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Friday, October 19, 2007

Watson apologises for racist remark

I reported on Wednesday how geneticist Dr. James Watson had stated that black people were less intelligent than white people. He now claims he was mortified at how his comments were interpreted, and doesn't understand how he could have uttered them. He has apologised unreservedly. Speaking at the launch of his latest book, at the Royal Society in London, he said:

"I am mortified about what has happened. More importantly, I cannot
understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said. I can
certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways
they have. To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa,
as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize
unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view,
there is no scientific basis for such a belief".

You can read the full story here. Personally, I'm not convinced by his apology. His original remarks caused such a furore that he was forced to cancel several speaking engagements and return to the US early. His career has also been harmed by his archaic and foolish remarks. It seems he has been suspended from his post as Chancellor at the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, NY, as a direct result of his comments. It leaves me aghast that a geneticist, of all people, could make such preposterous and scientifically inaccurate claims. Let's hope we've heard the last of him and his racism, and that he retires (dis)gracefully from public speech-making.

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