DNA pioneer cancels tour in controversy over remarks

Denounced worldwide and suspended from his job, DNA pioneer James Watson canceled his book tour in England on Friday and returned to Long Island, but not without adding fuel to the firestorm over his questioning of Africans' intelligence.

In an opinion piece in a British newspaper, Watson apologized again and said he was "bewildered" by his published remarks. He also said science must address questions of genetics and intelligence, though the answers might be "cruel."

"The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity," Watson wrote in an article published by The Independent. "It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science.

"To question this," he added, "is not to give in to racism."

Watson, who won the 1962 Nobel Prize for co-discovering the structure of DNA, has been condemned for telling the Times of London 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."

Watson's blunt words have sparked headlines before and likely will again, he said, writing: "Science is not here to make us feel good. It is to answer questions in the service of knowledge and greater understanding."

Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, an advocacy group for science-based government policies, called the article "odd."

"He's defending himself for something no one accused him of," said Kelly, adding that Watson was condemned precisely because his remarks were not supported in science.

On Friday, Watson canceled five public speeches in England and caught the first possible plane to New York, publicist Kate Farquhar-Thomson said.

"He's holding up, but I think he's very tired," she said.

Watson now must face his colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he lives and has worked since 1968. The lab suspended him from his administrative responsibilities as chancellor of the Watson School of Biological Sciences. Farquhar-Thomson said he left England early to meet with school officials.

A lab spokesman said Watson cannot raise funds or help the school attain accredited university status.

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