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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Museum drops race row scientist
Dr James Watson
Dr Watson was due to arrive in Britain to promote his new book
The Science Museum has cancelled a talk by American DNA pioneer Dr James Watson after he claimed black people were less intelligent than white people.

Dr Watson, who won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, was due to speak at the venue on Friday.

But the museum has cancelled the event, saying his views went "beyond the point of acceptable debate".

Skills Minister David Lammy said Dr Watson's views "were deeply offensive".

He added: "They will succeed only in providing oxygen for the BNP.

"It is a shame that a man with a record of scientific distinction should see his work overshadowed by his own irrational prejudices."

We feel Dr Watson has gone beyond the point of acceptable debate
Science Museum

Dr Watson has arrived in Britain to promote his latest book.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the 79-year-old 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 went on to say he hoped everyone was equal but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".

A spokesman for the Science Museum said: "We know that eminent scientists can sometimes say things that cause controversy and the Science Museum does not shy away from debating controversial topics.

"However, we feel Dr Watson has gone beyond the point of acceptable debate and we are, as a result, cancelling his talk."

Unreserved apology

But reacting to the "storm in the media", the geneticist said he was "mortified" by what had happened.

"I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have.

"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly.

"That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."

The scientist has courted controversy in the past, saying a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual.


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