Science

DNA pioneer apologizes, says comments on race misinterpreted

Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson apologized on Thursday for comments he made to a London newspaper on the intelligence levels of Europeans and Africans.

Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson apologized on Thursday for comments he made to a London newspaper on the intelligence levels of Europeans and Africans.

Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for co-discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, drew widespread outrage when he told the Sunday Times that Africans and Europeans did not share the same brainpower.

On Thursday, Watson apologized at the Royal Society in London, according to the Times of London, saying "to all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly.

"That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief," he said.

The Sunday Times quoted the 79-year-old geneticist as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all of our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really."

He also told the paper that while he hoped all people were equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

On Wednesday, London's Science Museum cancelled a lecture Watson was scheduled to deliver, and London Mayor Ken Livingstone issued a statement, calling Watson's statements "racist propaganda masquerading as scientific fact."

Watson was suspended Thursday from his duties as chancellor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

Laboratory president Bruce Stillman and its board of trustees issued a statement, saying Watson's statements were his own and did not reflect the views of the academic institution.

"The board of trustees, administration and faculty vehemently disagree with these statements and are bewildered and saddened if he indeed made such comments.Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory does not engage in any research that could even form the basis of the statements attributed to Dr. Watson," they said.

Watson shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for the discovery of the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, which carries the geneticcode fornearly alllife forms, save for some viruses.

With files from the Associated Press

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