About seven years ago, I heard that James Watson, the man credited with discovering the structure of DNA along with Francis Crick, was speaking in Chicago. I had to see him — who knew when that opportunity would come up again? The event itself was fine. I remember his making jokes about the silliness of religion and saying that he was hesitant about being quoted on the back of Richard Dawkins‘ The God Delusion so he wrote a blurb that was so bad, it was unusable. I’m sure I laughed at that.
But I also remember being a little taken aback by some of the politically incorrect statements he was making. (I don’t remember specifics.) It wasn’t so bad that I felt compelled to walk out of there; I was just surprised that someone so intelligent would just say whatever came to mind with no filter whatsoever.
And now he’s auctioning off his Nobel Prize because, he says, he needs the money:
He said he 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 fetch between $2.5 million and $3.5 million when it goes to auction Thursday… Watson said that he will use the money to purchase art and make donations to institutions that have supported him, such as the University of Chicago.
Man, it must be nice to need money so badly… so that you can buy a painting. I hope I’m that needy one day.
There’s a reason no one is eager to hire him, though. His public comments over the past several years have been racist, sexist, and just generally disturbing. (To be sure, they may have always been that way, but I didn’t start noticing it until a few years ago.)