Friday, October 19, 2007

The ugly past creeps in, part 2

So what did I hear when I finally emerged from the pile of crumpled Kleenex I was buried under?

Nobel-prize-winning scientist James Watson told The Sunday Times 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."

So my grandmother has some distinguished company. To continue on from my earlier post, "Radical Compassion," the past seeps up, like toxic ground water, to taint the present. Unless we examine our individual pasts, our national past, the flawed assumptions and assertions that those in the past called truth will find their way into the so-called "truths" of today. In the 19th century, "scientists" measured human skulls and made declarations about intelligence and ability based on these measurements. (See the lovely chart, above.) Guess who came out as superior?

It's an absolute wonder to me that - with all the dangerous, discredited theories (humors, skull shape, bleeding the sick) that we have gone through in the name of Science - scientists don't have a deeper sense of humility about what they do. And how can ANYONE make such sweeping statements about an entire continent, with its multiplicity of peoples? Which also just happens to be the continent responsible for the development of all human life. What standards are they using and who invented those standards? "Western" scientists, of course, with their deep cultural biases.

You'd think with a Nobel, he'd show signs of intelligence. whereas all the evidence says, "not really."

There, I've vented. Think I'll go hide my head again.


Will said...

I was really taken aback when I read what Watson said. Then I remembered that my cell bio teacher told me last semester: Watson is a nasty old racist W.A.S.P., and needs to hurry up and die because he won't go away. Despite his recent remarks, I have to concede that the double-helix makes his contribution to the human race still positive, though with a good sized asterisk next to it (Being a Giants fan, I know NOTHING about asterisks, but I hear that's how they work). I keep hoping that we as a society are actually past all this skin color crap, but then reality smacks me around and makes me feel all naive and idealistic. Maybe when my kids are all grown up they won't have to deal with that (there I go being all idealistic again, sheesh).


Elizabeth said...

Yeah, I know.... You have to keep hoping, and then reality does smack you around. sounds like the people in the biz knew he had issues. Too bad they couldn't keep him hidden away in a lab. Well, at least he's had to cancel his book tour because of the furor. I think that it's a good start when bigots learn lesson #1, which is to SHUT UP!

more cowbell said...

You know, when I heard about that asshat spewing that tired line, it was the 2nd time in recent months where I thought "somebody needs to watch PBS's 'Race the Power of Illusion'." The first time was the 14yr old girl in my son's class. OK, that's one thing. A Nobel prize winner? That's inexcusable. The sad thing is, this will confirm things in the minds of folks who tend toward those thoughts anyway.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, exactly what I was thinking too. It just gives a wider forum and credibility to those who want to spread this nonsense.