Originally published December 11 2014
Nobel Prize for sale to the highest bidder - The legacy of genetic science
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A world renowned biologist who won a Nobel Prize for his work in 1962 put it up for sale after being shunned for decades by the scientific community over his conclusion that intelligence was linked to race. On Dec. 4, it brought $4.8 million, far more than speculators had predicted.
James Watson says the major reason why he sold his prize is because he needs the money and because "no one really wants to admit I exist," he said.
Before the sale auction house Christie's said the gold medal -- which became the first one sold by a living recipient -- might fetch as much as $3.5 million when it was auctioned in New York City. The reserve price was $2.5 million.
In an interview with London's Financial Times, Watson said he has been turned into an "unperson" after he "was outed as believing in IQ" in 2007; he said he would like to use the money from the sale to purchase a David Hockney painting; Hockney is an English painter who paints contemporary scenes and once painted "A Bigger Grand Canyon" on 60 canvasses.
Watson shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for discovering the double helix structure in DNA. He sparked controversy in 2007 when he suggested that people of African descent were inherently less intelligence than Caucasians, because of their DNA.
Before the auction, Watson said he planned to use some of the proceeds to make donations to the "institutions that have looked after me." They include the University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate degree, and Clare College in Cambridge.
"Because I was an 'unperson'"
As further reported by Britain's Telegraph newspaper:
Mr Watson said his income had plummeted following his controversial remarks in 2007, which forced him to retire from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York. He still holds the position of chancellor emeritus there.
"Because I was an 'unperson' I was fired from the boards of companies, so I have no income, apart from my academic income," he said, according to the paper.
Besides honoring his academic background, Watson said, "I really would love to own a [painting by David] Hockney".
Christie's auctioneer Francis Wahlgren, who handled the sale of Watson's prize, said in the weeks before the auction he was sure that the medal would at least bring the $2.5 million reserve. He also said that public demand for anything associated with genetic discovery had "exploded" recently on the promise of biotechnology.
"The far-reaching aspects of their discovery affect everybody and are only being appreciated now," said Wahlgreen, as reported by The Telegraph.
Watson, 86, is considered to be a founding father of DNA research and discovery, according to The Washington Post. In a 2007 interview with Britain's The Sunday Times, Watson said 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." He added that, while he hoped everyone was truly equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."
There is a DNA-intelligence link
Watson has been ostracized for his views, but in the past three years alone, there have been a series of reports based on studies that essentially echo what he has been saying: DNA and intelligence are linked.
From the L.A. Times in August 2011:
Intelligence is in the genes, researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychology.
In April 2012 AFP RelaxNews reported:
An international team of scientists said Sunday the largest brain study of its kind had found a gene linked to intelligence, a small piece in the puzzle as to why some people are smarter than others.
And in February of this year, The Telegraph reported:
A gene which may make people more intelligent has been discovered by scientists.
Researchers have found that teenagers who had a highly functioning NPTN gene performed better in intelligence tests.
However, no person's intelligence can be determined solely by their DNA. Every person should be considered an individual who is affected by many factors, including their environment and their own choices. And of course, it also matters how intelligence is measured; as an intelligent man once said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
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