December 14, 2005

Discussion About Charles Darwin

CHARLIE ROSE, HOST: Welcome to the broadcast. Tonight, a remarkable hour, all about Charles Darwin, with two great scientists. They are James Watson and Edward O. Wilson.


JAMES D. WATSON, CHANCELLOR, COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY: We can really now see human evolution. And we can go out and begin to see the differences between the DNA of an Eskimo and someone who is living in the tropics. And so, we really can now see evolution occurring at the level of DNA, which Darwin couldn`t. And -- but all his guesses were really right on mark. I mean, the man really ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Stunning that he could do it not knowing anything about the structure of DNA, and ...

EDEARD O. WILSON, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: You know, that`s - that`s a really good point about Darwin. Not only did he cover an immense amount of material, geology and biology ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... but the man was always right. It`s exasperating to be an evolutionary biologist and try to develop something really new ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Now, you see ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... and find out that Darwin had either said it or he had created ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... had foresight to, you know, indicate it.

JAMES D. WATSON: In my mind, Darwin was the most important person who ever lived on Earth.


CHARLIE ROSE: Wilson and Watson, for the hour.


CHARLIE ROSE: Joining me now professors E.O. Wilson and James Watson. They are simply two of the great scientific minds of our time. E.O. Wilson has taught at Harvard for more than four decades. He has written more than 20 books on biology and evolution. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes.

In 1962, James Watson won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA. His co-recipients were Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. He is currently chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of New York. He has also written many books.

Last month, they both published two anthologies of the works of Charles Darwin. One, "From So Simple a Beginning," and "Darwin: The Indelible Stamp."

I am pleased to have both of them at this table. Welcome.

Great to have you. Let me just start - tell me, put Darwin in perspective for all of us. When you think of the great scientific and intellectual contributions to the humankind, what was the achievement of Charles Darwin?

EDWARD O. WILSON: The achievement was not to present the idea of evolution, but to present the idea of evolution by random genetic change that was then sorted out by natural selection, by the environment. Hence, the origin of diversity of life as we know it on Earth by autonomy, by --you know, independent of any outside force. And this then put humanity in a wholly different light, namely as potentially having arisen by this, you know, uncontrolled or un-designed process on our own on this planet, independently.



CHARLIE ROSE: What would you add or detract from that?

JAMES D. WATSON: No, I can`t detract.


JAMES D. WATSON: No. That there was no designer.


CHARLIE ROSE: There was no designer. There was no creator.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, let me - let me at this point pay my colleague a compliment. I don`t pay compliments like this casually, but it will also help put it in perspective, and I think, you know, every - every era has landmarks. And I would suggest that 500 years from now, 1,000 years from now, there will be two landmarks in the origin of the - of biology, modern biology. One would be "The Origin of Species," 1859.

CHARLIE ROSE: The publication of Charles Darwin`s book.

EDWARD O. WILSON: And the other one would be the 1953 paper showing the structure of DNA by - by Watson and Crick.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s ...

JAMES D. WATSON: It doesn`t seem modest, but I would add a third, which is Mendel in 1865.

EDWARD O. WILSON: I disagree. Well, we won`t -- let`s not go into this, but ...

CHARLIE ROSE: No, I`d love to hear this. You disagree with Mendel`s ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: A truly - a remarkable -- but what it did, Jim, inform me if it`s wrong -- he established particulate heredity and showed us how to analyze it, but what was finally achieved -- and I know you`re modest enough to say that it was built upon the gradual rising platform of basic information -- was to show that - that heredity, the key to life, really has an explicit and relatively simple and analyzable molecular basis.

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, it was -- discreetness of the gene. And I think just that way of thinking, which Darwin didn`t have at his disposal ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s right.

JAMES D. WATSON: ... was an enormous step forward.


JAMES D. WATSON: ... so, I would really say Darwin and Mendel, but if you want to say who was more important, I would agree Darwin. But I`d put Mendel up there.



CHARLIE ROSE: I understand why you would put him there and why you - why you wouldn`t, and why you would. Let me just articulate for the audience the discovery of the structure of the DNA and that paper confirmed and gave what to Darwin`s theory, Jim?


CHARLIE ROSE: Immodestly.

JAMES D. WATSON: It gave the unit on which evolution acts, and what -- what genetic information is, which was a collection of nucleotide base pairs, a large number of them. So, our discovery essentially told people how genetic information is stored and how it`s copied. I mean, that was our proposal.

CHARLIE ROSE: And the essence of what Darwin had said was that, you know, in the origin of the species, it is passed from the fittest, from generation to generation, without having any understanding ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... of genes or DNA or anything else.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, that`s why, you know, I mentioned Mendel was pretty important ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... because he - it - it wasn`t blending. It was discreet.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Actually, Darwin -- the one place he fumbled, that is, he couldn`t really come up with anything following, was in heredity, it`s true. He ...

CHARLIE ROSE: He didn`t understand the - he understood that it did have happened, but he didn`t know quite why.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, he didn`t have -- you know, he didn`t even have Mendel to look to.


EDWARD O. WILSON: But I -- you know, let me put it this way. I don`t want to start going off in -- on a tangent. But it is relevant to this. The way I see it is that modern biology now has pretty well established two laws. Think, you know, at the level you could almost call laws, they`re basic, well established principles for which there is no known exception.

The first is that all organic process, all living process and - and elements are - are ultimately obedient to the laws of physics and chemistry. Now, that was an extremely important step, you know, to finally get established that we could start testing it.

The second law is that all living systems and process evolved by natural selection. And that in a nutshell is modern biology. Jim can disagree if he wants to.

JAMES D. WATSON: No, no - I ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: But that`s the way I see it.


EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s -- I think if we were to teach biology from the top down, starting with those two laws, we would have -- and show what the evidence is and what it`s created, we would have a lot less problems with controversies over biology.

CHARLIE ROSE: You mean in terms of what we have -- what controversies are you speaking to?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, specifically on the right, so - so to speak, a disbelief that evolution even occurs or that it must be guided by God.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did I see a poll - I think in an article in "Newsweek" magazine, which wrote about the real Darwin. There he is. That 80 percent of people in America believe in creationism or believe that -- in the Bible`s theory, or ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: You`re close. That`s 85 -- well, it`s 51 percent, CNN poll of about three weeks ago, 51 percent of Americans say evolution never occurred; 34 percent said evolution occurred but God guided it. And 15 percent said, well, I guess science is right about it.

JAMES D. WATSON: I think - it`s -- maybe 85 percent of it haven`t thought about it at all.

EDWARD O. WILSON: I think that`s probably the problem.

JAMES D. WATSON: It`s a sort of an off-the-cuff response.


JAMES D. WATSON: I don`t think it means much -- it`s not ...

CHARLIE ROSE: What people believe or the - or the way it`s expressed?

JAMES D. WATSON: That the worlds are so different that they`re making a remark without any knowledge. And it`s not as if they have seen Darwin`s evidence rejected. It`s just a different world.

EDWARD O. WILSON: You know, that`s true. It`s an interesting expression of ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Of ignorance.

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... overwhelming desire to believe the religion that does not include this idea.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me - let me lay into the scientific and - and Biblical conflict here. Both of you as scientists believe deeply in the law of science and the fact of science, that there`s no way you can reconcile a divine creator and the implications of Darwin`s theory of evolution, yes? And Darwin understood that too because of what he said at the time that he wrote.

JAMES D. WATSON: I think, you know, anyone who, you know, a divine thing which interferes with DNA-based evolution, I don`t believe it at all. That`s - yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Darwin understood it too, didn`t he?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, I think so. I ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Because he had actually once thought about a religious life.

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, everyone, that was your way of living.

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, he thought about being in - in the priesthood almost or ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, he was sort of -- he was sort of maneuvered into it because there wasn`t anything left for him to do ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, he was ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... after he had left medicine.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, he didn`t want to be a doctor. And what else was...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... gave you a good living, as he said?

EDWARD O. WILSON: And so, but he converted -- I think it was during the voyage of the Beagle.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, this was what - 1831, or ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: In `31 to `36.



CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me about that voyage and what it did because ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... there is where he had the observation that gave rise to his theory.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yeah. Well, he -- I`ll try to be brief. The voyage of the Beagle was an epic voyage. It was around the world. And it was conducted at a time when biologists were just beginning to explore biological diversity and also studying the fundamentals of geology. And young Darwin was thrown into this opportunity, and he had all that leisure time to - to study and to observe.

He changed from an ardent Christian believer during that voyage to most of the way out -- not because he was discovering evolution. He really didn`t figure that out until after the voyage.


EDWARD O. WILSON: He was doing it because, as he said, if the Bible is correct -- and it says right there that those who do not - not believe in - you know, in salvation by Jesus or - or obedience, and the Old Testament says, will go to hell. And he said, if that`s true, my brother and most of my friends are doomed forever. And he said, and that is a damnable doctrine. Now, so he certainly rejected it.

But anyway, I meant -- I must finish your question quickly. He accumulated an immense amount of information up here.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, as well as shipped stuff back to ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: And when he came back, he had his notebooks full, but he also had all these impressions and all of them fit evolution. So ...

CHARLIE ROSE: And what kind of impressions did he have? What had he seen that was so compelling for him?

EDWARD O. WILSON: He saw a number of things, which are, you know, well exhibited in the Darwin exhibition.

CHARLIE ROSE: Which we`ll talk about ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: You know, we can talk about that.

CHARLIE ROSE: We can talk about that later.

EDWARD O. WILSON: But what he saw were things like when - when you find a certain kind of a species, like a rhea, common rhea, the big ostrich-like bird in one place, and you go down the coast, it`s typical to find another species very close to that. As though, you know, one -- they evolved from some common stuff.

He observed fossils from a bygone era, which were all extinct, but they still - they resembled the modern forms that live there, as though there had been ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... some evolution or change in that direction. And then he had pointed out to him after he got back to England, but he -- then he realized that this is true -- was that the same species in places like the Galapagos differ and are differentiated into races.

And all those things came together. Now, he only needed one more piece. And that was how it happens. He believe -- came to believe in evolution. But now how did it happen? He got that pretty well figured it out by the 1840s.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK, but then, even then he didn`t write until 1859, didn`t publish until 1859. Why did he - what was ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: `58 when he wrote his first essay ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... with Wallace.

CHARLIE ROSE: But if he had it figured out by 1840s, why didn`t he write until 1859?

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, I guess conventional saying is that he didn`t want to upset his wife. That`s right.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Basically.


CHARLIE ROSE: He wouldn`t upset his wife? Why - why would she be upset?

JAMES D. WATSON: Because she wanted God ...

CHARLIE ROSE: And she was a religious person.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, she was a -- and Darwin knew that this was a very explosive idea.

EDWARD O. WILSON: It would humiliate -- it would embarrass his family, and it would also mean that he might lose his position in that country aristocracy he belonged to. So, that`s - was -- I think historians agree that this was the reason why he worked and worked and he piled up more and more of these -- more and more evidence. And he was aiming toward a huge book.

CHARLIE ROSE: Right. And it -- but some people will argue that it got -- now, two things I want to say. Whether this is in your book and you believe this is fact or fiction -- these are both anthologies -- do you believe that he accelerated his process because he believed there was somebody else who was going to write a book that would - that would steal some of the thunder?

JAMES D. WATSON: No, I think - no, without a doubt.


JAMES D. WATSON: If Wallace ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... this sort of scared him, you know. He had this idea, and suddenly someone else had it who was going to publish before him unless he did something.


JAMES D. WATSON: So he had to work fast.

CHARLIE ROSE: How have people come to reconcile religion and evolution?

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, I think it`s - you`ve got to define religion. If it`s a personal god who interferes with our lives and listens to our prayers and aware of our existence, I really -- I can only mention one person that I know who believes that, who`s a serious scientist. Once you see ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Only one serious scientist you know believes there is a personal god who listens to our prayers?

JAMES D. WATSON: Yeah. That`s about it.

EDWARD O. WILSON: I don`t know a one.

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, you know...

CHARLIE ROSE: This is -- I don`t know who you`re talking about.

JAMES D. WATSON: Francis Collins.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, I guess I know him, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: Francis Collins.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Collins, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: He is often - Francis Collins is often quoted...

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes. But I really don`t know anyone else. And I - I think when you -- now that we`ve carried it forth, where we actually can look at DNA and see what it`s like in a chimpanzee, and you see all these things ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... the thought of anyone interfering, oh, boy. It just - it seems whacko.

CHARLIE ROSE: What did Darwin say about these ideas of intelligent design? Because he anticipated arguments, did he?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Not that I know of.

JAMES D. WATSON: No, I don`t think so.

EDWARD O. WILSON: No, he wasn`t thinking of that.

JAMES D. WATSON: You know ...

CHARLIE ROSE: He must have been thinking about the controversy?

JAMES D. WATSON: No, it now sort of only has come up, you know, after we have DNA and can see what`s happening, and people say, well, you know, evolution couldn`t have come up with the bacterial flagellum. Well, to me that`s actually rather an easy thing to come up.

EDWARD O. WILSON: And the eye - the eye is another ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... one offered that I think it was -- we had already saw that before even -- even before on the (INAUDIBLE).

JAMES D. WATSON: So, it`s more or less saying you can`t explain it. And, you know, until DNA came along and we saw that ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... people would say, well, you can never explain heredity on the basis of physics and chemistry. Now, I think that was the big emotional thing when we got the DNA structure. Heredity was now explainable in terms of physics and chemistry.

EDWARD O. WILSON: I was there. I was a graduate student. And I remember the scales going off my eyes ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you really?

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... as a graduate student. Yes, when -- I was at Harvard as a graduate student ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, right, right, right.

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... listening to talk - Carter (ph) talk about, how, well, we`re going to be -- hundreds of - 100 years, anyway, before we finally untangle this immensely complex code of proteins and so on. And - and we don`t know where that is going to lead us and so on. And here came, bang, DNA structure - replicable. So, let`s not get into that.

JAMES D. WATSON: No, but ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: The point is that - that this was an immense ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... made a huge difference in how you viewed possible divine intervention.

JAMES D. WATSON: But in my childhood, my father was an unbeliever. And, you know, very early on, and Darwin was ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... talked about in our family. So I was raised as a Darwinian. And I`ve never seen the need for anything, what is -- and Darwin gets better and better. Now that you ...


JAMES D. WATSON: You can read him and you could - now ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: It does ...

JAMES D. WATSON: There are things that Darwin really couldn`t understand.

EDWARD O. WILSON: But this guy could come into one of our seminars and take on immediately ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... I think a lot of the - a lot of the material.

JAMES D. WATSON: And - but, you know, Darwin really cared for people. I think there`s the sort of idea we only care for ideas and we really aren`t people.


JAMES D. WATSON: It`s about as false as it can come.

CHARLIE ROSE: Why is it that the phenomenon of rejecting Darwin -- however large it is in America, Jim, however large or small it is -- is more pronounced in America than anywhere else?

EDWARD O. WILSON: We`re a frontier country.

CHARLIE ROSE: A frontier country?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yeah. That`s my interpretation.

CHARLIE ROSE: Why do you think?


EDWARD O. WILSON: OK, let me - let me just say a word further, and then let Jim respond. This is just my personal conception. It`s that when we -- you know, we`re still a frontier country. We - we still have people around who live -- or at least have parents who were frontier people. And we came -- when we came, our forbearers, no matter when they came over, but they came over from a structured, hierarchical society, in which everything was set for them, and if you had questions of morality, belief and so on, you just went down to the nearest cathedral and everything was pretty much in order.

We came -- they came to this country, and they didn`t have that. They had to form tight communities to survive. And in order to do that, they have to have -- had to have a moral system, a belief system, and they - they had to have an authority. And that authority came from holy scripture.


EDWARD O. WILSON: And that`s why they became literalists, many of them.

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, I think people -- there`s something in our brain that wants to understand things. And human beings 3,000 years ago wanted to understand things and so - and to have rules. And so, I think developing religions was a very natural thing to do.

Now, for those of us who are trained in science, everything seems much simpler without God. And you know, you don`t have to worry about why did God let a child be born autistic.

CHARLIE ROSE: It is said that what Darwin did is that it - it helped human beings -- remember, this was published in 1859 -- understand their place in nature.


CHARLIE ROSE: That`s obvious.


CHARLIE ROSE: We got it ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... in terms of -- now, is "The Origin of the Species" more important than "The Descent of Man?"

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, right now "The Descent of Man" interests me more, because, I - you know ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Explain the difference in the two, Jim, I mean, for an audience here ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, one...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... sort of deals with the question of, you know, you know, who were our relatives? Was it chimpanzee, gorilla? And he kind of put it right, considering the - the lack of it. And then he went on to write a book about emotions. You know ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: That - you know, that book really is a tremendous contribution that`s not mentioned very much.

CHARLIE ROSE: That was - what ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal."


CHARLIE ROSE: At what -- at what point in his life did he write that?


CHARLIE ROSE: OK, but I want to speak to -- I`m not sure - are there differences in "The Origin of the Species," and the -- why are you now interested in "The Descent of Man?"

JAMES D. WATSON: Oh, because ...

CHARLIE ROSE: (INAUDIBLE) goes back and says that we`re descending from ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Suddenly we`ve got the DNA sequence of the chimpanzee. You know, we can really now see human evolution. And we can go out and begin to see the differences between the DNA of an Eskimo and someone who is living in the tropics. And so, we really can now see evolution occurring at the level of DNA, which Darwin couldn`t. And -- but all his guesses were really right on mark. I mean, the man really ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Stunning that he could do it not knowing anything about the structure of DNA and...

EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s a really good point about Darwin. Not only did he cover an immense amount of material -- geology and biology ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... but the man was always right. It`s exasperating to be an evolutionary biologist and try to develop something really new ...

JAMES D. WATSON: No, you see ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... and find out that Darwin had either said it or he had created ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... had foresight to, you know, indicate it.

JAMES D. WATSON: In my mind, Darwin was the most important person who ever lived on Earth.

CHARLIE ROSE: Wait. Darwin was the most important person ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Important person who ever ...

CHARLIE ROSE: ... lived on Earth.


CHARLIE ROSE: More so than Einstein? More so than ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... anybody?



JAMES D. WATSON: Yeah, because for the first time he actually saw what was happening.

CHARLIE ROSE: Forgive - forgive me for this. Yes, you know ...

JAMES D. WATSON: No, but you know, if you say that truth comes from observation and experience, not from revelation, which was the way I was raised, then Darwin was the first person using observation and experience to really put man in his place in the world.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s what I just said. He -- human beings - humanity - human beings understood where they fit in ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... in - in nature.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, so - so, I think he just was colossally important.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you agree with that?


CHARLIE ROSE: The most important person ever to live is what he said.


EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes. You know, if you go through the founders of great religions and you have to understand that they have just affected part of the world and they are in contention with one another, and it`s - it`s important but it`s not all-important. Because it really -- they really were basically wrong about where man came from and where - and - and how we fit in the universe.

JAMES D. WATSON: That`s not saying anything against them. There was no science then. They couldn`t have been right.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, and the division ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... they gave us really came from ...

JAMES D. WATSON: You know ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... the late Iron Age and some desert kingdoms there, which were rather specific. That`s the - the Abrahamic religion. But it is true that Darwin really cracked it. And finally showed us how - showed us how - showed us how, you know, to figure out pretty precisely where we came from and how we fit in the ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Look, so he is, you know - he is the big hero in our lives. You know, now you can get later ones. But, you know, if you really think of it, he really was the first person that got it right.

CHARLIE ROSE: Darwin and then what - what - Francis and Jim did. What comes closest since this to having -- to being in that league? What comes closest but not in the league? Is it - is it the mapping of the human genome? Is it what?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, Jim is going to have to -- you know, you`re going to oblige him to start denying it and telling us about Mendel and so on. But the point is, of as many major advances -- I could cite one after the other ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Just cite one or two.

EDWARD O. WILSON: But - but, you know, the -- the most seminal was Darwin first of all ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... and then the next most seminal, and Jim wishes, you know, he can say, well, Crick and I would have - you know, we put the - the cap on. And a lot of other people had all the information put together.


EDWARD O. WILSON: And that`s true. But that was the seminal development, that we had a molecular code ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... that we really could understand and we could start using to piece together the whole process of the building up of life. And you can`t beat that. It`s hard to beat that.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK, but - but is there anything that after that?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, the only thing that could beat it -- excuse me for interrupting. The only thing that could beat it is to show that there`s a supernatural force guiding it.

CHARLIE ROSE: That would be the killer.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, oh, I`d love to see it, but it hasn`t - and I don`t think it`s going to happen.


JAMES D. WATSON: No, I think there`s something that`s out there, which is how we store information in the brain.

CHARLIE ROSE: We have talked about this before. Haven`t we?

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, but what is, you know - when -- what is a face? How do you encode it in your brain? How do you retrieve it? That ...

CHARLIE ROSE: That - that has the possibility of joining the ranks of really great ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Oh, absolutely. Oh, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: And let -- let me explore that for a moment. That`s -- tell me a little bit more. How we encode information, how we receive ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... and what?

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, we know we receive it via our eyes or various sensory organs ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... and it gets sent to the brain, where it`s stored, but we don`t know how it`s stored. We don`t know anything about the architecture of storage.

EDWARD O. WILSON: And we don`t know - we don`t know what the conscious mind is, really.

JAMES D. WATSON: That`s beyond that. I say the first one ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... is you have to know what the information is.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, right.

JAMES D. WATSON: And that`s the big one.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Incidentally, Darwin got that right too. Darwin spoke of the mind. He said, that is the citadel that cannot be taken by direct assault. And the meaning - you know the meaning was - I -- I sensed he -- he understood this, that there would have to be all these other disciplines and sciences and discoveries that we were going to sort of sneak in, you know, over the ramparts ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... and breeches and so on. And we`ll take the citadel, but it is going to be a long time coming.

But that`s right. The mind, the human mind especially, would -- if we could crack that in one dramatic insight or discovery, then that - you know, you would call that a landmark discovery.

CHARLIE ROSE: Are we making progress?

JAMES D. WATSON: We don`t know whether we, you know, gone a millimeter out of a mile, oh, I mean, a kilometer. We don`t really know. I somehow don`t expect to read a paper and get the answer this year.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, but I - but ...

JAMES D. WATSON: But, you know, if I was young, say 20 years old, that`s what I would go try and do. And we can see ...

CHARLIE ROSE: If you were 25 years old, the thing that you would set out to do would not find the structure of DNA, which has been done ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... but would be to find out how the mind works.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yeah. And -- but you better set out at 15. Twenty-five - 25 is too late. You really have got to - and that`s you know, the importance of education ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... of - of trying to tell people that, yeah, when did you become interested in that? So, I`d bet it was a pretty early ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Nine years old. If you`re about to ask me what I would do if I were 25 ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: I would not try that. There`s too many bright people already trying it. And besides, it would keep me in the laboratory, and I`ll be darned if I`ll take up anything that doesn`t allow me to get out in the field.

CHARLIE ROSE: And - and watch ants (INAUDIBLE)...

EDWARD O. WILSON: I`m fundamentally a field biologist. Because ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... that`s the way I was born. That was the way I was made.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you think - do you both think there was a reason you went to where you were in terms of scientific inquiry?


CHARLIE ROSE: And it was because you wanted to be outside, and ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, I wanted to be - I wanted a job in nature, exploring animals and plants. And, you know, biodiversity I didn`t know at that time ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: But that -- that that would be the word or that I would be dealing in biodiversity science. But basically, I wanted to be outdoors exploring all the time. And I wanted to be a scientist. Well, I did it.

CHARLIE ROSE: And you? Why - why molecular biology having to do with the structure of life?

JAMES D. WATSON: Oh, because, you know, my father, having rejected religion, and said that you could, you know, explain life in terms of physics and chemistry -- I wanted to show it could be done. So, you know, really, saying it`s based on physics and chemistry isn`t very convincing until you show it`s based on physics and chemistry.


JAMES D. WATSON: So I think it was -- it just seemed so important, you know, to - to finally get it right.


JAMES D. WATSON: You know, so that you had a solid base on which to think. And ...


JAMES D. WATSON: So, you know, among people who know it, you know, there`s no controversy about evolution. It is the most -- it is so true. I mean ...

CHARLIE ROSE: But you say to accept it is to - is to -- you had a phrase I read somewhere, where you said to -- not to accept evolution is to -- is to deny common sense.


CHARLIE ROSE: That was a quote.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes. I mean - but the people who -- that`s common sense for scientists, but the people who aren`t scientists, they don`t know how we think, so it`s easy for them to deny it. But they don`t have these sort of rules which make it impossible for me ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... to question that.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me go back to Darwin. Did Darwin -- has anything that Darwin suggested, essential, been disproved or modified?


CHARLIE ROSE: We know it was added to by what Jim did.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, I will ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: Jim may want to talk about it. But he did have the wrong theory of - genetic - of heredity.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, that was the thing, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: How did that work? What was it?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, I may slip up on that, because I`m not an expert on Darwin`s one erroneous ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... idea, which was - it`s - it was blending heredity. That`s really what he thought. He thought there was something like liquids that you ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... that you know, you got from your mom and you got from your dad, and you kind of ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: So, it didn`t have the discreetness of Mendel. That`s what ...

JAMES D. WATSON: That`s right.

EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s why Mendel (INAUDIBLE). But you know, Darwin could have figured that out, because he was preoccupied throughout his life with what he called - was called sports in those days. And - and they - they even knew about somatic mutations, that is sudden changes in the cell that occupy just one cell, or if you - you have a little bit of tissue. And single changes that were very discreet. Darwin could have reasoned out some kind of particulate heredity.

JAMES D. WATSON: But it wouldn`t have convinced him or wouldn`t have convinced anyone else ...


JAMES D. WATSON: ... until you had the breeding experiments of Mendel.


JAMES D. WATSON: And they were so important.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. What -- back to Darwin`s life. After the - the voyage on the HMS Beagle, 1831 ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... he never left England again.


CHARLIE ROSE: He just - is there any explanation for that?


CHARLIE ROSE: He had done all the research, he had all the material, he wanted just to figure out what it said?

JAMES D. WATSON: I think if you really realize what he did at the voyage of the Beagle, that was a pretty scary thing.

CHARLIE ROSE: It was scary. Yes.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes. I mean, just imagine ...


CHARLIE ROSE: ... disease and everything else, yes.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, he may have brought back with him, although I guess there`s a controversy over it, Chagas`s disease.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, because he was sick a lot, the rest of his life.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, yes, we don`t know exactly why, but he got something.


EDWARD O. WILSON: Probably ...

JAMES D. WATSON: You know, he might have been drinking milk or something. Who knows?

EDWARD O. WILSON: But, he had - and, you know, I don`t think he wanted to leave Emma and the kids, and - and ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Because he had like 11, 10 or 11 kids.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yeah, 10. And he - he had that nice place, and he also was able to do a lot of work, experiments with plant growth and earthworm behavior and so on right there around his estate.

CHARLIE ROSE: With the - with the certainty that science has about him now and - and when what contribution that Jim and others have made, what was the response at the time he wrote the book? Did everybody say what?

JAMES D. WATSON: Enormous response. I mean, it was ...


JAMES D. WATSON: No, it upset a lot of people, and, yes, it was ...

CHARLIE ROSE: It was instantly controversial.

JAMES D. WATSON: Instantly controversial. The book sold out many copies. It was a best-seller.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Right, it was.

CHARLIE ROSE: Everybody understood, I think, the gravity of it.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, there were a number of people, his correspondents among the scientists, who were his allies. They even knew roughly what the idea was.


EDWARD O. WILSON: And they - they had leapt immediately to his defense, most famously Huxley, and -- but they were also ...

CHARLIE ROSE: Huxley would go defend him in debate.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, yes. But there also were formidable opponents, the most notable of whom was our predecessor at Harvard, Louis Agassiz ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... the most powerful figure in American science at that time. And ...

CHARLIE ROSE: What was opposed to what he ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, vehemently.

CHARLIE ROSE: The most powerful figure in American science ...



EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, let`s -- I`m speaking of influence and fame. You know, well, he wasn`t much of a scientist. He was ...

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, exactly.

EDWARD O. WILSON: But he was - he had tremendous influence on the public. President Grant...

CHARLIE ROSE: Wait, wait, what was his argument? I mean, how did he -- what did he use as a basis to reject it? Biblical creation?

EDWARD O. WILSON: I`m not quite sure. He just said, see, he was a transcendentalist, and he - he wowed all the audiences by coming down with that transcendentalist view he picked up (INAUDIBLE) and then the other. And he said - he said the world is -- that we live in is the image in God`s mind. Now, isn`t that a beautiful, great idea? And he wasn`t about to give it up to some English country squire who just put a lot of facts together.

CHARLIE ROSE: Was that -- that reminds me -- wasn`t Darwin in some of his writings -- this has got to be in here -- some really almost poetic about how he described it in the end?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, he was. He was - he was relatively plainspoken, but then he was ...

CHARLIE ROSE: This beautiful ...

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... wind up and give us a poetic riff.


EDWARD O. WILSON: He did it at the end of - of "The Descent of Man" ...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... you know, with that wonderful expression - that oh, Jim uses it - the indelible stamp. He said no matter how exulted we think ourselves, how high we have risen, we nevertheless bear the indelible stamp of our lowly origin. And then he added at the end "The Origin of Species..."

CHARLIE ROSE: I have it here.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Give us this.

CHARLIE ROSE: "There is a grandeur in this view of life that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, have been and are being evolved."

EDWARD O. WILSON: Can Tennyson beat that?

CHARLIE ROSE: I don`t think so.

JAMES D. WATSON: No, Darwin could...

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s interesting. Here`s a scientist who is a poet.


JAMES D. WATSON: Yeah, he could write very well. Darwin knew how to write beautiful phrases. I mean...

EDWARD O. WILSON: What really has the punch to is the authenticity of it. I mean, in most of our minds. That is, here was a guy who had really established his case, a very powerful new way of looking at -- a new world view. So when he comes in with a little bit of poetry at the end, you pay attention. I mean, the old chill goes down the back. But that wouldn`t be the case, you know...

CHARLIE ROSE: You speak as a man who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for the ability to write well about science. Sir?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yeah, OK. If you consider that stronger praise, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: When you -- Darwin himself after he published this, I mean, what did he. -- what was his life about? Because I`ve read that he mostly spent his time devoted to his children.

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, a lot of time writing these subsequent books.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes, that`s right. And he wrote the last one just 11 years before he died, or actually 10 years. And his life was actually very regular and quiet there at Down. He would go out on regular walks. And he would run his experiments, and watch nature around him. He would take occasional visits to London, where he visited the British museum.

But basically, he was thinking, thinking and writing and writing.

There was a servant in the Darwin household who watched Mr. -- this is a story I`ve got to tell -- who watched Mr. Darwin out doing all this, you know, and just looking at things. One day Mr. Darwin was sitting and watching a hill of ants for a long time. And she spoke and said -- they were neighbors of the Thackerays, incidentally, William Makepeace Thackeray. She said, "what a pity Mr. Darwin has nothing to fill his time like Mr. Thackeray."

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s great. I`m amazed at how all these great people knew each other. Tennyson and Thackeray.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yeah, it was a very small society.

CHARLIE ROSE: Why do I end up here, with two books by two eminent scientists, Darwin, which are anthologies?

EDWARD O. WILSON: I think -- well, go ahead.

JAMES D. WATSON: Two publishers, I think.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Two publishers had the same idea. That was really...

JAMES D. WATSON: Had the same idea, yes.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Basically, one publisher had the idea...


EDWARD O. WILSON: ... and it spilled over into two competing, if you want to call it that -- I don`t call it competing efforts, they came out at the same time. I`m glad it happened, because Jim`s gives us, you know, how....

CHARLIE ROSE: The indelible stamp. The evolution of an idea.

EDWARD O. WILSON: How he would look at it from molecular biology, which is now heavily evolutionary.


EDWARD O. WILSON: And I look at it more from someone who has lived a life rather like Darwin`s, you know, in the field and natural history and that sort of thing. So I could understand pretty much what he was doing as a person. So they`re very different, actually, commentaries that we have that are complementary.

CHARLIE ROSE: What else do you see as the difference between these books?

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, they`re two versions of our Bible.

CHARLIE ROSE: The science Bible. The science Bible.

JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, the Bible. I mean, if you really think of it, this is really...

EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s right.

JAMES D. WATSON: ... our Bible.


JAMES D. WATSON: ... when you think of it...

EDWARD O. WILSON: This is our exegesis, as much as....

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me get this straight. Here`s what I just heard you say. This is the King Jim and this is the King Ed version of your Bible.

EDWARD O. WILSON: The only difference is that we didn`t try to rewrite Darwin.

JAMES D. WATSON: We didn`t.

EDWARD O. WILSON: And we didn`t hold any councils...

JAMES D. WATSON: Whereas the Bible has been rewritten...

EDWARD O. WILSON: We didn`t hold any councils to decide what was true and what wasn`t true.

JAMES D. WATSON: So Darwin had it so right, there was no reason for making -- going in and saying, well, he was wrong here or something. He was...

CHARLIE ROSE: There is this. You two appeared with me four or five years ago on a stage of 1,000 people in the audience. And everybody was amazed. And they loved it. There was, they thought, remarkable that I had the two of you on the same stage, because of this notion that somehow at some point there was conflict between the two of you. Which I assume is not...

JAMES D. WATSON: I think it was just, you know, young assistant professors trying to....

CHARLIE ROSE: At Harvard, wanting tenure both.

EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s right.



JAMES D. WATSON: Getting it a couple of days later.

EDWARD O. WILSON: That was strictly an accident and stupidity on the part of the now mostly deceased Harvard administration. I was offered a professorship at Stanford, with tenure. And we were still both in our 20s.


EDWARD O. WILSON: And I said, sayonara, I was on my way. So they said hold it, hold it, hold it. And they gave this...


EDWARD O. WILSON: And then somebody -- I don`t know how it came about, Jim, you may know the story -- somebody said, oh, my God, you know, there was this already historic figure here, Watson. You know, Watson is still an assistant -- he`s still an assistant professor, and Wilson will be an associate professor. The old-fashioned biologist favored by that stodgy, old 19th century faculty just moved Wilson ahead.

That isn`t the way it happened. They knew what was right, and they moved it quickly.

JAMES D. WATSON: I think I did disturb them, because it was, you know, creating a different sort of biology, where we thought in terms of molecules. We weren`t field people.

EDWARD O. WILSON: But it was -- yeah, but it was -- for anybody who had any brains, it was mostly...

JAMES D. WATSON: No, I know.

EDWARD O. WILSON: ... a big part of the future that was coming. And there was a lot of tension.

JAMES D. WATSON: But I think...

CHARLIE ROSE: Tension between not just -- not between the two of you as two ambitious young scientists, but tension between the fields, the disciplines?

JAMES D. WATSON: Yeah, you know, should we appoint another ecologist or should we get another molecular geneticist? Where is the future? I mean, those were the sort of..

EDWARD O. WILSON: But for the next several years, every appointment that came up was to a molecular biologist. So if Jim was the new boy on the block, it was if as he was the David and we were the Goliath. I`m sorry. He was the coming Goliath and I was a David -- this time Goliath won.

JAMES D. WATSON: But I think -- but that`s, you know, so far in the past.

CHARLIE ROSE: But these are two great scientists here. And for history, I want to be -- understand it.

JAMES D. WATSON: But then, you know, about 1980, people poured water, you know, some of his colleagues poured water over his head for suggesting that, you know, human behavior is influenced by our genes.

CHARLIE ROSE: This is sociobiology. Was that...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yes. That`s right. And that actually wasn`t that far removed from what Darwin is saying in his final book.

JAMES D. WATSON: I know. That -- it was the same...

EDWARD O. WILSON: But that was a heresy on the far left in the `70s.


EDWARD O. WILSON: And that was a nasty period. But that`s another story and another universe long, long ago and far away. That`s resolved pretty well too. Sociobiology is now accepted.

CHARLIE ROSE: Sociobiology is now accepted?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Oh, absolutely, yes.

JAMES D. WATSON: But the -- there`s still a great reluctance for some people to a certain view. They want evolution to have stopped about 100,000 years ago so that all humans are identical. And it doesn`t seem to have occurred that way. So...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Unfortunately. Another hard truth we have yet to face.

JAMES D. WATSON: And so, you know, science comes up with facts which sometimes society finds hard to adjust to. And we`re in the midst of that again.

CHARLIE ROSE: Explain it to me.

JAMES D. WATSON: We`ve more or less said that we`re all the same. And the only reason we`re different is that some people have got a good education; some people have gotten good nutrition. But we`re basically the same. That was the idea. We look different on the outside, but inside we`re the same. That was stated by members of your department, prominent members of your department. And it`s just not true. You know, some people are...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Because now actually we`re getting down to the genetic -- the actual genes, by which internal traits in some cases are different.

JAMES D. WATSON: Some people, like the Polynesian people, are very, very prone to get type II diabetes. They`re not the same inside, but because they evolved to take these long trips over water, they had to have a lot of fat on them in the beginning, and none at the end. And if you put them in a world where you can go out and buy McDonald`s hamburgers, you know, and get 5,000 calories for $10 or less, they explode.

EDWARD O. WILSON: So now it`s getting accepted that we do differ a lot.

JAMES D. WATSON: In some...

EDWARD O. WILSON: Most people from here down. But that we might differ from here up is a little harder to take.

JAMES D. WATSON: Well, see, we are going to differ, everyone, you know, has their own prejudices, you know, whether the Irish are better poets, and whether there`s anything genetic.

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, speak to that for a second. I mean, how Irish are better poets? Where does that fit into this?

JAMES D. WATSON: No, well, is it because of some way the brain was slightly different living on that green isle? You know, selective pressures? You know, it may be that, you know, Eskimos and Irish are equal poets. And if you put the Eskimos in Ireland, they would be -- you know, one would become a Yates. Who knows.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you buy that, sir?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, maybe. I think...

JAMES D. WATSON: But it`s really whether there`s -- whether our cultural history is also seen in concurrence -- a cultural evolution has also seen some evolutionary selection.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, of course it has, yes. In fact, one of the main problems remaining, Jim, I think, it`s tightly related to the matter of mind, you know, understanding how the brain works, is how genetic evolution, which is occurring, is linked to cultural evolution. You know, surely genetic, our genetic make-up and differences affect the cultures to some extent that we haven`t fully measured. And surely the way cultures have evolved have affected -- we know that -- has affected our genetic make-up. So how are they linked? We have scarcely begun to study that. That`s a great area.

JAMES D. WATSON: So, I think one area, you know, over the last 20,000 years, have we become less violent? And we have to be less violent in order to co-exist in cities or in nations or now in the United Nations? You know, bigger and bigger groups. So that violence is no longer very useful. And there`s some evidence that that has occurred.


JAMES D. WATSON: You know, there`s been a selection that, just like dogs aren`t as violent as wolves, that...

CHARLIE ROSE: Because they don`t need to be.


CHARLIE ROSE: It`s natural selection.


CHARLIE ROSE: Survival of not the fittest, but the difference.

JAMES D. WATSON: The people who were violent were just shoved out of their societies and died. They didn`t live. So there can be -- this is what I`m trying to say, is that that`s something which this coming century, we`re going to get a much better idea of. And it`s going to be very exciting to find out. But I think, you know, have we been evolving to be nicer people? I think so.



CHARLIE ROSE: Even though, even though, even though we`re seeing and we have seen this extraordinary mounting of war, making different...?

JAMES D. WATSON: I know. But just imagine what it was 20,000 years ago. It might have been....

EDWARD O. WILSON: Genocide was routine. Or genabsorption (ph) was routine.


CHARLIE ROSE: Are you on the same page here in terms of there is a kind of evolution taking place?

EDWARD O. WILSON: Well, of course.


EDWARD O. WILSON: The evidence is pretty decisive.

CHARLIE ROSE: The cultural evidence...

EDWARD O. WILSON: The cultural -- I think we have to add this point. I hope Jim would agree. If he doesn`t, well, that`s OK. But we`ve somehow got to bring biology and the social sciences and psychology together.


EDWARD O. WILSON: Psychologists, most of the practicing psychologists and theoretical psychologists and the vast majority of social sciences, who really determine a lot of the intellect that goes into our policies, you know, and our philosophies, our political philosophies, have no connection at all to their true nature of humanity or what human nature is at a biological level. This is still a huge gap. And I believe that we will start to fill that in a way that will be useful in years immediately ahead.

JAMES D. WATSON: I see the coming -- the past century was the coming together of chemistry and biology. This century will be the coming together of psychology and biology.


JAMES D. WATSON: So I think that is -- because there`s nothing more interesting than human beings. You know, some people might be fixated on dogs but I`m fixated on humans.

EDWARD O. WILSON: If you`re an ambitious young scientist, that`s the territory to go into.



JAMES D. WATSON: Yes, humans.

EDWARD O. WILSON: That`s one of the territories to go into.

JAMES D. WATSON: But, you know, the idea that, you know, violence could, you know, be selected against, I think that`s a very exciting idea.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Yeah, the taming of the human species.

JAMES D. WATSON: The taming, which was necessary in order to form even groups of 100 people, and much more necessary when you have a group of 5 million in a city. You know, the average person can`t be violent, or just, you know, all the big cities would just, you know, they`d collapse, because everyone would be living with fear. For the most part, we don`t live with fear when we walk down the street, or those who were lucky in that -- some people do -- but it`s remarkable how much we trust each other.


JAMES D. WATSON: So I think, you know, there`s -- we have a good side as well as bad side. And you can see why you sort of need both. I mean, evolutionarily, both have existed.

But these are the questions we`re going to ask. And sometimes people won`t like the answer that, you know, what you do with violent people. You know, are we the cause of them or are they -- are their genes the cause of them? When you know the brain, it`s not surprising that some people just get into awfully bad luck, and have been born nasty. You know, it`s not society. It`s just awful bad luck. And the real problem is, how do you have a just society when genetics is unjust? Seems to me that is...

CHARLIE ROSE: A powerful question.


CHARLIE ROSE: On that, let me thank both of you. I have first referenced a book, these two. "Darwin: The Indelible Stamp, the Evolution of an Idea." Edited with commentary by James D. Watson, Nobel Prize laureate. "From So Simple a Beginning: The Four Great Books of Charles Darwin -- `The Voyage of the Beagle,` `On the Origin of Species,` `The Descent of Man,` `The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,`" edited with an introduction by Edward O. Wilson.

Let me just say my thanks to both of you. I have done at least 30,000 interviews, and this is one that I am most proud. Thank you very much. Thank you.

JAMES D. WATSON: Thank you very much.

EDWARD O. WILSON: Thank you very much for that.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you for joining us. We`ll see you next time.

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