Michael A. Woodley of Menie
| The colorful pseudoscience|
|Hating thy neighbour|
|Divide and conquer|
Michael Anthony Woodley of Menie, Younger aka Technical Heretic (1984–) is a eugenicist and ecologist who first proposed the batshit-crazy spiteful mutant hypothesis. Woodley argues "sociocultural conditions that disincentivize procreation" and "any thought process that leads to a group’s sub-replacement fertility" is a "spiteful mutation". Woodley has a history of promoting other pseudoscientific and fringe-science views, including cryptozoology, eugenics, hereditarianism and racialism; he's co-authored a book with a similar crank named Edward Dutton. He attended the London Conference on Intelligence and controversially sits on the Editorial Board of the journal Intelligence. He also reviews papers submitted to the OpenPsych pseudojournals.
In May 2019 Woodley posted a video on Edward Dutton's Youtube channel, "The truth about the London Conference on Intelligence!" although the video is anything but the truth; it contains many misleading statements and lies. Dutton deletes any comments merely critical of the video.
Michael Anthony Woodley (who often uses the title "of Menie", a Scottish barony), Yr., was born in Guilford, England on 16 May 1984. His father, of the same name, is the (28th) Feudal Baron of Menie and his mother is named Caroline, née Cuthbertson. Woodley's father’s family has its roots in the Scottish landed gentry, and he is related to the twentieth-century Scottish Industrialist William Ritchie who co-founded Grant, Ritchie and Company.
Woodley received a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Biology at Columbia University in 2007; in 2011 he completed a Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of London (Royal Holloway). His thesis looked at the life history ecology of the thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana. In 2015, he was a recipient of an Association for Psychological Science Rising Star designation for producing the best-supported model of the Flynn Effect. Since 2018 he has sat on the editorial board of the journal Intelligence.
He is a Lifetime Fellow at the Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, and formerly (2015-2016) worked at Technische Universität Chemnitz.
Woodley began his career publishing on cryptozoology, including articles in Journal of Scientific Exploration and a 2008 book titled In the Wake of Bernard Heuvelmans: An Introduction to the History and Future of Sea Serpent Classification. The book was published with CFZ Press, part of The Centre for Fortean Zoology, which specializes in cryptozoological pseudoskepticism.
Woodley's cryptozoology ideas have not been taken serious by scientists. Environmental scientist Robert France describes Woodley’s writings as “one of the most blatant displays of cryptozoological fancy” and a “ridiculous bit of science fiction”. Palaeontologist Darren Naish co-authored a few papers on cryptozoology with Woodley between 2008 and 2012, but has more recently described Woodley as having "indeed promoted some unusual ideas that cannot be correct, these including that the ‘super otter’ and ‘many-humped’ sea monsters of Heuvelmans (1968) might actually be literal super-sized otters."
Woodley decided as soon as he finished his Ph.D. in 2011 to shift his research from plant ecology to focus on human psychology, something he's not qualified in. He then began to associate himself with the controversial far-right Pioneer Fund, working with Gerhard Meisenberg for 9 months at Ross University and as a research associate of Aurelio J. Figueredo.
In 2010, Woodley published a paper arguing human races are biological as opposed to social constructs - "Is Homo sapiens polytypic? Human taxonomic diversity and its implications" - in the fringe-medical journal, Medical Hypotheses. This journal is most controversial for publishing papers that support HIV/AIDS denialism.
The paper has been criticized in detail on a blog, that points out Woodley just repeats discredited pseudoscientific racialist arguments and cherry-picks sources to support his own argument, while ignoring most of the scientific literature that debunks race. Not surprisingly, the only websites to support the conclusions of this paper are white nationalist ones, including The Alternative Hypothesis. The paper on Google Scholar has been cited 17 times, but 6 citations are by OpenPsych e.g. John Fuerst, Emil Kirkegaard and Heiner Rindermann.
Eugenics and dysgenics
In 2018, Michael A. Woodley with Edward Dutton published At Our Wits' End: Why We're Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future that argues human intelligence has gone into rapid decline since the Industrial Revolution. This sort of pseudoscientific work on dysgenics is popular among the alt-right's HBD community, for example the book is promoted on The Unz Review. Woodley and Dutton partly blame the alleged lowering of IQ onto Third World immigrants and women's rights, e.g. smarter females having no or fewer children to pursue careers when in their opinion they should stay at home.
In a 2015 paper he drew on the ideas of Victorian eugenicist Francis Galton, arguing that "selection favoring lower IQ" was responsible for a fall in g (general intelligence) since the mid 19th century. This was based on an analysis of the use of difficult words in texts from 1850 to 2005 (word difficulty based on the performance of white men in more recent vocabulary tests). He claimed to use a lot of statistical magic to correct for some of the obvious biases, i.e. changing literacy rates (which reached the modern-day peaks of c. 99% around 1900 and therefore won't be significant over much of the period), and word age and familiarity. But there are many other biases not corrected for: such as the selection of texts (from Google's corpus as used by N-Gram searches) and changes in literary style even within texts intended for the same audience and purpose. Other factors relating to the complexity of texts are not considered (e.g. complexity of ideas, use of abbreviations, allusion, use of foreign languages, references to different domains of knowledge...); performance in vocabulary tests does have a strong correlation with g (general intelligence) so it might be a reasonable measure if you could ensure you were using the same samples across time (which Menie clearly isn't), word difficulty is constant across time (dubious - especially when words are used in vastly different contexts now to the 19th century), and if you had evidence that word use in texts correlates with performance in vocabulary tests (Menie assumes this is obviously true because no writer ever uses a word they're not sure of the meaning of, but he doesn't try to prove it).
Woodley co-wrote a paper at the London Conference on Intelligence with Meisenberg that was overtly sexist, arguing: "Neither economic development nor the progress of female emancipation or empowerment have been successful at virilizing female achievement levels"
In 2016 Woodley appeared on Stefan Molyneux's YouTube channel as a guest to discuss "Why Civilizations Rise and Fall". It is a popular video with the alt-right, for example it is found promoted on VDARE and Conservative websites.
Woodley posts on the alt-right website The Unz Review with James Thompson who praises his research on race and intelligence; he is quoted by Thompson as arguing "replacement immigration" to Denmark is reducing the national IQ.
London Conference on Intelligence
The more g-loaded, the more heritable, evolvable, and phenotypically variable: Homology with humans in chimpanzee cognitive abilities
Speaker: Heitor B. F. Fernandes
Co-authors: Michael A. Woodley of Menie, William D. Hopkins
Expanding on a recent study that identified a heritable general intelligence factor (g) among individual chimpanzees from a battery of cognitive tasks, we hypothesized that the more g-loaded cognitive abilities would also be more heritable in addition to presenting greater additive genetic in variance and interindividual phenotypic variability. This pattern was confirmed with multiple analytical approaches, and is comparable to that found in humans, indicating fundamental homology. Finally, tool use presented the highest heritability, the largest amount of additive genetic variance and phenotypic variance, consistent with previous findings indicating that it is associated with high interspecies variance and has evolved rapidly in comparative primate studies.
Relative Frequencies of Ngram-Tracked Historical (AD 1850-2000) Anglophone Usage of Darwin's (1871) Group-Selected "Altruistic Words" Versus Wordsum "Easy Words" and "Hard Words"
Speaker: Aurelio José Figueredo
Co-authors: Heitor B. F. Fernandes, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Guy Madison
Following predictions originally made by Darwin (1871), Woodley & Figueredo (2013) proposed a multilevel selection model in which “eminence”, being a relatively rare combination of high g and altruism, was selected for in the process of inter-group competition and selected against in the concurrent process of in inter-individual competition. There should be associations at the aggregate level between higher levels of cognitive ability and behavioural dispositions that are “altruistic”. No such relation is evident at the individual level, as reflected by the small correlations between g and K, with the latter indicating a “slower” and generally more prosocial life history strategy. Further, the multilevel selection model implies that any temporal trends over historical time showing aggregate changes in cognitive ability should predict the temporal trajectories of any historical trends manifested in aggregate group-selected altruism. To test these predictions, we used Google Ngram to track the relative frequencies of word-usage from 1850-2000 in the Anglophone literature of a sampling of 10 words used by Darwin (1871) to describe altruistic dispositions as lexical indicators of that tendency. An unconditional growth curve multilevel regression model showed that the use of these words declined significantly over the specified historical period, even when controlling for word age, changing literacy rates, and the cognitive load of each individual word. We then constructed two separate unit-weighted factor scales from the subsets of Wordsum items identified as “hard” ̶ theoretically indicating heritable general mental ability (g.h) ̶ and “easy” ̶ theoretically indicating environmentally-influenced specialized mental abilities (s.e) ̶ that in previous work, were observed to be trending historically in opposite directions since AD 1850, consistent with predictions from the co-occurence model. Unconditional growth curve multilevel regression models also confirmed that these two factor scales collectively increased or decreased significantly over the specified time period exactly as had their individual components. Next, a conditional growth curve multilevel regression model showed that the use of “altruistic” words was significantly disfavoured by higher levels of s.e, which had been increasing over time, but significantly favoured by higher levels of g.h, which had been decreasing over time. The use of “altruistic” words was significantly disfavoured by the item difficulty of each word, and this effect had statistically significant and contrary interactions with s.e and g.h. Even when statistically controlled for these effects, the residual temporal trajectory of the use of “altruistic” words was still significantly negative, indicating that these predictors only account for half of the systematic variance of the observed declines in aggregate altruistic dispositions over time. These findings support the predictions of the multilevel selection model in documenting specific temporal associations between the general and specialized components of human mental ability consistent with multi-level selection.
By their words ye shall know them: Evidence of genetic selection against general intelligence and concurrent environmental enrichment in vocabulary usage since the mid 19th century
Speaker: Gerhard Meisenberg
Co-authors: Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Heitor B. F. Fernandes
It has been theorized that declines in general intelligence (g) due to negative selection and the Flynn effect co-occur, with the effects of the latter being concentrated on lessheritable non-g sources of intelligence variance. Evidence for this comes from the observation that 19th Century populations were more intellectually productive, and also exhibited faster reaction times than modern ones, suggesting higher g. This cooccurrence model is tested via examination of historical changes in the utilization frequencies of words from the highly g-loaded WORDSUM test across 5.9 million texts spanning 1850 to 2005. Consistent with predictions, words with higher difficulties (δ parameters from Item Response Theory) and stronger negative correlations between pass rates and fertility declined in use over time whereas less difficult and less strongly selected words, increased in use over time, consistent with a Flynn effect stemming in part from the vocabulary enriching effects of increases in population literacy. These findings persisted when explicitly controlled for word age, changing literacy rates and temporal autocorrelation. These trends constitute compelling evidence for the co-occurrence model.
Well, color me stupid! Secular declines and a Jensen effect on color acuity
Speaker: Michael A. Woodley of Menie
Co-author: Heitor B. F. Fernandes
Spearman's Other Hypothesis predicts that the common factor variance among sensory discrimination measures is identical to general intelligence. The cooccurrence model predicts that low-complexity physiological intelligence indicators reliably measure g across cohorts, and should therefore decline with time due to genetic selection and mutation accumulation. As strong relations exist between general sensory discrimination and g, it is predicted that such measures should show evidence of secular declines. This is tested using N-weighted temporal regression of square-root Total Error Scores (√TES), obtained from four Western normative samples collected in the 1980's, 90's and 2000's (combined 753) evaluated using the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-Hue color acuity test (g loading65). A significant temporal β value of .66 was found (controlling for national IQ), suggesting a decline in color acuity equating to a reduction in g of -4.5 points per decade. Analysis of the subset of the cohorts aged 20-29 years, in which color acuity is maximized, reveals a larger anti-Flynn effect (.89, 199, -8.7 points per decade). Also consistent with the Other Hypothesis is the finding that 100-Hue acuity-IQ correlations are associated with the Jensen effect. The aggregate vector correlation across two studies is .63 (932.5).
Sex differences in PISA: Some counterintuitive results
Speaker: Gerhard Meisenberg
Co-author: Michael A. Woodley of Menie
Sex differences in school achievement and intelligence are often believed to depend on socioeconomic and cultural factors. Specifically, the expectation is that the extent to which female emancipation has been achieved in countries is reflected either in rising female relative to male achievement, or that the ability profile of females becomes more similar to that of males as females penetrate into previously maledominated social and economic niches. The present study examines these predictions by analyzing the results of the PISA (Program of International Student Assessment) tests of mathematics, science and reading, administered to 15-year-olds in a three-year cycle from 2000 to 2012. The study looked at three outcome measures: 1. Overall performance (math, science and reading averaged) of females relative to males. In the large majority of countries, females outperform males. 2. Gender-typicality of achievement profiles. Typically, males are somewhat better at math (1.5 points), females are far better at reading (5 points on the IQ scale), and sex differences in science are minimal. 3. Score variability assessed as the ♂/♀ variance ratio. Males are more variable than females in the large majority of countries. Of the three outcomes, the female advantage in overall achievement is greatest in the Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East as well as the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and virtually non-existent in Latin America. Other world regions fall in between. Its relationship to measures of social and economic development is near-zero. Although unrelated to composite measures of female empowerment, the female overperformance tends to be positively related to the endorsement of male dominance, according to the World Values Survey. The gender-typicality of achievement profiles varies little among world regions and is virtually unrelated to development indicators and measures of female empowerment or emancipation. It tends to be slightly lower in countries with profamily attitudes, and slightly greater in countries where people believe that both husband and wife should contribute to family income. The variance ratio is higher (more gender-dimorphic) in economically and socially more “advanced” countries, but does not vary systematically with measures of gender roles and gender-related attitudes. The results show that sex differences in school achievement are quite stable across countries. Neither economic development nor the progress of female emancipation or empowerment have been successful at virilizing female achievement levels or achievement profiles.
Total fertility rates, Big G and the cognitive metagene: A cross-country moderation analysis
Speaker: Michael A. Woodley of Menie
Co-authors: Davide Piffer & Mateo A. Peñaherrera
Between countries, total fertility rate (TFR) and cognitive ability are negatively correlated, which suggests that the world’s IQ should be declining. Also, the population-level frequencies of several SNPs have been found to predict IQ between countries. Could latent variables among measures of ability and the SNPs moderate the association of these with TFR? Using a Big G factor constructed from five measures of cognitive ability, a large-magnitude Jensen effect is found on the TFRcognitive ability relationship. Using frequency data on seven SNPs, it is found that the strength of the loading of the common factor among the SNPs is a positive and large magnitude predictor of the magnitude of the TFR-SNP frequency relationship. These findings indicate polygenic selection against G. Finally, when controlled for both Human Development Index and national IQ, metagene frequency remained a modest magnitude and significant predictor of TFR in multiple-regression. This indicates that polygenic selection operates directly on the genetic variance associated with cognitive ability. Based on these results, it is estimated that differential fertility between countries should be reducing heritable G globally by .253 points per decade.
The Co-Occurrence Nexus Hypothesis
Speaker: A.J. Figueredo
Co-authors: Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Heitor B. F Fernandes, Mateo Peñaherrera Aguirre, Candace Jasmine Black
A co-selected suite of traits should be identifiable as a “Co-Occurrence Syndrome” or “Nexus” of temporally-covarying traits whose co-occurrence had previously been systematically favored by the predominance of group selection throughout the “Little Ice Age” (ca. AD 1350-1850), but have been systematically disfavored by the predominance of individual selection during the past 200 years of “Global Warming”. Fifteen hypothesized Nexus indicators (ranging from AD 1810-2010) were each individually standardized then entered as parallel measures into a Multi-Level Model (MLM), using SAS PROC MIXED, with unstructured (UN) residual covariances, random intercepts, and restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimation. Three Level 2 Chronometric SubNexus Clusters, Somatic Modifications (s.m), Specialized Abilities – Environmental (s.e), and General Intelligence – Heritable (g.h), were used as a grouping factor for Level 1 Chronometric SubCluster Indicators (s.m: Male Fluctuating Asymmetry, Sinistrality prevalence, BMI, Height, and Brain Weight; s.e: GDP Per Capita, Concretization in Language Use, Forwards Digit Span, Psycholinguistic Easy Word Usage, and WORDSUM Easy Word Usage; g.h: Altruism Word Usage, Male SRT, Backwards Digit Span, WORDSUM Hard Word Usage, and Macro-Innovation Rate Per Capita). Nested model comparisons were performed between an three alternative MLM specifications: (1) an unconditional Nexus model, estimating a single intercept and a single logarithmic slope for all SubNexus Clusters and Indicators over time, as well as the same intercepts and logarithmic slopes for all SubCluster Indicators nested within each SubNexus Cluster; (2) a somewhat less restricted model estimating a separate intercept and a separate logarithmic slope for each SubNexus Cluster over time, but the same intercept and logarithmic slopes for all SubCluster Indicators nested within each SubNexus Cluster; and (3) an even less restricted models instead estimating a separate intercept and a separate logarithmic slope for each SubCluster Indicator over time within each SubNexus Cluster. The differences between hierarchically nested models were statistically significant due to the aggregate sample size, but the differences in squared multiple correlations were not very large in magnitude, indicating that most of the cross-temporal covariation was shared in common among the SubNexus Clusters (64.5%) in comparison with the proportions that were specific to each SubNexus Cluster (1.8%) and those that were specific to each SubCluster Indicator (5.9%). These patterns of cross-temporal covariation generally support the hierarchicallystructured Nexus Model of the “Co-Occurrence Syndrome” and suggest that selection may be acting jointly upon these observed historical trends in the theoretically expected directions.
"The truth about the London Conference on Intelligence!"
Woodley posted a video on Dutton's Youtube channel "The truth about the London Conference on Intelligence!" falsely claiming the LCI conferences were neither secretive, eugenics-based nor attended by white supremacists. A rebuttal:
- While Woodley is correct that a very low percentage of talks at the LCI were about eugenics, virtually everyone who attended (even Toby Young, who wasn't a speaker) are known proponents of eugenics; at least all individuals who attended the LCI based on the 2015 and 2016 talk abstracts (including its organiser) are pro-eugenics. In other words, there was little to no media misrepresentation: the media knew two dozen or more eugenicists were meeting in a room and so some newspapers decided to describe the LCI gatherings as a "eugenics conference."
- The LCI was clearly secretive, i.e the university it took place was not informed in advance about the speakers and content of the conference(s); this is highly unusual. Had the university been shown in advance a list of talk abstracts and speaker-list, they almost certainly wouldn't have given permission. So the organisers of the LCI were very deceptive and breached the universities room bookings process.
- A large portion of speakers at LCI either have published in Mankind Quarterly and/or are associated with the latter and sit on its editorial board; this was calculated to be 80% by the London Student. So this is where the media got their source to describe the conferences as "white supremacist." This can hardly be criticised since the MQ was founded by segregationists/anti-civil rights activists back in the 1960s and has always been overtly racist, with an ultra-racialist and hereditarianism POV - the latter especially increased under Roger Pearson as editor-in-chief (during The Bell Curve wars), Meisenberg and now Dutton, to the extent mainstream scientists dismiss MQ as a racist pseudojournal.
- There's also the fact that most, if not all, of the speakers at LCI are known to hold far-right political views.
- John Fuerst
- Davide Piffer
- Michael Coombs
- Robert Gayre, Baron of Lochore, chief of clan Gayre and Nigg, another racialist pseudoscientist with Scottish titles
- Michael A. Woodley of Menie (profile). OpenPsych.
- A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain.
- Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Yr., Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science.
- Short Biographical Page
- LinkedIn profile
- Google Scholar: Michael A. Woodley of Menie
- In the Wake of Bernard Heuvelmans: An Introduction to the History and Future of Sea Serpent Classification by Michael A. Woodley & Karl Shuker (2008) CFZ Press. ISBN 1905723202.
- CFZ Publishing Group (archived from April 18, 2018).
- Disentangled: Ethnozoology and Environmental Explanation of the Gloucester Sea Serpent, Wageningen Academic Publishers  p. 169.
- See Wikipedia article for journal criticism.
- Polytypic My Ass, Juliet F, Nyaafest at Blogspot, April 3, 2018
- By their words ye shall know them: Evidence of genetic selection against general intelligence and concurrent environmental enrichment in vocabulary usage since the mid 19th century, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Heitor B. F. Fernandes, Aurelio José Figueredo, Gerhard Meisenberg, Frontiers in Psychology, 2015; 6: 361. Published online 2015 Apr 21. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00361
- Intelligence Lost at 1.23 IQ Points Per Decade. Unz Review.