Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The best blog post title I have read in a long time ...

"Ebony, Meet Irony." Here are the opening lines:

This is one of the funnier things I've read recently. It turns out that 1962 Nobel laureate, James Watson, who recently made some disparaging comments about the intelligence of Africans, probably is of African descent himself.

Watson, whose genome was completely sequenced, is the second person whose entire genome was published on the internet. As a result, it is freely accessible to the public. So, because scientists will be scientists, an Icelandic company, deCODE Genetics, carried out an analysis of Watson's genome and found that 16 percent of his genome is likely to have come from an ancestor of African descent. In contrast, the genome of the average person of European descent has only one percent that is consistent with African ancestry.

See also the SciAm's 60 Second Science post.

Update: All right, enough fun already; it's time to look at the science. As Guru points out in the comments (and as did the 60 Second Science post), several people have raised serious questions about the validity of these claims about Watson's ancestry. Start with P.Z. Myers, and through him, move to Laurence Moran and Meredith Small.


  1. Anonymous said...


    According to Pharyngula, the claims of the company is dubious, and the methodology used is not reliable.


  2. Anonymous said...


    An update: John Hawks has a nice post too about the science and politics of the deCODE company.