James Watson, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who caused an uproar earlier this week with his comments to a Sunday newspaper has been suspended by his research laboratory. The Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York issued a statement saying that it had taken the action "pending further deliberation by the board". Watson …
If you don't like the truth then supress it...
Just like the Catholic church did when Galileo proved that the earth was not at the center of the universe back in 1610.
Perhaps we should burn this bloke as a witch, a nobel-prize winning witch that is...
400 years on and what progress have we *really* made?
I pointed this out on multiple sites when it first happened
I hope those sites print a similar story to the Regs. Most sites quoted his exact words while simultaneously stating that they meant something they obviously didn't. Very wierd. Apologies all around? I doubt it.
I feel insulted that people assumed it was a racist comment!
Why do small minded people assume the worst and as such that this was a racist comment. Its a ludit level of assuming the worst that actualy causes the general inteligence level to lower.
It wasn't intended as a racist comment and as such to imply it is is a insult to intellegence as a whole. Yet another drag into the whole creationist level of reasoning. Facts are only racist people would see this as a racist comment and as such the only racists I see are the ones asking the question. As for creationists - just ask them to explain why people are different when we are all supposed to be inbred clones.
Alas though only way to solve this whole direction of perscuting the intellegent people is for a new church. The Church of Common Sence and Facts.
Racist people arn't allowed to work.
This would explain a lot.
yet again costs someone a career and credibility.
This is why the mainstream media should stay away from science, I can't remember the last time I read a sci/tech article that didn't misrepresent the author, findings or both.
...hopeless science journalism sacrifices a giant in his field on the altar of soundbites and artificial controversy.
he may actually have a point
Maybe black people are less capable 'in general' than white people, who knows, have there ever been any studies done.
With this hysterical kind of PC brainwashing no one will ever know.
Next thing they'll be saying woman are good at reading maps and men are in touch with their emotional side.
BTW. That's not what I believe, but without proof we shouldn't be witch hunting.
There is one thing he is right about
There is one thing he is right about - there is no scientific argument regarding this. It is solely political.
If Mr Watson has scientific data to back his claims up I personally would very much like to see it. Let's see the numbers damn it!
If Mr Watson does not have scientific data to back his claims up, he should take full responsibility for this (and stealing Rosalind Franklin data along with it if possible).
...that the media have to so often sensationalize stories into something there not. Now the whole topic is tainted and nobody can make any sort of comment on it without being labelled.
I don't expect to see this sh*t on The Register, it should be confined to the likes of the The Daily Mail.
Ridiculous that he should be pilloried for an out-of-context quote like that. Journalists need to be a lot more careful when presenting scientific information. The idea that such an important figure in the history of science should be censured because some dimwit writer couldn't bother to get the facts straight is hugely depressing. "Idiocracy" is looking like more and more of an accurate prediction with each passing day.
Oh dear, oh dear...
If scientists can't even BEGIN to discuss these subjects in a clearly scientific manner without being canceled, suspended etc. then the very possibility of informed discussion and *development* are doomed. We're getting to the point where 'common sense' really has been legislated out of existence. But don't worry, when the survival of the fittest has been ruled out altogether, we will simply degenerate until Darwin kills us all off. By the look of things sooner rather than later.
Is this the same guy....
Who keeps crashing my Windows PC as well?
So what about his REAL racist statement
“people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. Why are so many people who are harping on about exact quoting missing this blatantly racist statement. He DID say it. The original Times article is here:
Is it some form of racist comment to say that journos who selectively quote in order to create a false impression are either intellectually or ethically challenged?
It is a scientific fact that male and female brains work differently - and it would be interesting to see what these differences might be (if any) among racial groups. As far as I can see, this was the gist of Watson's point.
> Why do small minded people assume the worst and as such that this was a racist comment.
Er, are you saying these people have smaller minds?
Political Correctness\ Media Critical Thinking triumphs again
Fact: We are all equal.
Fact: We are all different.
Fact: We are all equal and all different.
Want to have a real good laugh? Ask the media to explain this paradox. Among themselves, they wouldn't have a cue. They would have to go and find an "expert" to misquote just to get the story.
What I think Watson is trying to say in spite of the world's knee jerk PCs attempts to misquote him, is that we are all equal but we arrive at our shared equality in different ways. For example, it is not too unreasonable to figure that Northern European forebears survived through the ice age and therefore in order to do that had to be more inventive to stay alive than say , people who at that time were living in what is now called Southern Italy. The climate there would have been much milder with a longer growing season and probably more plentiful game so the people living there would not have to make as much effort to live and survive thus the genetic requirements would be different. Perhaps the northerners would be better at lighting fires, making clothing from furs and making weapons to hunt with,leading to a mind set ideal for later industrialisation. whereas, the southerners would perhaps have been better at farming and the domestication of food animals leading to modern agriculture. Neither one could be said to be superior in general to the other but would be quite different in both mind set and probably physique since the life styles would require different abilities. So what is the problem? Evolution works on humans too and not all of the world geographically speaking is the same. One of the reasons humans dominate this planet is that we are, as a species, very adaptable, the differences are not something to make political capital out of in order to discriminate against they are something to be proud of as a race.
to quote 'K'
1500 years everybody knew the earth was the center of the universe
500 years everybody knew the earth was flat
15 minutes ago you knew we were alone in the universe
imagine what you will know tomorrow...
Will someone no please not quote mr Watson and give the full transcript so the 'political correctnoess police' can read it , and open their eyes.
um. y'all should read the comments
I'm surprised that the Register chose not to run the comments in question.
Watson is "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"
Smart people can do poorly on tests. I'm confident that if the test was one on successfully removing dental plaque, everyone here (myself included) would do poorly. None of us are trained in it.
Oh, and going one better, Watson also said he hoped everyone was equal, but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".
Whoops. Nonspecific, hence not as scientifically meretricious as the first statement, but so socially retarded that it beggars belief. Neither he nor his publicist are actually saying he was misquoted. He's saying he's misunderstood, poor fellow. But admitting that he understands why he was misunderstood.
He makes a very valid scientifically backed up point. God I hate all the usual PC bollocks.
If we were all made equal, how come I have enormous genitals?
This 'political correctness' argument really isn a straw man.
Yes - it may be socially abhorent to paint a specific race in a bad light - but if there is science to back it up then can be excused.
Unfortunately the claim about 'black employees' fails on every count. It's unscientific - making a vague claim referring to anecdotal evidence - the vague 'people'.
It's interesting to see the commenters above claiming to stick up for 'scientific principle' - and yet when we have a scientist making unfounded claims as extraordinary as exponents of homeopathy they suddenly leap to his defence.
In brief I'd apply the same rule of thumb as I would to others making extraordinary claims. Show us the proof - or fuck off.
"We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity to do different things. The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity.
"It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science."
'we do not understand' ... 'It may well be'
This degree of uncertainty wasn't present in his original comments. If they had been, if he had remembered to be a scientist rather than a media-slut he might still be speaking - It was stated as fact. This is not science.
Well, then go and sue Encyclopedia Britannica..
For a while I had a very early version (1904 or so), and in the course of looking up Nigeria we came across an entry with a word which is now so derogatory that I can't even write it in full (it starts with nig - you get the picture).
What was totally staggering was the content of the entry. It quoted some medical expert stating that the subject matter were definitely less intelligent than Caucasiants because (I kid you not) they had less skull capacity. The learned author also explained that this was why in earlier life there as no difference - cranial real estate was at that point equal between the races. Imagine sitting in a dusty attic with your mouth open after reading this. Maybe the Nobel price winner needs to just update his Encyclopedia?
This was a VERY educational entry, not because of the content but because of the belief attached to such statements. Since I treat any scientific theory with a huge dose of suspicion..
Henry, we are not all equal
How dare you insinuate that those dirty buggers on Kim & Aggies show are equal to me. I far superior to them and very clean!
The problem is socialist dogma that says there CAN'T BE a difference and liberals who COULDN'T COPE if there was one. These liberal-socialists are blinding us all to the facts, whatever they are. Only when we know the facts can we hope to build a society that is just and works.
Unfortunately liberal-socialists seem to be over-represented in the media, and a benevolent man that knows how benevolent and right he is will stop at nothing.
I used to think it would be the lawyers who would be first up against the wall come the revolution, but it looks like it could be a close call!
Watson may or may not be a racist, but....
The actual quote should have been: "I see little hope for our journalists, especially television reporters, as their collective intelligence is far below that of their audiences"... no wait.... <sigh> Most everyone seems pretty stupid and reactionary these days.
context and con text
taking a people group as a whole and not looking at individuals... Asians are generally smarter than the rest of us plods. Africans are generally better athletes. I still don't know what good white folk are. They seem to know a little about everything and just enough to get themselves in trouble most of the time. Probably why I've seen that most politicians and lawyers are white.
BTW... I'm white (in case you couldn't tell by my name *grin* profile that!)
in my not so humble opinion... screw all this PC garbage... be real or piss off
If you can't figure out what good you are, there's no use in trying to tell others what good they are (or bad for that matter) and from what I've seen... most sensationalists fit in this category (media or public at large or just large public?.. ooo... maybe I shouldn't have cracked that joke about large public... maybe some fat man will be upset by it? heh... maybe it'll get him off his but to do something about it or maybe he already knows about his own genetics enough that he can't do anything about it, diet doesn't help, exercise doesn't help, it's just the way he was made and he won't be offended by it because he's not a sensationalist?... concept!) ok... let the flames commence! and if you can't be real... PISS OFF!
The man's a supremacist, and is now backtracking, typical of his kind. Read the article, can't sandpaper over all those insinuations. Unfortunately a lot of posters here are flaunting their pathetic racism - tell me why do you need to feel superior - behind the cover of science not unlike Hitler. The bad news is no science will ever give you the data and validation you so desperately seek unless its of the Nazi kind.
Its unfortunate that in 2007 one would have presumed this sort of ideas were decades behind but no, even today black people have to live with this shit floating around.
OMG you can't mention skin colour!!1!!!!!1!!
Why is it we cannot even begin to admit that different races are actually different? Do we honestly believe that the ONLY differences caused by our genes are the way we look?
Read up about lactose tolerance for example - some people can digest it, others can't. i.e. some peoples genes allow them to do things other people can't. I'm not saying African people are less intelligent than Europeans, but what science says that it couldn't be the case (or that the reverse couldn't be true)?
An amusing test for Mr Watons theory would be to take a general look at each race and the geographical areas they are predominant in. The European genes are mainly found in Europe, North America and Australia for example. Those areas are highly stable, technologically advanced and have decent life expectancies. Now compare with Africa...
Was it *pure* luck the white boys got the best deal, or did genes help? Answers on a postcard.
PS For those ppl that are about to claim "but the Europeans made Africa the way it is today" please tell us why Africa didn't do that to us first. We got a head start - why?
I just dont geddit!!
What happens if you are of mixed decent.
Do i get half the libido of someone of black origin and half the brain power of someone of white/european origin?
do i just sit here smugly and grin to myself.
Nope, that does not work. Life is really hard in the "warm places" too. Read "Guns, Germs and Steel" for and interesting analysis on this myth of "the Northern people had it hard, so they must have developed (and gotten smart) because of that".
Now, this Watson thing reminds me of the Harvard (ex)president mess, when he got in trouble by suggesting women are less capable in the sciences. Yes, political correctness is annoying. People jump at the throat of whomever merely suggests a theoretical possibility that disagrees with the PC-way, no matter what. And while I agree with Watson that the truth should be a priority, no matter whether the conclusions are not what you'd have liked, I also think you should not step away from the most certain conclusions we've got so far. Specially when you are talking about such polemic issues. The thing is that he says Africans have less intelligence than "us", but he does not say why directly -- so is it because of the way they were raised in misery, or is it genetics? (later he seems to indicate it's genetic) As far as I know, whenever people measure these things and appropriately correct for non-biological factors (to the extent it can be done), the conclusion is that there is no real difference in intelligence among people so far. Now, was this conclusion "forced" by the desire/obligation to be PC? I can't tell, that is not my area of research. It's possible, but I doubt everybody would do the same "forcing" and all that. More study (and less politics) is clearly needed... ;-)
How do you test for intelligence? What the hell is intelligence anyway? Scientists haven't given us clear answers yet. They certainly can't agree what the IQ test measures. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iq_test#Criticism)
So it isn't actually possible to have a rational scientific debate on this one yet.
So maybe he should have not said anything.
OTOH, this Scientific American article (http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/intelligence/cache/1198yam.html) has a go: apparently a 1995 study showed on average a 15 point difference in the IQ's of black and white people; but concluded that it was impossible to say if it meant anything.
Building the aqueducts?
As a foreigner who was born in the country with 1 African descendent per 5,000,000 of locals I think that I am qualified to be immune to all the PC bull, and that I can make some impartial observation:
When discussing the African continent in particular, look at the basic facts > the technological advances locals have made, prior to the contact with European enslavers?
It could be argued, that they had no chance to develop, what with all the enslaving and all, however, when the Europeans have first arrived, what did they find? Societies with books, schools, sciences? Err. No. Long after the Arabs looked at the astronomy and other sciences, long after the Europeans travelled the world and established trade and social links with other continents and long after the Chinese built the great wall of china, what were the inhabitants of the African continent doing? Building the aqueducts? Government? Sciences? Medicine? Buildings....
You cannot argue with history! No amount of PC bull will cover this up, though, it is continently never mentioned in “race” arguments.
I would like to see someone try to argue this point, and say that I am racist...
@Building the aqueducts?
Heard of "The Pyramids"? You know big things? I think there might be something to do with the 7 wonders of the world in there.
@Building the aqueducts
..argueing with history?
it wasnt the "european enslavers"rampaging through the countryside.
No, actually they were buying the slaves at the coast, purchasing them from other black africans, who had done the actual loot-rape and pillage in the interior.
European enslavers are waaaayyy down the list in africas history of foreign contact. The Egyptians and Arabs were there long before us.
Getting back towards the actual topic. I think it was one of the Science of the Discworld books, said Africa contained over 90% of humanitys genetic diversity. Of course there are differences. Only stupid people beleive everyone is exactly equal. Even bleeding-heart mindless small-l liberals acknowledge that some groups are less capable than others - although they call it "requiring more assistance"
Europeans are more intelligent because we developed complicated government first? Oh please...
I think a quote from the late Douglas Adams is relevant here:
Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much... the wheel, New York, wars, and so on, whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.
The article states that Watson said:
'that "our intelligence" is not the same as "theirs".' Well I guess if "different" is a bad thing then I guess that so is "diversity".
As mentioned elsewhere on this page, we really need some more scientific facts. I personally think that we all have the same fundamental _value_, regardsless of our skills et cetera. That value (as in "ethics") of some mongoloid (white) kid or the US president is just as high as the value of any other human being.
At home, I'm the one brewing the coffee. And often the one cooking. Always the one driving. (And that's about it, she does all the rest!) Practice makes perfect or whatever, so I'm the best at brewing coffee. Was I the best when we met? When we were kids? I don't know.
I you want to test who's smarter, black guy or "vanilla face", you need to adhere to some rules for comparison. Don't compare Dubya and Kofi Annan. Take a representative amount of people from each side, place them in the _same context_ with _equal ressources_ and see where it goes. Retest and test again to be sure.
Maybe Africa was a more difficult place to live, maybe it wasn't. But you haven't made any serious comparison unless you have taken some africans and placed in e.g. Italy and vice versa and seen who develops where. And it would be perfect if you had a time machine so you could have the same scenario as "back in the day".
So: We all have the same worth. We don't know Jack Schitt about who's genetically superior to whom. (Maybe we know Jack, but not his relatives.) We DO know that there are some inqeualities in the world. Why don't we try to find out what we can/should do about them, instead of quarrelling about who's superior to whom?
Observing rule #8.
Pity no one has cited the main books on this topic yet...
AFAIK no one - not Watson, not The Times science correspondent who wrote a whole page about this today, and certainly no other member of the media - has mentioned the principal books that document the theory that different genetic groups have different average IQs. I cite these below, along with Dr Richard Lynn's home page and Wikipedia entry. Having read these, one should have some idea of what the controversy is about. Otherwise, probably not.
I am by no means sure Dr Lynn is right, but I am quite sure he (and Professor Watson) deserve a hearing. One obvious question is: if Northern Europeans became extra-intelligent under the stress of surviving the Ice Age, how come Australian aborigines apparently became the world's least intelligent people under the stress of surviving in their own deserts?
IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen
Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis by Richard Lynn
IQ and Global Inequality by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen
Dr Lynn's Web page: http://www.rlynn.co.uk/
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lynn
It's not rocket science - it's much more difficult, but it's still science...
.. and here's a guess at how it works:
Rainforest doesn't support high densities of people or long distance communication. The sort of social structures that work are small isolated villages that frequently move on or split up when an area gets worked-out. It's the same in the Amazon basin rainforest. Being smart in small dynamic communities like these means being loyal to other villagers and family, and helping to defend your patch.
Large fertile plains (think India or South China) support stable farming communities. Armies can move far enough to keep large empires in one piece. Being smart in such social structures means understanding the mechanisms of goverment and law and war and supporting them.
Over 10,000 years it would be surprising if our mental apparatus didn't evolve appropriately: - different kinds of intelligence might arise. Of course we'll never know if we don't take the bloody blindfolds off!
excercise 101 : Why do Indian and Pakistani communities seem so different?
excercise 102 : Why are you surprised?
Building the pyramids,
It is unbelievable to see people even starting to debate such a pointless argument. And even more amazing to see that there are some people on this site who seem to agree that Africans are less "intelligent". Humans have been on earth way longer than the last thousand years, and the political happenings in the last millenium don't even start to define us. As a young black man, who this year won a UK award for academic excellence, and is top of his University engineering class, should I say its because I'm black? No it isn't, I just happen to be more intelligent ( in an academic sense ) than the rest of my class, 90 percent of whom are white. The fact that I'm black is simply because of a gene that made my skin darker than a caucasians skin, skin colour is only one of millions of genetic differences we have.
To Ross, Anonymous coward...: Did white people get the best deal? You think they did? When there are places in the UK where a quarter of GCSE students fail their exams? When in eastern Europe mothers are selling their babies for money, and war is only a few months away? 5000 years ago the Egyptians had the worlds greatest libraries, while White Europe consisted scattered villages ruled by warring chiefs, comprising farmers and the occasional blacksmith. And you ask what Africa did? You fail to realise that the vast majority of what we acknowledge to be modern, arrived in the last 150 years. You also fail to realise that 50 years ago you could not go to University in certain places ( like the great US of A), simply because you were black. And so you list the great number of inventions in the last 60 years by white people and use that as a 'scientific' basis for your arguments.
The point is, my being black African does not 'generally' make me less intelligent than any of you..... If I were less intelligent on the other hand, it would be for totally different reasons, totally unconnected to the dictation of the few genes that darkened my skin.
But it really doesn't matter what I say..... If you think Africans are less intelligent that the rest, its not your fault, its the society you live in that trained you to think like that, in the same way the Hitler indoctrinated his band of thugs..... It happens......
Data in THE BELL CURVE
Lots of professionally gathered IQ data in the semi-popular lit. Read THE BELL CURVE. It's mostly about IQ variations among "white" subgroups.
Read it and weep, because truly every egalitarian assumption of our emotocentric oh-so-sensitive nanny culture is wrong.
Watson's a Potty-Mouth
We live a stone's throw from CSL. He's been shooting his mouth off like this for years. His Nobel and fundraising acuity have encouraged people to overlook these types of incredibly assholish comments, which I have heard with my own little ears.
Oh, and all you folks that have been valiantly defending him against the "PC Police"? He hates you. He's an unapologetic elitist SOB who happens to have a Nobel prize. You don't have one, and you don't have money for CSL, so that puts you in the "Them" class.
Smart SOB, but SOB nonetheless. Anyone who says crap like that, especially a scientist, yanking "facts" from his nether regions (please show us the data, sir), deserves scorn and retirement.
mostly beside the point
There have been many stories of people with no appreciable brain matter a residue on the insides of their heads caused by fluid buildup the fact is they continued to function some in responsible roles in government. The fact is we don't need all the intellectual capacity we have all races have roughly similar brain sizes and none of them use all of it in this area genetics is useless because you can survive to child baring years with much less brain power than any modern human has so there is no evolutionary advantage to weed anyone out so genetics doesn't apply here. Watson fails to see this as he is a researcher in the field of genetics and the last thing he wants is to be irrelevant which in this particular case he is.
I gave you the references
Anonymous Coward, you are the one who is descending to crass personal abuse - not Watson.
"please show us the data, sir"
Watson's comments were reported as part of an interview on various other topics. He made them in passing, and naturally did not cite academic sources. I have made a start with the comment three before your own, which cites three extensively-documented books based on large amounts of research. I am sure Watson could have quoted those, and perhaps many other sources. But it is not usual to cite supporting references in a newspaper interview. Moreover, if anyone can be trusted to summarize and represent the state of scientific knowledge accurately, it is a Nobel Prize winning scientist like Watson.
Ironically enough, there is some heavy-duty prejudice here. However it is not on Watson's part, but on yours. Consider. He is one of the most distinguished scientists in the world, and a specialist in genetics. What are your specialist qualifications? He says that African people may be less intelligent *on average* than some other people, taking care to stipulate that he thinks they should be accorded exactly the same human dignity and rights even if that should be so.
And what do you do? You start from the thoroughly prejudiced opinion that all people are of the same intelligence. (At least I suppose this must be your view). But where is your evidence for this, other than that you somehow feel it must be so? You are the one who would like to prevent objective research from being done to ascertain what are the facts.
The research that dare not speak its name
I remember when it was non-PC to suggest that men and women had different brains - it was obvious that the rest of their bodies differed so Occams razor suggested their brains should too.
Bit political "thinkers" couldn't stomach this - people were equal so their brains had to be the same across race, sex etc.This was first disproved using pupil dilation reaction on seeing pix of babies - women's brains react differently through hardwiring not conditioning.
Nowadays this is no big deal, as the differences between individuals is so much greater than between groups.
However some still maintain that evolution doesnt work and will make vitriolic comments against those working in the field without having done any work themselves. They should examine their motives.
A.C. - show us the data you have which says that all races' brains are identical despite the rest of their bodies being different. You are the one claiming Darwin was wrong. Show us!
The book upon which this is based, argues (very well indeed) against the "superior intellect" of Northern Europeans.
I STRONGLY suggest that you read it. I think that it would help to enlighten you and make your social life a bit more colorful.
Watson's still an asshole with a Nobel. That's empirical and objective.
I know this, because he has been an asshole five feet away from me, and within direct hearing of dozens of my friends; some of whom work for CSL. He's been infamous for this crap in these parts for ages.
I wouldn't invite him to my house for dinner. EVER.
We seem to have this sick fascination for celebrity that certainly seems to contradict the myth of any intelligence beyond that of a retarded sheep. We forgive these diseased and socially awkward people the most outrageous crap. Stuff we would instantly disown our own family for. This is why I have chosen to bless this flame with the Paris Hilton Icon. At least she has the looks.
Gee, wouldn't it be nice if everything were so easy to compartmentalize? We could all stop thinking and let someone with a Nobel do it for us.
A clue shop could clean up in here...
Quoth Anonymous Ignoramus:
"Long after the Arabs looked at the astronomy and other sciences, long after the Europeans travelled the world and established trade and social links with other continents and long after the Chinese built the great wall of china, what were the inhabitants of the African continent doing? Building the aqueducts? Government? Sciences? Medicine? Buildings....
You cannot argue with history! No amount of PC bull will cover this up, though, it is continently never mentioned in “race” arguments.
I would like to see someone try to argue this point, and say that I am racist..."
Dunno about racist, but you sure appear to be pretty fucking ignorant... otherwise you'd have enough awareness of what cultures like the Mali Empire, Greater Zimbabwe, the Ethiopian Empire, the Numidians and so on left behind to realise that arguing an absence of imposing African ruins as evidence that the natives never managed to progress beyond the straw hut and the loincloth on their own doesn't quite work...