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The pseudoscientific racial theories of the discredited British psychologist are still viral in the Balkans · Global Voices

Illustration of the data verification report "The IQ is fine, but the standards of journalists are at a low level", by Crithink.mk. CC BY.

This story is based on two different stories, one by CriThink.mk and another Meta.mk News Agency, both projects by Metamorphosis Foundation.

On July 2, 2019, Macedonian news site Fokus published an article entitled "Macedonia's national IK is 82, the lowest in the region." It was illustrated with a world map with color codes that classifies countries according to the average intelligence quotient of their populations. , with Western Europe, North America and East Asia at the top of the ranking. The article had more than 3,500 Facebook reactions in a week.

The article lists as the main source the book "The Intelligence of Nations", written by Richard Lynn and David Becker and published by the Ulster Institute for Social Research, a group of experts based in Northern Ireland that Lynn manages. However, what the Fokus article lacks is the key background context of this source.

Richard Lynn is a highly controversial figure whose work has been systematically criticized by the scientific community for its lack of scientific rigor, misrepresentation of data and for promoting a racist political agenda. In April 2018, the University of Ulster stripped Lynn of his title of professor emeritus of psychology after concluding that he advocated "views that are racist and sexist by nature."

The Lynn expert group, which is not connected to the University of Ulster, also publishes the magazine "Mankind Quarterly", which promotes several racial theories that the broader scientific community rejects. Lynn also regularly collaborates with far-right publications such as Right NOW! and VDARE and is often praised by extreme right-wing figures from around the world.

Fokus's article unleashed a wave of cross-border misinformation in recent weeks, according to the anti-disinfo article in Meta.mk. Shortly after its publication, it was widely plagiarized (copied and copied with minimal text changes and without attribution) by several establishments located in northern Macedonia, including the Leader website, which is part of a group of rights-owned publications. Hungarians Links to the victor regime orban.

The Lider article, titled "The lowest in the region: national IQ in Macedonia is 82", was then included as a source by the Serbian news site Kurir in an article entitled "THE MACEDONICS WILL DECLARE THIS RESEARCH: They have the IQ lowest in the Read here who is the smartest! "The next day, back in Northern Macedonia, the sister publication of Kurir, the news website Sloboden Pečat (both are owned by the Serbian company Adria Media Group) , published a literal translation of that history in the Macedonian language, amplifying the visibility of racist ideas.

The EU-supported project Critical Thinking for Mediawise Citizens – CriThink reviewed Fokus's article, contextualizing its sources and raising questions about media journalistic standards in the Balkans. Journalist Jugoslava Dukovska, who signed the report, wrote: "Almost always these media do not report on the sources of the investigation and do not try to verify its credibility, instead exploiting its potential for sensation."

It's not the first time

Screenshot of Fokus's article with a map that reflects a white supremacist worldview.

This is not the first time that the Macedonian or Balkan media in general have adopted the ideas of Richard Lynn as a scientific fact.

In 2014, websites across the region published a story that stated that northern Macedonia had an average IQ of 91, lower than in most Western European countries, but higher than that of Albania, Montenegro and Serbia That story was based on a Czech blog that cited another of Richard Lynn's books, "Intelligence: a unifying construction for the social sciences", in co-authorship with the Finnish writer Tatu Vanhanen and also defending racist theories about intelligence.

At that time, the Croatian portal Index.hr published a story entitled "This map shows the average intelligence of the peoples of Europe." Immediately afterwards, the Macedonian website MKD picked it up and published a story entitled "The Macedonians are among the most stupid people in Europe."

In 2015, dozens of Macedonian websites posted similar news about the supposedly most intelligent and stupid people in the Balkans. These stories are still available online.

Only a few professional journalists and scientists have questioned the credibility of viral articles. None of the websites has published the story so far has published corrections or retractions.

Harmful stereotypes

In the context of the Balkans, the stereotypes of members of different ethnic communities are as old as they are. There are folktales from the center of Northern Macedonia dating back to the 19th century that say that the Shopi, the people who lived in the border region today between Bulgaria, Serbia and Northern Macedonia, thought that the sea was a huge fish soup, and that they took out Spoons to eat when they reached the shore. Later, in the former Yugoslavia, it was the Bosnians who were the target of many jokes.

The cyclical diffusion of pseudoscientific notions about the IQ based on race or ethnic origin takes advantage of pre-existing stereotypes and reinforces them in this region; no wonder they generate so much attention on social networks. But while this translates into more clicks for the media that publish this misinformation, it also fuels resentment, discrimination and hatred.

Scientists have long rejected theories that link ethnic or national origin with intelligence. Intelligence in itself is a complex concept that is usually examined when considering the interaction between nature and nutrition. Many studies have shown that the socio-economic environment, the level of education of caregivers and health and nutrition play an important role.

Despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary, white supremacists in the United States and Europe systematically advocate the idea that intelligence is primarily the result of genetic traits, generally postulating that a narrow subset of white people is genetically superior .

Ironically, Balkan nationalists who typically regard right-wing extremists in the United States and Western Europe as ideological allies can not see (or choose to ignore) that these pseudoscientific theories usually classify their own ethnicities below those of Western countries. .

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