Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Well, even intellectuals can be quite stupid in what they say and believe

Nobel winner in 'racist' claim row

James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for his part in discovering the double helix of DNA, has caused a furor by saying that blacks were not as intelligent as whites. The museum where he was due to give a lecture has cancelled it. I agree with David Lammy, Britain's Skills Minister, who said
It is a shame that a man with a record of scientific distinction should see his work overshadowed by his own irrational prejudices.

Even if somehow studies show a difference in intelligence amongst races, I don't see how their results can be trusted, because as far as I know, it's nigh on impossible to design an unbiased intelligence test that doesn't favour some groups over others (and it doesn't just have to be a racial bias--it can be between metropolitan and rural people, for example, or regional differences). Perhaps you could by relying on pure math problems, but even then, once you add a verbal component, you can get a bias.

Anyway, it was a stupid thing to say. Dr Watson did apologise, saying that he really does not believe that and that scientific evidence does not support a racial bias in intelligence. He did not, however, claim he was misquoted, only that he did not understand how he could have said the things he was quoted as saying.

Lots of people say things that they shouldn't in the media. I guess if I were Dr Watson I'd be doing some soul searching on my beliefs--even the ones I might not have been conscious of.

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