Monday, November 11, 2013

JamesWatson

James Waston (co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA) came to the company where I work to give a talk about this great scientific discovery. I never read The Double Helix, nor did I really know much about the discovery aside from the names Watson and Crick. He talked for a while about the science and the personalities involved, which was kind of interesting. Then he started sprinkling in personal remarks about some of the other scientists. Not nice or complimentary things, but derogatory things, insulting things, downright mean things. In fact the only scientist he didn't have some disdain for was himself, to whom he directed many very complimentary remarks. At one point or another, he must have insulted everyone in the room of about 150 people. Now I am enough of a realist to know that not everyone is 'personable', especially among the smart sectors of humanity, and he was mostly insulting dead people. But here is when things turned the corner for me. He just finished an attack directed against Republicans and finished by saying rhetorically , "Why should you bother with such hateful people?" Okay, fine. He doesn't like hateful people and is making a wild generalization about Republicans. Whatever. But then in the next 10 minutes he went on to name two or three groups of people he "hates". Yes, he used that word, "hate". So opinions about women, conservatives, vegans, biologists and 'dumb' people aside, he is just logically inconsistent. According to him, we should pay no attention to him because he is a hateful person. I expected more from James Watson.

After the partly shocking, partly disappointing talk he gave, people were lined up out the door and down the hallway to have him sign a book or a paper and get a picture with this bigoted elder statesman. Needless to say, I passed on the signature and the photo-op. I did snap a couple of photos of him just with this blog entry in mind.

I am sorry for James Watson. He obviously has (or had) a brilliant scientific mind. It is sad that it was not coupled with a more kind, compassionate and forgiving spirit.

James Watson