Museum drops Watson talk in race row
Remarks 'beyond acceptable debate'
The science museum has cancelled a talk by Nobel prize winner James Watson after the scientist, who won the gong for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, said that black people are less intelligent than white people.
The museum said that it does not shy away from discussing difficult topics, but that "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".
Watson made his remarks in an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper. He said that he felt a great deal of concern for the future 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 then went on to say that "people who have to deal with black employees" find that we are not all equal.
He told the Sunday Times that he does not advocate discrimination on the basis of colour: “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. In his book he says “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”.
In the past Watson has said a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy if she discovered her unborn child carried a "gay gene", but said "I was just arguing for the freedom of women to try and have the children they want, not what is right or wrong”.
Watson is travelling to the UK for a week-long tour to promote his latest book. According to reports the book also contains controversial themes, including scepticism of the idea of "equal powers of reason" across all races.
He is due to speak at various universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, as well as attending an event at the Royal Society. He will also speak at Bristol's annual Festival of Ideas hosted by the university's vice-chancellor, Eric Watson. The university said it expected some "robust questioning" of Watson and his ideas.
Along with Francis Crick, James Watson used data collected by Rosalind Franklin to decipher the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. The pair shared the Nobel prize with another scientist, Maurice Wilkins. Crick later said that he was sure Franklin would also have shared the prize, but for her early death from cancer in 1958. ®
Genes or Memes?
Apparently there is only a 2% genetic difference between humans and higher primates. Within humankind as a whole the genetic difference is 0.5%. In both instances, though, it is the difference that makes a difference. However subtle the genetic differences between people may be, we are clearly not all [biologically speaking] equal. This is not a basis upon which to discrimate between people, though. As members of the human family sharing this planet we are [socio-politically speaking] all equal.
More profound than genetic differences, however, are "memetic" differences i.e. the different ways that people [as individuals and in groups] think, believe and view the cosmos. Ephemeral they may be, but memes frame our consciousness and literally detirmine how we see the world. It is from memes that our; thoughts, words, actions... and ultimately circumstances derive. This is where the real differences between people lie - unfortunately the conflicts to.
The context of the quote is in reference to social policy. *IF* social policies are based on unscientific, religious assumptions (and we know that they are) THEN the outcome will be unexpected should it happen that the assumptions are wrong.
the big assumption is, of course, at the very heart of "political correctness". Now then, those of you with some memory will remember 20 years ago when it was forbidden to suggest that men and women were in any way different; apart from certain obvious physical difference which the experts hastened to assure us had no social meaning.
Then along came "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" and dared declare what pretty much everyone knew all along; but suddenly it was "okay" to accept the differences. Corporate and social policy at the time was rather absurd as you may remember. Next in line was "ADA" -- Americans with Disabilities Act. Anyone can do anything; so long as you hire an aide at twice the cost of the disabled employee. In theory, the Aide could also be disabled -- and you'd have to hire an aide for the aide.
Folks, time to step up to your plates; which is it going to be? If it is evolution and Darwinism, then get scientific, there is no "all men are created equal" because they weren't created AT ALL. On the other hand, if you have a religious plate, then you have quite a lot more freedom since you have a few thousand to choose from. The Indian (as in, the continent of India) has religion and it most certainly does NOT have "all men are created equal". Most of the world simply does not have the Christian concept that all men are created equal, and as we have seen, even people who profess science still revert to a religious belief when it comes to sociology -- and for good reason! Religion is the basis, the reason, the motivation for human equality. Darwinism is NOT about equality; in fact, the very opposite (allowing for the possibility that some kinds of altruism *may* be beneficial to the race to a degree that exceeds its cost to the individual).
So far as it goes, I am compelled to agree with Watson -- basing social policy on American moral assumptions (ie, what is happening in Iraq) is probably not going to work. Never mind whether the factor being discussed is "intelligence" or some other factor; WHATEVER it is, we cannot scientifically assume that geographically diverse races evolved exactly the same; and very small differences lead to large outcomes. I believe arctic and subarctic climates compel a degree of group-think and group-behavior that is not found in equatorial climates. It has nothing to do with race per se, but everything to do with thousands of years of surviving your climate. Iceland is a very good example and they have the most egalitarian, succesfully functioning society I have ever seen (I lived there for two years). The same model would be a disaster in the United States of America or almost anywhere else for that matter. Egalitarianism works ONLY when everyone, or almost everyone, participates in a meaningful way. throw in a bunch of freeloaders and the system collapses.
Religious or not; Darwinism is alive and well and the successful society will be one that CORRECTLY implements social policies in accordance with the capabilities of the population being considered. If you do not consider these capabilities, you will do foolish things.
"people who have to deal with black employees" find that we are not all equal."
people that have to deal with American employees would probably tell you the same thing