This is the Bell Curve all over again, except that this time, heavy weight scientist of note, Dr. James Watson (he of the Watson and Crick double helix fame) is stepping into the furor. In essense, he’s been making some highly contentious comments on genetics, race and intelligence. The Independent has a good piece that describes the story”
The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when “testing” suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.
The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson’s remarks ” in full”. Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that 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 said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.
Anyway, anyone who follows Dr. Watson’s career knows that he can be quite the shit disturber, although often way out of his element when making such claims, so this is not that surprising – in fact, his name has come up before as a speaker invite, but there was always hesitation because on one hand, he can give a great inspiring talks, yet on the other, when he’s fired up, he can come up with all sorts of nonsense like this.
As an aside, I remember when we had David Suzuki out to UBC, he threw in a little anecdote about James in his talk. I won’t give it away, but if you go here and watch the video, you’ll see what I mean.