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Inquiry into eminent psychologist failed to list many unsafe papers, biographer claims

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6329 (Published 31 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6329

Editorial

Hans Eysenck: controversialist or worse?

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Re: Inquiry into eminent psychologist failed to list many unsafe papers, biographer claims

The article ‘Inquiry into eminent psychologist failed to list many unsafe papers, biographer claims’ [1] contains allegations that the King’s College London enquiry into publications authored by Professor Hans Eysenck with Professor Ronald Grossarth-Maticek omitted papers where Eysenck was the sole author in order to ‘imply diminished responsibility’ of Eysenck, or to absolve the Institute of Psychiatry from blame by laying responsibility on Grossarth-Maticek.

King’s College London was not approached to respond to these allegations before the article was published. In the absence of being given an opportunity of a right to reply, I would like to clarify the details of the enquiry on behalf of King’s.

The enquiry was a response to an open letter to Professor Edward Byrne, President and Principal of King’s College London, from David F Marks, Editor of the Journal of Health Psychology, published as part of an editorial in the Journal of Health Psychology [2]. The open letter states that the publications of ‘immediate concern’ were those jointly authored by Eysenck and Grossarth-Maticek. These formed the baseline data and were the remit of the enquiry committee. The committee found the results of the papers to be unsafe, and King’s College London wrote to the editors of the journals concerned recommending retraction.

The committee’s chair was independent of King’s, and its remit of enquiry into joint publications in no way reflects an attempt to absolve Eysenck of responsibility nor to lay responsibility on Grossarth-Maticek. Instead, the enquiry and resulting actions are a genuine attempt to set the scientific record straight.

References

1. Hawkes N. Inquiry into eminent psychologist failed to list many unsafe papers, biographer claims. BMJ 2019; 367. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6329
2. Marks DF. The Hans Eysenck affair: Time to correct the scientific record. J Health Psychol2019;24:409-20. doi:10.1177/1359105318820931

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 November 2019
Ian P Everall
Executive Dean, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience
King's College London
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London