Bret Stephens writes:
A more interesting case is Israel. The Jewish state should be a Nobel powerhouse, given that Jews, 0.2% of the world’s population, have won 20% of all Nobels, including six prizes this year alone. But while Israel can claim nine living laureates, three of them live and teach mainly in the U.S. Why? “There are a lot of smart people in Israel and at the same time there was not a job, so he left,” Benny Shalev, brother of this year’s chemistry winner, Arieh Warshel, explained to the newspaper Haaretz. It isn’t enough for countries to produce geniuses. They also have to figure out how to employ them. (…)
Why is Europe such a Nobel laggard? In hindsight, evicting and killing most of its Jewish population was perhaps not the best idea—a lesson that still goes unlearned, considering the feverish efforts on European campuses to boycott Israeli academics (..)
Which brings us to the Nobel superpower. Since 2000, Americans have won 21 of the 37 physics prizes, 18 of the 33 medicine prizes, 22 of the 33 chemistry prizes and an astonishing 27 of the 30 economics prizes. Pretty impressive considering our nonstop anxiety about failing schools, mediocre international test scores, undergrads not majoring in math or the sciences, and the rest. Singapore, South Korea and Finland may regularly produce the highest test scores among 15-year-olds, but something isn’t translating: Nobody from Singapore has ever won a Nobel. Korea has one—for peace. The Finns last took a science prize in 1967.
Asians learn by rote and out of duty. Fine if you value competence over creativity.