Thursday, October 18, 2007

Watson Fallout: Press Releases Hit the Fan

Thanks to Tim, who always sends info my way, both Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Federation of American Scientists have issued press releases regarding Watson's latest gaffes.

The CSHL release is rather drab and overly polite:

“The comments attributed to Dr. James Watson that first appeared in the October 14, 2007 edition of The Sunday Times U.K. are his own personal statements and in no way reflect the mission, goals, or principles of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Board, administration or faculty. Dr. Watson is not the President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and was not speaking on behalf of the institution.

"The Board of Trustees, administration and faculty vehemently disagree with these statements and are bewildered and saddened if he indeed made such comments. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory does not engage in any research that could even form the basis of the statements attributed to Dr. Watson.

"Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s renowned commitment to scientific research in the areas of cancer, neurological diseases, and plant genetics has and continues to dramatically benefit human-kind throughout the world.”

The FAS, however, minces no words:

"The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is outraged by the noxious comments of Dr. James Watson that appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine on October 14th. At a time when the scientific community is feeling threatened by political forces seeking to undermine its credibility it is tragic that one of the icons of modern science has cast such dishonor on the profession.

The scientific enterprise is based on the promotion and proof of new ideas through evidence, however controversial, but Dr. Watson chose to use his unique stature to promote personal prejudices that are racist, vicious and unsupported by science.

While we honor the extraordinary contributions that Dr. Watson has made to science in the past, his comments show that he has lost his way. He has failed us in the worst possible way. It is a sad and revolting way to end a remarkable career."

You can almost smell flesh sizzling.

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