Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Nobel victor James Watson stripped of titles over 'reprehensible' views on race

Nobel victor James Watson stripped of titles over 'reprehensible' views on race

The Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory (CSHL) has stripped James Watson, the 90-year-old Nobel Prize-winning scientist famous for determining the double-helix structure of DNA with his partner Francis Crick in the 1950s based on research conducted by British chemist Rosalind Franklin, of all his honorary titles.

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".

On Friday January 11 he was stripped of several honorary titles by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in NY, which he once headed.

Dr James Watson, the 1962 Nobel Prize victor for co-discovery of the DNA double helix.

The graduate school of biological sciences at the research center is named for Watson, and the laboratory held a 90th birthday party for him in the spring.

In the documentary, Dr Watson claimed that genes cause a difference on average between black people and white people on IQ tests, a view which has been widely discredited within the genetics field.

The remarks are the latest in a series of racist and homophobic statements that have tainted Watson's career.

In the article, the geneticist said he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because he believed intelligence level of the native population was inherently lower than that of Europeans - due to genetics.

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Michael Wigler, a veteran molecular biologist at the laboratory, said that Watson's views on race were not newsworthy in the first place.

"Dr Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students", the laboratory's statement said.

"Not at all. I would like for them to have changed, that there be new knowledge that says that your nurture is much more important than nature", the scientist was quoted as saying in a recently previewed PBS documentary, titled American Masters: Decoding Watson.

But his recent comments "effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr Watson made in 2007", and "require the severing of any remaining vestiges of his involvement", Cold Spring Harbor's chief executive, Bruce Stillman, and its board of trustees chairwoman, Marilyn Simons, said in a statement. He also suggested in 2000 that there might be a link between a person's weight and ambition, and between an individual's skin color and sexual prowess, Gizmodo reports.

James Watson the Nobel Prize for the 1953 discovery of the DNA's double helix structure.

CNN has attempted to reach Watson for comment.

"My dad's statements might make him out to be a bigot and discriminatory", he said, but that's not true.

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