 journals
is the Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, a quarterly journal published by the Council for Social and Economic Studies. According to the description in Wikipedia, this journal has been “identified as one of two international journals which regularly publishes articles pertaining to race and intelligence with the goal of supporting the idea that white people are inherently superior…”
Nice one, Hans!
The nine other journals include two founded by Hans Eysenck
These two journals contain 8 ‘unsafe’ articles: Behaviour Research and Therapy, and Personality and Individual Differences are both published by Elsevier. A third Elsevier journal is the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
The Journal of Behavior Therapy and Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science are both published by Springer. However, not all 61 of the suspect publications were included in the KCL review. The KCL Enquiry failed to include 35 of the 61 suspect publications Several publications on the list of 61 suspect publications are published by Springer, including the three editions of a book in which personality is argued by Eysenck to be a greater risk factor for cancer and coronary heart disease than smoking:
- Eysenck, H.J. (1991). Smoking, personality and stress: psychosocial factors in the prevention of cancer and coronary heart disease. Springer-Verlag Berlin.
- Eysenck, H.J. (2011). Smoking, personality and stress: psychosocial factors in the prevention of cancer and coronary heart disease. Soft cover edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Eysenck, H.J. (2012). Smoking, personality and stress: psychosocial factors in the prevention of cancer and coronary heart disease. Kindle edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
The e-book is currently available on the Springer website for €74.96. The book’s author is incorrectly stated to be “Eysenck, Michael” something I feel sure Michael Eysenck would want to have corrected asap.
The blurb about the book states:
“It is often suggested that the incidence of cancer and coronary heart disease could be much reduced or even eliminated if only people would stop smoking cigarettes and eat fewer high-cholesterol foods. The evidence, however, shows that such views are simplistic and unrealistic and that, instead, cancer and CHD are the product of many risk factors acting synergistically. Psychosocial factors (stress, personality) are six times as predictive as smoking, cholesterol level or blood pressure and much more responsive to prophylactic treatment. This book admits that, while smoking is a risk factor for cancer and CHD, its effects have been exaggerated. A more realistic appraisal of a very complex chain of events incorporating many diverse factors is given, and appropriate action to prevent cancer and coronary heart disease is discussed.”
As stated in my February 22, 2019, JHP editorial, “To his eternal shame, the attempts by Hans Eysenck to discredit the well-established causal links between tobacco smoking and cancer while in receipt of large sums from the tobacco industry is one of the most shameful deceits committed by any scientist in the Twentieth Century.”
26th ‘Unsafe’ Paper
On Friday 11 October, 2019 at 17.41 BST, I received notification from the Institute of Psychiatry that the 26th ‘unsafe’ paper, which had been omitted from the KCL Internal Review Report due to administrative error, was:
Grossarth-Maticek, R., H. J. Eysenck and H. Vetter (1988). “Antismoking attitudes and general prejudice: an empirical study.” Percept Mot Skills 66(3): 927-931.
Bogus Rejection by BMC Psychology
The BMC series of journals, which includes BMC Psychology, is a part of Springer Nature, one of the Springer group of companies that also published HansEysenck’s book on smoking, personality and stress.
On Friday 11 October, 2019, 18.17 BST, I received a rejection notice from BMC Psychology for a paper I had submitted two months previously. My paper is an integrative review of dissociative responses following child abuse and their role in subjective paranormal experience.
The rejection notice states:
“I have assessed your manuscript and regret to inform you that it cannot be considered for peer-review. Please find my comments at the end of this email.”
The reason for the rejection is that:
“Unfortunately your manuscript is out of scope for this journal.”
This reason is patently untrue. The contents of BMC Psychology includes 58 articles related to child abuse, 13 on dissociation, and 4 on depersonalisation. One article published on 10 July 2019 in BMC Psychology is specifically concerned with the taxonomy of clinical psychological problems including paranormal experiences:
Bakker, G. M. (2019). A new conception and subsequent taxonomy of clinical psychological problems. BMC Psychology, 7(1), 46.
The reason given for rejection by BMC, therefore, is bogus.
My Legitimate Scientific Research Rejected Across 65 BMC-series Journals
As if receiving a bogus rejection is not bad enough, the letter also stated:
“Please note that this decision applies across the BMC-series journals (https://www.biomedcentral.com
Thus my research work has been prohibited from further consideration by any of the BMC-series of 65 journals across 16 different fields of science and medicine listed below.
This is an excessively draconian measure that goes beyond any principle of fairness.
Bearing in mind that I have already published five times in Nature, Springer Nature’s flagship journal, maybe there is more to this than meets the eye. It seems highly unlikely that an editor of one BMC journal is authorized to speak on behalf of all other BMC editors. Unless, of course, there has been an instruction from higher up. This issue needs to be resolved.
Trying to resolve the issue is proving difficult. The links on the BMC website to the Managing Editors of the BMC Series are dead. I have informed one of the section editors to see if he can cast any light on this matter. I thought the best thing to do would be to go directly to the editor. The Editor of BMC Psychology is a Dr Darren Byrne. At this point, the story goes full circle.
Dr Byrne completed his postgraduate training one year ago at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Eysenck’s alma mater.
Obviously, a complete coincidence.