Helmuth Nyborg


Helmuth Nyborg

Helmuth Nyborg (born 1937) is a professor of developmental psychology at Aarhus University, Denmark. He is one of the most cited Danish psychologists. [http://www.jp.dk/indland/artikel:aid=3904018:fid=11792/ ] His main research topic is the connection between hormones and intelligence. Among other things, he has worked on increasing the intelligence of girls with Turner's syndrome by giving them estrogen.

Nyborg is a controversial figure among the Danish public for his research on topics such as the inheritance of intelligence and the relationship between sex and intelligence. His article in "Personality and Individual Differences", in which he reports a 5-point average IQ difference in favour of men, [Cite journal
author = Helmuth Nyborg
doi = 10.1016/j.paid.2004.12.011
title = Sex-related differences in general intelligence "g", brain size, and social status
journal = Personality and Individual Differences
volume = 39
issue = 3
pages = 497–509
year = 2005
month = August
] has led to strong reactions in the Danish public and academia, for example in an editorial by the Danish newspaper Politiken. [ [http://politiken.dk/VisArtikel.sasp?PageID=309779 Leder i Dagbladet Politiken: G for galskab] ]

Nyborg has also made controversial statements regarding religious beliefs and ethnicity in relation to intelligence. He has concluded, through research, that white people tend to be more intelligent than blacks and that atheists tend to be more intelligent than religious people [Planetary Governor, " [http://danish.newsvine.com/_news/2007/02/05/554043-professor-atheists-are-more-intelligent-than-believers Professor: Atheists are more intelligent than believers] " ] .

Aarhus University reaction

Even though the paper had passed peer review in an expert scientific journal, Aarhus University assembled a committee to investigate accusations of scientific malfeasance and fraud, consisting of educational scientist Jan-Eric Gustafsson (Gothenburg), statistician Jens Ledet Jensen (Aarhus), and biostatistician Niels Keiding (Copenhagen). The report concludes that the work exhibits some lack of diligence from Nyborg's side, and that there were errors in Nyborg's work, but that the single, indisputable technical mistake does not allow any conclusions. The committee found no evidence of fraud. The report explicitly does not enter into a discussion of the correctness of Nyborg's research or the methodology of using the general intelligence factor [Jan-Eric Gustafsson, Jens Ledet Jensen, Niels Keiding, " [http://www1.jp.dk/dok/kh190806/nyborg_report.pdf Report by "sagkyndigt udvalg til bedømmelse af Helmuth Nyborgs forskningsprojekt vedrørende kønsforskelle i intelligens"] ", Aarhus, 2006 marts 2006.] Svend Hylleberg, the dean of the social science faculty of Aarhus University, reacted to the report by suspending Nyborg in 2006.

Hylleberg's decision led to strong reactions from international researchers, writing to the dean to protest against what they perceive as a witch-hunt. [Kim Hundevadt, " [http://www.jp.dk/indland/artikel:aid=3903912/ Forskere: Professor offer for heksejagt] ," "Jyllands-Posten", 2006 august 19.] Among the defenders of Nyborg's work are intelligence researchers J. Philippe Rushton and Linda Gottfredson who themselves have been at the centre of media attention. However, experts from other fields have also rallied to Nyborg's side. According to Fred M. Feinberg (University of Michigan), who works in econometrics and has followed Nyborg's work, the level of statistical rigour in Nyborg's research is well ahead of most in the field. He adds that he would be surprised if an investigation into the life's work of equally productive researchers would fail to find mistakes similar to or more serious than the inaccuracies in Nyborg's work, and that Nyborg's mistakes are unintentional, with few substantive consequences for his conclusions. A number of other researchers made broadly similar points, among them many prominent methodologists.

The reported male–female IQ difference in Nyborg's work is ca. 8 points. According to Rushton, his own research points to an IQ difference of 3.63, and the committees' analysis of Nyborg's data would imply a difference 4.55. [http://www.jp.dk/indland/artikel:aid=3904018:fid=11792/]

On September 21, 2006, the university gave Nyborg a "severe reprimand", revoked his suspension, and declared the case closed. [Anders Frølund, [http://www.au.dk/en/news/210906a "Rector’s decision regarding the Helmuth Nyborg case"] Public statement by the university, September 29, 2006] [Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen, [http://www.au.dk/en/news/210906a/decision "Rector’s decision regarding the Helmuth Nyborg case"] English translation of decision sent to Nyborg on September 21, 2006.]

Notes


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