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James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week 355

HughPickens.com writes: Nicholas St. Fleur reports at The Atlantic that James Watson, the famed molecular biologist and co-discoverer of DNA, is putting his Nobel Prize up for auction on Thursday. He's the first Nobel laureate in history to do so. In 2007, Watson, best known for his work deciphering the DNA double helix alongside Francis Crick in 1953, made an incendiary remark regarding the intelligence of black people that lost him the admiration of the scientific community. It made him, in his own words, an "unperson." That year, The Sunday Times quoted Watson as saying that he felt "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 has a history of making racist and sexist declarations, according to Time. At a science conference in 2012, Watson said of women in science, "I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they're probably less effective." To many scientists his gravest offense was not crediting Rosalind Franklin with helping him deduce the structure of DNA.

Watson is selling his prized medallion because he has no income outside of academia, even though for years he had served on many corporate boards. The gold medal is expected to bring in between $2.5 million and $3.5 million when it goes to auction. Watson says that he will use the money to purchase art and make donations to institutions that have supported him, such as the University of Chicago. He adds that the auction will also offer him the chance to "re-enter public life." "I've had a unique life that's allowed me to do things. I was set back. It was stupid on my part," says Watson. "All you can do is nothing, except hope that people actually know what you are."

Comment Re:US patents are stupid (Score 1) 165

1. (comparative of `bad') inferior to another in quality or condition or desirability; "this road is worse than the first one we took"; "the road is in worse shape than it was"; "she was accused of worse things than cheating and lying"
2. (comparative of `ill') in a less effective or successful or desirable manner; "he did worse on the second exam"

Comment Re:US patents are stupid (Score 1) 165

How would you suggest running the patent office - the rest of the world generally does a worse job and/or relies on US patents.

You have a limited budget, and those skilled enough to investigate won't work for the money you can afford to pay them. Oh, and you have a legal requirement to deal with patents in a given time frame.

Comment Re:Try to understand ID first, please (Score 1) 947


The basis of ID is exactly opposed to the basis of Evolution. Evolution posits that the way to understand scientific truth is to use the scientific method. The basis for Intelligent Design is that there is something other than natural processes that caused life, and we can phrase it in a pseudoscientific language to mask the fact that it is unfalsifiable and not a scientific theory at all, simply an assertion. As a contrast with this, Darwin (On the Origin of Species) wrote: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

Where Behe (Darwin's Black Box) says that falsifying intelligent design only requires replicating evolution in the lab. It's been done repeatedly. He insists on a "Evolution of the Gaps," where once something is shown to be able to evolve, there is something else that is irreducibly complex. Take hormone-receptor complexity; it is an example of "Irreducible complexity" frequently used. Or it was, until this:http://www.sciencemag.org/content/312/5770/97

Considered, examined, rejected.


Comment So the super-rich are screwing everyone... (Score 1) 671

Cumulative inflation over the 20 year period being discussed is over 50% (a bit over 2% per year). The absolute dollar wages for high school graduates is flat over the time period (~$50k), and the wages for college grads is up only 10%. (From ~$87.5k to ~96k, reading the graph)

Both groups are paid less - the relative wages are spreading, but only because high school grads are getting screwed more than college grads.

Comment Re:Evil commenting on evil (Score 1) 378

But everyone IS willing to copy a game off of his USB drive onto their laptop. Or copy from their friend who got it from him, etc.

And worst case, people used to leave their computers downloading overnight (gasp) to download one of those 5mb massive games like Doom on a 14.4 modem - this isn't different, expect that torrents are easier to use than Usenet ever was - and there is no need to ask for reposts of expired disks.

Comment Re:Why not go after the companies hiring the spamm (Score 1) 263

That's not the point; if they actively benefit because of spammers, and their distribution method currently allows it, then they could stop it. This means that economic pressure on manufacturers will stop the spam.

But it's not true, and manufacturers don't like it. Drug producers don't like people buying knockoffs and Canadian drugs at reduced prices.

Comment Re:Why not use dogs? (Score 1) 239

A dozen dogs per airport would still be an order of magnitude cheaper than the amount we spent on less effective technology. And the ability for handlers to search is equivalent to the TSAs current powers, but at least then I know that there will be the understanding that the system is fallible. If cost were the issue, we'd be much better off with the dogs.

As a bonus, dogs + simple metal detectors would reduce time needed by an order of magnitude.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (4) How many times do we have to tell you, "No prior art!"