Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

DNA Pioneer Stripped of Honors Over ‘Reprehensible’ Race Comments

DNA Pioneer Stripped of Honors Over ‘Reprehensible’ Race Comments

The latest blow to Dr. James Watson's professional credibility came this weekend when the person who has been referred to as "the father of DNA" was "stripped of his honorary titles at the laboratory he once led after repeating racist comments in a documentary", according to CNN.

While Dr Watson also said he hoped everyone was equal, he added: "People who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".

"Dr. Watson has not been involved in the leadership or management of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for more than a decade and he has no further roles or responsibilities at CSHL".

The New York laboratory, where Dr Watson has held multiple top-level positions until his firing in 2007, condemned Dr Watson's remarks as "unsubstantiated and reckless" and "unsupported by science".

The 90-year-old's comments were labeled "reprehensible" by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) on New York's Long Island, where Watson had been the director from 1968 to 1993.

In the "American Masters: Decoding Watson" film, the molecular biologist, 90, said that genes cause a difference in intelligence on average between black and white people in IQ tests.

In a statement, CSHL said in light of Dr Watson's views the laboratory had taken "additional steps" against Dr Watson, including revoking his honorary titles of chancellor emeritus, Oliver R. Grace professor emeritus, and honorary trustee. "I would say the difference is, it's genetic".

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This isn't the first time that Watson has made racist remarks.

But Cold Spring Harbor said it was now stripping him of those titles after he said his views had not changed in the documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson, aired on United States public broadcaster PBS earlier this month.

In 2007, Dr Watson was removed as Chancellor and relieved of all administrative duties when he told The Sunday Times that the prospect of Africa was "inherently gloomy" as "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - where all the testing says not really".

Watson has long expressed questionable views, including a 1997 interview in which he expressed unreserved support for abortion rights - something that might have been relatively uncontroversial had he not specifically mentioned fetuses determined to have hypothetical genes leading to homosexuality, dyslexia, or a lack of musical or sports talent as valid reasons to terminate a pregnancy.

In the documentary he admitted that his views on race and intelligence had not changed - "not at all". He went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1962 with Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick.

CNN has attempted to reach Watson for comment.

Usmanov said Watson was "delighted" to get his Nobel back.

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