Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Nobel Prizes

About this page

During a lengthy absence from this website, I gave a number of updates on the Nobel Prizes on my old Wordpress blog (search for e.g. “Nobel Prize”), mostly dealing with issues around women and Nobel Prizes. (As a result of an older text on different abilities in men and women and some discussion of Nobel Prizes in this context.) For the future, I will continue my writings here, be they yearly updates or other Nobel-related material. Old contents will likely be imported in due time, but I cannot say when.

Other (and older) pages on this site that deal with the Nobel Prizes include the aforementioned text and some separate discussion of the Peace Prize.

Update for the 2023 Prizes

To first revisit my 2020 speculation that the Literature Prize is currently on a quota, or even has alternating male/female winners: The 2023 winner was a man. Since 2012 (inclusive), we then have a sequence of M F M F M M F M F M F M, with a single deviation from a strict alternation in 2016/2017—and one that might have been motivated by the absurd pushing of Bob Dylan in 2016 for, almost certainly, political reasons. Remove Dylan and move all subsequent winners up one year (leaving 2023 empty, for now), and we have a perfect alternating sequences over eleven years...

Also note that the three awards after my speculation (2021–2023) fit the pattern perfectly.

For my part, I am now convinced: the probability that such a sequence would arise through coincidence is simply too small when compared to the known quotas-for-women obsession of Sweden. Looking just at the post-Dylan era, we have a series of seven alternating winners. Even (dubiously) assuming that the probability of a “fair” male resp. female win is equal at 1/2, the probability of this is 1/64. (The first winner does not matter for the alternations, the six subsequent alternations add a factor of 1/2, giving us 1/64.) Including the pre-Dylan era decreases the probability further, but the math and the judgment calls needed are trickier, as Dylan-style exceptions have to be considered. (Should we, e.g., assume that this was a fixed-in-year, one-time event, or should we allow a move to another year or, with some probability, allow more than one event when looking at the overall series?) I note, however, that if we simplistically just ignore Dylan, we have a series of 11 alternations, 10 factors of 1/2, and an overall probability of 1/1024; and that taking the geometric average of 1/64 and 1/1024, for an interpolation, gives us 1/256.

Looking specifically at the post-speculation period of 2021–2023, on a predict-from-the-old-and-verify-with-the-new basis, the chance of a random continuation bringing the same result is 1/8. (Three alternations that all count, as, unlike above, the first entry is no longer arbitrary—exactly one of the eight possible sequences is compatible with a continuation of the pattern, and this one sequence followed.) However, I do not necessarily predict that the pattern will continue beyond 2023. I consider it likely that it does for the foreseeable future, maybe with an occasional alibi-exception to avoid the risk of being called out, but it could certainly end from the one year to the next—especially, if the committee is called out or if someone pushes the idea further yet, e.g., to reach a long-term 50–50 over the sum of all past winners.


I have a slight suspicion that something similar might recently be going on with other Prizes, e.g. a “at least one of the winners must be a woman at least every second year”, but I have not looked into the numbers, and the approach, if used, is too recent to allow more than guesswork. Note that such a distortion might be comparatively easy to implement in the sciences, where the teams are often larger than three—the upper limit used by the Prizes. (Ditto, where the number of significant individual contributors or significantly contributing teams often exceeds three.) For example, assume an indisputably Prize-worthy discovery made by a team of five men and one woman, and simply make sure that one of the three Prize-winners is the woman, while the other two are chosen among the five men. For example, assume a tie or near tie between several discoveries/teams, and simply use “one of the half-a-dozen members was a woman” as a tie breaker.

On with this year’s female winners:

Wikipedia’s list of female Nobel laureatesw gives the following 2023 female winners:

Katalin Karikó, Physiology or Medicine, shared with a man.

Anne L’Huillier, Physics, shared with two men.

Narges Mohammadi, Peace.

Claudia Goldin, Economic Sciences.

This gives us 4 female winners, 2 of which in the sciences, for a total of 2 5/6 Prices, 5/6 of which in the sciences.

Unfortunately, there are strong signs that the politicization of the non-science Prizes has continued, has, as I feared, spread to the Economics Prize, and might even be spreading to the Science Prizes:

  1. Karikó and her co-winner were awarded “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.”, which reeks. The effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines is, at best, disputable and this seems like an attempt to express support for the horrifyingly failed countermeasure-era, which was contrary to humans rights, Rechtsstaatlichkeit, etc., but well in line with many Leftist thoughts and attitudes.

    A supporting indicator is that a COVID-related award implies an unusually short turn-around, compared to most other scientific awards, while the more explicitly and indisputably political Peace Prize usually does have a similarly short turn-around. (The actual research of Karikó, in all fairness, goes back to an earlier date than the vaccines, but even a sudden reveal of usefulness does not usually bring a sudden price—and the usefulness of the vaccines, again, is disputable.)

    On the upside, my previously expressed fear that Fauci would win in the wake of COVID has, so far, not come true. Maybe, that is a step too far, even for the Nobel Prizes...

  2. Goldin is awarded “for having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes” and Mohammadi “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all."—both strongly woman centric.

    In light of the situation in Iran, with so many problems of so many kinds, it seems particularly odd to pick a specifically woman-centric cause, and the choice raises concerns of Feminist agenda pushing over legitimate human rights (or whatnot) activity. (More generally, it is very disputable whether the intended criteria of the Peace Prize are met, as the connection with peace is weak; however, this is true of a majority of even semi-recent winners.)

    As to Goldin, I am not familiar with her work and cannot judge her worth in a more general manner, but the motivation is yet another sign that the Economics Prize has turned away from true Economics, centered on the science, and towards the political pseudo-Economics so popular today, where Economics is turned into e.g. activism or propaganda revolving around “exterminating poverty”, “creating equality [of outcome—i.e. not equality at all]”, or similar.


    In a bigger picture, it is disturbing what proportion of women receiving awards do so for reasons relating to women, women’s issues, a female aspect of some field, or similar. I am not certain why this is so, but potential explanations include that women might be over-focused on issues relating to women, that politically correct prize awarders might see a possibility to kill two birds with one stone (awarding a woman and awarding for a woman-related topic), that the relative lack of men in the sub-field reduces competition, and that a prize awarder who wants to push a woman-centric topic might prefer not awarding a man. (Similarly, I have on repeated occasions seen hell raised over a man being appointed anything related to “equality”, e.g. “equality ombudsman”, which demonstrates the very weird take on equality that the critics have, as they, then, clearly give priority to the sex of the candidate—not to qualifications and suitability.)

    Certainly, it would be better for humanity, women, and the chances for women to be taken seriously, if they turned to more general issues to a higher degree, say, “our understanding of labour market outcomes” or “the oppression of humans in Iran”.


For unrelated reasons, there might be room for some doubts over L’Huillier, as she has a very strong Swedish connection and has, apparently, herself served on the Physics committee (if not at the time of the award).

Note that Swedish and Sweden-related winners have a long history of over-representation, while her previous presence on the committee might have given her a leg up.

(Feminist readers: Note that the majority of these “Swedish and Sweden-related winners” have been men—the issue is “Swedish”, not “woman”.)