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THE DNA DOCTOR: Candid Conversations with James D Watson [Paperback]

By Istvan Hargittai (Author)
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Item description for THE DNA DOCTOR: Candid Conversations with James D Watson by Istvan Hargittai...

Three in-depth conversations with the Nobel laureate co-discoverer of the double helix and the first director of the Human Genome Project cover a wide range of topics, including progress in science; the scientist's role in modern life; women in science; scientific ethics; terrorism; religion; multiculturalism; and how genetics may improve human lives. Reflections by further illustrious contributors to the scientific revolution and the author's commentaries provide a glimpse into the thinking of scientists who largely determine the progress of humankind in our time.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: World Scientific Publishing
Pages   236
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 6" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 11, 2007
Publisher   World Scientific Publishing
ISBN  9812707972  
ISBN13  9789812707970  

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More About Istvan Hargittai

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Istvan Hargittai has an academic affiliation as follows - Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Eotvos Univ. Institute of General an.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Scientists
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Evolution > Genetics
5Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > General
6Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology
7Books > Subjects > Science > Evolution > Genetics
8Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > History of Science

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"A Critical Look at Jim Watson, Doctor DNA"  Nov 4, 2007
"The DNA Doctor: Candid Conversations with James D. Watson", Istvan Hargittai, World Scientific Pub., Singapore, 2007. ISBN:-13 978-981-270-797-0. PB 212 pages, 74 B & W photos, plus 8 page Index. 9" x 6".

An unique but disquieting book, incorporating conversational elements of Nobel laureate co-discoverer of DNA double helix, Dr. James (Jim) Watson along-side those of a dozen or more contemporary, world-renowned distinguished scientists on events leading to cracking the genetic code when JDW was 25 years old. It is a story of good, bad and even ugly paths taken by adventurous scientists in their quest for success and acclamation which may include recognition by prestigious awards of medals, academic positions, money, Knighthood, etc. Anyone who has worked within the confines of an 'Ivory Tower' knows full well the unwritten rules of the pecking order and the essential ingredients and struggles required to hold claim to personal rewards and its special jubilations. The templates for success are outlined, and the anguish experienced by those not winning the race, though tempered, is perhaps tactfully stated oftentimes because of quote marks, oft succint, sometimes harshly crude, but rewardingly insinuate and not just buffoonery.

There is an estimable section on the contentious depiction of religion, ethnicity, equality of the sexes in basic science departments, also contemplation's of disposition of neonates with serious birth defects, and health care for the elderly embraced by both Watson and several of his contemporaries. Overall, we are led, progressivly, to view JDW as consumed with ambition for public and peer praise, self-aggrandizement and and as an arrogant but verbally crude, skewed off-center person insensitive "that human beings are easily hurt...and wounds...are painful and slow to heal." That he was a genius or nearly so, and with cohort, Francis Crick, boldly advanced science in the likes of Dr. Charles Darwin, is not to be doubted. The book emerges as a tour de force, boasting its accumulation of diverse most personal impressions evinced of Dr. Watson from diverse sources, often reinforced by citing multiple sources.

That this book ever saw its press printing is a feat rarely accomplished, particularly being written by a scientist, a friend and his wife with a tape-recorder, a writer who has developed, through practice, exceptional skill in conversing with the uppermost rank of scientists, perhaps sometimes privy to recording excesses, a point at which delicate editing is needed to preserve or prevent going beyond bounds of honest journalism, not always an easy assignment as tabloid journalism may sell but cheapen the writings, for it must never be the nature of a true Journalist to destroy their object.

Istvan has done an admirable job in walking that sometimes thin line, likely reflecting his admiration for Watson (who interestingly had written the Foreword to one of his prior books, i.e. "The Road to Stockholm" published in 2001/2). I did appreciate reading of those positive aspects the author attributed to the life and times of Dr. James D. Watson, i.e. a book which might have otherwise been seriously out of balance. Now -- Watson, his wife Liz, and two sons, one with perhaps some variant of autism, will be avid readers of further machinations of "Honest Jim." Thusly, at the age of 80, Watson seems to be more vulnerable, perhaps unfairly targeted by those who did not (and some who ought not) receive a Nobel Prize.

Recall, if you can, it was less than one week ago that JDW was pressured to resign Chancellorship of the CSHL over several ethnic ruminations he voiced on the likely failures and impropriety of current poverty programs designed to salvage chronically impoverished Africa. JDW showed a known vulnerability to being politically incorrect, something he'd promised to avoid but not to change just to please others. He spoke his mind, and like anyone else, was subject to interpretation by his audience. And, being judged in a position of power, he was judged 'racist' and had to be sacrificed in his waning years despite accomplishing momentous things in his Youth, something others were incapable of doing in same timely fashion, for humanity. If that recent furor makes you happy, so be it. I think its tragic, but not fatal. The B & W Photos are each worth a 1000 words, and the several Appendices are interesting. This is an excellent read.

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