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False Prize in Nobel's Name - clean version

To: "PKT" <pkt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: False Prize in Nobel's Name - clean version
From: "Per Gunnar Berglund" <pgberglund@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 14:55:31 -0500
Dear PKT-ers,

Sorry I dashed off the last post inadvertently - without cleaning out all
Swedish in there! Here's a better one...

The below op-ed appeared in today's Svenska Dagbladet ('Swedish Daily',
second biggest morning paper in the country). I thought it would be of
interest to some on this list, so ventured to translate it.




No economics prize was included in the will of Alfred Nobel. It was
instigated by the Bank of Sweden, but is all too often featured as an
official Nobel Prize. Alfred Nobel was basically an idealist and sceptical
of business, write four of Nobel's relatives.

We the signatories are the grandchildren of some of Alfred Nobel's brother
Ludvig's children. They belonged to the siblings who stood unanimously
behind their eldest brother-in-law Emanuel when he gave his full support to
the executor of the will, Ragnar Sohlman, in his long and arduous struggle
to make the last wishes of Alfred Nobel gain legal force. Neither Alfred nor
Emanuel Nobel's correspondence - nor Ragnar Sohlman's 'A Testament, the
History of the Nobel Foundation and its Founders' (Norstedts publishers,
1950) - give any indication that any of them would have opposed our
criticising the fact that the 'Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in
Memory of Alfred Nobel' is awarded as if it were a Nobel Prize.

At the Bank of Sweden's tercentenary in 1968, a 'Prize in Economic Science
in Memory of Alfred Nobel' was instituted on the government's initiative.
The Nobel Foundation consulted the only surviving of Ludvig Nobel's
children, Dr. Marta Nobel-Olienikoff, who could not prevent the institution
of the Prize, in spite of her being anything but enthusiastic about the
proposition. She emphasized, however, that under no circumstances must the
Prize be called a 'Nobel Prize'. The Nobel Foundation was thus cajoled to
administer the awarding of the Prize, which ever since the following year
has been concurrent with, and using the same ceremonies, as the awarding of
the Nobel Prizes that Alfred Nobel had donated through his will. While it is
true that the Bank of Sweden Prize is called by its right name at the
ceremonies in the Concert Hall, little distinction is made between this
Prize and the Nobel Prizes.

Can it be characterised as anything but than deceptive that, e.g., members
of the Royal Academy of Science's Committee for the Bank of Sweden Prize can
publish and sell the lectures held by Economics Prize laureates in a volume
entitled 'Nobel Lectures in Economic Sciences' (Stockholm: Stockholm
University Press and Singapore: World Scientific, 1992) - even if this is
uncalled for?

An internet search the other day yielded 399 returns on the phrase 'Nobel
Prize in Economics'. Out of these, many were derived from famous American
universities. Only a few mentioned in a subtitle the 'official' name of the
Prize. The Nobel Foundation has not visibly reacted upon the request by the
Swedish Academy (1997) that the Economics Prize be awarded at a separate
ceremony, nor upon the timid call, by some family members, for the
Foundation to henceforth emphasise that the Economics Prizes are not Nobel

For the greater part of the world press, and thus for most uninitiated
people, the Economics Prize has gradually become a Nobel Prize amongst the
others, which is misleading. One forgotten objection to the name that the
Economics Prize has obtained around the world does appear self-evident: Had
Alfred Nobel really wanted something of the kind, then he would have
mentioned it in his will. But the fact is he did not, and therefore the Bank
of Sweden Prize should not be regarded a Nobel Prize.

We propose, therefore, that the Nobel Foundation and all other Nobel
Committees, when this Prize, in its abbreviated form, is mentioned before
the press, other media, and the general public, correctly call it the 'Bank
of Sweden Prize'. Perhaps that would amount to the 'Bank Prize' in common

What, then, was Alfred Nobel's opinion about economic theorising? It is a
paradox that he, while doubtless successful in economic terms, consequently
spoke in negative or even sarcastic terms about such activity: "There is no
reason whatsoever why I, who have no education in business and who detest it
with all of my heart, should be tortured with all this business about which
I know little more than does the Man in the Moon." In a reply to his brother
Ludvig he stated as his biggest flaw that he 'did not worship Mammon'. His
correspondence is tinted by these tones. Alfred Nobel did not wish to view
himself as a wealthy industrialist, but as a scientist and inventor.

The fundamental thought in Alfred Nobel's testament was that the Prizes
should be awarded to those 'who in the year past have done mankind the
greatest good'. It is a Swedish and indeed a global interest to safeguard
the idealism that carries Alfred Nobel's will and the work carried out in
its spirit.

Signed by:

Anders Ahlqvist,
Professor, Galway, Ireland

Johan Ahlqvist
Professor, Västanfjärd, Finland

John Hylton
Jurist, QC, Toronto, Canada

Peter Nobel
Jur.Dr., h.c., Uppsala, Sweden

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