Intended for healthcare professionals


Hans Eysenck: controversialist or worse?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 29 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1897
  1. Richard Smith, former editor of The BMJ
  1. London, UK
  1. richardswsmith{at}

An independent and authoritative inquiry is needed into “unbelievable” work

Hans Eysenck, who died in 1997, is described in the Dictionary of National Biography as having an “international prominence and impact … unmatched among post-Second World War British psychologists.”1 He’s usually called “controversial” in that he denied the link between smoking and cancer, had strong links with the tobacco industry, thought race was related to intelligence, opposed comprehensive schools, nursed an intense hostility towards psychoanalysis, supported astrology and parapsychology, and declared the entire discipline of economics as worthless. Now David F Marks, the editor of the Journal of Health Psychology, has called for a formal investigation of some of Eysenck’s work and the retraction or correction of 61 publications.2

The Journal of Health Psychology also published a paper by the psychiatrist Anthony J Pelosi describing how serious criticisms of Eysenck’s work date back …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription