DNA Pioneer James Watson Stripped of Honours After Racist remarks

Dr Watson had made similar claims in 2007 and subsequently apologised.
3151106 07/14/2017 Dr. James Watson, 79, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, an author of the discovery of the structure of DNA, head of a leading genetics laboratory in the USA, gives an open lecture at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Evgenya Novozhenina/Sputnik

Nobel Prize-winning DNA scientist, James Watson has been stripped of several honorary titles by the laboratory he once headed over his views about the black race and intelligence.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Watson worked with said it was acting in response to remarks he made in a television documentary which aired earlier this month.

The 90-year-old geneticist was one of the three who discovered the DNA double helix. Watson lost his job in 2007 for expressing racist views. In the new PBS film, American Masters: Decoding Watson, he said his views on intelligence and race had not changed since.

He had told a magazine in 2007 he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” as “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is same as ours- where all the testing says not really.”

James Watson in 1953 / Ann Ronan Picture Library / Photo12

While Dr. Watson also said he hoped everyone was equal, he added: people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”

In the latest documentary, the molecular biologist says that genes cause a difference on average between black people and white people in IQ tests.

The laboratory branded the latest remarks “reprehensible”, reckless” and “unsupported by science”, saying they effectively reversed Dr. Watson’s written apology and retraction in 2007.

The research center subsequently revoked three titles – chancellor emeritus, Oliver R Grace Professor Emeritus and honorary trustee.

The Zoologist has a long-standing association with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, with him becoming director in 1968, its president in 1994 and its chancellor a decade later. The lab also has a school named after him.

Dr. Watson’s son, Rufus, has rejected the notion that his father is a bigot although he admits his father’s statements represent his rather narrow interpretation of genetic destiny.

Dr. Watson rose to prominence after sharing a Nobel Prize with scientists Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for discovering DNA was a double helix in the shape of a long twisting ladder. The finding presented a breakthrough in understanding how genetic material worked.


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