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DNA Scientist canceles British tour after insulting Afro-Americans

A U.S. scientist who shocked the world with his description of intelligence levels among blacks canceled a book-promotion tour of Britain and returned to the U.S. Friday, his publisher said.

James Watson, the 79-year-old scientific icon made famous by his work in DNA, made the decision after the renowned U.S. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he served as chancellor, suspended his administrative responsibilities Thursday after he was quoted as saying tests have indicated that Africans are not as intelligent as whites.

"He returned to the United States this morning because of circumstances back home at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory," said Kate Farquhar-Thomson, a head of publicity at Oxford University Press. "He felt that's where he needed to be."

Farquhar-Thomson had been accompanying Watson on a tour of Britain to promote his new book, "Avoid Boring People: Lessons From a Life in Science," which the company has published in Britain.

Watson, who won a Nobel Prize in 1962, apologized on Thursday and said he was "mortified."

Watson set off an international furor when he told a London newspaper he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really."

The comments, reprinted Wednesday in a front-page article in another British newspaper, The Independent, provoked a sharp reaction in Britain and the United States.

London's Science Museum canceled a sold-out lecture, and the University of Edinburgh, where the scientist was to speak Monday, issued a statement saying it had withdrawn the invitation.