Posted on May 19, 2017

University of Illinois Cancels Talk by Nobel Laureate After Faculty Raises Concerns About His Views on Race, Intelligence

Associated Press, May 17, 2017

Nobel laureate James Watson

Nobel laureate James Watson (Credit Image: © Novoderezhkin Anton/TASS via ZUMA Press)

The University of Illinois has cancelled plans to host a talk by Nobel Laureate James Watson after faculty raised concerns about his discredited views on race and intelligence.

Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson tells The News-Gazette the center dropped plans to host the scientist before a date had even been set.

Watson, 89, co-discovered the structure of DNA and has a history of racially insensitive comments.


“We tried to consider this very carefully in going forward, and different perspectives on the possibilities of him giving a science-based lecture,” Robinson said. “With respect to his past, the email that I sent out stated very clearly that we didn’t condone any of his past comments, racist comments and sexist comments. And we noted that he had apologized and thought about all those very carefully.”


Watson’s most notable racially insensitive comments were made during a book tour in 2007, when he told the Sunday Times of London he was “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.”