2008 January 13 Sunday
Francis Crick Agreed With James Watson On Race

Francis Crick and James Watson famously discovered the structure of the DNA double helix back in 1954. This made them 2 of the biggest figures in 20th century biology. More recently Watson indicated he believes large differences in cognitive ability exist between the races. He was widely attacked for these comments and found few defenders. His attackers did not bother to examine whether the evidence really does support Watson's contentions. Well, Watson and Crick are portrayed as very different personalities and Crick has been portrayed as the smarter of this dynamic duo. So where did Crick (who is already dead) stand on racial differences? Crick's views were very similar to Watson's and Steve Sailer has the details.

Watson has, of course, been in the news lately, getting dumped from his post as chancellor of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory. Now, a reader has pointed out to me that Watson's elder partner, Crick (1916-2004), was also guilty of holding the same views on race and IQ.

Some of the Francis Crick Papers are now online, and they are certainly illuminating. For example, during the controversy in 1969-1971 over IQ and race launched by Arthur Jensen's 1969 Harvard Education Review article and William Shockley's call for financial incentives and penalties to encourage higher IQ reproduction, Crick, a strong supporter of Jensen, threatened to resign as a Foreign Associate of the American National Academy of Sciences if steps were taken to "suppress reputable scientific research for political reasons."

In contrast, in 2007 almost nobody stood up for James Watson.

Steve excerpts some of the letters where Crick engages other scientists regarding scientific flaps about race in the 1970s. Here's an excerpt of a letter that Crick wrote to another scientist on 22 February 1971 in response to a letter this scientist had signed.

Dr. John T, Edsall
Fogarty International Center
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 2 0014

Dear John,

I have been very distressed to see the letter to the President of the National Academy by you and six other Academy members regarding a Proposal by Dr. [William] Shockley [Nobel laureate in physics]. Like you I have not published anything on the population problem, but f have become fairly familiar with the literature of the subject. I have also talked to Dr, Jensen when he visited the Salk Institute recently.

Unlike you and your colleagues I have formed the opinion that there is much substance to [Berkeley psychologist Arthur] Jensenís arguments. In brief I think it likely that more than half the difference between the average I.Q. of American whites and Negroes is due to genetic reasons, and will not be eliminated by any foreseeable change in the environment. Moreover I think the social consequences of this are likely to be rather serious unless steps are taken to recognize the situation.

While any present conclusions are tentative, it seems likely that the matter could be largely resolved if further research were carried out. I should thus like to know two things. Would you and your colleagues please state in detail why they think the arguments put forward by Jensen are either incorrect or misleading. Secondly, would they please indicate what research they think should be done to establish to what extent "intelligence" is inherited. This is surely the important point, and is equally valid for a country without a racially mixed population.

The most distressing feature of your letter is that it neither gives nor refers to any scientific arguments, but makes unsupported statements of opinion, This, I need hardly remind you, is politics, not science. The voice of established authority, unsupported by evidence or argument, should have no place in science, and I am surprised to find that you, of all people, should put your name to a letter of this character written to the Academy on a matter of scientific research. I am cure you will realize that if the Academy were to take active steps to suppress reputable scientific research for political reasons it would not be possible for me to remain a Foreign Associate.

Again, these are two of the greatest minds in 20th century biology.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 January 13 10:35 PM  Human Nature

Robert Hume said at January 14, 2008 1:12 PM:

Also from Steve's blog:

"In a lengthy 1977 letter to Nobel Laureate Peter Medawar, Crick outlined his views on IQ and eugenics. He had this to say about one frequently cited figured on the anti-Jensen side

Lewontin, in particular, is known to be strongly politically biased and himself admits to being scientifically unscrupulous on these issues. That is, he takes them as political ones and therefore feels justified in the use of biased arguments."

We simply cannot assume that liberal individuals on the IQ and immigration issues will argue fairly. We cannot give them the presumption of disinterestedness. If they are scientists or economists they will make complicated arguments which they know are false simply to make political talking points. Those who could refute them are reluctant to do so for fear of being called racists. We must do our part by making ad-hominem attacks on those our lying eyes tell us are lying.

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