How To Get Nominated For A Nobel Prize

Screenshot: Fremulon

The final Nobel winner of 2018 has been announced, and it isn’t you. How do you get your own Nobel (which includes $1.4 million and a medal)? Well, for that you’d have to significantly contribute to the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine or economics; reach a high point in an impressive literary career; or perform humanitarian acts on a The Good Place level.

But if you want to just get nominated, you could beg someone on the nominating committee to name you.

Nobel nominations don’t work like Oscar nominations. While the final winners are each chosen by a single Swedish or Norwegian organisation, the nominations come from hundreds of nominators, who can theoretically nominate whomever they please, regardless of qualification.

The nominators are different in each category of prize, but they mostly include:

Nobel Laureates

Everyone who’s won a Nobel Prize gets to nominate someone in their category every year afterwards. If you’re friends with Al Gore, perfect, take him out for drinks! Otherwise look through the list of 916 people and organisations that have won a prize, cross out the dead ones, and start finding your mutuals on LinkedIn.

Or if you think the laureates won’t be ready to devalue the highest honour they’ve received, you could settle for a different kind of nominator.

Nobel Committee Members

OK, these people are not that much less likely to make a mockery of the Nobel. But those committees that choose the winner can also choose their own nominees.

So look up your committee; here, for example, are the six members of the Nobel Committee for Physics.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

“Swedish and foreign members” get to name nominees for physics and chemistry; “Swedish and foreign members of the the Medicine and Biology classes” can nominate for medicine.

That double "the" is a typo on the Nobel site. Tell someone in the Academy that you know of an embarrassing mistake on the site and if they don’t nominate you, you’ll expose them as the pseudointellectuals they are.

A Ton of Professors

In most categories, nominators include all the relevant professors at several Nordic universities, plus a rotating set of “universities around the world”.

As with other categories of nominator, some of these pick one nomination as an organisation instead of as individuals, so you’d have to convince an entire room to support your sham nomination.

Scientists the Relevant Nobel Committee Likes

Well, scientists the committee invites to name nominees. Maybe personally, the committee hates them! Maybe the scientists know this, and maybe they seek revenge! Maybe their revenge can be nominating you.

Presidents of National Literary Societies

“Presidents of those societies of authors that are representative of the literary production in their respective countries” get to nominate for the Literature Prize.

This year their nominations went unheard, as a very serious scandal wracked the Nobel Committee for Literature, several members resigned, and the rest of the committee decided not to award a prize this year.

Next year they’re handing out two awards. In 2016 they gave an award to Bob Dylan, author of the lyric “Wiggle like a big fat snake.” I’m saying your chances are non-zero.

People in the Highest Levels of Government

Heads of state, members of national assemblies and cabinets, and judges in the Hague can name nominees for the Peace Prize. If only there were a sovereign nation with a highly corruptible head of state! If only some of that head of state’s cabinet members were unqualified and unprincipled!

But...

With this many leads, you’ll probably find it easy to get nominated in a category or two. As long as your nominators aren’t lying to you! Nobel nominators aren’t supposed to name any nominees or shortlist members, and the committee only releases the lists of nominations 50 years later.

This means that if you’ve found a corruptible, maybe bribable nominator, they could just lie to you, nominate someone else, and you wouldn’t know you’d been duped for half a century.

But it also means that technically, no one can prove you haven’t been nominated. If you claim you’re a nominee, but you won’t say who told you or who nominated you, the Nobel committee can’t really say otherwise.

Or if they do, start naming every person in the world as a nominee and making the committee deny each one, until the committee shuts up and just stands there and you’re like, “Oh, so this person is nominated!?” and they can’t say anything and you’re like, “I win!”

Which is just as good as winning the real Nobel, so congratulations! Go start your own awards, the I Outsmarted the Nobel Prize Committee Awards, and give one to yourself.


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