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James B. Watson

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James D. Watson, perhaps the most distinguished living American scientist, has now been kicked to the curb by the Cold Spring Harborgenetics laboratory he rescued and rebuilt over the last 40 years for making politically (but not scientifically) incorrect statements about African IQs.

Watson’s crimethink was to say he was

“‘inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa‘ because ‘allour social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really.’

[The elementary DNA of Dr Watson, By Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe,TimesOnLine. October 14, 2007]

A few lessons from this shameful affair:

As we can see by the enormous number of journalists and bloggers who couldn’t wait to put the boot in when the great man was down, and by the negligible number who came forward to defend the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, the chattering classes of the 21stCentury are composed, by and large, of bullies and/or cowards.

Why did so many so enthusiastically sign up as auxiliaries of the Thought Police?

Because it’s fun.

The psychology of those who rushed to attack Watson was memorably outlined in Orwell’s 1984, when the interrogator O’Brien explains to his prisoner Winston Smith the exciting future envisaged by the Party:

“Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever. …The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again. … The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: theweaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism. Goldstein and his heresies will live for ever. … Always we shall have the heretic here at our mercy, screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible—and in the end utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own accord.”

  • Watson’s putative defenders betrayed him.

Out of the vast pile of ephemera published on, say, National Review Online during the week and a half that this disgraceful brouhaha has been going on, Google shows Watson’s plight being mentioned once, by John Derbyshire—and not at all by anybody else.

The level of intellectual integrity on the Right—let alone courage—is catastrophically lower today than just 13 years ago, when the John O’Sullivan-edited National Review responded to the publication of The Bell Curve by devoting most of its December 5, 1994 issue to an impressive symposium on race and IQ.

In it, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s bestseller was attacked by some, but also stoutly defended by Michael Barone, Michael Novak,James Q. Wilson, Dan Seligman, Arthur Jensen, and Ernest Van den Haag.

Where have you gone, Michael Barone? (Or John O’Sullivan, for that matter.)

Another example: As of October 27, a search revealed that not one of the myriad columnists and bloggers at had evenmentioned the Watson scandal.

As I noted at the time of the Trent Lott Lynching, a RighteousRight has emerged, especially in Washington, which has in effect internalized the left’s hysterical race denial. The betrayal of Watson is further evidence of the profound cost of this development to American public discourse.

When you beg forgiveness, the hate-filled jackals just smell your fear and weakness. It excites them, so they pile on. Further, the watching crowd can’t tell who’s right, so they respect whoever seems the master of the situation at the moment.

In his October 19 response in the U.K. Independent, “To question genetic intelligence is not racism,” Watson seemingly tried to be subtle, arguing that there was a difference between inferiority and diversity, then pointing out the Darwinian implausibility that everyonecould have evolved to be identical.

Well, swell. But the politically correct don’t engage in rational argument. They just hound and bludgeon. So you have to stand yourground.

There is so much agitprop in the media about IQ and race that onlyaggressive, confident responses can cut through the lies. For example, Watson could have hit back like this:

Q. Is there really such a thing as “intelligence” and can IQ tests measure it?

A. Don’t be ignorant. The U.S. military has spent a fortune from WWII onward giving an IQ test to everyone who tries to enlist. The Armed Services have turned away millions of would-be volunteers and draftees because their IQs were too low. How come? Because the Pentagon has done numerous studies showing that onaverage higher IQ people outperform lower IQ people.

Thus the PC Inquisition has several times tried to destroy the careers of Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter. But Pat and Ann simply won’t let them.

In contrast, as soon as Larry Summers, president of Harvard, started apologizing for telling the truth and offering $50 million in other people’s money as payoffs to the Sensitivity Stasi, he was doomed.

As I noted last week, in the epilogue of his new memoir, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science, Watson makes clear his contempt for Summers’ cowardice. Not the least of this tragedy is that, when it came to the point, his own nerve broke too.

They’re vulnerable. Thus perhaps the most widely quoted smear-artist attacking James Watson has been Steven Rose. Rose is a professor emeritus of neurobiology at the Open University, a sort of British 1960s lefty version of the University of Phoenix. Rose is a Marxist and the co-founder of the boycott Israel movement among British academics.

He was also the co-author, with Leon Kamin and Richard Lewontin, of the 1984 manifesto with the amusingly unprophetic title Not In Our Genes. (Here’s Richard Dawkins’ scathing review—which led to Rose threatening to sue Dawkins for libel!)

During the attack on Watson, Rose wrote in The Guardian:

“As for freedom of speech, these freedoms are and must be constrained. We don’t have the right to casually cry fire in a crowded theatre, or to use hate speech—at least in Europe, as opposed to the US. Watson’s now retracted [sic] remarks came into these unacceptable categories. So the repercussions are tobe welcomed.” [Watson's bad science, October 21, 2007]

Not surprisingly, Steven Rose has been accused of practicing what he preaches: having the government silence scientists whose ideas he dislikes.

According to social scientist Volkmar Weiss, a dissident under the East German Communist dictatorship, Rose ratted him out to the East Berlin regime, setting in motion the crushing in East Germany of IQ research and human behavioral genetics.

Weiss explains this in a 1983 essay entitled The Suppression of HumanBehavioral Genetics by the Radical Left—unpublished, for obvious reasons, until 1991. He wrote:

“In 1980, the manuscript of the monograph Psychogenetik(Weiss 1982a) was complete. Now some fierce dogmatists were discovering that a cuckoo’s egg had been laid in the nest of socialism. One example: S. Rose asked his East German colleague, the professor of neurochemistry D. Biesold at the Karl-Marx-University of Leipzig (personal communication by Biesold), whether there was no means of stopping further publications by Weiss, because such publications printed in a socialist country were particularly disadvantageous to thepropaganda of the Radical Left in the Western world. …”

Rose’s wish appears to have been the East German Communists’ command:

[A]t the end of the year 1982 [Walter] Friedrich [director of the Central Institute of Youth Research in Leipzig] sought and obtained the backing of high-ranking officials of the Communist Party and all further research in psychogenetics in East Germany came to an end.”

Weiss goes on to describe the aftermath he endured, which would be familiar to anyone who saw the tremendous 2006 film about life in East Germany under the thumb of the secret police, The Lives of Others:

“… the cited author was under the threat of arrest and had already lost all possibility of doing further empirical work of defending his field of research. After 1984, Weiss was forced to work in a quite different field … What follows is the usual story of life and resistance under totalitarian conditions. In order to bepublished abroad, any new theoretical contributions had to be smuggled out of the GDR.”

I asked Weiss about the incident. He replied:

“What I have written and published is completely true.

“However, in 1993 a journalist of a leading English daily (which I do not remember) visited me in Leipzig and tried to confirm my publication by independent sources. At this time

[Dietmar] Biesold had already died, his widow did not know anything. Biesold, who had done research together with Rose, had told me about Rose under four eyes [in secret], and there was no witness. Evaluating this, the English daily, afraid tobe sued for libeling by Rose, did not publish anything.

“After my publication, Rose had published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung a note in which he declared that he never was involved in activities against East German scientists. My name and my publication was not explicitly mentioned, and I hadnever personal contact with Rose. He tried never to be active in any direct way against me and never mentioned or cited me.”

Rose is notoriously litigious (recently threatening to sue for libel the author of a comic book). But the US, no doubt to Rose’s displeasure,still has a First Amendment. If Rose wants to dispute the Weiss’s account, he is free to write us a letter.

But the bottom line is the same: Watson has been suppressed by brute political force. The Righteous Right ran away.

As after the very similar case of Italy after Galileo, the consequences for science in the Anglosphere could be a new Dark Age.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: James B. Watson 
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It’s often said that academic politics is so nasty because the stakes are so low.

Yet, as demonstrated once again by the vast uproar aimed at silencing legendary Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA James D. Watson for daring to mention racial differences in average IQ:

When it comes to genetics and intelligence, academic politics is so vicious because the stakes are so extraordinarily high.

Last year, then-Harvard President Larry Summers was fired from his job presiding over an endowment now worth $34.9 billion largely for pointing out that evil patriarchal discrimination isn’t the only reason women don’t achieve as much as men do at the very highest levels of math, science, and engineering. Instead, the greater male variance in IQ simply means there are more male geniuses. (And morons, but there aren’t many morons at Harvard, except morally).

Now, Watson, perhaps the second-most famous living scientist after Stephen Hawking, has been suspended by Long Island’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for what can only be called, to adopt the prescient totalitarian terminology of Orwell’s 1984, crimethink.

Watson was in Britain to promote his frank new memoir, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science. It is something of a sequel to his 1968 bestseller The Double Helix,

which was named the 7th best nonfiction book of the 20th Century in1999. The Double Helix wasn’t quite that good, but it was still a revealing portrait of just how political and competitive science can be.

Last week, Watson told the Sunday Times of London that he was:

“‘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.’” [The elementary DNA of Dr Watson, By Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe, October 14, 2007]

He instantly had his sold-out lecture at the Science Museum in London canceled. A spokesdroid for the museum explained:

“We feel Dr. Watson has gone beyond the point of acceptable debate and we are, as a result, cancelling his talk.”

Lecture venues in Birmingham and Edinburgh also canceled his talks. An “anti-racism” group in Britain called for a criminal investigation of the American visitor under Britain’s notoriously repressive “hate” laws.(Americans, beware—a “hate” bill has just been sneaked through Congress). Watson called off his book tour of Britain and returned to the U.S.

Apparently, many of the Powers That Be actually want you to be bored.

Over the last few days, Watson has been denounced around the world for … well, for saying aloud what most well informed people more or less assume is true about Africa.

People don’t hate you for being wrong. (At worst, they just ignore you; at best, as with the late Stephen Jay Gould, they worship you and pay you millions.) People hate you for saying what they fear is the truth.

Watson probably wasn’t terribly surprised by the paroxysm of political correctness that has engulfed Britain. But he must have been shocked to be immediately suspended by his own ungrateful, cowardly Board of Trustees [email them] at the prestigious Cold Spring HarborLaboratory, which he has led for 39 years, first as director, then president, then chancellor, and which he built up into one of the world’s leading molecular biology research institutes. (In fact, the Ph.D. program at that Long Island institution is known as the Watson School of Biological Sciences!)

This is even more disgraceful than Harvard firing Larry Summers. The former Carter Administration Treasury Secretary is a brilliant butbumptious nerd who was always a curious choice to head such a well-established brand name as Harvard.

In contrast, Watson is Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times in 1998:

“The laboratory … was slipping into decay when Dr. Watson became its director in 1968. He proved a skillfulfund-raiser, adept at winning support from the localcommunity as well as Federal sources. He hired manybiologists of distinction … If the world’s molecularbiologists acknowledge any particular home, it is the little hillside village that Dr. Watson has so carefully rebuilt.”[Scientist at Work: James D. Watson; Impresario of the Genome Looks Back With Candor, April 7, 1998]

The outpouring of snide articles about how we should ignore Watson’s views because he’s a “loose cannon” is just wrong. Watson is not some lone eccentric. Although his place in the history books as a discoverer alongside Darwin and Mendel is secure, he also is a central leader in the life sciences in the 21st Century.

Watson’s an unusual combination: both an acerbic personality frequently surrounded by drama and an impressive institution builder—a little like George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees. Indeed, Watson’s new autobiography is organized as a self-help book for leaders of scientific institutions, complete with 108 “Remembered Lessons,” such as “Manage your scientists like a baseball team”—in other words, scout for young talent and release most researchers by the time they hit 40 because they are then over the hillas discoverers. Thus, at that age, Watson took on the leadership of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

So suspending Watson from participation in the great achievement of the second half of his life was an especially cruel degradation of such a social man.

This may help explain why Watson wasn’t quite as explicitly courageous last week as he probably assumed he would be when he wrote this in his new book about the similar ritual denunciation ofSummers in 2005:

“If I were still a member of the faculty [of Harvard ], the number of tenured scientists standing visibly behind the president in this matter would have literally doubled.”

When Watson’s own feet were held to the fire last week, however, he offered a semi-apology/semi-defense. This has been almost universally assumed to be a “complete retraction”—to quote a representatively obtuse article, The Mortification of James Watson. [Time Magazine, ByLaura Blue, October 19, 2007]

But it’s not. As the headline of Watson’s response on Friday, October 19 in the UK Independent shows—To question genetic intelligence is not racism—his actual stance is closer to Galileo’s, who is said to have muttered E pur si muove (“and yet it does move”) after the Inquisition forced him to recant in public his heretical belief that the earth went around the sun.

Watson wrote on Friday:

“This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, itis about seeking to understand differences, about whysome of us are great musicians and others greatengineers.”

Watson didn’t specify who the great musicians tend to be—as opposed to the great engineers. But you can fill in the blanks.

It’s important to understand that this was no mere obiter dicta off the top of Watson’s 79-year-old head—“inflammatory comments apparently based on only minimal knowledge of the science involved”, to quote a representatively dogmatic (wishful?) claim by Huffington Post blogger Dan Agin. The truth is that Watson has a schizophrenic son, which has resulted in his studying the links between DNA and brain function for decades.

Moreover, the climactic last pages of Watson’s new memoir are devoted to precisely this topic for which he is now being bullied: the struggle between Political Correctness and the scientific quest to understand the genetic roots of IQ differences.

The epilogue of Watson’s new book is devoted to the Larry Summers Show Trial and its aftermath. Watson writes:

“To my regret, Summers, instead of standing firm, within a week apologized publicly three times for being candid about what might well be a fact of evolution that academia will have to live with. Except for the psychologist Steve Pinker, no prominent Harvard scientist voiced a word in Summers’s defense; I suspect the majority were fearful of being tarred with the brush of political incorrectness.”

The end of Avoid Boring People centers upon an April 2006 meeting between Watson and the post-Larry Summers interim president of Harvard, Derek Bok, who had also been president when Watson was aprofessor there in the 1970s.

Watson writes:

“Before leaving Derek’s temporary office I remarked that the time was surely not far off when academia would have no choice but to hand political correctness back to the politicians. Since 1978, when a pail of water had been dumped over [Harvard sociobiologis t] E.O. Wilson for saying that genes influence the behavior of humans as well as of other animals, the assault against behavioral science by wishful thinking has remained vigorous.”

Watson, the first head of the Human Genome Project, who was honored in May by having his entire genome sequenced and published online, then notes something that I’ve been pointing out here on for some time: The countdown has already begun to the final understanding of the genetic underpinnings of IQ differences. He says:

“In showing that human genes do matter, behavioralbiologists will no longer be limited to comparisons of fraternal and identical twins. Soon the cost of sequencing the A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s of individual DNA molecules will drop to a thousandth of what it has been, thereby transposing our studies of behavioral differences to the much more revealing molecular level.”

Which means—

“The relative extents to which genetic factors determinehuman intellectual abilities will also soon become muchbetter known.”

As the countdown proceeds, the hysteria will only mount on the part of those who want to cover up the findings.

In his book’s penultimate paragraph, Watson raises The Forbidden Subject:

A priori, 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.”

Watson then foresees the gibberish and lies that he has had to endure over the last week:

“Rather than face up to facts that will likely change the way we look at ourselves, many persons of goodwill may see only harm in our looking too closely at individual genetic essences.”

(Here, Watson, a famously ornery son-of-a-gun, shows some unexpected—and, sadly, undeserved—graciousness in referring to his future demonizers as “persons of goodwill”.)

Watson ends his autobiography with a brief but telling exchange with then-acting Harvard president Bok:

“So I was not surprised when Derek asked apprehensively how many years would pass before the key genes affecting differences in human intelligence would be found. My back-of-the-envelope answer of ‘fifteen years’ meant Summers’s then-undetermined successor would not necessarily need to handle this very hot potato.

Upon returning to the Yard, however, I was not sure that even ten years would pass.”

The 77-year-old Derek Bok, the son-in-law of famed Swedish socialisteconomist Gunnar Myrdal, is the co-author of a popular bookdefending affirmative action a.k.a. quotas in college admissions, The Shape of the River. So he had a particular reason to hope the dread date would fall well out into his dotage—when nobody would ask him embarrassing questions about why he institutionalized punitive discrimination against, notably, white males.

My conclusion: As we see in this global slander of a great scientist, the conventional wisdom among the elites is that, if it turns out that some fraction of the race and sex gaps in IQ are genetic, then our civilization simply cannot survive: Who knows what those yahoo American voters would do if they even suspected the truth? They’d probably dig upHitler’s DNA, clone it, and elect Adolf 2.0 President of the United States!

Thus, any academic like Watson or Summers who violates the omerta, the code of silence, must be publicly humiliated to encourage the others—as Voltaire famously quipped. Global security depends upon our relentless lying!

So let’s step back, take a breath, and think about this calmly.

The fundamental fact: the final word on the race-genes-IQ linkage is likely to come in the next decade or two simply as a byproduct of crucial medical research.

Personally, I’ve never been wholly convinced that the racial gaps in IQ have a genetic component (there’s always the Flynn Effect to complicate matters). But I’d definitely offer five to one odds that at least half of the one standard deviation (15 point) black-white gap will turn out to be hereditary. I’d probably go as high as offering ten toone, but not, at present, to one hundred to one.

Still, the data is pouring in, especially from the HapMap project comparing Europeans, West Africans, and Northeast Asians. So it’s only a matter of time before we have a clear picture.

By 2017-2027, it’s probable that the worst nightmare of the conventional wisdom will have come true. The human race will know the horrible, horrible truth …

Q. What will the world then look like?

A. An awful lot like the world we live in now.

Do you think that Derek Bok, if he’s still around, will suddenly turn against affirmative action a.k.a. quotas? Of course not. As Watson reveals in his book, Bok basically knows the score already.

You’d have to be as naïve as Larry Summers to imagine that political attitudes are affected by scientific studies—rather than by self-interest and status-seeking.

Historical footnote: Pope Benedict XIV formally rehabilitated Galileo in 1741, a hundred years after his death.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: James B. Watson 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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