Toby Young Toby Young

Will Noah Carl get a fair hearing?

A letter appeared in the Times this morning defending Dr Noah Carl, the young Cambridge scholar who was branded a ‘racist pseudoscientist’ and accused of making ‘errors’ in an ‘open letter’ signed by over 200 academics in fields like ‘critical race studies’ and ‘media and communications’. The letter in the Times today is signed by three postgraduate students from Nuffield College, Oxford, where Dr Carl, who describes himself as a ‘conservative’, did his PhD. They argue that ‘popularity should not be allowed to take the place of intellectual debate’ and urge the Cambridge authorities not to be swayed by ‘popular opinion’.

I blogged about this episode in The Spectator last week, pointing out that the authors of the open letter had failed to cite any of Dr Carl’s research papers or quote from his work to back up their allegations. In addition, Quillette, where I’m an associate editor, published an editorial defending Dr Carl, and launched a counter-petition which has now attracted almost 1,000 signatures. Among those academics who’ve criticised this attempt to destroy Dr Carl’s reputation are Jonathan Haidt, a professor at New York University, Jeffrey S. Flier, a professor at Harvard, Cass R. Sunstein, another professor at Harvard and Jeff McMahan, a professor at Oxford. The Heterodox Academy, an organisation created to defend viewpoint diversity in the academy, has also criticised the attack on Dr Carl.

In a news story in the Times pegged to this morning’s letter, it says a group of Cambridge students have been lobbying for Dr Carl’s fellowship at St Edmund’s College to be reviewed. ‘St Edmund’s is the only Catholic college in Cambridge and was founded in dire times for Catholics in this country,’ one of them told Varsity magazine. ‘It is depressing to think that this college, with this history, is now enabling hate-speech against and oppression of minorities.’

As with the ‘open letter’, this student provides no evidence that Dr Carl’s research is ‘enabling hate-speech’ or the ‘oppression of minorities’, but this appears to be a reference to a paper he published in 2016 entitled ‘Net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly

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