James Watson, Co-Discoverer of DNA Structure, Stripped of Honors Over Racist Statements
James Watson co-discovered the double-helix structure of DNA back in the 1950s. Now, the famous scientist is being stripped of his honorary titles at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) because of his recent racist remarks, according to The New York Times.
In an interview for a PBS documentary called "American Masters: Decoding Watson" that aired January 2, the now 90-year-old said that blacks and whites had average differences in I.Q. because of genetic differences that evolved through natural selection. Studies, such as this 2016 paper in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, have refuted the belief that average I.Q. differences can be explained by genetics. [Genetics By the Numbers: 10 Tantalizing Tales]
This isn't the first time that Watson has made racist remarks. In 2007, he suggested that black people are not as smart as white people. In response, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he had previously served as director for over 25 years, stripped him of his administrative duties and his position as chancellor.
Watson later apologized for the statement and said that there's no scientific basis for this belief, but the scientist's new comments "effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr. Watson made in 2007," a statement from the lab said.
In response to his most recent comments, as aired in the documentary, the lab went further than it had in 2007 and revoked Watson's honorary titles of "chancellor emeritus," "Oliver R. Grace professor emeritus” and “honorary trustee."
"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 statement read. "The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice."
- Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones
- 7 Diseases You Can Learn About from a Genetic Test
- 10 Amazing Things Scientists Just Did with CRISPR
Originally published on Live Science.
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Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
By Robert Lea
By Robert Lea