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Jan 08 2014

Who’s the nerdiest of them all?

OK, this is a disgrace. Io9 has an article on the hierarchy of nerds, and here’s their ranking:

  1. Comic book fans

  2. Toy collectors

  3. Anime fans

  4. Collectable card game collectors

Jebus. How low has nerddom fallen? This is a list of passive gatherers of the obscure and silly.

I’m not even going to try and rank them, but these are the true nerds: Science nerds. Math nerds. Chess nerds. Ham radio nerds. Radio shack nerds. Hackers. Heck, does anyone even remember the day when the kings of the heap of tech tinkerers were the model railroad nerds?

There was a time when being a nerd meant something other than being a consumer of entertainment.

102 comments

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  1. 1
    shouldbeworking

    Yay! I’m in three of those categories! Where to I collect my life-sized Mr. Spock action figure?

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    *sigh*
    We used to blow stuff up.

  3. 3
    Hank_Says

    Never mind that the first three categories overlap so much that there’s barely any point separating them, “passive gatherers” is spot-on.

    Where are the game players, be they tabletop/card/RPG/video/PC/LARP/etc? Where are the cosplayers? Where are the fixers and inventors and builders?

    Where are the people who do more than fucking shop?

  4. 4
    nomadiq

    Yes, indeed. These rankings aren’t nerdish. The people who typically fit into these categories are little more than fans with too much money.

    Someone has hijacked the word ‘nerd’. I’ve always nerded out on maths, amateur radio, electronics and computers and apparently I’m not even a nerd anymore. Just as well I don’t give a shit.

    Actually, “not giving a shit”, is a much better definition of a nerd.

  5. 5
    robro

    Franciscan Hobbies, San Francisco’s capital of model railroad nerds, is closing after 67 years.

  6. 6
    Cuttlefish

    Put your comments in verse, and we’ll talk.

  7. 7
    A Waterchapel

    I still, after so many years, collect Magic cards. And I do so to play a game with them.

    A grasp of the minutiae of the rules to that game ranks as less nerdy than knowing stuff about stories in picture books (hope that’s not too unkind to comics).

    So Tolkien nerds, I suppose, are nerdier than AD&D nerds? So incoherent. I question the methodology.

  8. 8
    fmitchell

    Radio Shack is slowly going under, and the Internet has made ham radios obsolete. (Although obsolete technology always has fans.) But yes, where in their list are gamers, fanfic writers, doujinshi artists, cosplayers, robot builders, and makers? Who makes the jewelry and armor, who paints and sculpts the fan-art, and who wrote the small-press books on sale at practically every convention I’ve ever been to? Gnomes?

    It sounds like somebody wandered around a comicon, listed all the immediately obvious activities, and ranked them. The collectors and consumers have their place, but the ones who give back to fandom deserve recognition.

  9. 9
    Marcus Good

    It’s not a very good article at all; it’s just one guy’s anecdotal tale. There’s no real evaluation over what constitutes “nerdy” other than a vaguely hand-waved feeling. Plus, it could be argued that the classification from the webcomic Cat and Girl has a better system – Nerds are those with a keen interest in a topic that overlaps into their professional endeavours (eg being a librarian with a passion for literature, being a programmer who spends their free time doing more, a palaeontologist who goes to symposiums for fun), Geek being those with a passion for cultural materials (eg comics, games, , etc) while a Dork can have either, but lacks the skills to interact with others to communicate said passions. Abitrary to a degree, but it has a slightly more rigorous set of conditions. Plus it allows for overlaps.

    I mean, I collect Transformers, have done for thirty years, have travelled to the US twice for TF conventions, have presented at local cons on the topic, and could wax lyrical on it for ages; does that make me nerdier/geekier than someone who just buys comics, but who doesn’t know there was a Silver/Golden/Bronze age? Is someone who spends a lot of money and plays Magic: the Gathering at an international level (yes, it exists) but doesn’t know the storyline that ran from Weatherlight through almost a decade into Apocalypse more or less nerdy, than someone who learnt to speak Sindarin because they love the language?

    tl;dr version – dumb system of ranking with no real reasoning, and pointlessly divisive.

  10. 10
    Jacob Schmidt

    Are we… are we really playing the “who’s the real nerd” game? I mean, dismissing CCG nerds as “passive gatherers” is ridiculous on it’s face. It takes quite a bit of effort to build a decent deck; it takes far more to take that deck and experiment with it, finding it’s flaws and weaknesses.

  11. 11
    Al Dente

    I do model railroading. I’ve never considered myself a nerd for that. My nerd credentials came from things like using an IBM 360 back in 1972 (that’s when programs were written on punch cards, one line per card) and being an amateur astronomer. Lots of nerd cred for owning and using an 203mm (8″) Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector.

  12. 12
    yubal

    Top 1 nerd should be someone who actually makes stuff, not someone who collects stuff. Like someone who can build an solar observatory without tools from rock and stone or something like that.

  13. 13
    Marcus Good

    #12 yubal – so whoever built Stonehenge was the first nerd? :D

  14. 14
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I, for one, welcome our new passive gatherer overlords.

  15. 15
    chigau (違う)

    computer nerds:
    I never built my own computer but I did buy an Osborne 1 as soon as it was released.

    for bonus points:
    I still have it.

  16. 16
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Whoever wants the term can have it. I think the only qualification to being a nerd is an overwhelming passion and an even more overwhelming ability to pedantically call out inaccuracies. Whether makers, takers, passive or active, we don’t judge the subset’s activity, we judge the individual’s prowess at reciting obscure or trivial information back at others. That’s how nerds judge nerds, isn’t it?

  17. 17
    Sandy Small

    Psssh. I spit upon these so-called “nerds” who couldn’t tell an SSM2300 from a comb filter.

    In all seriousness though, what a ridiculous and condescending list.

  18. 18
    mattand

    So in addition to “normal” people giving you grief for your hobby/pastime/passion, you have to deal with other nerds looking down their noses at you for not being the “right” kind of nerd.

    Some nerds are more equal than others, I guess…

  19. 19
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    fpv

  20. 20
    left0ver1under

    If it weren’t for the Dungeons and Dragons nerds, we wouldn’t have MMORPGs like World or Warcraft or the Lord of the Rings movies. Could you imagine a cosplayer 40 years ago, never mind a convention? And the influence of computer nerds on the world goes without saying.

    http://www.thevine.com.au/entertainment/news/talking-riddick-and-dungeons–dragons-with-vin-diesel-20130912-265199/

    The people who grew up as “nerds” have influenced popular culture and have normalized what used to be called “weird”. People and things that would once be targets of abuse are now met with shrugged shoulders at worst (e.g. LGBTQ people, atheists, goths, furries and many other groups or subcultures). I thought that’s what we all wanted.

  21. 21
    Eamon Knight

    Al Dente @11: Are we like, twins or something? Model railroading, check. IBM & punch cards (Fortran, of course) c. 1972, check. Haven’t been actively into astronomy since high school, though, other than taking the 4.5″ Newtonian out once in a long while.

  22. 22
    joeyanetsberger

    The author of that IO9 article is confused. Those are types of geek, not types of nerd. Geeks are people who are way super into a certain kind of thing, like sci-fi, toys, anime, etc. Nerds are people who are super into learning very deeply about a certain kind of thing, like science, math, music, etc.

  23. 23
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @joeyanetsberger: Interesting. The way I hear them used, it’s the other way around. “Geek cred” is being able to configure an LDAP server at the command line. “Nerd cred” is knowing who Captain Robert April is.

  24. 24
    chigau (違う)

    Geeks were people who bit the heads off of chickens.

  25. 25
    Chaos Engineer

    He’s defining the rank based on how much money is involved: “The fact that superhero movies are big business nowadays while major anime movies get the occasional small theatrical release before hitting DVD indicates to me that this can be extrapolated to all of nerd-dom, even now.” So this is a ranking of “nerd value as perceived by marketing departments” and it’s useful in terms of figuring out what to avoid.

    The definitive geek hierarchy is the one graphed out in 2002 at Brunching Shuttlecocks.

  26. 26
    ChasCPeterson

    chaosengineer: thank you; I was worried that I was going to have to go looking for that.

  27. 27
    chigau (違う)

    Did y’all know that nerds and geeks (even non-chicken-biters) pre-date the Internet?
    It’s true.

  28. 28
    paulburnett

    PZ: “Ham radio nerds.” Does anybody do ham radio any more? Is the American Radio Relay League still around? Yes and yes – http://www.arrl.org/

    “Model railroad nerds” – my first father-in-law was a model trolley car nerd – he disdained model railroaders as dilettantes.

    How about amateur telescope makers ? Does anybody grind their own mirrors any more?

    How about amateur rocketeers, mixing your own propellant? (I was a survivor…)

  29. 29
    chigau (違う)

    See, you kids on my lawn?
    You call yourselves nerds and geeks?

    mixing your own propellant

    that’s how it’s done

  30. 30
    aaronbaker

    . . . these are the true nerds: Science nerds. Math nerds. Chess nerds. Ham radio nerds. Radio shack nerds.

    Ignoring Classics majors again, you Godless fish-botherer?

  31. 31
    chigau (違う)

    Zeus rules!

  32. 32
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    How about amateur rocketeers, mixing your own propellant? (I was a survivor…)

    -Paul Burnett

    *ahem* :)

  33. 33
    ChasCPeterson

    well, you know, there’s yer nerds, there’s yer geeks, and then there’s yer dweebs.
    sort yourselves.

  34. 34
    karpad

    There’s a pretty simple explanation why math nerds, cosplayers, geocachers, chess players and sudokuists and whatever else don’t make this list: They AREN’T nothing more than consumers.

    I know there’s a whole subset of “nerd pride” thing on the internet (which honestly, I find pretty insufferable, but that’s my opinion), and there’s a concerted effort to take it back and make it a positive, but it’s a bad thing. Being a nerd is bad. And the passive consumer type nerds, (disclosure: I happen to be one of all 4 of the named groups to varying degrees) don’t actually do anything. Because it might be dorky as fuck to be able to bone your own corset to make some manner of Victorian Era Wonder Woman costume, but you’re MAKING something. If you do a good job, dorky or not, it’s going to look good. A guy who does historical reenactments as a blacksmith is unarguably nerdy, but if he’s able to actually hammer forge a sword, that is unquestionably a cool thing.

    But if all your nerddom allows you to do is passively enjoy the efforts of other nerds making things for your benefit? You don’t actually have any accomplishments to point to to vindicate your nerddom into something worthwhile. That is why mere collectors occupy the bottom rung of nerd rankings. Their only accomplishments are acquisitive.

  35. 35
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    How about music nerds? I built a Theremin out of plans in 1950′s (IIRC) Popular Electronics that I tracked down in a library.

  36. 36
    chigau (違う)

    Cookies for everyone!!!!

  37. 37
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Ooh, no true nerd fight.

    Now that nerds have turned being uncool into such an art form they*’ve come out on the other side being the coolest thing ever, they* don’t want to include just whoever, but really…. as far as knowing minute details of something you have great interest in goes, who’s a bigger nerd than a football** fan who knows who almost scored a goal for the team who held third place in World Cup 1978 (plus, all the years he played on World Cup, number of goals and year of retirement)?

    I vote for there being such a thing as football nerd.
    (or geek? Eglish not being my first language, I never was sure on exact definitions, especiallywith people using the term interchangeably)

    * maybe we, I’m not sure whether I pass the No true nerd test
    ** works for any sport

  38. 38
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Woohoo!
    I’m in the first group!

    What’s my prize?

  39. 39
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Wrong phrasing:
    Not who’s a bigger nerd than a, but how it is possible that [] doesn’t count as a nerd

  40. 40
    robro

    And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo
    And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo,
    A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too!
    If I Ran the Zoo
    Dr. Seuss

    Thought to be the first use of “nerd,” as you probably know. See the picture of the original nerd here.

  41. 41
    unclefrogy

    fossil fishy me too!
    I found a design by R Moog had to make one of the parts because they were no longer available.
    shit if I could focus on just one obsessional thing …..ahhh
    uncle frogy

  42. 42
    Alex

    I don’t care for any of these categories at all… I’d classify meself as a science nerd probably. I like steampunk, but never been to a con or anything…

    @FossilFishy,
    Very good, for extra points,
    now broadcast your rendition of the TOS theme song via a self built tube ham radio and it’ll be a nerd spacetime singularity!

  43. 43
    Alex

    @unclefrogy

    Thats my problem, too, a bit of electronics, a bit of dinosaurs, a bit of star trek, some programming, astronomy, physics (my actual job)… It’s too spread out to count as a super hardcore nerd in any one except maybe my day job.

  44. 44
    rq

    Umm… I’m a horse nerd, since I didn’t have riding lessons or could own a horse? Just read all about them, learned all the parts and all the bits and pieces, forwards, backwards and inside out, read (almost) every possible book, fiction and non-fiction, that mentioned them / had them on the cover. Does that count? I just want to be a nerd, like all you other cool, cool folks!

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Maureen Brian

    Are we forgetting that knitters are nerds? I think we had this argument once before.

    Knitters are, after all, guardians of all sorts of arcane knowledge. We will sometimes travel many kilometres just to stroke a particular yarn and we host conferences, workshops and blogs to share both old knowledge and innovation.

    And we make things.

  47. 47
    Alex

    @rq

    learned all the parts and all the bits and pieces, forwards, backwards and inside out,

    Sounds like you’d also make an expert boucher hippophagique :D

    But yeah, that definitely gives you enough nerd points!

  48. 48
    =8)-DX

    What about Marcel Proust-reading nerds? What about Igo-playing nerds! I demand to be counted!

    Not to mention arty-nerds. You can get that good “not one of the group” nerdy feeling for sitting about for hours drawing odd pictures when you should be having sex, drinking beer and watching football. It also helps to babble on incoherantly about composition, contrast and shading techniques.

  49. 49
    vaiyt

    Now that nerds have turned being uncool into such an art form they*’ve come out on the other side being the coolest thing ever, they* don’t want to include just whoever, but really…. as far as knowing minute details of something you have great interest in goes, who’s a bigger nerd than a football** fan who knows who almost scored a goal for the team who held third place in World Cup 1978 (plus, all the years he played on World Cup, number of goals and year of retirement)?

    That would be Zico, who played for Brazil in 1978, 1982 and 1986, scored 240 goals and retired in 1994.

    I just had to do it.

  50. 50
    jefrir

    left0ver1under, #20

    The people who grew up as “nerds” have influenced popular culture and have normalized what used to be called “weird”. People and things that would once be targets of abuse are now met with shrugged shoulders at worst (e.g. LGBTQ people, atheists, goths, furries and many other groups or subcultures). I thought that’s what we all wanted.

    1. LGBTQ do not face “shrugged shoulders at worst”, they face widespread discrimination and murder at worst.
    2. I am unconvinced that nerds have been uniquely helpful in the progress we have made.

  51. 51
    RobertL

    Stationary model steam engines, anyone? The smell of burning methylated spirits?

  52. 52
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Lol that may be the best “Back in my day… *grumble grumble*… and keep off my lawn!” speech I have ever heard :)

    That said, I agree the meaning of nerd has changed. Looking at common useage, I would say that “nerd” has come to mean an obsessive collector of various specific categories, while the traditionally “smart” subjects PZ mentions, which used to be called nerds, are now “geeks”. So you’d get a “comic-book nerd” and a “maths geek”.

    That said, it’s just an observation I’ve made and may not be accurate at all. And I’m in the UK, common useage in the US may differ.

  53. 53
    playonwords

    Reading this I get the impression that nerds today aren’t like nerds in my day, back then we had proper nerds.

    Get off my lawn …

  54. 54
    Lofty

    Maureen Brian @46

    Are we forgetting that knitters are nerds?

    My mother had a little notice in her sewing room stating that she was a certified knitwit. Belonged to a knitting club and all that. There was always knitting by her side.

  55. 55
    AlexanderZ

    @jefrir #50:

    1. LGBTQ do not face “shrugged shoulders at worst”, they face widespread discrimination and murder at worst.
    2. I am unconvinced that nerds have been uniquely helpful in the progress we have made.

    Spot on on both points. Considering that they are the ones who invented the “fake geek/nerd girl” meme I doubt that geek culture has done more good than bad. Hell, even sport fans (sorry Beatrice #37, but people who enjoy the largest international event don’t get to be a sub-culture) aren’t that stupid.

  56. 56
    cartomancer

    Surely the nerdiest people of all are those whose ardent and all-consuming passion is the precise ranking of other nerds!

    But, really, the whole exercise falls flat in my eyes. I guess it’s because I’m English, and terms like “nerd” and “geek” are much less prevalent over here, and are still considered something of a US cultural import (and we find attempts to distinguish between them especially amusing. In British English they’re pretty much synonyms – the aspects of US high-school culture that gave rise to them just don’t exist in that way to us, and the only people who routinely insist on imposing distinctions are Americans on the internet). The notion that having unusual hobbies and interests should be a cause for social stratification and creating implied hierarchies of approbation and respect seems a very peculiar one. Almost like an attempt to create another class system, and find more people who it’s considered okay to look down upon simply for who they are. Perhaps in Britain we already have too many such oppressive class systems in daily currency to feel much need for this new and much less entrenched one as well.

  57. 57
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    unclefrogy! Very cool.

    I was going to claim nerd victory over you because the plan I used was much older than the Moog one, the inductors were waxed paper and copper coils, unlike the neat little units the Moog plan called for. I had to special order them from the one company that still made them. But making your own part? Damn. That’s hardcore geeking right there. I doff my trying-too-hard-to-be-unique chapeau to you.

    I also built a circuit that made a volume pedal’s sweep into a truly linear slope, and an onboard pre-amp and volume control for my electric guitar, and in a truly mad fit of hubris, a true bypass electronic switching system for my guitar effects pedals. That last is the only one I still have. It works; I don’t know why. :)

    My copy of Craig Anderton’s Electronic Projects for Musicians tattered, dog-eared and annotated to within an inch of its life.

  58. 58
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    First off, model railroaders? Buncha pikers (yes, the pun was intended (and if you got the pun, you may be a nerd)). I do my railroading in 12-inch to the foot scale. With live steam. I AM STEAMNERD!

    Sorry.

    I think everyone (or almost everyone (hard to imagine Dick Cheney nerding on something (unless torture?))) nerds on something. It may be a particular genre of books, an unusual past time, a particular sport. At various time sin my life, I have been a math nerd, a D&D nerd (white books, six-sided die), a trumpet nerd, a history nerd, a train nerd, a kayak nerd, a ski nerd, a model airplane (and tank) nerd, and am now on my way to being a palaeontology nerd. Who doesn’t have interests or hobbies that others would consider odd or bizarre?

  59. 59
    pvnrt

    Someone needs to post the Simpsons screenshot of “Old Man Yells At Cloud”

    Seriously, a real nerd discussion? Give me a fucking break. Is someone who just buys science books and magazines a nerd or not? After all, they’re just “consuming” the work of others. Or does one have to have an appropriate degree from one of the “acceptable” universities? Or do you have to be doing research?

    Language evolves. Deal with it.

  60. 60
    killyosaur

    Whoever wants the term can have it. I think the only qualification to being a nerd is an overwhelming passion and an even more overwhelming ability to pedantically call out inaccuracies. Whether makers, takers, passive or active, we don’t judge the subset’s activity, we judge the individual’s prowess at reciting obscure or trivial information back at others. That’s how nerds judge nerds, isn’t it?

    This…
    In regards to toy collectors if you’ve never met a serious collector of toys, you don’t know how nerdy one can be. I have a good friend who collects custom urban vinyl toys, has a sizable collection, and could talk your ear off about the artists, the minutia about the creation, who has even gone so far as to get the blanks and make his own works. I wouldn’t call him a passive collector at all.

  61. 61
    irisvanderpluym

    Sex nerd! :D

  62. 62
    Eamon Knight

    On nerd looking down on other nerds: Years ago, a baby-sitter left some sort of gaming/D&D/Warhammer magazine at our house. It featured an editorial bemoaning the fact those who identified as fans of “science fiction”, “sci-fi” and “SF” avoided and deprecated each other at cons. Up to that moment, I would have considered all those to be just synonyms for a genre I loved. I never knew I was supposed to pick a way of enjoying it and socially assort myself appropriately.

  63. 63
    killyosaur

    Though, I will add that I agree that the section on nerd hierarchy (realize that the entire article is not about this one subject, this was a letters to the postman article which means there were several questions answered, it’s only generally the first that the titles of these posts come from) was sadly lacking as it only pointed to a small subset of geek/nerd culture and ignored the rest. It would have been nice if in answering the question about the hierarchy, Mr. Bricken had gone into the fact that there are more types of nerds than just the ones asked about in the letter.

  64. 64
    skeptifem

    wtf table top rpg nerds aren’t listed? whaaaat! All the hours spent cthulhuing, and for what?

  65. 65
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    A guy who does historical reenactments as a blacksmith is unarguably nerdy, but if he’s able to actually hammer forge a sword, that is unquestionably a cool thing.

    Yay! I’m cool!

  66. 66
    Louis

    Pffff I was a nerd, a geek, a dweeb, and above all a passionate enthusiast before it was cool.

    Louis

    P.S. Whilst this might be true, it is, nonetheless, a joke.

  67. 67
    lpetrich

    I once knew a young woman who was very geeky, but who was very intolerant of any form of geekiness but hers, mainly interest in Japanese anime. When I showed her what a certain someone was interested in, she claimed that she hated fangirls. She also hated discussion of programming, webpage design, and the like.

    Have any of your other people run into anything like that?

  68. 68
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    D&D nerds?! Bunch’a mainstream wannabes. Gimme MERP or GURPS.

    1st edition, of course.

    :-p

  69. 69
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    YOB:

    Er, MERP is 1984 and GURPS is 1986? I was playing D&D back in ’78. By candlelight. While huddled around our brand-spanking-new Franklin Stove. Listening to Spike Jones on 78s.

    Could you get off my lawn, please?

    (meant as humour)

  70. 70
    David Wilford

    I played D&D with my college friends back in 1978 too, and my grade point took some damage… ;^)

  71. 71
    blutexan

    The Fast Nerds: RC car racers. Nerds with toys.

  72. 72
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Eamon Knight #62

    It featured an editorial bemoaning the fact those who identified as fans of “science fiction”, “sci-fi” and “SF” avoided and deprecated each other at cons.

    Hah!

    … wait, are you serious? But those are the same thing, surely? I always thought Sci-Fi was an abbreviation of Science Fiction, and SF simply an acronym of same. I had no idea they were separate camps within the Science-Fiction community.

    What on Earth are the differences?

  73. 73
    Eamon Knight

    @Thumper #72: I don’t recall the differences among the groups (this was ~20 years ago, when my kids still needed baby-sitters). I only recall being dumbfounded and deciding I didn’t want to be part of a community that acted so pettily. (Of course, I can’t vouch for the editorial’s reliability on the point.)

  74. 74
    john cryan

    “Could you imagine a cosplayer 40 years ago, never mind a convention?”

    No need to imagine. I know people who’ve been going to conventions, competing in masquerades. etc., for that long or longer.

    Fandom is older than you think–Philcon began in 1936, Worldcon began in 1939, Boskone in 1941, Lunacon in 1957, etc.

  75. 75
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Eamon Knight

    Fair enough, thanks for the interesting factoid in any case :)

    If there is anyone reading who does know the differences, I’d be most interested to know… in a morbid, slow-shake-of-the-head kind of way.

  76. 76
    birgerjohansson

    I am not only a SF fan, I am a fan of *Eastern European* science fiction (Stanislaw Lem, the Strugatskys etc). I read “Lord of the Rings in 1972, before other Swedes had discovered it. I learned the name “ichtyostega” at age eight. And I memorised the sequence of events for a typical Apollo mission at age six.

    But I suspect there are even nerdier pepole out there…

  77. 77
    David Wilford

    Thumper,

    In a nutshell:

    “Sci-Fi” is a term that originated with übergeek Forrey Ackerman, more about here:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-ackerman6-2008dec06,0,7179199.story#axzz2pv1zt898

    Some in science fiction fandom back then (the 50s and 60s) didn’t take kindly to what they thought was a term that made their genre out to be nothing more than bug-eyed monsters and green aliens, and instead used “SF” as a term that sounded more literary than sensational.

    There really aren’t two different camps of course, just different emphases. People really didn’t avoid each other, certainly not Forrey, who I was fortunate enough to see a few times over the years at cons I went to.

  78. 78
    john cryan

    the first writers of science fiction were by and large scientists or engineers–people like Asimov or Clarke or Heinlein. The central element of their stories was most often teh science itself and it’s implications, with plot, character, etc., all serving the exposition of that theme.

    As it became popular and other non-scientist writers began dabbling other story elements began to overtake the science, and the old school fans saw this as ‘dumbing down’ of science fiction to make it palatable to the unwashed masses. they used teh term Sci-fi as a derogatory one.

    And when dragons and fairies and elves became popular, or stories about alternative realities that had very little science running through them other than to set the stage (the Female Man by Russ, for example) publishers began referring to the genre as SF or “specualtive fiction”.

    The problem with the infighting is that it’s easy to find both great stories and execrable stories in any of the three ‘divisions’. To quote Billy Joel, it’s all rock and roll.

  79. 79
    chigau (違う)

    Back when people were disputing…
    science fiction was for “hard science” fiction, science was part of the plot
    sci-fi was an abbreviation that no one actually liked
    SF included science fantasy and speculative fiction and some other ess words

  80. 80
    David Wilford

    john cryan @ 78:

    Science fiction as a genre owes more to pulps than many know:

    http://io9.com/5680191/where-did-science-fiction-come-from-a-primer-on-the-pulps

    There have always been BEMs in SF.

  81. 81
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Q: Why did the hipster burn his mouth?
    A: He drank his coffee before it was cool.

    [sorry]

    I am a geek. I have, however, never bitten the head off of a chicken.
    I am a dork. I am not, however, a whale’s penis.
    I am a nerd.

    Which is to say:
    I knit.
    I have a science Ph.D.
    I have said fuck it! to science and am a nursing student.
    I speak Quenya. [Badly]
    The trunk of my car is currently overflowing with German-style board games.
    And dice.
    I have LARPed.
    I have written fanfic.
    Slash fanfic.
    [I was fourteen]
    I have played D&D, GURPS, Exalted, BESM, and assorted other systems.
    I have more spec-fic [this is a construction that lumps science-fiction, fantasy, alternate-history, and a lot of what an ex of mine referred to as "literature about woodgie shit" together] than is rather good for me or my wallet.
    I have more electronic games than is rather good for me or my wallet.
    I have played said games for 27 hours in a single stretch.
    I won the Rampaging Barbarian award at a one-shot tournament.
    The next year I won the Permanent Resident award [i.e. We are never getting that out of the carpet!] for Most Nasty Death.

    In short I am über-nerd!

    Wait, I have tits.

    Therefore, I must be a poseur.

    :( :(

    Never mind, I’ve still got my set of plush polyhedral dice.

    *hugs the D20*

  82. 82
    Alex

    Yay! I’m cool!

    I have a general question now. Is there ANYTHING imaginable that isn’t done, owned, or practised by some lurker on Pharyngula?

  83. 83
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    OK, I think I get it. Science-Fiction is actually plausible and features science as a central theme. Sci-Fi is a “dumbed down” version, presumably written by non-scientists and with less scientifically plausible themes as a result. SF is “Speculative Fiction” (not just an acronym for Science Fiction, as I thought), which is presumably just fiction set in the future (hence speculative?). Is that right?

    Thanks all for the info, it’s much appreciated :)

  84. 84
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Alex #82

    I have a general question now. Is there ANYTHING imaginable that isn’t done, owned, or practised by some lurker on Pharyngula?

    Bigfoot hunting? Praying? Bestiality? The keeping of woodlice (pill bugs, I think they are called in the US) as pets?

  85. 85
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Alex @82:

    Is there ANYTHING imaginable that isn’t done, owned, or practised by some lurker on Pharyngula?

    Anything covers a lot of shit.

    There are some questions one should not ask. Why? Because anything covers a lot of shit.

  86. 86
    Alex

    @birgerjohannson:

    I finly got around to reading Solaris. I didnt want to because I was put off by the new movie, and now I’m annoyed that I ever watched it because the book is awesome.

  87. 87
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Shouldn’t we consult a dictionary for the final, end all, be all definition of ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’?
    It works so well for ‘atheism’…

  88. 88
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Thumper:

    Sci-Fi is a “dumbed down” version, presumably written by non-scientists and with less scientifically plausible themes as a result. SF is “Speculative Fiction” (not just an acronym for Science Fiction, as I thought), which is presumably just fiction set in the future (hence speculative?). Is that right?

    That’s my understanding (though I’m sure someone will correct you & I if we’re wrong).
    But what does ‘SyFy’ mean?

  89. 89
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Esteleth:
    Your post brought a big smile to my face. You’re awesome!

  90. 90
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Tony! #88

    Oh Christ, don’t introduce another term, I just got the other three! :)

  91. 91
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Spec fic is more than just stuff set in the future.

    It’s “hard” and “soft” science fiction, fantasy (high and low), the “what if Hitler had died in 1925″ and other alternate-history stuff, 90% of Margaret Atwood’s stuff, etc etc etc.

    Basically, it’s the catchall for literature that starts with the author saying, “What if…”

  92. 92
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Oh, and “SyFy” is a cable channel. Mostly airs Star Trek reruns and baffling shows about Bigfoot.

  93. 93
    David Wilford

    … and really cheesy skiffy movies. No wonder there’s a shortage of Velveeta.

  94. 94
    David Wilford

    FYI, “skiffy” means SkiFFy as in Science Fiction & Fantasy. It’s another way of saying Sci-Fi without saying “Sci-Fi”.

  95. 95
    David Wilford

    Then there’s the term Hugo Gernsback coined for SF: “scientifiction”. It’s obsolete now, but occasionally it shows up in conversation among SF fans.

  96. 96
    Eamon Knight

    @92: …and is also responsible for a thoroughly abominable hack job on Wizard of Earthsea, from the credits of which Ursula LeGuin demanded her name be removed. It is one of very few movies I’ve just stopped watching half way through and returned the DVD. A curse be upon the name of SyFy forever, for that one.

  97. 97
    twincats

    I live (and grew up) in southern California and always thought that nerd and geek are pretty much interchangeable. I don’t seem to be quite as able and/or willing to immerse myself in things to any great extent, so I don’t think I can call myself a geek or a nerd. So screw you guys, I’m gonna be a proo. [/Eric Cartman]

    I’m a horse proo, dinosaur* proo, and a knitting** proo.

    Eek! horse proo is disconcertingly close to horse poo. Likewise for dino proo. All the better to be misunderstood and denigrated, I guess.

    *I am a 53 year old housewife/cashier but when it comes to dinosaurs, my inner seven-year-old busts right out. I bugged my parents for weeks to take me to see “One Million Years B.C.” (yes, the one with Raquel Welch) when I was six. I won’t be wasting my time with the “Walking With Dinosaurs” movie, however.

    **My current (5+ yrs.) knitting obsession is socks. My next pair is going to use a (new technique for me) short-row heel, but I have discovered that making the heel flap 50% longer in a traditional turned heel makes for a better fit for feet with high arches like mine. I really love the level of experimentation I can do with socks.

  98. 98
    Sili

    Jebus. How low has nerddom fallen? This is a list of passive gatherers of the obscure and silly.

    Sorry to hear your lawn has been interfered with so terribly.

  99. 99
    jimatkins

    Say it loud- I’m a model airplane (and real airplane) geek and I’m proud. There is one external difference between a Supermarine Spitfire Mark I and a Mark II. I know it. I revel in it. Ever seen a Handley Page Victor K.2? I have. Be still, my fluttering undergarments.

  100. 100
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Meh. I prefer to dabble in many forms of nerdery and geekery. Jack of all trades, master of none.

  101. 101
    stripeycat

    Do textiles count? In theory, I can take raw wool or suitable fibre plants and end up with a finished garment. (In practice, it takes a looooong time and I lack the patience to do large amounts of any one thing.) The engineering potential of weaving at least is surely geeky. And dye vats are applied organic chemistry.
    On the other hand, it’s all women’s work, so maybe not.

    Actually, I think I could be a cooking/vegetable-gardening nerd too: my mother and I had about 20 cultivars of chillis last summer, and they do taste appreciably different. I’m also a few generations into a bean-breeding project (basically, start with “Trail of Tears” seed-stock, which is pretty genetically variable, and select a strain suitable for the Cornish climate and growing season). Last year the crop failed, so I’m having to go back to 2012 seed again :(

  102. 102
    Trebuchet

    101 posts and catapult nerds don’t even get a mention. I sad.

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