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Osaze Udeagbala

Student , Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

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Are Nobel Prizes overrated?

Since the issuing of the first award in 1901, the Nobel Prize has become the pinnacle of general recognition. Many would agree that those who have received the Nobel Prize have done great work in their field, but even so there are themes of rejection, redemption, and controversy surrounding the awards. In my Bioelectricity class, for example, we have discussed a number of Nobel Laureates such as Arrhenius, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903, for work that once received less than stellar reviews from his very own professors, and Nernst, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1920 for work based on the work of Arrhenius. We have also seen in history (e.g. Rosalind Franklin) circumstances in which scientists have participated closely with Nobel Prize-winning research, but nonetheless were left unrecognized. Finally, as there are very few categories for this award (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace), notably left out are awards for engineering, technology and other advancements for humankind. So I ask the TED community: Do you think Nobel Prize are awarded effectively? And with respect to science: Who is better at evaluating the value of a scientist’s research? Peers? Awards committees? Especially given the fact that it often takes many years to see if research can stand the test of time? Are Nobel Prizes overrated?


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  • Feb 7 2013: It is an institution that has not kept up with changes in the world. As you indicate, there are many disciplines that are ignored and some that should be ignored.
    The peace prize is a joke, the economics prize should not exist because that is a pseudo-science like alchemy and the fact that only three people can be named on the prize ignores the current way of attacking problems with teams of researchers.
    The physical sciences are generally correct in their deliberations in that worthy people get prizes although not all worthy people are recognized.
    The peace prize has set the bar so low as to make it irrelevant. Anyone who can give Henry Kissinger a peace prize has his head up his ass or watches too much Fox news (which is the same thing actually)
    The economics prize is a bit of self congratulatory fluff by people with no intelligence to people with no intelligence. I pay no attention to that bit of garbage.

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