In a nutshell, they are.
Nofollow links from popular sites can be great sources of free traffic, in case the links are somewhat relevant to the context.
Although they don't pass on link value from referring sites, they still get indexed. There are grounds to assume that search engines consider such links as a measure of popularity (especially when they come from Wikipedia, popular social media sites, and major web directories).
As long as it's relevant, a link with the nofollow attribute is definitely better than no link at all.