James Watson has really put his foot in it this time. He has a tendency to say some shockingly offensive and bizarre things.
Dr Watson told The Sunday Times 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”. He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.
His views are also reflected in a book published next week, in which he writes: “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.”
Or, rather, our wanting to see our particular ethnic or racial group as superior to all others is not enough to make it so. There seems to be no environment on earth (except, perhaps, the coddled womb of the upper middle class lifestyle) where the average human being can afford to dispense with intelligence — and that includes Africa — and even where populations have been isolated for ten thousand years at a time, as in North America and Australia, we don’t see powers of reason decaying. And of course, Africa is not significantly geographically or genetically isolated at all.
The article is like a summary of Watson’s greatest gaffes.
In 1997, he told a British newspaper that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual. He later insisted he was talking about a “hypothetical” choice which could never be applied. He has also suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, positing the theory that black people have higher libidos, and argued in favour of genetic screening and engineering on the basis that “stupidity” could one day be cured. He has claimed that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: “People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would great.”
He smiles. “Rosalind is my cross,” he says slowly. “I’ll bear it. I think she was partially autistic.” He pauses for a while, before repeating the suggestion, as if to make it clear that this is no off-the-cuff insult, but a considered diagnosis. “I’d never really thought of scientists as autistic until this whole business of high-intelligence autism came up. There is probably no other explanation for Rosalind’s behaviour.
It’s like he thinks everyone is inferior. That’s a relative term, so you might be wondering, inferior to what? I happen to know that he thinks very highly of the Scots-Irish, and considers them to be the driving force behind American successes.
I’ll give you three guesses what Watson’s own background might be.