TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -American Nobel Prize-winning DNA scientist James Watson has been stripped of his honorary titles for repeating the “unsubstantiated” claim that genes make black people less intelligent than whites.
The 90-year-old biologist sparked controversy in a new documentary program dubbed “American Masters: Decoding Watson” aired on PBS earlier this month, when he said genes cause a difference in intelligence between white and black people in IQ tests.
The remarks by Watson, a founder of modern genetics, came more than a decade after he initially suggested that black people are intrinsically less intelligent than whites.
Though he had apologized for the racist comments back then, he said recently that his views had not changed.
“I would like for them to have changed, that there be new knowledge that says that your nurture is much more important than nature. But I haven’t seen any knowledge. And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic,” said Watson.
The latest comments “effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr Watson made in 2007,” the lab said in a statement.
“The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice,” said the statement, adding that it “unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions Dr. James D Watson expressed on the subject of ethnicity and genetics.”
Back in 2007, Watson told the British Sunday Times newspaper 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.”
While he wished everyone were equal, Watson said that “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”
Top geneticists, however, rejected his idea, saying even the most sophisticated DNA assessments are unable to find solid evidence of racial differences in intelligence.
Watson had been awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for co-discovering deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
In another controversial move, the scientist sold his gold medal for $4.76 million at an auction held in December 2014 in New York.
Watson, who was referred to as “the greatest living scientist” by the auctioneer, said at the time that he was auctioning the coveted prize because his discoveries had made him a pariah.
“No one really wants to admit I exist,” he said.
This was the first time a living scientist has ever sold his Nobel Prize.