James Watson

watson-and-crickwatson


  • If you could find the gene which determines sexuality and a woman decides she doesn’t want a homosexual child, well, let her (abort the fetus).
  • [I am] 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.
  • If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease. The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that.’ It probably isn’t. So I’d like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent.
  • People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great.
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3 Responses to James Watson

  1. shinichi says:

    Stupidity should be cured, says DNA discoverer

    by Shaoni Bhattacharya

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3451

    Fifty years to the day from the discovery of the structure of DNA, one of its co-discoverers has caused a storm by suggesting that stupidity is a genetic disease that should be cured.

    On 28 February 1953 biologists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA – the chemical code for all life. The breakthrough revealed how genetic information is passed from one generation to the next and revolutionised biology and medicine.

    But in a documentary series to be screened in the UK on Channel 4, Watson says that low intelligence is an inherited disorder and that molecular biologists have a duty to devise gene therapies or screening tests to tackle stupidity.

    “If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease,” says Watson, now president of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, New York. “The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what’s the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, ‘Well, poverty, things like that.’ It probably isn’t. So I’d like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent.”

    Watson, no stranger to controversy, also suggests that genes influencing beauty could also be engineered. “People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great.”

    Complex traits

    But other scientists have questioned both the ethics and plausibility of his suggestions.

    Nikolas Rose, a bioethics expert at the London School of Economics, says such genetic engineering may not be possible: “These are complex traits, with multiple genes interacting with the environment.”

    “These are characteristically casual and provocative statements by James Watson,” Rose adds. “I think they should be treated just as amusing rather than as a serious account of what behavioural genetics or any genetics should be doing, or will be able to do.”

    Geneticist Steve Jones, at University College London, dismisses Watson’s comments about beauty as “daft”. “The concept of beauty is a subjective one,” he told New Scientist.

    No fool

    But he adds: “The IQ suggestion is a little bit less silly, if you turn the logic on its head. Watson likes to annoy – no question – but he’s no fool.” Genetics could and does help people with severe disorders like Fragile X syndrome and phenylketonuria, both of which affect IQ, says Jones: “The problem is where do we draw the line?”

    Series producer David Dugan, of Windfall Films, said the programmes also show Watson visiting a family who greatly value their child with Down’s syndrome, as well as their child without Down’s.

    “We were keen to confront Jim with this – he was genuinely moved,” but insisted that geneticists should work to eliminate the disorder. Dugan believes Watson’s views emanate from his own family’s experiences with his son, who has a mental illness resembling schizophrenia.

  2. shinichi says:

    Smart People, Dumb Quotes

    James Watson

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2010/04/07/smart-people-dumb-quotes.html#slide11

    The Racially Charged Rant

    [I am] 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.

    The IQ testing Watson referred to has been roundly picked apart. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Nobel-winning DNA discoverer made things even worse by adding that he’d like to think everyone was equal, but “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.” Watson apologized but lost his position at his own lab shortly thereafter.

  3. shinichi says:

    Abort babies with gay genes, says Nobel winner

    Telegraph

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1997/02/16/nabort16.html

    1997.2.16

    By Victoria Macdonald

    JAMES Watson, the Nobel prize winner who discovered DNA, the human genetic code, has provoked outrage by claiming that women should be allowed an abortion if their unborn babies are found to be carrying a gene for homosexuality.

    In today’s Sunday Telegraph, Dr Watson says: “If you could find the gene which determines sexuality and a woman decides she doesn’t want a homosexual child, well, let her.”

    But last night Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, an Aids charity, said: “It is outrageous to suggest that there is a right for termination because there is a possibility the child might be homosexual.”

    And Sir David Weatherall, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: “To say this is controversial is a generous way to describe it.” Sir David, author of The New Genetics and Clinical Practice, said that Dr Watson’s comments were a “hindrance” to the debate about genetics. “This does not help the debate, it is really emotive and it is a gross oversimplification,” he said.

    Dr Watson and his colleague Francis Crick became world-famous for their discovery in 1953 of the double helix, the structure making up DNA, which is the blueprint of human genes.

    In 1989 Dr Watson became director of the American branch of the Human Genome Project, the worldwide attempt to map the 200,000-odd genes in the human body. But in 1992 he was made to step down after it was claimed that his involvement in a biotechnology company was causing a conflict of interest. The new edition of his book The Double Helix is to be published in Britain this month.

    Speaking from his home in Long Island, New York, Dr Watson recalled a discussion he had had about the genetic implications of homosexuality in front of a woman whose son was gay. He said: “Looking at the situation from her point of view, it was that she wanted grandchildren. Her son’s homosexuality was the great tragedy of her life. And who am I to say otherwise?”

    Although American scientists claimed in 1993 that they had identified a link between homosexuality and genetic make-up, it remains unproven and controversial.

    At that time the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, was criticised when he said that if the techniques became available, then scientists should help eradicate the “abnormality of homosexuality”.

    Dr Watson, however, admits that it is not even known how normal sexuality is determined. “But while I think in the end we will, that doesn’t mean that the majority of homosexuality has a genetic basis, just that genetics will help us understand.”

    Although Dr Watson claims that these issues should be left to the individual, he also states that parents have a moral responsibility to make sure their babies are born as healthy as possible. “We already accept that most couples don’t want a Down’s child. You would have to be crazy to say you wanted one, because that child has no future,” he said.

    “Some day a child is going to sue its parents for being born. They will say: my life is so awful with these terrible genetic defects and you just callously didn’t find out. Or, you knew and didn’t do anything about it. Or, this disease was in the family and again you didn’t do anything about it.”

    Ann Hunt, founder of the Genetic Interest Group, which supports research into genetically inherited diseases, said last night that Dr Watson was not commenting on science but on social matters, and from a “prejudiced American perspective”.

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