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The Absurdity of the Nobel Prizes in Science


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Nobel Prize medal

Every year, when Nobel Prizes are awarded in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine, critics note that they are an absurd and anachronistic way of recognizing scientists for their work. Instead of honoring science, they distort its nature, rewrite its history, and overlook many of its important contributors.

The fact that the scientific Nobels have drawn controversy since their very inception hints at deep-rooted problems.

The Nobels reward individuals — three at most, for each of the scientific prizes, in any given year. And modern science, as Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus write in Stat, is "the teamiest of team sports." Yes, researchers sometimes make solo breakthroughs, but that's increasingly rare. The paper in which the three-man LIGO team,  winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics, announced their discovery has an author list that runs to three pages. 

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