Emily Willoughby

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Emily Willoughby
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Emily A. Willoughby (online pseudonyms: Ferahgo the Assassin[1][2] and Ixerin[3][4][5]) (1986–) is an American[6] right-wing paleoartist,Wikipedia biological psychologist, and proponent of race and intelligence pseudoscience. Willoughby lives somewhat of a double life, as her Wikipedia edits as "Ferahgo the Assassin" reveal that she has supported eugenics[citation needed] and hereditarianism,[7] but on her social media using her real name, she denies supporting this to present a more moderate image of herself.[3]

On August 11, 2022 a Twitter thread accusing Willoughby of racism and eugenics went viral in the paleoart community.[8][9] After people began to look into her digital footprint — she spent years making controversial edits on Wikipedia's race and intelligenceWikipedia article and has defended far-right individuals including Michael Coombs and Emil Kirkegaard whom she collaborated with on Wikipedia.[note 1][10][11][12] For disruption on the race and intelligence page, Willoughby was topic banned on Wikipedia in October 2010, banned from the wiki in May 2012, but unbanned with editing restrictions in March 2014.[13] Her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Kane (who has occasionally co-authored works with her), is permanently banned from Wikipedia for edit-warringWikipedia on the same race and intelligence article.

As of 2012, Willoughby identified politically as "fiscally conservative but not terribly socially conservative" (read: libertarian),[14] and wrote a single article for the rag Quillette in 2017 that was against creationism.[15][16]

The revelation that Willoughby is a proponent of race and IQ pseudoscience and has links to white nationalists led numerous academics to distance themselves from her, notably including palaeontologists Darren Naish,[17] Mark P. WittonWikipedia[18] and Lisa Buckley.[19] On the other hand, the biologist Jerry Coyne has defended her in a blog post.[20]

Willoughby is a board member of International Society for Intelligence Research and is a speaker at their annual conferences.[21][22][23][24][25]

Background

Willoughby's academic qualifications include a bachelor's degree in biology from Thomas Edison University, a master's degree and PhD in psychology from the University of Minnesota.[26] She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the behavior genetics lab at the University of Minnesota.[27][28] Willoughby has published on behavioural genetics and IQ in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature Genetics, Intelligence, and Journal of Personality.[29]

Willoughby is a furry (or, more precisely, a scalie) and used to own an account under the pseudonym "Ixerin" on FurAffinity.[30] She has an article about her on WikiFur.[4]

In 2017, she co-authored with Jonathan Kane and T. Michael Keesey the anti-creationism book God's Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism.[31][32] The book has been praised,[33] including for its "painstakingly detailed rebuttals to papers by creationists."[34] In March 2018, Naish wrote a positive review on his Tetrapod Zoology blog at Scientific American.[35]

Willoughby is an accomplished paleoartist and in addition to her postdoctoral job works part time as a professional scientific illustrator. Her artwork can be found on her old and current DeviantArt pages.[36][37] She has done illustrations of dinosaurs for scientific papers, including Nature.[38] In October 2021, she published Drawing and Painting Dinosaurs: Using Art and Science to Bring the Past to Life[39] which has received favourable book reviews.[40] She has been interviewed by Mark P. Witton on his palaeontological blog.[41]

Controversies

Race and intelligence

Research

In 2023, Willoughby and a colleague by the name of James J. Lee were given a half-a-million dollar grant to conduct research into "genetic cognition" by the racist "Institute of Mental Chronometry".[42][43][note 2]

A Troublesome Inheritance

Willoughby and Kane co-authored a 2014 book review for Nicholas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance,Wikipedia which both criticized and praised it, though was more defensive of the book than critical.[44] Anthropologist Cathryn Townsend took exception to the review's "bashing [of] Gould and Jonathan MarksWikipedia for the work they've done in dispelling racist pseudoscience."[45] (The review really goes after Marks much more than Gould, claiming Marks may have a "conflict of interest" in reviewing the book because he takes a more anti-hereditarian approach in his professional work; in their perception this was feeding Marks his own medicine: "if he intends to denounce A Troublesome Inheritance by attacking Wade's motives, he should be prepared for his own to be questioned as well."[44]) In her thread, Townsend recommended a 2019 blog post on the subject: Has Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man really been discredited?.[45][46]

Willoughby and Kane's book review also cited The 10,000 Year Explosion (2009) as an example of a "not especially controversial" book which expresses "the idea that evolutionary differences between human groups have contributed to cultural differences today".[44] This line is perhaps noteworthy because the SPLC later considered similarities between the book's arguments about the evolutionary development of Ashkenazi Jews and those made by the antisemitic evo-psychologist Kevin MacDonald,[47] whose (actually very dubious) methodology was highly criticized from at least 2018 onward, especially by Nathan Cofnas.[note 3][48][49] The SPLC's comparison was not at all unfounded since one of the book's co-authors had directly cited MacDonald in a previous paper, Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (2006).

Wikipedia

Willoughby had made a lot of edits pushing race and intelligence pseudoscience on Wikipedia as Ferahgo the Assassin.Wikipedia[50] In 2010, Willoughby opposed banning her then-boyfriend Jonathan Kane (alias Captain Occam) and Michael Coombs (alias Mikemikev) from the race and intelligence article,[note 4] writing "they aren’t the ones causing a problem here" despite evidence to the contrary.[note 5][51] Kane and Mikemikev were both topic banned in June 2010 after arbitration found them to have edit-warred and caused disruption.[52]

Edits on her account reveal Willoughby is sympathetic to the controversial race and intelligence views of the white supremacist Richard Lynn:

The way it's worded makes it sounds like the articleWikipedia is expressing this point of view specifically (that Lynn's conclusions are incorrect, etc) instead of making it clear that these critiques are held by other professionals.[53]

Willoughby also complained about an article highlighting Lynn's connections to the eugenics Pioneer Fund[54] and took issue with critical sources being added to his biographical page.[55]

In October 2010, Willoughby was topic banned from editing race and IQ related articles.[56] The following month she was back to her old tricks removing critical sources about a eugenicist.[57] Willoughby and Kane were both "site-banned from Wikipedia for a period of no less than one year" on May 14, 2012.[58] The reason was for sharing an IP address.[59] Shortly before being site banned in a rant titled "Good riddance to Wikipedia", Willoughby admitted to "taking the hereditarian perspective about [race & intelligence]".[7]

Willoughby was unbanned on Wikipedia on March 28 2014.[60] For the next five years, she avoided editing about race and IQ, but in January 2019 she appealed her topic ban which had still been in place.[61]

Magnus Pharao (alias Maunus), an anthropologist who debated Willoughby and Kane on Wikipedia in the 2010s, noted on his Twitter account on August 12, 2022:

The two of them were pushing race and IQ "science" on Wikipedia for years, both being banned for doing so incessantly and deceptively […] That's also where I first met Emil Kirkegaard, he was working with them some of the time. Kirkegaard's username was Deleet. Kane and Willoughby worked a good cop bad cop routine, she more or less followed the rules and stayed civil, he didn't and was banned, and when he was banned he edited from her account, and when it was discovered they shared, she was banned too. Kane's MO was to contact as many "hereditarians" offline as he could and get them to weigh in in discussions to create a majority against the idea that Race and IQ research is considered fringe pseudoscience.[62][63]

Kane[64] and Willoughby have defended Emil Kirkegaard in the past[note 6] and were part of a cluster of Wikipedia editors with a hereditarian point of view.[7] They all edited race and IQ related articles with overlapping edits. Sometimes this took the form of a sort of 'tag-team'.Wikipedia[66][67][68] It hasn't been demonstrated that Willoughby and Kirkegaard ever "tag-teamed" together, though they did edit some of the same pages.[69] Kane and Willoughby, on the other hand, were jointly "reminded that tag-team editing, account sharing, and canvassing are not permitted" by Wikipedia's arbitration committee.[13]

Kane was permanently banned on January 9, 2020.[70] On October 22, 2020 Kane and Willoughby may possibly have been[note 7] the pseudonymous authors (if so, Willoughby as Linda A. Ashtear, and Kane, Shuichi Tezuka) behind an article, "The left-wing bias of Wikipedia", in The Critic, complaining about a lack of "viewpoint diversity", including on the race and intelligence article.[71][72] Assuming so, then despite claiming Wikipedia has a left-wing bias, neither mentioned their own right-wing bias and problematic edits. For his part, Kane denies being Tezuka.[73]

History illustrator Midiaou Diallo has criticized Willoughby's controversial views on race and intelligence as "ultimately a major component of White Supremacy at a basic level".[74]

Nazi dinosaur art

In August 2022, she was criticised on social media for having commissioned artwork of dinosaurs dressed in Nazi uniforms (the art is copyrighted by Willoughby as Ixerin).[3] On August 12 2022, Willoughby wrote a statement on her Twitter account about her Nazi dinosaur artwork:

8/ About the drawing from ~13 years ago. I did not draw this—it was a commission with my Jewish ex-boyfriend who thought it was funny. It does not reflect my worldview. Other artworks from this time were drawn or commissioned in the context of my relationship with this person.[3]

International Society for Intelligence Research

Willoughby is an International Society for Intelligence Research board member[21] and was involved in creating the program for ISIR's annual conference in 2021.[23] She was a speaker at the 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023 conferences.[22][23][24][25] The 2023 conference was attended by staff from the far-right Aporia Magazine and white nationalists such as Edward Dutton.[75][76]

See also

External links

Notes

  1. They edited the same topic areas, and in the case of Mikemikev she does seem to have defended him on Wikipedia at one point. This doesn't necessarily imply off-site coordination. See below.
  2. Emil Kirkegaard is a big fan of Lee's poisonous racialist bullshit apparently.[42]
  3. Bearing in mind the timeline here, Kane and Willoughby obviously wouldn't have read Cofnas's critiques by that point.
  4. Today it's obvious that Coombs is a blatant neo-Nazi.
  5. Mikemikev was going around calling an editor who disagreed with him "Marxist" on the same noticeboard at this point.
  6. In 2022, Kane defended only some of Kirkegaard's research rather than Kirkegaard himself.[65]
  7. Based in part on the timing of the article's publication versus the ban, the familiarity of the authors with both Kane and Willoughy (including their Wikipedia edits), the fact the two authors are described as academics by The Critic, and the fact it was published by two authors (since Kane and Willoughby often co-author works together).

References

  1. Ferahgo the Assassin, Wikimedia Commons (archived webpage).
  2. Ferahgo the Assassin (July 25, 2019). "File:Emily willoughby in 2019.jpg". Wikipedia.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 1/ So, today there has been an outpouring of accusations levied against me, mostly concerning the research that I do as a PhD researcher in behavior genetics. Most of what has been said today is either stated in ignorance or has been blatantly false. … 8/ About the drawing from ~13 years ago. I did not draw this—it was a commission with my Jewish ex-boyfriend who thought it was funny. It does not reflect my worldview. Other artworks from this time were drawn or commissioned in the context of my relationship with this person. by Emily Willoughby (August 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 13, 2022).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ixerin WikiFur.
  5. EWilloughby (November 26, 2009). "Comment on Ferahgo Commission by Bailiwick". DeviantArt. (Original post).
  6. Willoughby, Emily: LC Name Authority File (Library of Congress).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Wikipedia talk:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Race and intelligence/Review/Proposed decision: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (17:29, 11 May 2012) Wikipedia.
  8. By now a lot of you are aware, but for anyone in the dark, paleoartist Emily Willoughby is involved in “research” that is directly tied to eugenics, racism, and classism. She also believes, or is at least indifferent to, the myth that intelligence has a racial component. by @Prehistorica_CM (8:01 PM · Aug 11, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 20, 2022).
  9. This is the type of research that incarcerates Black people, as early as elementary school, setting them up for the school to prison pipeline. This is ultimately a major component of White Supremacy at a basic level by Midiaou Diallo (@Midiaou7) (9:55 PM · Aug 11, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 11, 2022).
  10. Huh, how about that (some context on ISIR https://newstatesman.com/politics/2018/02/it-might-be-pseudo-science-students-take-threat-eugenics-seriously) by @thebirdmaniac (4:04 PM · Aug 13, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 25, 2022).
  11. Exactly! This kind if stupid, kindergarten dog-piling behavior, devoid of any nuance is the reason people lost their jobs or life in the past. The pressure the community creates right now is overwhelming. I will not cut all ties based on accusations that are still being tested. … by Joschua Knüppe (August 13, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 20, 2012).
  12. The two of them were pushing race and IQ "science" on Wikipedia for years, both being banned for doing so incessantly and deceptively. by Magnus Pharao (August 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 23, 2022).
  13. 13.0 13.1 Motion: Ferahgo the Assassin editing restrictions modified (September 2016)] (02:43, 1 September 2016 UTC) Wikipedia.
  14. As a fiscally conservative but not terribly socially conservative person, I absolutely feel your frustration, Furrtil. I would love to see a libertarian in office one of these days… by Ferahgo the Assassin (April 16th, 2012, 01:29 PM) The Long Patrol Forums.
  15. Emily Willoughby Quillette.
  16. Emily Willoughby (October 28, 2017). "The Compassionate Way to Combat Creationism". Quillette.
  17. Over recent days, palaeoartist Emily Willoughby has been accused of being associated with race science and its attendant political positions. For that reason I cannot, from hereon, have any association with Emily or her work. I will not be engaging in discussion on this matter. by Darren Naish (@TetZoo) (9:10 AM · Aug 17, 2022) Twitter (archived from November 8, 2022).
  18. Whatever validity there is to the Emily Willoughby allegations, they are no excuse for bullying and personal attacks. I'm shocked at how savage some of these have been, and they have totally derailed any conversation that might be warranted about her research or views. by @MarkWitton (August 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from 25 Aug 2022 19:45:03 UTC).
  19. I am not (and likely will not be for a bit) in the position to commission paleo art, but Emily Willoughby's work will no longer be featured in any lectures I give or classes I teach going forward. There is no excuse for what is a fairly consistent history of questionable work. by Dr. Lisa Buckley (@Lisavipes) Twitter (archived from August 17, 2022).
  20. ignorant and misguided demonization of a behavior geneticist (August 17, 2022) Why Evolution is True.
  21. 21.0 21.1 ISIR Board Members. isironline.org.
  22. 22.0 22.1 International Society for Intelligence Research 2019 Annual Conference. isironline.org.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 International Society for Intelligence Research 2021 Annual Conference. isironline.org.
  24. 24.0 24.1 International Society for Intelligence Research 2022 Annual Conference.
  25. 25.0 25.1 International Society for Intelligence Research 2023 Annual Conference. isironline.org.
  26. University of Minnesota: Emily Willoughby.
  27. About (emilywilloughby.com).
  28. Emily Willoughby LinkedIn.
  29. Emily A. Willoughby Google Scholar.
  30. Ixerin FurAffinity (archived from March 29, 2015).
  31. God's Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism by Jonathan Kane, Emily Willoughby & T. Michael Keesey (2017) Inkwater Press. ISBN 1629013722. edition.
  32. God's Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism by Jonathan Kane & Emily Willoughby (2020) Inkwater Press. ISBN 1629016381. 2nd edition.
  33. Review: Jonathan Kane, Emily Willoughby and T. Michael Keese, God’s Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism by Stefaan Blanck (2017) Journal of Cognitive Historiography 4.2:283-285. doi:10.1558/jch.37809.
  34. Book Review: God’s Word or Human Reason? by Steven Spence (February 14, 2017) Science Connected Magazine.
  35. Book Review: God's Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism: The claims of young-Earth creationists are easily checked and easily countered. And a new book—written by former creationists themselves—does this in substantive, compelling detail… by Darren Naish (March 25, 2018) Tetrapod Zoology, Scientific American
  36. Ferahgo the Assassin, DeviantArt (archived webpages).
  37. EWilloughby DeviantArt.
  38. CV/Publications Emily Willoughby.
  39. Drawing and Painting Dinosaurs: Using Art and Science to Bring the Past to Life by Emily Willoughby (2021) The Crowood Press. ISBN 1785009559.
  40. Book review – Drawing and Painting Dinosaurs: Using Art and Science to Bring the Past to Life by Leon Vlieger (February 17, 2022) The Inquisitive Biologist.
  41. An interview with Emily Willoughby, author and artist of Drawing and Painting Dinosaurs (16 December 2021) Mark P. Witton's Blog.
  42. 42.0 42.1 "The Institute of Mental Chronometry gives money to its gang members - and the University of Minnesota is so proud" - Pinkerite. Published August 24th, 2023.
  43. (August 17, 2023). "Lee and Willoughby Awarded Grant to Explore Cognitive Ability through Innovative Research". University of Minnesota.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 Reviewing A Troublesome Inheritance by Emily Willoughby and Jonathan Kane (May 16, 2014, 9:08:29 PM) DeviantArt (archived from 29 Mar 2020 16:52:42 UTC).
  45. 45.0 45.1 Maybe, but Emily Willoughby & her associate Jonathan Kane seem *very* sympathetic to "HBD" aka scientific racism. Excerpt from their review of Nicholas Wade's book. by Cathryn Townsend (5:24 AM · Aug 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from 12 Aug 2022 15:40:10 UTC).
  46. Simon Whitten (July 9, 2019). "Has Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man really been discredited?". Medium.
  47. "Henry Harpending". Southern Poverty Law Center.
  48. Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy: A Critical Analysis of Kevin MacDonald’s Theory by Nathan Cofnas (2018) Human Nature 29:134-156. doi:10.1007/s12110-018-9310-x.
  49. Is Kevin MacDonald’s Theory of Judaism “Plausible”? A Response to Dutton (2018) by Nathan Cofnas (2019) Evolutionary Psychological Science 5:143-150. doi:10.1017/S0021932005027069.
  50. Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (21:05, 8 November 2009) Wikipedia.
  51. Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (16:24, 1 May 2010) Wikipedia.
  52. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Race and intelligence (22:34, 24 August 2010 UTC) Wikipedia.
  53. Talk:Richard Lynn: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (21:42, 6 September 2010) Wikipedia.
  54. Talk:IQ and Global Inequality: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (22:09, 6 September 2010) Wikipedia.
  55. Talk:Richard Lynn: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (09:15, 29 September 2010) Wikipedia.
  56. User talk:Ferahgo the Assassin#Topic ban by NW (01:07, 7 October 2010 UTC) Wikipedia.
  57. Henry Fairfield Osborn: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (18:30, 26 November 2010) Wikipedia.
  58. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Race and intelligence#Ferahgo the Assassin and Captain Occam site-banned (01:56, 14 May 2012 UTC) Wikipedia.
  59. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Clarification and Amendment: Difference between revisions by Ferahgo the Assassin (00:11, 13 April 2018) Wikipedia.
  60. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Race and intelligence#Modified by motion (March 2014) (10:59, 31 January 2019) Wikipedia.
  61. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Clarification and Amendment#Amendment request: Race and intelligence (10:33, 31 January 2019) Wikipedia.
  62. Maybe, but Emily Willoughby & her associate Jonathan Kane seem *very* sympathetic to "HBD" aka scientific racism. Excerpt from their review of Nicholas Wade's book. by Cathryn Townsend (August 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 20, 2022).
  63. Replying to @CathrynTownsend The two of them were pushing race and IQ "science" on Wikipedia for years, both being banned for doing so incessantly and deceptively. … by Magnus Pharao (August 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from November 8, 2022).
  64. (July 8, 2018). User talk:Captain Occam (old revision). Wikipedia. Quote: "I haven't yet addressed my actions in support of Emil Kirkegaard (user:Deleet) ... Deleet has gone into a fair amount of detail about his political views, and I'm 100% sure he isn't actually a Neo-Nazi. He apparently is a left-leaning centrist".
  65. Captain Occam (August 15, 2022). ["Re: Cognitive Distortions"]. Wikipediocracy. Quote: "I actually can't stand his personality, and I can stand it less now than I could in 2018. But he also has sometimes done worthwhile research (I mean his research that's published in real journals, not in places like OpenPsych)".
  66. Re: Cognitive Distortions by Hemiauchenia (Mon Aug 15, 2022 10:20 pm) Wikipediocracy.
  67. User talk:Captain Occam: Difference between revisions by Captain Occam (01:23, 11 July 2018) Wikipedia.
  68. Really? Do you have any documentation of Willoughby and Kirkegaard? I didn't find much via Google. by @McclernanNancy (August 12, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 23, 2022).
  69. The main demonstrated link between Willoughby and Kirkegaard's editing on Wikipedia appears on the page "Polygenic score."Wikipedia Kirkegaard created this page, and Willoughby began editing it only eleven minutes later. Willoughby's initial edits were minor, but she later contributed to the page more substantially. Otherwise, an interaction analysis between their two main accounts demonstrates a shared topic-space, but their other edits aren't chronologically near. Willoughby may have simply found the page through Kirkegaard's Twitter post about it.
  70. Block log for Captain Occam Wikipedia.
  71. The left-wing bias of Wikipedia: Is Wikipedia’s neutral point of view truly dead? by Shuichi Tezuka & Linda A. Ashtear (22 October, 2020) The Critic.
  72. https://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=313311#p313311
  73. (July 19, 2023). "Difference between revisions of 'Talk:Jonathan Kane'". RationalWiki.
  74. This is the type of research that incarcerates Black people, as early as elementary school, setting them up for the school to prison pipeline. This is ultimately a major component of White Supremacy at a basic level by Midiaou Diallo (@Midiaou7) (9:55 PM · Aug 11, 2022) Twitter (archived from August 11, 2022).
  75. Ten researchers reveal the smartest person they've EVER met!. Aporia Magazine.
  76. Are we really getting smarter?. Aporia Magazine.