The Stickleback Obama: The President's Nobel Prize, Cooperation, and Fish

Today President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Obama might, in fact, be cooperating too much with the status quo left by his predecessors. Earlier this year, some of Obama's most devoted supporters were most upset by the Administration's stance to uphold the same secrecy and immunity claims made during the Bush Administration and his reversal of his pledge to release photographs of detainee abuse in U.S. prisons abroad. And then, of course, there is the the irony that his Peace Prize acceptance comes on the heels of his announcement to deploy 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

So yes, people argue that Obama won the Nobel prematurely. According to Reuters news service, three out of the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee even had early reservations and, a recent Gallup poll said about the same percentage of Americans (61%) believe President Obama did not deserve the prize.

Obama might not have accomplished the same amount as Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, or Jimmy Carter--other U.S. President Peace Prize winners. But consider President Obama from an evolutionary biology perspective--one that makes salient his highly esteemed reputation, especially abroad where an international public opinion survey of 20 countries conducted in June found that Obama inspires more confidence around the globe than any other leader.

Consider Obama as a three-spined fish called a stickleback in a fish tank near a predator, which is where experiments on cooperation began. If Obama was a stickleback, the Nobel committee believes he would cooperate--that Obama would be a bold stickleback to swim first toward the predator. This is what I describe in detail today at The Scientist in my opinion piece on what President Obama and sticklebacks have in common titled: A Fishy Nobel Prize.


More like this