Seed, It’s High Time to Kick Watson Out

Co-discoverer of DNA and Nobel laureate James Watson is the Seed Media Group’s board of directors’ scientific advisor. Not a member of some advisory group: the board’s single advisor. He has remained so despite a highly publicised racist utterance four months ago.

In October last year Watson was quoted as being “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” as “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.” This is not the first time that Watson lets slip a really bisarre prejudice: he’s slurred women, obese people, gays and Hispanics before.

Seed owns ScienceBlogs. When Watson’s racist remark became known, a large number of us Sbloggers suggested to the board that it was time to sever all ties with Watson. We have received no reply, and Watson remains in place at Seed, although he has been removed from the director’s post at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and had any number of high-profile speaking engagements worldwide cancelled.

Now, a number of us have tired of waiting for a reply — including Zuska , Maria at Green Gabbro, Dave at Cognitive Daily and Grrl at Living the Scientific Life. We are not comfortable being associated with James Watson even at such a remove.

Seed, drop the man NOW!

[More blog entries about , , ; , , .]


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2008

    Man,you are so fired!

  2. #2 David Lee
    February 12, 2008

    Well, if you don’t bump him you might consider moving your blog somewhere else.

  3. #3 Thadd
    February 12, 2008

    If they don’t fire him, they should at least think of making it a board of directors, to check some of the latent idiocy.

  4. #4 Gwenny
    February 12, 2008

    I agree with David Lee. If you aren’t happy with who is in charge, go somewhere else. That whole “racist comment” issue was so blown out of proportion! He’s a brilliant man who said something stupid.

  5. #5 DrugMonkey
    February 12, 2008

    and Gwenny? Suppose he said “something stupid” repeatedly over the course of decades? Spreading his “stuid” remarks across any number of groups including not just Africans but african-americans, the overweight, the “ugly”, the female….?

  6. #6 Son of Priam
    February 12, 2008

    David Lee said: “Well, if you don’t bump him you might consider moving your blog somewhere else.”

    Indeed, you put something on the line here, like the your contribution to this blog nexus, if you are serious and want SEED to take notice. If people like you start leaving for other blog hosts, that’s when SEED will take notice. Until then, it is like complaining about a restaurant but continuing to eat there all the time — no motivation to change.

  7. #7 Mattias
    February 13, 2008

    Anyone considering genetic screening and genetic engineering as acceptable practice will have to personally make a distinction between disease, suffering, handicap and biological anomaly. Ever since the rise of DNA research, such distinctions have largely been avoided, which is bound to increase tension in these matters, especially since both screening and engineering is now widely practiced.

    / Mattias

  8. #8 Martin R
    February 13, 2008

    Almost immediately after posting, I had rumour of some surprising new developments on this issue. As soon as I get some definitive info, I’ll let y’all know.

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    February 13, 2008

    Why does the Board of Directors have only one science adviser?

  10. #10 mr. gunn
    February 13, 2008

    As you clearly understand, Dr. Watson has been an asshole for quite some time. However, he’s also been on the board of Seed for quite some time, and all this time you’ve said nothing.

    You should take your blog elsewhere, or let this issue die, again.

  11. #11 mugabe
    February 13, 2008

    Strange, this attitude of most posters on this subject.

    -I have a favourite restaurant. The food’s great, the staff friendly and the location divine. Only problem is the bread, which is usually stale. Maybe I should point it out to them?

    -Don’t bother. Just never eat there again. For as long as you eat there, they have no incentive to better themselves.

  12. #12 "GrrlScientist"
    February 13, 2008

    sea changes are coming to SB, or so they say.

  13. #13 simple z
    February 14, 2008

    Funny thing…
    last summer swedish tv showed a historial documentary about the discovery of DNA and the people behind it, nobel prize winners, forgotten & not-credited scientists (mostly one woman) etc etc

    When they interviewed Watson i got a bad feeling. I remember him particularly. He seemed so…arrogant and wining (not only because of the slow british accent). He didn’t mention the collegues at all (which the others carefully did), only made fun of religious people:

    “We saaaaw…… that there was nieoouuu God! Eeeoounlyy DNAe and geeeeenes!”

    (As if anyone has ever layed eyes on a “non-god”)

    Was shivering when i saw it and thought of him as rude & arrogant, but then again, i’m only a christian, what could i know 😉

  14. #14 KevinC
    February 14, 2008

    simple z,

    James Watson is an American. A rude and arrogant one.

  15. #15 Martin R
    February 14, 2008

    An arrogant and dismissive attitude to religion is of course a profoundly charming character trait, but apparently Watson is still not a nice person. (-;

  16. #16 Son of Priam
    February 16, 2008

    Greg Laden said: “Man,you are so fired!”

    Where’s your outrage over James Watson now that you’re at Science Blogs?

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.