DNA pioneer stripped of honors over ‘reprehensible’ race comments

14 January, 2019, 16:12 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • In 2007 Dr Watson said he was 'inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa'

In response, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in NY, where Watson has held numerous leadership roles over almost four decades, "unequivocally [rejected]" the 90-year-old scientists' "unsubstantiated and reckless" comments.

Watson, one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, had apologised after making similar comments to a British newspaper in 2007.

Dr Watson became Cold Spring Harbor's director in 1968, its president in 1994 and chancellor a decade later.

"Dr. Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of (the laboratory), its trustees, faculty, staff or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice", the laboratory said in a Friday (Jan 11) statement before revoking three titles - chancellor emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and honorary trustee soon afterwards.

At the time, Watson told a magazine that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" as "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - where all the testing says not really", cited by News.sky.com.

James Watson shared a 1962 Nobel Prize with collaborator Francis Crick and scientist Maurice Wilkins for discovering in 1953 that DNA was a double helix, shaped like a long, gently twisting ladder. And there's a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests.

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In the 2007 interview, Watson said that while he hopes everyone is equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".

"Not at all. I would like for them to have changed, that there be new knowledge that says that your nurture is much more important than nature", the scientist was quoted as saying in a recently previewed PBS documentary, titled American Masters: Decoding Watson.

In 1997 he told the Sunday Telegraph that a woman should be allowed to abort a child for any reason, including for homosexuality if a gene could be found that determined it.

Watson apologized at the time but in a recent documentary he said his views have not changed. He also suggested in 2000 that there might be a link between a person's weight and ambition, and between an individual's skin color and sexual prowess, Gizmodo reports.

He and British biologist Dr Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for their discovery nine years earlier of the double helix structure of DNA, the molecules that carry all the genetic information determining how we grow, function and reproduce.

Usmanov said Watson was "delighted" to get his Nobel back.

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