This is easily one of the most disturbing (cultural) things I have read recently and really speaks to how fast things seem to be accelerating towards oblivion. If you don’t know, James Watson, with Francis Crick, discovered the structure of the DNA molecule back in 1953. It would be difficult to overstate how important this discovery has been for increasing the world’s understanding of life. It is right up there with Einstein’s theory of relativity, and I would say it is arguably even more important given how much impact it has and could have on how we live. Well, he recently turned 90 and there was a celebration for him at the lab he founded, cold spring harbor laboratory, that he used to run before being harassed out by rabid SJW leftists. After which, he was forced to auction off his Nobel prize due to financial difficulty. A Russian billionaire won that auction and immediately gave the prize back to him. Sometimes you have to really love Russians.
Prominent geneticist Eric Lander apologized on Monday for toasting James Watson, the co-discoverer of the double helix who in his later years has become known for racist and misogynist views. Social media tore into the director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard after his remarks on Watson’s 90th birthday.
This tweet has the video of the toast that is being apologized for, and some bonus SJW nonsense. I encourage you to watch the video. Their anger about such an innocent thing was a real wtf moment for me.
And just in case the person who posted this takes down the video, I have downloaded it and am posting it here because I think it is an important record of a horrific action by Eric Lander #BOG18 pic.twitter.com/QBvdPKrwx4
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) May 13, 2018
Nevermind Watson’s accomplishments for a moment, these leftist assholes are actually begrudging a 90-year-old man a toast on his birthday. The left is a truly wretched and contemptible lot.
Lander, like all geneticists, owes his career to Watson’s work and discovery. How did he handle the criticism from the left for acknowledging the man he owes so much to?
“I was asked to toast James Watson last week … for his role in the Human Genome Project, on the occasion of his 90th birthday,” Lander said in an email to “fellow Broadies” sent just before noon. “People who have called this out are correct. I was wrong to toast, and I’m sorry.”
“I was conflicted about whether to do it,” Lander said in his email, which he sent after Twitter exploded with criticism of him the day before. “I ultimately agreed to accommodate the request. But it was the wrong decision.”
No backbone at all. And all gratitude ret-conned. It’s pathetic.
Watson has long been vilified for the work that made him a scientific icon: discovering the double helical structure of DNA. That discovery relied on X-ray diffraction patterns obtained by English chemist Rosalind Franklin of Kings College London, who did not share in the Nobel Prize awarded to Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins in 1962. Although Franklin died in 1958 and Nobels are never awarded posthumously, Watson has long come under fire for minimizing her contributions.
Rosalind Franklin’s work was undoubtedly important. However, the attempt by the left to elevate her status above her actual contribution is transparent revisionist history. If she was such a genius, rather than a talented lab technician, why didn’t she figure out the structure herself? She had the pictures and could have interpreted them. I think Jim described this best:
[Rosalind Franklin was a] science bureaucrat. After other people discovered the method of resolving complex molecular structures by Xray diffraction, she applied this method to one complex molecule after another. The scientific equivalent of HR. Boring.
Ironically, Lander himself landed in a similar situation previously when he wrote publicly that a Chinese man, Feng Zhang, deserved more credit for the development of the crispr genetic engineering system than is being acknowledged. Currently, there are two women, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, who receive most of the credit. I do not know enough about this backstory to really know who deserves what amount of credit. To some extent, this seems like typical backbiting politics common in science. Top scientists are really ambitious people who regularly engage in the bitterest sort of rivalries, not to mention most are probably on the spectrum which doesn’t help. On the other hand, there is a strong tendency in our culture to over-emphasize the contributions of women (and minorities) and under-emphasize the contributions of men, and especially white (and Asian) men. Do look at Jim’s post, it is quite relevant and has a depressingly funny web comic.
In my last post, I mentioned that biology was by no means immune to leftist convergence and this is very strong proof of that. The article mentioning this included several tweets by current geneticists and I will include those below:
Since not everyone is aware of how awful a human Jim Watson is, and therefore doesn't appreciate how utterly revolting it is that Eric Lander, for entirely self-serving reasons, chose to celebrate him, read this account of his 2000 talk at @UCBerkeley https://t.co/VOdMWfz0O9
— Michael Eisen (@mbeisen) May 13, 2018
ICYMI @eric_lander & other genomics bigwigs – all white – toasted James Watson, whose seething, unrepentant racism, antisemitism, & sexism are well-known to all, to the applause of an audience of genomics researchers. This took place at @CSHL’s Biology of Genomes meeting #BoG18. pic.twitter.com/ZpdP630N4K
— Karen James (@kejames) May 13, 2018
Last night the genomics community applauded a disgraceful normalization of racism and sexism as Jim Watson was toasted on his 90th birthday. https://t.co/UrTZ4N015a /1
— Lior Pachter (@lpachter) May 12, 2018