The University of Cambridge has hired a controversial ‘race researcher’ to its Faculty of Philosophy who previously came under fire for publishing a ‘racist’ paper – despite knowing about its contents before hiring him.
Nathan Cofnas, an American who was appointed on a three year programme as an ‘early career fellow’ on September 1 of this year, has previously been the subject of fierce debate over his argument that there are intrinsic differences between races when it comes to intelligence.
Speaking to MailOnline, he confirms he still stands by what he wrote and said the University of Cambridge knew about the paper before he took up his position there.
Cofnas told MailOnline he would advise critics to ‘read it’. He added: ‘The paper represents my views then and now.’
In a 2019 paper published in Philosophical Psychology he criticised the idea that all ‘human groups have, on average, the same potential’, and argued that the ‘hypothesis’ of differences in IQ between men and women and different racial groups is ‘ignored’.
Cofnas also referenced adopting black children into white families and argued that some ‘race groups’ are ‘falsely blamed’ for structural racism.
His paper was widely debunked by various scientists, and in June 2020 the editor of the journal resigned over the controversy.
There has been backlash amongst students who have called the decision ‘crazy’ and ‘disappointing’, according to Cambridge’s student newspaper Varsity.
A response paper published by a leading group of researchers called Cofnas’ work ‘unintelligible and wrong-headed’: ‘Most researchers in the area of human genetics and human biological diversity no longer allocate significant resources and time to the race/IQ discussion… an equally fundamental reason why researchers do not engage with the thesis is that empirical evidence shows that the whole idea itself is unintelligible and wrong-headed.’
They added that Cofnas’ work had ‘racist ideological undertones’ and ‘pandered’ to racist ideas.
In the 2019 paper he refers to the theory of hereditarianism throughout, which relies on the fact that genetics are more important that environmental factors in determining people’s actions and decisions.
Students have begun to criticize his appointment, with one philosophy student telling Varsity: ‘It’s crazy that someone who’s published such obviously questionable work has been given not only a platform but a Fellow position.
‘It’s obviously disappointing but not surprising.’
Cofnas refers to old studies that claim white populations have a higher intelligence than black populations.
In the article, Cofnas repeatedly references what he sees as ‘race differences in intelligence’, and claims that ‘the adult black-white IQ gab has remained stubbornly constant… since around 1970.’
He referred to studies into ‘early intervention’ techniques to battle his so-called ‘race difference’, including adoption.
He wrote: ‘Adoption by white families [of black children] – one of the most extreme interventions possible – has virtually no effect on the IQ of black adoptees.’
Cofnas appears to question the extent that racism exists within society and argue that white populations are unfairly ‘blamed’ for ‘differences’ between races.
He wrote: ‘As long as people believe that race differences have a purely environmental cause, differences will, in practice, most likely be attributed to racism or institutional racism.
‘Denying the possible genetic cause of race differences will not stop people from being focused on race.’
He added that ‘if people believe that members of certain races are victimized or benefited by racism’ this could cause harm to society.
He called for research to give a ‘biological account’ of how ‘genes lead to race differences’, adding: ‘As of now, there is nothing that would indicate that it is particularly unlikely that race differences will turn out to have a substantial genetic component.
‘If this possibility cannot be ruled out scientifically, we must face the ethical question of whether we ought to pursue the truth, whatever it may be.’
He claimed research such as his is censored and that ‘if not all groups have identical distributions of potential, then it is unjust to assume that some people must be blamed for average differences in performance among groups.’
The University of Cambridge has been contacted for comment.