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CSHL Suspends James Watson Over 'Racist' Comments; Says It 'Disagrees' With His Remarks

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — James Watson has been suspended as Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after he was quoted this week making racist comments against people of African ancestry.
 
Yesterday evening, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Board of Trustees “decided to suspend the administrative responsibilities” of Watson “pending further deliberation by the Board.”
 
The board said it took the step after it made a statement yesterday “disagreeing” with the comments “attributed to Watson” in the Oct. 14 edition of The Sunday Times.
 
In those comments, Watson opined that people of African ancestry may be genetically less intelligent than other races.
 
“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 paper reported. “People who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”
 
He went on to say that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically,” according to the paper.
 
“Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so,” the paper quoted Watson as saying.
 
In an apology released today, Watson said: “To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly.
 
“That is not what I meant. More importantly, there is no scientific basis for such a belief,” he said.
 
According to the Times, which tape-recorded its interview with the Nobel laureate, Watson also suggested that he was misquoted, saying, “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said. I can certainly understand why people reading those words have reacted in the ways they have.”
 
Calls to CSHL for elaboration on Watson’s status and duties as chancellor were not immediately returned.

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