Friday, October 26, 2007

The Race to Find the "Stupid" Gene

By joe sims

Yesterday's (Thursday October 25th) firing of James Watson from the Cold Harbor lab notwithstanding, the question arises, are some of the world's top geneticists in a race to discover the "stupid gene" that allegedly causes Blacks and women to not have the same reasoning capacity as upper class white men?

Watson it should be remembered once remarked that if a "gay gene" is isolated, mothers should have the right to remove it guaranteeing heterosexual children. When challenged, he offered that he was not advocating such a procedure, but merely asserting a mother's right to decide.

The former director of the world famous Cold Harbor lab, also in response to ex- president of Harvard, Larry Summers' sexist statements of the recent past, claimed there might be a scientific basis for differing intellectual capacities between men and women.

It is in this context that one must access Watson's gloom about the prospects of Africa, a gloom arising in his view from misplaced social policies directed toward the Continent predicated on unfounded assumptions about the equality of humankind. In the London Sunday Times story he went event further arguing that there was no good reason to assume that peoples who had evolved separately on different continents, evolved intellectually with equal capacity.

He wrote:" 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."

Given this mentality, would it really be a leap to conclude that should "intelligence" genes be identified, someone might contemplate their removal or adjustment as with the gay gene? In this case some scientists like Watson, would disclaim advocacy, but merely the right of parents (or governments) to choose whether or not to have stupid children.

Notwithstanding Watson's denials, retractions and apologies, his statements variously made over a considerable period stretching over decades were no accident. Indeed the Sunday Times reporter, a former student, wrote that Watson always acts with forethought and deliberation, despite the appearance of casualness. "His comments, however, although seemingly unguarded, are always calculated," she claimed.

The question then is what was the calculation? What do Watson and his corporate backers have in mind? When a Nobel prize winning geneticist like James Watson makes patently racist statements about the inferiority of Africans and women its a big thing. Was Watson floating a trial balloon and if so for what purpose? Needless to say, the statement go far beyond the man: what, where and who are the backers of the larger plan?

Are plans underway to manipulate gene pools in order to "cure" this deficiency plaguing the world's Black, Brown and female populations? Such a conclusion, outlandish as it might seem, might not be too much a stretch when considering the recent controversy surrounding the now infamous James Watson, winner of the Nobel prize. What do readers think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joe's comments are very much on target and also a segnificant advance over what the mass media has been saying about Watson, who has made a wide variety of statements over the years which have been interpeted as racist and sexist. There are two other interesting points for our readers. First, Watson and his associate Crick's scientific breakthough in regard to DNA has been questioned. A women, Rosalind Franklin, many scholars believe was denied the credit for the discover, in that Watson and Crick received access to important work that she had done in England without her permission. Also, The work of Linus Pauling was a major influence in Watson's interest in discovering the structure of DNA.
Also, in an ironic way, anti-Communist cold war repression assisted Watson in his scientific work. His mentor, Salvador Luria, a world famous scientist, was barred from traveling to Britain to participate in a scientific conference because of his Marxist and socialist views. Watson took over his space in the conference and used it to make scientific contacts and gain information that advanced his and Crick's work. Also, Linus Pauling, who later both won a Nobel Prize for his scientific work and was of course a major leader of the peace movement in the U.S. was blocked from consulting important scientific research materials abroad because of his anti-cold war and general left progressive views(although I am not a scientist and all of these comments that I am making here derive from secondary sources, some have seen Watson and Crick in a kind of race with Pauling and have suggested that these political restrictions on him(which had nothing to do with the science involved, kept him from winning that race)
Among the other strange things Watson has been quoted as saying are that science might find a heterosexual gene that would enable women to(if they wished) make sure that they would not have homosexual children, that genes could be found to make women "pretty" etc. Without denigrating Watson' really important scientific achievements(which, even if all of his critics are correct, in my opinion, are still great)his social understanding shows that there is no direct relationship necessarily between great skill and learning in any field and a sophisticated and humane understanding of social relations and society as a whole.
Norman Markowitz