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Has Achieved Nirvana
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posted
I recently watched the American Experience episode about James Watson. What a brilliant and strange character.

Then there was this:

quote:
It has been more than a decade since James D. Watson, a founder of modern genetics, landed in a kind of professional exile by suggesting that black people are intrinsically less intelligent than whites.

In 2007, Dr. Watson, who shared a 1962 Nobel Prize for describing the double-helix structure of DNA, told a British journalist that 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.”

Moreover, he added, although he wished everyone were equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”

Dr. Watson’s comments reverberated around the world, and he was forced to retire from his job as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, although he retains an office there.

He apologized publicly and “unreservedly,’’ and in later interviews he sometimes suggested that he had been playing the provocateur — his trademark role — or had not understood that his comments would be made public.

Ever since, Dr. Watson, 90, has been largely absent from the public eye. His speaking invitations evaporated. In 2014, he became the first living Nobelist to sell his medal, citing a depleted income from having been designated a “nonperson.’’

But his remarks have lingered. They have been invoked to support white supremacist views, and scientists routinely excoriate Dr. Watson when his name surfaces on social media.

Eric Lander, the director of the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard, elicited an outcry last spring with a toast he made to Dr. Watson’s involvement in the early days of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Lander quickly apologized.

“I reject his views as despicable,” Dr. Lander wrote to Broad scientists. “They have no place in science, which must welcome everyone. I was wrong to toast, and I’m sorry.’’

And yet, offered the chance recently to recast a tarnished legacy, Dr. Watson has chosen to reaffirm it, this time on camera. In a new documentary, “American Masters: Decoding Watson,’’ to be broadcast on P.B.S. on Wednesday night, 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 I.Q. tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.’’

Dr. Watson adds that he takes no pleasure in “the difference between blacks and whites’’ and wishes it didn’t exist. “It’s awful, just like it’s awful for schizophrenics,’’ he says. (His son Rufus was diagnosed in his teens with schizophrenia.) Dr. Watson continues: “If the difference exists, we have to ask ourselves, how can we try and make it better?”


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/0...a-genetics-race.html


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Bazootiehead-in-training


 
Posts: 22927 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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If by brilliant and strange character, you mean a fraud, a misogynist, and a racist, then, yes, he is a brilliant and strange character.
 
Posts: 20814 | Registered: 31 March 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
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In a different NYT article about Watson's views, he did stress that he believed it important the racial IQ distinctions he highlighted not be used to discriminate negatively against individuals (black) for instance applying for positions where intellectual skills are key.

That was because (paraphrase) he acknowledged that statistical global group differences are not meaningful in predicting individual performance. Regardless of what one thinks of his conclusions, that has indeed always been true.

He said that experience with "very talented" black people (his own experiences) illustrated this truism. Even someone like me with only a basic Soc Sci statistics background knows the dangers of misconstruing individual vs group predictions. ESPECIALLY when doing so has enormous repercussions both socially and personally.

There has always been huge controversy about whether or not to suppress research with strongly negative social repercussions. I remember when he was tarred and feathered after first sounding off and this was a highlight of defense of him, apart from arguments about the relative impact of nurture.

Since most people don't understand the concept of uncertainty especially in predictions about individual vs. group behavior, I think the answer is that emphatically, yes, such studies should be suppressed.

This is a generalization without referencing Watson's specific pontifications - and without even going into detail about the impossibility of defining "race", especially considering among much else, the admixtures that exist.

Then too, we have still completely failed to define IQ itself, except (as my then reigning cognitive psych profs agreed) that "IQ is what IQ tests define". Given such uncertainty in the concepts of both race AND IQ, makes it all the more undesirable to broadcast such generalizations.

"Observor outcome" effect is one of many reasons to STFU in such socially significant research (already distorted by expectation in how it's conducted). Interestingly, such results are paralled in Physics, where Quantum research demonstrates that observation itself interferes with measurement.

Watson's returning now to his original conclusions (once denied and the object of apology), is just one more instance of how Trump and ilk have not only unmuzzled but encouraged racists in modern society. Here, that effect is most harmful, because it comes
from an accredited mouthpiece for Science.

Funny, Trump supporters don't denigrate the value of this "expert's" message when dismissal of experts and overall anti-intellectualism are one of their unifying hallmarks.


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The most dangerous word in the language is "obvious"

 
Posts: 12280 | Location: PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Serial origamist
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on I.Q. tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.

I wonder if some people never entertained the possibility that the tests tend to emphasize Western cultures and concepts.

I recently came across the LAIT that was published in WIRED magazine around 1980. The verbal section is a very small part of the test and requires high fluency in English.

From a global "this race/culture is more intelligent" twist, I'm guessing if we gathered a bunch of the really smart people in this forum and showed them a dozen Chinese characters and asked them to identify the radical in each character, only one or two would get any of them right.

But if you asked a dozen Chinese smart people to identify the English word from among four words that is not a synonym for a fifth word, few would get any of them right.


There's also that whole vertical/horizontal continent thing.


Here in 'merica, you also need to control for educational opportunities. Black people, on average*, have less access to good schools due to the structural and systemic racism and segregation in the US. You can't take a representative bunch of students in Palo Alto and a representative bunch of students in rural-ish Alabama and show them a sequence of numbers and ask them to determine the next number in sequence then be surprised at the results. If grew up in constant poverty with poor nutrition and bad infrastructure and low-paid teachers, clever math may be something that didn't cross your path.


*the least meaningful statistic


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pj, citizen-poster, unless specifically noted otherwise.

mod-in-training.

pj@ermosworld∙com

When a door closes, a can of worms opens.

 
Posts: 26601 | Registered: 27 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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Amanda, I would suggest watching the show and hearing Watson speak for himself. And also to hear his professional associates thoughts about him.

https://www.pbs.org/video/decoding-watson-ua6jjx/


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Bazootiehead-in-training


 
Posts: 22927 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
Picture of Amanda
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quote:
Originally posted by well-tempered gardener:
Amanda, I would suggest watching the show and hearing Watson speak for himself. And also to hear his professional associates thoughts about him.

https://www.pbs.org/video/decoding-watson-ua6jjx/


Looks interesting, WTG. Glanced at the beginnning and filing it. Thanks!


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The most dangerous word in the language is "obvious"

 
Posts: 12280 | Location: PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Nobel Prize-winning American scientist James Watson has been stripped of his honorary titles after repeating comments about race and intelligence.


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46856779

Amanda, just a heads up....PBS videos are usually only available online for a limited time...


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Bazootiehead-in-training


 
Posts: 22927 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by pianojuggler:
quote:
And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on I.Q. tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.

I wonder if some people never entertained the possibility that the tests tend to emphasize Western cultures and concepts.

+1000
 
Posts: 20814 | Registered: 31 March 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
Picture of Amanda
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by Daniel:
quote:
Originally posted by pianojuggler:
quote:
And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on I.Q. tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.

I wonder if some people never entertained the possibility that the tests tend to emphasize Western cultures and concepts.

+1000


I'd speak more of language skills than hemispheric based learning (you spoke of Western cultures). And for the record this is a much touted argument against the validity of IQ tests. (Not to mention that IQ tests are conducted IN language.) There Are all kinds of IQ.

After all, Asians overall score ~ 15 IQ pts higher than the "racial mean", at the very least on visual-spatial (~ mathematical).


--------------------------------
The most dangerous word in the language is "obvious"

 
Posts: 12280 | Location: PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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