Do awards and prizes serve any useful purpose?

YES: Awards and prizes are essential to both individuals and society across a broad range of human activities and endeavors.

  1. Awards and prizes recognize individual achievements in various educational and academic endeavors, inspiring both winners and their peers to scale greater heights of intellectual excellence.

  2. Awards and prizes can be given to recognize high standards of professionalism and work excellence in various industries, providing the public with a useful means of differentiating the best industry players from the merely mediocre and the basis for informed consumption.

  3. Awards and prizes given at the national level recognize outstanding contributions by individuals or groups to societal well-being, providing the public with national icons and role-models worthy of emulation.

  4. Awards and prizes granted by international bodies or panels, such as the Nobel Prize, recognize an individual or group’s lasting and irreplaceable contribution to humanity and our collective well-being, inspiring our continued faith and belief in universal values such as courage, love of knowledge and personal integrity.

NO: Awards and prizes are largely superficial and either unimportant or even harmful to both individuals and society across a broad range of human activities and endeavors. 

  1. Awards and prizes in education and academia can be over-emphasized by educational institutions or governments, leading students and academics to prioritize winning awards over the process of enjoying learning and engaging intellectually with their work.

  2. If awards and prizes are given too freely in some industries, the lines between mediocrity and excellence are blurred, thereby complicating rather than aiding the public in making informed consumer decisions.

  3. Awards and prizes given at the national level may be a sham and compromised by dubious award criteria, thereby leading to public cynicism and resentment at both the awardee and the government.

  4. Awards and prizes granted by international bodies or panels may be politically motivated, leading to friction between ideological antagonists rather than peace and amity.