Hoover Daily Report

Letter: Nobel Prizes, National Self-Esteem, Lagging Indicators

via Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 21, 2013

The problem with Bret Stephens's analysis in "Nobels and National Greatness" (Global View, Oct. 15) is that Nobel Prizes are a lagging indicator; that is, they are often bestowed long after the research was performed.

Peyton Rous received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1966 for research he had done in 1911. To make the point, when Salvador Luria (my microbiology professor at M.I.T.) won the prize in 1969, to all the people who had offered congratulations he sent a cartoon that depicted an elderly couple eating breakfast. Reading the newspaper, the husband exclaims, "Great Scott! I've been awarded the Nobel Prize for something I seem to have done, or said, or thought, in 1934."

Henry I. Miller

Hoover Institution

Stanford, Calif.