James D. Watson Sets the Record Straight on January 2007 Esquire Interview

The January, 2007 issue of Esquire Magazine profiled a number of prominent people including Dr. James Watson. These short profiles were presented in a format that listed what appeared to be random quotes on unrelated topics without context and without showing specific questions from the reporter.

Unfortunately, some of the remarks attributed to Dr. Watson do not reflect his views or beliefs. At one point in his conversation, Dr. Watson was attempting to make a point about excessive political correctness in American academia and he argued in favor of the right to criticize. The quotes, as presented, have been interpreted by some as being bigoted.

As a consequence of this article, Dr. Watson and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are releasing the following statements:

“I deeply apologize for the statements attributed to me in the January 2007 issue of Esquire magazine. The bigoted remarks do not reflect, in any way, my beliefs or my life history. They do not reflect the values taught to me by my father. The cause of these remarks was my shortsighted comparison of criticism, which I wholeheartedly endorse, to bigotry which I wholeheartedly oppose. I know these words were hurtful and I apologize for the hurt they have caused and the embarrassment they have brought to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and its supporters. I know a great deal about molecular biology but obviously not enough yet about the sensitivities of the human heart.”

Dr. James Watson

“On behalf of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, its Management and its Board of Trustees, we appreciate Dr. Watson's apology and clarification of his disturbing remarks in Esquire magazine. The Jim Watson we know, work with, and admire, is not a bigot. He has brought a level of excellence and compassion to one of the great research institutions of the world. We look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration with this great scientist and good man. We know that the words in question were not indicative of his beliefs.”

Dill Ayres

Chief Operating Officer


For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.