Racism, science, politics, and James Watson.

Science, technology, and life.
Oct. 26 2007 9:54 AM

Doctored Watson

Racism, science, politics, and revisionism.

(Continued from Page 1)

And here's what he wrote later in his op-ed:

We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity to do different things. The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity. It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science.

Advertisement

Geographically separated in their evolution. Different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity. How much more genetic can you get?

The hypothesis of intellectual inferiority through separate evolution may be totally wrong. I hope my race's average intelligence isn't inferior. I hope nobody else's is, either. But at least it's a hypothesis. You can test IQ and other traits among populations. You can look for genetic similarities and differences. You can check geographically distinctive genes for relationships to intelligence. You can examine the extent to which "race" correlates with patterns of DNA. You can look for non-genetic causes of gaps in test performance. A lot of this research is already being done.

Watson's revisions don't contradict the hypothesis. They offer no evidence or theory to explain why it might be wrong. All they do is fudge its implications.

Now Watson says it was his idea to retire, never mind that his lab had already suspended him. He says it's time to leave because he's "closer now to 80 than 79," as though it weren't obvious that a guy who's still working at 79 but thinks 80 is a more suitable retirement age has been holding out for his birthday. Fudge, fudge, fudge.

Well, if he wants to paper over his bruised ego, that's his business. But racism, genetics, culture, black America, and the future of Africa are too important to be papered over.

It's clear from Watson's revisionism, reticence, and retirement that he wants to make his hypothesis go away. But wanting it isn't enough. That's not science. It's politics.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.