Monday, 29 September 2008

Nobel Laureates for Obama!

Perhaps it's Obama's science-friendly stance, or perhaps it's the McCain campaign's blatant anti-science (particularly Palin's creationist and anti-global warming sentiments), but a large group of Nobel laureates have gotten together and drafted a letter endorsing Obama for president. A total of 61 laureates have signed the letter, which is more than any other candidate in history (apparently John Kerry got 48 endorsements from prize winners).

As some people have pointed out, though, the 61 laureates are those from the science categories. No laureates from the economics category were represented. Does this say something about Obama and his platform (Nay-sayers would say yes)? Or did those in the sciences simply get together and write up an endorsement letter, and not tell the economists about it (more likely, in my opinion)? Does it even matter (the Nobel Prize in Economics isn't even a real Nobel Prize ;) )

I'm familiar with a good number of names on the list. Some interesting things I noticed though:
  • The list includes H. Robert Horvitz, but neither Sydney Brenner nor John Sulston (the three of them won the 2002 prize in Medicine for their work on genetic regulation of apoptosis and organ development). Brenner is by far the most well known of the trio and his signature would carry more weight than Horvitz' or Sulston's. Brenner is also a liberal guy so his absence from the list is a bit surprising.
  • The ever infamous James Watson gave his John Hancock. Many commentors seem surprised to see his name on the list, given his recent comments regarding race and intelligence. However, anyone familiar with Watson and has read any of his biographical works knows that he's far from the conservative side of the spectrum. Watson would endorse Obama on his stance on science alone.
  • There are very few female laureates on the list - only one by my count: Linda Buck, who won the prize in Medicine for her work on the olfactory system. True, there are very few female laureates ( and even fewer that are still alive to sign the letter!) but I would have expected at least to see Christiane Nusslein-Volhard on the list.
The original PDF of the letter can be found here.

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