Monday, January 07, 2008

Nerds Book

This book looks good -- Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them. Excerpt from WaPo review: The nerd stereotype is a peculiarly American prejudice, which Anderegg (with substantial help from historian Richard Hofstadter's "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life") traces back to our nascent literary days. Indeed, he places the blame for American nerd aversion squarely on the shoulders of Washington Irving and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson, in the seminal 1837 speech titled "The American Scholar," gave "voice in the loftiest academic diction to a repeated theme in American history: that Americans are, first and foremost, men of action, not men of reflection." Irving had already put imaginary flesh on those bones, in the person of Ichabod Crane, the awkward scholarly schoolteacher scared out of town by his romantic rival, the pretend pumpkin-head Brom Bones, "a new American type: the anti-intellectual hero." Anderegg very seriously advises that "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" should not be taught until college for the damage it could cause to young psyches.

From the author's website:

The Last Nerd Self-Test You’ll Ever Need!

1. Are you sometimes so enthusiastic about your interests that you get carried away, and lose your self-consciousness in your passion for your subject?

2. Do you believe that people can be beautiful and smart at the same time?

3. Do you sometimes get interested in a book or a hobby that’s really difficult to get into, but you do it anyway because it seems like such a cool thing to learn?

4. Do you like precision or exactitude, maybe even so much that a right answer is an aesthetically pleasing experience?

5. Do you find tracking what’s fashionable just a teensy bit boring?

6. Do you admire people who are very knowledgeable even if their topic is a little arcane?

7. Don't you just love the word “arcane”?

8. Do you enjoy vivid imaginative accounts of alternatives to mundane reality?

9. Are you comfortable with the fact that Harry Potter wears big spectacles and is also a big athletic hero?

10. Do you find anti-intellectualism just a little bit….stupid?

Among the reviews of his book:

Publishers' Weekly, 12/17/07:

"In this intriguing treatise, child therapist and psychology professor Anderegg takes a wry and well-rounded look at the legacy of everyone’s (least) favorite schoolyard epithet, getting deep into the history of an idea as well as the nuts and bolts of childhood 'stereotype acquisition.'

Now here's the thing: There is no apostrophe in Publishers Weekly!

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