"The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity. It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science. To question this is not to give in to racism."
So says Nobel Prize-winning DNA pioneer James Watson, seeking to clarify remarks that eventually earned him a suspension from his research institution, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, NY.
In a recent (London) Times interview, Dr. Watson was quoted as saying that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really."
The remarks drew sharp criticism, and following the suspension, he stated: "This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great engineers."