10 Prêmios Nobel Controvérsios

10 Nobel Prize Controversies


Barack Obama
 
The U.S. President was riding an unstoppable wave of "Yes, we can" euphoria in 2009, which left other candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize swept aside by a bolt from the blue. Barack Obama was chosen for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," which raised more than a few eyebrows, considering the nomination came just 12 days after he took office. The New York Times called the decision a "stunning surprise," while less generous spectators accused the Nobel Committee of having political motivations. For their part, the committee acknowledged the award honored Obama's "efforts" to advance global harmony rather than his concrete achievements to date.

Cordell Hull
 
A man who perhaps embodies the word controversial more than anyone on this list, Cordell Hull received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his prominent role in establishing the U.N. While his efforts to start the U.N. were admirable, his actions six years earlier caused widespread consternation. Hull was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of State during the S.S. St. Louis crisis when 950 Jewish refugees, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution, set sail for the U.S. from Hamburg. Despite FDR showing willingness to help, Hull, together with Southern Democrats, voiced strong opposition and threatened to withdraw support for FDR in the forthcoming election if he didn't follow suit. On June 4, 1939, the President denied the ship entry, forcing it to return to Europe, where more than a quarter of its passengers subsequently died in the Holocaust.

Yasser Arafat
 
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Whatever your views may be on Yasser Arafat, he is in fact a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Arafat scooped the gong in 1994 along with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for their work on the Oslo accords, which created "opportunities for a new development toward fraternity in the Middle East." While his critics condemned the award, calling Arafat an "unrepentant terrorist with a long legacy of promoting violence," his supporters offered praise and compared the Palestinian leader to Nelson Mandela. As for his efforts toward fraternity in the Middle East: an uneasy relationship with Hamas, allegations of corruption and an aversion to compromise mean the ambitions of the Oslo accords were never fully realized.

Laureate Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai 
For the first African woman to receive the award, winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to empower rural women in Kenya to reverse deforestation should have been Wangari Maathai's big moment. But her award was overshadowed by a remark she allegedly made to a Kenyan newspaper wherein she claimed HIV/AIDS was originally developed by Western scientists in order to depopulate Africa. Maathai later denied these claims but stated in a TIME interview that someone knows where HIV came from and it "did not come from monkeys." Following her 2004 triumph, Maathai engaged in a number of environmental projects and served for a time as Kenyan Deputy Minister of the Environment. She died last week at age 71, and was described by TIME as someone who "inspired women to stand up for themselves against a corrupt and patriarchal government."

John Forbes Nash
 
Famously portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, this flawed genius was an award-winning movie waiting to happen. Demonstrating improbable brilliance from an early age, John Forbes Nash was eventually honored with the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics for his work as a Princeton graduate student some 40 years prior. Though Nash had long been lauded for his economic contributions, his battle with schizophrenia as well as whisperings of alleged anti-Semitism made him a pick so controversial that the committee overhauled the selection process, including restricting selection-committee members to three-year terms rather than letting them serve indefinitely. In 2002, just before the Academy Awards, the anti-Semitic rumors resurfaced, but were quickly dismissed as gauche p.r. tactics from competing film studios and were brushed aside. Like Nash himself, A Beautiful Mind went on to win the top prize.

Carl von Ossietzky
 
An outspoken pacifist and prominent opponent of Hitler, Carl von Ossietzky was awarded the 1935 Peace Prize for a series of articles exposing Germany's continued breach of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. Having spent the better part of three years in concentration camps, von Ossietzky was battling tuberculosis in hospital under the watch of the Gestapo when his triumph was announced. The writer was strongly advised to decline the honor, but brazenly ignored concerns for his safety and accepted the award. This outraged Hitler, who not only stopped him from attending the ceremony in Oslo but also passed a new law that prohibited German citizens from accepting Nobel Prizes. The decree would go on to prevent three other Germans from collecting their awards, though they would be later honored for their contributions, minus the cash prize, after World War II came to a close.

Alexander Fleming
 
While penicillin is widely cited as one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century, uncertainty over whether or not Alexander Fleming actually discovered it caused many to question his 1945 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Critics questioned the novelty of Fleming's find, referencing studies dating back to the 1870s that note the bacteria-fighting properties of the mold Penicillium notatum. Even Fleming himself admitted the discovery was a complete accident and conceded that the first known reference to penicillin was actually from Psalm 51: "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." In the end though, he was indeed the first person to isolate and produce penicillin, which has since saved millions of lives worldwide, so he is worthy of high praise.

Harald zur Hausen
 
Clinching the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering that HPV causes cervical cancer was supposed to be Harald zur Hausen's moment in the limelight. Instead it cast a dark cloud over the entire Nobel organization and led to an investigation by the Swedish police. An anticorruption unit looked into charges of improper influence against AstraZeneca — a pharmaceutical company that had a large stake in two HPV vaccines — after it emerged that the company had strong links with two senior figures on the medicine prize's selection committee. Although charges were never brought, the process got murkier by the fact AstraZeneca had recently begun sponsoring the Nobel website.

Henry Kissinger
 
Once called "the most controversial to date," the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger in 1973 was fraught with debate. Critics said Kissinger's alleged involvement as Secretary of State in Operation Condor and the U.S. bombing campaigns in Cambodia made a mockery of the prize and led Tom Lehrer to quip that the award "made political satire obsolete." Further incensing the situation, North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho, who was jointly awarded the prize, declined his half of the spoils on the grounds that he didn't want to share the award with the realpolitik ringmaster. To date, his detractors continue to dispute the accolade, arguing that the prize was for efforts to conclude the Vietnam War — something that didn't actually happen until 1975.

Linus Pauling
 
One of only two people to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in multiple fields (the other is Marie Curie), Linus Pauling was the ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper. In the first half of his career, Pauling blazed a trail as a world-leading chemist, working on several weapons projects for the U.S. military and winning a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research into chemical bonds. Then, struck by the grim realities of the nuclear era and the pacifist leanings of his wife Ava, Pauling became a fervent peace activist and later joined Albert Einstein and a number of leading scientists to call for the end of nuclear testing. His campaign was so vociferous that the U.S. State Department temporarily withdrew his passport and rumors of his alleged communist leanings began to swirl. As such, when he won the 1962 Peace Prize for his antinuclear campaign, his critics described him as a "naive spokesman for the Communist Party." Adding fuel to the fire a few years later, Pauling went on to receive the International Lenin Peace Prize from the U.S.S.R. in 1970.

Font: www.time.com

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