Dr. James Watson’s Big Mouth Gene

It seems that Dr. Watson might have a built-in excuse for his racist comments that created quite a stir last week, the DRD3 or a ”novelty seeking gene”. Some people referred to it as James Watson’s foot-in-mouth gene.

It is said that some people have a gene associated with saying inappropriate things and exhibiting anti-social behavior. Watson himself has mentioned that he has a quick temper and may have this gene.

Of course, Dr. Watson has had a long history of saying outrageous things. The more I read about him the more I think he must have been one of the character models for TV’s House.

The question is how much can we excuse people for their behavior if it is based on their genetic make-up? We are urged in some cases to overlook or accept some behaviors based to varying degrees on genetics while others we’re encouraged to shun or even prosecute as criminal. What should we do?

My take is that while genes do influence behavior, people ultimately choose how they behave and are responsible for their choices and the effect of those choices on their life. Beyond that it’s up to a society to decide how it wants to react, as a group, to these choices.

Dr. Watson made a bad choice by saying what he did. It can’t be excused by genes.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

UPDATE

Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. It turns out that an analysis of Dr. Watson’s DNA has indicated that 16 percent of his genes probably came from a black ancestor. See this MSNBC article: Does this man look black to you?

 


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2 Comments »

2008-07-08 09:12:45

Blaming that sort of comment on your genes, makes about as much sense as blaming your criminal behavior on eating too many Twinkies (do you remember that defense?) Dr James Watson is obviously an extraordinarily brilliant scientist, but he doesn’t sound like he’s much of a man.

 
Comment by Murfreesboro SEO
2008-09-06 04:09:14

I do not believe it was his genes.

 
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