GM champion claims blacks less intelligent than whites (17/10/2007)

COMMENT from GM Watch: Monsanto and the pro-GM lobby have traded on the support for GM crops of DNA co-discoverer and Nobel Laureate, James Watson.

Earlier this year, for instance, Monsanto released an ''exclusive'' video they''d made of Watson expounding on his support for GM in agriculture. (Nobel Laureate James Watson Supports Applications of Recombinant DNA Technology in Agriculture - ST. LOUIS, MO, January 22 2007)

But, as the article below makes all too clear, scientific brilliance is not the same as wisdom or even decency.

''Black people are less intelligent than whites'', claims DNA pioneer
Daily Mail, 17 October 2007

One of the world''s most eminent scientists is at the centre of a row after claiming black people are less intelligent than whites.

James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, has drawn condemnation for comments made ahead of his arrival in Britain tomorrow for a speaking tour.

Dr Watson, who now runs one of America''s leading scientific research institutions, made the controversial remarks in an interview in The Sunday Times.

The 79-year-old geneticist said 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''.

He said he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that ''people who have to deal with black employees find this not true''.

He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.

He includes his views in a new book, published this week, in which he writes that ''there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically''.

''Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so,'' he says.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is now studying Dr Watson''s remarks ''in full''.

Dr Watson arrives in Britain to promote his latest book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science.

Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told the Independent: ''It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments.

''I am sure the scientific community will roundly reject what appear to be Dr Watson''s personal prejudices. These comments serve as a reminder of the attitudes which can still exist at the highest professional levels.''

Dr Watson was hailed as achieving one of the greatest single scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century when he worked at the University of Cambridge in the 1950s and 1960s, forming part of the team which discovered the structure of DNA.

He shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for medicine with his British colleague Francis Crick and New Zealand-born Maurice Wilkins.

He has served for 50 years as a director of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory on Long Island, considered a world leader in research into cancer and genetics.

He has courted controversy in the past, reportedly saying that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual.

He has suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, proposing a theory that black people have higher libidos.

He also claimed that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: ''People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great.''

Steven Rose, a professor of biological sciences at the Open University, told the Independent: ''This is Watson at his most scandalous. He has said similar things about women before but I have never heard him get into this racist terrain.

''If he knew the literature in the subject he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically.''

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive