Nobelitis is a common disease among Nobel Laureates – Eleftherios Diamandis


Nobelitis is a common disease among
Nobel Laureates – Eleftherios Diamandis

Megalomania is the most common symptom and best way of
avoiding it is prevention as current therapies are not effective in curing it

In an Opinion Paper published in Clin Chem lab Med, Eleftherios P.Diamandis has stated that Nobelitis is a common disease among Nobel Laureates and at present the best way of avoiding it is prevention since current therapies are not effective in curing it. In this interesting write up, he further states that those few who manage to win this award become instant and eternal celebrities. If the winner is a British subject, Knighthood is guaranteed by the Queen while every Nobel Laureate secures a full-page obituary in well reputed publications like Nature and Science.
The most common symptoms of Nobelitis, Diamandis says is “megalomania and a sense that the gold medal from Stockholm is a passport for saving the world, whatever this means. The Nobel seems to provide reassurance that the laureates have some super-human powers that they did not realize before and that the prize will help them to go on and do even bigger and better things.” It must be remembered he further says that most of these laureates are well beyond their prime when they get these Awards. Yet another fact is that “Nobel laureates represent the lucky few who have been recognized by the Swedish Academy, among thousands of equals or nearly equals, in discovery and scientific capacity. Many awards have been won for a single discovery that had high impact, by scientists who have subsequently produced relatively little for the rest of their careers. He has given numerous examples to support his view point in this regard. The most recent example he has given is of Egyptian born laureate Ahmed Zewail who is currently spearheading an effort to create a science and technology city in Egypt that bears his name.” While Zewail he states, is “undoubtedly brilliant scientist, his name was also mentioned for the Presidency of Egypt and he now has serious clashes with the Nile University regarding building ownership in his city”.
Noble Prize winners can get quick political power since politicians believe that the Nobel Prize should be a reliable certificate of competence. Diamandis is of the view that “winning a Nobel Prize is over rated by the public, scientists and politicians alike. The award does not guarantee contemporary competency or in other fields, including big administrative jobs. The aura of the prize allows winners to secure powerful jobs and access to huge sums of money.” But remember some Nobel laureates could be a dangerous species. He concludes that since “Nobles are awarded when the laureates have usually passed their prime, caution should be exercised when these individuals are offered highly influential positions in academia an elsewhere”.

Courtesy: Diamandis EP. Nobelitis: a common disease among Nobel laureates? Clin Chem Lab Med 2013;51(8):1573-1574 DOI 10.1515/cclm.2013-0273