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July 29, 2007



Odd--I guess we're stuck on italics now. Thought that doing a simple HTML command would work.


So she spent twelve years trying to define an elusive term "nerd" and defined it by coining an even more abiguous, elusive term "hyper-whiteness" that has the advantage of incorporating racial stereotypes. Boy, that was a helpful exercise.

Dave the Engineer

Maybe nerds speak standard English because they wish to be understood without ambiguity. Or perhaps they wish to communicate to the largest possible number of English speaking people. Or perhaps they actually have something to say.


These are Nerds Mary Bucholtz is a nerd, a female of the species.


I'm with 'Dave the Engineer'. I may be 'hyperwhite' and ultra-nerdy. No argument.
But, everyone with whom I have spoken, no matter where I've traveled, has been able to understand me and grasp the intent of my words without difficulty. (now, my cockney husband in the midst of urban stl? I do a lot of translating either way, but, he's a jock, not a nerd. HA!)


A ludicrous over-reach. As a linguist, she should realize that all her linguistic conclusions are:

1. Localized to California, which isn't like other places.

2. Obtained from formal interactions with "nerds", not by hanging around with the anime club or playing D&D. (Formal Standard English and no slang? My butt.) If I were a kid nerd talking in an adult's presence, I'd watch my speech and say "ma'am", too.

3. Obtained from unimportant oral conversations, not from the online interactions upon which her subjects probably place more value.

4. Obviously, this lady doesn't know or understand the full spectrum of nerddom. I think the funloving pranksters at certain engineering schools should do something about this to her office.


Did she take into account the differences between a nerd, a geek, and a dork?

This is one of the stupidiest studies I've ever heard of. Personally, I believe that everyone is a bit nerdy, some just give into their nerdity more than others...


Well the phylum Nerd contains many classes. There are geeks, dweebs, dorks, spazzes, weirdos and dirtbags just to offer a few examples. Below those broad classes are the various genus and species such as the band dork or the chess geek. The 1984 epic "Revenge of the Nerds" is not authoritative in that it only samples particular varieties of the common nerd, but it does offer a broad cross section.

Michael in Seattle

It's obvious why the classification of Asian and Nerd are exclusive; multicultural profiles and stereotypes to not implement multiple-inheritance, thereby making them exclusionary classifications.



Mary Bucholtz has spent 12 years confusing herself. It is apparent that she entered into her study burdened with misconceptions, and without any understanding at all of what a nerd is. Not only that but she is remarkably ignorant when it comes to the characteristic known as cool.

Nerdiness is essentially a lack of coolness. For example if you start with James Dean or Steve McQueen, and you take away all their cool what’s left is two nerds.

Coolness on the other hand is something, rather than the lack of something. Coolness is the ability to suppress your emotions and retain good judgment and poise during times of stress. Stress can be experienced during events that are either violent or romantic, but it could even be brought on by something as mundane as walking into a room full of strangers.

Geekiness is separate and distinct from coolness and nerdiness. If a cool person is curious and knowledgeable about technical subjects he could be a geek, but a cool geek. With regard to geeky nerds it may be that many of them are driven, by sociological factors, toward technology, but geekiness is not a prerequisite for being a nerd.

As to Bucholtz assertion that coolness is related to, or expressed through, racial “black” idiom, I think it is ridiculous, and that’s not how I roll, nome sain?

Let me appeal to some iconic examples of coolness, James Dean, Steve McQueen, the character Sonny Crocket, in none of those cases would I say they were considered cool because of how they spoke. If we look to some black representatives of cool, Eddie Murphy and Damon Wayans. They seem to be particularly well spoken and articulate. Asian icons of cool, Ken Watenabi and Jet Li, neither could be accused of using ‘black idiom.’

In closing I would like to say that Mary Bucholtz is full of it.


1: M.Bucholtz is an english-major whose academic path has apparently been principally related to gender studies and racial studies according to her CV.

2: MB took a subject (nerds) that few non-nerds understand and crowbar-ed it into her narrow-minded worldview.

3: MB tooks a neurological phenomenon and inappropriately conflated it with a cultural / genetically-self-selecting condition. (explained below).


My best explanation of a nerd: any person with noticible mis-development or underdevelopment of their brain's social-interaction-coprocessor (the "mirror complex")

The human brain, like many other higher mammals, has a dedicated subsection for automatically comprehending the reactions of others.

This subsection can vary from essentially nonexistent (no neurons assigned for this purpose or totally miswired / disconnected) to an arbitrarily large neuron assignment pattern.

This assignment pattern is dictated by additive genes/repetitions/alleles on the X chromosome and therefore females have a cumulatively higher genetic construction potential while males with only their single maternally-inherited X chromosome have that much more limited chance and no duplication to define that neural structure.

The higher the properly-connected neuron-count is of this brain subprocessor, the more someone can _intuitively_ understand and learn from the reactions of other people.

Autistics (by definition having minimal mirror-complex development) have to learn (with considerable time (decades)) to _consciously_ think about understanding other people's reactions and over time we learn how to fake being "normal"

A "nerd" is someone who is on the autistic spectrum of mirror-complex development at or slightly greater than the level that I am at (all sections overlap adjacent):

* Low-functioning-autistic (good at things, bad with people ... often has sensory overload problems)

* High functioning autistic (Aspergers Autism (me)) (isolated+introverted, minimal people-connections, overloaded by groups > 2, socially indifferent, emotion-blind, completely lost on group dynamics)

* Nerds: understands people better but misses most nuances, never really cares (enough?) about other people's social cues about behaviour patterns and goes their own way. Like ASpies above, eventually learns to fake normalcy (generally gets it sooner).

* Neurotypicals: sufficiently other-people-aware to figure out what "acting-normal" means within the normal time-frame for doing so (teenage years) ... i.e. no obvious social-developmental lag. May still miss subtleties in normal people's reactions or behaviour.

* Highly-social-types: socially alert and aware to subtle reactions of those around them. can adjust quickly as desired to manage the reactions of others. Often can recognize the hint of a subconscious reaction in an observed person or group and shift their action/interaction accordingly.

* Excessively social people: their ability to sense and react to others is so intense that they cannot turn it off ... they see and react to everything, often caring too much what the group wants and losing their individuality. They predominantly react emotionally instead of analytically, care excessively what others think and decide/act on that basis.

The above descriptions range from least to most mirror-complex development, least to most social, most to least individualist, least to most groupist, mostly male to mostly female.

Pre-WW2, voluntary secular immigrants tended to be individualists fleeing groupist cultures/economies (post WW2, international travel became much simpler, much of the world uprooted fleeing Nazi destruction, communist oppression or religious persecution, and large immigrant communities made a groupist's emigration simpler with their group waiting at their destination).

Pre technology, certain cultures historically supressed or killed their individualists ("the nail that sticks up gets hammered down") or depended on group cohesiveness to survive against their neighbors, biasing many undermixed genetic groups towards groupists (guesstimate: and they'll probably also have fewer autistics).

As far as I have observed, analytic-IQ is inversely proportionate (on average) to social-IQ.

Artistic-IQ is directly proportionate to social-IQ.

Timely emotional development is proportionate to proximity to the middle of the scale.

My guesstimate is that misallocation of mirror-complex neurons (as in my ASpie/Autie case) redirects neural resources to analytic functions / zones. Misallocating in the other direction takes neural capacity from the analytic neural areas.


So now that I've offended practically everyone, let me close by finishing the thought I started at the top:

MB conflated genetic social-blindness (nerdiness) with the societal individualism of the US culture founded by European individualist idealists who came here seeking personal opportunity and fortune.

The influx of involuntary or post-ww2 groupists into the US has not materially changed the basic individual-opportunity and individual-rights orientation, constitution and laws of the society founded by european individualists (whiteness as she so annoyingly (wrongly(look at Europe)) calls it).

What MB mistakenly calls "whiteness" ... I call raging-individualism ... and socially blind nerds are hyper-individualists, caring not what any group thinks of them but only of their own individual advancement and achievements.

Nerds care nothing for how well they blend in but "I invented a supersonic rotorcraft" ... "I climbed Mt Everest" ... "I penetrated the Pentagon's mainframe security and played chess with the NORAD computer".

And on that note, I must go ... I have to look for someone in DARPA to contact about my rotorcraft.


sarnac,what an interesting post.


FWIW europeans and asians have over millenia of time transfered much of their culture to written forms. African cultures have for millenia been more verbal and social.

Perhaps Sarnac's hypothesis explains how genetic drift for the geographical populations might trend analytical for the 1st two and social for the third.


"You could argue that black people who can't speak English properly are just copying the rednecks they were hanging out with down south."

Didn't Thomas Sowell right a book to that effect?
( )

So being hyperwhite means rejecting white appropriations of a black culture which was founded on the culture of the whitest of white people, the ones who hated blacks the most and Oh, I've gone cross-eyed...


"Weird Al" is White AND Nerdy. QED


This was a pretty good thread. I would chime in that Buchholtz talked to self-identified nerds. So Buchholtz is not describing all nerds, but "nerd culture" which may be similar to what Weird Al is talking about in "White and Nerdy". The Asians with whom I went to school might be called nerds by others, but did not identify with the nerd culture of science fiction conventions etc.


A little thread necromancy here, but the observation is extremely relevant.

I was working on-site in a client's IT department, when the large black woman in the next cubicle suddenly let out a shriek, "OMG OMG It's here... It's here..." She ran over to my cubicle and said, "Do you play video games." "Yes.", I replied. "OMG OMG I just had to tell someone."

What did she have to tell me?

She'd just gotten her preordered copy of Halo III delivered to her the day before it was to be officially released.

Nerdiness knows no color barriers.

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She'd just gotten her preordered copy of Halo III delivered to her the day before it was to be officially released.

Nerdiness knows no color barriers.


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