Jennifer Buley, The Copenhagen Post, September 26, 2011
Controversial former Aarhus University developmental psychologist and “intelligence researcher” Helmuth Nyborg is once again being charged with scientific dishonesty. This time for claiming that immigrants are lowering Denmark’s IQ average.
The article, published in April in the British journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’, presents a statistical model for how average IQ levels in Denmark will fall steadily over the years as a direct result of immigration from what Nyborg called “low IQ countries”.
For documentation Nyborg presented an annuity model based on data from the United Nations and Statistics Denmark on birth rates by country and immigration to Denmark.
But three researchers from Aarhus University and Aalborg University have argued that Nyborg’s annuity model is unscientific and twists the facts. They claim, moreover, that he plagiarised it from the work of an economist with connections to the nationalist, anti-immigration organisation Den Danske Forening, reports Information newspaper.
“It’s a model where you have a completely hypothetical idea that certain [immigrant] population groups have the same birth rates as people in the country they came from. But it doesn’t take into account what is known about demographic changes,” Jens Mammen, a professor emeritus from Aarhus University, one of the three researchers who filed the complaint against Nyborg, told Information.
Besides sloppy science, Mammen and the others have accused Nyborg of outright plagiarism.
They claim that the annuity model in Nyborg’s article was actually created by Jørn Ebbe Vig, who they claim is an economist and statistician for Den Danske Forening.
Den Danske Forening does not publish the names of its members or leadership, but its website claims, in English, that its objective is “to safeguard Danish culture, language and traditional lifestyle” and “to warn against the dissolution of our cultural identity which is now under threat of being swamped by an enormous influx of immigrants from countries plagued by overpopulation”.
Vig denied being the association’s economist and statistician, but admitted that he had done work for it.
At first Nyborg denied that he had used Vig’s annuity model. And both Vig and Nyborg rejected the plagiarism allegation; Vig even countered that he had borrowed Nyborg’s language and data for his research, not vice versa.
“I have talked with him about the method he uses and how he uses it, and in that way we have talked about things. I think it is just fine if he copies everything I have said and vice versa. That’s what research collaboration is,” Nyborg told Information.
But when Information presented Nyborg and Vig with dated, comparative excerpts from each of their writing that appeared to show that Nyborg copied Vig, Vig admitted that Nyborg had indeed paid him for “consulting work”.
“In terms of retrieving relevant data from Statistics Denmark, and how they should be extrapolated to produce a broad-based weighted average for birth rates and IQ data, I advised Helmuth Nyborg in exchange for payment,” Vig told Information.
Mammen and two other colleagues from Aarhus University and Aalborg University have reported Nyborg to the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (UVVU). They claim that, at the very least, Vig should be named as a co-author on the paper.
This is not the first time that Nyborg has been reported for scientific misconduct.
In 2007, he retired from Aalborg University after failing to produce documentation for findings he claimed proved that men are more intelligent than women, reports Politiken newspaper. Nyborg had published articles in 2002 and 2003 describing an original study on intelligence and gender that he claimed showed that men were more intelligent.
In 1996, he published research claiming that white people are more intelligent than black people.
In connection with Nyborg’s latest publication, Mammen and his colleagues claimed that he had not only damaged the international reputation of Danish research, he had also misled the public at home.
For example, Nyborg’s conclusions were recently cited in articles in the newspapers Jyllands-Posten and Weekendavisen in articles about immigration. In the Weekendavisen article, Nyborg was identified as an “intelligence researcher and former psychology professor”.
“It’s dishonest that the research or the researcher’s title and authority are being misused to promote political views. People are allowed to have political views, but it is dishonest if they are presented as though they are scientifically substantiated,” Mammen told Information.
The UVVU declined to comment as the case against Nyborg is still pending.