February 21, 2019

DNA pioneer stripped of honours over race comments

15 January 2019, 09:59 | Edward Lowe

Watson was stripped of his honorary titles from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson stripped of honorary titles after 'reprehensible' race comments

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in NY said Watson's most recent comments in a 2018 documentary were "completely and utterly incompatible" with its mission.

Attempts to reach Watson late Sunday night were unsuccessful.

A Nobel prize-winning scientist who helped discover DNA's double helix structure has been stripped of his honorary titles for repeating an "unsubstantiated and reckless" suggestion that genes make black people less intelligent. On Friday, the lab revoked his titles of chancellor emeritus, honorary trustee, and Oliver R. Grace professor emeritus.

Amy Harmon, a science reporter at the New York Times tweeted: "Despite the vast, observable environmental differences (schools, wealth, racism) black and white Americans face, there's no shortage of people conjuring a genetic basis for IQ differences".

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The facility said it condemned his views of race and ethnicity, which he recently expressed in the PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson.

DNA research has been especially helpful to Black people who have been falsely accused of crimes.

The move came after he repeated racist comments in a documentary.

Watson, renowned for his landmark co-discovery of the double-helix in the 1950s and his ensuing research in molecular biology, also developed a reputation as an unfiltered provocateur, sometimes denigrating the reputations of colleagues or making remarks seen as sexist, homophobic or racist. "The CSHL administration has been very proactive on this matter, seeking input from all of us as well as from many members of the broader scientific community".

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Today, there is a consensus among scientists that race is a purely social construct, with no evidence to suggest distinct genetic differences between individuals from different populations. Along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, Watson won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

He also said that while he wished the races were equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

In 1997 he told the Sunday Telegraph that a woman should be allowed to abort a child for any reason, including for homosexuality if a gene could be found that determined it. Only an English patient'. But he couldn't have been that isolated, especially since PBS felt the need to include him and his tainted views in the film.

Watson apologized at the time but in a recent documentary he said his views have not changed. "Nonetheless, the statements he made in the documentary are completely and utterly incompatible with our mission, values, and policies, and require the severing of any remaining vestiges of his involvement".

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