The Racist Investigator Cited in the Buffalo Gunman’s Manifesto

The Racist Investigator Cited in the Buffalo Gunman’s Manifesto

The Racist Investigator Cited in the Buffalo Gunman’s Manifesto

BRUSSELS — The researcher claims there is an IQ drop in France linked to large-scale migration from North Africa. He has co-authored a book on the global decline in intelligence, in which he establishes a link between ethnicity and cognitive abilities. And he argues that humans can be divided into subspecies, a cornerstone of white supremacist ideology.

He was also quoted, among other academic references, in a manifesto written by the teen motivated by racist views who murdered 10 black people in a Buffalo supermarket last month.

Despite his own extreme views, the researcher, Michael Woodley – a 38-year-old British man – is affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, one of Belgium’s leading universities, and his controversial work was originally undertaken while studying at some of ‘s the world’s most prestigious academic institutions.

The discovery that the gunman had cited Mr Woodley’s work shocked many academics, who said they hoped it would now force institutions to question their responsibility to society, academic rigor and the space they give to extremist groups. ideas.

Alex Mas Sandoval, a Spanish researcher in population genetics at the University of Bologna, said he was “appalled” to learn that the Buffalo shooter had tried to use science to justify his actions.

Scientists involved in population genetics and other related fields were “concerned about misinterpreting our findings,” he said, adding that he had examined the manifesto for all references to his field.

“In most cases, the killer decontextualized scientific conclusions,” he said. But, he added, one person cited by the shooter stood out for his extreme views: Mr Woodley, whose expertise lies in plant ecology, but whose work also includes research into human genetics and intelligence.

“Woodley has been explicitly racist,” said Mr Sandoval, who started an online petition to have the British researcher suspended and his Ph.D. withdrawn. Mr. Woodley holds degrees from Columbia University and from Royal Holloway, University of London. “He has a history of spreading racist, white supremacist theories,” said Mr. Sandoval, adding, “He is questioning a consensus based on decades of research.”

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel suspended its relationship with Mr Woodley last week after Mr Sandoval started his petition and a Belgian newspaper published a story about the researcher. In a statement, the university said it was “shocked” that an “element from a paper” by Mr Woodley had appeared in the Buffalo gunman’s manifesto. A university science committee will now examine Mr Woodley’s work to decide on further steps, it said.

Mr Woodley declined to comment, but Francis Heylighen, the director of the Leo Apostel Center, an interdisciplinary research institute at the university to which the British academic is affiliated, described him as “absolutely devastated by the turn of events.”

Mr Heylighen said the center had no position on Mr Woodley’s theories, as “he has published dozens of highly technical papers in a variety of respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals, which give people who do not have the specific scientific expertise, very would find. difficult to assess.”

At the heart of Mr Woodley’s article cited by the shooter is an argument that humans can be scientifically divided into subspecies. A table comparing humans to a number of animal species, including jaguars and leopards, was used in the Buffalo gunner’s manifesto.

Theories such as the one Mr Woodley claimed have long been a mainstay of pseudoscientific attempts to justify slavery, colonialism and Nazism, which have been widely rejected by contemporary mainstream academics.

Woodley’s academic interests over the course of his career have been eclectic, including articles on ways of communicating with the dead and intelligence in parrots, in addition to human genetics and intelligence.

A Royal Holloway spokeswoman said Mr Woodley completed a doctorate in plant ecology there from 2007 to 2011 and that his 2010 article referenced by the Buffalo shooter was “written and published in a personal capacity.” The article described the author’s band as “School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London.” Elsevier, a large mainstream academic publisher that produced the magazine that printed Mr Woodley’s article, declined to comment.

Angela Saini, a British journalist who wrote a book called “Superior: The Return of Race Science,” said Mr Woodley was a fixture in a group of far-right academics she researched, centered around an academic journal called The Mankind Quarterly. , which has been accused of promoting scientific racism and in which the researcher has been published.

“I think things have changed in recent years, partly because of the political discourse,” said Ms Saini. “And with the rise of ethnic nationalism and the far right, we’ve become more aware of how risky, how dangerous these people are,” she said, adding, “They’ve gained a huge following over the years.”

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel declined to answer questions about who started the relationship with Mr Woodley in 2013 and for what purpose. According to university records, Mr Woodley was a speaker at a seminar in April, but the video of his performance is missing from the official website, which shows the recordings of the three other speakers.

And on Mr. Woodley’s personal website, sections about his investigation and media appearances have been removed in the past week.

The status of Mr. Woodley as an affiliated researcher meant he was not paid by the Belgian university, and it remains unclear how he funded his work.

One of his papers mentions that the funding was provided by the Unz Foundation, a non-profit organization run by Ron Unz, a software entrepreneur. Mr. Unz is the founder of The Unz Review, a far-right website criticized by the Anti-Defamation League as hosting racist and anti-Semitic content. Mr Woodley refers to himself in several other publications as an “Unz Foundation Junior Fellow”.

“I am independently funded, and the person who independently funds me will not withdraw my funding because I am involved in political research,” Mr Woodley told Stefan Molyneux, a white supremacist blogger with whom he appeared in a video. in 2019. “Actually, he’s more likely to give me more money because of that, so I’m very lucky.”

Several employees of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel expressed their indignation at the fact that no one at the university had sounded the alarm about Mr Woodley’s opinion.

Karen Celis, a political scientist at the university, said she was shocked to read Mr. Sandoval’s petition. “It’s the opposite of what we stand for,” she said. “I wondered: how come, if it was known in certain circles, the alarm bells didn’t go off?”

She added: “Our university stands for humanist values: freedom, solidarity, justice, inclusion. We also face free inquiry, but sometimes there is tension between the two and for me it is clear which side we have to be on.”