[Marxism] James Watson: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners

Lajany Otum lajany_otum at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 16 20:19:20 MDT 2007

Africans are less intelligent than Westerners, says DNA pioneer
Fury at James Watson's theory: "All our social policies are based 
on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all 
the testing says not really"
By Cahal Milmo
Published: 17 October 2007

One of the world's most eminent scientists was embroiled in an 
extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people 
were less intelligent than white people and the idea that "equal 
powers of reason" were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in the unravelling 
of DNA who now runs one of America's leading scientific research 
institutions, drew widespread condemnation for comments he 
made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour at 
venues including the Science Museum in London.

The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about 
race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said 
Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based 
on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white 
counterparts when "testing" suggested the contrary. He claimed 
genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence 
could be found within a decade.

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, 
successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, saidit was 
studying Dr Watson's remarks "in full". Dr Watson told The 
Sunday Times 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 said there was a natural 
desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who 
have to deal with black employees find this not true".

His views are also reflected in a book published next week, 
in which he 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."

The furore echoes the controversy created in the 1990s by 
The Bell Curve, a book co-authored by the American political 
scientist Charles Murray, which suggested differences in IQ 
were genetic and discussed the implications of a racial divide 
in intelligence. The work was heavily criticised across the 
world, in particular by leading scientists who described it 
as a work of "scientific racism".

Dr Watson arrives in Britain today for a speaking tour to 
publicise his latest book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons 
from a Life in Science. Among his first engagements is a 
speech to an audience at the Science Museum organised 
by the Dana Centre, which held a discussion last night on 
the history of scientific racism.

Critics of Dr Watson said there should be a robust response 
to his views across the spheres of politics and science. Keith 
Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, 
said: "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 exists at the highest professional levels."

The American scientist earned a place in the history of 
great scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century when 
he worked at the University of Cambridge in the 1950s and 
1960s and formed part of the team which discovered the 
structure of DNA. He shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for 
medicine with his British colleague Francis Crick and New 
Zealand-born Maurice Wilkins.

But despite serving 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, Dr Watson has frequently 
courted controversy with some of his views on politics, 
sexuality and race. The respected journal Science wrote in 
1990: "To many in the scientific community, Watson has long 
been something of a wild man, and his colleagues tend to hold 
their collective breath whenever he veers from the script."

In 1997, he told a British newspaper that a woman should 
have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could 
determine it would be homosexual. He later insisted he was 
talking about a "hypothetical" choice which could never be 
applied. He has also suggested a link between skin colour and 
sex drive, positing the theory that black people have higher 
libidos, and argued in favour of genetic screening and 
engineering on the basis that "stupidity" could one day be 
cured. He has claimed that beauty could be genetically 
manufactured, saying: "People say it would be terrible if we 
made all girls pretty. I think it would great."

The Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory said yesterday that 
Dr Watson could not be contacted to comment on his remarks.

Steven Rose, a professor of biological sciences at the Open 
University and a founder member of the Society for Social 
Responsibility in Science, said: "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."

Anti-racism campaigners called for Dr Watson's remarks to 
be looked at in the context of racial hatred laws. A spokesman 
for the 1990 Trust, a black human rights group, said: "It is 
astonishing that a man of such distinction should make 
comments that seem to perpetuate racism in this way. It 
amounts to fuelling bigotry and we would like it to be looked 
at for grounds of legal complaint." 


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