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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: 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.

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  • (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!