I don’t know what it is about Jim Watson and my blog posting, but every time I mention him (as I did in my previous entry), something else pops up and I have to talk about him again. While doing my morning reading, I stumbled upon an entry from the DrugMonkey blog that was simply too good to pass up. Jim Watson is more mixed race than anyone thought, with 16% of his genes likely to have come from an African great-grandparent, as reported in the Sunday Times.
[12/12 – MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE UPDATE. CLICK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING.]
Since Dr. Watson’s genome is publicly available, this sort of analysis was easily conducted by deCODE Genetics, a company that specializes in assessing individual genetic risk factors. In addition to being 16% African, Dr. Watson also boasts a healthy 9% proportion of Asian-derived genes. The average person of European descent would have no more than 1% African genes. It would be surprising if Dr. Watson did not already know this, as the proposed relation would be close enough that he could have heard the story surrounding his descent from an older relative. If this were true, it would make his controversial comments all the more remarkable.
Let’s not forget that this article was also a blatant advertisement for deCODE’s services (see the chart of risk factors listed at the bottom of the article that is a complete add-on and has no bearing on the topic), but I’m more than happy to put up with the advertising for the information, in this case.
Inadvertently, deCODE solved another mystery as well. Dr. Watson has never attempted to hide his healthy fondness for the opposite sex, and with his theory proposing that higher melanin levels lead to a stronger libido, we now have a solid explanation for his strong impulses. Obviously, it’s in his genes.
Update: Dec. 12, 2007; 13:30 – Chris Gunter pointed me to a NY Times article on this subject in which a few more tiny details are revealed. The deCODE genetics CEO, Kari Stefansson, confirmed that all the company did was run the publicly-available data on Dr. Watson’s genome through their analysis programs, and provides a cautious caveat regarding the results. Dr Stefansson does sound pretty confident (and smug) with his parting shot, though.
On another note, the Times again fails to be upfront with their conflict of interest statements. Near the end of the article, Dr. George Church questions the accuracy of any of the current scanning and analytical services. This is bolstered by fancy sounding titles: “Professor of genetics at the Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Computational Genetics.” Oooooops!!! Forgot to add this one: co-founder of Knome, Inc., a private company offering genomic scanning and analytical services. It is in Dr. Church’s best interests to call into question the techniques and ethics of deCODE, his direct competitor, and position his company as the more responsible option for genomic testing. (Sigh), well, I guess I didn’t expect change overnight. When it rains…