To Ponder: The Dark Side of The Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize is probably the best known and most prestigious scientific award. Nobel’s are awarded in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, Medicine, Literature, Economics and Peace – for those who “during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.

But in recent years the Nobel has come under harsh criticism for two key flaws in its design.

First, both research grants and career choices of clever people are now being funnelled into projects that have the greatest chance of winning a Nobel. There is a sharp and notable opportunity cost here. After all – should the judging criteria for a Nobel form the benchmark for what we, as a human species, pursue?

Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the Nobel ignores a very important factor. Scientists don’t work alone. Scientific projects are completed by teams of very intelligent people, often spread across the world. Yet – each year the Nobel prize is named. A person wins it. It uses a ‘winner-takes-all’ method of attributing the credit of scientific discoveries.

But that’s not how we, as humans, progress.

Whether your believe our dominance on this Earth is given to us by one or more deities, or you align with the theories of evolution – there’s one thing that’s clear:

We are dominant due to our ability to work together.

And we are wired to do so! Love, play, empathy and competition all have an impact on our brain’s hormone levels and the decisions we make in both the short and long term. These are the tools that we use as a species to better inter-relate and grow together.

So this week, ponder:

How can you better reward a successful group dynamic?