According to a report published on Wednesday in the Guardian, University College London, a top university worldwide, has launched an urgent investigation into how a series of secret conferences on eugenics could have been held on its campus. The London Conference on Intelligence ran for three years and was hosted by an honorary senior lecturer at the university, James Thompson. The conference had “neo-Nazi links” and brought in speakers like white supremacists and a researcher who has previously advocated for child rape.
Notorious attendees of the conference included Richard Lynn and Emil Kirkegaard. The Southern Poverty Law Center names Lynn one of the most "unapologetic and raw 'scientific' racists operating today" and Kirkegaard, a blogger, has written in support of pedophiles, arguing they should be allowed to have "sex with a sleeping child." When asked for comment, Lynn told the Guardian that he has "written numerous papers on race differences in intelligence and their genetic basis. These have been published in academic journals."
UCL maintains that it had no knowledge of the conferences. “UCL is investigating a potential breach of its room bookings process for events,” a spokesperson for the university told the Guardian. “Our records indicate the university was not informed in advance about the speakers and content of the conference series, as it should have been for the event to be allowed to go ahead.” The university has also asked Thompson for an explanation, and suspended his privileges for hosting further conferences.
As the newspaper notes, the conference may have represented a breach of the U.K. government’s laws against campus extremism.
The London Student discovered that Toby Young, the head of the New Schools Network, an initiative supported by the U.K. government, attended the conference last year. Young was also on the selection committee of the Fulbright Commission, a program that provides scholarship programs between British and U.S. universities. He has since stepped down from both positions.
Young claims he attended last year’s conference in order to get material for a speech he would later make in Canada about precisely the controversies that intelligence researchers provoke. He did make this speech, and in it he detailed how the invitation-only event, which consisted of 24 attendees, was organized.
“Attendees were only told the venue at the last minute, an anonymous ante-chamber at the end of a long corridor, called ‘lecture room 22’, and asked not to share this information with anyone else,” Young said. “One of the attendees, on discovering I was a journalist, pleaded with me not to write about the fact that he was there—he didn’t want his colleagues to find out.”
“But these precautions were not unreasonable, considering the reaction that any references to between-group differences in IQ generally provoke,” Young continued.
UCL is consistently ranked among the best universities in world. It is currently ranked No. 7 in the world by the QS World University Rankings.