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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday December 02 2014, @10:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the come-here-I-need-you dept.

Nicholas St. Fleur writes at The Atlantic that in the sad final chapter to a career that traces back to racist remarks he made in 2007, James Watson, the famed molecular biologist and co-discoverer of DNA, is putting his Nobel Prize up for auction, the first Nobel laureate in history to do so. Watson, best known for his work deciphering the DNA double helix alongside Francis Crick in 1953, made an incendiary remark regarding the intelligence of black people that lost him the admiration of the scientific community in 2007 making him, in his own words, an "unperson". That year, The Sunday Times quoted Watson as saying that he felt “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.” Watson added that although some think that all humans are born equally intelligent, “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.” Watson has a history of making racist and sexist declarations, according to Time. His insensitive off-the-cuff remarks include saying that sunlight and dark skin contribute to “Latin lover” libido, and that fat people lack ambition, which prevents them from being hired. At a science conference in 2012, Watson said of women in science, “I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they’re probably less effective.” To many scientists his gravest offense was not crediting Rosalind Franklin with helping him deduce the structure of DNA.

Watson is selling his prized medallion because he has no income outside of academia, even though for years he had served on many corporate boards. The gold medal is expected to bring in between $2.5 million and $3.5 million when it goes to auction. Watson says that he will use the money to purchase art and make donations to institutions that have supported him, such as the University of Chicago and Watson says the auction will also offer him the chance to “re-enter public life.” “I’ve had a unique life that’s allowed me to do things. I was set back. It was stupid on my part,” says Watson “All you can do is nothing, except hope that people actually know what you are.”

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  • (Score: 2) by naubol on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:08PM

    by naubol (1918) on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:08PM (#122045)

    It would have to be controlled for nutrition, environment, etc.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:22PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:22PM (#122053) Journal

    Merely cataloging such results, let alone posting them would bring hellfire and brimstone down on your head.
    Nobody will do this even though the data is there is SAT scores.

    Some things you simply can not mention. Watson is living proof of that. A masterful scientist, more or less lost to the world due to things he said in a society that pretends to preach tolerance and free speech.

    We are the descendants of the B Arc after all.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:35PM (#122057)

      Previous AC has already disproven your paranoid fantasies by linking to one such study.
      Of course there are other studies from different angles that haven't found differences, but they aren't note worthy.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 02 2014, @11:44PM (#122060)

      Some things you simply can not mention.

      No, it is more a case that you shouldn't go out on a limb and speak with authority on issues that you don't know anything about, then be surprised when you're called out for being wrong and/or a jackass. Just because you gained insight into the molecular shape of DNA doesn't mean you know shit about genetics, sociology, intelligence, etc. You can blather on like the racist grandpa that embarrasses everyone at Thanksgiving by what he says, but don't pretend that you have any special insight outside of molecular biology if you didn't do ANY research outside of that field.

      I don't know why you consider him a masterful scientist. Is it simply because of the medal? He was well known in his field for being pretty narrow-minded, and he treated biologists outside of his field like shit because they didn't work on the awesomeness that was the molecule.

      He says he's selling the medal because he needs the money, and he's going to use the money to make philanthropic donations. Basically what he is saying is that he needs money to whitewash his past before he dies. Maybe he can ask Google to respect his right to be forgotten while he's at it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03 2014, @12:23AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03 2014, @12:23AM (#122069)

        You believe in evolution? Just not from the neck up? We are all equal after all, some are even more equal than others!

    • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Wednesday December 03 2014, @10:50AM

      by moondrake (2658) on Wednesday December 03 2014, @10:50AM (#122188)

      Not to argue against your main point, but I find the sentence about Watson silly. He is not a masterful scientist, nor is he lost to the world (and even if he were, he is not really productive anymore).

      What did the guy ever do for it. Ah yes, he came up with the double-helix model for DNA. At least...He claims so. Though the actual experiments where done by Rosalind Franklin, who was, at the time Watson published, aware of the structure herself as it was a rather logical step combining her work with previous knowledge. And Watson himself (did you read his book?) has always claimed Crick was the one with the brains anyway.

      Also..DNA structure...what is it good for anyway? It is not like it influences the genetic info. It is sort of nice to know how the molecule looks like, but it is not very important for all the subsequent work (well, it is important sometimes, but not overly so, certainly not worth of a Nobel).

      Lost to the world...bah..Most Nobel-graduates tour the world to give silly philosophical talks (I saw Watson's one, it was underwhelming). Interesting, but not that important. And they get overpaid jobs and prestigious institutes and committees. Usually they are not really qualified, it just looks good to have a Nobel graduate their. Honestly, we good do with losing a few more of them...