Fixing it for heredity

Raymond Fancher

  • The Burt Affair by Robert Joynson
    Routledge, 347 pp, £25.00, August 1989, ISBN 0 415 01039 X

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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