Nerds

By DAVID ANDEREGG

One’s first assumption when approaching a book titled Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them is that the book will be lightweight fluff , superficially assembling pop-culture iconography relating to the topic. But that’s a lazy assumption, and David Anderegg’s book is a thorough testament to how lazy assumptions relating to the conceptual category “nerd” have fostered unnecessary bitterness and wasted potential, both to individuals and our society as a whole. Anderegg’s stone-serious thesis is that this category an entirely constructed social straitjacket arising from a host of buried cultural biases, both learned and hardwired into our deeper natures. A teacher, children’s psychotherapist and keen observer of media, Anderegg sets out to define — and dismantle — this destructive paradigm. In fairness, he likewise laments the many ways that the “pops” (the cool kids) also suffer from such artificial dichotomies. While he does privilege certain elements of the nerdly Weltanschauung, he is mostly intent on eliminating cruelty to all classes and bettering the flawed educational system where such pernicious memes breed. Rich with contrarian insights — Anderegg’s text is highly persuasive, readable, and quotable. “Disney’s High School Musical?may, in fact, be the final nail in the coffin of American competitiveness?” Try trotting out that observation at the next PTA meeting you attend, and see how long it takes for the other parents to label you a nerd. -