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Nobel Jurors Facing Bribery Probe 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the totally-innocent-all-expenses-paid-trips dept.
RockDoctor writes "A report is circulating that in the run-up to the selection of prize-winners for 2006 and 2008, some members of the Nobel jury accepted an expenses-paid trip (or trips) to China to 'explain the selection process.' That's not, in itself, an incriminating event ('Is there something that we're doing incorrectly, or not doing?' is a valid question), and if there was dishonorable intent, it doesn't seem to have worked too well (the last Chinese Nobel Laureate was in 1957). There does seem to be embarrassment about falling into an obvious conflict-of-interest mantrap." PhysOrg mentions that a corruption prosecutor is also looking into a Nobel-related sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company that was linked to one of the winners for this year's Medicine prize.
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Nobel Jurors Facing Bribery Probe

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  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sooner Boomer (96864) <sooner.boomrNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @06:28AM (#26182763) Journal
    Almost from the first prize awarded, there have been controversies [wikipedia.org]. This latest round is nothing new, but perhaps remarkable only for its apparent blatentness.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vuo (156163)
      True. It has always been a public secret that getting a Nobel prize is all about the connections, knowing the right people. You can't get enough publicity to your work otherwise, and without that, no chance.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by FriendlyLurker (50431)

      Lets hold out some (false?) hope that it does not get as bad as the International Olympic Committee host country "Selection" process corruption [google.com]
      I felt really sorry for all the French waiting out on the streets to celebrate London Vs Paris 2012 Olympic host "Selection" - it was so damn obvious they would not get it from the start. Your country defiantly don't get to host the Olympics for vocally opposing the Rape of Iraq - call it a political knuckle lashing punishment for not bending over, if you will. "Surp [foxnews.com]

    • Funny that article doesn't mention him but just read about this guy

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Hilleman [wikipedia.org]

      I mean how does a guy that does all that and is still having a huge effect today not win?

      • by Ascoo (447329)

        Unfortunately, the Nobel prizes cannot be awarded posthumously, unless they died after the nomination process.

        • Well I know that but you'd think with all those acomplishments they could get around to giving him the award while he was alive.(He did live to be 85, it's not like he did that in his 20's and died suddenly.) You'd think they'd (a)notice and (b)give him the award since he obviously deserved it. (But he probably didn't do the right politicking even though by any standard of discovery or achievement the guy should have gotten the award going away.)
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @06:36AM (#26182785) Journal
    ...Al Gore jokes and conspiracy theories.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @06:49AM (#26182817)

    How about a movie about that? Oh, and I already have the idea for the sequel. A movie about the movie about the hollywood conspiracy and how the movie didn't get a single Oscar nomination despite great reviews.

    All rights reversed.

  • Sounds like the jury got nobled!

    No wait. Nobbled. The jury got nobbled. ...

    Okay this joke didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.

  • Meanwhile, I "explained the selection process" to your mom last night. ;)

    But really, there needs to be a bit more transparency for stuff like this.

  • Bah! Humbug. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:25AM (#26182941) Homepage

    Modern "Portfolio" Theory has received at least three Nobels. [ft.com] Yet MPT has lead directly and predictably (no fat tails) to the financial crisis.

    I'm very unimpressed and becoming highly cynical on what passes for "accepted science." There seems to be a strengthening political element. Quite obvious in the case of Global Warming.

    • Re:Bah! Humbug. (Score:4, Informative)

      by teg (97890) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:54AM (#26183055) Homepage

      Modern "Portfolio" Theory has received at least three Nobels. Yet MPT has lead directly and predictably (no fat tails) to the financial crisis.

      There is no "Nobel Prize" in economics. You've only got "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel". As for the peace price, it has had its scope extended a bit - e.g. Al Gore. There's no doubt that setting focus on the problem of increased global warming caused by humans is important, and that this eventually will cause a many conflicts, wars and turmoils (scarcity of water, some countries being submerged etc...). But it's extremely proactive, and he didn't solve the problem - he just helped drawing people's attention to it.

      • by redelm (54142)
        Yes, the Nobel in economics isn't one of the originals. However, it _is_ selected by much the same method. And I fully expect science to evolve, including new areas.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          A hint: the place where you went wrong is the bit where you started thinking about Economics as a "science".

          Things will start making a great deal more sense when you chuck it back into the "philosophy with practitioners who like to throw math around because it makes them feel rigorous" category.

      • by ISoldat53 (977164)
        Did you bother reading the article cited?It covered the fact that there is no Nobel prize for economics.
      • by Vellmont (569020)


        You've only got "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel"

        Right.. With a name like that I just can't understand why people would commonly refer to it as "The Nobel prize in Economics".

        As for the peace prize, it has had its scope extended a bit

        The peace prize has always been strange and political, and often not given to people who "solved the problem". Henry Kissinger got the thing in 1973.. not exactly a guy you associate with peace. Yassir Arafat got it in 1994.

        I don't

    • Re:Bah! Humbug. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:56AM (#26183061)

      Please note that economics is not a real Nobel Prize- it's an award that the bank which runs the Nobel fund decided to start giving out, and named it similarly. Probably due to fragile egos about not being real scientists.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sapphon (214287)

        Probably due to fragile egos about not being real scientists.

        Yeah, because "Peace" and "Literature" are both much more scientific than Economics. It also doesn't seem to bother the judges from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who choose the winners in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, and.. err.. Economics. How about that.

        • by rhizome (115711)

          Yeah, because "Peace" and "Literature" are both much more scientific than Economics. It also doesn't seem to bother the judges from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who choose the winners in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, and.. err.. Economics.

          You're confusing the purpose (and selection) of the prize with the motivations of the contestants.

      • The bankers conspired to leverage the symbolic POWER of Nobel to promote their economic agenda to the world by creating a FAKE NOBEL for economics. The kind of economics that most benefit themselves (bankers) is their motivation in its creation and that bias remains in their selection of winners.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bagsc (254194)

        Not scientists? Listen buddy - Go outside and ask a random person if they'd rather observe a Higgs boson or a million dollars in their bank account. And remember that to economists, a million dollars is never a significant figure.

        Physicists have a good year when they can get a thousand observations of the value of c. Economists have a bad year if they only get a quadrillion observations of the value of a dollar.

        If physicists want to run an experiment, they just have to manipulate a few particles. If eco

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      Well if you don't consider global warming to be "accepted science" then I really don't think you have much of a hold on the concept of science at all. 10 years ago maybe, but now you seem like a flat earther.
    • by khallow (566160)
      The current financial mess has nothing to do with bad theory. It has a lot to do with greed, irrationality, bad assumptions, etc. The theory is reasonably sound, the practice of that theory is not.
    • by bagsc (254194)

      Portfolio theory, as a theory, works remarkably well 99% of the time. Your argument is like complaining quantum physics should have no Nobel prizes because it doesn't explain dark matter.

  • With the advent of corporation, awards for achievement aren't nearly as useful as they used to be.

    We should do away with all awards and base everything on how much money corporations make, at least that way everyone's on the same page.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @08:06AM (#26183099) Journal

    Did somebody buy his award, or was the committee having a joke like when they gave awards to Kissinger and Arafat?

    -jcr

    • Because of that I've logically concluded that I am also a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Here's my proof

      I've done nothing for peace

      That's more than Arafat who's fought against peace

      Arafat has won a peace prize

      If an award was given to someone and someone else actually did more to deserve it then the other person must have won it as well

      Therefore since I've done more for peace than Arafat has ever done I must also be a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

      I still haven't gotten it yet though. (I've got 2 hypothesises

    • Did somebody buy his award, or was the committee having a joke like when they gave awards to Kissinger and Arafat?

      That's not the same committee as we are talking about here. The Norwegian parliament hands out the Peace Prize, the Swedes have all the others.

      It's all explained here. [wikipedia.org]

  • Meh... the Swedes will launch a corruption investigation if a kid gets a penny toffee without paying for it.

    And it's no secret that the selection committees have made mistakes in the past (the icepick lobotomy, anyone?) that only become clear with the benefit of hindsight.

    In either case, never ascribe to corruption what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

    • by Husgaard (858362) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @10:09AM (#26183467)

      Yes, corruption in Sweden is low, and the tolerance for corruption is low, so it is not unusual for an investigation to be opened if there is just a slight chance there could be corruption.

      This started with critical journalism at Sveriges Radio [www.sr.se] (in swedish). Because of the articles, the public prosecutor is now investigating.

      Some of the articles are about the etical problems with Honeywell sponsoring. This is not illegal, and I do not think this is being investigated.

      The trips to China are being investigated, but I think this will end with the travelers being freed of all accusations.

      More problematic is the role of Astra Zeneca. They are also sponsors. And Bo Angelin, who is in the committee that awarded the price in medicine to Harald zur Hausen is also on the board of Astra Zeneca. Harald zur Hausen got the price for research that has been patented by Astra Zeneca.

  • Nobel wanted to direct attention away from his role as an armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite, so he came up with the prize. The prize hasn't exactly got a squeaky-clean image even from the beginning.
  • The last people we'd expect bribery and government corruption from is China, right? /sarcasm

    But... who better to explain how to win a Nobel prize than members of the Nobel selection committee? Obviously, this could be misconstrued as a conflict of interest, but this sounds more like information gathering than anything all that nefarious.

    China's government is obviously interested in stepping up it's cultural and political clout in the world. That's what hosting the Olympics are all about for them (and Gove

  • Is anyone surprised ? Check out this year's Physics Nobel prize. Disgusting publicity stunt for LHC, so that it will continue to get funding despite the setbacks and the fact that it will most probably find nothing at all. When the most powerful machine was able to reach only about 40GeV, all the theoretical models were showing irefutable evidence that the top quark had a mass of about 45GeV. The 2004 Nobel Prize (Physics again) ? The idea belonged to Sidney Coleman who was honest enough not to put his na

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