Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Jews in science

  1. Dec 23, 2006 #1
    Some friend said too me that 40% of the all nobel prize winners are jewish. i found this fact a bit amazing, when i consider how little there are of a jewish face in the world. There are 10 million jews(?) and they have 40% of the nobel prizes. How come there is such disparaity when you compare other people. Are jews particular smarter? Are they naturally more gifted?

    My own speculation is that it has something to do with their religion. I am a natural atheist, so naturally, i try to find natural explanation. i did some research online, and i found that thejewish people have a very unique religion in that the notion of "study" and "learning" is elevated to the status of pray when compare to other religions. I don t know how true is this, because, well i am not jewish. There is something call a telmudic story of two rabbi discussing whether learning is valued more than pray. The conclusion was that leaning leads to action, so learning wins. My own speculation is that these jewish religious studies tend to impart certain kinds of critical thinking skill that give jewish people an early edge, but become ampified through out their formative years. I assertion that this culture of study, religious in it s root, has permeated the secular jewish culture. I believe the reason why there are so many jewish people that made a lasting impact on the sciences is due to this class of secular jews that had taken the critical thinking tools that had previous used on religious books to the analysis in sciences and mathematics. I assertion the notion of a saintly person in the jewish religion is that of a scholar, or the embodment of the prefessor. This would indeed explain why 20% of all the professors in the most prestigious university in the us are jewish.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2006 #2
    If I'm suppose to speculate about why a certain group of people have a higher number of Noble Prize awards than others, I'd say that the 1930s/1940s may or may not have a substantial contribution.

    After performing a Google search, the first page of hits all give different information about the number of people in this group awarded the Noble Prize.
  4. Dec 23, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Reciting the Talmud incessantly wont increase your intellectual capabilities nor any prowess at analysis, a marginalized community, however, may spawn a culture of gifted individuals who make themselves indispensable to the greater community through their specialized competence. This indispensability will then furnish them, and their kin, with some measure of protection from the greater community.
  5. Dec 23, 2006 #4
    What do you mean by a "marginalized community"? Do you mean a "community" within the jewish population, or something like "african americans" in america?

    Do the "gifted individuals" in such marginalized community try to gain there specialized competence with "the purpose" of "protection" for their community from the greater community?

    How is a "marginalized community" spawn a culture of gifted? I don t know if you are trying to be vague here, but it seems to me that there are plenty of marginalized groups in history. Groups like asians and african american are traditonally marginalized group in the u.s, but they differ on how they react in being marginalized. This has to do with culture.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
  6. Dec 23, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I was thinking of the state of diaspora, in particular the tenuous, and often very difficult position Jews found themselves in Europe from the early middle ages to the twentieth century.
    Their "intentions" are fairly irrelevant in this context.
    Of note is that European princes were able to, on a fairly regular basis extort significant amounts of cash from Jews in particular. This indicates, amongst other things, that within the Jewish community, there existed some mechanisms beneficial to capital accumulation. Now, in my view, such a capital accumulation among the Jews would not have happened unless there were gifted individuals within the Jewish community that could render crucial services like money-lending, but also high-profile artisan works.
    For most periods, the Jewish population was disliked in Europe, yet their presence was acknowledged as a "necessary evil" (and hence, sort of "tolerated"). That regular extortion and the occasional pogrom took place does not distort that picture.
    The main thing of importance is that by rending these services, the intolerance met would not have an annihilating effect on the whole community, only the effect of the occasional purge.
    Note that I said "MAY spawn". I made no pretensions whatsoever to give an adequate explanation why the Jewish community spawned this particular cultural response, I did, however, express doubts that the fervent reading of the Talmud has anything to do with it.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
  7. Dec 23, 2006 #6
    Not disagreeing
  8. Dec 23, 2006 #7
    perhaps some source would be prudent before contiuning this thread :rolleyes:
    Unique? Yet more speculation :smile: ?
    Do you even have a source for this?
  9. Dec 23, 2006 #8
    :rolleyes: I agree.

    From my perspective, it is unique. smile. It would nice to create something from nothing.

    No, i don t. You just have to trust me on it.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
  10. Dec 23, 2006 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm afraid that this breaks our guidelines of not discussing individual religions.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook