Professor resigns from UCT after co-authoring 'slave intelligence' paper

2019-05-16 16:09
(Picture: Gallo images/ Getty images)

(Picture: Gallo images/ Getty images)

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The University of Cape Town (UCT) has asked an adjunct professor to take its name off a controversial article he co-authored about IQ and slavery.

The adjunct professor has also submitted his resignation.

"The study had not been submitted to the ethics committee of the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and no other members of the school were involved in the research," said spokesperson Elijah Moholola.

"The adjunct professor has since written to the journal withdrawing his relationship with UCT."

This follows a report in the Mail & Guardian that Professor Simplice Asongu, who worked on "Intelligence and slave exports from Africa" with co-author Oasis Kodila-Tedika, had resigned.

According to the paper's abstract, the study was to establish if there was a link between "cognitive ability or intelligence on slave exports from Africa".

The report concluded that the hypothesis — "that countries which are endowed with higher levels of cognitive ability were more likely to experience lower levels of slave exports from Africa" — was correct.

Moholola said the study did not go through the GSB research ethical clearance process, which is not unusual for any research by adjunct professors, as they were not full-time members of staff. 

"The author is an adjunct professor and the study was co-authored with the University of Kinshasa," he said.

UCT also confirmed that Asongu had submitted his resignation as adjunct professor in the GSB. 

"The university views any research based on or proposing racial stereotypes as being contradictory to the university’s academic values and standards of scholarship. 

"UCT rejects the assumptions of the paper and this line of research as bad science. It is in opposition to our commitment to academic excellence and an inclusive community."

The Mail & Guardian reported Asongu as saying: "It appears the scientific article is about to be branded as a 'racist scholarship'. This is very laughable."

This incident comes after Stellenbosch University apologised for trauma caused by a different research article which assessed the cognitive function of a sample of 60 South African coloured women aged between 18 and 64.

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