James Watson has been asked to step down. You know, Dr. James Watson, as in Watson and Crick, from your entry-level bio class, the co-winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA. Last week in London, Watson made some mildly controversial comments about the superior intelligence of people of European descent compared to those of African descent.
Watson said he thinks there’s no reason to believe that human beings from different geographical areas evolved identically, with regard to intelligence. He said that while he hopes people are all equal, “People who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” Although Watson claims, “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said,” this isn’t the first time Watson’s been criticized for hateful comments. In 1997 he told the Sunday Telegraph that if a gene for homosexuality were found, mothers should have the option of aborting an unborn child with the gene.
He’ll be stepping down from his post at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, and his book tour has been canceled. According to The New York Times, in his letter of resignation, Watson referred to his Scots-Irish ancestors, saying their lives were guided by faith in reason and social justice. Quite apropos.