Sunday, October 14, 2007

Noble Prize

Alfred Nobel , when he died in 1895, left some money in his will that created the funds to award the prizes that will forever be doled out in his name. He was presumably all tore up over what he perceived would be his legacy as the inventor of Dynamite and wanted leave a different sort of namby-pamby legacy, instead. Now, why he would want to be so embarrassed by his legacy as the inventor of one of the most important inventions the world has ever known is beyond this writer. After all, Jimmie JJ Johnson isn't ashamed of his trademark, "DYNOMITE!", is he?

Anyway, the guiding principle of these awards seems to have been Nobel's guilt at having created so destructive a force as...he-he-he...Dynamite. He wanted to be remembered for his prizes, which have since been awarded to more commies and fruitcakes than you can shake a stick of Dynamite at. First, let's see what the criteria of these awards was supposed to be, as defined by Alfred's will:

"The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

At least for Literature, the criteria seem to be somewhat political, don't they?

one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency

None of the other criteria seem to have any value judgments, do they? So I guess we can forgive the Norwegian Nobel Committee for awarding the majority of these (Literary) prizes to communists who have enjoyed little or no commercial success and have done little other than skewer the beliefs and values of a majority of the world's peoples in their inconsequential works. But how do we square the incredibly political bent of the committee in awarding all of the other prizes? I guess we just chalk that up to the Leftist-intelligentsia of Europe.

To illustrate we should look no further than the Peace category. Here are the past few years winners:
2007-The IPPC and Al Gore Jr. for scaring the hell out of everyone and prodding a guilty West into supporting a Luddite visions of the future, while allowing certain enlightened visionaries to continue to enjoy life's technological largesse.
2006-Muhammed Yunus and Grameen Bank for setting up a "bank" that supposedly gives loans with no collateral to poor subsistence farmers in Bangladesh or somewhere. And supposedly this "bank" is making a profit! Ok, you know this is impossible, right? It sounds so uplifting, though and makes me feel warm all over.
2005- International Atomic Energy Agency and Muhamed ElBaradei for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way. Leaving aside that they have not been one whit successful and that no one wants nuclear energy to be used in an unsafe manner, what exactly have these folks done to merit a prize of any kind?
2004-Wangari Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. "Sustainable development" is eco-speak for methods that third-worlders can't afford. It's just fine for San Francisco liberals to work on sustainable development, but Kenyans and other Third-worlders need to develop at any cost. They certainly don't need to worry about diversity, eco-friendliness or any of these weakly defined hippie concepts.
2003-Shirin Ebadi for her efforts for democracy and human rights. Hhhmmm, maybe...but why her? Aren't there plenty of people working for this in the world and probably doing much more good than Ms. Ebadi? Let's look at the Nobel Committee's press release:
Ebadi is a conscious Moslem. She sees no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights. It is important to her that the dialogue between the different cultures and religions of the world should take as its point of departure their shared values. It is a pleasure for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to a woman who is part of the Moslem world, and of whom that world can be proud - along with all who fight for human rights wherever they live.
Well, now it's clear as mud!
2002-Jimmy Carter Jr. for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development. Don't these reasons start sounding awfully similar after awhile?

It would seem that these prizes are awarded more for the recipients absolute failure to achieve any objective at all than for any actual achievement!

In fact, it might just be that the recipients of the infamous Ig Nobel Prizes may be more deserving of an award than the Nobel Prize Winners, at least in some cases. At least these prize winners caused a laugh or two, unlike most of the Nobel Prize Winners (Jimmy Carter and the carnivorous rabbit, excluded).