Bronze-level articleNobel disease

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Nikolaas Tinbergen with his Nobel medal
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The Nobel disease is a term used to describe a phenomenon in which Nobel Prize-winning scientists endorse or perform "research" in pseudoscientific areas in their later years.

In reality, this "disease" most likely demonstrates that even the most brilliant people are not immune to crank ideas, and belief in such ideas will persist to some degree even among Nobelists. It also serves to demonstrate that being universally hailed as "right" seems to bolster the laureate's confirmation bias more than his or her skepticism.

Lastly, it might be indicative of the fact that — just like with milk — even the greatest minds can have a "best before"-date of sorts. The longevity human beings enjoy today is a relatively new concept for Homo sapiens, and as such, more and more people live long enough for their brains to start showing various signs of deterioration. Furthermore, it has been widely recognized that scientists who make great discoveries usually do so before a certain age, formerly before age 30, nowadays before age 40.[1] Nobel Prizes are often awarded after a long period of research, after the initial discovery has been confirmed and its importance is more fully understood.

One thing is certain — creeping dementia coupled with confidence, media attention and funding rarely spells success in the end.

A meager upside to all this is that at least the existence of the Nobel disease cancels out the oft-repeated argument from authority; "if a Nobel Prize-winning scientist says it, it must be true!".


[edit] (In)famous Victims of Disease

[edit] Inverted Nobel Disease

Here, we show a picture of Tu Youyou to you.

In a more bizarre case, Tu YouyouWikipedia's W.svg received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of artemisinin, a drug used to treat malaria and that is saving millions of lives.

She discovered this while testing thousands of different herbs that were in her field of study: Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It should be noted that if the Scientific Method had not been developed yet, many parts of TCM would be considered proto-science rather than pseudoscience.

Shamen, medicine men, witch doctors and the likes would often perceive an apparent correlation between administration of herb or practice X with the outcome of ailment Y, and would pass these hypotheses down through the generations.

Oftentimes, no correlation was actually present, of course, and a lot of superstitions were formed in this manner, but without things like rapid communication, peer review, an understanding of cognitive biases or accensor to well-equipped laboratories, any better form of acquiring knowledge was simply unavailable.

Then when society did reach a point where a city could afford the resources for the labs, many early scientists began testing all the various herbal remedies that had been passed down from the shamans.

What worked was carefully recorded and kept, such as aspirin from willow bark tea, while what didn't was discarded as proven ineffective stays in use to this day in the realm of alternative medicine.

Tu Youyou tested various herbal remedies and found another important drug, and for that we are thankful. Science works.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. The Stroke of Genius Strikes Later in Modern Life by Charles Q. Choi (November 7, 2011 03:01pm ET) Live Science.
  2. Pierre Curie bio
  3. John William Strutt bio
  5. Lenard, Philipp (1936). Deutsche Physik in vier Bänden (in German). J.F. Lehmann.
  7. Charles Richet bio
  10. My View of the World Erwin Schrödinger chapter iv. What Is life? the physical aspect of the living cell & Mind and matter — By Erwin Schrödinger
  13. Chain, 1971, “Social Responsibility and the Scientist in Modern Western Society,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Spring 1971, Vol. 14, No. 3, p. 368
  16. Creativity and intuition : a physicist looks at East and West / by Hideki Yukawa ; translated by John Bester (1973)
  17. Bill Shockley bio
  18. Fury at DNA Pioneer's Theory: Africans are Less Intelligent than Westerners, The Independent
  19. [1], where Watson clarifies he speaks as "people who have to deal with black employees".
  20. Eccles, John (1973). "6 'Brain, Speech, and Consciousness'". The Understanding of the Brain. McGraw-Hill Book Company. p. p. 189. ISBN 0-07-018863-7.
  23. Hannes Alfvén, Cosmology—Myth or Science? J Astrophysics and Astronomy, vol. 5, pp. 79-98, (1984).
  24. Ivar Giaevar, DeSmog Blog
  25. Pioneer of the Paranormal
  26. [2]
  29. Outside the Box or Around the Bend? Photon in the Darkness
  30. Beyond Kary Mullis: The Alien Conspiracy Theory of AIDS, Denying AIDS
  31. Kary Mullis — Personal ViewsWikipedia's W.svg, Wikipedia
  37. A. Zeilinger, Dance of the Photons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010, p. 266.
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