18 October 2007

Sometimes things don't compute.

Scientist James Watson is best remembered for his and Francis Crick's unraveling of the code for DNA, but these days he seems more intent on reheating discredited theories on race. His latest foray into this arena has been to claim that Africa is in the state it's in because Blacks are simply not as intelligent as whites. Here's what the esteemed researcher had to say:
He made the controversial comments in a Sunday Times interview, reportedly saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our
social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really".
Dr Watson was quoted as saying he hoped everyone was equal, but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".

Um...yeah. Watson's currently a prominent researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a research facility with a long and checkered past, including being the home of the Eugenics Record Office, a hotbed of racist psuedoscience that promoted precisely the same sort of thinking that Watson is now, in 2007, espousing. The ERO was shown to be sham long ago, but for a time it was a powerful force in maintaining racist and anti-immigrant policies since it provided a "scientific" basis for discriminating against native-born Blacks and those nasty nasty immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.

To Cold Spring Harbor Lab's credit, they've immediately denounced Watson's ravings with a pretty strong statement:
The lab's trustees and its president, Bruce Stillman, said in a statement: "(These) are his own personal statements and in no way reflect the mission, goals, or principles of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Board, administration or faculty.
"(We) vehemently disagree with these statements and are bewildered and saddened if he indeed made such comments.
"Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory does not engage in any research that could even form the basis of the statements attributed to Dr Watson."

So there you go. It's not too far from sad old Bobby Fischer, who while a brilliant chess mind, is a bit of a loon otherwise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some scientists definitely can be a little loopy, that's for sure.

I wonder if Watson was always like that, or if he's gotten more that way as he got older?