Our "godfather of molecular biology" James Watson, co-discoverer with Crick of the DNA structure and Nobel prize winner in 1962 apparently said this piece of nugget:
He says that he is "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," and I know that this "hot potato" is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true." He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because "there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level.Thank you Mr. Watson for acknowledging that "there are many people of color who are very talented". You are truly too kind. Would like me to add some sugar to your cup of ignorant tea ? Watson is just another "brilliant" mind who bases his conclusions on IQ tests that are inherently culturally biased. ( before you retort that they are not, any of those tests are written in Malagasy ? I did not think so..and remember Those are the same brilliant folks who wrote "IQ of the nations" and decided that Madagascar had an IQ of 79 by doing the average of Philippines and Tanzania. Why ? You tell me, apparently it is common knowledge that if you have a 1/2 Philippino 1/2 Tanzanian child is de facto Malagasy :D...sorry I digress...)
This is not Watson 1st nugget either: he reportedly said that In 1997, "that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual."
The question that comes to mind is simple: is there a point where someone says something so mindbogglingly ignorant that we could "un-award" their prior achievements no matter how groundbreaking those achievements were ?
Was the discovery of DNA structure absolute genius ? Absolutely (caveat: apparently a 3rd women scientist may deserve as much accolade for this but did not get the prize). Is it crucial for understanding molecular biology as it is now ? No Doubt. Would I be doing what I do now without his findings ? Probably Not.
Yet, I would love for the Nobel Prize committee to put the dreaded * next to his award. The * would stand for "The person is a great scientist but he lacks basic common sense".
At your workplace , if you behave like a douchebag, regardless of your performance, there is good chance you will get fired. Athletes are getting cut out of their contracts by their team for damaging the image of a team publicly by acting like idiots. Did Watson with his comments not damage the scientific community? Did he not knowingly spite the community that honored him by doubting the intelligence of minorities who have helped him get his Nobel award ?
If you are an aspiring black scientist, would you not feel a bit uncomfortable reading those comments ?
"Do not promote them if they have not succeeded at a lower level". Am I supposed to think that if not for an act of kindness from the scientific community, I do not deserve to be a scientist ? Watson is supposed to be one of the leader of a community that ought to function solely on the bases of logic and reasoning. That statement was based on skewed and imcomplete data, led to the wort possible conclusions and he above all should have known better. I know that geniuses are often lacking in common sense but should that not be pointed out more forcefully if it is the case ?
Watson may have help Science spring forward with his part in the discovery of the structure but he set the community back a couple of years with his foolish comments.