Monday, October 22, 2007
I’ll say again that I can recognize DNA discoverer James Watson’s contribution as a scientist while disagreeing with things he says. His words of a few days ago regarding black intelligence relative to whites, however incorrect and misguided in part they might be, do not erase the immense benefit that people, including blacks, have received from his achievements.
My greater concern here is that the vehement reaction to his comments, while effectively silencing this old loose cannon, does a greater detriment to the required discussion of genetics, intelligence and the public policy that naturally follows. The closets that geneticist, along with the people who need to understand them, are further driven into just became a little deeper.
From the discussions I have participated in on the subject, Watson’s comments reflect the unspoken beliefs of many in the scientific and professional community – but all I hear is public denial, which is utter BS. It is the rare scientist who can stand up and say these beliefs, for fear of losing their appointment. So how then are we to have a proper debate? How do we identify the point when good science spins off into racism? Instead the discussion happens behind closed doors, often one-sided, only to become whispering at cocktail parties, and ultimately half-baked ‘unspoken’ policy.
Furthermore, I have learned to holster my automatic race card against the mere mention of genetics and IQ disparities. Instead, I attempt to identify what science does and does not really know about the subjects and to gage when discussions have jumped into ‘wishful’ thinking, lacking a proven base. At these deviations, I use knowledge and debate skills versus accusations and threats, in an attempt to return to firm ground. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.
While I do not agree with Dr. Watson in many areas, I want him and others to be able to say what they think with only the fear of scientific correctness in their eyes. This is miles better that the emotion, real and/or faked, of people who are either fearfully ignorant of the state of the science, or worse, pretending to believe and support one position, while harboring and pursuing something totally the opposite.
James C. Collier
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