The acclaimed Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson will be forever remembered as one of the ‘fathers of DNA’. But also as something much worse.
In a resurfaced controversy that further dims the shine of one of the 20th century’s most esteemed scientists, Watson – awarded the Nobel in 1962 for his role in the discovery of DNA’s ‘double helix’ molecular structure – has been stripped of academic titles after repeating offensive racist views that began to shred his reputation over a decade ago.
After new racist comments by Watson surfaced in the recent PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) – the pioneering research lab Watson led for decades – had finally had enough.
“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions,” CSHL said in statement.
“Dr. Watson’s statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL… The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice.”
In the new documentary, Watson states: “There’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.”
It’s not the first time Watson has come under fire for stating these kinds of beliefs.
In 2007, Watson created a furore after 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”.