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Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them
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Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  60 reviews
A lively, thought-provoking book that zeros in on the timely issue of how anti-intellectualism is bad for our children and even worse for America.

Why are our children so terrified to be called "nerds"? And what is the cost of this rising tide of anti-intellectualism to both our children and our nation? In Nerds, family psychotherapist and psychology professor David Andere
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 27th 2007 by Tarcher
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  300 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Anderegg aims to show the harmful effects of the nerd stereotype not only on the kids who are targeted, but also to American society as a whole. When we vilify the smart kids, who would want to be good at school, or pursue math and science, if it means they would never get laid? And then we lament the fact that our engineering jobs are being outsourced to India; in 1994, 42% of science and engineering Ph.D.s awarded in the U.S. went to foreign citizens.

Anderegg explores the historical, cultural
Christine Crawford
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was a little disappointing to me. Anderegg makes the argument that nerd/geek stereotypes are harmful to kids and society. He suggests that kids, fearful of being labeled a nerd, avoid success in math and science. This leads to fewer people going into math and science careers, leaving our country far behind others in these important areas. It's a good argument and I like the historical perspective he gives on the history of nerd stereotypes (going back to Ichabod Crane and "American" id ...more
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers, "nerds," armchair psychologists
I read this book on a whim, just happening upon it at the library (a lot of my more interesting reads seem to begin like that). It was a short read but very thought provoking. The author, David Anderegg, a child psychologist, puts forth very convincing arguments as to how stereotypes describing "nerds, geeks, etc." are damaging to American culture as a whole, and why such derision continues to exist. As is seen in much of pop culture such as the sit com "The Big Bang Theory" or those terrible ce ...more
Jun 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was a quick, interesting read. I agree with the author's point that our American culture stigmatizes math and science abilities at a time when it's most important to be developing them - middle and high school.
The author weakened his arguments, though, by trying to apply them to recent politics. His characterizations of the Gore-Bush election completely failed to convince me. He ignored that many voters (intelligent ones, even) voted for Bush for ideological reasons, not because he wa
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really liked this non-fiction title. It was a quick and engaging read. I found his connection between the negativity of the nerd stereotype and the declining math and reading scores to be interesting. Sadly, there's little direct research on the nerd stereotype for the author to work from, so he extrapolates a lot from other research. I also occasionally found myself frustrated with his snappily titled chapters because he didn't always seem to directly answer the questions he raised in them du ...more
Dec 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Author and psychaitrist David Anderegg investigates the origin and characteristics of the nerd/geek stereotype. He offers a facinating glimpse into American middle-school culture and American pop culture at large. Anderegg concludes that the perpetuating nerd vs. jock war is bad for kids and bad for America. I tend to agree.

From the book: "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to suggest that there might be a link between a virulently anti-intellectual, and especially anti-scientific, popular cultu
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, nonfiction
David Anderegg is a developmental psychologist who has talked to a lot of kids about the nerd stereotype. He claims that kids, who don't fully understand the complex stereotype, are affected by it and change their behavior to avoid aquiring the name. I thought it was very interesting, especially being one of the kids who never thought it was a bad thing to do well in school, and didn't worry about never having a boyfriend or never making friends because I was in band and mock trial.
Sep 06, 2009 rated it liked it
I don't think he grew up in Silicon Valley. Because, if he did, he wouldn't have suffered so much. Somewhere in my messy house is a MIT Nerd Pride pocket protector. And, the response from everyone who has seen it has been, "Cool! Can you get me one?"

Seriously, this book is fatally flawed by it's lack of content about girls and minorities. The cover photograph of a white boy says it all.
Rosalind Wiseman
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
Dr. David Angeregg is always good for looking at child development issues in new ways.

I’m guessing this book would appeal more to parents who may think their kid is nerdy. But every parent should read it because Anderegg is giving us a window into understanding youth culture in a new and important way.

Plus, he’s always good for giving concrete advice for difficult parenting situations.
Melissa Angelik
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Well researched, highly understandable and not just for the "pop-psych" crowd.
John Pappas
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-sciences
Skip to the last chapter (the conclusion). Wonderful chapter but the lead-in was stretched out.
Steven E
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The “nerd” label is a badge of honor for an adult, but for a kid it’s another matter. As a former nerd kid myself (who was picked on for being supposedly both “smart” and “stupid” – at the same time!), I was interested in finding out what a psychologist would say on the matter. I was in for quite a surprise. The middle-school “nerd/geek” stereotype (the unattractive but intelligent person who programs computers, wears pocket protectors and plays fantasy role-playing games) is apparently a unique ...more
April Rogers
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A quick nonfiction look at the nerd/geek stereotype in today’s culture and how more than the worry of individuals being bullied it adversely affects our future due to fewer kids getting interested in science and technology. The book started engaging enough and funny but did hit a lull in the middle when like everything else it boiled down to sex and the author did get hung up a little with it and there were too many pop culture references to not feel dated very soon.
April Helms
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a very good book in many ways. One, it supports what I've said for years: The United States has NEVER taken education very seriously. He goes more into why, and just how pervasive it is. He draws on some interesting anecdotes and arrives at some intriguing solutions. The premise is that America's anti-intellectualism is not only impeding the academic process of individuals, but impeding the country's progress as a whole. No argument from me here on that point. He points out how subversi ...more
P. Aaron Potter
May 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geek
Well dang. The title is, once again for this sub-genre, misleading, as Anderegg's thesis in the book is *not* how "Nerds" will "save America," but how badly we supposedly treat them.

Item: Anderegg really struggles to define his terms, before finally admitting that it's impossible for him to actually do so, and instead simply relying on the self-reporting of schoolchildren for his categorical statements.

Item: the tautological definition he finally settles on (a nerd is someone who is called a ne
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
David Anderegg writes a compelling discussion of the idea of nerds and geeks as they get promulgated from high school down to middle and late elementary school culture. Where high schoolers might recognize the potential for a bit more leeway in one’s personality, middle schoolers see the world in terms of black and white, cool and uncool, “pop” and nerd. Of course, none of this is news.

What makes Anderegg’s book so interesting is the line he draws between various conclusions that immature minds
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I read it while I was nursing my newborn son. I was looking down at him, hoping that he would be "nerdy" - as in smart, interested in science and technology, and not too worried about peer acceptance...but also hoping he wouldn't be teased as a nerd. Would his adorable good looks save him? :-)

Anyway, the book really opened my eyes to the nerd stereotype in America. I now think of the words "nerd" or "geek" in a positive light, working in the high-tech/software industr
Kat Shelton
May 17, 2009 marked it as to-read
Book Jacket:
Are you socially awkward?

Technologically sophisticated or just extremely passionate
about one or more subjects? Well, maybe you're a "nerd."
And what's wrong with being a nerd? In this fascinating
book, child and family psychologist David Anderegg
examines the process by which kids learn what nerds are,
and what happens to their identities as a result of their
developing awareness of this uniquely American stereotype.

In "Nerds," Anderegg surveys the long history of American
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Very thought-provoking.

I think I was a pretty nerdy kid, and my main thing as I was reading this book was that I kept thinking, "Oh, calm down. I didn't feel that marginalized as a kid. About a week later, I had a chance to revisit my old elementary school." It brought back some old memories and made me give this guy a little more credit.

The main point of this book is the effect the Nerd stereotype has on kids in particular and society in general. One interesting observation is
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wasn't expecting to like this book, but got it for Christmas from Scattercat, and it's actually pretty interesting. Anderegg shares many of my own personal thoughts on a variety of mental health & society issues, except he backs it by a P.hD and research, so I don't feel bad quoting him. It's nice to see someone say that many "edge cases" of the vast majority of psychological conditions are just normal human variation, which is nothing new. This ties into the vast overdiagnosis of Asperger's ...more
Dustin Tatman
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When I began reading this, it felt like a 3-star book. It had a little less science and a little more anecdotal information that I usually like from my non-fiction. Some passages even gave me a pop-psychology fluff vibe.
I had to bump it up to 4 and then ultimately 5 stars based on how much this book made me think; think about myself, my past, my future, and how I will raise my children. Issues that have been an important part of my life without my full notice were suddenly brought to light.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013

Don't get me wrong, I am completely onboard with his position. "Andy" make some excellent arguments, some intuitive... some less so, but sometimes it just seems to be a long road to that point, and much flogging of the dead horse.
Why are kids who are good at math, shy, into Warhammer, etc. labelled as nerds? Why s being a nerd a bad thing? Children are constantly being bullied and pressured to not fall into the nerdy category. I can't imagine why anyone would disagree that this behaviour nee
Chris Dean
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book began well enough, discussing our country's anti-intellectualism and the origin of certain stereotypes. Also, the distinctions between American culture and the rest of the world was interesting reading. However, the author uses the final third of the book to promote a political agenda, specifically the 2000 Presidential election. While I understood the point the author was making, the point was belabored and ultimately soured the remainder of the book for me precisely since it was what ...more
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing insight! I felt the inputs of his patients and their parents was hilarious! I definitely enjoyed the mini lesson in their about the early America, definitely made his argument that much more interesting.

I definitely feel more proud to be a nerd and I feel like I have a purpose being a STEM student.

Recommend the book to people who think they are nerdy or geeky, educators, parents, students, and people interested in American culture and ideas.
Apr 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Anderegg primarily looks at how the concept of "nerd" deters children from taking math and science in school, which contributes to American anti-intellectualism and the decline in our competitiveness as a nation. You would think, as I did reading the first few chapters, that the nerd stereotype can hardly be that detrimental, but he makes some good arguments in the second half of the book. And the names of his chapters are just hilarious.
Dec 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Was excited to read this but somehow it just let me down. There were some good paragraphs here and there but overall I just felt like the author didn't get it or was getting something wrong.

On another note if you're looking to read this or pick it up because you're a parent the conclusion chapter is all you really need to read.
3.5 stars

This was written by a developmental psychologist, and the focus is on middle school kids. What is the definition of a nerd and why do kids fear being one so much?

I thought this was interesting, and also amusing in parts. I don't know that it will stay with me, though. But it was quick to read.
Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Bought this at AAAS on a whim (curse the Penguin table and their discounted prices!) Although it had more child psychology /parenting tips than I actually need, it did offer some interesting insights into the anti-intellectualism trend throughout American culture and politics. Would love to know what this guy thinks of Sarah Palin's rising star...
Feb 28, 2008 rated it liked it
A fascinating look at the etymology of the word nerd and how many people (especially kids) define it differently. I am dissapointed with America and it's anti-intellectual values. With MCAS scores in Math and Science diving downward, we might ask ourselves how we can get rid of the "nerd" stereotype and start embracing the love of quirkiness and intelligence....
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“I don't think kids or grown-ups should be so eager to punish "geek" enthusiasm with shaming, even if the enthusiasm is for arcane things.” 5 likes
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