Well, I think that there's very little doubt that James Watson, a co-discoverer of DNA and a co-winner of the 1962 Nobel prize in medicine, would be chosen by the largest number of respondents. Several years ago, James Watson would be declared an unperson for having pointed out – in a rather straightforward, unfiltered way – that different groups of people differ in their abilities, too. Note that the TRF blog post has attracted almost 200 comments.
Let me emphasize that he didn't join just the "Untermenschen". This hero of life sciences has joined the "Unpersons". He still gets some basic income related to his Academic career but he stopped receiving any other money – from talks etc. – and I find it conceivable, although not guaranteed to be true, that this man (who has probably gotten used to some luxury) is feeling some financial pressure and that's the reason why he decided to sell the Nobel prize medal and some related things through an auction, in a move that is expected to bring several million dollars to him. A part of the revenue would be sent to some of the institutions that have allowed his scientific research to proceed.
Well, maybe the poor 86-year-old man needs some publicity, too. But I am sure that there is some substance to the claim that he needs to sell the medal in order to restore his material well-being. If he wants to buy a David Hockney painting, well, it's perhaps necessary for him to sell the medal, indeed.
Recall that he has commented on the claims that people of races have the same intelligence by mentioning that "those who have to deal with black employees find this not true". It's harsh (I wouldn't use these straightforward words – perhaps because I was already brought up in a more PC atmosphere) but there are surely hundreds of millions of people in the world who say the same thing, at least in front of audiences they consider "safe".
In the morning, I happened to watch an entertaining monologue by the Amazing Atheist who analyzed a hardcore feminist rant titled I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing, with a title that sounds like a parody but it's apparently not.
Of course, what James Watson discussed is an issue that is very vaguely connected with some bad treatment of some people in the past and it is therefore much more sensitive, far-reaching, and potentially objectionable than some people's arbitrary dress codes and weird ideological interpretations of shirts. But of course that the two things have lots in common. Not even the greatest scientific advances are enough for certain scientists to be respected.
The degree of hatred towards this founder is intense. Hours ago, the left-wing British daily The Guardian posted the following rant by an individual calling himself Adam Rutherford:
Adam "Rutherford" is a nasty dirty pig and to treat his flesh as something else than $6-per-pound pork means to disrespect the basic principles of equality between all pigs. We are told:
His comments reveal a pernicious character entirely unrelated to his scientific greatness, but that is longstanding and not new.I am sorry but the controversial questions that James Watson addressed 7 years ago are extremely closely related to his scientific greatness. It is about genetics. Organisms' and species' basic anatomy, physiology, and potential is encoded in the DNA molecule, and if it weren't the case, for example because the DNA molecule would be irrelevant for the further life, we wouldn't respect James Watson as the co-author of a groundbreaking discovery. Moreover, it's not just the DNA molecule. James Watson would lead to the Human Genome Project for years; only morons might think that this project has nothing to say about the abilities of individual humans and groups of humans. And incidentally, Watson's own DNA was among the first ones to be sequenced.
So whether you like it or not, Mr "Rutherford" (I had to use quotes because I find his last name insulting to the memory of Ernest Rutherford), what James Watson has to say about these issues is 1,000 times more supported by science and scientific achievements than your ideological rants.
Mr "Rutherford" also claims that Watson is a "sexist" because he would dedicate a few sentences in his book, The Double Helix, to the question whether Rosy (Rosalind Franklin) was attractive and whether she tried to make her more attractive. She was attractive, despite the strong features, and didn't want to increase this virtue. What is "sexist" about those things? Readers of such books surely want to know similar things, they're discussed whether or not this topic is included in books, and Watson was among those few people who knew Rosy more than almost everyone else.
The end of the article by "Rutherford" tries to suggest that Watson's interpretations are wrong:
“No one really wants to admit I exist” says Watson. That’s not it. It’s more that no one is interested in his racist, sexist views.Oh, really? If no one is interested in Watson's views on these social questions, why do scumbags in The Guardian can't resist the urge to write these long rants whose only purpose is character assassination and demonization? And why do the discussions under these articles always attract a gigantic number of commenters?
The claim by "Rutherford" that James Watson deserves to be "shunned" is illogical, too. If someone shuns James Watson, he or she is making a grave mistake. If a "Rutherford" shuns people like James Watson, he only amplifies the fact that he is just a worthless stinky pig, not a human being who may meet James Watson as a fellow human being.