Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blut und Wissenschaft

How is Dick Dawkins going to blame religion for this?
A leading museum has cancelled a talk by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist from the United States who reportedly claimed that black people are less intelligent than whites, it said Thursday.

The Science Museum in London had been due to host a lecture on Friday by Doctor James Watson, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1962 for his part in discovering the structure of DNA.

But it pulled the event after Watson told the Sunday Times newspaper 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".

Still, you might ask, why should it follow that Richard Dawkins defend his fellow scientist in so prickly a matter? Well, for one, Watson too is an avowed atheist and evolutionist; a strong adherent of the belief that all religion is ignorance and sadism corrupting man's (apparently) natural moral state. Hell, he's even gone so far as to shill for Dawkins' book:
Passionate religious irrationality too often poses serious obstacles to human betterment. To oppose it effectively, the world needs equally passionate rationalists unafraid to challenge long accepted beliefs. Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion.
One would think that this would be reason enough. But then there's this:

It seems that, way back in 1997, there was a great to-do over Dr. Watson's apparent endorsement in the Sunday Telegraph of the abortion of homosexual foetuses. Watson himself was furious at the accusation and threatened to sue. (He clarified that his position was that a woman should have the right to an abortion whatever the reason--including the prospect of progeny with tin-ears or short legs.) And sure enough, our friend Dr. Dick leapt astride his high-horse to play Lancelot to Watson's Guinevere. ( ... A very appropriate analogy if I do say so myself.)

Clearly then, Dawkins has got a fairish amount invested in his association with Dr. Watson.

So: accepting that religion, in its broadest sense, has much to account for when it comes to the harm that has been done in its various names, will Dr. Dick then concede the very real harm posed the world by his beloved science too? Will he acknowledge that, even within his own little section of the field, the biologist's skin doth conceal the eugenicist's organs? Or is this a case of Dr. Watson fighting the great white fight against "passionate religious irrationality" to clear yet another "obstacle to human betterment"?

I'm betting that he'll just say Watson's senile.