James Watson

On January 11th 2019, Nobel laureate and discoverer of the double-helix DNA structure James Watson was stripped of all his academic titles. This reprisal was undertaken by his former colleagues at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory and came as a reaction to his latest remarks on the possible genetic connection between race and IQ. Dr. Watson’s opinions came to light again in a recent PBS documentary entitled American Masters: Decoding Watson. In the documentary he is asked whether his views about the relationship between race and intelligence have changed.

“No,’’ Dr. Watson said. “Not at all. I would like for them to have changed, that there be new knowledge that says that your nurture is much more important than nature. But I haven’t seen any knowledge. And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.’’

This is not the first time Watson has made headlines for his views. In 2007 he gave an interview with the Sunday Times in which he stated that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa.” He furthermore states that “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.” This theory is evidenced in books such as The Bell Curve, which claims that on average Asian Americans have a higher IQ than do white Americans, who in turn have a higher IQ than black Americans. In response to the book, the American Psychological Association issued a report recognizing that there are indeed racial differences in IQ. However the APA dismiss a genetic explanation for the IQ differential between races. They furthermore state: “In short, no adequate explanation of the differential between the IQ means of Blacks and Whites is presently available.” This view was later disputed by other psychologists, who favor a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


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