October 27, 2007

The downfall of science in Italy

I was wondering what impact Galileo's conviction had on science in Italy, so I took a look at the database Charles Murray sent me of the 4002 eminent artists and scientists he compiled from leading reference books for his 2003 book Human Accomplishment.

From 1000 AD to Galileo's conviction in 1632, Italy furnished 34.7% of the world's scientific eminence. From then up through 1950, it only accounted for 3.46%. Now that's what I call an order of magnitude!

Italian contributions to science (measured at the scientist's 40th birthday) continued on fairly strong for the rest of the 17th Century, so the Galileo trial impact wasn't immediate. Of course, the 17th Century was like Andy Warhol's factory -- everybody was a genius! (Except, in the 17th Century there really were geniuses throughout Europe). But, in Italy slowly things sloooowed down, as they sped up elsewhere.

We're not used to things getting more boring and unproductive, but it has been a common tendency throughout history, and one we may get familiar with again.

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

October 26, 2007

Who has defended America's most distinguished living scientist?

We're now into the second week of the latest ritual race humiliation, this time of the man who is probably America's most distinguished living scientist, James Watson. And who has spoken up for him? Besides this guy in Nigeria?

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

Oops! Cold Spring starts to realize they just kicked to the curb their top fundraiser

From Newsday:
Fundraising questions after Watson's exit

Five days before an international uproar erupted over comments he had made to a British newspaper, James Watson smiled as camera shutters snapped at the groundbreaking for a multimillion-dollar renovation to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory library.

"Watson raised that money; it was his effort," said Elof Carlson, a former Stony Brook University professor of biochemistry who attended the Oct. 12 ceremony. "He has been a major fundraiser for the institution, and he certainly had enormous skills in doing that."

Now, with Watson forced into early retirement for questioning Africans' intelligence, officials said it remains unclear whether he will continue his lesser known but immensely important role as the laboratory's fundraiser-in-chief.

"I don't think that's been discussed," said Bruce Stillman, president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "This is a great institution. I hope that these events don't affect our fund-raising."

Science observers said Watson's ability to tap rich donors has been compromised.

"People who tend to support these kinds of charities are not going to embrace somebody who now has been branded as a racist," said Wesley J. Smith, a bioethicist at the [Creationist] Discovery Institute in Seattle.

Watson was named director of the laboratory's research projects in 1968. He is celebrated for transforming it from a respectable but sleepy research campus into a prestigious international center for genetic science. His knack for finding the money to pay top talent was key, said Watson biographer Victor McElheny.

When Watson was named president in 1994, the laboratory was raising less than $1 million a year from private donors, financial statements show. By 2006, donors gave more than $43 million.

Those private donations have helped the lab build new buildings and expand its endowment from nothing when Watson took over as director in 1968 to $129 million last year.

"A lot of it is attributable to [Watson]," said Stillman, who added that Watson will keep his home and office at the lab.

Watson appealed to donors with disarming honesty, visible passion and a rumpled unpretentiousness, McElheny said. In the late 1970s, he persuaded Charles Robertson, widower of A&P grocery chain heiress Marie Hartford, to give $8 million to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to bankroll unproven young scientists.

"It was the most precious gift in the history of the laboratory, and Watson swung it," McElheny said.

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

October 25, 2007

Watson dumped permanently from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Expect a new round of gloating and putting the boot in:

Controversial DNA scientist retires

By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer1 hour, 52 minutes ago

James Watson, famous for DNA research but widely condemned for recent comments about intelligence levels among blacks, retired Thursday from his post at a prestigious research institution.

Watson, 79, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York announced his departure a week after the lab suspended him. He was chancellor of the institution, and his retirement took effect immediately.

Watson shared a Nobel Prize with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins in 1962 for co-discovering the structure of the DNA molecule. He is one of America's most prominent scientists.

In his statement Thursday, Watson said that because of his age, his retirement was "more than overdue. The circumstances in which this transfer is occurring, however, are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired."

Watson, who has a long history of making provocative statements, ran into trouble last week for remarks he made in the Sunday Times Magazine of London. A profile quoted him as saying that he's "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really."

He said that while he hopes everyone is equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true." He also said people should not be discriminated against because of their color, adding that "there are many people of color who are very talented."

Watson later apologized. But by then, London's Science Museum had canceled a sold-out lecture Watson was to give there, and London's mayor had branded the comments "racist propaganda."

In the United States, the Federation of American Scientists said Watson was promoting "personal prejudices that are racist, vicious and unsupported by science." And the Cold Spring Harbor lab said its board and administration "vehemently disagree with these statements and are bewildered and saddened if he indeed made such comments."

The lab suspended Watson's administrative duties last Thursday.

Watson had served at the lab for nearly 40 years, having been named director in 1968. He was its president from 1994 to 2003.

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


Yet another famous figure, Presidential candidate Joe Biden, is caught being momentarily not oblivious to the obvious:

Biden Stumbles in Interview

In an interview with The Washington Post's editorial board, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) ... stumbled through a discourse on race and education, leaving the impression that he believes one reason that so many District of Columbia schools fail is the city's high minority population. His campaign quickly issued a statement saying he meant to indicate that the disadvantages were based on economic status, not race.

After a lengthy critique of Bush administration education policies, Biden attempted to explain why some schools perform better than others -- in Iowa, for instance, compared with the District. "There's less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you're dealing with," Biden said. He went on to discuss the importance of parental involvement in reading to children and how "half this education gap exists before the kid steps foot in the classroom."

The Biden campaign moved quickly to clarify the senator's remarks in a statement: "This was not a race-based distinction, but a discussion of the problems kids face who don't have the same socio-economic support system (and all that implies -- nutrition, pre K, etc.) entering grade school and the impact of those disadvantages on outcomes."

Obviously, nutrition is crucially important in the difference. Since all the Washington D.C. schoolkids grow up to be short and scrawny from lack of nutrition, that's why Georgetown U. has always been so bad at basketball, compared to the mighty U. of Iowa basketball team with its starting line up of corn-fed farmboys.

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

October 24, 2007

Deja vu all over again

As I wrote in VDARE.com right after the Southern California fires exactly four years ago:

Brushfires and mudslides used to seem more amusing because they afflicted Hollywood celebrities significantly more often than average citizens. This was not just a matter of God's good taste. Hoi polloi lived in the cheaper and safer flatlands. The rich poised precariously in the hills, where construction and maintenance costs are higher—especially if you want your home to survive what Mother Nature keeps up her sleeve.

But the plains of Southern California filled up long ago. So the ever-growing population has been spilling into the more treacherous wild areas.

This is regularly denounced as "sprawl," which implies that individuals are wastefully consuming more and more land per capita. But in California the driver has been population growth. According to a 2003 Center for Immigration Studies report by Roy Beck, Leon Kolankiewicz, and Steven A. Camarota, from 1982 to 1997 the total number of developed acres in California grew by 32 percent, but the per capita usage was up only two percent. Essentially all of California's population growth in the 1990s was due to new immigrants or births to foreign-born women. (Indeed, close to 1.5 million more American-born citizens moved out of California during the 1990s than moved in from other states.)

As low-income immigrants pour into Southern California's lowlands, crowding the freeways and overstressing the older cities' public schools, the middle class (at least the ones who don't leave the state) have responded by taking to the hills.

The hill country's environment is benign most of the year. But the local ecosystem evolved to require periodic blazes. Up through American Indian times, these brushfires were frequent and thus relatively mild.

Unfortunately, we modern people haven't really figured out how to manage the chaparral and pine forests yet—especially when the canyons and mountains are home to housing. The best-known remedy, controlled burns, is disliked by people who live in the backcountry because they pollute the air, and they can jump out of control. The 2000 Los Alamos fire set by the Forest Service ended up destroying hundreds of structures.

Thus the policy has been to try to suppress all fires. This, however, causes fuel in the form of dry brush and dead trees to build up each decade, inevitably leading to infernos like those of 1993 and 2003. …

It’s just California's problem? ‘fraid not! Taxpayers across the country always end up chipping in, through government disaster loans, new federal firefighting and forestry management programs, lower stock market prices for insurance companies, and other forms of burden-sharing.

And, in some ways, that's fair, because so much of California's current crisis traces back to the federal refusal to adequately enforce immigration laws.

California desperately needs a slower population growth rate until it learns how its current vast population can live with its lovely but sometime lethal landscape. And the state's burgeoning numbers are solely driven by immigration.

The logical solution: cut back on immigration.

Reality is literally lighting a fire under us.

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

"The League of Extremely Rich Donors for Free Speech"

One of the depressing things about the James Watson Witch Hunt is the enthusiasm with which so many people signed up to be voluntary auxiliaries for the Thought Police, how many people who imagine themselves to be freethinking nonconformists positively reveled in their chance to put the boot in when they found a great man down.

As far as I can tell at this point, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Board of Trustees are going to get away with their shameful suspension of the man who rebuilt their institution over the last 39 years.

What can be done for the future?

Money talks. What the world needs is an organization of major donors to academic and scientific institutions who have publicly pledged themselves to defend free speech and scientific inquiry by punishing institutions who punish heretics like Watson.

In 2006, billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle withdrew his pledged gift of $115 million to Harvard after it forced out Larry Summers. But that was just 1/300th of Harvard's endowment, so even Ellison had little impact by himself. Some rich guys need to get together and throw their weight around.

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

What went wrong with anthropology of family structures?

Boasian cultural anthropology was a glamor field in academia in the 1950s, yet it is now among the least publicized. What went wrong?

For example, sci-fi great Robert Heinlein wrote Boas's student Margaret Mead into his 1957 sci-fi "juvenile" novel Citizen of the Galaxy. Young Thorby flees Sargon and is adopted into the extended family of Free Traders, a people who buy and sell anywhere in the galaxy. The rules of the spaceship crew / family are baffling to Thorby.

Fortunately, anthropologist Margaret Mader (i.e., Margaret Mead) is on board to explain why Thorby can't fall in love with any girls in his Starboard Moiety, but must find his bride on the Portside Moiety, along with the other complications of Free Trader family structure.

Family structure is interesting stuff, and obviously has real world applications for, say, all those countries where America has soldiers wandering around, such as Afghanistan and the borders of Somalia. But nobody is interested these days.

So, what went wrong? First, anthropologists became obsessed with what Robin Fox, the author of the 1967 textbook Kinship and Marriage calls "ethnographic dazzle." The exception became the rule. A few decades ago, you'd always hear arguments beginning, "Well, there's this one tribe where ..." which I parodied in The American Spectator in 1992 in "Report Cites Bias Against Women in Drug Rackets: 'Aspiring Female Traffickers Lack Role Models,' Notes Expert."

"All the experts indignantly dismiss biological conjectures purporting to explain why males seem more violent than females. "Then why are the Nuzwangdees of Guyana -- or is it the Wangduzees of New Guinea? Well, anyway, I heard there's some tribe somewhere where more women than men are into GrecoRoman wrestling, or is it Australian football?" retorts Dr. Charles Womyndaughter."

The point of all this is to deny that there is a basic human nature, in order to facilitate intellectuals being funded to carry out improbably social engineering projects.

Fox wrote in 1991:
"But find me a society without a kinship system, and one without one that operates on the six basic parameters I outlined ... Such societies do not exist. ... This being so the question becomes not whether or not we "socially construct" the kinship systems we have, but why we construct the limited number of types we do out of all the possible types."

The flip side of this is that there tend to be general patterns in family structure that follow regional and racial structures, suggesting that within the basic human nature, some variation has evolved.

Cultural anthropologists didn't want to hear that at all, so they intellectually emasculated their subject rather than follow the facts to their conclusions.

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

October 23, 2007

Cuba, Armenia, and Israel Lobbies

The crucial difference between the Cuban and Armenian lobbies vs. the Israel lobby is that the former allow you to engage in nonOrwellian singlethink. The Cuban Lobby boasts of how powerful it is and how, if you cross it, you'll never win the Electoral Votes of Florida. Well, you can either believe that or not believe it, but there's nothing whatsoever contradictory about its stance. The Armenian Lobby laments that, so far, it hasn't quite been powerful enough, but asserts that its day is coming very soon. Once again, singlethink. That's how most lobbies behave.

The Israel Lobby, on the other hand, demands Orwellian doublethink -- "the act of simultaneously and fervently holding two mutually contradictory beliefs." It boasts endlessly of its power in Washington, but smears anybody else who agrees with it that, yes, it is powerful as being a fellow traveler of David Duke. This relentless doublethink is bad for the mind and soul.

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

NYT on neo-nepotism and JPod

The New York Times has an interesting article on Jpod taking over as editor of Commentary, cleverly tying it to the 2003 book by Adam Bellow, In Praise of Nepotism:

New Commentary Editor Denies Neo-Nepotism

By Patricia Cohen

The new appointment puts three generations of Podhoretzes at the magazine, with Norman holding the title of editor at large and his grandson Sam Munson as online editor. Of course, the ancestral streak is not exactly surprising. The Podhoretz, Kagan (Fred, Donald, Robert and Kimberly) and Kristol clans have dominated the movement for 40 years.

“There’s a family business aspect to the neoconservative enterprise,” said Mr. Bellow, whose book “In Praise of Nepotism” was published in 2003. Such kinship ties are part of “a very broad phenomenon across American society; it’s not really right to single out neoconservatives."

(Here's my review-essay on Bellow's "In Praise of Nepotism" in The National Interest.)

The NYT reporter had asked me:
"How is he [JPod] thought of in conservative circles?"
I replied:
Among conservative intellectuals, John Podhoretz is widely considered proof of the statistical tendency toward regression beneath the mean. The only reason he has a career is because he is, as they say in Little Italy, connected.

As blogger Larry Auster has been pointing out, only one of his many colleagues at National Review Online's group blog, The Corner, has congratulated him on his ascension. On Tuesday morning, Kathryn Jean Lopez ("K-Lo") offered this minimalist salute:
Congrats Are in Order [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

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

Who is the most famous living scientist working outside the English-speaking world?

One of the features of the 21st Century is the growing parochialism of us native English-speakers. No educated man in 1907 making up a list of the most famous scientists or most famous writers would have included only people working in America and Britain, but it seems perfectly natural today. So, I'd like to hear from my more worldly readers about important scientists who are less well-known in our Fortress of Anglophonic Solitude than they deserve to be.

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

Who is the most famous living scientist?

I come up with Stephen Hawking and Jane Goodall at the top, with James D. Watson in the next tier down, maybe with Norman Borlaug (who has become famous for not being famous). Noam Chomsky is famous, and was a great scientist in his day, but his day was 1958. Lots of folks who had credible claim to being the world's most famous scientist -- e.g., Gould, Sagan, Feynman -- tended to drop dead at an early age. I think the last of the atomic bomb physicists are now dead (Hans Bethe died recently).

Who are your suggestions?

Of course, to be famous, it helps to be a public personality. Shy personalities like William D. Hamilton tend to be obscure, even though Hamilton's work was essential to better known figures like Richard Dawkins and Edward O. Wilson. So, a second question: Who is the greatest living scientist?

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

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

October 22, 2007

The LA Apocalypse All Over Again

The weather conditions out here in LA are identical to those of exactly four years ago: a drought year and hot winds off the desert. So, the whole place is on fire once more. The end is nigh, which tends to make a lot of people, many of them Southern Californians, rather pleased. Here's a quote from my UPI article from October 30, 2003 on "Los Angeles and the Apocalyptic Imagination:"

According to journalist Mike Davis, who became L.A.'s favorite prophet of calamity with his foreboding local bestseller "Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster," Southern California is widely seen as "the doom capital of the universe."

He wrote in 1998, "The destruction of Los Angeles has been the central theme or dominating image in more than a hundred and fifty novels, short stories, and films." Davis counts 49 fictional local nuclear attacks, 28 earthquakes, six floods, and 10 hordes of invading creatures that have helped brand "the City of Angels as a theme park for Armageddon."

Davis himself can't resist trumpeting such alarming but trivial threats to residents as tornados, man-eating coyotes, and killer bees. [More]

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

James Watson as a leader

One of the points I tried to make in my VDARE.com article on James D. Watson is that he's not just some old coot who discovered something back in 1953. When he felt his powers of new discovery decline as middle age approached, he switched to scientific management, taking over the failing Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1968 and drove it to huge success. He remains a central cog in the great enterprise of modern genetic research.

Here's a Sunday Times essay by the biologist/journalist Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe who got James Watson in so much trouble with her previous article:

Science has always been open to debate. Why shackle it? What are we so afraid of? Why gag and shame on the basis of fear?

Maybe this will be a watershed moment, one that examines our inability to openly debate sensitive issues. Whether is it or not, I believe that fear of what might be uncovered – or not – as a result of further analysis is no reason to deprive ourselves of the most experienced geneticist of our age. My hope is, once the smoke clears, that the laboratory will realise that he is too precious to dismiss over fears of what he has said and might say next. He can say it, he can take it back, others can challenge it. We pride ourselves in living within a democratic society. If he said - which he hasn't – that I might be less intelligent because I had blonde hair, I wouldn't care. All that matters to me is that if someone I loved was ill, or dying from an incurable disease, then the man who has the brains, capability and resources to help them, be allowed to do so.

As Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson's is not only a maverick in securing funding but a crucial sounding board for lab scientists. Daily, he consults with his scientific investigators – all working on disparate areas of the disease field. At nearly 80, Watson seamlessly manoeuvres his thoughts around scores of ultra-specific genetic problems. All hours of his working day his researchers look to him for advice – secure in the knowledge that he has the experience to make the decisions which, without him, they could misjudge and risk being a step behind.

I have been reported as working with him - when, as stated, I was under the guidance of the then assistant director of the lab, Winship Herr. But, any geneticist who has had their hand grasped by him in a congratulatory handshake following a hard-won discovery in the lab, will tell you that Watson has a unique ability to instil pride in achievement. Biologists rarely see the limelight, and if occasional words of praise and encouragement are enough to keep scientists working a few extra few hours a day, and if this makes our fight against disease faster, then we need him.

After a long day of conversation – the topic of racial inequality was broached. It seemed an important extension to words he had written in his book. I would never have written something that I thought he would not be prepared to defend. I am not trying to destroy a brilliant scientist and I am genuinely horrified by the response. We need to squeeze every last drop of brilliance from this man if we are to continue hoping to unravel the genetic causes of disease. He strives to help young people in their careers. My biggest concern is that, by helping me, he has damaged himself. I could not hope more, that I am wrong.

In a war – the people we want around us are the ones with the experience and proven track record. Disease is a war. We need tactics, brilliance and, above all, experience. He may push the boundaries of what is acceptable in our PC world – and stray into areas that are not his expertise - but when he sits in his role as Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, his scientists – though not the publicists – feel safe and expertly guided. And they are.

Watson's personality is complex. We're used to shy or Aspergery scientists who accidentally offend people around them because they aren't very social, but Watson doesn't fit that mold, which is why he's been such a success as a leader of scientists.

He's extremely gossipy, for one thing. Teddy Roosevelt's daughter Alice, the social queen of Washington for decades, used to say, "If you don't have anything good to say about anybody, come sit next to me."

But gossip provides unexpected benefits. Back in the 1970s, the LA Dodgers and the NY Yankees had opposite approaches to gossip. The Dodgers were trained by their management to always put a bland, happy spin on things. Occasionally, you'd get hints that everything wasn't always peachy with them, such as when Don Sutton and Steve Garvey got into a locker room fight in 1978 over Garvey's wife, but that was an exception. In contrast, the Yankees, led by their owner George Steinbrenner, were constantly denouncing each other in the newspapers. It seemed obvious to me that the Dodger system was superior, but the Yankees took two out of three World Series from the Dodgers, and went on in the 1990s (under a little more mellow Steinbrenner) to form an even better dynasty.

Sociobiology founder Edward O. Wilson, the other grand old man of American biology, famously clashed with Watson at Harvard departmental meetings in the 1950s and 1960s in a turf war between the old organismic biologists like Wilson and the new molecular biologists like Watson over faculty hiring. The normally gentlemanly Wilson wrote in his autobiography Naturalist that at faculty meetings Watson, "the Caligula of biology," "radiated contempt in all directions," The nicest thing he said about traditional biology was to call it "stamp collecting." Wilson wrote:

"When Watson became director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1968, ... I commented sourly to friends that I wouldn't put him in charge of a lemonade stand. He proved me wrong. In ten years he raised that noted institution to even greater heights by inspiration, fund-raising skills, and the ability to choose and attract the most gifted researchers."

Eventually, Watson did Wilson a great service by forcing him to rethink higher level biology, make it less stamp collecting and more of a theory driven science based on natural selection, so he could compete with Watson's triumphant brand of molecular biology. "Without a trace of irony I can sat I have been blessed with brilliant enemies ... because they redoubled my energies and drove me in new directions." Watson's challenge also inspired Wilson to think deeply about reductionism and the proper levels of scientific research, as shown in his book Consilience.

(Wilson's other brilliant enemy was Stephen Jay Gould, whose denunciations of Wilson's 1975 book Sociobiology persuaded Wilson to learn, at age 45, how to write like a literary intellectual, so he could compete with Gould in the non-scientific intellectual marketplace. Thus, Wilson's small 1978 book On Human Nature , in which Wilson unveiled his new prose style and hard-earned set of artistic references, won the Pulitzer.)

It's nice to know that Watson and Wilson have reconciled in recent years, appearing in a joint interview on Charlie Rose. Perhaps Wilson and Gould would have reconciled too if Gould had not died at age 60?

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

October 21, 2007

The Countdown Speeds Up

As I mention in my new VDARE.com article, the climactic last two pages of James Watson's new memoir are devoted to how fast the price of genome sequencing is falling, which, as Watson emphasizes, will make inevitable major breakthroughs in understanding the genetic underpinnings of political hot potatoes like IQ. At FuturePundit, Randall Parker provides some numbers.

An article in The Scientist provides a sense of how much DNA sequencing costs have fallen. At the bottom of that page they show 3 costs from 3 different sequencing instruments for doing a sequencing of the Drosophila fly genome. The established ABI 3730 has a sequencing cost for this job of $650,000. The 454 Life Sciences instrument costs $132,000 for the same job. Big cut in cost, right? But if you paid $132,000 you paid too much. Using the Solexa instrument costs $12,500 for the same job. Wow.

Apparently, Moore's Law of semiconductors (a doubling every 18 months) is slow compared to the speed of advances in DNA sequencing.

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

James Watson -- my new VDARE.com column

Here's my new essay on James D. Watson.

I want to apologize to Dr. Watson for earlier accepting the media spin that he had completely capitulated. As my VDARE.com column says:

When Watson's own feet were held to the fire last week, however, he offered a semi-apology/semi-defense. This has been almost universally assumed to be a "complete retraction"—to quote a representatively obtuse article, The Mortification of James Watson. [Time Magazine, By Laura Blue, October 19, 2007]

But it’s not. As the headline of Watson’s response on Friday, October 19 in the UK Independent shows—"To question genetic intelligence is not racism"—his actual stance is closer to Galileo's, who is said to have muttered E pur si muove ("and yet it does move") after the Inquisition forced him to recant in public his heretical belief that the earth went around the sun.

Watson wrote on Friday:

"This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great engineers."

Watson didn't specify who the great musicians tend to be—as opposed to the great engineers. But you can fill in the blanks. [More]

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