Color, Controversy and DNA

A conversation between The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nobel laureate and DNA pioneer James Watson about race and genetics, Jewish intelligence, blacks and basketball and Watson's African roots.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. at Cold Spring Laboratories in 2008.

Below are excerpts from the Q&A with Nobel laureate and DNA pioneer James Watson.

James Watson: I've thought about these things a lot over the last couple of months, because those who know me well, you know, I'm mortified by those three sentences in the Sunday Times article. I'm not a monster, and yet, if you took them at their face value, I seem to be nasty.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. : But Dr. Watson, on behalf of the African Americans who admired you, studied your work, and read The, where in the world did those words come from?

JW: One sentence was just taken out of my book. It was [that] we shouldn't expect that people in different parts of the world have equal intelligence, because we don't know that. [Some] people say that they should be the same. I think the answer is we don't know. … With the other two sentences, I talked to [the Times reporter] for eight hours. When I read the [quotes], I had no memory whatsoever of ever saying them. Because if I'd said anything like that, it was so inappropriate!

HLG: Well, are you gloomy about the future of Africa?

JW: Not if we educate them. I think we've got to focus on education.