“All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge,” says Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist and atheist, in a tweet that ended with a backhanded compliment. “They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, was bombarded by naysayers trying to negate his naysaying. What about inventing algebra!? someone asked him.
The scientist replied by calling algebra a “Dark Age achievement” and saying: “A statement of simple fact is not bigotry.”
For those keeping track:
- 32 Nobels have been racked up by graduates from Trinity College, Cambridge.
- It’s believed that 10 Nobel winners have been Muslim, only two of which won for science: the Pakistani Abdus Salam for physics and the Egyptian-American Ahmed Zewail for chemistry.
- Of 863 individual winners, 338 have been American or based in the United States.
- 119 have been British.
- Germany comes in third with 101 winners
- France is fourth with 65, points out Nelson Jones in the New Statesman.
- 17 women have been awarded the Nobel.
The tweet seems pretty tame for Dawkins, who enjoys being provocative. In 2010, he called the pope “an old villain in a frock.” Ouch.