Re: Nobel scientist suspended from job over race comments (Oct. 18) and Humans go into heat after all, strip club study finds (Oct. 28): Watson, nor any other scientist, should feel badly about being expected to restrain their “public” comments to areas in which they have specific expertise, and in the context of scientifically based and well founded studies. His comments in this case were offhand, rambling, and totally inappropriate.
That issues surrounding variations in human capacities among groups which are biologically differentiable, especially when groups which are readily identified and have been traditionally subjected to suppression and ill treatment, must be dealt with carefully, and with expecially strict attention to the clarity of communication and the validity of the study design and data collected and presented is entirely appropriate.
Expecting that such standards are conformed to, especially by senior scientists in administrative positions and with secular credibility from past honors, should not have been presented in your article as something which might “make it harder for researchers to speak their minds in times ahead” in areas of their expertise and the context of well done studies.
Lay people are not subject to such strictures. Scientists are. Are you implying that this distinction is somehow inappropriate?
Speaking of “well done studies” --- you have an example of quite the opposite in “Humans go into heat after all, strip club study”. This “study” team “collected its information through a website where 18 dancers recorded their menstrual periods, work shifts, and tip earnings for 60 days”. This covers two putative cycles of the phenomenon supposedly being studied for 18 subjects. This study is not worth the electons required to transmit it, and should not be considered as even suggestive of a need for further research until expanded by a factor of 10 in both dimensions. You should have saved yourselves and your readers the time...
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