Dr. James Watson, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who helped discover the “double helix” structure of DNA in 1953, has been stripped of numerous honorary awards following his repeated racist comments about the intelligence of Africans and Blacks.
During a 2007 interview with The Times of London, Watson – who had been the director of New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since 1968 – said 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 added that while his hope was that everybody was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true”.
After those remarks, Watson, 90, was fired as chancellor at the laboratory and was removed from all his administrative duties. He wrote an apology and retained his honorary titles of chancellor emeritus, professor emeritus, and honorary trustee.
However, after saying during a recent PBS documentary called American Masters: Decoding Watson that his thoughts on race had not changed, admitting to lying in 2007 in his apology, Cold Spring Harbor said it was now stripping him of those titles. The lab called the latest remarks “reprehensible” and “unsupported by science.”
As is to be expected, Watson’s son insists that despite his father making racist statements about Black intelligence and standing by them, his father is not a racist.
“My dad’s statements might make him out to be a bigot and discriminatory,” Rufus Watson said to the AP. “They just represent his rather narrow interpretation of genetic destiny.”
“My dad had made the lab his life, and yet now the lab considers him a liability,” he said.
Watson shared a 1962 Nobel Prize with scientists Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for discovering in 1953 that DNA was a double helix, shaped like a long, gently twisting ladder. The breakthrough was key to determining how genetic material works, and the double helix has become a widely recognized symbol of science.
Statement by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory addressing remarks by Dr. James D. Watson in “American Masters: Decoding Watson”https://t.co/irMnebcI3K
— ColdSpringHarborLab (@CSHL) January 11, 2019