Scientist In Racial Controversy Cancels Kentucky Visit

Nobel Prize-winning geneticist James Watson (photographed in Paris in this 1993 file photo) has made controversial statements about race in the past. His latest, in which he said that Europeans and Africans have different levels of intelligence, prompted the cancellation of a lecture at London's Science Museum. (Getty Images/AFP/Daniel Mordzinski)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A prominent scientist whose remarks about the intelligence levels of blacks prompted international furor has canceled an appearance next month in Louisville.

James Watson, 79, told Kentucky Author Forum officials on Monday it would be best to cancel, The Courier-Journal reported Tuesday.

An Oct. 14 Times of London Magazine article quoted the comments. In the article, the 79-year-old Nobel Prize winner said he was "inherently gloomy" about 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 went on to say in the article that, while he hoped everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

Watson shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA.

National Public Radio host Neal Conan was scheduled to interview Watson at the forum on Nov. 12 to promote Watson's new memoir, "Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science."

After the comments were published, Watson canceled his book tour of Britain and returned to the U.S.

On Thursday, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where Watson was chancellor, suspended him from administrative duties pending an inquiry.

Kentucky Author Forum officials had made no decision about whether to cancel the Louisville event before Watson alerted them he was not coming, the Louisville newspaper reported.

Watson declined Tuesday night from his home in New York to discuss his comments but told the newspaper he felt that he had to postpone the Louisville event until the issue "gets out of the newspapers."

He has said that the published comments did not reflect his views.

In a written statement given to The Associated Press last week, Watson said he was "mortified by what had happened."

"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly," he said. "That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."
Information from: The Courier-Journal,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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