Saturday, October 08, 2005

Nobel trivia

As the Nobel prizes are currently being doled out (including to some particularly undeserving recipients), I was wondering how Jews had fared in recent years. Yes, everyone knows that Jews receive far more Nobel prizes than we theoretically should, considering what a miniscule portion of the world's population we make up, but has the rate at which we win Nobels changed at all in recent years (as the pool of Jews shrinks, for example, demographics change, professions Jews enter into change, etc.)?
To my surprise, not only has the rate not slowed -- but we seem to be getting Nobel prizes more often than we used to. According to this source (and different sources do calculate this slightly differently, but anyway), at least 167 Jews or half-Jews have received the Nobel prize between 1901-2004. According to my calculations, 47 of them received the prizes between 1990-2004 -- ie., just under 30% of Jewish Nobels were received in the past 15 years alone. In that same period, a total of 166 people* (as opp. to organizations) were given Nobel prizes -- ie. again, we received just under 30% of all Nobels awarded to people since 1990 -- although we were "just" 22% of recipients since 1901.
So there you have it. Whatever else you can say about the way the Jewish world is evolving, at least we're not getting dumber. And that's something!

(Note: After making a statement like that, I have no doubt someone is going to point out some major flaw in my maths. I won't take it personally.)

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