With 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.2 billion, the anonymous Internet listing claims Muslims have received one Nobel Prize for Literature (Najib Mahfooz in 1988), four Nobels for Peace (Anwar Sadat 1978; Yassir Arafat 1994; Elias James Corey 1990; Ahmed Zewai 1999); two for Medicine (Peter Brian Medawar 1960, Ferid Mourad 1998) and none for Economics.
Jews, on the other hand, with 0.02 percent of the world's population, or 14 million, have produced 124 Nobels -- 10 for Literature, 8 for Peace, 53 for Physics, 13 for Economics, 40 for Medicine. There is no way to verify that the 124 names listed are indeed Jewish.
Even if the comparison is accurate, Jews are not the only global minority punching above its weight. Switzerland, with 7.5 million people, has produced 25 Nobel Laureates -- the best showing of any national group.
The United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, has received 20 percent of the Nobel prizes. Using the same yardstick as the anonymous Jew vs. Muslim list, this would make Americans the brightest people on earth. Juggling the same stats, Canada, with 10 percent of America's population, has more Nobels on a per capita basis.
It remains to be proved the Jewish Nobels stem from being Jewish and the small number of Muslim laureates from being followers of Islam. Many of the Jewish Nobels listed predate the creation of the state of Israel. Nor do we know how many actually live in Israel.
The comparison springs a leak with the tiny number of Asian winners among a total of 780 laureates in all fields. Yet about half the world's population of 6.4 billion lives in Asia. The Chinese are turning out tens of thousands of engineers and scientists. China has even overtaken Germany in the number of patents registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
The bold statements that follow the Internet message's stats indicate clearly the purpose of the exercise. To wit: "Perhaps the world's Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems." For Jew read "Israeli" and for Muslim read "Arab."
The concluding statement said, "Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel's part, the following two sentences really say it all:
"If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence.
"If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel."
The anonymous author/authors fail to point out that Jews excel in categories that the Nobel Committee values and that they publish in languages and alphabets in European and American journals that are widely read. Arabs, on the other hand, publish in Arabic.
The Internet exercise spawned thousands of bloggers -- pro-Jewish and anti-Arab and vice versa -- throughout the fall. Wrote one, "The whole point is that the Jewish-Muslim comparison is meant to be an exercise in superiority. It is a foolish and meaningless comparison every bit as fallacious as suggesting Jews are all crooks just because Jewish accountants brought about the collapses of Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia and many others."
Said another blogger, "The subtext message is that Jews are more 'valuable' than Muslims, and this superiority means that a dead Muslim is worth one fifth of a dead Jew. The bad things that follow from accepting that kind of thinking (run the gamut) from genocide through ethnic cleansing to apartheid, the Nuremberg Laws, second-class citizen status and other forms of discrimination. Ask Nelson Mandela."
Even more important in this Jewish-Muslim comparison, wrote Paul Richard Harris, "Axis of Logic" Editor, is the succinct proof it offers for a common cyberspace truth: arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics; even if you win, you're still retarded."