London Conference on Intelligence

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The London Conference on Intelligence (LCI) is an invitation-only conference for research on controversial aspects of human intelligence, including race and intelligence and eugenics. Founded in 2014, it was secretly held in the Pearson Building at University College London (UCL) in London, England, on four occasions.[1] It was hosted by James Thompson, an honorary UCL senior lecturer in psychology.[2] The existence of the conference, as well as the names of some of the attendees, was revealed by the London Student on January 10, 2018.[3] In a statement released in response to news of the conference, UCL said that it had been unaware that the conference had occurred on its campus, and that the speakers there "were not approved or endorsed by UCL". Their statement also said that "We are an institution that is committed to free speech but also to combatting racism and sexism in all forms." The UCL also announced that it would investigate whether the organizers breached the University's room booking procedures as well as the circumstances that led to awarding of an honorary senior lectureship to Thompson.[4]

LCI was moved from London to Skanderborg, Denmark, in May 2018. Helmuth Nyborg has said "we don't trust the media" to explain why conference organizers avoid public attention.[5]

UCL investigation[edit]

The LCI was investigated in January 2018 following the 2017 attendance of Toby Young (who was then involved in controversy over his past tweets and tenure on the board of the government-funded Office for Students) at these conferences, as well as their alleged eugenicist content, neo-Nazi links and clandestine nature.[6][7] The Guardian reported that "Speakers included white supremacists and a researcher who has previously advocated child rape."[8] Young later resigned over the controversy.[9]

Thompson hosted the event without informing senior university officials. In response to an investigation by London Student revealing that the conference had taken place on UCL's campus, UCL announced it would be investigating how a conference on eugenics was able to occur on their campus without the university's knowledge. A UCL spokesperson told the Guardian that "UCL is investigating a potential breach of its room bookings process for events"; UCL also revoked Thompson's approval to organize future conferences.[10][7] The UCL issued a press release saying that it would investigate the circumstances that led to awarding of an honorary senior lectureship to Thompson, and reaffirmed that it is committed to combating racism. UCL has now cut all ties with Thompson and taken steps to avoid the possibility of such events taking place without the University's knowledge.[8][11]

In response to the controversy, the journal Intelligence published a correspondence defending the conference authored by 15 of its attendees. The correspondence disputed that the LCI was a eugenics conference, saying that, among the 75 presentations given there over four years, only two had been on the topic of eugenics.[12] One of the authors of the correspondence, psychologist Aurelio José Figueredo, was subsequently reported to be the only academic receiving funding from the Pioneer Fund, which is associated with scientific racism and eugenics. Figueredo told the Associated Press that the conference was not about eugenics, and that its overall theme could not be represented "by a few presentations".[13]

This led to the university setting up an inquiry looking into its historical links with eugenics.[14] Its report was published in February 2020, but nine of the 16 members of the team refused to sign it because it did not look into the conference meetings.[15] Three of its buildings, the Galton Lecture Theatre, Pearson Lecture Theatre and the Pearson Building were renamed.[14]


Notable attendees of at least one of the conferences include:


  1. ^ "UCL launches investigation into secret eugenics conference". Times Higher Education. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  2. ^ Science, American Association for the Advancement of (2018-01-19). "News at a glance". Science. 359 (6373): 256–257. doi:10.1126/science.359.6373.256. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 29348213.
  3. ^ Daley, Jim (2018-01-12). "Secret Eugenics Conference Uncovered at University College London". The Scientist. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  4. ^ "UCL statement on the London Conference on Intelligence". (Press release). 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  5. ^ "Bandlyst fra universiteterne: Hemmelig forskergruppe mødes i Skanderborg" (in Danish). 2018-05-14. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  6. ^ Bennett, Rosemary (11 January 2018). "University College London under fire over its conferences on 'eugenics'". The Times. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b Van Der Merwe, Ben. "Exposed: London eugenics conference's neo-Nazi links". London Student. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b Fazackerley, Anna (6 December 2018). "UCL launches inquiry into historical links with eugenics". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  9. ^ Adams, Richard (23 March 2018). "Toby Young quits New Schools Network, citing media pressure". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Rawlinson, Kevin; Adams, Richard (2018-01-11). "UCL to investigate eugenics conference secretly held on campus". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  11. ^ "UCL statement on the London Conference on Intelligence". (Press release). 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Woodley of Menie, Michael A.; Dutton, Edward; Figueredo, Aurelio-José; Carl, Noah; Debes, Fróði; Hertler, Steven; Irwing, Paul; Kura, Kenya; Lynn, Richard (July 2018). "Communicating intelligence research: Media misrepresentation, the Gould Effect, and unexpected forces". Intelligence. 70: 84–87. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2018.04.002. ISSN 0160-2896.
  13. ^ Kunzelman, Michael (2018-08-25). "APNewsBreak: University accepted $458K from eugenics fund". AP News. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  14. ^ a b Anthony, Andrew (2 August 2020). "UCL has a racist legacy, but can it move on?". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  15. ^ Fazackerley, Anna (28 February 2020). "UCL eugenics inquiry did not go far enough, committee say". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  16. ^ a b Van Der Merwe, Ben. "It might be a pseudo science, but students take the threat of eugenics seriously". Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  17. ^ Yorke, Harry (10 January 2018). "UCL launches 'eugenics' probe after it emerges academic held controversial conference for three years on campus". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  18. ^ "White supremacists held secret eugenics conference at prominent London university for years". Newsweek. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  19. ^ "Exposed: London's eugenics conference and its neo-Nazi links". The London Student. 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  20. ^ "I warned about the spreading influence of eugenics – yet an advocate was able to work at Downing Street". The Independent. 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  21. ^ "No 10 adviser resigns over alleged race comments". BBC News. 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-02-17.

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