Anne Sayre

Franklin2Facts have something of a life of their own. They are by no means entirely subject to viewpoint: What one likes, or does not like, does not affect what is. Facts may be annoying, they may hamper the flow of a good story, or even contradict it; but when they are swept under the rug in order to let the tale get on, they remain facts, locatable, discernible, stubborn, and there for the seeking. In one instance, and in my mind, a question arose concerning the accuracy of some of Watson‘s facts, simply because he presented in The Double Helix a character named ‘Rosy’ who represented, but did not really coincide, with a woman named Rosalind Franklin whom I had known, admired, and liked very much.
For we are presented with a picture of a deplorable situation. The progress of science is being impeded, and by what? Why, by a woman, to begin with, one labeled as subordinate, meant—or even destined—to occupy that inferior position in which presumably all women belong, even those with good brains.
But perhaps the progress of science is also being impeded somewhat by a man as well, one too inhibited by decency to be properly ruthless with female upstarts, and so to get on with the job.

2 thoughts on “Anne Sayre

  1. shinichi Post author

    Rosalind Franklin and DNA

    by Anne Sayre

    Rosalind Franklin’s research was central to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure. Known only as the bossy, unfeminine “Rosy” in James Watson’s The Double Helix, Franklin never received the credit she was due during her lifetime. In this classic work Anne Sayre sets the record straight.

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  2. shinichi Post author

    Facts have something of a life of their own. They are by no means entirely subject to viewpoint: What one likes, or does not like, does not affect what is. Facts may be annoying, they may hamper the flow of a good story, or even contradict it; but when they are swept under the rug in order to let the tale get on, they remain facts, locatable, discernible, stubborn, and there for the seeking. In one instance, and in my mind, a question arose concerning the accuracy of some of Watson’s facts, simply because he presented in The Double Helix a character named ‘Rosy’ who represented, but did not really coincide, with a woman named Rosalind Franklin whom I had known, admired, and liked very much. What was questionable was not a matter of opinion. No person exists concerning whom all opinions are unanimous and identical, and of all things which cannot profitably be disputed, taste in personalities leads the list.

    Both the method of the transformation and its results were clear enough. The technique used to change Rosalind Franklin into “Rosy” was subtle, but really not unfamiliar; part of it, at the simplest level, was the device of the nickname itself, one that was never used by any friend of Rosalind’s, and certainly no one to her face.

    For we are presented with a picture of a deplorable situation. The progress of science is being impeded, and by what? Why, by a woman, to begin with, one labeled as subordinate, meant—or even destined—to occupy that inferior position in which presumably all women belong, even those with good brains.

    But perhaps the progress of science is also being impeded somewhat by a man as well, one too inhibited by decency to be properly ruthless with female upstarts, and so to get on with the job.

    Reply

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