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UC faculty say lecturer’s remarks were racist, sexist

The Associated Press
Tuesday November 14, 2000

BERKELEY — Some faculty members at the University of California, Berkeley say they were offended during a lecture by James Watson, one of the men who discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. 

The Nobel Prize winner suggested there are biochemical links between skin color and sexual activity, and between thinness and ambition. 

After Watson’s talk last month, some faculty members and graduate students called the ideas racist, sexist and having no basis in science. 

When the 72-year-old Watson explained  

that there was a link between skin color and sexual activity, he said, “That’s why you have  

Latin lovers.” 

To support his idea that thin people are more ambitious, he showed a slide of unsmiling model Kate Moss, saying thin people are unhappy and thus more ambitious. 

``Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you're not going to hire them,'' Watson said.  

Watson, who has been known to make shocking statements in public forums, declined to answer questions about the lecture. 

UC Berkeley biologist Michael Botchan, who chaired the session, said Watson was discussing a protein that helps create hormones that affect skin color, a sense of well-being and fat metabolism. 

Botchan, acknowledging the comments were crude, sexist and potentially racist, said Watson was wondering aloud why evolution had linked the hormones and whether sunlight played a role.