James D. Watson—A Modern Galileo

It`s

often said
that academic politics is so nasty

because the stakes are so low.

Yet, as demonstrated once again by
the vast uproar aimed at silencing legendary

Nobel laureate
 and co-discoverer of the

double helix structure of DNA
James D. Watson for
daring to mention

racial differences in average IQ
:

When it comes to genetics and
intelligence,

academic politics
is so vicious because the
stakes are so extraordinarily high
.

Last year, then-Harvard President
Larry Summers was fired from his job presiding over an
endowment now worth

$34.9 billion
largely for pointing out that evil
patriarchal discrimination isn`t the only reason women

don`t achieve as much
as men do at the very highest
levels of

math
,

science
, and

engineering
. Instead, the greater

male variance in IQ
simply means there

are more male geniuses.
(And

morons
, but there aren`t many morons at

Harvard
, except

morally
).

Now,
Watson, perhaps the second-most famous living scientist
after

Stephen Hawking
, has been suspended by Long Island`s

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
for what can only be
called, to adopt the

prescient totalitarian
terminology of Orwell`s
1984
,

crimethink
.

Watson was in Britain to promote
his frank new memoir, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science.
It is something
of a sequel to his 1968 bestseller The Double Helix,


 which was
named the

7th best
nonfiction book of the 20th Century in
1999.
The Double Helix wasn`t quite
that
good, but it was still a revealing portrait of
just how political and competitive science can be.

Last week, Watson told the

Sunday Times
of London 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.`"
[The
elementary DNA of Dr Watson
, By
Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe,
October 14, 2007]

He instantly had his sold-out
lecture at the Science Museum in London canceled. A
spokesdroid for the museum

explained
:

"We
feel Dr. Watson has gone beyond the point of acceptable
debate and we are, as a result, cancelling his talk."

Lecture venues in Birmingham and
Edinburgh also canceled his talks. An "anti-racism"
group in Britain
called for
a

criminal investigation
of the American visitor under
Britain`s

notoriously repressive
"hate" laws.
(Americans, beware—a

"hate" bill

has just been sneaked through Congress). Watson
called off his book tour of Britain and returned to the
U.S.

Apparently, many of the Powers That
Be actually want you to be bored.

Over the last few days, Watson has
been denounced around the world for … well, for saying
aloud what most

well informed
people more or less assume is true
about

Africa
.

People don`t hate you for being
wrong. (At worst, they just ignore you; at best, as with
the late

Stephen Jay Gould,
they worship you and

pay you millions
.) People hate you for saying

what they fear is the truth.

Watson probably wasn`t terribly
surprised by the paroxysm of political correctness that
has engulfed Britain. But he must have been shocked to
be immediately

suspended
by his own ungrateful, cowardly
Board of Trustees
[email
them
] at the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor
Laboratory, which he has led for 39 years, first as
director, then president, then chancellor, and which he
built up into one of the world`s leading molecular
biology research institutes. (In fact, the Ph.D. program
at that Long Island institution is known as the

Watson School of Biological Sciences
!)

This is even more disgraceful than
Harvard firing Larry Summers.  The former Carter
Administration Treasury Secretary is a brilliant but
bumptious nerd who was always a curious choice to head
such a well-established

brand name
as Harvard.

In contrast, Watson is Cold
Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Nicholas Wade
wrote in the

New York Times
in 1998:

"The
laboratory … was slipping into decay when Dr. Watson
became its director in 1968. He proved a skillful
fund-raiser, adept at winning support from the local
community as well as Federal sources. He hired many
biologists of distinction … If the world`s molecular
biologists acknowledge any particular home, it is the
little hillside village that Dr. Watson has so carefully
rebuilt."
[Scientist
at Work: James D. Watson; Impresario of the Genome Looks
Back With Candor
, April 7, 1998]

The outpouring of snide articles
about how we should ignore Watson`s views because he`s a
"loose cannon" is just wrong. Watson is not some
lone eccentric. Although his place in the history books
as a discoverer alongside

Darwin
and

Mendel
is secure, he also is a central leader in the

life sciences in the 21st Century.

Watson`s an unusual combination:
both an acerbic personality frequently surrounded by
drama and an impressive institution builder—a
little like

George Steinbrenner,
the owner of the New York
Yankees. Indeed, Watson`s new autobiography is organized
as a self-help book for leaders of

scientific institutions,
complete with 108
"Remembered Lessons,"
such as "Manage your
scientists like a baseball team"
—in other words,
scout for young talent and release most researchers by
the time they hit 40 because they are then over the hill
as discoverers. Thus, at that age, Watson took on the
leadership of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

So suspending Watson from
participation in the great achievement of the second
half of his life was an especially cruel degradation of
such a social man.

This may help explain why Watson
wasn`t quite as explicitly courageous last week as he
probably assumed he would be when he wrote this in his
new book about the similar ritual denunciation of
Summers in 2005:

"If I
were still a member of the faculty [
of Harvard],
the number of tenured scientists

standing visibly behind the president
in this matter
would have literally doubled."

When Watson`s own feet were held to
the fire last week, however, he offered a

semi-apology/semi-defense
. This has been almost
universally assumed to be a "complete retraction"—to
quote a representatively obtuse article,

The Mortification of James Watson
. [Time
Magazine, By
Laura Blue, October 19, 2007]

But it`s not. As the headline of
Watson`s response on Friday, October 19 in the UK
Independent
shows—"To
question genetic intelligence is not racism
"
—his
actual stance is closer to Galileo`s, who is

said
to have muttered E pur si muove ("and
yet it does move"
) after the Inquisition forced him
to recant in public his heretical belief that the earth
went around the sun.

Watson wrote on Friday:

"This
is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it
is about seeking to understand differences, about why
some of us are great musicians and others great
engineers."

Watson didn`t specify who the

great musicians
tend to be—as opposed to the great
engineers. But you can fill in the blanks.

It`s important to understand that
this was no mere obiter dicta off the top of
Watson`s 79-year-old head"inflammatory
comments apparently based on only minimal knowledge of
the science involved"
, to quote a representatively
dogmatic (wishful?)

claim
by Huffington Post blogger Dan Agin
.
The truth is that Watson has a

schizophrenic son
, which has resulted in his
studying the links between DNA and brain function for
decades.

Moreover, the climactic last pages
of Watson`s new memoir are

devoted to precisely this topic
for which he is now
being bullied: the struggle between Political
Correctness and the scientific quest to understand the
genetic roots of IQ differences.

The epilogue of Watson`s new book
is devoted to the

Larry Summers Show Trial
and its aftermath. Watson
writes:

"To my
regret,

Summers
, instead of standing firm, within a week
apologized publicly three times for being candid about
what might well be a fact of evolution that academia
will have to live with. Except for the psychologist

Steve Pinker
, no prominent Harvard scientist voiced
a word in Summers`s defense; I suspect the majority were
fearful of being tarred with the brush of political
incorrectness."

The end of Avoid Boring People
centers upon an April 2006 meeting between Watson and
the post-Larry Summers interim president of Harvard,
Derek Bok, who had also been president when Watson was a
professor there in the 1970s.

Watson writes:

"Before
leaving Derek`s temporary office I remarked that the
time was surely not far off when academia would have no
choice but to hand political correctness back to the
politicians. Since 1978, when a

pail of water
had been dumped over [
Harvard
sociobiologist]

E.O. Wilson
for saying that genes influence the
behavior of humans as well as of other animals, the
assault against behavioral science by wishful thinking
has remained vigorous."

Watson, the

first head
of the

Human Genome Project
, who was honored in May by
having his entire

genome
sequenced and published online, then notes
something that I`ve been pointing out here on VDARE.com

for some time
: The

countdown
has already begun to the final
understanding of the genetic underpinnings of IQ
differences
. He says:

"In
showing that human genes do matter, behavioral
biologists will no longer be limited to comparisons of

fraternal and identical twins
. Soon the cost of
sequencing the A`s, T`s, G`s, and C`s of individual DNA
molecules will drop to a thousandth of what it has been,
thereby transposing our studies of behavioral
differences to the much more revealing molecular level."

Which means—

"The
relative extents to which genetic factors determine
human intellectual abilities will also soon become much
better known."

As the countdown proceeds, the
hysteria will only mount on the part of those who want
to cover up the findings.

In his book`s penultimate
paragraph, Watson raises

The Forbidden Subject
:

"A
priori
, 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."

Watson then foresees the

gibberish
and

lies
that he has had to endure over the last week:

"Rather
than face up to facts that will likely change the way we
look at ourselves, many persons of goodwill may see only
harm in our looking too closely at individual genetic
essences."

(Here, Watson, a famously ornery
son-of-a-gun, shows some unexpected—and, sadly,
undeserved—graciousness in referring to his future
demonizers as "persons of goodwill".)

Watson ends his autobiography with
a brief but telling exchange with then-acting Harvard
president Bok:

"So I
was not surprised when Derek asked apprehensively how
many years would pass before the key genes affecting
differences in human intelligence would be found. My
back-of-the-envelope answer of `fifteen years` meant
Summers`s then-undetermined

successor
would not necessarily need to handle this
very hot potato.

Upon
returning to the

Yard
, however, I was not sure that even ten years
would pass."

The 77-year-old

Derek Bok
, the son-in-law of famed Swedish socialist
economist

Gunnar Myrdal,
is the co-author of a popular book
defending affirmative action a.k.a. quotas in college
admissions,

The Shape of the River
. So he had a particular
reason to hope the dread date would fall well out into
his dotage—when nobody would ask him embarrassing
questions about why he
institutionalized
punitive discrimination against,

notably, white males
.

My conclusion: As we see in this
global slander of a great scientist, the conventional
wisdom among the elites is that, if it turns out that
some fraction of the race and sex gaps in IQ are
genetic, then our civilization simply cannot survive:
Who knows what those yahoo American voters would do if
they even suspected the truth? They`d probably dig up
Hitler`s DNA, clone it, and elect Adolf 2.0 President of
the United States!

Thus, any academic like Watson or
Summers who violates the

omerta
, the code of silence, must be publicly
humiliated to

encourage the others
—as

Voltaire
famously quipped. Global security
depends upon our relentless lying!

So let`s step back, take a breath,
and think about this calmly.

The fundamental fact: the final
word on the race-genes-IQ linkage is likely to come in
the next decade or two simply as a byproduct of crucial
medical research.

Personally, I`ve never been
wholly
convinced that the racial gaps in IQ have a
genetic component (there`s always the

Flynn Effect
to

complicate
matters). But I`d definitely offer five
to one odds that at least half of the one standard
deviation (15 point) black-white gap will turn out to be
hereditary. I`d probably go as high as offering ten to
one, but not, at present, to one hundred to one.

Still, the data is pouring in,
especially from the

HapMap
project comparing Europeans, West Africans,
and Northeast Asians. So it`s only a matter of time
before we have a clear picture.

By 2017-2027, it`s probable that
the worst nightmare of the conventional wisdom will have
come true. The human race will know the horrible,
horrible truth …


Q. What will the world then
look like?


A. An awful lot like the
world we live in now.

Do you think that Derek Bok, if
he`s still around, will suddenly turn against

affirmative action a.k.a. quotas?
Of course not. As
Watson reveals in his book, Bok basically knows the
score already.

You`d have to be as naïve as Larry
Summers to imagine that political attitudes are affected
by scientific studies—rather than by self-interest and
status-seeking.

Historical footnote: Pope Benedict
XIV formally rehabilitated Galileo in 1741, a hundred
years after his death.


[Steve Sailer (
email
him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

for

The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog.]