Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prizes: A bizarre juxtaposition if there ever was one | Scientific American Blog Network

Fun yet serious commentary on the chocolate/Nobel prize study in the New England Journal of Medicine (disclosure: I like chocolate but do not pretend it does me much good, intellectually or otherwise). Quote:

What other factor might possibly be related to the number of Nobel Laureates? I think the graph provides a strong suggestion and I am again surprised that the author missed speculating about it. The Scandinavian countries rank at the top of the graph on the right and they are known to rank high both on the Human Development Index (HDI) and in per capita income. Couldn’t it just be possible that higher chocolate consumption simply means greater affluence and an improved lifestyle? Put simply, people who eat more chocolate are likely to be better off (and perhaps even happier?). Greater affluence means better higher education, research opportunities and perhaps Nobel Prizes. I still don’t think this set of socioeconomic factors can be directly connected to Nobel Prizes, but I really think it’s far more likely to track with Nobel Prizes than chocolates and their flavanols. Other questions besiege my embattled brain; was chocolate consumption in Germany very high during those miserable post-World War 1 years when the country produced all those physics Nobel Prize winners? Does the high percentage of Nobel Laureates in Switzerland reflect its neutral, relatively peaceful status during wars rather than the health benefits of Swiss chocolate?

Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prizes: A bizarre juxtaposition if there ever was one | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network.


3 thoughts on “Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prizes: A bizarre juxtaposition if there ever was one | Scientific American Blog Network

  1. Historically (set aside the Aztec origins) chocolate comes from two specific African countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, which in modern history supplied 80% of the sourcing for chocolate (this has most recently fallen). Preeminent in the establishment of this sourcing domination are two companies, which together consume 70% of the African fulfillment of this delicacy. The largest is Nestle, which is headquartered in Switzerland, the country at the very lead at the top right extreme of the chart, and also maintains it largest operating and sales offices throughout Scandinavia and Germany and the eight countries which comprise the entire top right of the chart.

    Which also happens to include the headquarters and regional offices of the Nobel Foundation. So I think it is a matter of simple coincident exposure and history. But I would love for it to be caused by some constituent, like the alkaloids. But this statistical aberration should fade as the world grows into this picture.

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