The James Watson debacle

"There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so."
Says James Watson, the co-discoverer of the DNA double helix and the 50 year chief of the prestigeous Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a job he left after the debacle. It so happened, I said something similar earlier today, because most people with my background probably would.

Watson defends himself in an article two days later October 19, 2oo7: To question genetic intelligence is not racism.

Because what Watson also said was that Africans were not as intelligent as Westerners. This is of course politically very difficult to say. He also said that there had been tests that confirmed this. It does not say what tests this was but one might guess that it should be possible to formally test this with regular intelligence tests. Personally, I have no information as to the accurracy of this claim but people are not contradicting Watson with facts but rather with harsh words. However, Watson said that he did not claim that Africa as a continent was genetically inferior.

"Science is no stranger to controversy. The pursuit of discovery, of knowledge, is often uncomfortable and disconcerting." These words of James Watson are interesting from the point of view of Religious Humanism that claims that scientific pursuit is equivalent with the search for God.

Another hot question that especially religious people seemingly hate to discuss is that of the possibility that not only intelligence but also spirituality is genetically determined and normally distributed. Religious people seem to prefer a nonbiological approach to spirituality. A supernatural approach.

Watson argues that before long the nature versus nurture debate will be settled more firmly. It is possible that this debate is so sensitive that its pursuit will be blocked.

SvD.se wrote this on October 18, 2007
USAbloggen wrote this on October 25, 2007
I don't find anything in Dagens Nyheter which surprises me.

Inga kommentarer: