Frasi di James Dewey Watson

James Dewey Watson foto
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James Dewey Watson

Data di nascita: 6. Aprile 1928

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James Dewey Watson è un biologo statunitense, scoprì la struttura della molecola del DNA insieme a Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, e Rosalind Franklin. Ricevette anche il Premio Nobel per la medicina nel 1962 assieme al suo compagno per le scoperte sulla struttura molecolare degli acidi nucleici e il suo significato nel meccanismo di trasferimento dell'informazione negli organismi vivente, ignorando e negando però il contributo fondamentale della dottoressa Franklin, gesto che gettò un'ombra indelebile sull'etica scientifica.

Frasi James Dewey Watson

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„Moving forward will not be for the faint of heart.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Moving forward will not be for the faint of heart. But if the next century witnesses failure, let it be because our science is not yet up to the job, not because we don't have the courage to make less random the sometimes most unfair courses of human evolution. "All for the Good: Why genetic engineering must soldier on" TIME magazine, Vol. 153, No. 1 (11 January 1999)

„Science is no stranger to controversy. The pursuit of discovery, of knowledge, is often uncomfortable and disconcerting.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Science is no stranger to controversy. The pursuit of discovery, of knowledge, is often uncomfortable and disconcerting. I have never been one to shy away from stating what I believe to be the truth, however difficult it might prove to be. This has, at times, got me in hot water. Rarely more so than right now, where I find myself at the centre of a storm of criticism. I can understand much of this reaction. For if I said what I was quoted as saying, then I can only admit that I am bewildered by it. To 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. I have always fiercely defended the position that we should base our view of the world on the state of our knowledge, on fact, and not on what we would like it to be. This is why genetics is so important. For it will lead us to answers to many of the big and difficult questions that have troubled people for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. But those answers may not be easy, for, as I know all too well, genetics can be cruel. My own son may be one of its victims. Warm and perceptive at the age of 37, Rufus cannot lead an independent life because of schizophrenia, lacking the ability to engage in day-to-day activities.

„To succeed in science, you have to avoid dumb people“

— James D. Watson
Context: To succeed in science, you have to avoid dumb people (here I was still following Luria's example). Now that might sound inexcusably flip, but the fact is that you must always turn to people who are brighter than yourself.

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„The brain is the last and grandest biological frontier, the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe.“

— James D. Watson
Context: The brain is the last and grandest biological frontier, the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe. It contains hundreds of billions of cells interlinked through trillions of connections. The brain boggles the mind. Foreword for Discovering the Brain (1992) by Sandra Ackerman, p. iii; often paraphrased: "The brain is the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe."

„To 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.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Science is no stranger to controversy. The pursuit of discovery, of knowledge, is often uncomfortable and disconcerting. I have never been one to shy away from stating what I believe to be the truth, however difficult it might prove to be. This has, at times, got me in hot water. Rarely more so than right now, where I find myself at the centre of a storm of criticism. I can understand much of this reaction. For if I said what I was quoted as saying, then I can only admit that I am bewildered by it. To 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. I have always fiercely defended the position that we should base our view of the world on the state of our knowledge, on fact, and not on what we would like it to be. This is why genetics is so important. For it will lead us to answers to many of the big and difficult questions that have troubled people for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. But those answers may not be easy, for, as I know all too well, genetics can be cruel. My own son may be one of its victims. Warm and perceptive at the age of 37, Rufus cannot lead an independent life because of schizophrenia, lacking the ability to engage in day-to-day activities.

„The thought that some people are innately wicked disturbs me.“

— James D. Watson
Context: The thought that some people are innately wicked disturbs me. But science is not here to make us feel good. It is to answer questions in the service of knowledge and greater understanding. In finding out the extent to which genes influence moral behaviour, we shall also be able to understand how genes influence intellectual capacities.

„Science Ph.D. students have effectively become serfs.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Science Ph. D. students have effectively become serfs. And who would become a serf when you can work for Goldman Sachs and get paid $300,000 a year to become a serf? Why drive a Chevy when you can drive a BMW — and now you're condemned to driving a car from Malaysia or something. Life should be fun. [http://seattlest.com/2007/09/28/dr_watsoncontro_2.php "Dr. James Watson Follows His Own Advice" in Seattlest (28 September 2007)]

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„If the child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice that only a few are given under the present system.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Watson: Our society just hasn't faced up to this problem. In a primitive society, if you saw that a baby was deformed, you would abandon it on a hillside. Today this isn't permissible, and with our medicine getting better and better in the sense of being able to keep sick people alive longer, we are going to produce more people living wretched lives. I don't know how you get a society to change on such a basic issue; infanticide isn't regarded lightly by anyone. Fortunately, now through such techniques as amniocentesis, parents can often learn in advance whether their child will be normal and healthy or hopelessly deformed. They then can choose either to have the child or opt for a therapeutic abortion. But the cruel fact remains that because of the present limits of such detection methods, most birth defects are not discovered until birth. If the child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice that only a few are given under the present system. The doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so chose and save a lot of misery and suffering. I believe this view is the only rational, compassionate attitude to have.

„Since 1978, when a pail of water was dumped over my Harvard friend E. O. Wilson for saying that genes influence human behaviour, the assault against human behavioural genetics by wishful thinking has remained vigorous.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Since 1978, when a pail of water was dumped over my Harvard friend E. O. Wilson for saying that genes influence human behaviour, the assault against human behavioural genetics by wishful thinking has remained vigorous. But irrationality must soon recede. It will soon be possible to read individual genetic messages at costs which will not bankrupt our health systems. In so doing, I hope we see whether changes in DNA sequence, not environmental influences, result in behaviour differences. Finally, we should be able to establish the relative importance of nature as opposed to nurture.

„Never do anything that bores you.“

— James D. Watson
Context: Never do anything that bores you. My experience in science is that someone is always telling to do something that leaves you flat. Bad idea. I'm not good enough to do something I dislike. In fact, I find it hard enough to do something that I like. … Constantly exposing your ideas to informed criticism is very important, and I would venture to say that one reason both of our chief competitors failed to reach the Double Helix before us was that each was effectively very isolated.

„To have success in science, you need some luck.
But to succeed in science, you need a lot more than luck.“

— James D. Watson
Context: To have success in science, you need some luck. But to succeed in science, you need a lot more than luck. And it's not enough to be smart — lots of people are very bright and get nowhere in life. In my view, you have to combine intelligence with a willingness not to follow conventions when they block your path forward.

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