Nobel scientist James Watson has been stripped of his remaining honorary titles at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory following the racist statements he made during a recent episode of the PBS documentary “American Masters: Decoding Watson.”
During his interview, Watson claimed that genes are the reason for black people’s lack of intelligence.
“Dr. Watson’s statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students,” CSHL said in a statement. “The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice.”
This is not the first time Watson has come under fire for racist and prejudice remarks. In 2007, CSHL removed Watson from his position as Chancellor and from all administrative duties in the lab after an interview in the Sunday Times where he claimed that black people’s genetics make them inferior and less intelligent than white people.
Watson issued an apology after the interview, but CSHL said that his recent comments “reverse the written apology and retraction.”
The lab has since revoked his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and Honorary Trustee.
Kayla Ingram, a first-year Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that CSHL’s move is a step in the right direction and that Watson’s comments highlight a larger problem in today’s sciences.
“Much of what science was founded on was of the abuse of ‘disposable’ black bodies,” Ingram said. “The amount of scientific experiments performed, illegally, without informed consent, or systematically in a way that disproportionately targets people of color has been happening for centuries now, is admittedly scary.”
Watson and his partner Francis Crick are known for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA. The two won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work, which was based on the research of chemist Rosalind Franklin.