>Dr. James Watson, the man who is credited with discovering the structure of DNA, along with Francis Crick and Rosalin Franklin, has lost his laboratory and much of his status as a respected science icon after allegedly making racist remarks.
From the Times Online (London, UK):
In his interview Watson had said that he was “gloomy about the prospects for 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”.
He also said he opposed discrimination and that he hoped all races could be equal, but added: “People who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”
Last month, Dr. Watson spoke at the opening to the “Medical Ethics and the Holocaust: How Healing Becomes Killing: Eugenics, Euthanasia and Extermination” series of lectures co-sponsored by the University of Houston and the Houston Holocaust Museum. (Earlier posts on the series here
At that event, Dr. Watson was one of three Nobel laureates (along with Eric Kandel, MD and Feric Murad, MD, PhD) who spoke on the history and – at least in my opinion – of eugenics, including the sad history of eugenics studies in the early part of the 20th century at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Dr. Watson opened by telling us that he does not believe that the traits and abilities of people are completely genetic. He believes that his values for life were taught to him by his parents, who taught him to make his decisions based on reason, with “nothing from revelation. They also taught him the value of honesty, kindness, and involvement.
The doctor appeared to fall asleep a couple of times during the Houston presentation. He went out of his way to note that he came before us with “No religious feeling whatsoever.” (I believe that he had an assumption that the people in the audience were interested in religion.) He also said that if you are better than than others, you’d better be perceived as helping others, and implied that the Jews killed by the Nazi’s in Germany were marked and hated because they were more intelligent and successful than other Germans.
We learned that he had declined information about his genome that would tell us whether or not he carried the genes for a familial type of dementia. He stated that he believed that the study of the genome would improve psychiatry, which he said is still at the level that it was in Nazi Germany.
One of the most truthful statements he made is that “Since I won the Nobel Peace Prize I am heard.”