IMAGE: JAMES WATSON
Markus Schreiber  /  AP
DNA discoverer James Watson, seen here in 2004 with DNA Double Helix model, has had a London speech canceled after remarks about race.
updated 10/18/2007 1:44:18 PM ET 2007-10-18T17:44:18

London's Science Museum canceled a Friday talk by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist James Watson after the co-discoverer of DNA's structure told a newspaper that Africans and Europeans had different levels of intelligence.

James Watson provoked widespread outrage with his comments to The Sunday Times, which quoted the 79-year-old American as saying 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 told the paper he hoped that everyone was equal, but added: "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

The comments drew condemnation from British lawmakers, scientists, and civil rights campaigners. On Wednesday The Independent newspaper put Watson on its front page, against the words: "Africans are less intelligent than Westerners, says DNA pioneer."

Watson, who serves as chancellor of the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., was to deliver a sold-out lecture at the Science Museum, but on Wednesday night the institution said Watson's comments had gone too far and the event had been canceled.

Calls to Watson's book publisher and his office in New York were not immediately returned.

This is not the first time Watson's speaking engagements have caused a stir.

History of controversial comments
The Independent catalogued a series of controversial statements from Watson, including one in which he reportedly suggested women should have the right to have abortions if tests could determine their children would be homosexual.

In 2000 Watson shocked an audience at the University of California, Berkeley, when he advanced a theory about a link between skin color and sex drive.

His lecture, complete with slides of bikini-clad women, argued that extracts of melanin — which give skin its color — had been found to boost subjects' sex drive.

"That's why you have Latin lovers," he said, according to people who attended the lecture. "You've never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient."

Telephone and e-mail messages left with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after business hours Wednesday were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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