The Aryan Race is unhappy that James Watson has been exposed

Oh, look. The “race realist/scientific racist/just plain racist” gang is very upset that James Watson’s reputation has been besmirched. Errm, further besmirched. Um, OK, blackened to scorched ashes.

Let’s take this apart for the fun of it, shall we?

Brilliant DNA pioneer

True. It’s a good idea to use a bit of reality as a jumping off point for your swan dive into fantasy. But yes, Watson is an incredibly smart guy who accomplished a significant piece of work in the 1950s. That is not, however, incompatible with the fact that he’s also a delusional egomaniac bristling with lots of other bad ideas.

to be wiped from history books

False. We don’t throw away significant data or past scientific contributions. Watson and Crick will still be mentioned. Their famous Nature paper will still be cited. You know, one of the most famous developmental biologists of the last century was Hans Spemann, who was a literal Nazi supporter, and we still discuss his science. Watson will remain in the history books, it’s just that after “co-discoverer of DNA structure”, we’ll also add “and notorious racist”. See? More words, not fewer!

bcuz he said IQ differences exist between races

True. He said that. But he went further to make the unfounded claim that the causes were genetic. It’s that overreach (and also his unapologetic misogyny and racist contempt for non-white people) that led to the loss of honors conferred on him.

& he was very sad about that fact.

No, not particularly. He was pretty gleeful about the superiority of his race when I talked to him. He said stuff about how he was regretful that other races were inferior, but that’s about as sincere and persuasive as me saying that I am so sad that Lana Lokteff has her head stuck up her ass. We all know I’m not sad at all.

Cultural Marxist quacks hijacked his work,

When I see someone talking about “Cultural Marxist”, they have just confirmed that they do, indeed, have their head stuck up their ass. “Cultural Marxism” is a fiction.

But no, that’s false, no one has “hijacked” his work. The worthwhile stuff was all published and made freely available to the world. Everyone gets to use the information about DNA. And further, there has been so much work done to further illuminate the structure and function of DNA by others that it’s not really about him anymore.

stab him in the back.

We’ve known about Watson’s distorted and self-serving view of his history since the 1960s, when he laid bare his selfish little soul in The Double Helix. Everyone just said, “That’s Jim”, and let him babble on. Honor after honor was piled on, in spite of the fact that virtually everyone who worked with him knew he was a petty little shit on the subject of race and gender. He got old, rich, and famous. He only finally got slapped down when he made a lecture tour where he rambled about how melanin made black men into horny rape-monsters, which he illustrated with slides of women in bikinis, and declared that Africa was hopeless because everyone there had an IQ below 80. Finally Cold Spring Harbor stepped in because he was embarrassing the institution. The latest motion to strip of him of even his honorary titles was made because he reneged on his promises to stop dragging CSH’s name through the mud (they have a lot to make up for as a center of the eugenics movement in the first half of the last century, so they’re sensitive on this subject).

Rather than being stabbed in the back, I see a recalcitrant old man who was treated with kid gloves for over half a century, by an institution that only reluctantly rescinded his welcome when his petulant, nasty act became too much to bear.

It’s only correct ‘science’ if it is anti-White

Modern science sans Watson is not anti-White, except in the sense that “White” is not a valid scientific construct to be taken seriously. The study of human genetics is not well served by pandering to the hateful notion that some humans aren’t human at all.

A litany of bad science

Trumpism is nothing new. Fevered racism has been simmering in the US for a long, long time. What’s embarrassing is how Daniel Okrent explains how much well educated scientists at famous institutions contributed to the toxic stew. It’s not southern rednecks who necessarily are full of ignorance and hate; genteel northern scholars with bad ideas had more power and influence.

Also note how the social sciences have been scorned all along.

Together, they [a gang of prestigious scientists] popularized “racial eugenics,” a junk science that made ethnically based racism respectable. “The day of the sociologist is passing,” said the Harvard professor Robert DeCourcy Ward, “and the day of the biologist has come.” The biologists and their publicists achieved what their political allies had failed to accomplish for 30 years: enactment of a law stemming the influx of Jews, Italians, Greeks and other eastern and southern Europeans. “The need of restriction is manifest,” The New York Times declared in an editorial, for “American institutions are menaced” by “swarms of aliens.”

People with no knowledge of sociology are always eager to shut down sociology departments because they keep on digging up hard data to show that racists are wrong. But wait — when a sociologist says bigoted things, then we can listen to them. Also, I guess people of Slavic descent weren’t considered white enough?

Writing about Slavic immigrants, the sociologist Edward A. Ross of the University of Wisconsin — later the national chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union — declared, they “are immune to certain kinds of dirt. They can stand what would kill a white man.” The president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology said newcomers from eastern and southern Europe were “vast masses of filth” who were “living like swine.”

Racial classifications were so confusing. Italians were Asiatic?

The Washington Post editorialized that 90 percent of Italians coming to the United States were “the degenerate spawn” of “Asiatic hordes.” A Boston philanthropist, Joseph Lee, his city’s leading supporter of progressive causes, explained to friends why he became the single largest financial backer of the anti-immigrant campaign: His concern, he wrote, was that without a restriction law, Europe would be “drained of Jews — to its benefit no doubt but not to ours.”

Cold Spring Harbor has a deep history of aiding and abetting racism — removing that stain was one of the reasons James Watson got the boot there, although that doesn’t explain why they hired him in the first place.

The “biological” justifications for this nativism were first developed in Cold Spring Harbor, on Long Island, in laboratories financed by the widow of the railroad baron E.H. Harriman. (One of her goals, Mary Harriman said, was preventing “the decay of the American race.”) The laboratory’s head, the zoologist Charles B. Davenport, took the ideas of the British gentleman scientist Francis Galton — who had coined the word “eugenics” in 1883 — welded them to a gross misunderstanding of the genetic discoveries of Gregor Mendel, and concluded that the makeup of the nation’s population could be improved by the careful control of human breeding. One of the first steps, he believed, was to impose new controls on open immigration.

I read “The Passing of the Great Race” a few decades ago, and recall it as awful pseudoscience of the sort that might fit in at the Daily Stormer nowadays. I should re-read it, I suppose, but the memory is painful and infuriating.

At first, Davenport wished to bar the immigration only of people afflicted by specific disorders — epileptics, the “feebleminded” and others of similarly troublesome (to Davenport) disability. But soon he was caught up in a racialist whirlwind initiated by “The Passing of the Great Race,” a book by Madison Grant, the founder of the Bronx Zoo and the era’s most prominent conservationist. A bilious stew of dubious history, bogus anthropology and completely unfounded genetic theory, Grant’s work persuaded Davenport and others that the American bloodstream was threatened not by suspect individuals, but by entire ethnic groups.

Never forget how entrenched anti-semitism was and is.

Grant was not an actual scientist. But Henry Fairfield Osborn, a world-famous paleontologist and his closest friend, definitely was. Osborn, who once expressed his opposition to the extension of the Westchester Parkway near his country estate because it would bring thousands of “East Side Jews” to the area, presided over the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years, and made that institution the beating heart of the combined eugenics and anti-immigration movement. “I am convinced,” said Osborn, that the “spiritual, physical, moral and intellectual structure” of individuals is “based on racial characteristics.” It wasn’t a matter of ethnic bias, he said — it was “cold-blooded” science.

Good news for me — I’m one of those Nordics. That means I get to sneer at everyone with ancestry from a more southern country. That’s what this is all about, right, ranking people in arbitrary hierarchies so you always have someone lesser to spit on?

“Whether we like to admit it or not,” Grant wrote, “the result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting” to the “lower type.” Lower than Nordics were the questionable “Alpines.” Lower than the “Alpines” were the woeful “Mediterraneans.” And, he concluded, “the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.”

We’ve still got people today babbling about IQ tests. Thanks, scientists!

Other scholars rallied to the cause. Robert M. Yerkes — his name immortalized today at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta — conducted a severely flawed series of tests of American servicemen purporting to establish the intellectual inferiority of eastern and southern Europeans. Charles W. Gould, a lawyer in New York, sponsored “A Study of American Intelligence,” by Carl C. Brigham, a young Princeton psychologist (and later the inventor of the SAT). Brigham’s conclusion: “There can be no doubt that recent history has shown a movement of inferior peoples or inferior representatives of peoples to this country.”

It’s good to be reminded now and then that all the pseudo-scientific respectability given racist science today was granted by bigoted assholes with science degrees yesterday.

Vanderbilt is working hard to destroy its reputation

I think I like this person, although I don’t think we’ve ever met.

BethAnn McLaughlin has no time for James Watson, especially not when the 90-year-old geneticist is peering out from a photo on the wall of her guest room at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Banbury Center.

“I don’t need him staring at me when I’m trying to go to sleep,” McLaughlin told a December 2018 gathering at the storied New York meeting center as she projected a photo of her redecorating job: She had hung a washcloth over the image of Watson, who co-discovered DNA’s structure, directed the lab for decades—and is well-known for racist and sexist statements.

The washcloth image was part of McLaughlin’s unconventional presentation—by turns sobering, hilarious, passionate, and profane—to two dozen experts who had gathered to wrestle with how to end gender discrimination in the biosciences. McLaughlin, a 51-year-old neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, displayed the names of current members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) who have been sanctioned for sexual harassment. She urged other NAS members—several of whom sat in the room—to resign in protest, “as one does.” She chided institutions for passing along “harassholes” to other universities. “The only other places that do this are the Catholic Church and the military,” she said.

In the past 9 months, McLaughlin has exploded into view as the public face of the #MeToo movement in science, wielding her irreverent, sometimes wickedly funny Twitter presence, @McLNeuro, as part cudgel, part cheerleader’s megaphone. In June 2018, she created a website, MeTooSTEM.com, where scores of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have posted mostly anonymous, often harrowing tales of their own harassment. In just 2 days that month, she convinced the widely used website RateMyProfessors.com to remove its “red hot chili pepper” rating for “hotness.” And after launching an online petition, she succeeded last fall in spurring AAAS, which publishes Science, to adopt a policy allowing proven sexual harassers to be stripped of AAAS honors.

It turns out, though, that being a vigorous voice for equality has a cost. You make enemies.

Indeed, McLaughlin has made bitter enemies: Last fall, she says, she was anonymously FedExed a box of feces. And her scientific career is now on the line. Her tenure process was frozen for 17 months starting in 2015 while VUMC investigated allegations that she had posted anonymous, derogatory tweets about colleagues. The probe was spurred by complaints from a professor whom she had testified against in a sexual harassment investigation. VUMC closed the probe without disciplining McLaughlin, but in 2017 a faculty committee, having previously approved her tenure, unanimously reversed itself, according to university documents. Absent a last-minute reprieve, she will lose her job on 28 February, when her National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant expires.

She had the support of her peers, which ought to be the final say in a tenure decision, but that was overruled by the administration, and I can guess what happened: an influential and moneyed person in the department got the ear of someone higher up, and poisoned the process. That’s not supposed to happen, but it does happen. Here’s the event that seems to have imperiled her career:

But the university halted her tenure process in December 2015, in the wake of allegations that arose during the investigation of a colleague. In early July 2014, former graduate student Erin Watt sued her former Ph.D. supervisor, neuroscientist Aurelio Galli, who was then at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. Watt alleged in the lawsuit that Galli had sexually harassed and belittled her, leading her to quit the Ph.D. program.

In late July of that year, McLaughlin, her then-husband (a Vanderbilt neuroscientist at the time, who collaborated with Galli), and a visiting McLaughlin friend and collaborator, Dana Miller of the University of Washington in Seattle, were invited to dinner at Galli’s home. Miller and McLaughlin later recalled that while preparing dinner, Galli threatened to “destroy” Watt. Miller recalled him calling Watt “a crazy bitch” and vowing to “spend every last dime” to ruin her. The women say Galli showed them a handgun and noted that he had a permit to carry it. Miller, a lesbian, also told investigators that Galli made inappropriate comments about her sexuality.

Galli, now at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, declined to comment on the dinner party. But he told Science: “I have never done anything to any student or any faculty in terms of harassment or retaliation.” He provided an email that McLaughlin sent him the day after the party: “Dinner was fantastic. … Thank you,” she wrote with a smiley face.

In December 2014, a judge dismissed Watt’s lawsuit against Galli and he was immediately promoted. (Watt settled with Vanderbilt University, which she had also sued.) Miller says she was alarmed by Galli’s promotion, and in January 2015 reported the alleged events of the July 2014 dinner to a Vanderbilt administrator. McLaughlin testified in the ensuing investigation, backing up Miller’s account. In August 2015, investigators determined that the evidence they had obtained could not support a finding of harassment, according to a letter to Miller from Vanderbilt’s Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department (EAD).

Whoa. So much awful in that one story. A student, Erin Watt, abandons a career in science because her advisor was a jerk. Nothing happens to the jerk advisor except that he gets promoted, and uses his advancement to make a lateral move to another university. We have two eyewitness testimonials to horrible behavior by said jerk. The jerk then illogically tries to dismiss the accounts by waving around a thank-you note, as if it is impossible for an asshole to serve a good meal. And now various poisonous persons are using the fact that she reported the jerk’s ugly behavior to get her fired.

This does not speak well of the environment at Vanderbilt, which is a shame — I gave a job talk there decades ago and was impressed with the program, and it was high on my list of desirable positions.

I’ve also seen these tenure battles from a couple of perspectives now, and I can say that they’re always ugly and they never end well — even if you win, you lose. McLaughlin deserves to win, but she’s probably better off finding a new home, one that hasn’t been trampled over by the “harassholes”, where her talents will be appreciated. On the other hand, there is virtue in crushing your enemies. What a difficult situation!

The exception proves the rule, right?

A black scientist writes about James Watson, and it’s insightful. C. Brandon Ogbunu is a computational biologist, so he understands both DNA and statistics, and is in a good position to recognize abuses of both.

Black exceptionalism is a popular and complicated idea. It asserts that a monolithic “average” black identity exists, and that by transcending this average, one is exceptional. While the idea isn’t welded to black achievement, it is related. Successful members of the black community who somehow avoided the regression to the (black) mean are presented as paragons, exceptional ones of their kind. There are backhanded compliments, and then there is black exceptionalism—a racist idea lightly dressed in a pat-on-the-back.

Some of us, in a naïve or perfunctory manner, wear black exceptionalism as a badge of honor, even under the guise of progress: “I will show them what we are capable of.” Good intentions be damned, because to adopt this stance is to walk directly into a pernicious trap. The most effective racist ideas rarely deny the existence of exceptional members of the out-group to which undesirable features are attributed.

On the contrary, the most destructive ideas embrace high-performing members for statistical cover. In order to argue that the mean performance of an out-group is lower for a desirable trait, there should be some high performers. High-performing black people are essential for racism like James Watson’s, and even he might predict a statistical and genetic exceptional negro, because they can’t all be incompetent.

The problem with this argument isn’t only that it avoids critical discussions about the possible sources of group differences, but also that it uses the notion of the exceptional individual to justify racist ideas towards others in the out-group. In general, armchair appeals to statistics often conceal negative feelings that people already have, attitudes forged in the fires of fear and bias, not science.

I’ve seen that routine so often. “I know a Negro with a Ph.D. — in science — therefore I’m not racist.” “I admit that Jews are often academically gifted, therefore I don’t have a bias against them, I just know they’re evil.” “If my statistics don’t convince you that black people are less intelligent, how come they also show that Asians are better at math than white people?” It’s the contrast that is supposed to convince us that they are objectively evaluating real data.

“Intelligence” is an undefinable and complex parameter that changes depending on how you measure it. The only reasonable response to claims that one has characterized the “intelligence” of a large group of people and has some sweeping interpretations is to realize that they are simply expressing their unfounded biases in a pseudoscientific tone, and dismiss them.

I hope I live to be 90 before all of my sins catch up to me

James Watson, 90, has had all of his honors from Cold Spring Harbor revoked. It turns out that documentary on PBS had quite an impact.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions Dr. James D. Watson expressed on the subject of ethnicity and genetics during the PBS documentary “American Masters: Decoding Watson” that aired January 2, 2019. Dr. Watson’s statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice.

When Dr. Watson expressed offensive views in 2007, CSHL’s Board of Trustees took immediate action to relieve him of all administrative duties at the Laboratory and terminated his status as Chancellor. Dr. Watson has not been involved in the leadership or management of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for more than a decade and he has no further roles or responsibilities at CSHL. In response to his most recent statements, which effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr. Watson made in 2007, the Laboratory has taken additional steps, including revoking his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and Honorary Trustee.

Lucky Jim’s luck has run out at last.

Those stupid Irish and their inferior brains

I don’t know whether this article from 1971 is aggravating or hilarious. Hans Eysenck, one of those IQ guys, tried to argue that the Irish were less brainy than the English. (I’m immediately disavowing my sliver of Irish ancestry).

His source of information is Arthur Jensen, and he makes absurd claims like, Might not American Negroes be genetically inferior because their forebears were too stupid to escape from the slave raiders? and that ghetto inhabitants may have “selected” their own environment as a consequence of genetically determined low intelligence.

I’m going to have to point out that James Watson proudly claimed Scots/Irish ancestry.

‘Watson Decoded’ didn’t do much decoding

That PBS documentary on James Watson wasn’t half bad, if you are able to abide a deep dive into the life of a man with almost Trumpian levels of self-delusion (but unlike Trump, with an actual germ of intelligence). The theme of the show, I would say, is that Watson is a man who says what he thinks, so they just let him speak.

So what does James Watson think?

He’s a scientific genius. Rosalind Franklin was an incompetent. DNA is a more important idea in biology than evolution. He’s smarter than Darwin. You are determined by your genes. No one has ever shown any evidence that environment plays a more significant role than genetics. Black people are less intelligent than white people. He regrets having to say that, but you have to speak the truth. He has black friends. He liked to surround himself with pretty girls in the lab. The stuff he said about how everyone knows black employees are inferior was said in a private conversation, and how dare that reporter publish it. His loyal wife argues that he’s not really a racist, because racists say mean things with the intent to make others miserable. Watson’s ego is immense.

I also learned a few things I didn’t know before.

His wife was an 18 year old undergraduate 20 years his junior, working in his office, when he started courting her (this would be considered a serious ethical problem now, but as we are reminded several times, the old boy network was strong.) I’ve met his wife, she was very nice, but seemed a bit frazzled by her efforts to moderate Watson’s comments when they veered off into apologetics for eugenics, as they seemed to do. He has a son with serious mental health issues and a history of behavioral problems…and Watson cared for and loved him very much, which was the one redeeming feature I took away from the show. He also has a lot of former students and colleagues who practically idolize him, but even they think he’s wrong in his genetics mania.

The way it portrayed Maurice Wilkins made him out to be a petty, spiteful little shit. How did Watson and Crick get Franklin’s crucial data? Because Wilkins was resentful of this woman working in his division, and just handed it over. Her data, not his. I guess you can get a Nobel prize for backstabbing.

There were some omissions. The program didn’t say much about his sexism — it shied away from giving any details of the objectionable lectures he was giving that led to his downfall. I would have used more quotes from The Double Helix. Those were his own words, he’s clearly proud of the book, but the way he demeaned Rosalind Franklin was blatant and deplorable. There’s a bit of that, but I would guess they were minimized because the details would have made the show too much of a hatchet job.

‘Watson Decoded’ was good journalism, just presenting the facts and letting Watson hang himself with his own words, but I worry about how some people will twist the facts. Here’s a SUPER-GENIUS who thinks BLACK GENES ARE INFERIOR, and rather than recognizing that he’s a flawed person with deep biases, as the program demonstrates, they’ll see it as a validation of racist ideas. But then, you can’t do much about people with willful, hateful prejudices, and they could have just put up a big black screen with blinking letters saying “HE’S WRONG” (as Nancy Hopkins plainly says), and those people would just ignore it anyway.

Geneticists have the right answer. Now they just need to work harder to disseminate it.

In the past, I’ve been the recipient of floods of angry messages from racists who claim that their beliefs are “scientific”, that by rejecting their defense of “white genocide” I am denying Darwin, that evolution says that white people are distinct and special. I’ve had Jim Watson personally try to convince me that his racism was rational.

They’re all full of shit.

Now, as reported by the NY Times, the American Society of Human Genetics has denounced their ideas. Of course, being the NY Times means that the sensible text is surrounded by alt-right racist memes — lots of them, all blinking and flashing, loaded with false claims about genetics. I almost closed the window to the article because at a glance it looks like it’s promoting pseudo-scientific racism.

Here’s ASHG’s official position:

  • Genetics demonstrates that humans cannot be divided into biologically distinct subcategories. Although there are clear observable correlations between variation in the human genome and how individuals identify by race, the study of human genetics challenges the traditional concept of different races of humans as biologically separate and distinct. This is validated by many decades of research, including recent examples.
  • Most human genetic variation is distributed as a gradient, so distinct boundaries between population groups cannot be accurately assigned. There is considerable genetic overlap among members of different populations. Such patterns of genome variation are explained by patterns of migration and mixing of different populations throughout human history. In this way, genetics exposes the concept of ‘‘racial purity’’ as scientifically meaningless.
  • It follows that there can be no genetics-based support for claiming one group as superior to another. Although a person’s genetics influences their phenotypic characteristics, and self-identified race might be influenced by physical appearance, race itself is a social construct. Any attempt to use genetics to rank populations demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics.
  • The past decade has seen the emergence of strategies for assessing an individual’s genetic ancestry. Such analyses are providing increasingly accurate ways of helping to define individuals’ ancestral origins and enabling new ways to explore and discuss ancestries that move us beyond blunt definitions of self-identified race.

Or you can read this summary at BigThink.

The society, which is the largest professional organization of scientists who work in human genetics, has about 8,000 members. Its statement calls the ideas of white supremacists about genetics “bogus,” “discredited” and “distorted”. The ASHG also makes a clear point that as far as the scientists are concerned, the age-old concept of race is wrong and humans cannot be split into subcategories that would be biologically different from each other.
The reason there is no race purity is due to the genetic intermixing of populations that results from constant migrations which have taken place all throughout human history. The constant movement of people resulted in very blurry genetic lines between groups.

And if you’re wondering whether this is something controversial in the scientific community, the statement goes on to say that the fact that there are no completely separate races is supported by decades of research, including six recent studies like the 2017 paper from the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, directly titled “Human ancestry correlates with language and reveals that race is not an objective genomic classifier”.

It’s a good statement, but ASHG has more work to do — you can’t just plop out a position statement in a journal only geneticists read, and then expect the general public to regard it as authoritative. You need to work at it. Just ask <a href=http://mathbionerd.blogspot.com/”>Melissa Wilson Sayres, who had a few criticisms for ASHG.

Read the whole thread. This is a common phenomenon: scientists who work in these fields know the racists are full of crap, see no point in discussing the crappiness with other scientists who also know they’re full of crap, and think that publishing a statement that “They’re full of crap, full stop” in a journal is sufficient. It isn’t. Evolutionary biologists also don’t talk about creationists at evolution meetings, and geologists don’t talk about flat earthers at geology meetings, except maybe to laugh at them over a beer at the bar after the daily sessions. And the people who do try hard to bring these issues to public attention are sneered at as popularizers who aren’t doing the real work. Meanwhile, racists and creationists and climate change deniers are climbing the civil service ladder and getting elected to high office, and making decisions about science funding.

But at least the meetings remain pure and unsullied by nonsense.

Which means that the scientists are cheerfully unaware of how their sloppy public speaking on the issues gets appropriated by ideologues. The shorthand of science is easily abused, technical terms get colloquialized in invalid ways (see the word “theory” for an example), and sometimes scientists let their biases lead them down unsavory paths (see James Watson) and get treated as respected fonts of wisdom rather than cranky outliers. We also see that the media cannot address what scientists take for granted without giving lots of press to the ignorant, anti-scientific ideas of bigots and fools in the name of ‘balance’ or ‘teaching the controversy’ — it doesn’t matter that there is no controversy, they’ll invent one.

Geneticists are walking through a minefield. They ought to learn about the dangers rather than just taking a blithe, heedless stroll.

The poster child for the invulnerability of white men

It’s James Watson. He’s got a Nobel prize, which means he gets to lecture incompetently about black people and women, write a bestseller full of sexist garbage about Rosalind Franklin, and basically push all the boundaries in a regressive direction, and what happens? He gets publicly shamed one week, but the next week everyone invites him back to praise him. It’s kind of amazing. You would think some of this stuff would stick, but no. He was just recently lauded in a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor.

No, really, look at all the white people joining him on stage and applauding! I guess he did contribute to a global community, of sorts, mainly by driving a lot of people away.

You will be pleased to know that the circle of life continues unending, because after that bit of public shaming, Eric Lander has apologized, predictably. I further predict, though, that we only have to wait a few weeks, possibly a few months, and there will be another event at which Watson will be fulsomely praised by a group of oblivious white guys, to begin the cycle anew.

Maybe it’ll be his funeral, who knows? I’m pretty sure that event will not be the quiet, dignified interment attended by a few loving and bereaved family members, but an opportunity yet again for distinguished white men to ignore all the careers he’s stunted, institutions he’s poisoned, and racist garbage he’s peddled with the authority of his Nobel. I am not looking forward to that at all, and rather hope he lives forever with his reputation.