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Talk:Nobel disease

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Selection bias?[edit]

Would a mention of Selection Bias be appropriate? I doubt there's any evidence that endorsement of quackery is higher among Nobel winners than among other scientists. 68.103.227.108 (talk) 01:13, 11 September 2016 (UTC)

It might be appropriate on the Nobel Prize page, but not here. Bongolian (talk) 01:26, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
Absolutely a valid point. However, the unfortunate Nobel Prize winner is uniquely beset by a sort of a combined bubble and spotlight. Contradicting an NP winner (or indeed, anyone who is regarded as even moderately distinguished) leads to "who do you think you are?"-type ostracisation in Academia (not in principle, but all too common in practice). The NP winner has historical reasons to belief that sticking to their guns in spite of any disagreement that may still reach them is sensible and will pay off in the end. The NP winner can choose whom to surround themselves with, and are not immune to flattery. The NP winner has a ready uncritical media platform. The "Hello" magazines of academia (Nature, Science, PNAS) will give the NP winner editorial space for their latest maverick insights. (The latter has backfired so often you might think they'd be more careful these days.) In other words, even if quackery is just as common among common academics, their options for making fools of themselves in the most respected echelons are far more limited.137.205.101.185 (talk) 11:22, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
Seems like a reasonable argument. If you've got some good citations, you could put it on the mainspace page. Bongolian (talk) 17:20, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

20/20 hindsight[edit]

Allowance should be made for 'the state of knowledge at the time' - in the early 20th century the development of 'radio, X-rays, radioactivity, developments in astronomy and suchlike things' made 'investigating the paranormal' a viable line of research even if subsequently disproved. Scientific and other research contains many blind alleys (see eg 'pre-Rosetta Stone decipherers of hieroglyphs') 109.150.11.241 (talk) 13:37, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

I agree, but fortunately this would only probably not result in major changes to the list.
Right off the bat I'd consider removing:
- António Egas Moniz (because lobotomy was thought at the time to be a useful procedure).
- Konrad Lorenz (because his Nazi past doesn't fit the characteristics of Nobel disease anyway as the crankery should be post-Nobel).
- Possibly Julian Schwinger (it would depend on when his support for cold fusion occurred and how long it lasted).
The rest of the examples relate to ideas that would've been obviously bogus at the time (and thus also after) they received their Nobel prizes. Hence, other removals will probably only be necessary if, as with Lorenz, their crank ideas preceded their Nobel prizes, which would mean that they don't fit the definition of Nobel disease. ScepticWombat (talk) 16:33, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Having checked the Schwinger link, I've left him in. His praise of cold fusion was made in 1991. ScepticWombat (talk) 16:38, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
A differentiation should be made between things which were considered worth investigating or plausible #at the time# (habitable Venus, steady state universe), and those which were considered 'away with the (Cottingley) Fairies.'
There will also be the 'my pet theory/opinion' (horseshoes are lucky whether or not you believe in them) and 'considered nonsense at the time, but considered valid afterwards; (black holes).
I #am# using 'well-known non-Nobel examples 82.44.143.26 (talk) 16:53, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm getting suspicious of the Sin-Itiro Tomonaga example as I can't find any specific sources on it and "aliens" is a far too vague term to merit a Nobel disease diagnosis on its own (e.g. a belief in the possibility of extraterrestrial life is in itself not crankery, but alien abduction claims are). ScepticWombat (talk) 16:59, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
I'd say remove it entirely. While I have heard of Julian Schwinger's support for cold fusion — in fact, he wrote five papers on the subject as a part of his otherwise scientifically valid contributions to nuclear physics — I have never encountered any sources whatsoever that said Sin-Itiro Tomonaga endorsed any kind of pseudoscientific school of thought. Nerd271 (talk) 17:05, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Done. Have [citation needed]-tagged the remaining unsourced entries too. ScepticWombat (talk) 17:08, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Thank you! Just for your information, the tag {{cn}} is more economical. It came straight from our more famous cousin.[citation needed] Nerd271 (talk) 17:13, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Ilya Mechnikov seems an iffy example too. I don't think macrobiotics were an obviously cranky idea 1908-1916 (the years between his Nobel prize and his death). ScepticWombat (talk) 17:23, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

While it may be harsh to say so, I think having been a Nazi in the 1930s should rank at the very least on the same level of stupid as having been a Trumpite now. You could clearly see they were racist and war mongering. You could perhaps not see it would end with nuclear bombs on two cities in East Asia, but... I am not the Ombud's man 18:18, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Is it worth footnoting assholery by Nobelists that does not quite rise to the "disease" classification? Examples are: Konrad Lorenz (denial of pre-Nobel antisemitism & Nazi affiliation) and Daniel Carleton Gajdusek (post-Nobel support for pedophilia)? Bongolian (talk) 18:24, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
Maybe its own section? I am not the Ombud's man 18:30, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
(EC) I wouldn't mind a sort of "dishonourable mention" section for those who, like Lorenz don't fit the actual Nobel disease criteria, but nevertheless have had some dubious views. Even if you could argue that Lorenz should have known that Nazism was a particularly nasty branch of crankery in the 1930s, his support for it still occurred before he became a Nobel laureate and thus he does not fit the definition whic is about what happens after someone bags a Nobel Prize. ScepticWombat (talk) 18:34, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
It isn't so much that Lorenz was a Nazi, it's that he successfully hid his Nazi past rather than come forward and admit the error of his ways. Bongolian (talk) 18:57, 28 September 2016 (UTC)
That would simply be deception on Lorenz's part, not crankery. Indeed, it would be rather rational to try to hide such a past if you thought you'd might get away with it. ScepticWombat (talk) 19:02, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Remember[edit]

The concept of the Nobel disease has nothing to do with giving the Nobel prize to cranks. The idea of the disease related with recieving the price is that otherwise sane people start to lose their marbles after having recieved the Nobel price. The joke of the disease being that recieving the price "infected" them with crank appeal. That's the entire paradox of note here — that after becoming recipients of the most prestigious award in Science, they start to develop crank magnetism. For these reasons, crankery prior to having recieved the Nobel price does not count. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 19:08, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Goodpost.gif My point exactly and why Lorenz doesn't fit the criteria.
As for determining whether a particular laureate is eligible for a space on the list, I'd suggest a "could've, should've" test:
The laureate could have known (as we now do) that an idea was crankery and evidence available was such that (s)he also should have realised this. ScepticWombat (talk)
And if the person says later 'It was an off-beat idea I was playing around with/getting people to discuss and provide collective wisdom for or against'/it made sense at the time with then current knowledge/I was going to write a novel in which it was a valid plot device' etc they can probably be excluded. (And who doesn't have 'a pet offbeat idea or two'?) 82.44.143.26 (talk) 14:17, 30 September 2016 (UTC)

Question[edit]

So if you win the Peace, Literature or Economics Prizes you will not be so infected? And is there an IgNobel Disease?

To what extent is the 'disease' more apparent than real - a proportion of other scientists come out with daffy statements but are listened to less because they did not win a Nobel Prize? (What is the quote about the plausibility of a distinguished scientist saying something is or is not feasible?) 86.191.125.251 (talk) 22:04, 19 April 2017 (UTC)