Thursday, December 13, 2007

Revisiting Watson's Remarks

There's been a recent reemerging buzz on Watson's past remarks in various news columns, because Watson recently had his genome decoded which revelead that his DNA has "16 times the number of genes considered to be of African origin than the average white European does — about the same amount of African DNA that would show up if one great-grandparent were African, said Kari Stefansson, the chief executive of deCODE Genetics of Iceland, which did the analysis."

While the revelation is pretty silly in regard to Watson's erred remarks, it is pretty amazing that we are now starting to use people's decoded genome as damning evidence of hypocrisy. I am somewhat inclined to think this is a good thing, because I suspect that as more information is revealed by science about our genes, the more the folk-stereotypes--which are largely socially created--of race will, increasingly, be shelved amongst our past (I'll be nice and say) 'misinformed' beliefs. Or at least that's my hope. The evidence uncovered so far seems to favor my hope, but it certainly can be easily manipulated to fit into the observer's racial stereotypes. We'll just have to hope that scientists will be able to make vertiable statements about race that are denuded of their racist implications. We shouldn't ban scientists from making remarks about race, but we should certainly not let them off the hook when they make judgemental statements directed at a particular race, based on rather flimsy evidence (like, for instance, in Watson's case, IQ studies).

*See my past post on Watson's remarks for more info

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