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PBS doc on James Watson (OMF board member)

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by CFSTheBear, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. CFSTheBear

    CFSTheBear Senior Member

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    PBS has a documentary out about James D Watson, who sits on the board of OMF.

    He won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for his role in the research that revealed the structure of DNA. Watson went on to serve as the first director of the Human Genome Project and founded Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. But in his later years, Watson began to express racist views. He was forced to leave his role as director of CSHL in 2007 after making racist remarks.

    From a New York Times piece


    Not sure how I feel about this guy being on the board of OMF? Clearly his early contributions to the field are impeccable, but those comments are seriously worrying. Anyway I thought I’d share the documentary in case anyone is interested in watching.
     
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  2. Silencio

    Silencio Senior Member

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    I agree.. was quite disturbed to see this. I am very appreciative of OMF, and have enormous respect for what they have accomplished in a short time. As they grow, they have work to do on increasing diversity (incl gender) on their scientific advisory board. Including people on the board who hold these views is problematic. Currently, I understand that the advisory board is selected solely by Ron Davis. I think OMF, and by extension the community, would benefit by having a diverse panel to interview, assess and invite advisors. This would allow for due diligence, ensure fairness, and avoid any inherent bias. (I have already shared this opinion with them). The advisory board has the important role of choosing what projects to allocate funds to.
    @Janet Dafoe (Rose49)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  3. bertiedog

    bertiedog Senior Member

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    South East England, UK
    My opinion is that in no way should somebody who holds such views have any involvement in the OMF who are working on our behalf to help solve our illness. If however he has changed his mind and is on the record to this effect and has realised that his original theories were wrong and divisive then I might feel a bit different.

    Pam
     
  4. Silencio

    Silencio Senior Member

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    His race theories were first made public in 2007, and then recorded in an interview last summer by the documentary maker. The documentary maker says he tried to ask the questions in a few different ways to make sure that he wasn’t confused. He tried to give him an opportunity to correct the record. Last summer, Dr. Watson was in a car accident and hasn’t been able to respond to the reaction to the film.
     
  5. Silencio

    Silencio Senior Member

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  6. IThinkImTurningJapanese

    IThinkImTurningJapanese Jester in Training

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  7. CFSTheBear

    CFSTheBear Senior Member

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  8. RebeccaRe

    RebeccaRe Moose Enthusiast

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  9. Silencio

    Silencio Senior Member

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    Yes, hopefully OMF will follows their lead.

    As I said above, a proper process for evaluating advisors would prevent this kind of thing from happening. It would weed out problematic candidates. Picking advisors for OMF should not be up to one person, no matter how wonderful he is, (and I think we all agree that Ron is wonderful). Every human being has inherent/unconscious bias.

    Right now their advisory board, which selects projects for funding, is about 95% male, and 85% white. https://www.omf.ngo/scientific-advisory-board/

    There are plenty of female researchers and doctors working in this field (Klimas, Hornig, Cheda, Vera, Levine, Jo Cambridge, Carmen Sheibenbogen). I know less about researchers of different ethnicities.

    I think it would be great to see OMF design an better advisor recruitment process. If you are a supporter of theirs and agree, let them know what you think.
    @Janet Dafoe (Rose49)
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    edawg81 likes this.
  10. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    The advisory board of OMF was chosen so that the title page of OMF can read "Three Nobel Laureates, Six National Academy of Sciences Members". It sounds impressive and it helps with being taken seriously and with fundraising.

    Is it now Dr. Davis' fault too that our whole society is racist and sexists and that majority of people with those credentials are white men?

    Number of Nobel prizes for Physiology or Medicine
    Women: 12
    Men: 204

    National Academy of Sciences Members in 2011
    9 women
    63 men

    These numbers are upsetting and disgusting to me. But I know who is not responsible for them: Dr. Davis.

    We have a maligned and derided illness. We have Sirs and presidents of Royal Colleges on the opposite side. We need impressive sounding titles on our side too. The only proper process for evaluating advisors is the one that gets us cured ASAP. It shouldn't be this way, it's not fair, it's not right, but while people are dying of ME/CFS we can't afford anything else.

    If anyone has any idea how to get some of those Nobel Laureates and NAS members who are not white men onto the OMF advisory board I am sure OMF would welcome it with open arms.
     
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  11. Silencio

    Silencio Senior Member

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    No, not at all. I didn’t say that.
    It’s really hard to overcome the issues of missing women in science (and business). That’s why a special effort needs to be made, and processes and goals defined.

    I would just like to see a more open recruitment process implemented at OMF. It’s pretty standard in organizations to have panels review board members (even a small panel of 3 would be good), and a process followed. And, not to get people with titles only, but a more diverse mix of researchers involved in selecting projects to be funded.

    But, I support OMF regardless. They have already said that they would like to get more women on the advisory board, so they know it’s an issue, and that is good.
    (And just fyi, I am in process of trying to connect a NAS female researcher to OMF.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019

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