Controversial DNA pioneer’s talk halted
Thu Oct 18, 6:29 AM ET
LONDON – London’s Science Museum canceled a Friday talk by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist James Watson after the co-discoverer of DNA’s structure told a newspaper that Africans and Europeans had different levels of intelligence.
James Watson provoked widespread outrage with his comments to The Sunday Times, which quoted the 79-year-old American as saying 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.”
He told the paper he hoped that everyone was equal, but added: “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”
The comments drew condemnation from British lawmakers, scientists, and civil rights campaigners. On Wednesday The Independent newspaper put Watson on its front page, against the words: “Africans are less intelligent than Westerners, says DNA pioneer.”
Watson, who serves as chancellor of the renownedin , N.Y., was to deliver a sold-out lecture at the Science Museum, but on Wednesday night the institution said Watson’s comments had gone too far and the event had been canceled.
Call to Watson’s book publisher and his office inwere not immediately returned.
This is not the first time Watson’s speaking engagements have caused a stir.
The Independent catalogued a series of controversial statements from Watson, including one in which he reportedly suggested women should have the right to have abortions if tests could determine their children would be homosexual.
In 2000 Watson shocked an audience at the, when he advanced a theory about a link between skin color and sex drive.
His lecture, complete with slides of bikini-clad women, argued that extracts of melanin — which give skin its color — had been found to boost subjects’ sex drive.
“That’s why you have Latin lovers,” he said, according to people who attended the lecture. “You’ve never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient.”
Telephone and e-mail messages left with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after business hours Wednesday were not immediately returned.