The usually self-assured biologist, author and atheist Richard Dawkins expressed his bewilderment at the disproportionate amount of Nobel prizes won by Jews in a recent interview with the New Republic, saying he is “intrigued by” the “phenomenally high” number of Jewish laureates.
Addressing the controversy surrounding a Tweet he wrote during the conferment of Nobel prizes earlier this month, Dawkins offered up something of a mea culpa, stating: “That was unfortunate. I should have compared religion with religion and compared Islam not with Trinity College but with Jews, because the number of Jews who have won Nobel Prizes is phenomenally high.”
Continuing, he said: “Race does not come into it. It is pure religion and culture. Something about the cultural tradition of Jews is way, way more sympathetic to science and learning and intellectual pursuits than Islam. That would have been a fair comparison. Ironically, I originally wrote the tweet with Jews and thought, That might give offense. And so I thought I better change it.”
Asked why he thought it is that Jews have won so many Nobel Prizes, Dawkins was forthright with his uncertainty.
“I haven’t thought it through. I don’t know. But I don’t think it is a minor thing; it is colossal. I think more than 20 percent of Nobel Prizes have been won by Jews.”
This year 6 of 12 laureates were Jewish. The 13th laureate, for the Nobel Peace Prize, was awarded to an organization and not an individual.