Jim Watson retires

"Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) today [25 October] announced that Dr. James D. Watson, 79, has retired after nearly 40 years of distinguished service to CSHL. He had stepped down as President of CSHL in 2003 and most recently served as Chancellor." No reason is given for this annoucement. Here is part of Nature‘s editorial this week (free access: see Nature 449, 948; 2007) published yesterday, before the CSHL announcement:

"So ‘Honest Jim’ Watson has finally fallen victim to his notorious propensity for making outrageous statements — forced to cancel a UK lecture tour and suspended from his leadership role at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York after being quoted in a British newspaper as claiming that black people are less intelligent and employable than whites…… Scientists with controversial arguments need to be able to withstand the heat, defending or retracting statements as the evidence indicates is required. Watson, however unpleasant his utterances, has always been willing to act in this spirit. The cancellations run the risk of playing into the hands of those who wish to suppress scientific inquiry. Many human geneticists are engaged in the sensitive task of unravelling differences between the world’s population groups, all the while acknowledging that ‘race’ is an emotive and unscientific word. Others are investigating the equally sensitive genetics of ‘desirable’ traits, such as cognitive ability. Asking such questions has always been controversial, given the potential for abuse of the outcomes demonstrated by the history of eugenics. Scientists explore the world as it is, rather than as they would like it to be."

(See the Nature reference above for the full text of the editorial.)

3 thoughts on “Jim Watson retires

  1. Watson is a horse’s ass and I am glad that he resigned. He is a eugenicist. Good riddance to him. In 1997, the same year my son was born, Watson said, “We already accept that most couples don’t want a Down child. You would have to be crazy to say you wanted one, because that child has no future.” I am sure that most couples hope they don’t have children who are as big an ass as Watson. Perhaps the gene for horse’s ass will be discovered and the world can avoid future Watson’s.

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