One part insecure hipsterism, one part unwarranted condescension, the two defining characteristics of self-professed nerds are (a) the belief that one can discover all of the secrets of human experience through differential equations and (b) the unlovely tendency to presume themselves to be smarter than everybody else in the world. Prominent examples include MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Steve Kornacki, and Chris Hayes; Vox’s Ezra Klein, Dylan Matthews, and Matt Yglesias; the sabermetrician Nate Silver; the economist Paul Krugman; the atheist Richard Dawkins; former vice president Al Gore; celebrity scientist Bill Nye; and, really, anybody who conforms to the Left’s social and moral precepts while wearing glasses and babbling about statistics.
I personally think that the secrets of human experience can be derived from repeated viewings of Firefly, but to each Nerd his own sacred text. All those people think you can answer science questions with science. Like the impact of too much carbon in the atmosphere or the age of the planet. Haven't they read Atlas Shrugged? sigh...go on..
Theirs is the nerd-dom ofStar Wars, not Star Trek; of Mario Kart and not World of Warcraft; of the latest X-Men movie rather than the comics themselves. A sketchfrom the TV show Portlandia, mocked up as a public-service announcement, makes this point brutally. After a gorgeous young woman explains at a bar that she doesn’t think her job as a model is “her thing” and instead identifies as “a nerd” who is “into video games and comic books and stuff,” a dorky-looking man gets up and confesses that he is, in fact, a “real” nerd — someone who wears glasses “to see,” who is “shy,” and who “isn’t wearing a nerd costume for Halloween” but is dressed how he lives. “I get sick with fear talking to people,” he says. “It sucks.”
Is there anything conservatives cannot turn into a Heresy Trial? Girls, Mario Kart players (really?) and Star Wars posers are stealing my Precioussss..
In this manner has a word with a formerly useful meaning been turned into a transparent humblebrag: Look at me, I’m smart. Or, more important, perhaps, Look at me and let me tell you who I am not, which is southern, politically conservative, culturally traditional, religious in some sense, patriotic, driven by principle rather than the pivot tables of Microsoft Excel, and in any way attached to the past. “Nerd” has become a calling a card — a means of conveying membership of one group and denying affiliation with another. The movement’s king, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has formal scientific training, certainly, as do the handful of others who have become celebrated by the crowd. He is a smart man who has done some important work in popularizing science. But this is not why he is useful. Instead, he is useful because he can be deployed as a cudgel and an emblem in political argument — pointed to as the sort of person who wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz.
I really like the way he complains about being ostracized and then begins drawing the boundry lines himself. Is Tyson king of the Nerds? It certainly isn't the first coronation I've missed. I was drinking at the bar next door again with my crew, wasn't I? And isn't Joss Whedon king of the Nerds, taking the crown from the betrayer George "Mitachlorians" Lucas? Is it George RR Martin now? I personally have sworn my nerd allegiance to HP Lovecraft. Wait..why is everyone moving away from me on the bench...?
Some elements of geek culture have become mainstream, which gets up the nose of the purist/hipster crowd clutching their comic books and phaser replicas and railing against all the girls ruining their HeMan Woman hater clubs. And believe it, this is really about letting girls into the club for them. This is hardly unique to nerds, its practially a way of life for many music fans. The record store clerk who sneers at your pop music choices (well potrayed by Jack Black in High Fidelity) was known to everyone who frequented a record store back when we had record stores.
Its the same thing. The nerd version in its most virulent form is sexist and occasionally scary. Props to the author for demeaning a legitmate complaint because he must oppose feminists at every turn, especially when they are right.
What this lenghty diatribe turns out to be in part is another flavor of Conservative victimhood. Now its the hipster nerds who are picking on us. A fundamental conservative trope is how lefty/commie/academic/liberal/Democrats look down on us for reading our bibles and how oppressed they are by this.
It also illustrates how Tysons reboot of Cosmos so utterly terrifies them. Completely unable to engage him on the science of climate change and most importatnly, Evolution, they have to churn out a word salad detailing how mean those smart kids are to the god fearing. What do they know, right? Stupid Math nerds...
First and foremost, then, “nerd” has become a political designation.
If it has, it is because of people like the dinks at the National review who have politicized science because it might upset David Koch and the evangelical cranks who cannot accept that the bible isn't a science textbook.
For all of the hype, much of the fadlike fetishization of “Big Data” is merely the latest repackaging of old and tired progressive ideas about who in our society should enjoy the most political power.
It would be nice if you would provide an example of how this works. Invoking Hayak's critique of central planners is a bit rich when you consider that its private enterprise that is producing and using Big Data the most. It would also be nice if you would define what you mean by "Big Data".
Perhaps the greatest trick the Left ever managed to play was to successfully sell the ancient and ubiquitous ideas of collectivism, lightly checked political power, and a permanent technocratic class as being “new,” and the radical notions of individual liberty, limited government, and distributed power as being “reactionary.” A century ago, Woodrow Wilson complained that the checks and balances instituted by the Founders were outdated because they had been contrived before the telephone was invented. Now, we are to be liberated by the microchip and the Large Hadron Collider, and we are to have our progress assured by ostensibly disinterested analysts. I would recommend that we not fall for it. Our technology may be sparkling and our scientists may be the best in the world, but our politics are as they ever were. Marie Antoinette is no more welcome in America if she dresses up in a Battlestar Galactica uniform and self-deprecatingly joins Tumblr. Sorry, America. Science is important. But these are not the nerds you’re looking for.
The Left is tricksy my precioussss... Science is important America, but don't listen to actual Scientists like Tyson. Whose fucking opinons are we supposed to believe are credible about Science? Ted Cruz the appellate lawyer? Sarah Palin the governer and VP candiate? Glenn Beck the shock jock? Tyson has credibilty not because he has lefty/liberal political leanings, but because he is a trained scienctist. Cosmos reflects that view because its a show about science. It only seems like it is slap in the face to some conservatives because they reject that science because it a) liberals believe it and b) for some evengelicals it conflicts with their interpreation of the bible.
And remember, this isn't Kuhn critique of Science as a human construct subject to the same sorts of biases and failures other fields of inquiry are subject to. He isn't arguing there are fact and theories that better fit the evidence and are being ignored. He is bitching that science uses the scientific method exclusively.
And that ultimately is the ball game here. If this guy thinks science has been politicized and Cosmos is just a vehicle for lefty views, then tell us how Tyson gets the facts wrong on Cosmos. Bueller?...Bueller?
Dude won't do that because he knows he can't. Instead, he makes the ultimate victim argument: Even the nerds are picking on us. And not the real nerds, but the cool kids who are posing as nerds, which is even better for them because now its not only the quarterback taking your lunch money and the cheerleaders laughing at your prom proposal, but even the kids from the Astronomy club are punching you in the arm when they see you in the hallway.
So good news Nerds. You are the cool kids now. And you aim to misbehave...