Disgruntled, notorious scientist James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, will sell his Nobel Prize medallion this week.
Photo by Adam Nadel
In 1953, James Watson, along with Francis Crick, unveiled the double helix structure of DNA to the world—a discovery that will forever be recognized as one of most significant achievements of the 20th century. In 1962, Watson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the scientific field’s most honored distinction, along with Crick and scientist Maurice Wilkins. Now, 52 years later, Watson has announced that he will be auctioning his Nobel Prize medallion (estimated to be worth a cool $3.5 million) this Thursday, December 6.
He will be the first Nobel Laureate to ever do so.
But why? Apparently, he needs the money, he told the Financial Times. But why, might you ask again? Beyond his laudable scientific achievements, Watson is also famous for his despicable public commentary—often of a sexist or racist nature—which has, over the years, led to the scientific community distancing itself from him or flat-out denouncing his views. Among some of Watson’s more inflammatory gems:
—In 2007, Watson told The Sunday Times 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.” He also bemoaned mankind’s desire to believe that all races have the same intelligence capabilities, citing that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”
—He failed to appropriately credit chemist Rosalind Franklin for her work on X-ray diffraction images, which was entirely necessary to Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix. In 2012, he remarked of women in his field: “I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they’re probably less effective.”
—In 1997, he insisted to a British newspaper that a woman should have the right to terminate a fetus if tests could prove the unborn child would be homosexual.
Watson lamented to the Financial Times that he has become an “unperson,” and that “no one wants to admit I exist.”
“Scientific prestige is never a substitute for knowledge. As scientists, we are outraged and saddened when science is used to perpetuate prejudice.”
Congratulations, James Watson, on your astounding scientific achievements, but also for being a total dick. Now, can somebody please get him a medal for that?