Watson Backs Off Comments On African Mental Inferiority

Nobel Prize winner James Watson told The Independent in an exclusive interview that he had been misunderstood concerning his remarks about Africans lacking the intelligence of people in other parts of the world. “To those who have d rawn the inference from m y words that Africa as a continent is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant.” he intended to express the view that genes play a role in shaping human intelligence and help explain variance in behaviors such as why some people are more violent or engage in criminal activities. His comments have caused several organizations in England to consider canceling his scheduled appearances.

Mr. Watson is still confused about issues of criminality and violence. The definition of crime stems from social and economic views, not from inherent intelligence. If a society decides driving 70 miles an hour is to be defined as criminal or that using marijuana is a criminal act, it reflects a social interpretation that has nothing to do with genetic makeup. For example, in the Netherlands I can smoke marijuana and be considered as engaging in a legal action, but the same behavior in the United States results in me being placed in prison. A society gives a young man a weapon and tells him to shoot “the enemy” but there is no thought the shooting constitutes an act of violence. Watson appears to believe there is such a thing as “crime” and “violence” acting apart from societal norms. He forgets that Europeans have killed more people than humans from any other area of the world — does that suggest Europeans have genetic factors that compel the use of violence?