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Inspirational people


Crime and punishment
James Watson Scientist
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[Q] How would you feel about castration, chemical or surgical, for pedophiles or rapists as an alternative choice to staying in prison the rest of your life?

If it worked it would save society a lot of money, so I’m in favor of it.

[Q] It seems to work, you know, pedophiles and rapists say that their urge goes if you castrate them, and they would like to be...

Then do it!

[Q] We don’t, you know we don’t, but you see no reason not to?

No, I would do it, yes. No. I mean on the other hand what to do about psychopaths? If Adrian Raines is right one in 30 people is a psycho-sociopath and so when you, you know, they commit a nasty crime you just automatically lock them up for life. Or you just shoot them.

[Q] It’ll be interesting to know about castration in that situation. And mostly are men I assume, do we know? One in 30.

No, I think there are a lot of women...

[Q] Are there?

But we didn’t really hear about that. He said one in three people seeking temporary employment in Los Angeles is a psychopath, and I think women and men are about equal, so that’s why I think I would’ve heard that it’s only... so it’s a very interesting... so it’s as if, you know, the collection of genes which make us altruistic or have empathy or something like that, something is missing, and so they don’t feel it. I don’t want to name names here as to which scientist I might think, you know, have zero empathy, but they exist! And, boy, they are often successful, hated people.

American molecular biologist James Dewey Watson is probably best known for discovering the structure of DNA for which he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His long career has seen him teaching at Harvard and Caltech, and taking over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson was head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on the study of cancer.

Listeners: Martin Raff Walter Gratzer

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at King's College London, and was for most of his research career a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. He is the author of several books on popular science. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and has known Jim Watson since that time

Duration: 2 minutes, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010