... I think Perelman is one of the great heroes of all time. We need more such. [...]
I entirely agree. The fight for academic credit, encouraged by metrics such as citations, can get ugly sometimes. Unfunnily enough, it seems to get uglier when the stakes are lower. When the rest of the world seems to choose ugliness, Perelman has the good sense -- and the guts -- to choose otherwise. We should applaud him for this choice.
George Johnson has some more on this theme in his NYTimes piece:
... It was not so much a medal that he was rejecting but the idea that in the search for nature’s secrets the discoverer is more important than the discovery.
“I do not think anything that I say can be of the slightest public interest,” he told a London newspaper, The Telegraph, instantly making himself more interesting. “I know that self-promotion happens a lot and if people want to do that, good luck to them, but I do not regard it as a positive thing.”