The Motives...(Nobel Prizes)

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Tue Oct 10 12:13:03 EST 1995

On Tue, 10 Oct 1995 yqg023 at wrote:

[ much deleted ]

> Another of those "right wing American economists of the Chicago school
> monetarist variety" just won another Nobel Prize in Economics.
> That makes (I believe) 8 for those fellows.
> Maybe the Nobel prize committee knows something Jay Hanson et al do not.
> Nah; impossible.
> Jim Glass

The above comes as no surprise.
Despite that there are, of course, exceptions, 
pattern of Nobel Prizes (all areas) shows a
consistent moral decline over the last years 
(if not decades).

Every year several of them (senile or not ?) got
together at MIT (Mass.Inst.of Technology) dressed
at gorilla suits for a strange feast called 
"Ig-Nobele Prize award" to laugh at other scientists
(sometime deceased) who somehow did not make it to 
their "Nobel Club". A short letter on this is
attached. - Alex Berezin

(the following letter was published recently in 
the "American Physical Society News", July 1995)


Marc Abrahams' "Improbable Research" (APS News, March 1995)
and numerous (mostly critical) comments on it in the May
issue raise the question of credibility of *real* (not Ig)
Nobel Prize laureats who regularly (or occasionally)
participate in Ig-ceremonies.

We are fortunate to live in a (relatively) free society
and the right to openly ridicule anything you wish is, of
course, among its fundamental cornerstones. But it is not
a free ride. The price for this right is that nothing,
not even the genuinely deserved Nobel Prize, make people
fully immune from the possibility to damaging the level
of respect they enjoy in the eyes of others. 

We all know that many scientific breakthroughs in the past
were first met with jeers and scorn. When the freshmen or
sophomores make a humorous pantomime on fringe science 
claims, this can be both funny and nice. But when the people
blessed with the highest scientific honour on Earth play
the Zoo on their, often equally distinguished, colleagues
(yes, who will deny that Edward Teller has the same
scientific calibre as many *real*, not Ig, nobelists ?), 
it lookes planly stupid. And as a result, the players 
look far more ridiculous than the targets of their wit.

Please, Nobel guys, we give you the benefit of doubt, but
find other stage for your suppressed clownistic talents !         

Alexander A. Berezin,
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

More information about the Bioforum mailing list