DNA Discoverers Are Less Intelligent

In a classic case of a smart person being dumb, Dr. James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, claimed that black people are less intelligent than whites. Here’s the story:

CNN: Nobel winner in ‘racist’ claim row

The eminent biologist told the British newspaper 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.”

In the newspaper interview, he said there was no reason to think that races which had grown up in separate geographical locations should have evolved identically. He went on to say that although he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

It sounds like he made a statement and was given a chance to correct and clarify it and then dug the hole deeper. It is pretty sad that someone so smart could be so ignorant, not only of the socio-political connotations of his statement but that it is scientifically invalid. IQ testing has long be criticized as being culturally biased and being a largely inaccurate measure of raw intelligence, particularly when it comes to demographic groups. Plus he appeals to ancedotal evidence of what some employers had said to him.

Well, there is plenty of ignorance in the human race sometimes and Dr. Watson sure enough proved it, didn’t he?

What are your thoughts on this?


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Comment by LuboŇ° Motl
2007-10-18 15:14:49

My comment is that I am amazed how many mediocre semi-educated blinded imbeciles have the courage to attack the credentials in genetics of the co-author of one of 3 most important scientific fiscoveries of the 20th century. Click my name to see more.

Comment by jfc
2007-10-18 16:04:26

Thanks for your input LuboŇ° Motl

The criticism isn’t of his discovery or of his credentials in the field of genetics. The criticism is that he failed to properly apply the scientific method. Should a scientist’s conclusions be taken seriously if they say, “Oh, I came to that conclusion because my grocer told me.”? I don’t think so.

I’d also note that he’s outside his field, delving into the realm of social statistics which are incredibly fuzzy by the standards of hard sciences like biology or physics.

I’m also critical of his lack sensitivity toward other people, particularly those who have a different skin color. I grew up during the tail end of racial segregation in the Southern United States. Although I’m white, I saw how dangerous and evil racism can be first hand. It bothers me to hear people saying things like he said. Such behavior has no place in civil society and Dr. Watson should be intelligent enough to realize this.

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