Oct 18

James Watson: ready to up’n die.

I doan know why, but dey’s sumfn bout dem aging white scientists-one er dem chuckleheads–dey alwuz love dem to scuttle deir reputations right befo’ dey die.  It happmd to Richard Herrnstein when he published Da Bell Curve with Charles Murray.  What wuz he thinkin’?  He wrote it, den up’n died.  I reckon James Watson will up’n die soon too.  I’s a-gwyne to tell ya bout it below da fold.


There’s really not much to say.  James Watson, Nobel Prize winner for his work on the DNA double-helix with Francis Crick (who based their work on Rosalind Franklin’s work), stood up in front of the entire world and unceremoniously dropped his trousers.

The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when “testing” suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.

Key phrase: could be found within a decade.  They have NOT been found.  As for “testing” a la Herrnstein, Cavalli-Sforza demolished Herrnstein’s estimates of heritability.  And what are the chances of finding these differing genes between races when scientists have no idea what race is?  Ask Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Richard Lewontin, or Craig Venter.

Yes, about 0.01 percent of the genome varies along dimensions of hair, skin, and eye color, etc, little polymorphisms related to particular climates and ecologies.  Big whoop.  A very broad scientific consensus is that “race” is a bogus and useless biological concept.  Rather, it is a sociological construct.  But don’t let that stop you, you crazy old stork, James Watson.  Get your freak on!

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson’s remarks ” in full”. Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that 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 there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

Dude, if you want to get gloomy about Africa, read Joseph Conrad, or any of Devilstower’s excellent diaries on What’s the Matter with Africa?

Or just write your own bigoted story, and immortalize your bogus racism.

His views are also reflected in a book published next week, in which he writes: “There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”

I think Steven Rose gave a pretty decent response:

This is Watson at his most scandalous. He has said similar things about women before but I have never heard him get into this racist terrain. If he knew the literature in the subject he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically.

Watson embarrasses everyone.  Well, he’s ready to up’n die anyway


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  1. He’s just an old coot.

    • nocatz on October 18, 2007 at 4:00 am

    on pff now . Should be interesting.
    Excellent ‘Jim’ too by the way.

    • Twank on October 18, 2007 at 5:02 am

    Watson, Crick … the closest you will have to “gods” in biochemistry/genetics since who …
    Avagadro (sp?) in chem. or Newton in physics.

    Let me sit down with him and hear him out.  Let me question him. 

    No comment.


    • Valtin on October 18, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Elementary textbooks on quantative genetics make fun of the way psychologists misuse terms like hereditability, or try and assign genetic causes to constructs like intelligence.

    The best book on all this, imho, is Stephen Jay Gould’s classic, The Mismeasure of Man, which clearly shows the historical links between hereditarianism and racism.

    Great diary, Compound F! I salute you. (Doesn’t hurt that this is an old topic of mine. Once had a censored letter printed in the APA Monitor criticzing Herrnstein and Murray, also a related short comment in American Psychologist. Ended up writing a dissertation on Darwin, as a way of getting an elementary lesson in the histories of biology and psychology.

    • pfiore8 on October 18, 2007 at 6:25 am

    but no more immune from bullshit thinking than anybody else

    what’s funny, though, is that he’d think intelligence is limited to certain outcomes or behaviors… that he isn’t even aware of the way his own cultural bias may be misinforming his science and ability to observe the “natural” world

    this brings one other thing to mind: the gaping hole of a difference between genius and greatness

  2. Watson is an out and out eugenicist.  A lot of the early gene guys were.

    In a British television documentary in 2003, Watson advised eliminating low intelligence through gene therapy.

    “If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease,” said Watson, according to New Scientist magazine. “The lower 10 percent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it?

    “A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that.’ It probably isn’t,” he added. “So I’d like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 percent.”

    He also touched upon sexual attraction in the same TV program.

    “People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty,” Watson said. “I think it would be great.”

    Now, as appalling as that is, I suppose there’s a ha-ha element to it.  But remember: he thinks (1) Blacks are less intelligent than whites, and (2) it’d be just super to filter out the dumb people.


  3. Genes vs some aspects of intelligence, seems likely, eventually.

    Somehow I’d think there should first be findings of genes relating to specific abilities: photographic memory, spatial relations, perfect pitch. I don’t know the field but I haven’t heard of anything like this in layman’s science reporting.

    And inside of 10 years a leap all the way to some kind of general or overall intelligence?

    Genes vs. “Africa”, –maybe not so much.

  4. how does he claim to know which side of the family lent what to US African Americans?  No one ever asks from whence the white blood came…

    In the 12 year period during and following the Confederation revolt, from 1641 to 1652, over 550,000 Irish were killed by the English and 300,000 were sold as slaves, as the Irish population of Ireland fell from 1,466,000 to 616,000. Banished soldiers were not allowed to take their wives and children with them, and naturally, the same for those sold as slaves. The result was a growing population of homeless women and children, who being a public nuisance, were likewise rounded up and sold. But the worse was yet to come.

    In 1649, Cromwell landed in Ireland and attacked Drogheda, slaughtering some 30,000 Irish living in the city. Cromwell reported: “I do not think 30 of their whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody in the Barbados.” A few months later, in 1650, 25,000 Irish were sold to planters in St. Kitt. During the 1650s decade of Cromwell’s Reign of Terror, over 100,000 Irish children, generally from 10 to 14 years old, were taken from Catholic parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In fact, more Irish were sold as slaves to the American colonies and plantations from 1651 to 1660 than the total existing “free” population of the Americas!  source

    The planters quickly began breeding the comely Irish women, not just because they were attractive, but because it was profitable,,, as well as pleasurable. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, and although an Irish woman may become free, her children were not. Naturally, most Irish mothers remained with their children after earning their freedom. Planters then began to breed Irish women with African men to produce more slaves who had lighter skin and brought a higher price. The practice became so widespread that in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” This legislation was not the result of any moral or racial consideration, but rather because the practice was interfering with the profits of the Royal African Company! It is interesting to note that from 1680 to 1688, the Royal African Company sent 249 shiploads of slaves to the Indies and American Colonies, with a cargo of 60,000 Irish and Africans. More than 14,000 died during passage.  source

    I am of coffin boat Irish stock, and of course I’m being facetious. 

    For that matter it’s time the stupid edjamacation voices in the US woke the hell up and realized that slavery was NOT strictly a “black” issue.  The British outdid themselves for ugliness on the emerald Isle. 

    The Kennedy family rose to power on Irish borough politics, who remembered all this.  Of course it all has gone down the big fake “US” memory hole… what, potato famine?  genocide?  Mass theft of Irish land?  Slavery?  Coffin boats?  Sinking boatloads of dead, diseased Irish passengers on said coffin boats in the Boston Harbor because the Boston Brahmins found the (ugh!!!) Irish too filthy for US shores?  Down the memory hole…  hence the wasting away of the old Democratic party at the hands of Tory school textbook writers…

    Though the Irish and British maintained the latest war for about 500 years concerning British land theft, while Ireland remembers, this went straight down the “US” memory hole.  Ah the melting pot.

    I have also spent time living in east Africa among indigenous Africans, and 1) find his contentions about intelligence ridiculous, and 2) know that Africans are not racially identical to mixed race US African-Americans – and are quick to tell you so – thus another laboratory failure for the old coot.

    I met so many Kenyans who could put US students to shame for scholarship.  Maybe that’s the key… he’s speaking for those who are afraid the world will find out.

  5. Sometimes even assholes get an I.Q. and sometimes they don’t.  Can’t figure that one out, hope they find the gene though.  Don’t let the coffin lid hit you in the ass on your way out…..thanks for the good stuff you gave by the way 🙂

    • nocatz on October 19, 2007 at 1:22 am

    Do we really know what he said? Does he even know what he said?

    “I am mortified about what has happened,” Watson said. “More importantly, I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said.

    “I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have. To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”

    Watson’s publicist, Kate Farquhar-Thomson, would not address whether Watson was suggesting he was misquoted. “You have the statement. That’s it, I’m afraid,” she said.


  6. This is really simple….he doesn’t like black people.

    He had a comment about anybody knows this who has had a black empolyee.

    Intelligence is not related to education. He is not really an intelligent person. He’s an academic. And academics are probably the dumbest people in the world.

    I, mean they are OUT OF IT…generally speaking. There are exceptions….but most of them are very dumb people.

    In this world, on this planet…you will find that most everything is backwards.

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