Nobelitis

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Nobel +‎ -itis

Noun[edit]

Nobelitis (uncountable)

  1. (humorous or derogatory) An overriding or obsessive desire to win a Nobel Prize.
    • 1974, Roger Lewin, "Transfer RNA researchers argue about 'borrowed' data", New Scientist, 19 September 1974, page 738:
      Relations between research labs in Cambridge England and Cambridge Massachusetts have been under considerable strain during the past few months. The strain has been said to derive from Nobelitis, a disease common in high-powered academic circles during the summer months. And the point at issue concerns who first solved the correct structure of transfer RNA (see this week's Monitor, p 709) – Aaron Klug and his colleagues in England, or Alexander Rich at MIT?
    • 1982, Chicago Tribune, 27 June 1982, page 149:
      Privately, many scientists were critical. "Hill has 'Nobel-itis,'" said an astronomer who prefered to remain anonymous. "He wants the Nobel so badly that he is jumping the gun."
    • 1997, Gina Kolata, "Eye on the Nobel; They Should Give A Prize for Ambition", The New York Times, 12 October 1997:
      The Nobel looms like a coronation -- a personal and professional validation (to say nothing of the prize money itself, usually $1 million or more, and the potential for future financial gain). Symptoms of Nobelitis have been spotted even among fledgling scientists still in school.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:Nobelitis.
  2. (humorous or derogatory) Grandiosity or hubris in a Nobel laureate.
    • 1985, Noel Polk, "'Polysyllabic and Verbless Patriotic Nonsense': Faulkner at Midcentury–His and Ours", in Faulkner and ideology (eds. Donald M. Kartiganer & Ann J. Abadie), page 313:
      But I certainly don't agree with critics of the late Faulkner who implicitly side with Phil Stone's comment that Faulkner got "Nobelitis in the head," and that his public life in the fifties is a direct expression of an inflated and preening sense of himself as having been certified Wise and so competent to speak on all things.
    • 1985, William Golding, An Egyptian Journal, unnumbered page:
      There has descended on me since I have found myself brought willynilly into the presence of the great ones of the earth an orotundity which I have come to define in my own mind as Nobelitis. The pomposity born of the fact that one is treated as representing more than oneself by someone conscious of representing more than himself.
    • 2011, J. L. Granatstein, "Gouzenko to Gorbachev: Canada’s Cold War", Canadian Military Journal, Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2011, page 49:
      After all, it had worked for Lester Pearson, had it not? Did not the Peace Prize help him become Liberal leader and then prime minister? ‘Nobelitis,’ Canadians called it, and not in an unkindly way.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:Nobelitis.
  3. (humorous or derogatory) The tendency of some Nobel laureates to advance pseudoscientific or fringe ideas, or to claim knowledge beyond their field of expertise.
    • 2013, Eleftherios P. Diamandis, "Nobelitis: a common disease among Nobel laureates?", Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Volume 51, Issue 8, page 1573:
      There are many examples of laureates who seem to suffer from Nobelitis, and I can mention here a few, to make the point. [] One of the most versatile minds of the 20th century, Linus Pauling, a double Nobel Prize winner, claimed that he could cure cancer with mega-doses of vitamin C and was subsequently ridiculed for the sloppy design of his clinical trials, making the point that brilliance in chemistry and ignorance in epidemiological design can bring about disastrous results.
    • 2013, Paul Nurse, "Attention, Nobel Prize winners! Advice from someone who's already won", The Independent, 11 October 2013:
      The Nobel Prize is a tremendous honour and a reflection on the exceptional work done by the recipients, but it doesn’t confer ‘general expert’ status upon those of us lucky enough to be so recognised. Don’t expect that of us, and fellow laureates don’t begin to believe it or you will be in danger of succumbing to Nobelitis.
    • 2017, Sharon A. Hill, Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers, page 110:
      There is a term for those who win Nobel prizes but, perhaps due to ego, go on to stumble badly in other fields: "nobelitis" (Diamandis 2013). Knowledge in one specialized niche can fail to translate to another niche, especially a complex subject with as wide a scope as paranormal subject areas.

Synonyms[edit]