Being nominated for the Nobel Prize isn't as big a deal as it sounds

Raymond Chen

Occasionally, somebody will use the fact that they were nominated for the Nobel Prize as some sort of proof that they are a qualified or well-respected person. Except that it proves no such thing. This isn’t like the Academy Awards or the Pulizter Prize for which receiving a nomination means that you are one of a handful of finalists. For the Nobel Prize committee, nomination is just the first step, and there is no restriction on how many people can be nominated. In particular, the list of people authorized to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize includes “members of national assemblies and governments of states.” For the United States, this means that any member of the Executive Branch and any member of Congress can submit a nomination. Deputy Under-Secretary of Transportation? Sure. The easiest way in is to convince a House Representative to submit a nomination for you, since there are over 400 of those positions, and each one represents fewer than a million people. Representatives are known for being quirky, so shop around. I’m sure you’ll find somebody who would be willing to submit your name. It costs them nothing, after all. According to the rules of the Nobel Committee, the list of nominees (and nominators) is kept secret for fifty years. You can search the database of Peace Prize nominees from 1901 to 1951 to see whether your favorite figure or organization is in it. With a nod to Godwin’s Law,† I point out that even Adolf Hitler was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Nitpicker’s corner

†Notice that I am not invoking Godwin’s Law, since this is not an instance of it. I’m merely acknowledging its existence.


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