James Watson made some pretty brazen remarks about the intelligence of black people versus that of other races.
I'm sure many of you have probably seen this. A lot of people are calling this the end of his career and so forth.
For those who are unfamiliar, James Watson is half of the duo - Francis Crick being the other half - typically credited with discovering the double-helix structure of DNA. The reality of the situation is taught to young scientists as a warning of what the field is like; Watson and Crick took unpublished data from Rosalind Franklin, a female collaborator. That data turned out to be the crucial information they needed in order to figure out the structure of the DNA molecule. Watson in particular is infamous in the scientific community for being a bigot and an outright misogynist.
Essentially, he remarked that the future of Africa was grim, because Western policies towards the continent are based on the premise of equal reasoning ability, when "testing" indicates that this is not true. He made several choice statements, all in the same vein of scientific racism.
Now, there are some things to consider here. There certainly are genetic differences between various ethnic groups, but the notion of putting the concept of "intelligence" into those differences is dubious at best. It's generally impossible to really define what is meant by "intelligence," except to lay out very specific parameters in very specific tests. I suppose I could see a given ethnic group having a predisposition towards a particular shade of cognition, but performing well on, say, an IQ test doesn't necessarily mean anything.
The significance here is that you find people who believe in bullshit in all walks of life, even where they shouldn't be. One would think that scientists should be largely devoid of preconceived notions and opinions based on nothing, but this is unfortunately not the case. I can certainly say, from my personal experiences, that some of the most irrational people I have ever met in my life have held Ph.D.'s in hard sciences.
This is why we need to maintain skepticism and always question what we think we know. If even a world-renowned Nobel prize-winning scientist can believe such claptrap, it's all the more important for everyone else to keep examining what they know and question what others claim to know, to make sure that we're not all running around believing in some other batshit crazy notions.
Anyone have comments on this whole debacle?