|Founders||Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, Davide Piffer|
|Publication types||Academic journals|
OpenPsych is an online collection of three open access journals covering behavioral genetics, psychology, and quantitative research in sociology. Many articles on OpenPsych promote scientific racism, and the site has been described as a "pseudoscience factory-farm". The journals were started in 2014 by Emil Kirkegaard, an activist with ties to the far-right, and Davide Piffer, an Italian parapsychologist, who had difficulty publishing their research in mainstream peer-reviewed scientific journals. The website describes them as open peer reviewed journals, but the qualifications and neutrality of the reviewers have been disputed.
Journal contents and quality
OpenPsych consists of three journals — Open Differential Psychology, Open Behavioral Genetics, and Open Quantitative Sociology & Political Science — founded by Emil Kirkegaard and Davide Piffer in 2014. Journal contents are free to access and there is no cost associated with submission. The founders of the website believed that their articles were being regularly rejected by mainstream scientific publishers because of bias against their contentious submissions. Many of the articles are about race realism, a form of scientific racism, and purport a biological basis for differences between races, ethnicities, and immigrant groups in measures such as crime and IQ. Unlike typical scientific journals, OpenPsych accepts anonymous manuscripts.
The quality of peer review at OpenPsych has been disputed. Reviewers do not need advanced academic qualifications, nor need to specialise in what they review. For example, Kirkegaard reviews paper submissions to two of the journals, but has only a BA in linguistics, claiming he is entirely "self-taught". Most of the reviewers are also authors of articles in the same group of journals. Of the thirteen known members of the review board in 2020, two were anonymous and eight seemed to have doctorates. Members of the review teams include Gerhard Meisenberg, Heiner Rindermann, Peter Frost, John Fuerst, Kenya Kura, Bryan J. Pesta, Noah Carl and Meng Hu.
The journals act as a research network for far right, alt-right, and White nationalist causes, following in the footsteps of the Pioneer Fund and Mankind Quarterly; of its top 15 contributors in 2018, 11 had written for Mankind Quarterly in the preceding three years. Several members of its editorial board hold far-right political views and have attended the controversial London Conference on Intelligence. The Southern Poverty Law Center, in an article discussing proponents of scientific racism including Kirkegaard, describes OpenPsych as a "pseudojournal". Kirkegaard is regarded by the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right to be a "figure on the radical right fringe". Landis MacKellar has described Emil Kirkegaard and John Fuerst as "both outright cranks" noting OpenPsych are "tenderly peer-reviewed online journals specializing in scientifically controversial (bordering on dubious) politically incorrect pieces derived in part from (Roger) Pearsonian hereditarianism."
Eric Turkheimer in a coauthored paper in Perspectives on Psychological Science criticises the review process of OpenPsych's journals and describes them as "pseudo-scientific vehicles for scientific racism":
Notably, Fuerst and Dalliard (2014) was published in Open Behavioral Genetics, an online journal created and edited by another author of Pesta et al. (2020; Kirkegaard). Open Behavioral Genetics and related journals in the OpenPsych network (also created and edited by Kirkegaard) have been dismissed by experts in the field as pseudo-scientific vehicles for scientific racism (Panofsky et al., 2020). Per online records of the review process for Fuerst and Dalliard (2014) (OpenPsych, 2014a, 2014b), Kirkegaard was one of the reviewers of Fuerst and Dalliard (2014), and Fuerst himself was one of only a handful of reviewers for the journal at the time. Thus, neither of Fuerst’s original analyses has undergone rigorous peer review.
In May 2016, Kirkegaard and Julius Daugbjerg Bjerrekær published a paper in Open Differential Psychology that includes the data of nearly 70,000 OkCupid (a dating website) users, such as their intimate sexual details. The publication was widely criticised at the time and been described as "without a doubt one of the most grossly unprofessional, unethical and reprehensible data releases." Although Kirkegaard claims the data is public, this is disputed by others who point out the data is restricted to logged-in users only:
Moreover, it remains unclear whether the OkCupid profiles scraped by Kirkegaard’s team really were publicly accessible. Their paper reveals that initially they designed a bot to scrape profile data, but that this first method was dropped because it was “a decidedly non-random approach to find users to scrape because it selected users that were suggested to the profile the bot was using.” This implies that the researchers created an OkCupid profile from which to access the data and run the scraping bot. Since OkCupid users have the option to restrict the visibility of their profiles to logged-in users only, it is likely the researchers collected—and subsequently released—profiles that were intended to not be publicly viewable. The final methodology used to access the data is not fully explained in the article, and the question of whether the researchers respected the privacy intentions of 70,000 people who used OkCupid remains unanswered.
In April 2019, Noah Carl who reviews submissions for Open Quantitative Sociology & Political Science was dismissed as a research fellow at St Edmund's College, Cambridge University because of his association with OpenPsych, which involved collaborating with a number of individuals who are known to hold racist and far-right political views.
- Panofsky, Aaron; Dasgupta, Kushan; Iturriaga, Nicole (2020-09-28). "How White nationalists mobilize genetics: From genetic ancestry and human biodiversity to counterscience and metapolitics". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 175 (2): 387–398. doi:10.1002/ajpa.24150. ISSN 0002-9483. PMC 9909835. PMID 32986847.
- van der Merwe, Ben (2018-12-20). "No, objecting to Cambridge's appointment of a eugenicist is not about free speech". New Statesman. GlobalData. Archived from the original on 2019-08-27. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- Ward, Justin (12 March 2018). "Wikipedia wars: inside the fight against far-right editors, vandals and sock puppets". Southern Poverty Law Center.
- "About OpenPsych". OpenPsych. Archived from the original on 2019-05-11. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- Gillborn, David; McGimpsey, Ian; Warmington, Paul (2022). "The fringe is the centre: Racism, pseudoscience and authoritarianism in the dominant English education policy network". International Journal of Educational Research. Elsevier BV. 115: 102056. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2022.102056. ISSN 0883-0355. S2CID 252029697.
- Bradbury, Rosie; Chye, Chye (2018-12-07). "Hundreds of academics oppose research fellow's eugenics work on discredited "race sciences"". Varsity. Archived from the original on 2019-05-24. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- van der Merwe, Ben (2018-12-07). "Former Nuffield fellow denounced for "racist pseudoscience"". Cherwell. Archived from the original on 2019-08-19. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- van der Merwe, Ben (2018-01-10). "Exposed: London's eugenics conference and its neo-Nazi links". London Student. Archived from the original on 2019-07-02. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- van der Merwe, Ben (2018-02-19). "It might be a pseudo science, but students take the threat of eugenics seriously". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 2019-07-30. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- Ward, Justin (2018-03-12). "Wikipedia wars: inside the fight against far-right editors, vandals and sock puppets". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 2020-05-14. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- Barnes, David (2018-06-25). "Eugenics: White Nationalists Continue To Turn To The False Theory Of Genetic Supremacy". Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. Archived from the original on 2019-07-03. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
- MacKellar, Landis (2019). "Once Upon a Time in Germany… : A Review Essay". Population and Development Review. 45 (3): 665–673. doi:10.1111/padr.12286. S2CID 203269965.
- Giangrande, Evan J.; Turkheimer, Eric (2022). "Race, Ethnicity, and the Scarr-Rowe Hypothesis: A Cautionary Example of Fringe Science Entering the Mainstream". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 17 (3): 696–710. doi:10.1177/17456916211017498. PMID 34793248. S2CID 236262112.
- Besnick, Brain. (12 May 2018). Researchers just released profile data on 70,000 OkCupid users without permission Archived 2019-07-12 at the Wayback Machine. Vox.
- Zimmer, Michael. (14 May 2016). Study Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science Archived 2019-07-11 at the Wayback Machine. Wired.
- Chang, Lulu. (15 May 2016). Update: OKCupid succeeds in removing 70,000 users’ leaked data from public view Archived 2019-07-03 at the Wayback Machine. Digital Trends.
- St. Edmund’s College in the University of Cambridge EXTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE APPOINTMENT OF THE TOBY JACKMAN NEWTON TRUST RESEARCH FELLOW  Archived 2019-07-03 at the Wayback Machine, Independent Report to the Governing Body Sir Patrick Elias, External Investigator 30 April 2019.