I love me some DNA, but I am not loving James Watson right now. The Nobel winning biologist most famous for his part in the discovery of DNA structure has hit some nerves across the country with his racist remarks.
LONDON, England (CNN) — Nobel laureate biologist James Watson was suspended Friday from his longtime post at a research laboratory and canceled his planned British book tour after controversial comments that black people are not as intelligent as white people. Watson, 79, an American who won the 1962 Nobel prize for his role in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, apologized Thursday for his remarks — but not before London’s Science Museum canceled his talk there, planned for Friday evening.
The controversy began with an October 14 interview Watson gave to the Sunday Times, which quoted him 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.” Watson also asserted there was no reason to believe different races separated by geography should have evolved identically, and he said that while he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” The biologist apologized “unreservedly” Thursday for his comments and said he was “mortified” by the words attributed to him.
Watson is no stranger to controversy; he has a history of saying offensive and often scientifically inaccurate statements:
In 1997, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph quoted Watson as saying that if a gene for homosexuality were isolated, women who find that their unborn child has the gene should be allowed to have an abortion. During a lecture tour in 2000, he suggested there might be links between skin color and sexual prowess and between a person’s weight and their level of ambition. And in a British TV documentary that aired in 2003, Watson suggested that stupidity was a genetic disease that should be treated.
I have a theory about his statements. My theory is that the old man in a racist homophobe who feels superior to most people and is now senile enough to say what he thinks in public. I mean theory in the scientific way, like the theory of evolution.