Cold Spring Harbor denounces Watson

James Watson has now recanted his remarks, but not before his lab issued this terse press release:

"The comments attributed to Dr. James Watson that first appeared in the October 14, 2007 edition of The Sunday Times U.K. are his own personal statements and in no way reflect the mission, goals, or principles of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Board, administration or faculty. Dr. Watson is not the President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and was not speaking on behalf of the institution.
"The Board of Trustees, administration and faculty vehemently disagree with these statements and are bewildered and saddened if he indeed made such comments. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory does not engage in any research that could even form the basis of the statements attributed to Dr. Watson."

But Watson lives there!

Ooooh...wait a minute! What about the Watson School of Biological Sciences? Watson is the chancellor! They do list 15 faculty members doing research in neuroscience, and 9 interested in learning and memory.

I guess somebody over there must have had an "Oh, crap" moment...

I think it's a pity they decided to issue this CYA statement instead of something genuinely meaningful. Why don't they devote one of their prestigious meetings to the topic of intelligence and race? Not a mere show trial, but a real encounter leading to (one or more) real accessible publications. We need less grandstanding, fewer sound bites, and more promotion of scientific reasoning.

In the early days, their symposia included anthropologists as well as geneticists, but when I went to one around 10 years ago, it was clear that the old days had changed. Now you can see from the 2008 scheduled meetings there is not a single human-focused topic. They need desperately to revive their connection to evolutionary biology and human evolution in particular. Topics that actually concern society seem like a good start.

(via SciAm)

UPDATE (2007/10/19): Now Watson has been suspended from CSHL.