Dr James Watson retires admist controversy

From BBC news:

A Nobel laureate who claimed Africans were less clever than Europeans has retired from his post at an American research institution.

James Watson, 79, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York announced his departure on Thursday.

The DNA pioneer triggered an international furore over his remarks in a British newspaper interview.

In his retirement statement, Dr Watson said his decision was “more than overdue” because of his age.

The scientist added: “The circumstances in which this transfer is occurring, however, are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired.”


Eduardo Mestre, chairman of the board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, said in a statement: “The board respects his decision to retire at this point in his career.”

The laboratory, based in Long Island, suspended him after his comments appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine of London on 14 October.
He was quoted as saying 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 said that while he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true”.

The Chicago-born academic also said people should not be discriminated against on the basis of race, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented”.

Speaking engagements were cancelled in the aftermath of the interview’s publication. He later apologised for the comments.

Dr Watson was a joint winner in 1962 of the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, the molecule that lies at the heart of heredity in living organisms.

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Filed under Biotechnolgy, Ethics, Teaching

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