Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Nobel for Barry?

Huh? In a few years he might have actually earned one. This just demonstrates the outright political biases of the Nobel Committee. The Nobel citation reads like this (without actually mentioning GWB): "Bush era bad, Obama good. Hope good."

Note I speak as an Obama supporter!

Will pundits on the left have the guts to point out that the emperor has no clothes? This kind of outcome just reinforces the paranoid fantasies of the far-right: that Obama's Harvard magna is fake, that the World Government has been grooming him for leadership since his student days, that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father, etc.

Speaking more broadly, it seems to me that our obsession with prizes (an offshoot of winner-take-all culture) is unhealthy, and that prizes these days are less and less correlated with actual achievement.

While my faith in the Nobel process is shaken (although commenters have already pointed out the Kissinger prize and of course there is always Modigliani-Miller ;-), my confidence in Obama is not -- he reacted properly.

Mr. Obama said he was "surprised and deeply humbled" by the committee’s decision, ... he said he would accept it as “a call to action.”

“To be honest,” the president said “I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”

Someone just pointed out to me that this opens the door for a string theorist to win the physics prize ;-)


Bee said...

Somewhat surprising isn't it? I was wondering if they did it more as an encouragement to proceed on the path he set up to take?

Steve Hsu said...

Yes, Hope is always for the future :-)

Go Barry!

Bee said...

TheGerman press is with you.

Bee said...

Let's just hope that Hope doesn't always stay in the future.

zzzhou said...

Will the prize influence Obama's future decision making? The human brain is not good at completely removing an input channel. How the brain makes tough decisions is not very clear. It seems to involve highly parallel processing, voting, and executive level global bias setting. In physics experiments elaborate procedures are employed to remove human emotional bias. But war and peace decisions are not always cold calculations. The Nobel might actually compromise him.

Bee said...

Is what I'm saying.

Otoh, it could just be that there was no other reasonable choice among the other nominees? I mean, who would you have given the price too?

It maybe wouldn't be such a bad idea if occasionally also the Nobel Price in physics was given to people who are not already semi-dead ;-)

Liam said...

I agree, the award is a joke, and will be a burden for Obama. At least it's better than giving it to a mass murderer like they did in '73. They will never top that one.

DB said...

You're just pissed they gave the prize to Steve Chu instead of Steve Hsu.

Anonymous said...

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is a non-causal system. It awards prizes to people before they have had a chance to act.

rz said...

Re: obsession with prizess.

For a while I've felt like tenure is such a prize and that it may do more harm than good.

Don't get me wrong, I do understand why the people who do get tenure in hard subjects are incredibly accomplished. But it seems that often that there is a lot more people who deserve the prize than people getting it. My favorite example: theoretical physics.

anon said...

Germans love David Hasselhoff. Do Norwegians too?

Bee said...

rz: You're not alone with your skepticism reg. tenure. See Who wants tenure anyway?

anon said...

Morgan Tsvangirai should have won.

Kelly said...

A pretty good Maddow segment on this.

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