Friday, October 19, 2007
I am delighted to see James Watson is in trouble again. He was offered to me as an interview in connection with his book Avoid Boring People (no link, I don't want you to buy it); I declined on the basis that one possible title for my own memoirs was Avoid James Watson. My own dealings with him - too boring to recount - convinced me this was a petulant little man, best avoided at all costs. He's now saying blacks do worse in IQ tests, which is true. It doesn't mean they are less intelligent as IQ tests are highly culturally determined. Blacks brought up in societies which value IQ tests - and which don't confine them to ghettos - do as well as anybody else. Lots of people deny this, but I'm afraid the evidence is against them. When I spoke to Watson we discussed the kind of choices that would be offered to people as a result of our genetic knowledge - for example, he thought the prenatal detection of homosexuality meant that most parents would abort any gay child. What effect would that have on society? He thought for a moment and then said, 'Less ballet.' This may be a harmless joke in the pub but, when you are a public figure with a tape recorder running, it's just nasty. Watson is arrogant enough to think it doesn't matter.
PS. The subject of Watson came up a few years ago when I was talking to some academics. They all murmured, 'Wonderful man, great men.' I said, 'No, he's not and you know it.' At once they agreed and a torrent of Watson horror stories emerged.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:42 am