Morning News: Boycotts And Brain Power
Divide Over Proposed Boycott Of The Sochi Winter Olympics
A petition has been circulated on change.org to relocate the 2014 Winter Games from Sochi, Russia to Vancouver, Canada to protest the passage of a law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors.”
The talk of a boycott of the Sochi Olympics gained steam with the publication in the New York Times of an editorial by actor Harvey Fierstein. While Fierstein did not call directly for a boycott, said that “American and world leaders must speak out against Mr. Putin’s attacks and the violence they foster” and that the IOC “must demand the retraction of these laws under threat of boycott.”
Others have argued against a boycott of the upcoming Games.
“It would also be a disaster. First, Olympic boycotts have proved to be singularly useless instruments of foreign policy. Twenty-five African nations stayed out of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal to protest the participation of New Zealand, whose rugby team was touring South Africa at the time. The African boycott hurt Canada far more than it did either New Zealand or South Africa’s apartheid regime, which survived another 18 years,” writes Bloomberg News’ Romesh Ratnesar.
Another opponent of a boycott is New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup, who is gay. He says a boycott would be “devastating” to the athletes who have worked for years to achieve their goals, but also says Olympians should speak out against the anti-gay laws.
Does DNA Determine Genius?
Zhao Bowen, a 21-year old researcher at the Chinese biotech firm BGI Shenzhen, is attempting to use computers to examine the genetic underpinnings of genius – such as his own. The goal of the project is to identify the extent to which genetics determine intelligence, a goal which makes some scientists uneasy.
“Three years into the project, a team of four geneticists is crunching an initial batch of 2,000 DNA samples from high-IQ subjects, searching for where their genomes differ from the norm. Soon Zhao plans to get thousands more through Renmin—his former high school—as well as from other sources around the world. He believes that intelligence has a genetic recipe and that given enough samples—and enough time—his team will find it,” writes John Bohannon in a profile of Bowen in Wired magazine.