Skip to comments.Hate speech row: Fine or jail anyone who calls people boffins, geeks or eggheads, psychology nerd demands
Posted on 12/18/2019 7:49:20 AM PST by dayglored
'Divisive and humiliating' terms are bad as the N-word, uni lecturer argues
Labeling super-smart people with terms like nerd, geek, or boffin is hate speech, and should be punishable as such, argues lecturer and Harley-Street psychotherapist Dr Sonja Falck.
Likewise wonk, smarty-pants, and know-it-all: these terms are "divisive and humiliating," and the last taboo, the University of East London egghead said this week while promoting her new book about brainiacs. Such anti-IQ words set society's Einsteins apart, she claimed, with the result that geeks end up feeling like theyre a misfit and dont belong.
Calling someone a swot, whizkid, brainbox, smart-arse, or dweeb may seem harmless banter, but it is equivalent to hate speech, she reckons, and should be recognized as such in British law with punishments including fines and imprisonment. It is only with the benefit of hindsight and academic research that we realise how wrong we were, she added.
That academic research includes her new book titled Extreme Intelligence, for which she interviewed 20 nerds for 90 minutes about when they realized they were so very clever.
She then embarked on a contextual analysis of literature and decided that calling someone a boffin was equivalent to the worst racial slurs. "The N-word was common parlance in the UK until at least the 1960s, she said during her book launch, before noting that "other insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently.
Dr Falck does not have a chip on her shoulder, despite the fact that the whole idea behind the book stemmed from the fact that as a child she was offered a place at a school for gifted children but her mother turned it down because she feared it would result in her becoming socially difficult.
In the book she focuses on psychosocial questions surrounding those with extremely high intelligence, and bases her arguments on depictions of genius in the media and fictional works as well as the 20 people she spoke to. She comes to the conclusion that these super-geeks all had formative experiences of being set apart from others, partly because of how they behaved, and partly because of how people responded to their behavior.
Which all feels a little self-selecting. Of the 20 people Dr Falck spoke to, 16 of them were members of Mensa, a social club that adopted the famous IQ test in an effort to form a society of intelligent people. These days that elitist British mindset is airbrushed and Mensas goal is said to be to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions.
In the UK if you pay £24.95 for the IQ test and score over 132, you can then pay £59.95 a year to receive a newsletter and attend events with other people who have also paid up to be in a room with people who scored highly on the same intelligence test.
Dr Falck has identified a specific subset of intelligent people who have difficulty fitting in socially and then noted that people use specific terms to refer to them; terms that they dont like because it highlights the fact that they are socially awkward.
At what point does identifying any specific group and giving that group a name or names move from useful, everyday categorization and extend into victimization or prejudicial behavior? Its when the names are used in a purposefully derogatory way. And that depends on both those being called the names, and broader society, accepting them as purely negative, she argues.
Do all the words identified by Falck fit into that category? Not where we sit they dont: nerd, geek, and boffin are terms of praise at El Reg.
But for those offended by that argument, we would refer you to the words of celebrated moron Stephen Hawking who, when asked what his IQ score was, responded: I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers. ®
Hacks, guttersnipes, tabloid scum, aggro loner twats. We've heard it all. And as we dish out a fair amount of criticism and snark, we should be able to take it in return in spades.
You can't go through life worrying about what people call you. Someone wants to point out you're smarter than the average bear? Brilliant, thanks for the reminder: we forgot all about that while juggling breakfast, differential equations, and rewriting Microsoft Windows this morning.
This isn't 1987 any more. If you haven't been keeping up with current affairs, geeks and nerds effectively run the world now. It's good to be a swot.
As a bunch of cynical geeks ourselves, we use boffin as a term of endearment for any accomplished scientist, engineer, mathematician, or the like. Indeed, we get furious complaints from esteemed nerds we neglect to call boffins.
But, we must stress: you have to earn that badge of respect through true boffinry.
Otherwise, you're just an egghead.
I’ll play. What’s a “boffin”?
Is dufus still okay?
Geek Hate Speech Alert! ... PING!
“Boffin” is British slang for anything like “scientist”, “researcher”, “engineer”, etc.
The person who proposed that is an overcontrolling fascist who should be sent to somalia and then report back on what it thinks about life in the USA.
There are few pseudo-STEM groups demonstrably more inept than climate “researchers”.
Psychology is contained within that set of verified losers.
Boffin? Wasnt that a dwarf friend of Bilbo?
FU, you geeky, egg-headed boffin.
I am a geek and a nerd, and I call myself a geek and a nerd.
I must be bullying myself.
Boffin is the British term for “egghead”. It was considered to be a compliment back in the day.
Screw these people. I won’t allow them to control my use of language, they use it as a control tool and I won’t play along.
The folks over at The ThinkGeek Store are in for a world of hurt.
A boffin is an animal tht dwells in Antarctica.
A dufus has nothing to do with intelligence, rather connotes stupidity or denseness.
Great! Cuz you know what is the best way to help the picked on and society as a whole?
Fine/jail people for using the wrong language.
Gilbert: I just wanted to say that I'm a nerd, and I'm here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds. I mean uh, all our lives we've been laughed at and made to feel inferior. And tonight, those bastards, they trashed our house. Why? Because we're smart? Because we look different? Well, we're not. I'm a nerd, and uh, I'm pretty proud of it.
Lewis: Hi, Gilbert. I'm a nerd too. I just found that out tonight. We have news for the beautiful people. There's a lot more of us then there are of you. I know there's alumni here tonight. When you went to Adams you might've been called a spazz, or a dork, or a geek. Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you're a nerd or not, why don't you just come down here and join us. Okay? Come on.
Gilbert: Just join us cause uh, no-one's gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends.
Its good to be sensitive.
Its OTT to want to cure the world based on what you experienced or did not in childhood or as a teenager.
When Proust did it, it was interesting.
When every Tom, Dick (I use the word advisedly) or Harriet
does, its boring.
In short, every slang term is not pejorative.
Why does every social discomfort now require a government man with a gun to resolve?
Would it still be permissible to call Dr Sonja Falck a coprophagic food waste exit?
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