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Raymond Fancher

Raymond Fancher teaches psychology at York University in Canada.

Look at me

Raymond Fancher, 28 June 1990

In the introduction to this autobiography Hans Eysenck approvingly quotes Oscar Wilde’s assertion that ‘modesty is the worst kind of vanity.’ Accordingly, Eysenck unapologetically laces his book with facts and figures to demonstrate that he is, as his publisher’s publicity has it, ‘Britain’s most-read and best-known psychologist’. As part of his evidence, he lists his 71 books published through 1989, and presents a graph showing that he has also produced some eight hundred articles and chapters. This astonishing output, from a part-time writer who also founded and for years administered the Psychological Department of the University of London’s Postgraduate Medical Federation, is surely unmatched by any contemporary British psychologist.

From bad to worse

Raymond Fancher, 8 March 1990

More than three centuries ago. Sir Thomas Browne noted ‘the humour of many heads to extol the days of their forefathers, and declaim against the wickedness of times present’. He added that these nostalgic declaimers seem always to have been present, and indeed one can find notable examples of them from virtually all periods of human history. Horace’s lament – ‘Our fathers, viler than our grandfathers, begot us who are even viler; we shall bring forth a progeny more degenerate still’ – is still echoed today by those who see society in dangerous decay from causes as diverse as Aids and abortion, pollution and punk rock, drugs and deficit spending. Because these attitudes have been expressed continuously across the centuries, Browne did not take them seriously, and argued that they merely indicated ‘the community of vice’ across all stages of history.’

Fixing it for heredity

Raymond Fancher, 9 November 1989

A decade ago, L.S. Hearnshaw’s Cyril Burt, Psychologist (1979) apparently resolved one of recent psychology’s most publicised controversies. Previously at issue had been the question of whether some discredited findings in a study of separated identical twins by the eminent psychologist Sir Cyril Burt (1883-1971) had been the product of simple carelessness in an ageing but honest investigator, or of deliberate fraud. After carefully examining Burt’s private papers, Hearnshaw concluded in favour of fraud, and most of the psychological community quickly accepted his judgment. Now, however, Robert Joynson has re-examined the case and decided, in the words of The Burt Affair’s dust-jacket, ‘that the accusations are ill-founded and that Burt must be exonerated.’

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