About the Prize

The Prize shall reward independent thinking in natural sciences and medicine, in particular when the conclusions are in conflict with conventional wisdom. The prize should normally be given out at least once a year. For the year 2007 the prize sum amounts to $24 000. The winner of the prize will be invited to a prize ceremony in Sweden to receive the prize.

Since The Prize for 2008 is shared beween two winners the prize sum will this year be increased to $32 000 allowing each winner to obtain $16 000.

 

The Leo Huss Walin Prize board

Gösta Walin
Professor emeritus in Oceanography at Göteborg University

Anders Stigebrandt
Professor in Oceanography at Göteborg University

Peter Winsor
Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

 

Background

The politicization of science has created widespread acceptance of highly questionable ideas in certain areas of natural sciences and medicine. This phenomenon is obviously greatly harmful to science, but even more so for society which suffers substantial damage from questionable or incorrect advice emanating from the scientific community.

The reason for this unlucky development is the acceptance of premature scientific results, ideas or hypotheses whenever such are found attractive by leading forces in society.

Clearly it is a task for scientists to scrutinize and when necessary reject such ideas. It is also an important obligation for media to objectively communicate the results of such efforts to the public and decision makers.

This is however a difficult and sometimes impossible task even if the necessary insight into the scientific issue is available. One reason among others is that scientists undertaking this difficult critical examination invariably find themselves in trouble; trouble with funding, trouble with publications, trouble with media and trouble to get relevant response from the administration.

Particularly cumbrous is the very strong tendency in media to routinely give negative or no publicity to results which put the conventional wisdom in question.

In sharp contrast, scientists promoting popular established ideas are routinely given extensive overwhelming attention by media and leading forces in society even when presenting ideas which are by no means new or surprising.

We conclude that independent scientists who find themselves in conflict with established ideas urgently need support, in particular when issues of relevance for society are at hand.

With the prize for independent thinkers, the Leo Huss Walin Prize, we hope to contribute to the challenging of conventional wisdom by the identification and rewarding of true independent thinking in natural sciences and medicine.


Gösta Walin

Anders Stigebrandt

Peter Winsor

Gothenburg, December 2005


* My son Leo died recently after 26 years of fight for his life. With this prize we honour his memory, Gösta Walin.