James Watson's Legacy
Watson now says, "That is not what I meant." But take a look at these statements by him, stretching back years. And he's not the only one; some of his colleagues have joined him in advocating for a new high-tech eugenics.
Do you have a Watson quote we've missed? Post it as a comment below, and we'll add it to the list. Please be sure to include citation.
On race and intelligence
“[A]ll our social policies are based on the fact that [Africans'] intelligence is the
same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really… [P]eople who have to
deal with black employees find [equality] is not true.”
Interview with The Times of London, October 14, 2007
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."
On "stupid" kids, ugly girls, and enhanced children
"If you really are stupid, I would call that a disease.... The lower 10 percent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what's the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, 'Well, poverty, things like that.' It probably isn't. So I'd like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 percent...."
"It seems unfair that some people don’t get the same opportunity. Once you have a way in which you can improve our children, no one can stop it. It would be stupid not to use it because someone else will. Those parents who enhance their children, then their children are going to be the ones who dominate the world..."
"People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great...."
"I think it's irresponsible not to try and direct evolution to produce
a human being who will be an asset to the world."
DNA, British documentary, March 2003
"Then I am a eugenicist"
"My view is that,
despite the risks, we should give serious consideration to germ-line gene
therapy. I only hope that the many biologists who
share my opinion will stand tall in the debates to come and not be intimidated
by the inevitable criticism ... If such work be called eugenics, then I am a
DNA: The Secret of Life, 2003
On sex and discriminating against overweight people
Watson proposed that skin color and sex drive are linked. "That's why you have Latin lovers. You've never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient."
Watson proposed that thinness and ambition are linked, and thus thin people are better hires. "When you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you're not going to hire them."
"The Pursuit of Happiness: Lessons from pom-C," Watson's lecture at University of California, Berkeley, October 2000
Let's play God
scientists don't play God, who will?"
Addressing members of the British Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, May 2000
Embracing the Master Race
"Here we must not fall into the absurd trap of
being against everything Hitler was for.... Because of Hitler's use of the term
Master Race, we should not feel the need to say that we never want to use
genetics to make humans more capable than they are today."
On inheritable human genetic modification
"I'm afraid of asking people what they think. Don't ask Congress to approve it. Just ask them for the money to help their constituents. That's what they want.... Frankly, they would care much more about having their relatives not sick than they do about ethics and principles. We can talk principles forever, but what the public actually wants is not to be sick. And if we help them not be sick, they'll be on our side....
"If we could make better human beings by knowing
how to add genes, why shouldn't we? What's wrong with it?… Evolution can be just
damn cruel, and to say that we've got a perfect genome and there's some
Engineering the Human Germline, symposium at University of California Los Angeles, March 20, 1998
Aborting fetuses with a "gay gene"
"If you could find the gene which determines sexuality and a woman decides she doesn't want a homosexual child, well, let her."
The Telegraph, February 16, 1997
On the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications program of the Human Genome Project
wanted a group that would talk and talk and never get anything done," Andrews
quotes Watson as telling a meeting. "And if they did do something, I wanted them
to get it wrong. I wanted as its head Shirley Temple Black."
Quoted by Lori Andrews in The Clone Age: Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology
More on Hitler
The time has come to "put Hitler behind us," Watson said, urging Germany to put more resources into genetic research.
Keynote speech to a conference on molecular medicine in Berlin, May 1997