Watson suspended from his job
Up to this point, the hysteria against James Watson for telling a British newspaper that blacks are on average less intelligent than whites had seemed to be exclusively a British phenomenon. But yesterday, the board of trustees of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, of which Watson since 1968 has been the director, then president, and now chancellor, suspended him from his administrative responsibilities. And they did it notwithstanding the retraction and apology he issued a couple of days ago.
This is much worse than the canceling of Watson’s speech by the Science Museum in London. This is Watson’s own organization, the organization he leads, suspending him from his job for expressing an opinion—a scientifically true opinion—on racial differences in IQ, and it did so with extraordinary dispatch, only a few days after he made the objectionable statement. Think of it. You’re one of the most famous scientists in the world, you occupy a position of respect and authority in the scientific establishment, then you say in an interview that blacks are less intelligent than whites, and boom, you’re out of your job. Off-hand, I can’t think of a politically correct incident to equal it.
Except for the firing of Lawrence Summers as president of Harvard for having ventured the possibility that women are less talented at the top levels of science than men. And let us note a further parallel between Summers and Watson. Summers also apologized, and made Herculean efforts to appease his critics, but it did him no good, he was fired anyway.
I’m reminded of an exchange I had with Charles Murray at a conference organized by Richard Lynn in 1996. Murray thought that The Bell Curve had broken through the walls of liberal suppression and made it possible to discuss racial differences in intelligence. I disagreed and said that as a result of the book and the reaction to the book, PC had gotten worse than ever. I also partly blamed Murray for this, because when he was in the limelight and had the whole world’s ear, he didn’t take that unique opportunity to drive the point home and persuade people of the reality and significance of the racial IQ difference, thus forever transforming the issue. Instead, as I had argued in an earlier letter to Murray, in his public appearances he had cautiously bounced off the surface of the problem and even seemed to cancel out his own arguments in the process of making them. In any case, I think events have proven me correct that the net effect of The Bell Curve has not been to open up the subject of race and IQ in society at large, though in some sectors of the right the existence of racial differences in intelligence is now taken for granted..
By the way, if I were the type given to conspiracy theories, I would say that Watson was an agent provocateur for the left. It was all planned out. Just before going to England he makes a statement to the Times of London that blacks are less intelligent. This sets off a wave of shock and condemnation in Britain. Then Watson, instead of DEFENDING his statements, apologizes and says he’s “mortified” for what he said. And then, notwithstanding his apology, he’s suspended from his job in the U.S. The net effect is to reinforce the leftist orthodoxy on race: don’t go anywhere near the idea of racial differences in intellectual abilities; if you touch it, you’re dead.
Watson is a life-long Democrat, which makes my theory more likely.
Jeremy G. writes:
Watson has clearly complicated his position with his unnecessary and largely useless apology. He was interviewed again by The Telegraph, and appears to be trying to defend his views on genetic differences by using race-neutral language. So long as he doesn’t explicitly retract his statements that intelligence and capability (he even mentions criminality in the new interview) may have a genetic basis or may differ between the races, then his “coming out” will still have been productive.Daniel H. wrote earlier this morning:
I too have no sympathy or pity for the man. His craven “apology” yesterday took away my respect for his integrity.Bob Vandervoort writes:
I was reading the popular RedState blog the other day, and was surprised to see them post a comment about Dr. James Waston and his remarks about the African IQ, here and here.Laurium writes:
Cold Spring Harbor was one of the national centers of the eugenics movement decades ago. It is still trying to shed its never-to-be-forgotten reputation. One does wonder why on earth they kept the same name when they could merely change it and say “Cold Spring Harbor was another laboratory that used these facilities before we took over.”A reader writes:
I have to say there are few things more chilling to me than reading—as often happens these days—some public figure denouncing his own words, saying, “I do not recognize these thoughts as my own, I am shocked to read them, I am stunned that such impurities could have come from me. Please allow me enough time and forbearance to make my mind clean.” Even though Huxley got more of the concrete details right, Orwell really nailed the psychology of modern totalitarianism.LA replies:
That’s exactly the way some French intellectual—Alain Finkielkraut is his name I believe—reacted last year when he made some frank statements about Islam, was attacked and threatened, then went on a radio show saying in utter abject humiliation he did not recognize himself as the person who had made those statements. At that moment he cancelled himself out as an intellect. I think at the time I even compared him to Winston Smith at the end of 1984.LA continues:
Here are my entries on Finkielkraut from last year:Jeremy G. writes:
We now have two recent examples, in Watson and Summers, of highly respected individuals who briefly challenged liberal orthodoxy and were immediately crushed. It seems that a belief in the truth of racial differences is not enough to withstand the enormous pressures from the left if the mainstream person is not also willing to sacrifice immensely for this truth, and none of them are. This is yet more evidence that real opposition to the left will only come from new institutions that are immune to leftist hysteria, like your website, VDARE, amren, and even numbersUSA, and there are many other websites and personalities that are proliferating throughout the internet.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 19, 2007 09:25 AM | Send