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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory strips titles of genetic pioneer over race remarks



The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory revoked several honorary titles from its former director and pioneer of the Nobel Prize in DNA research, after repeating his belief that blacks are genetically inferior to whites in intelligence.

James Watson, 90, had publicly made these remarks in an interview with the 2007 magazine and repeated it on PBS's "American Masters: Decoding Watson," which aired on January 2nd.

In a statement announcing the withdrawal of the titles, the president of the laboratory council, Marilyn Simons and its president and CEO, Bruce Stillman, said that the laboratory "unequivocally refuses the unfounded and reckless personal opinions that the Dr. James D. Watson spoke on the subject of ethnicity and genetics during the PBS documentary Watson's statements are reprehensible, not supported by science and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff or students The Laboratory condemns the improper use of science to justify prejudice. "

In 2007, Watson told The Sunday Times Magazine in London 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, while all the tests do not really say ". He also said that he hoped everyone was the same, but that "people who deal with black employees find it not true".

When "Watson Decoding" Producer and director Mark Mannucci asked Watson if his opinions on race and intelligence had changed, Watson replied: "No, not at all, I wish they had changed, that there was a new knowledge that says that your culture is much more important than nature, but I have not seen any knowledge and there is a difference in the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. genetics. "

Laboratory spokesperson Dagnia Zeidlickis said on Saturday:" As an institution it is a sad moment. "

"It's sad when we are confronted with such a dichotomy," he said, contrasting Watson's long list of scientific achievements and his leadership in the lab with "comments that are not supported" by science. "

Watson served as director of the laboratory from 1

968 to 1994 and later became president and then chancellor.The laboratory suspended him as chancellor after his 2007 remarks, and a few days later, after apologizing for comments, Watson has resigned: Among the titles that the institute has taken from him on Friday is the Chancellor Emeritus

The laboratory's life science school is named after Watson.As a question about whether the lab will take its name off the school, Zeidlickis said, "I can not tell you how it will be the future. But we are always evolving. "

Watson shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1962 for a revolutionary discovery on the structure of DNA.

Nancy Hopkins, professor emeritus of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Watson had been a mentor for she was a professor at Harvard University and a student at Radcliffe College.

Yet last year, Watson told her that the scarcity of eminent scientists is a genetic difference, Hopkins said Saturday. "E & # 39 Just what he is saying about race. "

Hopkins is perplexed that a brilliant scientist who once was ahead of his time to promote women in science and never spoke a racist word would now say that women and people of color are genetically inferior.

Hopkins supports the laboratory's decision to remove the honorary titles. "It's like a different person," he said. [19659006] One of Watson's sons, Duncan Watson, refused to comment on Saturday 19659003 Another son, Rufus Watson, who is schizophrenic, told the Associated Press that his father, who is in a nursing home after a October automobile accident near the laboratory, has a "very minimal" awareness of what surrounds it. He said his father was not a bigot

The observations in the documentary "represent only his rather narrow interpretation of the genetic destiny," he told the AP.

Mannucci said Saturday that he gave Watson two opportunities in six months to clarify his 2007 remarks, and every time he defended them.

"It was not to nail it or take it," said Mannucci. "It was not a Gothic question." It was right for him. "

Michael Wigler, a Cold Spring cancer researcher and former Watson colleague, said:" For those of us who have had the honor to know ; man and his actions there is only anguish about the current situation. "


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