DNA pioneer stripped of honors over ‘reprehensible’ race comments

James Watson

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which Watson once headed, explained in a statement that its move to strip the scientist of his titles as Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R Grace Professor Emeritus and honorary trustee, is in response to comments he made in a recently-aired PBS documentary.

"Dr. Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students", the lab said in a statement posted on Friday. After "unequivocally" rejecting Watson's "unsubstantiated and reckless" opinions, the Laboratory stripped the 90-year-old scientist of all of his titles, noting that the institution "condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice".

"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 Times newspaper at the time.

A Nobel Prize-winning American scientist who co-discovered DNA has been stripped of his honourary titles after repeating racist comments in a documentary.

But Cold Spring Harbor said it was now stripping him of those titles after he said his views had not changed in the documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson, aired on United States public broadcaster PBS earlier this month.

The lab ejected Watson from his role as chancellor and from administrative duties in 2007 following previous racist remarks - even though he retracted and apologized for the statements. He also said he took no joy in "the difference between blacks and whites" and that "it's bad, just like it's terrible for schizophrenics".

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In that interview, Watson said that his views had not changed and he had not "seen any knowledge" negating his belief that there is a genetic connection between race and intelligence, the Times wrote.

Watson has long expressed questionable views, including a 1997 interview in which he expressed unreserved support for abortion rights - something that might have been relatively uncontroversial had he not specifically mentioned fetuses determined to have hypothetical genes leading to homosexuality, dyslexia, or a lack of musical or sports talent as valid reasons to terminate a pregnancy.

Mr Watson has not yet issued a comment on the development. He also suggested in 2000 that there might be a link between a person's weight and ambition, and between an individual's skin color and sexual prowess, Gizmodo reports.

James Watson the Nobel Prize for the 1953 discovery of the DNA's double helix structure.

In an interview with the news agency, his son Rufus said Dr Watson's statements "might make him out to be a bigot and discriminatory" but that was not true.

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