Daily Mail 
Nobel Prize winner Dr James Watson was this week banned today from speaking at London’s Science Museum after reportedly saying black people were less intelligent than whites.
In an extraordinary outburst, the veteran academic, 79, claimed 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”.
But his remarks prompted outrage with critics branding his remarks “racist” and “offensive”.
In the wake of the storm, the Science Museum decided to cancel one of Dr Watson’s speaking dates.
The geneticist, who won the Nobel for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, was due to give a talk on Friday, but outraged directors took the decision earlier this week.
Dr Watson, who now runs one of America’s leading scientific research institutions, made the controversial remarks in an interview in The Sunday Times.
The 79-year-old geneticist said 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 said he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.
The views are also included in a new book, published this week, in which he writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically”.
“Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so,” he says.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is now studying Dr Watson’s remarks “in full”.
A spokesman for the Science Museum said it was cancelling the American’s speech.
He said: “We know that eminent scientists can sometimes say things that cause controversy and the Science Museum does not shy away from debating controversial topics.
“However, the Science Museum feels that Nobel Prize winner James Watson’s recent comments have gone beyond the point of acceptable debate and we are as a result cancelling his talk at the museum this Friday.
“If people want to know about the science behind genetics and race, they can book onto other events looking at this at the Museum’s Dana Centre over the next year.”
Dr Watson was due to arrive in Britain this week to promote his latest book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science, published this week.
Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told the Independent: “It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments.
“I am sure the scientific community will roundly reject what appear to be Dr Watson’s personal prejudices. These comments serve as a reminder of the attitudes which can still exist at the highest professional levels.”
Dr Watson was hailed as achieving one of the greatest single scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century when he worked at the University of Cambridge in the 1950s and 1960s, forming part of the team which discovered the structure of DNA.
He has served for 50 years as a director of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory on Long Island, considered a world leader in research into cancer and genetics.
And he is no stranger to controversy, reportedly saying that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual.
He has also suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, proposing a theory that black people have higher libidos.
In addition, he also stated that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: “People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great.”
Steven Rose, a professor of biological sciences at the Open University, told the Independent: “This is Watson at his most scandalous. He has said similar things about women before but I have never heard him get into this racist terrain.
“If he knew the literature in the subject he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically.”
DNA genius Dr James Watson stands to lose his reputation and career with his comments on race. How, RICHARD PENDLEBURY asks, can such an exceptional man really believe black people are less intelligent than white?
The Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Dewey Watson is living proof that genius is no guarantee against holding incendiary beliefs.
In his latest pronouncement, the 79-year-old American geneticist has claimed that black people are inherently less intelligent than whites.
On the eve of his arrival in Britain today to publicise a new book, Watson, who at Cambridge University in the 1950s helped identify DNA, declared himself to be ‘gloomy about the prospect of Africa . . . all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really’.
Watson said he hoped everyone was equal, but added: “People who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”
Human rights groups and fellow scientists immediately expressed their anger and dismay that a respected scientist could publicly state such dangerous, divisive and unsupported opinions.
Watson, however, argues that it is an uncomfortable scientific truth, even if it will be proved only when the genes which determine intelligence are identified sometime in the next decade.
Steven Rose, a brain specialist and professor of biological sciences at the Open University, said that Watson was ‘out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically’.
He added: “This is Watson at his most scandalous. I have heard him say similar things about women, but I have never heard him get into this racist terrain.”
Dr Watson was hailed as achieving one of the greatest single scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century when he worked at Cambridge in the 1950s and 1960s, forming part of the team which discovered the structure of DNA.
He shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with colleagues Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins.
He has been director of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory on Long Island in America — a world leader in research into cancer and genetics — for 50 years.
In that time, he has never been shy of controversy, his public utterances leading to him being accused of sexism, racism, homophobia, sizeism and, occasionally, of being simply mad.
He once advocated the bombing of Japan when it refused to support a gene programme.
Even his fans have described him as ‘insensitive’.
On one occasion, he was reported as saying that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual.
But he surpassed himself during an extraordinary lecture he gave at Berkeley university seven years ago, which caused a number of members of the flabbergasted audience to walk out.
During his talk, Watson suggested that there was a biochemical link between exposure to sunlight and sexual urges.
Black people had more powerful libidos, he said. This was supported by the fact that when the skin of a number of white men had turned black as a side-effect of a scientific test, they had immediately become sexually aroused.
“That’s why you have Latin lovers,” he explained. “You
‘ve never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient.”
He went on to show a slide of a melancholy Kate Moss, saying that thin people were unhappy and therefore more ambitious.
“Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad because you know you’re not going to hire them,” Watson said.
Afterwards, Berkeley genetics professor Thomas Cline said Watson’s lecture had ‘crossed over the line’ from being provocative to being irresponsible because the senior scientist had failed to separate fact from conjecture.
“If he wants to give a talk like this in his living room, that’s his business, but to give it in a setting where it’s supposed to be scientific is wrong,” Cline said.
Listening to Watson at the podium was ‘more embarrassing than having a creationist scientist up there’, he added.
Watson’s latest pronouncements, in an interview in a British Sunday newspaper ahead of his visit, will only add to his reputation as a controversialist.
Scientists have been considering the relationship, if any, between a person’s racial origin and their intelligence for the past 200 years.
But their motives for doing so have often been highly dubious.
Often what they have ‘found’ has been driven by the desire to prove the superiority of one race over another.
Or, as in the case of slavery, to justify ill-treatment.
There are echoes of Watson’s contemporary thoughts in those of the notorious 19th-century anti-abolitionist U.S. Secretary of State John C. Calhoun.
In 1844 he declared that a scientific study of freed black American slaves proved that ‘the African is incapable of self-care and sinks into lunacy under the burden of freedom.
‘It is a mercy to give him the guardianship and protection from mental death.’
A direct line can be drawn between the views of people such as Calhoun and the Nazis of the 20th century and their concept of the untermensch: that anyone born into non-Aryan races is inferior or ‘subhuman’.
The next step is to be treated as such. The Holocaust and World War II resulted.
Since the early 20th century, IQ tests have provided a way in which a person’s intelligence can be measured against another’s.
And, predictably, those from poor, socially disadvantaged backgrounds tended to come off worse. In western society, as in Africa, this included most blacks.
And so the battle of nature versus nurture continued.
Was intelligence due largely to how you were brought up?
Or could it be genetically based and influenced by your racial origin?
In the past 40 years a number of scientists have argued that there is a genetic difference among races which dictates intelligence.
In 1969, American academic Arthur Jensen delivered a research paper in which he claimed to have found that whites were innately more intelligent than blacks.
Treating them as equals was wrong, and they should be educated differently.
He declared: “A not unreasonable-hypothesis is that genetic factors are strongly implicated in the average Negro-white intelligence difference.”
Colleagues lambasted his research and its conclusions.
But some of Jensen’s central findings were echoed in the hugely controversial and successful 1994 book The Bell Curve, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, which supported the theory of genetic causes for racial intelligence differences.
The resulting Bell Curve Wars were fought between its supporters and critics, who said — among other things — that it ‘was a chilly synthesis of the work of disreputable race theorists and eccentric eugenicists’.
The more extreme said it promoted genocide.
Such was the alarm caused that the American Anthropological Association released a statement in which it declared itself to be ‘deeply concerned by recent public discussions which imply that intelligence is biologically determined by race’.
It went on: “Repeatedly challenged by scientists, nevertheless these ideas continue to be advanced.
“Such discussions distract public and scholarly attention from, and diminish support for, the collective challenge to ensure equal opportunities for all people, regardless of ethnicity.”
Watson is only one, if the most famous, of those scientists who continue to plough the racial intelligence furrow.
He argues that he has a very personal example of why nature triumphs over nurture.
At the age of 39, he married a student, Elizabeth, who was 20 years his junior.
They had two sons, the younger of whom, Rufus, was diagnosed as schizophrenic and still lives with them today at the age of 37.
Rufus is another argument, he says, for nature over nurture: “I’ve seen the failure of the environmental approach in a very personal way.
“My wife and I have a schizophrenic son. We didn’t want to accept this for 30 years, so we put him under great pressure when we shouldn’t have.
“He just wanted to be looked after, and we didn’t respect that. We tried to make him independent.”
Last night, a spokeswoman for Watson’s publisher, the Oxford University Press, said: “There is no racism in the book. We stand by our book.”
However, in one chapter Watson writes: “There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically.
“Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”
His first speaking date was meant to be in London tomorrow evening, before a 400-strong sell-out audience at the Imax cinema in the Science Museum.
Doubtless, the book would have been prominently displayed.
It is called Avoid Boring People — a deliberate irony perhaps, given that being boring is about the only thing of which Watson has never been accused.