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

Journals

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.

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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To date, at least 14 of H J Eysenck’s papers have been retracted — a total that his biographer, Rod Buchanan, has said could well eclipse 60.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.

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

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The Hans J Eysenck Saga continues: 14 retractions and 71 papers of concern

  1. Blimey, you must really loathe H.J. Eysenck!

    There’s not a lot to be said really that hasn’t already been said. I think those wondering about that ‘selective’ fragment you chose to quote from my rather more detailed and well-refenced comment on Retraction Watch, should take a look at my open-access article (and my open-access response to reviewers which I insisted on being published, as they made some good points which required greater explanation and justification from me.
    Barrett, P.T. (2018). The EFPA test-review model: When good intentions meet a methodological thought disorder.. Behavioural Sciences (https://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/8/1/5), 8,1, 5, 1-22.

    I’ve already been in court taking apart the assumptions of psychometrics and the assumed quantitative structure of IQ/Intelligence test scores, as has a US researcher in the US courts.

    It’s why I am perhaps less interest in all this than David.

    But, given Sage publishing suggested one of the papers I published with Hans was ‘bent’, on which I was a co-author (I did the analysis work), I took another look and reworked the analyses, and sent it to Sage asking for an apololgy. I did this for my own peace of mind rather than anything else, as I’m always mortified if I find a mistake in anything I do!

    I had no memory of any of it and was astounded to see it was actually analysis of someone else’s published correlation matrix. Gawd knows why Sage were complaining .. but then, this is the consequence of David Marks’s and others’ constant “He’s all bad” commentaries. I suspect nobody actually looked at the actual paper, just the name: “Eysenck”!

    I also put the reanalysis I sent to Sage on my website as one of my Technical Report Series:
    15. Verification of the data analyses reported in: Eysenck, H.J. and Barrett, P.T. (1993) The nature of Schizotypy. Psychological Reports, 73, 59-63. (March 6th, 2020).

    Click to access Verification_of_analyses_in_Schizotypy_1993_paper.pdf

    Ah well, I only found out about David’s quote exemplifying my ‘impassioned response’ from a 3rd party. I have no interest at all in any of this – but given David is clearly intent upon bad-mouthing/ridiculing anyone who dares say a word about HJE, I thought I ought to set the record straight about me at least, in case anyone actually reads what David has selectively quoted and thinks I’m a complete toss-pot!

    Like

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