October 23, 2007

Who will defend James Watson?

I'm wondering which heavyweights will step up up to defend James Watson? Below is a list of big names who might have the courage to do it. I don't have time to Google them, but any commenters can feel free to paste in any statements about Watson by the following luminaries, and give them a grade. The rubric is:

+2 points for noting that what Watson said is not scientifically improbable

+2 for saying that, as Watson says, we'll soon know pretty much for sure, so we should get ready for whatever the results are

+1 points for defending free speech and open scientific inquiry

+ 1 for defending IQ testing

+ 1 for defending the existence of race

- 1 for saying race doesn't exist

- 1 for attacking the validity of IQ testing

- 1 for general weaseliness

- 2 for distorting or denying the testing results

- 3 for commending Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for punishing Watson

So, here are some big names from which positive scores are at least possible:

Edward O. Wilson
Steven Pinker
Thomas Sowell
Richard Posner
Richard Dawkins
Larry Summers
Charles Murray
James Q. Wilson
Jared Diamond (a loooong shot, but this would be his last chance to redeem his reputation in the eyes of history)

Anybody else you can think of?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Larry Summers? That must be a joke.

Does this James Watson story have any legs? Or will it die soon?

Anonymous said...

Christopher Hitchens - Not a scientist, nor is he a 'heavyweight', but I could possibly see him defend Watson.

Nat Hentoff - Who? Columnist for Village Voice, only writer worth reading in that piece of garbage. But a strong proponent of free speech, has sparred with Afro-Marxist black students over free speech issues. Probably not well known by most people.

Anonymous said...

I actually thought Jared Diamond had a lot of good points. He may have written his book in the service of an incorrect theory, but I don't find any of his more specific statements unrealistic or illogical. North-South versus East-West axis? Makes sense to me. No farm animals means no diseases? Sure. Some diversity but not too much? Perfectly logical.

The truth for why some societies are ahead of others is probably a mixture of Jared Diamond geographic determinism and human biodiversity.

Anonymous said...

Leon Kass.

Anonymous said...

The smart money is on "none of the above".

Watson will be allowed to swing in the wind, and the laboratory which behaved so disgracefully towards him will remain free of public negative attention.

The people who you listed, and others, are looking on with great interest, but really, if any of them had the tiniest concern for science, the truth, an open society, free discourse, or related goals, they would have spoken up already.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Stephen Gould will reach out from beyond the grave? "I was wrooooooong..." :)

Anonymous said...

"'What is ethically wrong is the hounding, by what can only be described as an illiberal and intolerant "thought police", of one of the most distinguished scientists of our time, out of the Science Museum, and maybe out of the laboratory that he has devoted much of his life to, building up a world-class reputation,' said Richard Dawkins, who been due to conduct a public interview with Watson this week in Oxford."


"Nor is it at all clear that Watson is a racist, a point stressed last week by the Pulitzer-winning biologist E O Wilson, of Harvard University... 'We have become firm friends,' Wilson told The Observer last week. 'Today we are the two grand old men of biology in America and get on really well. I certainly don't see him as a Caligula figure any more. I have come to see him as a very intelligent, straight, honest individual. Of course, he would never get a job as a diplomat in the State Department. He is just too outspoken. But one thing I am absolutely sure of is that he is not a racist. I am shocked at what has happened to him.'"


Anonymous said...

Oops. From here.

Anonymous said...

Jared Diamond might well score a zero.

Anonymous said...

J.P. Rushton ?
He was subjected to similar attacks and his UWO office was vandalized. However he kept his faculty position

Roger said...

How are you going to score it if someone says that Watson was a spineless fool who contradicted himself, and failed to give scientific evidence either for or against his controversial statements.

Anonymous said...

+ 1 for defending the existence of race, - 1 for saying race doesn't exist

Why aren't these +2 and -2? Or maybe one should not be rewarded too highly for admitting the obvious...


Anonymous said...


Steve, here you are staring into the Neo-Bolshevik maw. Where voicing the inconvenient truth is a crime. Not very pretty is it?

But just the other day you were naively ruminating on whether Gould would've patched things up with his rivals. You are confused, man. You, who pride yourself on an essential understanding of various complex phenomena, continually fail to come to grips with the unyielding nature of Marxism.

Marxism is permanent social warfare against civilization as we know it, Steve. It's war. And as long as people remain cowering in fear instead of presenting a united front of Anti-Marxism, the other side will gain ground.

A required step in defending yourself in war is to name the enemy. That is something you rarely do.

+5 points for declaring the New Marxism as the greatest threat we as a free society face today.

Dennis Dale said...

How are you going to score it if someone says that Watson was a spineless fool who contradicted himself, and failed to give scientific evidence either for or against his controversial statements?

Spineless? Failed to give scientific evidence (yes, he didn't footnote his conversation with references, for and against)?

We need a more complex scoring system to plumb the depths of such willful obtuseness. A -1 for general weasiliness is woefully inadequate. This very nearly defines the lower end of both decency and intelligence.
Call it Dunce Level on the character scale.

Anonymous said...

Is Diamond a Marxist? I've never heard that claim made before.

James said...

Who will or who should? I was thinking Matt Ridley maybe because he kinda touches on the subject in Genome, if I remember correctly, and he had an association with Cold Spring Harbor, at least at one point.

mnuez said...

And let's not forget the little names.... such as me: http://mnuez.blogspot.com/2007/10/repeat-after-me-all-people-are-all-same.html


Anonymous said...

You, who pride yourself on an essential understanding of various complex phenomena, continually fail to come to grips with the unyielding nature of Marxism.

In Gould's case you ain't stretching the truth any. His daddy was a bigtime Marxist.

Anonymous said...

Podcast here that give a reasonable treatment, all things considered.


It is almost strange how people are saying "this was bad", but then they go on to essentially defend the position.

Anonymous said...

Craig Venter was interviewed on Channel 4 yesterday or the day before and generally dumped on Watson. And he actually said "Race is a social construct." I heard it with my own ears.

And I'm afraid Matt Ridley is too preoccupied at the moment to ride to the defence. He's the only science journalist I've ever heard of who was chairman of a bank, and that bank has just suffered a run (google 'Northern Rock').

Anonymous said...

I think Pinker is the biggest name on the list who might actually defend Watson. He has shown some anti-PC moxie in the past, though he has generally avoided the subject of race.

Anonymous said...

This situation demands a special "commitment protocol," called the (nearly-)all-or-none, or Gentleman Adventurers contract.

Someone must draft a polite and brief but clear and broadly-worded (footnote a reference or two) defense of Watson's basic point and of the propriety of Watson speaking it aloud. Then someone of stature (e.g., a member of the N.A.S., who needn't be the first author) must circulate it privately and separately to everyone on Steve's list plus some others, asking for signatures but credibly promising that the statement will only be published if a large fraction (say, 80%) of luminaries from the list sign it.

By this protocol, luminaries can sign, knowing that they will not be left to face the music alone if too many of their colleagues are total cowards.

"Gentlemen," Benjamin Franklin said, "we must all hang together or we shall assuredly hang separately."

I just wish I had the stature to be the circulator. If I were a member of the N.A.S. you can bet I'd ask all the others to sign.

Anonymous said...

What I've never understood is why no one ever says that since 1980 or so, it's been essentially irrelevant whether black under-performance is actually due to lower intelligence. As John McWhorter has hinted, blacks now live in a kind of parallel civic universe in which the traditional exercise or display of intelligence is seen as superfluous to survival or event decent existence. Presumably, the only reason for scientific investigation into race differences in intelligence is so to assess the morality and value of compensatory social policies. But if those policies are already permanently ingrained as a bottom-up feature of everyday life, as they are in the U.S., what's the point? I know Watson is speaking about Africa, but we're not really going to pretend that the inclination to leverage white guilt doesn't cross oceans, are we?

Anonymous said...

Pfff. You can't call everyone you don't like a Marxist. That's like this 'Islamofascism' nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Jared Diamond did open Guns Germs and Steel with his belief that New Guineans are innately more intelligent than Europeans, so maybe he'll be brave enough to support Watson (har har).

Simfish InquilineKea said...

Remember that Steven Pinker defended Larry Summers - so he's a viable candidate.

E.O. Wilson also defended J. Phillipe Rushton.

i wasn't surprised at all to hear that both Wilson and Dawkins defended Watson. It probably depends on the way you tend to think of people as. If you think of people as "phenotypic garbage only useful for the replication of genotypes in particular environments" - racial differences in intelligence become completely unsurprising.

Anonymous said...

sfg wrote: "He may have written his book in the service of an incorrect theory, but I don't find any of his more specific statements unrealistic or illogical."

To expand on what mthon wrote, Diamond voiced the opinion that people from New Guinea are smarter than North Americans, and provided for evidence his subjective impression that New Guineans had easier times finding and staying on trails in the New Guinea jungle than visitors from North America.

I'm not saying he's a Marxist, but if that is all the evidence you need to get away with saying a particular ethnic group is particularly smart, while Charles Murray gets the Emmanuel Goldstein treatment by the establishment left for providing dozens of IQ surveys purporting to show a different ethnic pattern in IQ, something is very awry. Diamond new darn well he wouldn't be called on to prove his assertion ... it reeked of the kind of self-loathing, noble-savage mythology that's been warming leftist hearts since 1762.

Whether he actually believes it, or wrote it just to be PC, I don't know, but he knows just as well as the rest of us that it's fine and dandy to assert ethnic differences favorable to non-whites. PC is by no means a two-way street. While not all of the perpetrators of PC are Marxists, most of its beneficiaries undoubtedly are.