Nobel Scientist James Watson Has Been Stripped of His Honorary Titles Over Racist Remarks About Genetics

Dr. James Watson poses with the original DNA model ahead of a press conference at the Science museum in London, 20 May 2005. Watson has been stripped of his honorary titles by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after doubling down on racist remarks about genetics in a recent PBS documentary. AFP PHOTO/ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Odd Andersen—AFP/Getty Images

Nobel Prize-winning American scientist James Watson—who, with his partner Francis Crick, identified the double-helix structure of DNA—has been stripped of his honorary titles over racist comments in a PBS documentary that aired earlier this month.

Watson previously made anti-black comments to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper in 2007, and claimed that genetics cause a difference in intelligence between black people and white people, a common talking point among white supremacist figures and groups.

The scientist was relieved of his administrative duties at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory over the claims, but he maintained his honorary titles.

Watson apologized for making the scientifically unsupported remarks at the time, but said in the PBS film—American Masters: Decoding Watson, released on Jan. 2, that his views on the matter have not changed because he said he had not “seen any knowledge” proving otherwise.

In a statement, CSHL, which Watson once led, stripped him of all his honorary titles, and called his comments “reprehensible [and] unsupported by science,” CNN reported. “The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice,” it said.

Watson has made various racist, misogynistic, and homophobic remarks throughout his career. He once argued in favor of abortion rights, but especially in cases where genes leading to homosexuality—an unsubstantiated and homophobic claim—or dyslexia, were found in the fetus.

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