‘Brilliant’ – But Censored

Here I post a chapter described as ‘brilliant’ by the book’s editor but censored by the book publisher. British Psychology In Crisis: A Case Study in Organisational Dysfunction (Ed., David Pilgrim, University of Southampton; Publisher, Kate Pearce, Phoenix Publishing House) will be available later in 2022. The publisher insisted on censoring words such as ‘sordid’ and ‘white supremacist’, which accurately describe the history of this beleaguered organisation.

The chapter describes the betrayal of academic values, ethics and freedom of expression within the BPS. The refusal to publish the piece without enforced sanitisation indicates the level of rank hypocrisy that exists among a few of today’s so-called ‘liberal’ thinkers. I quote here my response to the editor and publisher:

With regret, I must withdraw. I do not agree to have my chapter butchered into a dialogue with a sanitized title and content palatable to particular sensitivities. That was not what we agreed beforehand.  In no other edited volume to which I have contributed has the publisher intruded on the content already agreed between editor and author except for matters based on consultations with lawyers. As previously noted, your deletions are not required for legal reasons but appear to be matters of tone and taste, for example, the words ‘sordid’ and ‘white supremacist’. When I write ‘sordid’ I mean exactly that, and no publisher or editor has any right under any set of ‘rules’ regarding tone or taste to request this kind of deletion.

Email to David Pilgrim and Kate Pearce, 18 December, 2021

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. (George Orwell, 1953).

THE BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY AS A MORALLY BANKRUPT AND FRAUDULENT ENTERPRISE

Summary

The current crisis within the British Psychological Society is interpreted by the majority of contributors to this book as an indication that the Society is being misgoverned.  I go one step further. To this author, the Society is morally bankrupt and acting fraudulently.[1] The scale of the fraud is evidenced by a well-documented catalogue of ethical and academic betrayals. As a ‘learned society’, the Society’s core business is to serve the members, accredit degree programmes, publish books, produce scholarly publications and provide protection to the public from false therapeutic claims and malpractice. The Society’s legitimacy to perform these functions is severely compromised by its negligence of ethical probity and academic values such as equality of rights and freedom of expression.  I discuss here the Society’s failure to: i) fulfil the first object of its Charter to disseminate the science of psychology in an impartial and even-handed manner; ii) expunge and correct its sordid track record of institutional racism, eugenics, and classism; 3) investigate probity in the conduct and research of society members for the protection of patients and the general public from incorrect theories and harmful therapies. These examples indicate an abandonment of core values and duty of care to produce a Society that is a morally bankrupt and fraudulent enterprise.

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The BPS website states:

the British Psychological Society …is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education, and application of the discipline…

We strive to:

  • be the learned society and professional body for the discipline 
  • embrace equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do 
  • promote and advance the discipline 
  • be the authoritative and public voice of psychology 
  • determine and ensure the highest standards in all we do.  

1. Introduction

Consider the following :[2]

The first BPS President, also an Editor of the British Journal of Psychology, is a white supremacist advocate of eugenics who writes about the ‘mental differences between the higher and lower races’. The Society names a special annual lecture after him.[3]

An ex-officer in the British Army and BPS President – another white supremacist- writes about the inferiority of working class people [4] and questions their right to have children but, until very recently, has a prestigious medal awarded to up-and-coming psychology researchers.[5]

A leading psychology professor writes in the British Journal of Psychology [6]that large families are breeding grounds of the feeble-minded. After his death, this person is found guilty of faking the existence co-workers, authors, data and correlations to bolster his claim that intelligence is genetically determined.

A 1990 paper in The Psychologist claims that racial group differences in intelligence occur worldwide and these IQ differences are “paralleled by more than 50 other variables including brain size, maturation rate, personality and temperament, sexuality, and social organisation”.[7] This disgusting, unscholarly piece of work is supported by Britain’s most famous psychologist and by the BPS President.

A 2006 paper in the British Journal of Health Psychology proposes that black, sub-Saharan African people have problems living in the modern world because they are less intelligent than people living in richer, more egalitarian countries.[8]   In a well-known Psychology magazine, the same writer later claims that black women are objectively less attractive than women of other races.[9]

At a BPS webinar on ‘How to implement anti-racist practice’ on 12 October 2021, the President of the Society, Katherine Carpenter, also Chair of the Division of Neuropsychology, stated that she was “absolutely aghast to discover that other psychologists think that neuropsychologists think that – uhm – black people may be less intelligent…” [10]  

At a BPS clinical psychology conference in 2019, a live portrayal of the slave trade is presented as ‘entertainment’. The organisers fail to warn participants, obtain their informed consent or to stop the performance to prevent audience members becoming upset.[11] 

In 2020, a BPS Division of Clinical Psychology annual conference delegate displays a poster describing her research on forensic services. Another participant writes a sordid racial slur onto the poster, which is left on display for all participants to see.[12]

On multiple occasions, a clinical psychology professor sexually abuses a vulnerable 20-year old patient. Claiming drink problems, the professor is permitted by the Society to continue as a member.[13]

Britain’s most famous Psychology professor secretly obtains tobacco industry funding and uses fraudulent data to claim that tobacco is less harmful than the smokers’ own personalities and that behaviour therapy can be used to lower smokers’ risk of fatal diseases. An investigation at the professor’s university concludes that the professor’s publications are ‘unsafe’ and many papers are retracted by journals. However the professor’s fraud is never investigated by the Society, which continues to have a special lecture after him.[14]

According to the Chair of the Society’s Ethics Committee, alleged ethical breaches and misconduct by the Society’s employees are not dealt with by the Society’s Ethics Committee but by a Complaints Procedure.[15]

You are not dreaming – this is not dystopian fiction. All of these actually happened inside the BPS.[16]

How can a Society profess “excellence, ethical practices and highest standards” and yet also be responsible for the above list of unmitigated disasters? [17]  This ‘Catalogue’ is a sample of the breaches of moral codes and core values that are discussed elsewhere in this book, e.g. the alleged fraud currently under police investigation, the violation of human rights of the 2020-21 President-Elect, Nigel MacLennan, the publication of a libellous YouTube video about the same person, the lack of accountability of  the ‘Change Programme’, secret procurements of services, the unexplained use of membership fees for legal costs, and – no doubt – a thousand-and-one invisible infringements of civil decency that will never see the light of day.

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Who am I and why do I care?  I am membership number 3829, David Francis Marks, Chartered Member, Fellow of BPS since 1984, founder member of the Division of Health Psychology and the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section. Born and raised in Portsmouth. I discovered Psychology in the reading rooms of the public library. On arrival at the University of Reading in 1963, my tutor, Professor Magdalene D Vernon, suggested I join the BPS. Here I am 58 years later. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined anything remotely similar to the above and that I would be writing about it now as a whistle-blower. I am especially concerned with a core academic and ethical value that few ‘white’ BPS members tend to discuss: equality of treatment of all people regardless of age, ability, class, ethnicity, race, gender and sexual preference, without fear or favour. I discuss these issues because they have generally been woefully neglected. For me, these are significant gaps in the Psychology discipline and professions which must be filled. In A General Theory of Behaviour[18], a textbook on methodology[19], six editions of Health Psychology Theory, Research and Practice [20] and in two peer-reviewed journals I founded, Journal of Health Psychology and Health Psychology Open, equality and diversity are corner stones.

I always liked to believe that improved knowledge and understanding of behaviour can be a positive force for good and that the wellbeing of all can be improved by the application of Psychology to social and economic problems. To achieve such a noble objective, associations of psychologists intent on improving the lot of fellow humans like the BPS should be helpful. This is why I joined the Society as an 18-year-old and have remained a member to the present day.

In the early 90s, I was elected to chair the BPS Health Psychology Section. My colleagues and I took the Health Psychology Section to Special Group status and then to BPS Division status. We designed the BPS accreditation of the first MSc and Stage 2/doctoral training programmes in health psychology in the UK. I attended APA conferences, represented the BPS on international bodies such as the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations and the International Association of Applied Psychology.[21] BPS Presidents and senior officers became trusted colleagues and personal friends. My motivation was to further Psychology as an applied scientific discipline and the BPS was also a helpful avenue for career advancement.

The current cabal of career managers conducts the Society’s business in an autocratic, tick-box manner that wastes resources and is spinning out of control. Large sums are invested in ill-founded projects such as the ‘Change Programme’ operating beyond the attentions of members.[22] Under the sleepy eye of the Charity Commission, the BPS continues its descent into a Kafkaesque calamity as a dilapidating lip-stick and powder puff phizog seeking purpose and meaning within a ruinous existential crisis. The dead hand of tick-box managerialism is anaesthetising and irreversible. Breathe a little longer, if you can, but in this author’s opinion, the Society is finished. In the remainder of this chapter, I explain why.

2. Failure to fulfil the first object of the Society

The first object of the Society[23] is: to promote the advancement and diffusion of a knowledge of psychology pure and applied and especially to promote the efficiency and usefulness of Members of the Society by setting up a high standard of professional education and knowledge. One key way to implement the first object is to accredit academic programmes for awards of Psychology degrees within British universities. Such degrees require BPS approval to fulfil the conditions of the Graduate Basis of Chartered Status (GBC).[24] Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) ensures that, before any student can start a professional training course, they have already studied psychology in sufficient breadth and depth to provide a sound basis for their postgraduate training. BPS accreditation of awards presumes a foundation of academic values that have evolved over centuries. Sadly, these values have been manifestly betrayed by the BPS, with nobody in the university system seeming to have noticed.

The primary academic value is freedom of speech.[25] Exercising freedom of speech requires institutions to enable and encourage open expression of thought, ideas and beliefs through discussion, criticism and debate. It also requires the institutions themselves to be open and transparent. If an institution hides or redacts or fails to openly display its decision making, the members are themselves powerless to even form opinions, never mind actually expressing them. The fitness of the BPS to operate as a learned society rests on its ability to demonstrate its adherence to academic ethics and values including freedom of expression.

In March 2021 the Society published a paper[26] outlining its current thinking. In processing this document, as any other, it is necessary to distinguish words and actions and judge the organisation’s authenticity by the latter. Unfortunately the actions of the Society’s officers and paid employees betrays a concerning lack of openness and transparency. Letters remain unanswered or receive cursory or cryptic responses. Postings on the Society’s website are deleted if judged to be too critical of the Society. Freedom of expression is routinely blocked by the Editor of The Psychologist. To give one example, when this author questioned the zenophobic conduct of the Editor of The Psychologist, my comments were deleted from the public record.[27] The Society’s CEO has failed to respond to an open letter published more than two years ago.[28] Such experiences of non-response, cancellation and deletion have been repeated multiple times with a variety of dissident members.

The Psychologist’s official guidance states: “In terms of ethical practice, The Psychologist will not publish material that is discriminatory, libellous, prejudiced or otherwise offensive, either by the nature of the content or by the manner of presentation.” Yet the monthly mouthpiece of the Society, The Psychologist, has broken this principle on numerous occasions. There is a notable betrayal of the code of ethics and academic values including freedom of expression within the offices and outlets of the British Psychological Society on frequent occasions. Its recent public actions show that the Society:

  • Lacks commitment to the pursuit of truth (e.g. the Memory and Law Task Force);
  • Fails in its responsibility to share knowledge (e.g. its partisanship over scientifically contentious issues of memory and gender dysphoria);
  • Cancels freedom of thought and expression (e.g. the deletion of criticism on the Society’s websites; partisanship on scientific issues including improperly evaluated therapies such as IAPT).
  • Fails to analyse evidence rigorously by reasoned argument to reach a conclusion (e.g. again the lack of discussion on memory, gender dysphoria the IAPT programme)
  • Is unwilling to listen to alternative views and judge them on their merits;
  • Neglects to consider how its conduct will be perceived by others (e.g. xenophobic public statements by the Editor of The Psychologist and blocking of the author’s criticism of same on Twitter).
  • Betrayal of the Society’s ethical code of conduct. The lack of ethics applies to senior BPS officers (e.g. alleged criminality of one or more officers in the BPS Leicester office, the illegitimate dismissal of the President-Elect, Professor Nigel MacLennan, and the publication of a libellous YouTube video about Nigel MacLennan). The betrayal of ethics also includes the failure to investigate alleged fraud by prominent members  (e.g. the late Professor Hans  J Eysenck). All of this evidence demonstrates that the Society’s fitness to be an accreditor of academic programmes can no longer be supported. 

3.    The British Psychological Society as institutionally racist   

“The visibility of race alongside the invisibility of racism is a dilemma all of us continue to deal with” (Sambaraju & McVittie, 2021).[29]  Invisible or not, British institutions are permeated by racism often evidenced as micro-aggressions rather than out-and-out plain nastiness. Multiple significant health differentials between ethnic groups within Britain are one of the consequences. [30]  Professional organisations like the BPS that are responsible for accrediting academic programmes and training must themselves be free of all forms of racism. Sadly, as a microcosm of British society, the BPS manifests in ways I have documented above all of the features of a racist organisation.  The only way the BPS could avoid this situation would be to adopt a policy of anti-racism to prevent racist incidents in its activities and publications, but no such action has even been taken. The scientific context is that biological ‘races’ do not exist and the term ‘race’ is an anachronistic  social construct. The term is placed here in single quote marks. In agreement with Richards (2012), there is no core of objective scientific knowledge about ‘race’ and  there have been, and can be, no enduring gains in scientific understanding about ‘race’. In spite of this, racism and racialism are potent determinants of social and scientific conduct and both have been prominent in BPS publications. All such publications based betray academic values and the Society’s Code of Ethics. 

The term ‘racism’ refers to any attitude or practice that is hostile and denigratory towards people defined as belonging to another ‘race’ with emotional or psychological involvement on the racist’s part. Racism and racialism within science extended into the 20th century including a significant number of prominent British psychologists who belonged to the eugenics movement. This aimed to improve the ‘quality’ of the human population using a variety of control measures such as attempting to influence the genetic ‘mixing’ of people that are alleged to be of higher/brighter and lower/duller quality e.g. sanctioning ‘mixed’ marriages, confining the ‘feeble-minded’ in institutions, using apartheid policies to separate ‘races’, and sterilization of people of low intelligence or of perceived poor ‘quality’. Sir Francis Galton  of University College London coined the term ‘eugenics’ and was the first president of the Eugenics Educational Society. From the perspective of the colonial British Empire, the eugenics mission was an emblem of ‘white supremacy’, the traces of which seep into the British Psychological Society to the present day. 

Before his death Galton wrote a book about a eugenic Utopia, called ‘Kantsaywhere’  where “a system of competitive examination for girls, as well as for youths, had been so developed as to embrace every important quality of mind and body”.  The results of this examination defined the status of the individual and the number of children they would be permitted to raise. Reproductive functions were to be regulated by an oligarchy selected by tests; social status was decided by four tests which together took only four hours” (Galton, n.d.). Galton’s fantasy was brought to fruition by several distinguished British psychologists who saw Galton as their mentor.  This train in thought has not yet been extinguished and a few recent studies help explain why.

Historically, indigenous, First Nation people have been classified as ‘primitive’ or ‘savage’ and they have been likened to animals or children. Saminaden, Loughnan and Haslam[31] examined these associations in contemporary consciousness in a subtle, implicit form. Consistent with colonial portrayals of indigenous people, research participants continued to associate traditional people with animal- and child-related stimuli more readily than people from contemporary, industrialized societies. Indigenous people also were ascribed fewer uniquely human attributes. The authors suggest vestiges of colonial ‘images of savages’ persist in contemporary western society as a cultural residue. Racial stereotypes from the colonial past are having a residual impact on psychologists’ practices and research publications.

In May 2020, a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, murdered 46-year-old George Perry Floyd by kneeling on the victim’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds in broad daylight in front of members of the public. A teenager Darnella Frazier made a video of this incident that went viral and triggered an unprecedented level of protest and huge support for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.[32] The response by British psychologists was muted. The Society President, David Murphy (2020) published a statement[33] and The Psychologist collated members’ letters.[34] In my own letter, I wondered if the BPS is structurally racist. The evidence comes from two main sources: accounts by psychologists from ethnic minority backgrounds of racism they have encountered and the Society’s publications.

Several members wrote moving accounts of their struggles as psychologists from an ethnic minority. Bruno De Oliveira (2020) argued that “We must act to decolonise Psychology” stating that: “During my educational and academic life, I have struggled with the lack of diversity in psychology. To this date as a lecturer, I ask myself whether psychology is for me. Can I make it in my field? As I look around me, there are still a few Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) academics in senior positions. From the research topic to the participants, psychology is not a welcoming environment for minorities” [35] 

Dr Rosabel Ng, an Educational and Child Psychologist, offered her thoughts as a psychologist working with diverse communities. She suggests that such work involves “reading, listening and actively engaging in discussions with others, while adopting an explicitly self-aware, open minded and curious position throughout.” [36]

Shameema Yousuf (2020)[37], an HCPC Registered Practitioner Sport Psychologist, had written about the ‘perpetuation of unequal access’ in sport and sport psychology. The article sparked discussions with two White colleagues who argued that Yousuf’s experience did not suggest racism, which Yousuf perceived as a ‘microaggression’.[38]

Apparently, the majority of the BPS membership was dumb-struck by #BlackLivesMatter. British psychologists appeared unprepared and untrained to deal with ingrained racist concepts and practices instilled like ‘residues’ conditioned by our early experiences, training and textbooks. We tacitly know the meaning and the harm of our silence, which is to make matters worse, most likely providing deeper offence and confirmation that, as an organisation, the BPS is indeed systemically racist.

Our complicity as white people in holding the residues of colonial  society, offering political-correctness but lacking any authentic actions of solidarity with our BAME colleagues is nothing less than shameful. Unless and until the non-BAME membership of the Society fully and uncompromisingly implements a transformative anti-racist policy at all levels of practice, nothing will ever change. Tinkering with reports, committees and warm words from the President achieve nothing. The Society must retract all of its racist publications. The racist underbelly of the Society is revealed by the appearance of essentialist, racist works in its peer-reviewed journals. As the statues of slavers fall, BPS publications by racist psychologists like Charles Spearman and William McDougall should be retracted, as should any recent examples such as the publication by LSE academic Satoshi Kanazawa.[39] Given the complexity of contemporary society and the relative sophistication of the social sciences today compared to the 19th century, it is breath-takingly offensive that this scientific racist article can be peer-reviewed and published by a journal of the BPS, the British Journal of Health Psychology, in the 21st century.  What kind of signal does such a publication send out about the ethics and academic values of the BPS?

Next, I discuss one of the most sordid and disgusting articles ever to appear in print: J. Philippe Rushton’s 1990 paper on ‘race’ differences published in The Psychologist.[40] In spite of the furore created by this publication over 30 years ago, this article remains published on the website of the BPS.[41] Personally, I find it difficult to understand how a professional body can maintain its position as a non-racist organisation while having these overtly racist publications on its website. Can I really be the only BPS member seeking retraction of racist science from BPS journals? There is nothing covert about Rushton’s repugnant paper, which was given full approval by the editors of The Psychologist.  It  is one of the most blatant statements of undiluted racist science one could ever find in the 20th Century. To restore as much of the dwindling faith in the BPS among its minority BAME and anti-racist members as possible, Rushton’s article should be retracted with a full public apology by the the Society.

Glynis Breakwell and Graham Davey, Honorary Editors of The Psychologist, apologised and promised that in future: “all academic articles (and replies) appearing in The Psychologist will have been reviewed by at least two independent referees”.[42] However that promise has not been kept; to the best of this author’s knowledge, academic articles in The Psychologist are not peer reviewed.  In a derogation of duty, the BPS President at the time, Professor Peter Morris, forgave the unforgivable.[43] As if matters could not get any worse, Professor Hans J Eysenck[44] (who reappears later in this chapter) could not resist the opportunity to defend Rushton, and while doing so, the Pioneer Fund [45], and one of the most welcoming journals to racist science, his own journal Personality and Individual Differences (October, 1990).

So here we have it: an undivided front of the leading British psychologists joining arms in defence of a sordid, blatantly racist article in The Psychologist. Apparently the entire BPS, its Presidents, Trustees, senior officers, committees and student members see nothing wrong here that requires correction. Inaction is to be complicit: “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” (Martin Luther King). A golden opportunity exists for the BPS to ‘get its house in order’ by retracting all racist science articles from its journals. It’s never too late to do the right thing: to say sorry, retract, and move on.

4. The Society’s failure to investigate probity in research

In my capacity as Editor of the Journal of Health Psychology, an independent, non-BPS journal, and a BPS Fellow, I wrote an Open letter to the Chief Executive of the BPS about the malpractice of a major figure within British Psychology, the late Professor H J Eysenck:

Dear Mr Bajwa,

I am writing about a serious matter concerning the research integrity of a person who one can presume was a member of the British Psychological Society. In the interests of openness and transparency, this is an Open Letter. If left unresolved this is a matter that can be expected to produce potential harm to patients, to biomedicine and science, to your institution, to its members and students. Although Professor Hans Eysenck died in 1997, the issue of alleged falsified science committed by the late Professor remains current to the present day.

To give a few examples, the 2017 edition of Eysenck’s autobiography published by Springer, in relation to the causal link between smoking and cancer, states, ‘On a purely statistical basis the causal efficacy of smoking – if this can be deduced at all from a simple correlation – is very much less than that of psychosocial factors; about one-sixth in fact’ (Eysenck, 2017Rebel with a Cause. Kindle Locations 3759–3761). Is the claim that psychosocial factors are six times more important than smoking something that the British Psychological Society is content to endorse or is it a claim that the BPS would like to see corrected? Or consider where Eysenck describes the effectiveness of psychotherapy in preventing cancer: ‘The total number of deaths in the control group was 83 per cent, in the placebo group 81 per cent, and in the therapy group 32 per cent, again demonstrating the efficacy of the method in preventing death from cancer and coronary heart disease’ (Eysenck, 2017, Kindle Location 3804–3806). Or the section where Eysenck claims that ‘there is some evidence that behaviour therapy may be useful in prolonging life, as well as in preventing disease’ (Eysenck, 2017, Kindle Locations 3821–3822).

I hope that the Society will add its voice to those who are requesting that the relevant publishers and journals should correct or retract Eysenck’s publications wherever they can be shown to contain questionable data-sets or claims that are known to be false.

The case is fully documented in Dr. Anthony Pelosi’s peer-reviewed article: ‘Personality and fatal diseases: revisiting a scientific scandal’. As the Editor responsible for the peer review and publication of Dr. Pelosi’s article, I have every confidence that Dr. Pelosi’s evidence and conclusions are reliable and true. In light of the policies and statutes of the British Psychological Society concerning research integrity I bring this case to your attention for investigation. A full and thorough investigation would be good for Psychology, for the research integrity of the BPS as a professional society and for the welfare of patients and the general public.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards, David F Marks BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS
Editor, Journal of Health Psychology

In three years I had received no response.  This indicates how seriously the Society regarded the issue of fraud carried out by British Psychology’s most famous Professor. In November 2021 I re-sent the letter to Sarb Bajwa seeking an explanation and an apology.  Dr Rachel Scudamore, Head of Quality Assurance and Standards, informed me that: “We accept that a failure to respond is discourteous and that it would leave you in a position of not knowing what action has been taken. I can only apologise on behalf of the Society for this error on our part.”

On 9th November, 2021, Roger Paxton, Chair of the BPS Ethics Committee, responded as follows:

The BPS Ethics Committee shares the concerns that you, Anthony Pelosi and others have expressed about some of Hans Eysenck’s publications. At its meeting in June this year, the Committee established a working group to consider these and other apparent instances of historical unethical conduct, including the work of Francis Galton and others on eugenics. The work of the group is underway and is drawing on a range of information sources, including the recent investigations by KCL and UCL into Eysenck and Galton respectively. The group is also considering the integrity of research by Eysenck reported in journals published by the BPS  The group regrets that the BPS did not respond more strongly when Anthony Pelosi first raised concerns about some of Eysenck’s research. 

The aim is that this project should comment publicly on these historical matters, refer to the Society’s current ethical standards and procedures, and offer recommendations about the teaching of these topics. We hope that the outputs from the project will be broad and emphatic, with the BPS taking a clear ethical stance, and, if appropriate, expressing regret that the Society, and the discipline of psychology, have at times been on the wrong side of history.

Before signing off, Roger Paxton stated that he would keep me updated on the outputs of this working group. Yet, in the December 2021 issue of The Psychologist, a half-page notice called for statements of interest for a new Chair of the Ethics Committee with immediate effect.

I wrote to Roger Paxton asking for more details, but he did not respond. Apparently, the offer to keep me updated was not something he was able to implement.

Conclusions

Over many decades the British Psychological Society has betrayed its core values of equity, diversity and inclusion. In abandoning its core values, the Society has become a morally bankrupt and fraudulent enterprise.  Its current parlous state means that the Society is failing to serve members, patients and the public well. Its failures have ignored evidence of false  knowledge claims and, at times, exposed the public to harm by turning a ‘blind eye’ to alleged fraud and malpractice. The BPS displays all of the characteristics of a morally bankrupt and fraudulent enterprise.

_________________________________________________________

Notes:



[1] ‘Fraudulent’ means deceiving others, not telling the truth, acting illegally: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/fraudulent

[2] I do not include here alleged incidents of criminal fraud, arson and malfeasance, which are discussed in other chapters.

[3] In the British Journal of Psychology, Charles Myers wrote: “Advantage has also been taken of Nature’s own variation such conditions, as in  the clinical and  laboratory study of individual mental differences, normal and abnormal, of excess or defect, including those produced by disorder, disease or injury, racial mental differences, e.g. the mental differences between the higher and lower races…”  Myers, C. S. (1920). Psychology and industry. British Journal of Psychology10(2), 177. Myers’ contributions are memorialised by ‘The C.S. Myers Lecture of the British Psychological Society’.

[4] In the British Journal of Psychology, Charles Spearman advocated the use of intelligence testing to select people who would be given the right to have offspring:…an accurate measurement of everyone’s intelligence would seem to herald the feasibility of selecting the better endowed persons for admission into citizenship—and even for the right of having offspring (Spearman, 1927).

[5] Almost a century after Spearman’s eugenicist publications, the BPS retired the Spearman Medal which, from 1965 to 2020, had been willingly accepted by 47 of British Psychology’s brightest and whitest: https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volumethe-34/april-2021/spearman-medal-retired

[6] Sir Cyril Burt (1950) discussed the alleged reduction in average intelligence that had been appearing in the literature as an empirical finding: “One  of the  earliest  results was the discovery  that the birth rate among families from which the duller children were drawn was about twice as high as  among those supplying the brighter junior county scholars.  What seemed most significant of all was the fact that, even within the same social and economic class, fully significant correlations were found. From the correlations observed (about 0.20) it was calculated that, if no counteracting factors were operative, the intelligence quotient would drop at the rate of about 11/2 points per generation; and (what would be far easier to verify) “in little over fifty years the number of pupils of scholarship ability would be approximately halved, and the number of feebleminded almost doubled.”  Curiously, this is exactly the opposite to the facts which show sustained increases in IQ scores over the last century (Flynn, J., 1984).

[7] The article by J. Philippe Rushton, president of the Pioneer Fund, was published by The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society in 1990. One of the most blatant statements of undiluted racist science one can find in the 20th Century, this article remains on the BPS website to the present day. Rushton justified his racist science in the following terms: “…racial group differences in intelligence are to be observed worldwide, in Africa and Asia, as well as in Europe and North America and that they are paralleled by more than 50 other variables including brain size, maturation rate, personality and temperament, sexuality, and social organisation”. Rushton, J. P. (1990): Race Differences, r/K theory, and a a Reply to Flynn,” The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 3, 5 (May): 195-98. In July 1990, the magazine’s Editors, Professors Glynis Breakwell and Graham Davey apologised but remained in post. The BPS President, Professor Peter Morris, wrote in support of the publication, as did Professor Hans J Eysenck. The Society membership witnessed an extraordinary closing of the ranks in the name of supporting the most egregious form of scientific racism.

[8] Kanazawa, S. (2006). Mind the gap … in intelligence: Re-examining the relationship between inequality and health. British Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 623–642. There was considerable embarrassment at LSE and flaws in Kanazawa’s analysis were published by this author who provided a very different conclusion about the data: Marks, D F (2007) Literacy not intelligence moderates the relationships between economic development, income inequality, and health. British Journal of Health Psychology, 12(2), 179-184.

[9] Prof Kanazawa stated in Psychology Today that black women are objectively less attractive than women of other races. LSE subsequently prohibited him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for 12 months.

[10] The recording of the webinar is available at: https://youtu.be/mIxstDoqbq0 (see 1:29:37).

[11] Delegates at the Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology (GTiCP) forum viewed a 12-minute dramatisation of the transatlantic slave trade in which one scene could be interpreted as a slave auction. A clinical psychologist Chris Jones later wrote: “Let’s not equivocate: The re-enactment of the slave auction at #GTiCP2019 was a shameful day in the history of British Clinical Psychology”. 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/11/15/british-psychological-society-apologises-distressing-members/

Subsequently asurvey of 352 clinical psychology trainees and a twitter site @AntiRacismDClin were organised: https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/Member%20Networks/Divisions/DCP/Racism%2C%20power%20and%20privilege%20in%20psychology.pdf

[12] Dr Kimberly Sham Ku (2020) describes her experience in an article in The Psychologist, A culture of silence and denial: “Disappointment. That was the emotion when I came face-to-face with the words ‘keep BME out of services’, boldly and shamelessly graffitied on my poster. The poster considered a project to support African and Caribbean men in forensic services who are transitioning back into the community, a population often facing the double challenge of cultural stigma and a lack of community support. Hostility towards minorities in all forms, be it religious, gender and the like, is a centuries old problem that we are tackling daily. The disappointment came from the ‘who’ and the ‘where’ – these words were written by a fellow Psychologist at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) annual conference held in Solihull. This was a conference with the overarching theme of social inequality and racism.” https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-33/april-2020/culture-silence-and-denia

[13]  https://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/jun/04/sarahboseley1

[14] Anthony J Pelosi (2018) Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal. Journal of Health Psychology, 24, 4: 421-439. David F Marks (2018).The Hans Eysenck affair: Time to correct the scientific record. Journal of Health Psychology, 24, 4: 409-420. David F MarksRoderick D Buchanan (2019). King’s College London’s enquiry into Hans J Eysenck’s ‘Unsafe’ publications must be properly completed. Journal of Health Psychology, 25, 1: 3-6. Russell CraigAnthony PelosiDennis Tourish (2021). Research misconduct complaints and institutional logics: The case of Hans Eysenck and the British Psychological Society. Journal of Health Psychology, 26, 2: 296-311. 

 

[15] The Complaints Procedure is dysfunctional and under investigation by the Charity Commission. https://atomic-temporary-150481510.wpcomstaging.com/2021/08/13/the-silly-season-psychologists-at-the-british-psychological-society-not-subject-to-the-societys-ethics-code/

[16] The default position for a BPS member historically was whiteness.

[17]  “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.(Martin Luther King).

[18] Marks (2018). A General Theory of Behaviour

[19] Marks & Yardley

[20] Marks, Murray and Estacio (2020).

[21] Mixing with the ‘great and the good’ of international psychology, I have the photos to prove it.  

[22] According to the spokesperson for the Society:

[23] Specified by its Royal Charter.

[24] Or ‘GBR’ as it was previously known.

[25] Flynn (2019) describes freedom of speech thus: “the great goods of humanity include human autonomy and the liberation of the human mind. It argues that this is possible, or at least likely, only under certain conditions, one of which is that free speech prevails. It also assumes that the university has a peculiar mission: the good society has designated it as an institution that, above all, not only seeks truth but also graduates people whose minds are prepared to seek the truth. I am not sure that there are many good universities today. Rather than feeling free to debate, professors and students walk about, and indeed, even off of campus are apprehensive of making slips of the tongue or behavior and being sent to mind – cleansing sensitivity training, harassed by mobs of their angry fellows, pilloried on social media, or brought before nebulous administrative tribunals with the power to punish them with consequences up to expulsion or termination of employment.” (Flynn, 2019, A Book Too Dangerous To Publish, pp. 14-15).

[26] “The Psychologist Policies and Protocols” (PPP) published by ‘The Psychologist and Digest Editorial Advisory Committee’ (PDEAC)

[27] The author was blcked from the twitter account of The Psychologist and my comments on the online version of The Psychologist were deleted.

[28] This letter is discussed later in the chapter.

[29] Sambaraju, R., & McVittie, C. (2021). Mobilizing race and racism: Visible race and invisible racism. British Journal of Social Psychology.

[30] David R. WilliamsYan YuJames S. JacksonNorman B. Anderson (1997). Racial Differences in Physical and Mental Health: Socio-economic Status, Stress and Discrimination. Journal of Health Psychology, 2 (3): 335-351.

[31] Saminaden, A., Loughnan, S., & Haslam, N. (2010). Afterimages of savages: Implicit associations between primitives, animals and children. British Journal of Social Psychology49(1), 91-105.

[32] BlackLivesMatter (2020). Black Lives Matter – About. Retrieved from: https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-defunding-the-police-really-means/

[33] https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-statement-racial-injustice.

[34] https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-33/september-2020/standing-against-racism.

[35] De Oliveira notedthe negative impact that psychological theories and practices have had on minority groups, which has been “further exacerbated by the failure of the bodies that oversee the discipline to recognise the key, distinctive cultural and social determinants that contribute to forming the subject. As the BPS oversees the university’s course for validation, the BPS could also ask for evidence as for what are psychology departments across the country doing to decolonise their curriculum. By decolonising the curriculum, I mean the fundamental reconsideration of who is teaching, what the subject matter is and how it is being taught. To illustrate, a report from the University and College Union stated that in the 2016-17 academic year 25 black women were recorded as working as professors compared to 14,000 white men.” 

[36] Dr Ng used a family resilience perspective to explore the views, stories and experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic parents raising a child with autism. She commented that: “The research revealed that in order to go beyond a tokenistic glance at race and culture, reflection needs be applied at different levels. This is needed so that we can recognise and manage underlying power imbalances that might persist. We would need to recognise the impact race and culture has on our own decision making and responses. At a less conspicuous level, we need to be introspective, being aware of cultural assumptions and the nuances that exist, recognising our own biases and blind spots and therefore explicitly locating our position in relation to others.” (Ng, 2020). 

[37] Yousuf, S. (2020). ‘It is a system that perpetuates unequal access’. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/it-system-perpetuates-unequal-access

[38] It is valuable to quote Yousuf more fully as follows: “It is also problematic that the people working with diverse athlete clientele are predominantly homogenous White. A recent conversation with a trainee sport psychologist in BPS Stage 2, highlighted that in group supervision, the impact of recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) events had not been discussed nor had any aspect of ‘Race’ and ethnicity ever been explored…I am curious why it is our British colleagues – except for a few people – have not taken a stance just as they do for male mental health, cancer, LGBTQ + and women in sport, all of which are necessary. How many colleagues have explored the connection between mental health and racism?. My identity is intersectional, my heritage raised in Rhodesia during the Apartheid (segregation) era. As a British citizen my entire life of nearly 50 years, I am still judged and socialised by the colour of my skin (along with my name and gender), by the very British ideology that forcibly separated during Apartheid. In the UK, the words ‘you Paki, go back to where you are from’, have been hurled at me despite not being Pakistani. This ideology still exists institutionally in less oppressive, but more insidious forms of racism. 

As psychologists we would rightly stand united against sexism and sexual abuse, discrimination of LGBTQ+, ageism, and disability. So let’s stand together against all forms of racism and racial abuse. As a Boston University alumna, I will end with the words of Ibram Kendi, who leads an anti-racism research centre at the university: ‘it is not enough to say you are not racist, you need to be anti-racist!’.

[39] Kanazawa, S. (2006). Mind the gap … in intelligence: Re-examining the relationship between inequality and health. British Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 623–642.

[40] J. Philippe Rushton (1990): “‘Race’ Differences, r/K theory, and a Reply to Flynn,” The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, Vol. 3, 5 (May): 195-98.

[41] https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/archive?page=30

[42] “The article by Rushton, for which the Honorary Editors took pre-publication responsibility, was not reviewed by independent referees, but was published as a reply to the earlier critical article by Flynn…Although the majority of the material in the Rushton article had been published previously in journals elsewhere, the Honorary Editors admit that it was a serious error that the article was not submitted for independent review. Among other things, the process would have subjected the table in the paper to greater critical scrutiny. The Honorary Editors agree that the scientific content of the table is below the standard which is required by The Psychologist and regret its publication. Publication of an article in The Psychologist does not constitute an endorsement by the Society of the views expressed by the author, and this disclaimer appears in every issue of The Psychologist. However, both the Honorary Editors and the Psychologist Editorial Committee have acted on the concerns expressed by members of the Society over this issue (including some members of Council), and have introduced an explicit policy for dealing with academic articles published in The Psychologist. In the future, all academic articles (and replies) appearing in The Psychologist will have been reviewed by at least two independent referees, and any articles that are signalled by reviewers as likely to cause offence will be published only with the consent of the Managing Editor and the Psychologist Editorial Committee. The Honorary Editors deeply regret any offence that this series of articles may have caused to some members. We hope that having made editorial procedures explicit, The Psychologist can continue to provide members with a forum for the discussion of controversial issues in contemporary psychology.”

[43] “As President, on behalf of Council, I welcome the frank and positive response by the Honorary Editors published above. I wish to express my confidence in them, the Editorial Committee and the new procedures that they have introduced.”

[44] In 1990 Hans J Eysenck was Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of London, Editor-in-Chief of Personality and Individual Differences.

[45] The Pioneer Fund is a major funder of racist science from which Hans J Eysenck and J Philippe Rushton both obtained research grants.

Published by David F Marks

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