Tags: NYU | Disinvites | Controversial | Nobel Prize | Sicentist

NYU Disinvites Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist From Giving Lecture

Image: NYU Disinvites Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist From Giving Lecture

Dr. James Watson. (Press Association via AP Images)

By    |   Friday, 16 Sep 2016 01:23 PM

A Nobel Prize-winning scientist who once suggested Africans are not as intelligent as whites has had his invitation to speak at New York University yanked after students complained his appearance could spark a "toxic atmosphere."

Dr. James Watson the molecular biologist who co-discovered of the structure of DNA in 1953, had accepted an invitation to deliver the annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture at the NYU Langone academic medical center, The College Fix reports.

But the invitation was rescinded after students said they objected to Watson's appearance because of his 2007 comments that claimed a link between intelligence and geographical ancestry.

The acclaimed scientist told London's Sunday Times 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."

According to Smithsoanian.com, Watson also said of the obese, "Whenever you interview fat people you feel bad, because you know you're not going to hire them," and of women in science, he said, "Having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they're probably less effective."

After the remarks, he was suspended from his job as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and later resigned. Watson later apologized for his remarks.

NYU's lectures committee said it decided to cancel Watson's lecture after receiving a letter from medical and graduate students at the NYU School of Medicine complaining that the controversial remarks nine years ago served to "diminish respect for black, female and obese individuals."

"We agree with the students that this runs counter to our mission of diversity and inclusion at NYU Langone Medical Center," the committee said, adding that allowing Watson to speak would generate a "toxic atmosphere towards minorities and women" in its letter to the university, which is posted on the Why Evolution Is True blog.

Jerry Coyne, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago who runs the blog, said Watson should be allowed to speak.

"This is censorship, pure and simple. If these students had their way, Watson would never be able to speak in public again, for he is tarred for life. And who knows — maybe he's changed his views in light of the absence of data supporting his views on racial differences," Coyne said on his blog.

"His detractors have, in effect, given Watson a life sentence of being shunned for what he said nine years ago, and for which he's apologized; and I don't think that's fair. Enough is enough. Student protest, certainly; student censorship, no."

Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material."

Watson is author of the bestselling book, "The Double Helix," published by Touchstone.

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A Nobel Prize-winning scientist who once suggested Africans are not as intelligent as whites has had his invitation to speak at New York University yanked after students complained...
NYU, Disinvites, Controversial, Nobel Prize, Sicentist
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2016-23-16
Friday, 16 Sep 2016 01:23 PM
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