Science

DNA pioneer stripped of titles for claiming black people are less intelligent

DNA pioneer stripped of titles for claiming black people are less intelligent

Watson rose to worldwide scientific fame in 1953 after helping discover DNA's double helix structure with fellow geneticists Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick. He wrote an apology and retained his honorary titles of chancellor emeritus, Oliver R Grace professor emeritus and honorary trustee.

In an interview for a PBS documentary called "American Masters: Decoding Watson" that aired January 2, the now 90-year-old said that blacks and whites had average differences in I.Q. because of genetic differences that evolved through natural selection.

As is to be expected, Watson's son insists that despite his father making racist statements about Black intelligence and standing by them, his father is not a racist.

In the 2007 article Watson went on to avow that, while he wanted everyone to be equal in terms of intelligence, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".

Speaking on a TV program which aired earlier this month, Watson reiterated his position that genes underlie racial differences on IQ tests.

In the article, the geneticist said he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because he believed intelligence level of the native population was inherently lower than that of Europeans - due to genetics.

Watson's family told the New York Times that he was unable to respond to the PBS interview, as he is under medical care after a auto accident last October.




Despite almost half a century service to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Watson, a world-renowned geneticist, lost all of his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus and Honorary Trustee, for refusing to retract his own scientific conclusions.

"Dr Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students", the laboratory's statement said.

Dr Watson had always been associated with the laboratory, becoming its director in 1968, its president in 1994 and its chancellor 10 years later.

Watson has long expressed questionable views, including a 1997 interview in which he expressed unreserved support for abortion rights - something that might have been relatively uncontroversial had he not specifically mentioned fetuses determined to have hypothetical genes leading to homosexuality, dyslexia, or a lack of musical or sports talent as valid reasons to terminate a pregnancy.

In 1953, Dr Watson and Dr Francis Crick deduced the structure of the DNA double helix in Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, following on from the experiments of Rosalind Franklin.

CNN has attempted to reach Watson for comment.

"My dad's statements might make him out to be a bigot and discriminatory", Rufus Watson said to the AP.


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