The American Association for Cancer Research honored James Watson's 85th birthday at its annual meeting this weekend with a special session that included a round of "Happy Birthday to You" and a birthday cake.
After blowing out his candles, Watson spoke about his recent work investigating the hypothesis that antioxidants play a role in cancer. He published a paper earlier this year in Open Biology outlining his views on the subject, but apparently that journal wasn't his first choice.
He said during his talk on Saturday that he initially submitted the paper – his first since 1972 – to the New England Journal of Medicine, but was rejected because, he said he was told, NEJM "doesn't publish ideas, only facts." Several other journals also turned him down.
This experience, he said, led him to believe that journal publishers see it as their mission to reject papers rather than publish them. "I hate the editors of these journals more than I hate Republicans," he said. "They're anti-science."
He wrapped up by calling for a more concerted research effort into the role that antioxidants play in cancer, noting that the cancer research community can make faster progress if it considers new ideas. "We can do it if we don't spend all our money investigating RAS," he said.