The Hans J Eysenck Saga continues: 14 retractions and 71 papers of concern


have issued expressions of concern for seven more Hans J Eysenck papers, including one for a paper published just after World War II.

As I have discussed in earlier posts, suspicions about Hans J Eysenck, who died in 1997, surfaced es early as the 1960s.  One of my lecturers at Reading University, Dr Vernon Hamilton, had worked as Eysenck’s research assistant.  As undergraduates we had all read Eysenck’s pelican book, Uses and Abuses of Psychology.  In our innocent naivety, little did we imagine that, later, Eysenck himself would be proved to be one of the primary abusers. Until Dr Vernon Hamilton revealed something about Eysenck’s laboratory ways.



Dr Hamilton told me in no uncertain terms that H J Eysenck cheated in his data analyses, which had led to a public conflict with Vernon [see: ANXIETY AND HYSTERIA-A REPLY TO VERNON HAMILTON].

Similar, unsettling concerns were raised by others who had worked for or with Eysenck and rumours circulated over several decades.

A Smoking Gun?

Only in 2019 when Tony Pelosi published his critique of Hans Eysenck’s publications with R Grossarth-Maticek was there anything approaching a “smoking gun’. King’s College London was alerted to the issue and carried out an enquiry.

To date, at least 14 of H J Eysenck’s papers have been retracted — a total that his biographer, Rod Buchanan, has said could well eclipse 60. To date, 71 of his papers have received expressions of concern [see Retraction Watch database here].

Several journals have not yet retracted papers described as unsafe by the KCL enquiry so many more retractions could be on the way.

An Impassioned Response

In response to the latest expressions of concern, Paul Barrett writes:

“Out of interest, I took a look at #2: Eysenck HJ. The Measurement of Personality. [Résumé]. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 1946

Absolutely unbelievable .. it’s just an article on the fragility of what psychologists call ‘measurement’ in the area of personality – perfectly reasonable for when it was written .. So, I’ve drawn a very public line in the sand on what I think of most psychologists and those others who posture ‘better than thou’ about Eysenck but who are no more than cargo-cult scientists themselves”

The diatribe continues:

There is enough ‘insult’ to these ‘protectors of the faith’ in those articles (and the many more referenced by me in my 2018 paper) to suggest they should all be called cheats, liars, and fabricators of ‘the truth’. But those epithets are left unsaid because the axioms, logic, and reasoned argument are so clear that such petty insults are just silly.

I am not here to defend Hans Eysenck – merely to point out that if anyone is to arrive at judgements about older and earlier work from anyone, it has to be on the basis of reasoned logic, facts, an understanding of quantity, and careful evaluation of evidence and the ‘knowledge-claims’ made on the basis of such evidence, not some kind of moralistic posturing typical of social media ‘tabloid’ commentary.

It’s why we at Personality and Individual Differences issued an expression of concern over the Grossarth-Maticek work.

I’m sorry to have to write like this but I’m sick to death of the posturing, preening, self-deluding academics who think they have a right to behave in this fashion. It’s one thing to express concern over studies whose results seem ‘extraordinary’, but a review ‘resume’ from 64 years ago??).”

Paul Barrett’s best argument in this debate is worth repeating:

“axioms, logic, and reasoned argument are so clear that such petty insults are just silly.

A Science News Article

by Cathleen O’Grady also addresses the Eysenck affair.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 12.22.33.png

Many articles declared unsafe by KCL still remain unretracted and the British Psychological Society has yet to investigate Eysenck.




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