Friday, 19 Oct 2007 11:06
[James Watson suspended by Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory after claiming westerns are more intelligent than Africans. File licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License]
James Watson suspended by Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory after claiming westerns are more intelligent than Africans. File licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License
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Nobel prize-winning scientist James Watson has been suspended by Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory after claiming that Africans are less intelligence than westerners.
The New York-based research institute said it 'disagreed' with the comments Dr Watson, credited with the joint discovery of DNA's double helix structure, made to the Sunday Times this week.
"Earlier this evening, the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory board of trustees decided to suspend the administrative responsibilities of chancellor James Watson, pending further deliberation by the board," a statement released last night said.
"This action follows the board's public statement yesterday disagreeing with the comments attributed to Dr Watson in the October 14th edition of the Sunday Times."
Dr Watson told the Sunday Times that 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 that it was his hope that everyone was equal, but added that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".
In an interview with the Independent newspaper Dr Watson admitted that he always spoke his mind.
"This has, at times, got me in hot water," he said. "Rarely more so than right now, where I find myself at the centre of a storm of criticism."
The American scientist continued: "I can understand much of this reaction. For if I said what I was quoted as saying, then I can only admit that I am bewildered by it. To those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly. This is not what I meant.
"More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."
But he also sought to distinguish between scientific thought and racism.
"The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity," Dr Watson told the newspaper.
"It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science. To question this is not to give in to racism. This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great engineers."End of story
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