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DNA pioneer loses titles due to race comments

James Watson stands by his views on IQ

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 14 January 2019

Nobel Prize-winning scientist, James Watson, has been stripped of his honorary titles due to ‘reprehensible’ comments over race and intelligence.

The Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, in New York, announced it was cutting ties with Dr Watson, who, along with Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin, discovered the double helix structure of DNA.

Watson, aged 90, lost his titles, after repeating comments relating to IQ differences between blacks and whites.

In 2007, Watson had told The Times newspaper 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 added, that while he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”

In a documentary aired on US public broadcaster PBS earlier this month, Dr Watson said his views had not changed, leading to Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory (CSHL) to revoke all titles and honours granted to Watson, who had led the laboratory for many years.

CSHL’s president, Bruce Stillman and chair of the board of trustees, Marilyn Simons, stated: “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 condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice.”

In the statement, the Laboratory added that it "unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions Dr James D Watson expressed on the subject of ethnicity and genetics.”

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