Toby or not Toby?


Old world IQs


Thanks to StewGreen for this:  [hilariously ironic….on [BBC Money Box] Lewis’ Twitter description of himself….’Unregulated, unlicensed, and unequivocally for free speech and a free press’….unequivocably for free speech…unless……]


Seems somewhat sensationalist and judgemental and all too ready to accept the Eye’s version and their clearly sexed up narrative.

The UCL has reacted with shock that its premises were used for such a conference…..

“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.

“We are an institution that is committed to free speech but also to combatting racism and sexism in all forms.

“We have suspended approval for any further conferences of this nature by the honorary lecturer and speakers pending our investigation into the case.

….hmmm….so they forgot the other years that the conference was held there then?

The London Conference on Intelligence, held annually since 2014 at University College London, focused on research about how genetic and racial differences allegedly affect the intelligence of different demographics, among other topics.

The second London Conference on Intelligence will take place the 8-10 May [2015] in London at University College London.


Toby Young responded to the Private Eye smear job…….

I naively thought that if I resigned from the Office for Students, stepped down from the Fulbright Commission and apologised for the offensive things I’d said on Twitter the witch-hunt would end. In fact, it has reached a new, frenzied pitch. The mob’s blood lust is up and it won’t rest until it has completely destroyed me.

Things took an ugly turn yesterday when Private Eye published a story saying I had attended ‘a secretive conference’ at University College London last year organised by Dr James Thompson, an Honorary Lecturer in Psychology at UCL. This is an annual affair known as the London Conference on Intelligence. It then went on to summarise some of the more outlandish papers presented at this event in previous years – not in the year I attended, mind ­– such as a paper arguing that racial differences in penis length predict different levels of parental care. It pointed out that in 2015 and 2016 this conference had been attended by someone described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as a ‘white nationalist and extremist’. It even dug up a blog post by one of the attendees in which he tried to justify child rape. It described all these people as my ‘friends’.

Needless to say, this article has led to a deluge of grotesque smears, on everything from the Canary to Russia Today. (The Russia Today article is headlined: ‘Shamed Toby Young ‘attended secret eugenics conference with neo-Nazis and paedophiles’.) More alarmingly, seemingly respectable, mainstream newspapers have followed up these stories – slightly toned down, of course, but with the same implication: that I am a neo-Nazi, an apologist for paedophilia and God knows what else.

So here are the facts. Yes, I went to the 2017 London Conference on Intelligence – I popped in for a few hours on a Saturday and sat at the back. I did not present a paper or give a lecture or appear on a platform or anything remotely like that. I had not met any of the other people in the lecture room before, save for Dr Thompson, and was unfamiliar with their work. I was completely ignorant of what had been discussed at the same event in previous years. All I knew was that some of them occupied the weird and whacky outer fringe of the world of genetics.

My reason for attending was because I had been asked – as a journalist – to give a lecture by the International Society of Intelligence Researchers at the University of Montreal later in the year and I was planning to talk about the history of controversies provoked by intelligence researchers. I thought the UCL conference would provide me with some anecdotal material for the lecture – and it did. To repeat, I was there as a journalist researching a talk I had to give a few months later and which was subsequently published.

Yes, I heard some people express some pretty odd views. But I don’t accept that listening to someone putting forward an idea constitutes tacit acceptance or approval of that idea, however unpalatable. That’s the kind of reasoning that leads to people being no-platformed on university campuses.

In an article for the Guardian, the University of Montreal conference, where I did actually speak, is described as ‘similar’ to the UCL conference. Complete nonsense. It was a super-respectable, three-day affair held at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Numerous world-renowned academics spoke at it, including Steven Pinker, the famous Harvard professor, and James Flynn, the political scientist who has given his name to the ‘Flynn effect’. In 2015, the same lecture I gave – the Constance Holden Memorial Address — was given by Dr Alice Dreger, a well-regarded author and academic.

You can see the website for the Montreal conference, and the roster of speakers, here. Virtually every one is a tenured professor. To reiterate, that’s the conference I spoke at, not the one in London.

Polly Toynbee joined the lynch mob earlier today – or, rather, re-appeared in the lynch mob – in a column headlined: ‘With his views on eugenics, why does Toby Young still have a job in education?’ In the column, she repeats the smear in the headline, calling me a ‘eugenicist’ – again, the implication being that I’m some kind of neo-Nazi. In case you miss the point, she says I’m on the ‘far right’ and I think ‘the poor are inferior’. (Bit rich, considering Polly sent her children to expensive private schools and mine are all at state schools, but still.)

Polly’s ‘eugenicist’ slur – which has been thrown at me by virtually the entire Parliamentary Labour Party – is based on a deliberate misunderstanding of an article I wrote for an Australian periodical in 2015 called Quadrant and is then ‘backed up’ by Polly by selectively quoting from it. She also throws in the fact that I attended a ‘secretive eugenics conference’, etc., etc.

In that article for Quadrant – which you can read here – I discuss an idea first presented by Julian Savulescu, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, which he summarises as follows:

Imagine you are having in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and you produce four embryos. One is to be implanted. You are told that there is a genetic test for predisposition to scoring well on IQ tests (let’s call this intelligence). If an embryo has gene subtypes (alleles) A, B there is a greater than 50% chance it will score more than 140 if given an ordinary education and upbringing. If it has subtypes C, D there is a much lower chance it will score over 140. Would you test the four embryos for these gene subtypes and use this information in selecting which embryo to implant?

Now, we haven’t yet developed the ‘genetic test’ referred to by Savulescu, and it’s possible that we may never do so because: (a) intelligence may not be genetically-based; and (b) even if it is, we may never discover all the subs-sets and combinations of genes associated with it. But what if it is and we do? Science fiction today becomes science fact tomorrow. In my Quadrant article, I discuss an obvious risk associated with the technology described by Savulescu, namely, that if it is ever invented, the first people to take advantage of it will be the rich so they can give their children an even greater advantage than they currently enjoy. In short, it will make inequality even worse.

My solution to this problem, set out in the article, is that this technology, if it comes on stream, should be banned for everyone except the very poor. I wasn’t proposing sterilisation of the poor or some fiendish form of genetic engineering so they could have babies with ‘high IQ genes’ or anything like that. Just a form of IVF that would be available on the National Health to the least well off, should they wish to take advantage of it. Not mandatory, just an option, a way of giving their children a head start. I was thinking about how to reduce the risk that this new technology will exacerbate existing levels of inequality – how to use it to reduce inequality. I described my proposal as ‘a form of egalitarianism’.

It is for this that Polly Toynbee – who obviously hasn’t read the article – has labelled me a ‘eugenicist’.

You think I’m mischaracterising my article? Dressing it up to make it sound less like an extract from Mein Kampf? Don’t take my word for it. Read this summary of my argument by Iain Brassington, who writes a bioethics blog for the Journal of Medical Ethics. After marvelling at all the people who’ve called me a ‘eugenicist’ (including Vince Cable, no less), he points out that what I’m suggesting ‘is in many ways, fairly unremarkable’.

What’s notable from a bioethicist’s perspective is just how familiar the arguments being presented here are. It’s hard to read Young’s article without thinking of a good chunk of the work on genetic screening, and on enhancement, that’s been done over the past few years… it’s pretty standard stuff in seminar discussions about screening; and nor is there anything that is obviously morally beyond the pale.

Hear that Polly? Nothing that is obviously morally beyond the pale. He thinks I’m wrong about lots of stuff, by the way – just not a Nazi. Read his piece. It’s very good.

So that’s the long and the short of it. Because, as a journalist, I went and had a look at a strange conference being held at UCL – and because I discussed a familiar bio-ethics problem in an obscure Australian periodical – I’m some kind of ‘far right’ nut job who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near kids, let alone schools.

It has been suggested – in the Guardian and elsewhere – that the reason I stepped down from the Office for Students is because I knew the Private Eye article was coming out and my number was up. That’s balls. I said some stupid, puerile things on Twitter late at night of which I’m thoroughly ashamed and for which I’ve unreservedly apologised. It became clear that having said those things, I couldn’t serve on the Office for Students without causing an almighty stink that would render it unable to do its job. But I’m not remotely ashamed of having attended the London Conference on Intelligence.

I believe in free speech. That includes defending the right of researchers and academics, however beyond the pale, to present their findings to other researchers in their field at academic conferences so they can be scrutinised and debated. If you believe someone is putting forward a theory that is wrong, unsupported by the evidence, you should want their theories to be exposed to scrutiny, not swept under the carpet. No-platforming people whose ideas you disapprove of is self-defeating.

That’s been my lifelong credo – and I had hoped to bring it to bear in the Office for Students, which has been tasked with protecting academic freedom. That is not to be and I have accepted that. But enough already. Just because I sat at the back in a lecture room at UCL one afternoon, scribbling away in my reporter’s notepad, while some right-wing fruitcakes held forth about ‘dysgenics’ does not make me a Nazi. If it did, then the fact that Jeremy Corbyn regularly attended a conference run by Holocaust-denier Paul Eisen would make him an anti-Semite.



Toby Young’s talk at the respectable International Society for Intelligence Research……[in PDF]….

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15 Responses to Toby or not Toby?

  1. Fedup2 says:

    Looks like the honourable Toby enjoys the attention a bit too much . In summary – he should have stood his ground . Yes they’d have made it tough but he should have waited for May to fire him .

    It falls into the file marked “ bottled it” along with the mail columnist who was told to take his poppy off on an al beeb programme and did it . Regretting he decision has no value afterward .

    Slightly different – people are still after humph to resign from al beeb . He is now described as “74” with the age implication . The recording is online too and it don’t sound like banter


    • scribblingscribe says:

      Thought Toby was a clever Toff. How could he think that a resignation and an apology would satisfy the fermenting left wing mob?

      As the left will tell you when a guy is down then it is safe to give him a good kicking.

      He should have learnt from the left’s destruction of Sir Tim Hunt, who went on the BBC to offer his Soviet styled apology and the BBC made life worse for him.

      Nope, when the left turns a human being into a victim, then they will destroy him.

      Bounce back Toby. There are more feathers to ruffle.


  2. BigBrotherCorporation says:

    My perspective on Young is that he is: idealistic, naive and rather arrogant, academically gifted and altruistic (perhaps), but ultimately unworldly. All a result of his sheltered (privileged) middle class upbringing and background, no doubt, but it shouldn’t need pointing out that none of us are perfect.

    He’s been hounded by the usual Liberal mob, the more intelligent of whom are far more interested in keeping control and pointing out the latest potential victim (scapegoat?), than in the justice of any claims they might make. The vast majority of the Liberal media (like the herds of bleeting sheep who follow them), don’t do thinking, they’re happy to keep repeating the last bit of juicy ‘outrage’, and join any lynch mob going simply for the chance to stamp on someone’s face, but they don’t want to think about it too deeply (or they might get confused).

    I really don’t get why ‘Eugenicist’ is such a diabolical term, I am, instinctively, a eugenist (the correct term is probably eugenist, rather than eugenicist) myself, very few humans who have even a basic understanding of genetics don’t see the sense in eugenics (with a small ‘e’ note). However, that does not automatically make us ‘Nazis’, or ‘supremacists’, or ‘racists’, just people who believe in the power of genetics and Darwin’s ‘theory’ of evolution, that’s all. If you’re growing sweet peas, year on year, you don’t pick the seeds from those which grow with deformed flowers, do you?

    There again I could see enough of what was going in academia to leave before my academic career really began, and have no desire to raise my head above the parapet in the climate of ignorance and ‘fear’ in which we currently dwell.


    • Fedup2 says:

      It’s a hyper sensitive subject ( eugenics ) at the moment but the amorality of the dominant liberal bubble could easily move onto that ground. I mean they are fairly relaxed about killing babies through abortion and killing the elderly through poor social care, unofficial Liverpool pathways and just emptying beds so it’s not too bigger step.

      I’m a believer in not having kids unless you can afford them but that’s a rarely stated view. And I won’t hear sob stories about circumstances changing for people. Individuals must care for themselves and not expect the state ( other taxpayers) to automatically pay for them routinely – safety net is ok though.

      This isn’t about the Hon Toby Young Equ but it’s more important than I self promoting fool like him


  3. StewGreen says:

    Toby’s article is rather long, so here is the key point
    #1 libmob don’t wan’t a rightie to be on the committee
    #2 In an 18th century KKK dominated county anyone with the label BLACK is banned from a committee
    Now in 2018 for libmob anyone with the label RACIST/SEXIST is banned from a committee
    #3 There is only ONE real world, but by using a game of Chinese Whispers libmob can construct fantasy universes : They find paydirt ‘he went to a conference that say was eugentics and therefore racist”
    They frame it as
    ‘Shamed Toby Young ‘attended secret eugenics conference with neo-Nazis and paedophiles’.
    In the Eye & Russia Today

    ..So Toby Young wrote a debunk of that in the Spectator basically calling the writers wacky conspiracy theorists who don’t check their facts.
    He says he had been invited to present a paper at a different legitimate conference in Canada, where Stephen Pinker was also presenting.
    So for research on the topic of “controversies provoked by intelligence researchers.” he’d popped a long to one lecture for a few hours at this different London conference.
    He says after the PE article lots of journalists/newspapers have jumped on the misinterpretation bandwagon.
    I highlight the key phrase from his text :


    • StewGreen says:

      Now libmob are wiggling
      They construct these fantasy universes and refuse to come out of them.
      On the R4 forum 6 people liked that spurious Private Eye article
      .. and 1 person liked my posting of the Speccie rebuttal
      They dismissed it on the strange argument ,

      that Private Eye article above is already subsequent to the response from Young you are citing here and exposes errors in it

      That means I have to go on a wild goosechase in order to bring them back to the real world
      – And point out the Eye article is dated Jan 10 , the Speccie one Jan11
      – That although the Eye contains a line “Responding to the Eye Young said blah blah”
      That blah blah must have come from an email
      And then Young used a very similar but not identical blah blah in his Speccie article,
      The proof is that the Eye article doesn’t mention the Speccie article
      But the Speccie article does make itself clear that it is a rebuttal to the Eye and RT articles.
      .. Now the libmob commenters seem to have run away
      as per their usual MO : Label/Smear/Dismiss/Runaway


  4. CranbrookPhil says:

    Wow. What an excellent speech that is by Toby Young! Well worth firty-five minutes of your time to listen to.


  5. Zelazek says:

    I am disappointed in Toby Young. I thought he was made of sterner stuff. He should never have apologised. (By the way, does anyone else hate that word “unreservedly” that people use in their apologies when getting cold feet after they take on the Left?)
    Unfortunately he clearly doesn’t understand what dysgenics is. All it means is the genetic deterioration of the population. With the rise of modern medicine and an abundant food supply, natural selection has ceased to operate on modern populations. High IQ, strong conscientiousness populations are also having fewer children while fertility rates remain high in low IQ, weak conscientiousness populations. It is simply common sense to see that the IQ of the world as a whole is falling. (This is not good news for any of us including the low IQ populations.) It’s not an observation that only “fruit-cakes” make. But like so many other facts that the Left doesn’t want to recognise, to simply point this out instantly attracts the label “Nazi”. Debate is shut down, a problem remains unaddressed and the world drifts further towards a new Dark Age.


    • NCBBC says:

      I suppose he is in touch with lawyers.

      The Guardian is a loss making lefty rag. I dont think they can afford even the legal fees.


      • Fedup2 says:

        If the pm had a sense of humour she’d make the honourable Toby a peer. I mean shami got one for selling what morality she had left so why not anyone else.


  6. johnnythefish says:

    Rule by the mob – nearly there.

    British democracy RIP.


  7. pete0397 says:

    Everyone here is aware that the BBC gave Toby Young an entire half hour programme to himself to expound his ‘eugenics’ ideas last April..? Still available on the iPlayer.


    • Alan says:

      Not about eugenics but meritocracy. Eugenics is humans manipulating the population to get rid of those considered unfit in one way or another…meritocracy is merely allowing those with the skills and talent to rise and reap the rewards….but not actively breeding out the supposed lesser beings. Meritocracy may be the result of inherited genetic traits such as intelligence or a desire to work hard or the ability to kill people and dominate and rule a society with violence for example, but that is nature not eugenics.

      Of course the programme is just another opportunity for the BBC to dismiss the Trump and Brexit voters once again as stupid ignorant working class people….shame Young seems to promote that narrative as well….however as he himself voted Leave that disproves his own, and the BBC’s, point.


  8. BigBrotherCorporation says:

    Alan, I’d argue that your definition of Eugenics is that espoused by the liberals, e.g. Eugenics (with a capital ‘E’) = ridding the world of those deemed ‘unfit’ as determined by some elitest group.

    The dictionary definition of eugenics (with a small ‘e’) on the other hand = the science of improving the human race through selective breeding and/or genetic study.

    The difference may only seem minor at first glance, but is, in fact, profoundly significant. I’d argue that such science carries on regardless of popular opinion and the ‘mainstream agenda’, but there are major ethical implications to it. Making it a ‘taboo’ subject merely aids those who want to abuse it for their own ends.

    Like so many things, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are largely in the eye of the beholder, but I’d argue that opening such topics up to wider discussion (rather than denying it happens at all and shouting down anyone who wants to discuss it AKA ‘safe spaces’) is the best way to ensure it stays on more ethical (or at least acceptable) paths.

    Arguably, meritocracy is just eugenics under a more acceptable label, at least if you believe genetics have an over-riding impact on who we are and what we can achieve. That comes back to the nature vs nurture debate, I guess.


    • BigBrotherCorporation says:

      As for Brexit voters being stupid, old and working class.

      1. I’d say, from people I know, that the distribution of intellect (in various forms) is roughly equal. There was a strong correlation between university education and voting Remain, but that’s related directly to age (see 2.). Also, as someone with a PhD myself I’d argue that academic qualifications are not necessarily a mark of ‘intelligence’. There are plenty of very bright people with no higher qualifications, and plenty of not so worldly (in some cases downright ignorant) ones with them too!

      2. There was a fair correlation between age and voting Brexit, but that doesn’t mean everyone under 25 voted Remain, or everyone over 65, voted Brexit by any means. In fact it’s roughly 1/3rd Brexit in the youngest third, 1/2 and 1/2 in the middle age group, and 2/3rds Brexit in the oldest third. All this really proves is that older people tend to not like the EU (experience?), whilst younger people tended to believe we were better off in it (inexperience?). This also relates directly to 1. above, the percentage of the population going to Uni in 1985 was approx. 10%, the percentage going in 2015 50%, once that’s taken into account the correlation of ‘intelligence’ (e.g. higher education) and voting Remain actually falls apart.

      3. Who can define ‘working class’ today? By profession/trade, or by wealth? By education, where you live, or parental ‘status’? It’s all a bit meaningless, especially when a skilled specialist tradesman can easily earn more than a university lecturer, or teacher. If you go by profession/trade, then of course those in: some building trades, drivers and semi-skilled/unskilled factory work all voted Brexit – they were exactly the people who lost their incomes to immigrant workers from the EU, so of course they’d vote Brexit.

      None of this is ‘rocket science’ is it? To be honest is anyone surprised by any of this at all? The reporting of it is just an excuse to keep flogging the same dead horse (over and over and over again).

      Can’t really comment in the same way on Trump voters in the US, but expect the true pattern of who voted for Trump and who for Clinton, was a lot more complex than the MSM (dumbing down for the young ‘intellectuals’?) presented at the time. However, it’s easy to see that those from the states that have large scale unemployment were more likely to vote for his promise of ‘something different’. If you’ve got nothing to lose, who’d you vote for? More of the same?… not me.