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James Watson

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With James D. Watson back in the news, it’s worth pointing out that his older and probably even more brilliant partner in the discovery of the structure of DNA, the late Francis Crick, was also a crimethinker about race and intelligence.

Back on my blog in 2008, I excerpted letters written by Crick strongly defending Arthur Jensen and William Shockley.

Indeed, Francis Crick’s parents named him after the archdemon Francis Galton. So what more do you need to know about Crick’s innate, hereditary evilness?

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Once again in Slate, William Saletan has an article about the Emmanuel Goldstein of 21st Century America:

Inequality Control: A conversation about race, genes, bias, and fairness.

Over the last week and a half, I’ve been having—and if you’re reading along and commenting, you’ve been indirectly having—a conversation about race with John McWhorter and Steve Sailer. This wasn’t an agreed-upon discussion. It just started up, and people joined in, as often happens on the Internet. Yesterday, Noah Millman of The American Scene weighed in. I’m calling this a conversation even though not everyone involved is enamored of, or even talking directly to, everyone else. And there’s a good chance we’ll drift back into silence at this point, as each of us moves on to other things. But it’s worth summarizing a few points we’ve covered so far. …

1. Sailer, the person in this conversation who most vigorously defends categorizing people by race in the course of assessing their worth to society, has offered to give up that practice. In exchange, he wants proponents of affirmative action to give up the converse practice of categorizing people by race in the course of trying to equalize opportunity or outcome. I’m inclined to take this deal. My impression so far is that McWhorter, despite his criticisms of affirmative action, wouldn’t. But I’ll leave that question to him.

By the way, this one post by Noah is unrepresentative of the usual high quality of his writing. So, don’t hold this one against him.

I’ll try to straighten out Mr. Saletan’s confusions in on Sunday evening. I realize that these are difficult, subtle topics, and that people who haven’t put anywhere near as much time into studying these subjects as I have can’t really be expected to summarize my views accurately — even if they intend to be fair, they simply lack the depth of understanding to do a competent job — but these mischaracterizations of my positions in Slate and, especially, in The New Republic, are getting silly.

In the meantime, if you want to know what I’ve actually said about race and IQ, I put together handy Frequently Asked Question lists back in 2007 (after Saletan got in so much trouble with his friends for doubting the wisdom of Watsoning Dr. Watson):


Race FAQ

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: IQ, James Watson, Race 
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James Watson is interviewed for the first time since getting Watsoned by Henry Louis Gates, head of the Harvard Afro-American Studies department at The Root.

HLG: What do you think of deCODE’s recent estimate of your percentage of recent African ancestry?

JW: I haven’t seen the paper … [but] if I’m 16 percent African, then I’m 16 percent African. That’s … a fact; I don’t care. You don’t judge people by, quote, race, you judge them as individuals. So it’s the individual that counts, and no one should be discriminated by what they look like.

HLG: Do you trust admixture tests—I mean, tests that can say you’re 16 percent African, or 20 percent Native American?

JW: Well, the African one I can believe, but I just can’t see where that 7 percent Asian came from.

I explained here why it’s extremely unlikely, based on the photos of relatives and ancestors and detailed genealogical information in Watson’s autobiography, that Watson is 1/6th black or 1/4th nonwhite.

Gates also explains the Meaning of It All in the accompanying “The Science of Racism.”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Today, April 25th, is the federal government’s official annual “National DNA Day” to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the publication in Nature of the key article on the structure of DNA by Francis Crick and, uh, some other dude.

In fact, recent research revealed that Francis Crick crimethunk, too. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that neither scientist’s name appears on the government’s “National DNA Day” homepage.

Don’t you think it’s about time the government moved National DNA Day to some date more appropriate, like, say, Rosa Parks’s birthday? I mean, she had DNA, too, didn’t she?

And she suffered. That’s what we want these days — heroes of suffering. (Just ask John McCain!) These two science dudes, they merely accomplished something. And who needs that? Heroes of accomplishment just make people who don’t accomplish things feel bad.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: James Watson 
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In my new column, I offer Sen. Obama a free suggestion about how he could relieve his festering Rev. Dr. Wright problem by turning to one of his own supporters for aid. I’m not going to tell you who it is here so that you go read the whole thing.

The Wright problem didn’t get any better for Obama today when he came back from vacation with a new and even less plausible spin:

“This is somebody that was preaching three sermons at least a week for 30 years and it got boiled down … into a half-minute sound clip and just played it over and over and over again, partly because it spoke to some of the racial divisions we have in this country.”

Oh, come off it. This is somebody who visited Gadaffi in 1984 and gave Louis Farrakhan his “Lifetime Achievement” award in 2007. This is somebody whose first sermon Obama ever heard, according to his own memoir, included the line, “where white folks’ greed runs a world in need.” This is somebody who boasted of his church’s “black liberation theology” and its similarities to the ideology of 1970s Nicaraguan Marxists.

By the way, how come Hillary gets roasted alive for embellishing an old [non]war story, while Obama’s flat-out lie of a couple of weeks ago in response to the toughest question of his campaign — his lie that he wasn’t in church for controversial comments by Wright — is forgotten, dead and buried under his 5,000 words of thoughtful nuance and nuanced thoughtfulness?

Here’s some of the opening of my new column:

At VDARE.COM. we’ve never been in the business of endorsing Presidential candidates. And considering who’s left in the running in 2008, we’re certainly not going to start now.

But by publishing revelations about one candidate, aren’t we tacitly just helping the others?

For example, when Sen. Barack Obama, who has been running largely on his autobiography, makes campaign claims about his relationship with his pastor or his grandmother and I point out that his 1995 autobiography says something very different, I always receive messages denouncing me for being culpable for electing Hillary Clinton and/or John McCain. …

In this view, a presidential campaign is a zero-sum contest. Somebody has to win and everybody else has to lose. So any revelation about Candidate X is seen, not as contribution to the sum total of human knowledge, but as a dirty trick intended to elect Candidate Y or Z.

In contrast, I believe that the more that voters know about the candidates, the better. Of course, I would say that: as a nonfiction writer, that’s my professional bias.

Still, I do believe the zero-sum model is simplistic….

For example, for over a year, I’ve been pointing out that Obama isn’t the centrist post racial conciliator he plays on television. His campaign has been as disingenuous as if Ronald Reagan had run for President in 1980, not as a proud conservative, but as a bipartisan middle-of-the-roader.

In truth, Obama is a liberal somewhat to the left of the Democratic median, and with a recent radical background. And slowly, the MainStream Media [MSM] is starting to wake up to the phoniness of Obama’s marketing of himself. This week, the New York Times [Obama’s Test: Can a Liberal Be a Unifier?, By Robin Toner, March 25, 2008] and Washington Post [In Obama's New Message, Some Foes See Old Liberalism, By Alec MacGillis, Washington Post, March 26, 2008]have finally gotten around to admitting in major stories that Obama is well to the left of where many imagine him to be.

This slow debunking of Obama might have crucial implications for his Vice Presidential selection. The more people who understand who Obama really is, the more pressure he will be under to pick as a ticket-balancing running mate an anti-Obama, such as Sen. James Webb (D-VA).

Moreover, within a President Obama, there would always be an ongoing struggle between his cautious head and his radical heart. The more a gullible press and public persist in imagining him the equally loving son of a happy biracial home, the more leftist actions his heart will be able to get away with. But the more we are alert to the two sides of this complicated man, the more likely his intelligent prudence would triumph over the passion to prove himself “black enough” that is the remnant of his psychologically-damaging childhood.

For example, the more he is seen, correctly, as a man who chose to devote much of his adult life to pursuing political power in order to take from whites and give to blacks, the more scrutiny a President Obama would receive over seemingly minor questions such as appointments to jobs at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the civil rights section of the Justice Department.

These obscure offices can be tremendously important.


(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: James Watson, Obama 
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Across Difficult Country observes:

“Some outré opinions printed years ago in a few of Ron Paul’s newsletters have precipitated a widespread libertarian moral panic. For believers in an inalienable right to necrophilia the Libertarianoids are surprisingly delicate about certain things, aren’t they?”

One test of how politically correct libertarians have become is to examine their flagship publication’s coverage of James Watson. Before the recent contretemps, Reason loved Watson, as these examples show:

Reason Magazine – Hit & Run > James Watson–Genetic Libertarian
The current issue of Discover has a fascinating interview with biologist James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. For example: …

Reason Magazine – Hit & Run > “I’m Basically a Libertarian.”
That’s James Watson, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of DNA, talking in the January 2007 issue of Esquire. More of that here (full disclosure: the …

But, when the chips were down, and Watson needed defenders, all Reason provided was this hemming and hawing, without a defense of “free minds” anywhere to be found:

Reason Magazine – Hit & Run > Is Nobelist James Watson, Co …
Is Nobelist James Watson, Co-Discoverer of the Structure of DNA, a Racist? Ronald Bailey | October 16, 2007, 10:21pm. According to the Independent, James …

Reason Magazine – Hit & Run > Race and I.Q. Debate Blanks Slate*
Race and I.Q. Debate Blanks Slate*. Ronald Bailey | December 3, 2007, 11:55am. Slate’s science and technology columnist, Will Saletan, is now stumbling back …

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: James Watson 
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Besides Everest-conquerors Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay, another famous pair of names forever linked with the year 1953 are the discoverers of the structure of DNA, James Watson and Francis Crick. The Englishman Crick is usually considered the greater theoretical genius of the two, although Watson, before his recent firing for political incorrectness on the race-IQ issue, displayed an amazing knack for getting people to get important things done, despite (or perhaps because of) his irascible personality.

Watson has, of course, been in the news lately, getting dumped from his post as chancellor of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory. Now, a reader has pointed out to me that Watson’s elder partner, Crick (1916-2004), was also guilty of holding the same views on race and IQ.

Some of the Francis Crick Papers are now online, and they are certainly illuminating. For example, during the controversy in 1969-1971 over IQ and race launched by Arthur Jensen’s 1969 Harvard Education Review article and William Shockley’s call for financial incentives and penalties to encourage higher IQ reproduction, Crick, a strong supporter of Jensen, threatened to resign as a Foreign Associate of the American National Academy of Sciences if steps were taken to “suppress reputable scientific research for political reasons.”

In contrast, in 2007 almost nobody stood up for James Watson.

Really, isn’t it about time that we dig up the bones of Crick and fire him? How can we live with ourselves knowing that there are thought criminals who escaped their just rewards by the trick of dying before we could properly humiliate them? Judging from these letters, it sounds like several other greats, such as Ernst Mayr and C.P. Snow, deserve posthumous show trials and exemplary punishment too. I’m sure there are others…

By the way, Francis Crick was, according to Nobel Laureate Peter Medawar, named after Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton, inventor of regression analysis and coiner of the term “eugenics.” It is striking how many of the great biologists of the 20th Century, such as Crick, Ronald A. Fisher, and William D. Hamilton were part of the Galtonian tradition. Galton is constantly denounced these days as a pseudo-scientist, yet many of the great subsequent discoveries in genetics and statistics were made by Galton’s enthusiasts.

Here are some letters from and to Francis Crick. The first exchange, in 1971, concerns an earlier letter signed by biochemist John T. Edsall, evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, and five other members of the American National Academy of Sciences responding negatively to Shockley’s call for research into the origins of average IQ differences among the races.

Crick replied to Edsall:

22 February 1971

Dr. John T, Edsall
Fogarty International Center
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 2 0014

Dear John,

I have been very distressed to see the letter to the President of the National Academy by you and six other Academy members regarding a Proposal by Dr. [William] Shockley [Nobel laureate in physics]. Like you I have not published anything on the population problem, but f have become fairly familiar with the literature of the subject. I have also talked to Dr, Jensen when he visited the Salk Institute recently.

Unlike you and your colleagues I have formed the opinion that there is much substance to [Berkeley psychologist Arthur] Jensen’s arguments. While any present conclusions are tentative, it seems likely that the matter could be largely resolved if further research were carried out. I should thus like to know two things. Would you and your colleagues please state in detail why they think the arguments put forward by Jensen are either incorrect or misleading. Secondly, would they please indicate what research they think should be done to establish to what extent “intelligence” is inherited. This is surely the important point, and is equally valid for a country without a racially mixed population.

I hope you will forgive me writing so frankly, but we have known each other now for a long time, and I have a great respect for your opinion on matters such as this. I am not, for the moment, sending a copy of this letter to anyone else.

I leave here tomorrow, and expect to be back in Cambridge on 1st March.

Yours sincerely,

F. H. C. Crick

FHCC :11

Edsall answered with a quite conciliatory letter, to which Crick replied:

29th March, 1971

Dr. John T. Edsall
Fogarty International Center
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Md. 20014

Dear John

I was very pleased to receive your letter of March 5, especially as it strikes a rather different note from your letter to the Academy. I agree with you that [Nobel physics laureate William] Shockley arouses a maximum of antagonism, but this I think is due to his manner rather than his matter. In fact, [Berkeley psychologist Arthur] Jensen pointed out to me that while he and Shockley say much the same thing, Shockley always manages to upset people!

I agree with you about Jensen’s paper, I’m afraid none of us is immune from bias on this subject, but his seems quite small. I do not agree with you about [Harvard geneticist Richard] Lewontin. He makes a useful point – that the difference between two populations may still be due to environment, even though within both populations the variance may be largely genetic but it is one that most people in the field are aware of. Otherwise his tone is to be deplored, although it shows how strongly people feel about this subject.

As to your point about the I. Q. results on American Indians being mainly due to their cultural tradition, this may be so, but personally I doubt it. How do you explain the relatively poor I. Q. performance of the children of middle-class American negroes?

I. Q. tests do seem to me to be useful, in spite of their obvious limitations, if only because people’s social aspirations are highly correlated with I. Q. That is, if the population as a whole is asked to rank occupations (most people would rank doctors higher than dustmen), then this ranking is almost perfectly correlated with the average I. Q. of the people in the occupational groups (i.e. doctors have, on average, a higher 1, Q. than dustmen). Naturally for comparing differences between two cultural groups an I. Q. test should be, as far as possible, culture-free.

I have not seen the report of the Academy Committee headed Kingsley Davis, but I look forward to reading it in due course.

What I miss most is constructive approaches to this problem, Can the “environmentalists” set up in an experiment an environment which will make the I. Q. difference disappear? If they can’t do that, then the hope of doing anything on a large scale in a social context is remote. Can the “geneticists” produce an experimental test which will show definitively that more than half the difference is genetic? Incidentally, a reasonable- design for such an experiment exists, but nobody (except possibly Shockley) will fund it, mainly due, I suspect, to the attitude of people like yourself and your colleagues, and of [Oxford geneticist Walter] Bodmer and [Stanford population geneticist] Cavalli-Storza.

May I make a general suggestion, which I put forward in a lecture a year or so ago, which might be drawn to the Academy’s attention? A most powerful research tool is the study of identical twins separated at birth. Jensen has recently looked into all the cases for which I. Q. data are available and finds there are only about 125 of them. Why should not a Twins Institute be formed? This would encourage people who have twins to let one of them be adopted by another family. Both the rate of production . of twins and the rate of adoption are sufficiently high that worthwhile numbers would soon accumulate. It is essential to keep track of such cases, and examine them periodically, and this would be the job of the Institute. Let me emphasize that there would be no compulsion for people who have twins to let one (or both) be adopted, though they might be encouraged by a modest subsidy given in return for the right to examine the children periodically. Such a scheme seems to me so humane and useful (contrast it with military conscription) that once people had become used to the idea, I think it would be socially acceptable. What do you feel?

Yours sincerely,

F.H.C. Crick

Edsall replied in a letter you can read here, suggesting that population growth was the crucial problem of the era.

Crick answered in a short letter that hasn’t been fed through an optical character reader, so I will excerpt from it. After agreeing with Edsall on the importance of population limitation, Crick wrote:

I don’t think the small amount of money which is needed to start eugenics research will in any way compete with this. The main difficulty is that people have to start thinking out eugenics in a different way. The Nazis gave it a bad name and I think it is time something was done to make it respectable again.

As far as I can see, we are in agreement on all this except perhaps for a slight difference of emphasis.

The “Twin Institute” proposed by Crick was eventually more or less brought into existence by University of Minnesota psychologist Thomas J. Bouchard, whose landmark “Minnesota Twins” study of twins raised apart began in 1979 and was published in 1990.

There proved to be enough twins raised apart due to personal reasons so that Crick’s suggestion of paying parents to give their twins up for adoption separately was not part of Bouchard’s study. Indeed, today, Crick’s idea sounds cruel, but that realization, paradoxically enough, dates largely from Bouchard’s study, which included many joyous scenes of identical twins being reunited for the first time since early childhood. At the time Crick wrote, before the “Minnesota Twins” project he advocated, people were less aware of the emotional power of genetic similarity.

During Crick’s exchanges with Edsall, he received an April 14, 1971 reply from famed Harvard biologist Ernst Mayr, who was another signer of the anti-IQ research letter that Crick deplored. Mayr said, in part:

If I may summarize my own viewpoint, it is that positive eugenics is of great importance for the future of mankind and that all roadblocks must be removed that stand in the way of intensifying research in this area. Shockley with his racist views is unfortunately the worst roadblock at this time, at least in this country; hence, his sharp rejection by some of us who are very much in favor of positive eugenics.

To which, Crick replied:

21st April, 1971

Dr. Ernst Mayr
Harvard University
The Agassiz Museum
Cambridge, Mass. 02138

Dear Ernst

I agree enthusiastically with practically everything you say, but I still feel that the present position which has arisen because of Shockley is unfortunate. What I would like to see is a good programme of research supported by people like yourself. You will have to reconcile yourself to the fact that whatever you do will have political implications and repercussion. Incidentally what do you think of my suggestion for a Twins Institute?

As to racism, what about negative racism? That is, the acceptance by Universities (like Harvard) of students with considerably lower standards merely because they are black. This policy is certainly going to lead to trouble. Either many of them will drop out, or they will have to be given degrees where white people would be failed. There was a recent article in Science about this.

I myself do not feel very strongly either way about the Black-White distinction. If I have a prejudice it is against the poor, and in favour of the rich, but such an attitude is almost equally unacceptable to most people.

Yours sincerely

F. H. C. Crick

Earlier, Crick had received a note from Lord C.P. Snow, the famous scientist and novelist, author of The Two Culture, asking him,

“Did you make some trenchant remarks recently on the radio about genetic factors in various kinds of individuals and groups destinies?”

Crick replied:

17 April 1969

Lord Snow
85 Gaton Terrace
London, S.W.l

Dear Charles

I gave a talk to University College on ‘The Social Impact of Biology’ and the BBC subsequently broadcast a shortened version of it. As I covered a very broad range of topics I decided not to publish it, and no manuscript exists as I spoke from notes. As far as I remember I said that the biological evidence was that all men were not created equal, and it would not only be difficult to try to do this, but biologically undesirable. As an a[s]ide I said that the evidence for the equality of different races did not really exist. In fact, what little evidence there was suggested racial differences.

Had I enlarged on the subject I would have dwelt on the probable positive differences, such as, for example, the Jews and the Japs, rather than speak only about Negroes. From what I hear you have been saying something along these lines,, I would certainly love to see what you’ve written when you’re satisfied with it.

F.H.C. Crick

In a lengthy 1977 letter to Nobel Laureate Peter Medawar, Crick outlined his views on IQ and eugenics. He had this to say about one frequently cited figured on the anti-Jensen side

Lewontin, in particular, is known to be strongly politically biased and himself admits to being scientifically unscrupulous on these issues. That is, he takes them as political ones and therefore feels justified in the use of biased arguments.

My view on positive eugenics as a policy is that the Galtonians never had an answer to the challenge posed them in 1922 by G.K. Chesterton, in Eugenics and Other Evils. Chesterton pointed out that the “positive eugenics” of society arranging marriages among the most fit was self-defeating. If arranged marriages actually succeeded in breeding better men and women, the first thing these healthier, smarter, more robust individuals would do would be to tell society to butt out of arranging their marriages, and they’d go back to choosing their own mates!

Still, Chesterton’s objection is far less valid, and Crick’s concerns even more valid, when the question is the impact of immigration. Countries like Canada have a consciously positive selectionist immigration policy of trying to identify applicants who will most benefit the existing population while keeping out people who would be detrimental. In contrast, anybody who advocates that we Americans take a look at the Canadian perspective is likely to get called a Nazi.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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The James Watson brouhaha began, I believe, with a story published in the London Times on a Sunday. By Wednesday of that week, a few comments deep within the article had set off a brouhaha around the world.

In contrast, last Sunday’s London Times featured an article with the eye-opening title “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets” about former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds’s far-reaching charges. Yet, according to Google News, that London Times story has gotten zero coverage so far in the American mainstream press.

It’s good to know we’ve got our priorities straight!

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: James Watson 
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The widely-repeated assertion by the Icelandic firm deCODE genetics that James Watson is 16% sub-Saharan black and 9% Asian (see, for instance, the new NY Times article “DNA Pioneer’s Genome Blurs Race Lines“) reminds me of one of the least understood contradictions in the conventional wisdom that Race Doesn’t Exist:

- The existence of the One-Drop Rule shows that race is an arbitrary social construct.

- Therefore, lots of white Americans must have lots of black ancestors.

But when you stop and think about it, you realize the opposite is true: that the One-Drop Rule is the reason that so few self-identified white Americans have much black ancestry. As I wrote in 2001, when racial admixture testing via DNA was in its infancy:

Among self-identified whites in Shriver’s sample, the average black admixture is only 0.7 percent. That’s the equivalent of having among your 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents (who lived around two centuries ago), 127 whites and one black.

It appears that 70 percent of whites have no African ancestors. Among the 30 percent who do, the black admixture is around 2.3 percent, which would be like having about three black ancestors out of those 128.

In contrast, the lack of the One Drop Rule meant that Mexico’s black minority has been almost completely absorbed into the general population.

As I’ve said, racial admixture testing is not always reliable for individuals, but for large sample sizes it works reasonably well. (If anybody has any more recent data than this on American whites, let me know.) As I pointed out in regard to IQ testing, people tend to make a 180 degree wrong assumption about testing in the human sciences: the unexpected reality is that it’s much easier to be accurate about a group, whether IQ or racial admixture, than it is to be accurate about an individual.

The lesson that needs to be learned is that social constructs impact genetic reality. If your society cruelly sanctions people who marry across racial lines and won’t let their children easily assert membership in the dominant race, as America long did, you’ll end up with the white-identifying people of America being whiter genetically than the white-identifying people of, say, Brazil.

(That’s why affirmative action benefits in America works are distributed largely on the honor system — you just check whichever race box you want on the job or college application and they usually take your word for it, and there have been surprisingly few controversies, at least over people claiming to be black. In contrast, the new affirmative action system in Brazil for college admissions has set up boards to visually evaluate each candidate claiming to be black.)

It was fairly hard to pass visually, but the emotional toll of passing was particularly difficult. A 1953 study by anthropologist C. Stern estimated that 1/4 of people who were 1/4th black and 3/4th white could pass for white. (See Carleton Coon’s Living Races of Man, p. 307).

The One-Drop Rule made it wrenchingly hard for even the whitest-looking person with socially-identified black relatives to pass into being socially-identified as white. To pass from black to white socially, an individual typically had to move to a new part of the country and cut himself off from his family because at least some of them would be visibly part-black.

For example, one of the best-known cases of passing is that of the late Anatole Broyard (1920-1990), the distinguished literary critic. His parents were New Orleans “creoles of color,” but when he moved to New York to make his career in books, he more or less dropped the black part of his black identity (which, as a native of New Orleans, where the One Drop Rule was an alien Anglo imposition, presumably didn’t mean that much to him) and let people assume he was white. His career probably would have been even more successful if he had been publicly black, but he wasn’t interested in being pigeonholed as a “black critic.”

But this liberation came at a human cost: he cut himself off from his family. His children never met his darker sister until his funeral.

Broyard championed the novelist Philip Roth, and after his death, Roth published a novel, The Human Stain, inspired by Broyard’s life.

The 2003 movie version suffers from the casting of Anthony Hopkins as the protagonist, Professor of English Coleman Silk, because Sir Anthony, the laziest of actors, made no effort to appear even subliminally black (he didn’t even use an American accent!). And the filmmakers didn’t dare put any makeup on Sir Anthony to make him look a little black. But the flashbacks to Silk’s life in Newark in the 1940s before passing, featuring the part-black Wentworth Miller of Prison Break as the young Silk, are excellent. (By the way, if anybody wants to make a movie of Broyard’s life, Miller looks a lot like him. And, he’s got star power.)

Roth’s novel makes clear the emotional cost of passing, when the young Silk’s clearly part-African mother’s responds to his announcement with this moving soliloquy:

“‘I’m never going to know my grandchildren,’ she said. ‘You’re never going to let them see me,’ she said. ‘You’re never going to let them know who I am. “Mom,” you’ll tell me, “Ma, you come to the railroad station in New York, and you sit on the bench in the waiting room, and at eleven twenty-five A.M., I’ll walk by with my kids in their Sunday best.” That’ll be my birthday present five years from now. “Sit there, Mom, say nothing, and I’ll just walk them slowly by.” And you know very well that I will be there. The railroad station. The zoo. Central Park. Wherever you say, of course, I’ll do it. You tell me the only way I can ever touch my grandchildren is for you to hire me to come over as Mrs. Brown to baby-sit and put them to bed. I’ll do it… I have no choice.’”

And then there was always the fear among individuals who were passing that they’d have a child who was clearly part-black. (Your child can inherit from you genes that aren’t evident in your looks.)

But, if you can successfully pass, your descendants will tend to be increasingly white by ancestry, while the descendants of your siblings’ who didn’t pass will tend to get blacker because they will be in socially different gene pools for choosing spouses. (For example, there are, I believe, two lineages descended from Sally Hemings’s 1/8th black sons: Madison’s is socially identified as black and Eston’s as white. That’s because Eston moved to the Old Northwest and lived as a white man and married a while woman, while Madison lived as a black man.)

So, with a reasonable picture in our heads of just what was required of an individual to pass, let’s see how credible the claim that James Dewey Watson Jr. is 25% nonwhite now sounds. I’m going to spend some time going over this because it might help people understand how to evaluate genetic claims (by seeing, for example, if they make sense in human terms of who marries whom), and because it explains a little about what America was like.

Not surprisingly, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA is very interested in his own genealogy, as he shows in the first chapter of his new autobiography Avoid Boring People, which is available as a five megabyte PDF file, complete with pictures of his parents and maternal grandmother.

On his mother’s side, his grandfather was a Scottish immigrant, Lauchlin Alexander Mitchell (son of Robert Mitchell and Flora MacKinnon of Scotland), while his mother’s mother (Lizzie Gleason – see picture to the right) was the daughter of Irish immigrants (Michael Gleeson and Mary Curtin) who initially took up farming in the Midwest. So, the search for blacks and Asians should concentrate on his father’s side of the family, who were of old Anglo-American stock.

But that would mean his father would be 50% nonwhite, and one of his paternal grandparents might well be be 100% nonwhite.

How likely is that? One place to start is by looking at the photo (not online) on p. 265 of Watson’s new autobiography, Avoid Boring People. It shows Watson at the 1967 wedding of his cousin Alice. Standing alongside him are his sister, his father, and his paternal grandfather.

In other words, the Watsons were not split up like the Broyards were by the brutal necessities of passing. Indeed, Watson lists the names of his father’s three brothers and of his paternal grandfather’s four brothers, so the Watsons were a very cohesive clan, quite proud of their genealogy. They were addicted to high-WASP practices of passing names down within the family, and converting prestigious last names to middle names. For instance, the scientist’s full name is James Dewey Watson Jr., with his first name coming from his father James Sr. and his middle name from the maternal grandfather of his mother, Nellie Dewey Ford, who was descended from a Puritan named Thomas Dewey who arrived in Boston in 1633.

Further, just from looking at the wedding picture, I’d say these Watsons are just about the five whitest people in the whole world. If they are significantly non-white genetically, it sure doesn’t show on any of them.

The reality is that the Watson family was way too socially fashionable for too long to be significantly black in a profoundly anti-black America. For example, Watson’s paternal uncle William Weldon Watson IV was appointed chairman of the Yale Physics Department in 1940. If somebody who was one-third black was a Yale department chairman in 1940, it would be big news.

Watson’s father (see picture to the left) started work at the Harris Trust Company in Chicago before WWI. Watson’s paternal grandfather was a stockbroker and his paternal grandmother an heiress. The scientist’s paternal great-grandfather was a hotelkeeper in ritzy Lake Geneva, WI and married a banker’s daughter.

His paternal great-great-grandfather William Weldon Watson II was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. Watson writes: “With his wife and brother Ben, he later accompanied Lincoln on the inaugural train to Washington.” I don’t know for sure, but I strongly suspect that Lincoln didn’t invite a family of prosperous mulattoes from Springfield along on his train ride to take power in Southern-sympathizing Washington D.C., not while trying to head off Civil War as hotheads accused him of wanting to foster “miscegenation.”

You could hypothesize, I suppose, that Watson was the product of an illicit affair between his mother and a man who was half nonwhite, or between his paternal grandmother and a man who was completely nonwhite, but the circumstantial evidence makes this unlikely. Watson was the first-born child, born three years after his parents wedding. His parents had his sister a couple of years later and stayed together for the rest of their lives. So, it doesn’t sound like Mrs. Watson stuck Mr. Watson with a cuckoo’s egg.

Similarly, Watson’s father was the first-born of four sons, a couple of years after his parents’ wedding. And he was born in northern Minnesota!

Or you could hypothesize that James Watson had several different ancestors who were all part non-white, but that’s just pushing the passing problem back farther in time, and multiplying the improbability of it all.

Broyard came from a creole of color subcaste in New Orleans that had social institutions, such as debutante’s balls, designed to foster marriages among lighter-skinned people. But that’s a very public system — if you are socially prominent within your subcaste, it’s hard to claim to be all-white. At a minimum, the blacker people you discriminate against in your clubs will talk about how you aren’t as white as you might look.

In contrast, the Watsons were prominent in Upper Midwest social circles for generations, and its extremely doubtful that they were involved in some sort of surreptitious subcaste of in-marrying white-looking mulattoes.

Now, it’s quite possible that Watson’s distant frontier-era ancestors include blacks and American Indians (I’m dubious about the 9% Asian figure). When people were moving around and communications were slow, it was easier to pass. But, their descendants would tend to get whiter because they had passed into the white marriage pool.

So, what likely happened is that Watson had a few nonwhite ancestors fairly well back in the past, and their versions of the genes used as genetic markers in deCODE’s analysis , via the luck of the draw in the sexual reproduction shuffle, kept turning up in Watson’s ancestors, greatly exaggerating his overall nonwhite ancestry. But the great majority of his functional genes were inherited from his white ancestors.

Enough detail. The point is that when you think about genes, you need to think about genealogy.

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Although the reigning hope among the great and the good has been that 79-year-old James Watson would just go away and die quietly, I suspect we haven’t heard the last from the old boy yet.

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I’d already excerpted this a month ago in my first article on James Watson, but, for the record, I want to post the ending of James Watson’s recent book Avoid Boring People. This appeared in 02138, which I presume is the zip code of Harvard:

Before leaving -interim Harvard President Derek] Bok’s temporary office in Loeb House [in 2006], mindful of the Summers fiasco, I remarked to Derek that the time was 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 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. But as science is able to prove its hypotheses ever more indisputably, such irrationality must recede or betray itself as such. In showing that human genes do matter, behavioral biologists will no longer be limited to comparisons of fraternal and identical twins. Soon the cost of sequencing the As, Ts, Gs, and Cs 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. DNA messages extracted from, say, many hundreds of psychopaths can then be compared to equivalent numbers of DNA messages from individuals prevented by their consciences from habitually lying, stealing, or killing. Specific DNA sequences consistently occurring only in psychopaths will allow us to pinpoint the genes likely malfunctioning to produce psychopathy. The thought that some people might be born to grow up wicked is inherently upsetting. But if we find such behavior to be innate, the integrity of science, no less than that of ethics, demands that we let the truth be known.

The relative extents to which genetic factors determine human intellectual abilities will also soon become much better known. At the etiological heart of much of schizophrenia and autism are learning defects resulting from the failure of key brain cells to link up properly to each other. As we find the human genes whose malfunctioning gives rise to such devastating developmental failures, we may well discover that sequence differences within many of them also lead to much of the observable variation in human IQs. 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 desire to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.

Rather than face up to facts that will likely change the way we look at ourselves, many persons of good will may see only harm in our looking too closely at individual genetic essences. So I was not surprised when Derek, who had spent most of our meeting listening, 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 “15 years” meant that Summers’ then undetermined successor would not necessarily need to handle this very hot potato.

Upon returning to the Yard, however, I wondered if even 10 years would pass.

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Here’s Will Saletan’s third and last article at Slate. He advocates genetic engineering to equalize the races. I’ve always been skeptical about whether we have the wisdom to handle such power, and have been pleased that it appears to be farther off than I had assumed back in the 1990s. As I wrote in in 2005:

Through genetic selection and modification, we will soon be able to transform human nature, for better . . . or worse.

Some find this exciting. I find it mostly alarming.

The good news: we still have time to figure out what the physical, psychological, and social impacts of these gene-altering technologies might be – by studying naturally-occurring human genetic diversity.

The bad news: we won’t fund research into existing human biodiversity – because it’s politically incorrect.

Noah Millman responds to Saletan in detail at American Scene in The Sound of a Dam Breaking, with comments from John Derbyshire and Will Wilkinson.

At Cato Unbound, social scientist Eric Turkheimer writes:

“When the theoretical questions are properly understood, proponents of race science, while entitled to their freedom of inquiry and expression, deserve the vigorous disapprobation they often receive.”

Which raises the question, if Eric Turkheimer were ever to discover anything that would support race science realism, he would do what with it, burn it? Couch it in such high-flown philosophical language that you wouldn’t be able to figure out what he meant? Publish it while vigorously disapprobating himself?

Hasn’t he just wrecked his credibility as an objective scientist? Shouldn’t he be ashamed of that, rather than proud of it?

Turkheimer goes on:

“Why Race Science is Objectionable

“If I may address my fellow Jews for a moment, consider this. How would you feel about a line of research into the question of whether Jews have a genetic tendency to be more concerned with money than other groups?”

My observation over the last couple of decades has been, going back to Gould’s Mismeasure of Man and Kamin, Lewontin, and Rose’s Not In our Genes, that while most of the talk is about the white-black IQ gap, among those who take the lead in demonizing realists, most of their angst, anger, and underlying agendas are actually driven by concerns that the masses will learn about the Jewish-gentile IQ gap, which would cause them to pick up their torches and pitchforks and stage pogroms across America.

It’s the kind of triple bankshot reasoning that intellectuals take seriously — If James Watson is not allowed to mention race and IQ, then the process of discovering that Jews tend to be smarter than gentiles can’t get underway! — not realizing that 90% of the people who have never heard of James Watson roughly understand the reality already (e.g., listen to what arrested mafioso and rap stars say about which kind of lawyer they want).

Of course, quite a few of those demonized, such as Richard J. Herrnstein of The Bell Curve, are Jewish, too.

I’m reminded on one of the dozen general lessons Jacques Barzun has learned from a lifetime of study:

“An age … is unified by one or to pressing needs, not by the proposed remedies, which are many and thus divide.”

As Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine pointed out in The Jewish Century in 2004, much of Western intellectual life since, say, The Communist Manifesto in 1848 has been driven by the pressing needs felt by a successful but vulnerable high IQ minority, and by the often-clashing remedies their many thinkers have proposed: e.g., Marxism, Freudianism, Randism, Boasism, Frankfurtism, Neoconism, Friedmanism, etc.

And progress was made — Milton Friedman’s theories were good for the Jews and the human race as a whole, at least compared to Karl Marx’s. The early neocons did a lot of good work in the domestic social science arena and in foreign policy.

But you can’t understand the world around you without paying attention to group differences in IQ, since they drive so much of what we see.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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William Saletan’s defense of James Watson in MSM Slate (owned by the Washington Post) is turning out to be a three parter and he’s not holding back. Today, he looks at the environmentalist attacks on hereditarian ideas and concludes:

“When I look at all the data, studies, and arguments, I see a prima facie case for partial genetic influence. I don’t see conclusive evidence either way in the adoption studies. I don’t see closure of the racial IQ gap to single digits. And I see too much data that can’t be reconciled with the surge or explained by current environmental theories. I hope the surge surprises me. But in case it doesn’t, I want to start thinking about how to be an egalitarian in an age of genetic difference, even between races. More on that tomorrow.” [More]

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More than a little too late, but, still, good for William Saletan, the “Human Nature” columnist for Slate, for gearing up his courage to become one of the few James Watson defenders:

Created Equal

Race, genes, and intelligence.

From: William Saletan
Subject: Liberal creationism
Posted Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007, at 7:57 AM ET

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …

Declaration of Independence

Last month, James Watson, the legendary biologist, was condemned and forced nto retirement after claiming that African intelligence wasn’t “the same as ours.” “Racist, vicious and unsupported by science,” said the Federation of American Scientists. “Utterly unsupported by scientific evidence,” declared the U.S. government’s supervisor of genetic research. The New York Times told readers that when Watson implied “that black Africans are less intelligent than whites, he hadn’t a scientific leg to stand on.”

I wish these assurances were true. They aren’t. Tests do show an IQ deficit, not just for Africans relative to Europeans, but for Europeans relative to Asians. Economic and cultural theories have failed to explain most of the pattern, and there’s strong preliminary evidence that part of it is genetic. It’s time to prepare for the possibility that equality of intelligence, in the sense of racial averages on tests, will turn out not to be true.

If this suggestion makes you angry—if you find the idea of genetic racial advantages outrageous, socially corrosive, and unthinkable—you’re not the first to feel that way. Many Christians are going through a similar struggle over evolution. Their faith in human dignity rests on a literal belief in Genesis. To them, evolution isn’t just another fact; it’s a threat to their whole value system. As William Jennings Bryan put it during the Scopes trial, evolution meant elevating “supposedly superior intellects,” “eliminating the weak,” “paralyzing the hope of reform,” jeopardizing “the doctrine of brotherhood,” and undermining “the sympathetic activities of a civilized society.”

The same values—equality, hope, and brotherhood—are under scientific threat today. But this time, the threat is racial genetics, and the people struggling with it are liberals. [More]

As G.K. Chesterton wrote in 1922 in Eugenics and Other Evils:

“The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.

Also, good for Saletan for showing some sympathy for William Jennings Bryan.

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A month after the James Watson witch hunt, doing a Google search on the entire WWW for “Watson’s defender” brings up zero hits, while “Watson’s defenders” brings up one page. “In defense of James Watson” finds one page, as does “In defense of James D. Watson.”

On the other hand “‘James Watson’ racist” brings up 173,000 hits.

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Quant blogger Half Sigma and GNXP’s Jason Malloy are quoted in a New York Times article by Amy Harmon entitled “In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice” about what’s happening now that “genetic information is slipping out of the laboratory and into everyday life, carrying with it the inescapable message that people of different races have different DNA.”

In case you are wondering, this article isn’t written by Nicholas Wade, who I imagine has been put on heavy sedation by the NYT editors ever since the Watson Show Trial.

When scientists first decoded the human genome in 2000, they were quick to portray it as proof of humankind’s remarkable similarity. The DNA of any two people, they emphasized, is at least 99 percent identical.

But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain differences between people of different continental origins.

Scientists, for instance, have recently identified small changes in DNA that account for the pale skin of Europeans, the tendency of Asians to sweat less and West Africans’ resistance to certain diseases.

At the same time, genetic information is slipping out of the laboratory and into everyday life, carrying with it the inescapable message that people of different races have different DNA. Ancestry tests tell customers what percentage of their genes are from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The heart-disease drug BiDil is marketed exclusively to African-Americans, who seem genetically predisposed to respond to it. Jews are offered prenatal tests for genetic disorders rarely found in other ethnic groups.

Such developments are providing some of the first tangible benefits of the genetic revolution. Yet some social critics fear they may also be giving long-discredited racial prejudices a new potency. The notion that race is more than skin deep, they fear, could undermine principles of equal treatment and opportunity that have relied on the presumption that we are all fundamentally equal.

“We are living through an era of the ascendance of biology, and we have to be very careful,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. “We will all be walking a fine line between using biology and allowing it to be abused.”

Certain superficial traits like skin pigmentation have long been presumed to be genetic. But the ability to pinpoint their DNA source makes the link between genes and race more palpable. And on mainstream blogs, in college classrooms and among the growing community of ancestry test-takers, it is prompting the question of whether more profound differences may also be attributed to DNA.

Nonscientists are already beginning to stitch together highly speculative conclusions about the historically charged subject of race and intelligence from the new biological data. Last month, a blogger in Manhattan described a recently published study that linked several snippets of DNA to high I.Q. An online genetic database used by medical researchers, he told readers, showed that two of the snippets were found more often in Europeans and Asians than in Africans.

No matter that the link between I.Q. and those particular bits of DNA was unconfirmed, or that other high I.Q. snippets are more common in Africans, or that hundreds or thousands of others may also affect intelligence, or that their combined influence might be dwarfed by environmental factors. Just the existence of such genetic differences between races, proclaimed the author of the Half Sigma blog, a 40-year-old software developer, means “the egalitarian theory,” that all races are equal, “is proven false.”

Though few of the bits of human genetic code that vary between individuals have yet to be tied to physical or behavioral traits, scientists have found that roughly 10 percent of them are more common in certain continental groups and can be used to distinguish people of different races. They say that studying the differences, which arose during the tens of thousands of years that human populations evolved on separate continents after their ancestors dispersed from humanity’s birthplace in East Africa, is crucial to mapping the genetic basis for disease.

But many geneticists, wary of fueling discrimination and worried that speaking openly about race could endanger support for their research, are loath to discuss the social implications of their findings. Still, some acknowledge that as their data and methods are extended to nonmedical traits, the field is at what one leading researcher recently called “a very delicate time, and a dangerous time.”

“There are clear differences between people of different continental ancestries,” said Marcus W. Feldman, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. “It’s not there yet for things like I.Q., but I can see it coming. And it has the potential to spark a new era of racism if we do not start explaining it better.”

Dr. Feldman said any finding on intelligence was likely to be exceedingly hard to pin down. But given that some may emerge, he said he wanted to create “ready response teams” of geneticists to put such socially fraught discoveries in perspective.

The authority that DNA has earned through its use in freeing falsely convicted inmates, preventing disease and reconstructing family ties leads people to wrongly elevate genetics over other explanations for differences between groups.

“I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life researching how much genetic variability there is between populations,” said Dr. David Altshuler, director of the Program in Medical and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass. “But living in America, it is so clear that the economic and social and educational differences have so much more influence than genes. People just somehow fixate on genetics, even if the influence is very small.”

But on the Half Sigma blog and elsewhere, the conversation is already flashing forward to what might happen if genetically encoded racial differences in socially desirable — or undesirable — traits are identified.

“If I were to believe the ‘facts’ in this post, what should I do?” one reader responded on Half Sigma. “Should I advocate discrimination against blacks because they are less smart? Should I not hire them to my company because odds are I could find a smarter white person? Stop trying to prove that one group of people are genetically inferior to your group. Just stop.”

Renata McGriff, 52, a health care consultant who had been encouraging black clients to volunteer genetic information to scientists, said she and other African-Americans have lately been discussing “opting out of genetic research until it’s clear we’re not going to use science to validate prejudices.”

“I don’t want the children in my family to be born thinking they are less than someone else based on their DNA,” added Ms. McGriff, of Manhattan.

Such discussions are among thousands that followed the geneticist James D. Watson’s assertion last month that Africans are innately less intelligent than other races. Dr. Watson, a Nobel Prize winner, subsequently apologized and quit his post at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island.

But the incident has added to uneasiness about whether society is prepared to handle the consequences of science that may eventually reveal appreciable differences between races in the genes that influence socially important traits.

New genetic information, some liberal critics say, could become the latest rallying point for a conservative political camp that objects to social policies like affirmative action, as happened with “The Bell Curve,” the controversial 1994 book that examined the relationship between race and I.Q.

Yet even some self-described liberals argue that accepting that there may be genetic differences between races is important in preparing to address them politically.

“Let’s say the genetic data says we’ll have to spend two times as much for every black child to close the achievement gap,” said Jason Malloy, 28, an artist in Madison, Wis., who wrote a defense of Dr. Watson for the widely read science blog Gene Expression. Society, he said, would need to consider how individuals “can be given educational and occupational opportunities that work best for their unique talents and limitations.”

Others hope that the genetic data may overturn preconceived notions of racial superiority by, for example, showing that Africans are innately more intelligent than other groups. But either way, the increased outpouring of conversation on the normally taboo subject of race and genetics has prompted some to suggest that innate differences should be accepted but, at some level, ignored.

“Regardless of any such genetic variation, it is our moral duty to treat all as equal before God and before the law,” Perry Clark, 44, wrote on a New York Times blog. It is not necessary, argued Dr. Clark, a retired neonatologist in Leawood, Kan., who is white, to maintain the pretense that inborn racial differences do not exist.

“When was the last time a nonblack sprinter won the Olympic 100 meters?” he asked.

“To say that such differences aren’t real,” Dr. Clark later said in an interview, “is to stick your head in the sand and go blah blah blah blah blah until the band marches by.”

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Over at GNXP, Jason Malloy unloads on the Watson brouhaha.

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Here’s another excerpt from my new essa y on James Watson:

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’s 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]unacceptable categories. So the repercussions are to be 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 Human Behavioral 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 the propaganda of the Radical Left in the Western world. …”

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

“[A] Friedrich [ director of the Central Institute of Youth Research in Leipzig]

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 be published abroad, any new theoretical contributions had to be smuggled out of the GDR.” [More]

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From my new article:

Why did so many so enthusiastically sign up as auxiliaries of the Thought Police to hound James Watson, who is perhaps America‘s most distinguished man of science?

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: the weaker 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.”

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We’re now into the second week of the latest ritual race humiliation, this time of the man who is probably America’s most distinguished living scientist, James Watson. And who has spoken up for him? Besides this guy in Nigeria?

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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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