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Monday, May 11, 2015

Why kids hate nerds

Vanity is seldom popular, but it is considerably less bearable for the average person in those who are more intelligent than the norm than in those who are more beautiful than the norm. At least with the physically vain, one has only to look at them. With the intellectually vain, one is far too often subjected to lectures in which the primary purpose is not to educate, inform, or discuss, but merely to demonstrate the knowledge and intellectual superiority of the lecturer.
I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story: there is a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you unpopular.

Why? To someone in school now, that may seem an odd question to ask. The mere fact is so overwhelming that it may seem strange to imagine that it could be any other way. But it could. Being smart doesn't make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult. Why?

The key to this mystery is to rephrase the question slightly. Why don't smart kids make themselves popular? If they're so smart, why don't they figure out how popularity works and beat the system, just as they do for standardized tests?

One argument says that this would be impossible, that the smart kids are unpopular because the other kids envy them for being smart, and nothing they could do could make them popular. I wish. If the other kids in junior high school envied me, they did a great job of concealing it. And in any case, if being smart were really an enviable quality, the girls would have broken ranks. The guys that guys envy, girls like.

In the schools I went to, being smart just didn't matter much. Kids didn't admire it or despise it. All other things being equal, they would have preferred to be on the smart side of average rather than the dumb side, but intelligence counted far less than, say, physical appearance, charisma, or athletic ability.

So if intelligence in itself is not a factor in popularity, why are smart kids so consistently unpopular? The answer, I think, is that they don't really want to be popular.

If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him. Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Telling me that I didn't want to be popular would have seemed like telling someone dying of thirst in a desert that he didn't want a glass of water. Of course I wanted to be popular.

But in fact I didn't, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart.
I would go so far as to say that most smart people are considerably more vain about their intelligence than most beautiful people are vain about their beauty. And because intelligence is less easily perceived than beauty, they tend to go further out of their way to ensure that others know about it. In fact, one could even go so far as to suggest that the primary purpose of "nerd culture" is to foster nerd vanity by publicly staking an implied claim of superior intelligence that otherwise might go unremarked.

The vanity theme is supported by the observation that modestly smart people are far bitchier and hateful to those of genuinely high intelligence than the pretty girls are to the beautiful girls. As we've so often seen here, there is no one nastier on the subject of intelligence, or more dubious about the validity of IQ, than the +1 SD midwit whose illusions of intellectual superiority have been shattered.

The highly intelligent don't want to be smart. It's merely a simple fact of life, to be utilized or navigated as necessary. We are entirely accustomed to meeting with blank, uncomprehending faces practically every time we open our mouths without consciously dialing down our thoughts. (The befuddled response of the File 770 commenters to my simple reference to Aristotelian rhetoric is a good case in point.) The fact that we might occasionally use our intelligence to torment annoying midwits should be no more surprising than a beautiful girl using her looks to outshine a less attractive, self-appointed rival who has been relentlessly talking about her behind her back.

Should we, as adults, be beyond this things? Perhaps, but it's readily observable that we are not. I daresay that even inside a Buddhist monastery, the same hierarchical social patterns can be readily observed.

I have to admit, I never got into nerd culture outside of its overlap with games. I didn't join any of the defensive little nerd posses in school, although it is interesting to look back and observe that my three best friends from first grade were all National Merit scholars or semifinalists who went to RPI, Stanford, and Bucknell. Like tends to attract like. To this day, I still prefer to eat alone so that I can read while I'm eating. But I don't dislike nerds either, except when they get intellectually insecure and start posturing and pontificating in defense of their easily wounded vanity.

It's rather amusing, really. Any time I see someone going on and on about my supposed obsession with intelligence, I know exactly where to place him. The highly intelligent are much more inclined to shrug and say "so he's smart, BFD, who isn't?"

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178 Comments:

Anonymous PA May 11, 2015 6:39 AM  

It's important to avoid over praising an amazing an intelligent child on his intelligence. Better to recognize an academic achievement by saying "you worked really hard for this" than "youre so smart."

Anonymous Laz May 11, 2015 6:44 AM  

"To this day, I still prefer to eat alone so that I can read while I'm eating."

Been doing it since college days. The guys at the shop still rib me about it even though several of them are voracious readers too.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge©2015 May 11, 2015 7:01 AM  

No-one ever knows enough to predict a single outcome of a chaotic event.
Suppose quantum computing becomes a reality.
Who will give the machine a sufficiently important task to have been worth the engineering effort in the development?

Between "Brainstorm" the movie, "Blade Runner" the movie, Fitch's Paradox, and Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, a lot of clever people seem to miss seeing the epistemological brick wall 18 odd billion light years in apparent diameter.

Theology, King of sciences. Again. I think it matters what your goals are.
signed: bitten ankles

Blogger Michael Maier May 11, 2015 7:11 AM  

@ Vox: so socially-speaking do you think some of the aggression vs. nerds is their winning the intellectual competition handily when the nerds don't even realize they're playing against others?

Like maybe nerds don't "fall into line" the same way scholastically so they project superiority that is seen as a challenge to the social-sexual hierarchy?

Blogger Michael Maier May 11, 2015 7:13 AM  

If I could tell a circle of nerds anything, it would be:

Form a "Fight Club" in someone's garage
Lift weights
Put on gloves and knock one another around some
Get used to getting up after being knocked down
At least one member, get some loot and go to a real dojo
Apply and teach lessons vs your friends that cannot afford to go to dojo

Blogger Cail Corishev May 11, 2015 7:20 AM  

I have to admit, I never got into nerd culture outside of its overlap with games.

I have a feeling that, if you broke it down by SD, you'd find that +3SD kids get along better with the 0SD kids than the midwits do, and are less likely to separate into nerd culture. For one thing, at that level, there aren't enough kids like you to form a clique with, so you don't have much choice if you want to have friends at all.

Blogger Cail Corishev May 11, 2015 7:22 AM  

Put on gloves and knock one another around some

Agreed. I should have been punched in the face on a regular basis as a kid. I think the same thing about the boys I know now, especially the smart ones -- they need to be punched in the face repeatedly until they grow up a little.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 11, 2015 7:29 AM  

Never thought about it this way, interesting.

VD, for you personally, what makes you more inclined to wanting to be alone?

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 7:41 AM  

In fact, one could even go so far as to suggest that the primary purpose of "nerd culture" is to foster nerd vanity by publicly staking an implied claim of superior intelligence that otherwise might go unremarked.

An example of this is the rebranding of the whcd as #nerdprom.

Blogger heyjames4 May 11, 2015 7:43 AM  

I did get punched a lot. Still turned out nerd and gamma. I'm working on it. Any thoughts on the rest of the article? That modern schools are warehouse prisons and the culture therein is stagnant because there's nothing worthwhile to do?

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 7:48 AM  

do you think some of the aggression vs. nerds is their winning the intellectual competition handily when the nerds don't even realize they're playing against others?

I think you have it backwards. The nerds are hyperconscious of an intellectual competition that the others haven't even entered. Their arrogance and delusions in this regard can be breathtaking, it's like watching a kid sprint to the door and shouting "I win, I win" when everyone else is walking there and paying no attention to whatever the little freak is doing.

VD, for you personally, what makes you more inclined to wanting to be alone?

I'm seldom interested in what others want to talk about and others are seldom interested in what I want to talk about. Even my posts here are dialed down considerably because I have no desire to defend what are nothing more than crazy theories and random notions; I know I can't post anything here I am not willing to defend in detail. So, I seldom do.

Frankly, I think the blog would be much more interesting if I could openly brainstorm here, but look at how just a simple factual observation like my time-to-civilization idea has been greeted. It's just not possible due to the way most people take pleasure in shooting every new idea down, and many take offense at new ideas from which unpleasant conclusions can be drawn. And it's not just the negative reaction either, look at the complete indifference with which my idea for the core mechanism for the Austrian Business Cycle was met. Or Steve Keen's idea about demand curves not stacking.

These are ideas of potentially massive significance, but no one gives a fuck. What do you do? You have to deal with the world as it is.

Anonymous Tom May 11, 2015 7:51 AM  

I agree with Vox about Nerd Culture being a way to brag about an invisible characteristic.

When I was young, I tested as +4SD, but I tested at +3SD later I think. I only know that because I looked at my file over my guidance counselor's shoulder. I grew up as a +3SD kid in a town of under 5,000 people. The high school had 400 kids in it. That meant that a kid with my computing power came along once every 10 or so years and that I was one of the five "smartest" people in town.

I struggled with thinking I was the smartest person in the world. Of course, in my limited little world, I kind of was. I was unbearably smug and conceited, yet horribly naive and just plain stupid when it came to social intelligence. I was sure that if I thought it, it must be right.

What helped a lot was losing. I participated in two competitions, the Geography Bee in 8th grade and the state Scholastic Bowl tournament as a senior in high school. I came close, but didn't win either of them. This was my first encounter with people smarter than myself. Now, I made the classic whiny gamma male excuses about losing, but I couldn't escape the fact that wasn't the smartest person I knew anymore.

I met more smart people at college and married a woman with the same IQ as me. I still struggle with that overconfidence that came from literally years of sitting at the apex of the intelligence level of people I knew. The stupidity of public school didn't help that.

I know that I was crippled by the lack of competition in my local environment and lack of challenging activities.

Anonymous Stephen J. May 11, 2015 7:52 AM  

"With the intellectually vain, one is far too often subjected to lectures in which the primary purpose is not to educate, inform, or discuss, but merely to demonstrate the knowledge and intellectual superiority of the lecturer."

It is worth pointing out that it is very easy for the average or below average intelligence people to *infer* this motive of vanity even when it doesn't exist. Lots of nerds, especially those on some part of the autism or Aspergian spectrum, truly do only want to share the stuff they find fascinating, and simply come off as vain to people who can't imagine any other motive for such lectures then showing off.

The irony is that it is often precisely the social punishment for a vanity they didn't initially feel that in fact creates that vanity in the smart, which is now worse for having a moral as well as an intellectual dimension.

Blogger Daniel May 11, 2015 7:56 AM  

What is nerd culture? I thought they were called nerds because they didn't fit into one.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 7:58 AM  

What is nerd culture?

Excelsior!

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 8:05 AM  

What helped a lot was losing. I participated in two competitions, the Geography Bee in 8th grade and the state Scholastic Bowl tournament as a senior in high school. I came close, but didn't win either of them. This was my first encounter with people smarter than myself. Now, I made the classic whiny gamma male excuses about losing, but I couldn't escape the fact that wasn't the smartest person I knew anymore.

I think I may have been very fortunate in this regard, in that there were sufficient very intelligent people around me from an early age that I never had any illusions in this regard. In fact, I was always very happy to encounter someone I considered to be mostly "awake". When I was young, I tended to consider most people, with their dull eyes and uninquisitive minds, to be something like sleepwalkers. I sometimes wonder, in light of the various theories of untapped brain potential, if there isn't an element of truth to that.

See, this is why I don't brainstorm in public....


Lots of nerds, especially those on some part of the autism or Aspergian spectrum, truly do only want to share the stuff they find fascinating, and simply come off as vain to people who can't imagine any other motive for such lectures then showing off.

Bullshit. What is the first thing a nerd does when he meets a pretty girl? He immediately starts reciting facts to impress her. They aren't just sharing out of enthusiasm, they are sharing to impress out of psychological projection.

Anonymous jack May 11, 2015 8:07 AM  

@Vox
Frankly, I think the blog would be much more interesting if I could openly brainstorm here,

I, for one, would like to see this happen. I know your time is limited in ways we can only imagine, but it would be a treat to read over your deeper observations and ideas.

Myabe some sort of separate blog or separated compartment here? I would pay a bit for access to something like that.

Anonymous jack May 11, 2015 8:08 AM  

And, an informal even, written out version of deeper ruminations would probably sell over at Castalia. I would buy it.

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 8:10 AM  

That's the one thing the Big Bang Theory people get wrong about Sheldon, by the way. The general contempt is right, but not the desire to know things that others don't. The episode where he teaches Howard is particularly bad in that regard.

It would have been a more accurate portrayal if Sheldon wrongly assumed Howard didn't know something, was delighted to learn that he did, then promptly overwhelmed Howard with an enthusiastic deluge of information he couldn't process and was bewildered by Howard's inability to understand it.

But the Sheldon-Penny relationship is almost perfect. "Ooh, it's like the Cheesecake Factory is run by witches" was a brilliant portrayal.

Of course, it's not exactly surprising that the writers are smart enough to know how to look down on waitresses, but not MIT engineers.

Blogger RC May 11, 2015 8:10 AM  

RE: Midwits. A 90 percentile male height is just over 6' 1", just not that unusual to see and certainly not something lauded. Yet possessing a 90 percentile IQ leaves a person thinking he's the smartest person in the room. In the Bell curve, it's only the extreme tails that get interesting.

Anonymous Jeanne -- Minion #0118 May 11, 2015 8:18 AM  

"I'm seldom interested in what others want to talk about and others are seldom interested in what I want to talk about."

My problem as well. Of course, I used to be more of a jerk about it and would frame it more in terms of saying, "People bore me." And for the most part, they do. But I'm no longer so arrogant as to assume that their inability or lack of desire to discuss topics of interest to me makes them worthy of indifference.

Besides, I often bore the average I.Q. person as well.

And while my IQ is above average, I'm not even close to being a +3SD intelligence.  So it is quite conceivable that this is even far more difficult for the highly intelligent.

I'm also a woman, and have the issue that women tends to be more social (which, as an INTJ, I am certainly not), more herd - like in social groupings, and more vicious in social competitions. And all of these social "rules" and games simultaneously bored and perplexed me. This was always an issue in high school.

At this point in my life, I am happy that very little of this matters. I pursue my interests and generally don't  have to care about these types of interactions anymore. I have found that I gravitate to those more intelligent than I am as I always find them interesting since there is always something to learn/consider from them.  I try not to bore them. LOL!

Blogger Mr.MantraMan May 11, 2015 8:24 AM  

Just a shade under 120 IQ myself, always tested well, but humbled quite frequently especially when it came to math that I have to learn by rote. Anyway a serious slacker who would rather contemplate the universe than apply myself, but the only real regrets have been those whiny Gamma moments thru out life. So Gammatude must suck it big time, too bad for them.

Anonymous Hank Williams May 11, 2015 8:24 AM  

Another post about yourself, bravo, well done.

OT, have you ever done a word count on the amount of times you say you are "amused" or find something "amusing"? It comes across like a nervous tic; as if you're trying to convince someone of something. Much like this post, come to think of it.

In any case I recommend you familiarise yourself with a thesaurus.

Anonymous Stephen J. May 11, 2015 8:26 AM  

"What is the first thing a nerd does when he meets a pretty girl? He immediately starts reciting facts to impress her."

You're thinking considerably further ahead than I am. I'm talking about kindergarten and elementary school, well before that dimension enters the picture; most nerd kids I knew, including myself, really did just want to talk about stuff they found interesting and couldn't understand why other kids didn't.

Before you can seek to impress you have to be aware that at least somebody considers your strength impressive and that others are considered less so, which is a level of social awareness not everybody picks up at the same pace.

Anonymous Michael Maier May 11, 2015 8:26 AM  

Bullshit. What is the first thing a nerd does when he meets a pretty girl? He immediately starts reciting facts to impress her. They aren't just sharing out of enthusiasm, they are sharing to impress out of psychological projection.

You're off target there. I think your gamma blindness is playing into that. (Unless me and a few others here simply don't fit your categories. The whole lying all the time thing from AG the other day sounds utterly alien to me.)

Hell, I've done info dumps more than once to pretty girls and walked away before realizing "Wait a second, she didn't care about "Topic X" at all! She was hitting on me!"

Anonymous Fp May 11, 2015 8:27 AM  

"Frankly, I think the blog would be much more interesting if I could openly brainstorm here, but look at how just a simple factual observation like my time-to-civilization idea has been greeted. It's just not possible due to the way most people take pleasure in shooting every new idea down, and many take offense at new ideas from which unpleasant conclusions can be drawn."

They used to back in the day, ironically before the internet.

Anonymous The Original Hermit May 11, 2015 8:29 AM  

Vox, what if you take submissions for outlandish but plausible ideas to be dissected by the Ilk. You can throw yours in without letting on that it's yours. That way they can be discussed but it doesn't have to be attributed to you (and come back and haunt you).

Anonymous Smokey May 11, 2015 8:30 AM  

I would disagree with the writer that nerds are the absolute lowest of the social hierarchy. There is someone who gets it ten times worse - socially awkward people of mediocre aptitude at athletic and intellectual pursuits. You may like watching football, but you suck at it. You may like playing video games, but your code takes 200 lines to do something which should realistically be done in 50 or even less. And you want to find at least SOMEONE or SOME GROUP to stick with, but your chronic inability to make friends makes you a perpetual loner. IMO, from my observations these guys suffer misery more than anyone else in school. As an adult, they'll just become another worker drone talking with the boys at the bar. As a teenager, they're screwed.

And it is mostly guys. Girls never seem to get that triple-shocker of a curse that would cause them to fall into such a role.

Blogger Daniel May 11, 2015 8:31 AM  

Re: "awake." I believe this is true, and that there are at least two forms of it that I have noticed: "awake and alive" and "awake and diabolic." Each one appears to have different levels. Or maybe in the sociosexual hierarchy I am simply a natural scientologist.

I'd trade intelligence and athleticism for wisdom, but maybe that is just because my rations are so meager in all three storehouses!

Blogger William Smith May 11, 2015 8:40 AM  

This trait has been observed in the past. For instance, in a Study in Scarlet, Watson notes this after complimenting Holmes:

My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty.

Anonymous RedJack #22 May 11, 2015 8:44 AM  

I was the first National Merit scholar from my small high school in Nebraska. I wasn't hated because I was smart, I was viewed the same way you would view a 600 lb gorilla in a three piece suit. Not only was I looked at as "different" but so much so no one knew where to categorize me.

By the time I hit high school, I had already been running the farm by myself. The little games that were played didn't matter to me, and I hung out with the gear heads. Nerd or not, they appreciated a guy who could figure out the compression ratio of an engine, and knew enough not to stick his fingers in something he shouldn't.

When I got to college, I realized how blessed I was. Many of the other Merit scholars had very miserable times growing up. My high school classmates didn't hate me. Even the jocks learned not to poke big Farm Boy Red. I wasn't the strongest, but when your after school hours are spent moving cattle and hogs, and castrating the later, they realized I was used to taking on something much larger than me.

Anonymous cheddarman May 11, 2015 8:47 AM  

"I, for one, would like to see this happen. I know your time is limited in ways we can only imagine, but it would be a treat to read over your deeper observations and ideas.

Myabe some sort of separate blog or separated compartment here? I would pay a bit for access to something like that." - jack

I agree, i would pay for a subscription in a heart beat


Anonymous Earl May 11, 2015 8:49 AM  

I disagree with the premise that kids dislike smart kids. A popular kid in an AP class on the football team disproves the rule.

What kids lack is moral maturity. They pick on each other, and being smart is just an excuse to pick on someone who has no other redeeming traits.

It is rare to come across a boy that is strong, smart, good, and charismatic- plus popular. That's all.

To translate into nerdspeak: it is someone who has natural 18s in Str, Con, Dex, Int, Wis, Cha, and comes from a respectable background. They're smart, won't get picked on, and will be popular if they want.

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 8:50 AM  

You're off target there. I think your gamma blindness is playing into that.

That's entirely possible. We can only interpret what we see.

You're thinking considerably further ahead than I am.

(shrugs) I'm kidding, I know you didn't mean it like that.

I'm talking about kindergarten and elementary school, well before that dimension enters the picture; most nerd kids I knew, including myself, really did just want to talk about stuff they found interesting and couldn't understand why other kids didn't.

Yeah, that's fair enough. But like a lot of other things, innocent habits take on a different meaning once you throw sex into the equation. Either way, it's clear that nerds are too self-centered to avoid the psychological projection and adjust their behavior accordingly. The highly intelligent non-nerds know better; Ender never talks about advanced mathematics with his soccer teammates. I doubt more than 5 or 6 of my teammates even know I've ever written a book or have a blog.

Blogger Tiny Tim May 11, 2015 8:51 AM  

A big problem with many nerds is they tend to rise to positions of leadership in large companies(degree and perception intelligence equals leadership ability) and due to their social feebleness and pent up resentment toward the cool kids they are disasters in these positions.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 8:51 AM  

I disagree with the premise that kids dislike smart kids. A popular kid in an AP class on the football team disproves the rule.

The ap student on the football team is not a nerd.

Smart != nerd

Anonymous Tom May 11, 2015 8:52 AM  

"I think I may have been very fortunate in this regard, in that there were sufficient very intelligent people around me from an early age that I never had any illusions in this regard. In fact, I was always very happy to encounter someone I considered to be mostly "awake". When I was young, I tended to consider most people, with their dull eyes and uninquisitive minds, to be something like sleepwalkers. I sometimes wonder, in light of the various theories of untapped brain potential, if there isn't an element of truth to that."

This is one of the reasons I come to this blog. My first experience here was commenting something to the effect of how dropping the atomic bomb on Japan was a great thing. I was then summarily corrected and directed to source material about Japan's attempted surrenders. As humbling as that was, it was like intellectual crack. People who know stuff are fun.

I never found girls that didn't have that "awake" spark of intelligence attractive. I don't know why or what made me not interested in the physically attractive but intellectually average girls.

As a result and in combination with listening to my mother too much about what women 'liked' in a man, I had a miserable time even relating to girls, let alone understanding them. There were really only two girls in the whole high school that I felt were worthy of my interest. Did I mention I was a conceited jackass?

As to the idea that some people can wake up in certain situations and reach untapped potential, as a teacher, I totally agree and have observed it. I also have watched my own seven children change and develop over time, but they have always had their own strengths and weaknesses that don't seem to change too much over time.

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 8:59 AM  

Another post about yourself, bravo, well done.

I write a lower percentage of posts about myself than the average blogger does. Many bloggers don't write about anything but themselves.

OT, have you ever done a word count on the amount of times you say you are "amused" or find something "amusing"? It comes across like a nervous tic; as if you're trying to convince someone of something. Much like this post, come to think of it.

Hey Gamma! It just kills you that you're not at the top of the hierarchy, doesn't it. You just can't help yourself. But I do find mild humor and entertainment in your instinctive lashing-out; we are amused.

In any case I recommend you familiarise yourself with a thesaurus.

As it happens, I have four thesauruses, one for each of the languages I speak.

distrarre, divertire, intrattenere, svagare, divertir, égayer, amuser, amüsieren, belustigen, vergnügen.

Sadly, the concept doesn't really translate well into Italian. They are less superior than the French and the Germans.

Blogger Daniel May 11, 2015 8:59 AM  

Yeah, because what Vox really needs to do now is open another blog. Maybe he can offshore it to a sweatshop of highly intelligent handicapped guatemalan kids rescued from the sex trade.

Anonymous Feh May 11, 2015 8:59 AM  

What is the first thing a nerd does when he meets a pretty girl? He immediately starts reciting facts to impress her. They aren't just sharing out of enthusiasm, they are sharing to impress out of psychological projection.

What they do is start quoting Monty Python, obscure movies, and other sources of nerd humor and then eagerly watching to see if she recognizes them and laughs along with him, which she usually doesn't.

My first experience here was commenting something to the effect of how dropping the atomic bomb on Japan was a great thing. I was then summarily corrected and directed to source material about Japan's attempted surrenders.

That's bullshit. They were wrong.

Anonymous cheddarman May 11, 2015 9:00 AM  

I had my IQ tested about 20 years ago, and found out that I had a verbal IQ of 125 and a performance IQ of 100. I was also diagnosed as having ADD at that time, as a 10 point difference between verbal and performance IQ was considered to be a symptom. Meds and a change in diet seem to bump up my performance IQ a good amount, though i have not had it tested.

The ADD seems to allow me to punch above my IQ weight when it comes to creativity in certain areas.

Anonymous cheddarman May 11, 2015 9:08 AM  

My favorite memory of a nerd info dump to impress a hot chick was when I told a woman that the food additive olestra causes "anal leakage." i wish i could have filmed that and posted it on line somewhere. It was Saturday Night Live material, IMO

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:11 AM  

I'm talking about kindergarten and elementary school, well before that dimension enters the picture; most nerd kids I knew, including myself, really did just want to talk about stuff they found interesting and couldn't understand why other kids didn't.

From the linked piece:

Being smart doesn't make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult.

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 9:11 AM  

My favorite memory of a nerd info dump to impress a hot chick was when I told a woman that the food additive olestra causes "anal leakage."

That is... impressive.

Anonymous clk May 11, 2015 9:13 AM  

VD says --- "I think the blog would be much more interesting if I could openly brainstorm here, but look at how just a simple factual observation like my time-to-civilization idea has been greeted"

Just preface what you are writting --- " the following is a idea I been running in my head .. I would like to kick it around here and see what to you think" -- or "the following is rant .. its been a long morning, I missed my coffee, my dog threw up on the floor, and I have just reached my limit in dealing with stupid people so if you dont want to be offended, you should not open this thread "...

There is a certain degree of therapy value here as we can see above with this discussion of nerds .. in fact I would say this has discussion has hit on many an area deserving of further discussion and reflection.

Anonymous Stephen J. May 11, 2015 9:14 AM  

"Either way, it's clear that nerds are too self-centered to avoid the psychological projection and adjust their behavior accordingly."

A fair enough criticism for many of us, but I don't think it's a flaw unique to us; vanity and seeking to impress are universal traits. The question is simply how far you have to adjust out of your comfort zone before you start seeing success at your efforts.

(One flaw that I will cop to, and which I think many smart people have, is that when learning comes incredibly easily in childhood you often don't develop a taste for the habit of sustained effort without immediate payoff, or for having to put up with a lot of failure first. The effect on social development is just as acute as any more socially aware form of vanity. )

Blogger Krul May 11, 2015 9:16 AM  

"anal leakage"

LOL cheddarman, you just made this comment thread worthwhile

Blogger vandelay May 11, 2015 9:16 AM  

This is interesting, as I always felt betrayed by the portrayal of smart kids as geeks and cool kids as dumb. I was very smart but not quite cool in high school, though the top tier of cool kids also seemed to be among the smartest. Smarter even than me.
To be sure, they were surrounded by second-tier cool kids with middle to low IQs, but high intelligence seemed to be one of a few keys to that top tier, along with athletic ability, sky high confidence and that intangible, cool, detached attitude towards life that you either have or you don't.

Blogger JP May 11, 2015 9:17 AM  

Because of where I grew up and how things worked in our little hamlet, the majority of us "smart kids" also happened to be in the first rugby team. We certainly weren't nerds. Or if we were, who was going to point that out to us?

Being smart does not make you a nerd. Lording it over less intelligent people because you've lost all of the other biological fitness tests makes you a nerd.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:23 AM  

Being smart does not make you a nerd. Lording it over less intelligent people because you've lost all of the other biological fitness tests makes you a nerd.

FTW

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:24 AM  

See my experiences in high school were so different than the average that this all seems like a 80s movie to me.

Some of the smartest people in my class were jocks. A big chunk males of the most popular group were all in AP classes by their junior and senior year. The Validictorian was almost always from the baseball or soccer team. So imagine how odd your 80s movie would look if the nerds in AP physics class... had 3 popular jock baseball players in their class with them.

It meant that the smart kids who weren't jocks had stuff in common with smart kids who were jocks... and it built common ground between the two.

There were omegas... but the omegas weren't classic nerds. The omegas were goth kids and just total trainwrecks that were below average in everything.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:26 AM  

" I was very smart but not quite cool in high school, though the top tier of cool kids also seemed to be among the smartest. Smarter even than me.
To be sure, they were surrounded by second-tier cool kids with middle to low IQs, but high intelligence seemed to be one of a few keys to that top tier, along with athletic ability, sky high confidence and that intangible, cool, detached attitude towards life that you either have or you don't."

This. Precisely this.

The world is not a place of smart nerds and dumb jocks. As our esteemed host obviously knows.

Anonymous Hank Williams May 11, 2015 9:29 AM  

I write a lower percentage of posts about myself than the average blogger does.

Not according to my calculations. My exhaustive research has you placed in the top percentile of vanity bloggers.

Hey Gamma!

That's no way to talk to a man who overcame spina bifida to become a legend of country and western!

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:29 AM  

Shut up scoob

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:30 AM  

Perhaps there is a high correlation between the hated nerd and gamma?

The hated nerd rejects the social structure and his place in it... and in his own mind recreates it with himself at the top. Then acts like an asshole.

The non-gamma smart kid can be anything from an omega to an alpha.. and he likely will not be hated. He'll just find his comfortable spot and accept it go on about his life. Unless his spot is actually omega... then maybe he buys a bunch of trenchcoats and experiments with explosives and maybe one day borrows some of daddy's guns.

whatever.

Blogger Antonio From Spain May 11, 2015 9:33 AM  

Paul Graham makes interesting observations but I’d say he spectacularly misses the main point here.

One’s popularity is not 100% in one’s control, it depends very much on what people around you value. An exceptionally good baseball player will remain a complete non-celebrity in Spain. A legendary bullfighter will have to spell out his name twice in the US…

Modern society is obsessed with intelligence (and science). And obsession precludes understanding. When you idolize something of which you don’t have much and see somebody else who has untold amounts of it, eros would go ballistics, you’d think. But that’s only the case if the idol can be shared. Intelligence, unlike beauty, is not easily enjoyable by the observer who lacks it, so pathos goes ballistics.

Nerds are despised for having something which the masses have been brainwashed to idolize. Very much like the leftist fanatics who’ve bought the idea that they can never be prosperous by working honestly, they are self-doomed to hate the rich.

On the other hand, it is typical of nerds, of course, to think that they are the navel of the world, and that the explanation to other people’s behavior begins and ends within the nerd himself.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:34 AM  

"Sadly, the concept doesn't really translate well into Italian. They are less superior than the French and the Germans."

I have a hard time accepting that the germans are better at communicating the concept of amusement than the italians.

Blogger Krul May 11, 2015 9:35 AM  

@Hank Williams,

Come on Scooby Doo
I see you
Pretending you've got a sliver

But you're not fooling me
'Cause I can see
The way you shake and shiver

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 9:35 AM  

@Michael Maier
You're off target there.

He's not aiming in the wrong direction however.

The "Wait a second, she didn't care about "Topic X" at all! She was hitting on me!" reaction when I had it, was not from a purely 'oh I want to share information' stance. It was often from a partial paralyzing of social embarrassment (talking to a girl I found pretty) so I, the nerd, leapt to a topic I at least had some confidence about.

Compound that with the concept of "twue wuv" that heavily permeates nerd-dom, and you have a desire to infodump on any acceptable girl to at least remain in confidence about something, and is later rationalized away as looking for your one true soulmate. Seriously, I think nerds are more die-hard believers of true love than any other group of human beings. It's painfully reflected in their fiction too.

Ahem. I got off topic there.

Anyway, I'd say it's some of what you say but still some of what Vox says.

Anonymous Stephen J. May 11, 2015 9:36 AM  

So the question then becomes: Why do some smart people become nerds, or fail to learn how to not be nerds, and others succeed at crossing the gap and socializing successfully?

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:38 AM  

So the question then becomes: Why do some smart people become nerds, or fail to learn how to not be nerds, and others succeed at crossing the gap and socializing successfully?

I think it's what nate said about hated nerds and gammas. They both confuse is with ought.

Blogger vandelay May 11, 2015 9:38 AM  

"It meant that the smart kids who weren't jocks had stuff in common with smart kids who were jocks... and it built common ground between the two."

That common ground is one of the weird twists in high school life that Hollywood has never really gotten right. I had classroom friendships with those top tier guys, and a mutual respect that earned head nods in the hall, which thankfully also served as signals to the second tier kids that I wasn't to be bullied. What a fascinating ecosystem it was.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 9:38 AM  

@Nate
Perhaps there is a high correlation between the hated nerd and gamma?

I had quite the chuckle right there. I thought this correlation was so blindingly obvious it wasn't even worth mentioning since everyone knew it. But yes, I'd go so far as to say that the "nerd" is automatically a subset of gamma... and in fact makes up the large percentage of the gamma population.

Anonymous Viidad May 11, 2015 9:40 AM  

Being homeschooled helped me avoid the nerd pigeonhole for the most part.

"We are entirely accustomed to meeting with blank, uncomprehending faces practically every time we open our mouths without consciously dialing down our thoughts."

Yeah. Used to drive me nuts. Now I dumb down according to need.

There's a reason I hang out here. Much better conversation than I find in most non-virtual world interactions.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:42 AM  

That's the one thing the Big Bang Theory people get wrong about Sheldon, by the way.

Where would you place the four male characters on the hierarchy?

Leonard and Howard = Delta?

Raj = Gamma?

Sheldon = Omega or Sigma?

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:44 AM  

"I had quite the chuckle right there. I thought this correlation was so blindingly obvious it wasn't even worth mentioning since everyone knew it."

You likely don't realize then exactly how alien gamma is to alpha and sigma.

Anonymous Anonymous May 11, 2015 9:46 AM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous Stephen J. May 11, 2015 9:47 AM  

"I think it's what nate said about hated nerds and gammas. They both confuse is with ought."

A worthwhile point there. My own lesson in that particular brute reality happened when, near the end of high school, my myopia prescription changed to such an extent I absolutely *had* to get contact lenses, something I'd previously avoided out of repugnance to the idea -- a repugnance I disguised by insisting people "should see past appearances". The difference the lack of glasses made to my social life, through the improved appearance, really drove it home: what I thought "should" be and what was were simply irreconcileably different, and I had better learn to deal with what was if I wanted to get anywhere.

Blogger dc.sunsets May 11, 2015 9:47 AM  

Truly intelligent people (watching my sons) go their own way and mostly busy themselves with things they deem important; they play to their strengths.

The problem with beautiful people is that they become the center of a massive orbital system, and this screws up their minds. In the case of women, it is possible to find a pretty girl who is still relatively nice; the odds of finding a stunningly beautiful girl who is nice seem extraordinarily low, because she exists in an ocean saturated with male attention.

Very bright people don't experience anything quite analogous, and so the largest risks they face are overestimation of their own brilliance. Whether their assessment is true or not, those who always think they're the brightest mind in every room they occupy are unpleasant company.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 9:48 AM  

You likely don't realize then exactly how alien gamma is to alpha and sigma.

It just hadn't quite sunk in yet, to me. That, and it's a common human failing to assume that people will think the way you do.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:50 AM  

"What is impossible, is to dedicate the required effort to both popularity and academics. Pick one, you can't do both."

BAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA

You think smart kids have to focus on something in high school?

bitch please.

Smart kids walk through high school barely bothering to try. Then walk through college the same way.

My class validictorian had a baseball scholarship.. took AP classes... and banged cheerleaders.

You're making excuses for your own failures.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:53 AM  

Smart kids focus on school work. Popular kids focus on being popular. It takes quite a bit of work and effort to become and remain popular. It also takes quite a bit of effort and work to pass dozens of AP tests and enter college as a sophomore. What is impossible, is to dedicate the required effort to both popularity and academics. Pick one, you can't do both.

That's only true to the extent that being smart and being popular are skills.

Being smart must be much more of a learned skill to the +1sd nerd who actually does have to focus on schoolwork than it is to the +3sd kid who doesn't.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 9:54 AM  

You think smart kids have to focus on something in high school?

bitch please.

Smart kids walk through high school barely bothering to try. Then walk through college the same way.


The midwits might actually have to try in school.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 9:56 AM  

@dc.sunsets

"because she exists in an ocean saturated with male attention."

You are 100% correct. I loathe and wish nothing but the worst for those lickspittle white night managinas. Children can be forgiven but for the adult men who rush to help a beautiful woman, they are breathtakingly and unforgivably stupid. She will not give you sexual favors for your help, you moron. And if they know they wont get sexual favors but only to bask in her aura, then damn them for the idolatrous goddess worshippers that they are!

Blogger Daniel May 11, 2015 9:56 AM  

Nate, I didn't know you took AP classes! What did you think of Chem II? I thought I barely passed but it turned out...

Example: gamma projection.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:57 AM  

"The midwits might actually have to try in school"

I can't see someone with a buck twenty five IQ having to try in US History and Alegbra 2. I really can't.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 9:58 AM  

"Nate, I didn't know you took AP classes! What did you think of Chem II? I thought I barely passed but it turned out..."

I hated chemistry. I took Calculus... and AP english.

Anonymous Michael Maier May 11, 2015 9:58 AM  

My favorite memory of a nerd info dump to impress a hot chick was when I told a woman that the food additive olestra causes "anal leakage."

Wow... I AM truly socially-oblivious. I read that and didn't think anything of it at all.

Then I read Vox' "That's.... impressive" and reconsidered...

Yeah, that topic might not be the best one to pick conversing with a hot chick.

On the bright side: I can learning!

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 9:59 AM  

@Josh
Where would you place the four male characters on the hierarchy?

I wouldn't even attempt to place caricatures because they're all over the place. Big Bang Theory is blackface of nerds.

Blogger vandelay May 11, 2015 10:00 AM  

Vox's description of "Sigma" sort of ties into this. One of my favourite things about the top tier intelligent kids on high school was how they provided cover for me to slip into what I now can identify as a Sigma personality type.
Even though I wasn't cool, I always loved high school parties. I'd walk in and get a cold reception from the second-tier kids, though as soon as a first tier saw me there'd be a huge, happy reaction which the whole house took note of, followed by a beer tossed across the room. After that, as long as I didn't talk much and had a decent buzz that helped me emulate detached cool, I came across as higher status than the second-tiers, at least to all the chicks who didn't know me too well. I looked like a loner who didn't care about being a loner. The second-tier masses hated me but couldn't do shit about it, because the top tier loved me, while not spending too much time in my company. Kept me free to spend time on the odd-out hot chick.
I'd stand up and applaud any high school movie that gets THAT dynamic right.

Anonymous David-093 May 11, 2015 10:02 AM  

The strongest at my old school were also the smartest and the most popular. It's never seemed any other way to me. The nerds were always single-mindedly focused on their own interests, which revolved entirely around science and video games.

The cool kids? They were all universally taking AP courses and playing baseball or basketball. I've never seen the dynamic of nerdy outcasts being the smartest, they're usually just the weirdest.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 10:02 AM  

"Wow... I AM truly socially-oblivious. I read that and didn't think anything of it at all. "

Haven't we been telling you this for over a year on the Dread Ilk page?

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 10:04 AM  

Dammit Maier...

Anonymous Michael Maier May 11, 2015 10:04 AM  

The world is not a place of smart nerds and dumb jocks. As our esteemed host obviously knows.


But the world as portrayed in movie and TV is... and those media are written by...

Bitter nerds.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 10:07 AM  

@ Michael Maier

"Bitter nerds."

Yes. One of the best way to overcome gamma instincts in one self and others is to realize that winners win and losers lose. If you lose it is because you are a loser. Some one isn't holding you back, there isn't a conspiracy to keep you in check and you are not a font of untold greatness.

To become a winner you have to win.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 10:07 AM  

@Bodichi
And if they know they wont get sexual favors but only to bask in her aura, then damn them for the idolatrous goddess worshippers that they are!

I'd say the vast majority of them don't expect sexual favors. Instead, it is practically the only masculine thing that they feel is "acceptable", so when they finally do the only masculine thing in a long while, all that pent up masculinity (long since fetid) comes rushing out at once.

They're so devoid of masculinity that finally doing something masculine and acceptable makes them feel like real people. White knightery becomes something existential.

Anonymous RedJack #22 May 11, 2015 10:08 AM  

dc.sunsets May 11, 2015 9:47 AM


The problem with beautiful people is that they become the center of a massive orbital system, and this screws up their minds. In the case of women, it is possible to find a pretty girl who is still relatively nice; the odds of finding a stunningly beautiful girl who is nice seem extraordinarily low, because she exists in an ocean saturated with male attention.

The confusion and anger of a woman whose looks are fading is awesome to behold. They are so used to being able to control situations with their looks, they do not have any way to deal with it once those looks fade.


Blogger Aquila Aquilonis May 11, 2015 10:10 AM  

Maier's in his bunk.

Anonymous Porky May 11, 2015 10:10 AM  

Olestra...lmao!

I once tried doing a magic trick at dinner to impress a hot girl. The WTF look on her face was....unforgettable. Never made that mistake again.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 10:11 AM  

@SIB
"I'd say the vast majority of them don't expect sexual favors."

I am not sure we could even come to a consensus on that. It would be great if there were some real data but it looks like it is battle of the anecdotes. Obviously I disagree, I think most would tell you some other reason they helped, but really they were hoping for something in return, even just a smile. I would bet money though that 99% would not turn down sexual favors after help if offered.

Blogger Cail Corishev May 11, 2015 10:12 AM  

Because of where I grew up and how things worked in our little hamlet, the majority of us "smart kids" also happened to be in the first rugby team.

Yes, it helps to go to a small school where there aren't enough kids of each "type" to form real cliques. (Homeschool would be even better.) The second highest ACT score in my class was 4 points below mine, and the third was a few points below that, so there wasn't much chance of forming an exclusive cadre of smart nerds. Most everyone played a sport and participated in the same stuff. Though I was shy and introverted, I had as many friends as I wanted, and the other kids liked me.

As someone else said, it also helps to grow up on a farm, because animals will humble you now and then. When you're face down in the mud because a hog just knocked you down on his way out of the pen, and your dad says, "Gotta be smarter than the pig," you can't feel too superior at that moment.

I still ended up pretty vain about my smarts, but not beyond help, I think.

Anonymous Athor Pel May 11, 2015 10:12 AM  

" cheddarman May 11, 2015 9:08 AM
My favorite memory of a nerd info dump to impress a hot chick was when I told a woman that the food additive olestra causes "anal leakage." i wish i could have filmed that and posted it on line somewhere. It was Saturday Night Live material, IMO"



That's one of my favorite Cliff Claven TMI info bits. Watching the look of horror struggle to the surface as they contemplate buying that bag of chips while I tell them about that particular ingredient. Very entertaining.

Anal leakage, that's high comedy right there. That's as good or better than poopy pants.

Blogger VD May 11, 2015 10:14 AM  

The problem with beautiful people is that they become the center of a massive orbital system, and this screws up their minds. In the case of women, it is possible to find a pretty girl who is still relatively nice; the odds of finding a stunningly beautiful girl who is nice seem extraordinarily low, because she exists in an ocean saturated with male attention.

Are you a woman? Because you have it wrong. A lot of stunningly beautiful girls are usually incredibly nice. They aren't competitive because it all comes so easily for them. They smile at everyone and are at ease with everyone. It's the girls one and two levels below them that are constantly bitchy and trying to drag others down.

The two most beautiful girls I knew were absolutely hated by other women, but were unfailingly polite to them. They just didn't give a damn what other women thought and couldn't be bothered to be mean.

Then again, one of the hottest girls I knew was an unbelievable bitch. I mean, off the charts nasty. I think the hot sexy ones tend to be mean, where the natural beauties are much nicer.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 10:15 AM  

I think the hot sexy ones tend to be mean, where the natural beauties are much nicer.

Testosterone/estrogen ratio?

Blogger Krul May 11, 2015 10:17 AM  

Porky - I once tried doing a magic trick at dinner to impress a hot girl. The WTF look on her face was....unforgettable.

Let me guess... the Disappearing Sausage Trick?

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 10:26 AM  

My experience is beautiful 9s and 10s... and the 8s and 9s that... as I say are built-for-speed are both happy and easy going more often than not. There are spoiled little shits among them like everyone else but no more so than in the general population. Probably less.

but lets face it... its hard to be objective. If you want these women and they ignore you... they are bitches. if these chicks are your friends... who you hangout with and spend time with.. they are all sweethearts.

They're sweethearts to me. All of them.

Anonymous AlteredFate May 11, 2015 10:27 AM  

@Krul

No one ever told Porky that you're suppose to wait till that night to do that trick, never at the table and especially not with her parents at the table. Though, if he was really out to impress the mom...

Anonymous A Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents May 11, 2015 10:29 AM  

The highly intelligent non-nerds know better; Ender never talks about advanced mathematics with his soccer teammates. I doubt more than 5 or 6 of my teammates even know I've ever written a book or have a blog.

Part of any basic social skill set: to be able to relate to people as they are, rather than as you think they ought to be.

To relate to people as they are, one has to be able to actually see them as they are, and that can be difficult without adequate social skills & some ability to read "tells". Don't data dump your dissertation onto the barrista, flirt with her about nothing in particular. Don't flirt with the interesting woman in IT, and don't try to one-up her in knowledge, either. Talk to her about art, instead. Talk to the artist about nature. Talk to the biologist about food. Etc.

Be interesting to other people on their terms, not yours, if nothing else for the entertainment value - a relative of mine in the hospital was quite charming to his nurses, and so they were always stopping by for quick chats. As a result he got taken better care of...

Or if you don't like this, consider the sheer utility of being able to talk to mechanics like a mechanic, etc. because you know something of their ways. It's not just Heinlein's Lazurus Long, Shinmen Musashi Miyamoto insisted that the man of the sword should know something of all arts. Perhaps in order to be better at disguise?

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 10:32 AM  

"My favorite memory of a nerd info dump to impress a hot chick was when I told a woman that the food additive olestra causes "anal leakage." i wish i could have filmed that and posted it on line somewhere. It was Saturday Night Live material, IMO"

Ya know... the bad thing is I've actually said the same thing to a chick. But I was doing it to humiliate her... not to impress her.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 10:34 AM  

@Bodichi
I am not sure we could even come to a consensus on that. It would be great if there were some real data but it looks like it is battle of the anecdotes. Obviously I disagree, I think most would tell you some other reason they helped, but really they were hoping for something in return, even just a smile. I would bet money though that 99% would not turn down sexual favors after help if offered.

I disagree with nothing you've said. Yes, there won't be hard numbers on it, but I think we can have a working hypothesis to test with. Yes, they are really hoping for any sort of validation afterwards, but that is not the driving force from which their frenetic energy comes from. Yes, absolutely, I bet most of them wouldn't turn down sexual favors if it were offered (and the woman wasn't sufficiently ugly)... but keep in mind that they'll still white knight women they wouldn't want. They'll just white knight harder for hotter women (who are already taken who they know would never look at them) because it's more of a testosterone boost.

You can't forget the Twue Wuv aspect of the beast. They think feminine, hell I'd say more feminine than most US women, bought whole-heartedly into the idea that love is the basis of sex and marriage (rather than marriage being the basis of sex and love). So they'll snap up the validation if it's offered to them after the white knightery, but they completely laugh off accusations of white knightery for sex.

I don't think they'd laugh off accusations of white knightery for the being the only time they'd feel like men.

Blogger SarahsDaughter May 11, 2015 10:35 AM  

"Did you read Vox's post about _____" - very common question in this house.
"Yeah, I don't really understand, can you explain it to me?" - very common answer from me.

It used to be: "Did you read Vox's column?"
Answer: "No, they hurt my head."

It's very exciting when I read a post and comments that I once wouldn't be able to comprehend and can get what you all are talking about.

My husband and at least two of our children are significantly smarter than I am, which is great for them to be able to have challenging conversations with each other. Like most highly intelligent people, they don't ever say to me: "You didn't know that??" Like I'll hear from midwits (like me) who happen to know something I don't. Instead they just teach me with enthusiasm, often times they teach me things and I haven't even asked about- the other night I learned about Rasputin from my husband and daughter. I had heard the name before and associated it with Russia, but man they had a lot to say.

Cheddarman...
...anal leakage. Oh, so much funny.

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 11, 2015 10:35 AM  

Frankly, I think the blog would be much more interesting if I could openly brainstorm here, but look at how just a simple factual observation like my time-to-civilization idea has been greeted. It's just not possible due to the way most people take pleasure in shooting every new idea down, and many take offense at new ideas from which unpleasant conclusions can be drawn. And it's not just the negative reaction either, look at the complete indifference with which my idea for the core mechanism for the Austrian Business Cycle was met. Or Steve Keen's idea about demand curves not stacking.

These are ideas of potentially massive significance, but no one gives a fuck. What do you do? You have to deal with the world as it is.


Those who are interested in such ideas often will not engage in the discussions for the same reason. Poor ROI, low signal-to-noise ratio, and the near certainty that some midwit will take offense at what he doesn't understand and try to shut you down.

Blogger Al Cibiades May 11, 2015 10:40 AM  

I too was a nerdy kid playing D&D and Ultima 2 and 3 on my Apple IIe struggling with social hierarchy until the end of junior high. Thankfully my father intervened and shared the classic "How to Win Friends and Influence People" with me and once I got a handle on the social dynamic my life changed dramatically in high school. I discovered that people seemed to want to connect naturally to me unless I did something to throw it off. I remembered around 30 peoples names the first day, actually became truly curious and interested in other people and smoothed my nerdy rough edges considerably.

Anyway I went from struggling in school to an academic performer, active in football and track and ultimately went to West Point while my best friend went to the USAFA. My nerd self was a false self and I realized such posturing was not necessary for safety and in my experience my hubris actually fostered the social disconnect.

Anonymous RedJack #22 May 11, 2015 10:40 AM  

A Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents,

That is a needed skill, and one that cuts both ways.

I find I can talk with the rednecks and rural Hispanics much easier than the people in Chicago. I have spent an enjoyable afternoon talking with a Hispanic gentleman on the best way to raise tomatoes and butcher a turkey. However when all a Chicago resident wants to talk about is what fashions are in for "men", I lose interest rapidly.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 10:40 AM  

Those who are interested in such ideas often will not engage in the discussions for the same reason. Poor ROI, low signal-to-noise ratio, and the near certainty that some midwit will take offense at what he doesn't understand and try to shut you down.

Sometimes it's just not worth it to have to walk an idiot step by step from point A to point BZ.

Remember the scene fromI Good Will Hunting where Will burns his proof because it he was tired of having to explain everything to the math professor?

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 10:44 AM  

@SIB

I thoroughly enjoy splitting hairs with you.

Hypothesis 1: The average American man (Delta, Gamma, Cube worker) white knights for woman ( 8, 9, 10) more out of validation of being recognized as men (read pack mules) than for hope of sexual favors.

Hypothesis 2: The average American man (Delta, Gamma, Cube worker) white knights for woman ( 5,6,7) more out hope of sexual favors than for validation of being recognized as men (read pack mules).

Blogger Rabbi B May 11, 2015 10:46 AM  

" . . . to be able to relate to people as they are"

@Paradigm

Nice post. I appreciated your points. Most people enjoy being asked about themselves and their interests. Deference and drawing people out goes a long way.

Blogger Cail Corishev May 11, 2015 10:48 AM  

Paul Graham makes interesting observations but I’d say he spectacularly misses the main point here.

I think his article on nerds is mostly good, but he does miss this critical issue of vanity. He says nerds don't apply their brains to being popular because they want to be smart -- and thinking about the things that interest smart people -- more than they want to be popular. I think that's what the nerd thinks, but I don't think it's really true. Yes, the nerd genuinely finds space travel and differential equations more interesting than what brand of jeans everyone is wearing. But it's not like he'd have to give up thinking about space travel and math to apply a couple of his IQ points to finding out how to dress and talk to fit in better, if that's what he wanted. It's literally not rocket science. So how much does he refuse to learn to be popular, because he's learned to see those people as beneath him?

Besides, one thing I discovered when I got older is that the social interplay between human beings, as a topic of scientific study, can be pretty fascinating. Why does one person immediately rise to the top of the pecking order in a group? What causes some to follow one and shun another -- a process which can happen within minutes of people meeting. Alpha/beta/gamma, male/female, bright/dull, it's as interesting as any other life science, and would be more useful to the nerd than most of the things he studies voluntarily. But he consciously rejects it, so there's more going on than simply having different interests.

Modern society is obsessed with intelligence

Obsessed with it, and yet insistent that it doesn't exist, which makes it hard to discuss. Officially, everyone agrees that "intelligence," to the extent that it exists at all, is a product of your environment and can be produced by the right combination of good schools, good teachers, good materials, and hard work. In reality, everyone knows this is hogwash. That sets up a lot of cognitive dissonance, such that mentioning your intelligence at all is automatically seen as uncouth bragging (see some of the comments in this thread, even though Vox is being critical of smart people here), so people resort to humble-bragging and talking around the subject.

Anonymous Trimegistus May 11, 2015 10:52 AM  

I've been thinking about this sort of thing lately, and it strikes me that nerdiness may not be so much what you like to talk about as what you like to HEAR about.

If Sheldon the Smart Kid is talking with Peyton the Proto-Jock in elementary school, and every time Peyton talks about the football game he watched with his Dad on Sunday, Sheldon changes the subject to something he's interested in, like how the Helicarrier works, then Peyton's going to lose interest in hanging out with Sheldon.

This was my own discovery, and one which every Gamma (and Sigma) can make use of: SHUT UP AND LISTEN. Let other people talk, and chances are you'll either find something interesting in it, or you'll decide that you have no desire for that person's company at all.

Note that this is standard PUA advice for gaming women, too. Make them do the talking.

Blogger valiance. May 11, 2015 10:53 AM  

Being a nerd isn't just about being smart; it's about being smart plus having nerd interests.

If you check those two boxes AND lack social and athletic aptitude, you're the traditional nerd.

If you're not only smart with nerd interests but also have social and athletic aptitude, you're probably a jack-of-all-trades/closet-nerd, and likely aren't defined as a nerd by yourself or others-you have many other facets to your identity. Vox likely falls here.

If you're smart *without* the nerd interests and have social and athletic aptitude, you're the captain of the football team/valedictorian guy Nate mentions--a type that was fairly common in my secondary school as well. They're not nerds. Vox likely overlaps with this category a bit as well. In his case lack of interest in traditional nerd pursuits (besides gaming) gives the game away. They're smart people--their type is common in medical schools and graduate schools alike-- but the traditional nerd has little in common with them.

I think having nerd interests necessitates a certain amount of intelligence, so this last category is a bit of an oxymoron, but for completeness' sake: the dumb nerd has nerd interests, no social/athletic skills, and no intelligence. Perhaps--if it truly exists-- this type has become more common now that "nerdy" pursuits have become "cool" (read: commercialized).

Interpolation of the missing types and the association of each type with its sociosexual rank left as an exercise for the reader.

Blogger Cail Corishev May 11, 2015 11:00 AM  

That common ground is one of the weird twists in high school life that Hollywood has never really gotten right.

It seems like Hollywood scriptwriters all went to large enough schools that different types of kids were able to separate entirely into different cliques, and never interact at all unless there was a Breakfast Club situation. In movies, a nerd and a jock can be in the same class and never meet, not even know each other's names. I knew the name of every kid in my high school and spoke to most of them regularly.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 11:04 AM  

@Bodichi
I thoroughly enjoy splitting hairs with you.
Indeed, #31, and we must continue to do so, for Science!™

re: Hypothesis 1 & 2

I must take exception with Deltas being lumped with Gammas. Deltas (and I suspect all the way up to Betas) I have seen engage in white knightery, but their internals (mode of thinking, worldview) are not the same as Gammas. Too broad, in other words.

And really, the kind of person I was talking about this entire time was a Gamma nerd to begin with.

That said, my hypothesis is closer to: The Gamma nerd white knights for all women based on how he feels (the testosterone boost). He does not do it for duty nor honor, but for feels, whether it's feelings of "true love" (read: short-term obsession) or feelings of masculinity.

Blogger The Original Hermit May 11, 2015 11:07 AM  

"There's a reason I hang out here. Much better conversation than I find in most non-virtual world interactions."

Most of my friends are engineers and technicians. Besides gaming, there is just about nobody IRL that shares any of my interests that I find here.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 11:13 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Antonio From Spain May 11, 2015 11:13 AM  

Obsessed with it, and yet insistent that it doesn't exist, which makes it hard to discuss.

Indeed. That's why I said that the obsession precludes understanding. It is treated as some mysterious force of nature. And so, as you say, so much as mention it and you're bragging.

In TV, for instance, we see beautiful people doing things to improve their beautiful appearance: shopping for nice clothes, discussing the benefits of this or that food, refusing to eat certain things, avoiding to wear certain things, using beauty products, etc.

But intelligent people on those same shows are just that way. We never see them reading, let alone hunting for a rare book, we never see them actually acquiring that knowledge, we never see them consulting with a mentor. They just use their intelligence because they have it, magically.

The most superficial beauty is treated much more seriously and realistically than intelligence.

That's why focusing exclusively on the "magical" nerd, his shortcomings and his attitudes, is missing the main point.

Blogger Blume May 11, 2015 11:15 AM  

Or like me they just go gosh gee golly wiz you're pretty.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 11:16 AM  

"Being a nerd isn't just about being smart; it's about being smart plus having nerd interests."

but that can't be. Because we are reliably informed by the nerds that its their giant nerd brains that make them interested in nerd things.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 11:20 AM  

@SIB

"I must take exception with Deltas being lumped with Gammas"

This is fair, however I have seen far to many Delta's white knight, for seemingly the same reasons as Gammas. Betas, (and here I use the hierarchy from Alpha Game, not the Roissy term) seem to understand their place (and hence value) better than do either Delta's or Gamma's and hence are more likely to white knight in more "appropriate" times.

To elaborate, Roger Juerta punched out a defensive lineman at a street festival after he punched a woman.
http://www.cagepotato.com/meet-douchebag-roger-huerta-allegedly-knocked-out/
This is epic white knighting, gammas dream of this. There is a chance the girl deserved it, and Juerta most certainly did not have all the facts before he acted, so it is definitely white knighting. He didn't care about going home with her, so why did he do it?

This reeks of plural of anecdote!=data, so if you disagree I would be interested to know what you think the primary reason for Delta white knightery is.

On your hypothesis, is the SMV of the woman not relevant at all, or only relevant in relation to his feelings?

Blogger hank.jim May 11, 2015 11:21 AM  

I always know when someone is smarter than me. They can never give an answer that I can use. I need to keep asking the question in narrower and narrower specificity.

Life is not binary. Few are beautiful and few are intelligent. Popular people can be both or neither. Sometimes they are just richer.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 11:27 AM  

"This is fair, however I have seen far to many Delta's white knight, for seemingly the same reasons as Gammas. "

Deltas white knight. Because white knighting is a symptom of pedestalization... which is a defining characteristic of Deltas.

Blogger rycamor May 11, 2015 11:33 AM  

VD May 11, 2015 7:48 AM

Frankly, I think the blog would be much more interesting if I could openly brainstorm here, but look at how just a simple factual observation like my time-to-civilization idea has been greeted. It's just not possible due to the way most people take pleasure in shooting every new idea down, and many take offense at new ideas from which unpleasant conclusions can be drawn. And it's not just the negative reaction either, look at the complete indifference with which my idea for the core mechanism for the Austrian Business Cycle was met. Or Steve Keen's idea about demand curves not stacking.

These are ideas of potentially massive significance, but no one gives a fuck. What do you do? You have to deal with the world as it is.

You are wrong on that second to last point. There are some of us who indeed give a fuck. We are so bored with the same old rehashed discussions (even on your blog at times) that we would relish the chance to dig in to some fresh idea material and have real discussions. Unfortunately, the signal/noise ratio has gone downhill around here. One of the costs of increased popularity.

On the economics stuff, while you might have thought it was indifference, some of us don't comment much on areas where we don't have much expertise, but we still like to read and try to process the implications. I read every one of them and wished those discussions could hang around for a few weeks instead of days.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 11:35 AM  

You are wrong on that second to last point. There are some of us who indeed give a fuck. We are so bored with the same old rehashed discussions (even on your blog at times) that we would relish the chance to dig in to some fresh idea material and have real discussions.

Yes, absolutely yes.

Anonymous LES May 11, 2015 11:37 AM  

No one asked to be born the person they are. Everyone seeks approval and affirmation. Everyone wants to believe that their life has value and meaning.
People play to their strengths as they see them.

I think that self-image is created by seeing ourselves reflected back to us in the eyes of others. They are our mirror. When we don't like what we see we try to change it or double down on it.

Knowing that I am a mirror, I consciously try to reflect understanding and approval to everyone. I think I am sensitive to this because although I was bright enough in school, I stuttered so badly I could hardly talk. I've overcome that but the experience had a dramatic effect on me.

Blogger JartStar May 11, 2015 11:40 AM  

Deltas white knight because of ideals, not pedestalization. Most of the time Delta's already have wives, kids, etc., because remember they aren't without dates and women, just without women who rank very highly on the SMV.

The outcome may be the same, but the motivations are typically different. A Delta might defend a woman because that's "what good guys do and my grandpa taught me that", a Gamma defends a woman hoping to curry favor and get in her pants later, or at least get near her and bask in the woman on the pedestal.

Blogger Rabbi B May 11, 2015 11:40 AM  

" . . . some of us don't comment much on areas where we don't have much expertise..."

Agreed. There are plenty of rides around here for which I am not tall enough. It doesn't mean they are not fun (and instructive) to watch though. The opportunities to learn here are endless, from the original posts to the comment section. What's not to love?

Anonymous BGS May 11, 2015 11:43 AM  

Put me in with the more punches in the face crowd. It dispels notions of equality. No point in eating lunch with people that will only talk about problems with their man, forgetting its the best man they can hold down.

"winners win and losers lose." ~ Winners are not undone by failure. Edison failed at the light bulb 200+ times before the got it right.

I always know when someone is smarter than me. They can never give an answer that I can use. I need to keep asking the question in narrower and narrower specificity.

I usually do that when I suspect people are trying to answer a different question then they were asked. I don't consider ability at lying or self deception to be smarter.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey May 11, 2015 11:43 AM  

Enough with the self-flattery. I think nerds aren't particularly intelligent, contrary to what they tell themselves and others, rather they're just socially maladjusted.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey May 11, 2015 11:45 AM  

Also, nerds exude weakness, which acts as a provocation to other kids.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 11:46 AM  

@BGS

""winners win and losers lose." ~ Winners are not undone by failure. Edison failed at the light bulb 200+ times before the got it right."

No argument from me, no one remembers the 200+ failures though. He won because he found something that worked. If he hadn't you wouldn't know his name. If you win no one cares about the hard work and crap you put up with to get there or your losses.

Anonymous Laz May 11, 2015 11:46 AM  

Trimegistus: "SHUT UP AND LISTEN. Let other people talk, and chances are you'll either find something interesting in it, or you'll decide that you have no desire for that person's company at all.

Note that this is standard PUA advice for gaming women, too. Make them do the talking."

No wonder I don't like most people, I just don't find what most people talk about interesting. I can't remember the last time a woman said something interesting to me... and the girlfriend is in that category.

Blogger Rabbi B May 11, 2015 11:47 AM  

"I have no desire to defend what are nothing more than crazy theories and random notions; I know I can't post anything here I am not willing to defend in detail."

Yeah. Considering the trolls that come out the woodwork with the more "defensible" posts, "crazy theories and random notions" would be the Mother of all Troll Magnets. It might be fun to mess with them though.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 11:49 AM  

@LBF

"Enough with the self-flattery. I think nerds aren't particularly intelligent, contrary to what they tell themselves and others, rather they're just socially maladjusted."

I agree with you. If they are so smart, then Peter Wiggin the guy that gives them swirlyies. Find out that he kisses his sister, or dresses in his moms under wear and expose it, or set up a trap that he falls into. Other wise, maybe they are not so smart. Intelligence is only useful when it produces results.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 11:52 AM  

@Bodichi
This reeks of plural of anecdote!=data, so if you disagree I would be interested to know what you think the primary reason for Delta white knightery is.

JartStar basically summed up my thoughts in his response to Nate. Deltas do it not necessarily for goodfeels, but because it's "the right thing to do". Deltas do pedestal, but I'm starting to think that idealization is the defining trait of Deltas, which is not exactly pedestalization, just somewhat close to it.

On your hypothesis, is the SMV of the woman not relevant at all, or only relevant in relation to his feelings?

The latter.

Anonymous Michael Maier May 11, 2015 11:52 AM  

In my bunk? What am I missing NOW?

Nate May 11, 2015 10:02 AM "Wow... I AM truly socially-oblivious. I read that and didn't think anything of it at all. "

Haven't we been telling you this for over a year on the Dread Ilk page?

Josh May 11, 2015 10:04 AM Dammit Maier...


Would it be more fortuitous for me if this obliviousosity thing were an act?

Cuz I can TOTALLY pretend it's an act if that's the case.

Of course getting anyone to believe it would be another issue.

Anonymous Jeanne -- Minion #0118 May 11, 2015 11:53 AM  

Unfortunately, the signal/noise ratio has gone downhill around here. One of the costs of increased popularity.

For these more specialized discussions, a blog that required a username and password login might help ameliorate that. Easy to revoke access when/if necessary also.

Blogger Cail Corishev May 11, 2015 11:54 AM  

The midwits might actually have to try in school.

If the 100-IQ kid can get C's while devoting enough brain power to figuring out how to be popular, then the 110-IQ kid should be able to do the same thing while getting B's or better. At 120, he can sail through with A's and still have plenty of time for socializing and figuring out how to do it.

No, the nerd just doesn't want to do what (he thinks) it takes to be popular. It's a bit like the Nice Guy who takes a peek at Game and reacts with horror, "What, I have to turn into a jerk? Never!" He's spent his whole life despising jerks; he's revolted by the idea of acting like one in any way, and rejects the project before going far enough to see the subtleties.

The nerd thinks becoming popular would require lowering himself. Professor Hathaway sums it up in Real Genius: "Compared to you, most people have the IQ of a carrot. We're different than most people, Mitch. Better."

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 11:59 AM  

No, the nerd just doesn't want to do what (he thinks) it takes to be popular. It's a bit like the Nice Guy who takes a peek at Game and reacts with horror, "What, I have to turn into a jerk? Never!" He's spent his whole life despising jerks; he's revolted by the idea of acting like one in any way, and rejects the project before going far enough to see the subtleties.

Is this the same mentality of the person who decides that not showering or brushing his teeth before an interview, and not dressing well for that interview, is acceptable, because his work should speak for itself?

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 12:06 PM  

@Laguna Beach Fogey
Enough with the self-flattery. I think nerds aren't particularly intelligent, contrary to what they tell themselves and others, rather they're just socially maladjusted.

I don't think anyone's claimed that they aren't socially maladjusted. I don't think anyone's claimed that nerds are super intelligences. But the fact remains that on the average, they're slightly smarter and tend to make noises about that fact instead of increasing their social worth in other, better ways.

@Josh
Of course, because can't you see how smart they are?

And, again, they struggle with ought versus is.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 12:12 PM  

"Deltas white knight because of ideals, not pedestalization. Most of the time Delta's already have wives, kids, etc., because remember they aren't without dates and women, just without women who rank very highly on the SMV. "

I agree that the ideals are the reason for the pedestalization.. but I still see pedestalization.

Blogger Verne May 11, 2015 12:12 PM  

I'm on the youngish side of being an evil baby boomer (post hippies pre new wave rock). You did not want to be a nerd in LA back then, the kids were cruel to them. But no none warns you about that going into junior high school. I lived in an apartment next to an old chess champion. He taught me how to play, I was very good at it for an 11 year old boy. The ascension of bobby Fisher made chess the ultimate game with the nerdish class. No one at the schools I went to could beat me at chess, so there I was sitting with the nerds playing chess. The girls looked at me like I had Leprosy and a lot of guys sort of picked on me. Unusual as I was bigger than all but one guy in my grade and stronger and faster than most others who were a little older than me. But you just had to pick on the nerds back then. In retrospect I don't think I liked nerds ether, even if I was one of them for a short time. Thank God my mom moved me to another town during the summer. That summer I was working with my father everyday. Working as a laborer with a pick, shovel and broom. I spent over two months talking with nothing but hard working men. It was a new man who walked into a new school that fall. You hit it so spot on. As a short timer in the nerd world, let me tell you that most of them are not nice people and few of them are as bright as they think they are. The nerds were every bit as arrogant as the top social athletic cast in high school was (yes that is what I became) But not half as much fun.

Anonymous A Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents May 11, 2015 12:17 PM  

If the 100-IQ kid can get C's while devoting enough brain power to figuring out how to be popular, then the 110-IQ kid should be able to do the same thing while getting B's or better. At 120, he can sail through with A's and still have plenty of time for socializing and figuring out how to do it.


Unless they are practicing Christians, then there are some lines they won't be able to cross. The SJW's are busy in many school systems cramming PFLAG into the extracurricular activity list, and while enthusiasm for the LGBTQ's is not yet mandatory, disapproving of depravity is already becoming socially unacceptable.

So the high school students in my extended family have told me. They are getting by for now with "love the sinner, disapprove of the sin" but I don't know how much longer that will work. We bash boomers around here a lot, but it seems to be the Christian boomer teachers who are willing to backstop the Christian high school students. However they are retiring, and at least some of their millennial replacements are borderline SJW's.

In our day, CC, we didn't have to be enthusiastic about the girls who pulled train on the football team, we could kind of look the other way. It's similar now, the students don't have to be enthusiastic about the boys who spend some of their free time around glory holes. But that may not last. Given a choice between popularity and following God's Word, all of us are going to have to swallow pretty hard at some point.

Anonymous Sensei May 11, 2015 12:20 PM  

As it happens, I have four thesauruses, one for each of the languages I speak.

Vox, I haven't had a head-thrown-back laugh in a while, thanks for that.

Do you ever find the set of languages in your head conflicting with each other? Working in Chinese every day over here, every so often some weirdly arranged English comes out and I can usually tell how the wires got crossed, but European languages are much more similar to each other and to English so it seems like it would be easier for them to interfere with each other.

Blogger Josh May 11, 2015 12:20 PM  

As a short timer in the nerd world, let me tell you that most of them are not nice people and few of them are as bright as they think they are. The nerds were every bit as arrogant as the top social athletic cast in high school was (yes that is what I became) But not half as much fun.

The SFWA witch hunt and the Hugo campaigns support this

Anonymous Stingray May 11, 2015 12:27 PM  

I agree that the ideals are the reason for the pedestalization.. but I still see pedestalization.

Absolutely. Because why did grandpa teach his grandson that? To be good to women are to be a good Man? And if the latter, from where did his definition of good Man come from?

The differences might not seem a big deal, but they absolutely are.

Blogger Russell (106) May 11, 2015 12:33 PM  

And it's not just the negative reaction either, look at the complete indifference with which my idea for the core mechanism for the Austrian Business Cycle was met. Or Steve Keen's idea about demand curves not stacking.

I bought "Human Action" for piddling 4 bucks because I didn't know enough about the subject. I'm not through with it, but already I can highly recommend it. It's taking me longer than most books because von Mises is destroying a lot of my preconceived notions of, well, human action in economics.

Just because no one is saying anything at the time, don't mistake silence for complete indifference.

Blogger Blume May 11, 2015 12:40 PM  

While the last part is true in Texas you can be a nerd and on the football team. We had three metal heads and me who played dungeons and dragons.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 11, 2015 12:50 PM  

@SIB

All the hairs are split....

Blogger Blume May 11, 2015 12:50 PM  

This was true of my high school as well. And my nerdy little brother was voted prom king.

Anonymous sawtooth May 11, 2015 1:20 PM  

I believe that women/girls promote the idea or stereo type that if a boy lacks athletic skill, isn't cool or good looking, lugs sciencey books around in his pip-cleaner arms and plays chess then he has got to be super smart.

The kid who is so popular, athletic, and witty that girls clamor to do his homework for him while he spends that time working on his Cuda with the guys.

Well he must be a "dumb jock" (yet a hunk, non-the-less).

In a girls mind everything has got to be fair.

Blogger JartStar May 11, 2015 1:36 PM  

Nate,

The difference is the Delta does it for "God and country" even if his ideals are misguided at times they generally are noble.

Give a general an army of Deltas and he can conquer the 3rd Reich, give him an army of Gammas and he'll only conquer the dessert line in the mess hall.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 1:51 PM  

@Nate, JartStar

I think it may be more apt to say that 'idealization' is a superset of 'pedestalization'. Deltas generally pedestal because of ideals, while Gammas pedestal because of feels.

Blogger Marissa May 11, 2015 2:11 PM  

Is this the same mentality of the person who decides that not showering or brushing his teeth before an interview, and not dressing well for that interview, is acceptable, because his work should speak for itself?

Men should love me for who I am, not what I look like! :: eats very large bag of Doritos ::

Anonymous David-093 May 11, 2015 2:16 PM  

One of the few times I saw a nerd being outright bullied was in the locker room after PE my freshman year. Kid was being bullied for no reason and the coach hears it, so he walks in, sees it happening and nonchalantly says "you know thats how you get a Columbine right?"

Guy was never bullied there again.

Anonymous Boomer "bafoon"[sic] "validictorian"[sic] May 11, 2015 3:01 PM  

"My class validictorian[sic] had a baseball scholarship.. took AP classes... and banged cheerleaders."

JFC, you'd think that sitting in front of a screen that functions well as a dictionary would prevent people with pretensions of cleverness from misspelling words that most people learn in grammar school, but alas, you'd be wrong.

No need to tell me about your slumming anesthesiologist wife Nate, I've read it before.

Blogger Student in Blue (#21) May 11, 2015 3:45 PM  

"Hah, you misspelled a word! Look how stupid you are and how smart I am!"

[...]the fact remains that on the average, they're slightly smarter and tend to make noises about that fact instead of increasing their social worth in other, better ways.

Blogger Man. Cla. May 11, 2015 3:48 PM  

I don't have a problem with those with a higher IQ for their higher IQ. I just have a problem when they appeal to it as a way to proclaim victory on a subject for the simple fact that their IQ is high. It's an appeal to authority. The way scientists get away with being thought of as experts on every subject under the sun because, you know, they're scientists.

Intelligent people can not only be incorrect in their conclusions, but they can fail to critically examine a subject. A subject that, someone of average intelligence, did not fail to examine critically.

Anonymous GracieLou May 11, 2015 4:06 PM  

I'm struggling with an epilepsy thing right now (complex partial temporal lobe seizures). The almost constant rebooting leaves the "thinking" part of my brain intact, but kills the working memory, which has made me functionally dumber--by far. My IQ used to be 130. Some days it might still be close to that but a lot of days it's the "Who's On First" skit, and I'm Costello.

But socially, things are easier now. I used to dread getting trapped listening to or having to engage in mommy chatter and in fact never stepped foot on a treadmill or airplane without a fully charged ipod lest I be driven out of my skull by it. But now, between the cognitive impairment and the Keppra, everything is so INTERESTING. It's like smoking a whole bunch of weed every day and interacting with the world, you live more in the moment, things are more challenging and...amusing.

Stupid is not nearly as bad as I thought. Other stupid folks relate to it and we chuckle together. Geniuses think everyone is stupid, so they don't even notice and in fact you really understand the "super" in super-genius when you hear one break down a complex subject into something easily digestible for the cognitively impaired. That takes depth of understanding. But I can see how your lower midwits lack that depth and perhaps use BS as cover. On one of my non-retarded days last week I went apoplectic on one when I realized she'd been covering a bad design program by trying to make me feel like an idiot, which I am right now, but that's neither here nor there.

Blogger Marissa May 11, 2015 4:16 PM  

"Hah, you misspelled a word! Look how stupid you are and how smart I am!"


I mean, I hate Alabama as much as the next person, but I don't get the attack on Nate.

Blogger SirHamster (#201) May 11, 2015 4:46 PM  

Intelligent people can not only be incorrect in their conclusions, but they can fail to critically examine a subject. A subject that, someone of average intelligence, did not fail to examine critically.

I find intelligence to be a measure of "fastness" - which is not the same as "correctness". They can arrive at the correct answer faster; but they can still end up at the wrong answer if they're not using the right logic. (though with a proper feedback loop, they can ID the wrong answer faster and re-compute)

In this view, wisdom is the ability to reach the correct answer, even if lacking all the proper inputs to compute it.

Anonymous Holmwood May 11, 2015 4:56 PM  

I remember almost dismissing Vox because he mentioned Mensa for a time. It was trollbait. Mensa is classic midwit stuff -- 98%. As RC pointed out above, 6'1", 90% male height is unremarkable. Ditto for whatever 98 percentile height is.

My initial 10s assessment that Vox valued belonging to a group was shattered pretty quickly.

@Man.Cla. says: "Intelligent people can not only be incorrect in their conclusions, but they can fail to critically examine a subject."

Very true. I live in a high flood area. I installed a pair of very high reliability sump pumps with the first one 6" above the second. If the first failed, the second would kick in, otherwise it would lie dormant. Barring power failure I was pretty secure.

A simple, elegant solution, and I had power backup.

But I was smart. So I didn't need to further examine it.

What happened? A big flood while I was away for a mere 36 hours. The first pump failed electrically, triggering the circuit breaker. The pumps were on the same circuit, since I'd mentally abstracted them quite quickly as circuits were something I understood very well, and pumps less well.

Not precisely stupid. But very foolish.

Blogger Russell (106) May 11, 2015 4:56 PM  

you'd think that sitting in front of a screen that functions well as a dictionary would prevent people with pretensions of cleverness from misspelling words that most people learn in grammar school

Rebuttal

Blogger SirHamster (#201) May 11, 2015 5:11 PM  

Not precisely stupid. But very foolish.

I'm pretty sure that the most epic failures come from the highly intelligent - it requires large scale planning and execution on a bad foundation. Typical foolishness harms the individual, or the group he is with. It takes a high degree of intelligence to make it harm everyone. (see banking ...)

Anonymous Giuseppe May 11, 2015 5:14 PM  

Personally, once you actually realise consciously the enormity of the gap between +3sd and say +1sd, with all the practical consequences that go with it, I have to say that being really smart is actually not much fun.

It's pretty lonely most of the time and when you realise that mostly, nothing much will ever bridge that gap, and that the level of interaction you get will essentially be limited to compassion, empathy and so on, but not really very often on a truly intellectually intimate level, well, it's not that you wonder so much what it would be like to be one of the apes. It's more that you wonder what a planet where people like you are the average would look like.

And then you start hoping the aliens that dropped you off here at birth come back soon.

Anonymous Giuseppe May 11, 2015 5:26 PM  

VD
And it's not just the negative reaction either, look at the complete indifference with which my idea for the core mechanism for the Austrian Business Cycle was met. Or Steve Keen's idea about demand curves not stacking.

When it comes to economics I admit I basically can't even really consider it. The level of absurd fraud/monopoly/ponzi scheme in the whole global economy is so outrageous that even though obviously it is a very important topic I am disgusted about the whole thing to a point I find it difficult to even begin to think about it because it's akin to playing a boardgame that is completely rigged to a level that the so called "rules" are essentially meaningless.

I don't know how you manage your way through the tomes of economics that you read. I can potentially see the why, but I couldn't stomach it.

Blogger Nate May 11, 2015 5:30 PM  

"JFC, you'd think that sitting in front of a screen that functions well as a dictionary would prevent people with pretensions of cleverness from misspelling words that most people learn in grammar school, but alas, you'd be wrong.

No need to tell me about your slumming anesthesiologist wife Nate, I've read it before."

***chuckle***

How many times do we have to go over this...

I don't care. If you want to draw some conclusion about me based on my grammar or spelling... go for it.

I don't give a damn.

Because your opinion of me means nothing to me. You don't matter to me at all. Oh and look around. All these folks reading this?

It doesn't matter to them either.

Anonymous Down Home Town May 11, 2015 5:31 PM  

Name dropping Aristotle doesn't make you smart. For all your online bragging and B.S.'ing about smart you are you sure came across as pretty foolish looking on Pakman's program.

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 11, 2015 5:33 PM  

Do I smell something rancid?

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 11, 2015 5:36 PM  

Giuseppe: It's pretty lonely most of the time and when you realise that mostly, nothing much will ever bridge that gap, and that the level of interaction you get will essentially be limited to compassion, empathy and so on, but not really very often on a truly intellectually intimate level, well, it's not that you wonder so much what it would be like to be one of the apes.


There was an episode of House M.D. where the patient had a 177 IQ, but was married to a hot dumb chick, and he used Robitussin DM to lower himself to her level.

Anonymous 141 May 11, 2015 5:42 PM  

The worst nerd, the kind that is hated, is the attention seeking try hard. They lack looks, athleticism, and personality, so they try, hard, to bring attention to their intelligence. They are petty pedants, one-uppers and brown-nosers. Gammas, in vox terms.

There was an overweight and sickly looking kid in school who liked talking sports. I sat next to him and bullshitted with him until we became friendly, then I started copying his homework. Eventually a test came and I scored highest in a class that was graded on the curve. The nerd was furious, which caught me off guard as i thought we were friends, but it helped me realize that nerds aren't especially smart, but they are especially jealous.

"Of course I wanted to be popular. But in fact I didn't, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart."

Yeah, you wanted attention and social status any way you could get it, and smartness was your easiest route.






Blogger VD May 11, 2015 5:50 PM  

I find it difficult to even begin to think about it because it's akin to playing a boardgame that is completely rigged to a level that the so called "rules" are essentially meaningless.

That's why I'm wishing I had the time to develop a ground up theory of economics. All of them are poisoned by assuming excessive rationalism on the part of the economic actors, even the Austrian School.

Name dropping Aristotle doesn't make you smart. For all your online bragging and B.S.'ing about smart you are you sure came across as pretty foolish looking on Pakman's program.

It's amusing that you think I'm "name dropping" Aristotle, as opposed to usefully applying his teachings. And I have no doubt that I came across as foolish to the unintelligent, perhaps even the midwitted. After all, he trumped my accurate references to the common law and the majority of the human race with a wildly inaccurate statement about current US state statutes.

So foolish!

Blogger heyjames4 May 11, 2015 6:48 PM  

@ Stephen J.
"The irony is that it is often precisely the social punishment for a vanity they didn't initially feel that in fact creates that vanity in the smart, which is now worse for having a moral as well as an intellectual dimension."

When I look back on primary school, I used to think that's what happened. I'm not sure anymore.

Another similar angle on what turns clever children into nerdy teens (maybe this is more gamma whinging);
I was mentally clever but socially and physically awkward and cowardly.
So I was praised by the nice white lady school teachers for scoring well on tests but stayed out of the typical boys roughhousing.
That led to pride in being clever, which led to being a loud ass to the entire school room when I learned I was out sick on test prep day.
Which outburst was slapped down by the nice white lady school teachers as much as by peers.

@ Stephen J.
"is that when learning comes incredibly easily in childhood you often don't develop a taste for the habit of sustained effort without immediate payoff, or for having to put up with a lot of failure first. The effect on social development is just as acute as any more socially aware form of vanity."

Ye gods yes. Being clever in grade school taught me to be lazy. I quit my violin lessons and coasted until senior year of college and barely made it out.
I'm over thirty now and still haven't gotten the knack of nosing to the grindstone or learning through failure. Quitting and whining is easier, and it's familiar.


@JP
"Being smart does not make you a nerd. Lording it over less intelligent people because you've lost all of the other biological fitness tests makes you a nerd."

Yes. The tragedy is that so many intelligent children are raised into nerds when it doesn't have to be that way.

@ Verne
" As a short timer in the nerd world, let me tell you that most of them are not nice people and few of them are as bright as they think they are. The nerds were every bit as arrogant as the top social athletic cast in high school was (yes that is what I became) But not half as much fun."
Yep.

@ Cail Corishev
"No, the nerd just doesn't want to do what (he thinks) it takes to be popular. It's a bit like the Nice Guy who takes a peek at Game and reacts with horror, "What, I have to turn into a jerk? Never!" He's spent his whole life despising jerks; he's revolted by the idea of acting like one in any way, and rejects the project before going far enough to see the subtleties."
Yep.

Anonymous Giuseppe May 11, 2015 7:15 PM  

Nate,
"I have a hard time accepting that the germans are better at communicating the concept of amusement than the italians"

I think Vox had too many umbrellas on this one too.
I've been known to say that living 25 years in Africa did not make me racist, but working four months with Germans did.

Anonymous tiredofitall May 11, 2015 9:26 PM  

"Bullshit. What is the first thing a nerd does when he meets a pretty girl?" - VD

You mean after he sheepishly tries to hide an embarrassing public erection?

Blogger Markku May 11, 2015 10:08 PM  

Name dropping Aristotle doesn't make you smart.

Quoting Vox from earlier thread: Rhetoricals only see "blah blah blah, I'm so smart, blah blah blah, Aristotle"

So true.

Blogger Eskyman May 11, 2015 11:04 PM  

Very interesting topic. I'm definitely a nerd: socially inept but always ready with a great quip; delivered just after the time was right.
Loner. Always on the outside of things & looking in.

I was severely puzzled in HS when one of my sort-of-nerdish friends, who I'd only known since starting HS, took a chemistry exam; he was worried about it, but all the tests had been easy, so I couldn't understand why. He took beautiful, beautiful notes in class; large script, easy to read, very clear, plenty of space around equations for add'l notes, even several colors! My notes of the same class were chicken tracks, illegible even to me half the time, crabby & meandering, with lots of gaps where I was... otherwise occupied.

Came the test, I got a B+; I was disappointed, but maybe I should have studied more than the night before (I read all the books we used in HS as soon as they were issued.) He failed the exam. I couldn't believe it; I thought he was reasonably smart, but he said he'd given it his best shot, and I knew he'd been studying like mad for it... while I hardly ever studied for anything, and generally got pretty good marks.

The worst part of school for me (well, elementary thru high school anyway) was the boredom. God, please, never let me be that bored again! Everything seemed to take forever, and most teachers weren't even worth arguing with.

@ heyjames4 said, "Ye gods yes. Being clever in grade school taught me to be lazy. I quit my violin lessons and coasted until senior year of college and barely made it out.
I'm over thirty now and still haven't gotten the knack of nosing to the grindstone or learning through failure. Quitting and whining is easier, and it's familiar."

That's me too. Still lazy. Now I live alone, force myself out once a week to "socialize" which I still find difficult.

Glad Vox has this blog, and that I found it, and that y'all are here. But if you weren't- "I don't care." Heh.

#0276

Blogger Johnny Caustic May 12, 2015 1:00 AM  

Graham's essay reads like pure gamma delusion to me. Seemingly oblivious to nerd's lack of masculinity, physicality, and social perceptiveness, Graham instead opines that "The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Their attention is drawn to books or the natural world, not fashions and parties." Graham seems to imply that the smart nerds would have been popular to if they'd devoted all their energies to becoming popular.

"For example, teenage kids pay a great deal of attention to clothes. ... Nerds don't realize this. They don't realize that it takes work to be popular." If Graham's thesis were true, it wouldn't take 1% of nerds' brainpower to "realize this" and figure out which clothes to wear.

Nerds fail because of some combination of inability to understand social cues, inability to engage the physical world as they do the mental world, and/or failure to develop sufficient masculinity/femininity. This stuff is only weakly correlated with intelligence.

Blogger Penrose May 12, 2015 3:10 AM  

Intelligence is a double edged blade both blessing and curse. Social dysfunction and genius are correlated according to this highly relevant article: http://www.worlddreambank.org/O/OUTSIDRS.HTM.

Blogger Daniel May 12, 2015 10:23 AM  

The advantage of being tall and smart is that you are tall and smart. The advantage of being neither is getting to watch the tall and smart people hitting their heads on the doorway tops and knowing such a pain shall never bless you.

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