Investigations Editor


The seminar led by Gregory Clark, a visiting professor at LSE, was due to take place yesterday but was postponed amid pressure from students.

A highly controversial seminar to be led by Gregory Clark, a visiting professor at London School of Economics, to be delivered for the Adam Smith Business School has been postponed amid pressure from student groups. 

In an email sent out to all those that signed up the organisers stated that postponement was due to a “high degree of interest beyond that which could be accommodated in a seminar”. This high degree of interest was in spite of the evident lack of promotion for the event by the Adam Smith Business School on their social media channels and the unusual ticket system where you had to email them directly to receive the event link, leading some to suspect people were registering to protest the online event. Some students were advocating for people to register and not attend in order to take up all available slots in order to limit the audience of the professor. 

The talk that was scheduled to be to be delivered was titled: "For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls: A lineage of 400,000 individuals 1750-2020 shows genetics determines most social outcomes". In his book of a similar title, For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls: Genetics, Demography and Social Outcomes, he argues that socio-economic status is genetically inherited through the “genetic transmission of … some mysterious mix of drive and ability”.  He also theorised that “200 years from now the descendants of enslaved African-Americans will still be underrepresented”. Some have asserted his statistical analysis on which these conclusions are based is highly questionable, with a lack of reference to inherited wealth and social status asserting correlation between surnames and wealth as causation. 

This week saw an announcement from Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, stating universities face fines for suppressing free speech on campuses. Speculation has led some to believe that being the reason why the event was not cancelled, and instead postponed, despite these new fines not applying to Scottish universities. An Adam Smith Business School spokesperson said: “The Adam Smith Business School decided to postpone a seminar with economist Professor Gregory Clark last week.  We noted a high degree of interest beyond that which could be accommodated in a seminar.  We plan to reformulate the event as a workshop to focus on different perspectives and analyses of what is a novel historical dataset.”

Editorial note 23 February: A previous version of this article had a different quote from the Adam Smith Business school. We have replaced it with an updated statement at the request of a spokesperson for the school. The headline also previously used eugenicist without quotation marks. We have subsequently changed the headline in the interest of balance, as this claim is in dispute.


17 replies on “Adam Smith Business School postpone seminar by “eugenicist””

RAYMOND J KEENAN says:

Everybody, white, black, brown, yellow and green of course will have a tendency to lose ambition and drive if they’re given too much.

Anonymous says:

It would be surprising if Mr. Clark had not taken into account the obvious question of inherited wealth in his analysis.

It is clear that the far left has no compunctions regarding the use of underhanded tactics to censor information and discussion they refuse to accept and likely cannot refute. Any such tactics must be rejected and prevented by academic institutions.

Francis Galton says:

Gregory Clark is a national treasure. He is giving a partly genetic explanation for human nature and human history, which is precisely how any sane Darwinian explains history. These little pearl-clutching puritans are like creationists who apply Darwinism to everyone except people. Even worse, they try to equate eugenics (the view that we should use our knowledge of genetics to influence our reproductive choices, which includes testing embryos for heritable traits like Tay Sachs disease) with the most extreme version of eugenics held by Nazis. It’s so boring. Guess what? Hitler was a vegetarian, and Mengele read his children bedtime stories. Does that mean all vegetarians and bedtime reading are evil? Lolz 🙄

Hugh Mann says:

“Some have asserted his statistical analysis on which these conclusions are based is highly questionable”

It would be nice if the newspaper of a famous and ancient University could provide citations at this point. And where does the “eugenicist” bit come from? Out of the air?

“with a lack of reference to inherited wealth and social status asserting correlation between surnames and wealth as causation”

Isn’t Professor Clark best known for exhaustive analysis of thousands of wills? He sounds to me like a socialist from the pre-Blair Labour Party.

“it is better to reduce the gains people make from having high status, and the penalties from low status” – from his Guardian article on social mobility.

Galileo Galilei says:

Some things are true even if the authorities do not like this set of facts

Clive Beaconsfield says:

Mr. Clark’s thesis here can be described as hereditary an. It is not “eugenicist” unless he is advocated selective human breeding or genetic engineering to promote traits deemed desirable, or vice versa.

Clive Beaconsfield says:

*hereditarian, of course

Hugh Mann says:

“The headline also previously used eugenicist without quotation marks. We have subsequently changed the headline in the interest of balance, as this claim is in dispute.”

Yet nowhere in your piece is eugenics mentioned, either in or out of quotes. It’s just an unattributed assertion in the headline. Whatever happened to journalism?

Amy says:

Where is your evidence for his eugenicist views? I thought this was meant to be reputable journalism, not a false-claiming tabloid.

Emiko OKoturo says:

You are correct Sam because his opinions seem pseudo scientific in this context. He is not an expert in genetics and as I have been prevented by the Cancel Culture, I cannot examine how he uses statistics to come to his conclusion because his lecture has been postponed or cancelled. Stephen Jay Gould, Professor Stephen Rose and Professor Hillary Rose have published expert findings on these issues that consider the incompatibility of these type of pseudoscience with appropriate understandings of genetics, statistics, psychology and sociology that relate to these sensitive issues.

sam says:

as a former student of Gregory Clark, i believe the university is right in reforming the event. His work is concerning particularly the way he presents his findings. When he would make remarks during lecture about how economic success is based on genetics, he failed to discuss inherited wealth and discrimination people may face that would hold them back. While I don’t think Gregory Clarks is a eugenists and he is just trying to be provocative, his work should not be taught as fact and needs to be disputed.

Rory O'Hallorohan says:

hes doing his job. let him speak. let him be wrong. is does not equal aught

James says:

Dear Professor Clark,

I am interested in your lecture and do not change the title of your talk. If you are prevented from exercising your academic freedom to speak freely and it does not matter what your conclusions are you should consider legal action against the institution. You are entitled to speak freely that is the foundation of a accountable democracy and I am entitled to agree or disagree or both with your opinions on this subject if I am allowed to hear and consider your thesis.

The University of Glasgow has just been criticised for racism and Incivilities by a public regulator and they think postponing or cancelling your lecture is a way to deal with a problem I experienced as a former student which is serious problem there.

I world be interested in reading any published papers on the subject.

Emiko says:

I totally agree with you Dr Leonid Schneider. I think Gregory Clark should have been allowed to present his ‘evidence’ so the pseudoscientific basis could be determined.

Neil says:

How embarrassing! I’m a graduate of the Adam Smith School and I cannot believe that staff agree or even participate with this decision to withdraw the invitation. Shame on the uni.

Amy says:

Wow, from Leonid Schneider’s link “Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist. This is a science area populated mostly by white men (as a Japanese, Kanazawa is basically qualified). “

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