Friday, October 19, 2007

I always did like Crick better.

So, heard about the new trouble James Watson is in? He made some racially insensitive remarks and now everyone is in a total uproar. 'In an extraordinary outburst, the veteran academic, 79, claimed 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".' (daily mail UK)

Watson is referring to the fact that most IQ testing places people of African decent, and African immigrants in western countries is lower than Caucasians. This is usually assumed to be the result of social and language factors (white people from well educated backgrounds write the test, therefore the test is skewed to people from similar backgrounds) For example, people for whom English is a second language also score less well than those who are native speakers.

Watson has been in hot water before, for comments on sex and women, as well as on homosexuals. I have to admit that I have always thought of Watson as a bit of an asshole ( I mean have you READ the Double Helix, the man is impossibly egotistical!) so I am not really suprised by his latest remarks.

Cold Spring Labs just suspended him over the comments and the subsequent backlash. Crick has also been accused of having been sexist in the past, especially toward Rosalind Franklin, whose x-ray diffractions were used to determine the structure of DNA. However, Franklin seemed to forgive Crick near the end of her life, she stayed in his house when she was dying of ovarian cancer in 1958. I have always thought of Crick as the true scientist of the pair Watson and Crick, and he clearly was more of a gentleman.


Blogger Jennifer said...

A bit of an asshole?

October 19, 2007 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Nora said...

hmmm, good point, how about total and complete asshole?

October 21, 2007 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Here is an interesting perspective, of the "he's old and prejudices are deep seated so we just have to wait for that generation to die" variety.

Heavens-Above, the next person I hear call Watson a "well-respected scientist" and express any kind of shock is going to get a Disdainful Stare(TM).

October 26, 2007 at 4:18 PM  

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