Re: [xmca] Disgrace: How a giant of science was brought low | Focus | The Observer

From: E. Knutsson <eikn6681 who-is-at>
Date: Sun Oct 21 2007 - 03:53:50 PDT

David P,

1) How would you define the dividing line between politics and science (“this
is politics, not science”)?

2) How would you define free speech? You are criticizing scholars "trying to
sell us the idea that opposing these remarks is an attack on free speech (in a
similar manner the neoconservatives think that criticism of the government is
unpatriotic)." It seems to me that these are incommensurable cases: the latter
having actively tried to reduce free speech, the former having tried to extend

3) Do we need “closets” (“he just went out of the closet as regards his
political views”)? Are rigorous moral taboos desirable among scientists?

4) You consider “a mob reaction” as “the adequate response to prejudice.” Since
every human being possesses prejudices to some extent and of some kind, it
could be interesting to know what and whose prejudices deserve (or do not
deserve) “a mob reaction.”

5) Are you advocating the view that there is only one, monolithic Truth (“We
are not talking here about a guy that is defending a scientific truth, such as
Galileo, Coppernicus, Bruno or many other real heroes”)?

6) Guilt by association: Should we stop reading Vygotsky due to the fact that
the Marxist ideology he to some extent advocated or supported gave rise to one
of the most brutal regimes in recorded history (“we are talking about a guy
that is lending his scientific credentials to a way of thinking that supported
appartheid and many other abhorrent policies in the US and elsewhere")?


On 2007-10-21, at 03:37, David Preiss wrote:
> It was not Watson´s first time:
> For those who want to skip the link, the essential paragraphs written
> by Robin McKie in London and Paul Harris in New York say:
> "Watson is renowned for his controversial views. He sees himself as a
> free-thinker, though it must be admitted his ideas often simply seem
> eccentric. In 1997, he suggested it would be acceptable to terminate
> a foetus if it carried a gene that might mean the adult that grows
> from it was gay. He has also suggested a link between sunlight and
> libido. 'That is why you have Latin lovers. You've never heard of an
> English lover,' he said. And Watson has also proposed that a foetus
> destined to be 'stupid' should be aborted.
> Such maverick remarks led the journal Science to conclude, in 1990,
> that 'to many in the scientific community, Watson has long been
> something of a wild man, and his colleagues tend to hold their
> collective breath whenever he veers from the script'. This track
> record explains one intriguing feature of the Watson affair. Although
> the Sunday Times carried the interview in which the scientist
> outlined his disparaging views about black people, the paper kept his
> remarks buried in its colour magazine.
> A story was offered to the Sunday Times newsdesk by magazine staff,
> but was declined on the grounds that Watson had said such things in
> the past, as indeed he had. Thus it was left to Simon Kelner, editor
> of the Independent, to take Watson's claims and to run them as its
> lead story on Wednesday, under the banner: 'Africans are less
> intelligent that Westerners, says DNA pioneer'. In this way, Watson's
> fate was sealed."
> More contextual info in the above link and in this one (which
> includes more similar insensitive statements):
> There is a track of remarks he has made that show, beyond reasonable
> doubt, he has a political agenda disguised as science.
> I am sure we will hear in the next few days of some (not necessarily
> representative of their fields) evolutionary psychologists and
> behavioral geneticists... trying to sell us the idea that opposing
> these remarks is an attack on free speech (in a similar manner the
> neoconservatives think that criticism of the government is
> unpatriotic). Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio...
> David Preiss, Ph.D.
> Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
> Escuela de Psicología
> Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
> Av Vicuña Mackenna 4860
> Macul, Santiago
> Chile
> Fono: 3544605
> Fax: 3544844
> e-mail:
> web personal:
> web institucional:
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> xmca mailing list

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Received on Sun Oct 21 03:57 PDT 2007

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