Journal Retracts More Articles for Being 'Unethical, Scientifically Flawed, and Based on Racist Ideas and Agenda'

Retraction Watch Staff

August 25, 2021

Eight months after a psychology journal retracted a pair of articles that were "unethical, scientifically flawed, and based on racist ideas and agenda," the publication has pulled three more papers — all at least a quarter century old — for the same reason.

All five papers were written by J. Philippe Rushton, formerly of the University of Western Ontario, who died in 2012. As we wrote in December 2020, Rushton published dubious studies that promoted tropes of white supremacy, including that Blacks are less intelligent than whites and that:

East Asians and their descendants average a larger brain size, greater intelligence, more sexual restraint, slower rates of maturation, and greater law abidingness and social organization than do Europeans and their descendants, who average higher scores on these dimensions than Africans and their descendants.

Here's the new notice, whose language mirrors that of the earlier retraction statement:

The following articles have been retracted from Psychological Reports:
Rushton, J. P. (1987). An Evolutionary Theory of Health, Longevity, and Personality: Sociobiology and r/K Reproductive Strategies . Psychological Reports, 60, 539–549.
Rushton, J. P. (1992). Contributions to the History of Psychology: XC. Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits (with Reference to Oriental-White-Black Differences): The 1989 AAAS Paper . Psychological Reports, 71, 811–821.
Rushton, J. P. (1995). Race and Crime: International Data 1989–1990 . Psychological Reports, 76, 207–312.
This retraction is following a review that found that the research was unethical, scientifically flawed, and based on racist ideas and agenda. Specifically, these publications authored by Philippe Rushton on the subject of intelligence and race has been rejected based on the following findings:
A better understanding of the human genome ( Yudell et al., 2016 )
An inappropriately applied ecological theory that explain differences between species' reproductive strategies to humans ( Allen et al., 1992 ; Anderson, 1991 )
A misuse of population genetic measures and misconceptions about heritability ( Bailey, 1997 )
Ignoring alternative explanations or evidence that did not support the racist theories being presented ( Cain & Vanderwolf, 1990 )
Rushton's findings have not been able to be replicated ( Peregrine, Ember, & Ember, 2003 )

Together, the papers have been cited 48 times, according to Clarivate Analytics' Web of Science. At the time of this writing, none of the original abstracts include a link to the retraction notice.

When we wrote about the Rushton case last year, we received a copy of an email from the journal saying that it would be retracting Rushton's 1992 paper, "Contributions to the History of Psychology: XC. Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits" along with the other two articles. That didn't happen at the time.

We asked Cory Scherer, the editor of Psychological Reports, about the eight-month gap between retractions. He told us:

I got an email from a researcher who brought these articles to our attention and when I read them I moved fast on the first retraction and the rest were found when that retraction was already written and In press. I didn't want to add them to the original retraction until I did my due diligence about the second set found.

Our search of the journal's website turned up eight articles in total by Rushton in the journal, of which three remain unretracted. Scherer said he has created a committee to review the remnant papers to see if they require retraction.