Jim feels loved again

James Watson’s Nobel medal sold for a large sum yesterday. $4.1 million, to be exact, not counting the auction house’s cut.

Dr. Watson, 86, watched the auction open-mouthed from the back of the room with his wife and one of his sons as the bidding, which began at $1.5 million, rose steadily by $100,000 increments, eventually coming down to two phone bidders who pushed the price above $4 million.

He said before the sale that he wanted to give much of the proceeds to educational institutions that had nurtured him, to “support and empower scientific discovery.”

After the sale, he said: “I’m very pleased. It’s more money than I expected to give to charity.”

The sale also became symbolic of a quest for redemption after he became what he called an “unperson” in the scientific community seven years ago; he had told The Sunday Times of London Magazine in an interview that he was pessimistic about 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.”

So unfair, isn’t it, for people to decide they don’t want to pay attention to James Watson after he said a stunningly racist thing. We’re supposed to overlook it when Our Major Geniuses say things like that.


  1. Anthony K says

    Honestly, what is sadder than being proud of someone else’s Nobel medal than buying someone else’s Nobel medal?

    No kidding.

    “Is that a Nobel Prize?”
    “Can I hold it?”
    “I promise I’ll be careful.”
    “Don’t worry. I have another.”
    “You won two Nobel Prizes?”
    “Nope. Bought ’em.”
    “You…bought…two Nobel Prizes?”
    “I had the money.”
    “I…I dunno what to say.”
    “Cool, huh? I’ve got a bunch of trophies. Here’s one for T-ball, from back when I was eight. Most Valuable Player.”
    “Uh, okay. So you were good T-ball player?”
    “Nope. Dickie Thompson was. I sat on the bench for most of the season. He was shit with finances though. I was checking out a foreclosure sale on day, and it turned out to be his house! He was getting rid of some stuff, and I thought it would be neat to have it so made an offer. Poor guy. Sold me his report cards, too. His folks must have been really proud of him; they kept nearly every award he got. I bought his brother’s Scout merit badges too, but I taped those to a piece of construction paper and keep them on the fridge in the kitchen.”

  2. says

    @chigau I actually didn’t know slowcap was an insult for a long time, because I always saw it in the context of praise. I learned it was meant as an insult maybe a year ago, which sort of made me go back and look at some of those slowcaps I’d seen, and gotten, in the past… yep, the context was still positive/praise… which really made me confused…

    @AnthonyK You win all the internetz today, sir. Congrats!

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