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Why Nerds Are Unpopular
Paul Graham.com ^ | Feb 2003 | Paul Graham

Posted on 06/02/2008 1:55:29 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of about the same popularity. We graded them from A to E. A tables were full of football players and cheerleaders and so on. E tables contained the kids with mild cases of Down's Syndrome, what in the language of the time we called "retards."

We sat at a D table, as low as you could get without looking physically different. We were not being especially candid to grade ourselves as D. It would have taken a deliberate lie to say otherwise. Everyone in the school knew exactly how popular everyone else was, including us.

(Excerpt) Read more at paulgraham.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: adolescence; educationsystem; nerds
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Long essay, but he actually has some pretty insightful things to say about how our society deals with teenagers and the educational system.
1 posted on 06/02/2008 1:55:29 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Nerds are unpopular?


2 posted on 06/02/2008 1:58:17 PM PDT by cripplecreek (I miss the days when only the politicians were unethical.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

bump for later


3 posted on 06/02/2008 1:59:39 PM PDT by JamesP81 (George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not a suggestion)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Be nice to the nerds. Chances are, one day you will work for one.


4 posted on 06/02/2008 1:59:42 PM PDT by Phantom Lord (Fall on to your knees for the Phantom Lord)
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To: cripplecreek

Nerds get the cute girls and the best revenge.

I saw it in the movies.


5 posted on 06/02/2008 1:59:56 PM PDT by exit82 (People get the government they deserve. And they are about to get it--in spades.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
I am a 6'3”, 225 lbs, combat vet and....a nerd.
6 posted on 06/02/2008 2:00:10 PM PDT by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: cripplecreek

Isn’t being unpopular part of the definition of a nerd?


7 posted on 06/02/2008 2:00:31 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Hillary to Obama: Arkancide happens.)
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To: cripplecreek
Nerds are unpopular?

Maybe, but they often get the last laugh. Take Bill Gates for example...

8 posted on 06/02/2008 2:00:37 PM PDT by the_devils_advocate_666
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

This dude thinks too much.


9 posted on 06/02/2008 2:00:38 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim (Play that Funky Music Typical White Boy!)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Because they wind up making all the money and getting all the hot chicks.

10 posted on 06/02/2008 2:00:46 PM PDT by gridlock (Now that Polar Bears are protected under ESA, where do I go to apply for a permit to breathe?)
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To: cripplecreek

Anyone been watching the program “Big Bang”? I love nerds....They’re “mockable”.


11 posted on 06/02/2008 2:02:17 PM PDT by Sacajaweau ("The Cracker" will be renamed "The Crapper")
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To: 2banana

Nerdbabes are hot too.


12 posted on 06/02/2008 2:03:08 PM PDT by cripplecreek (I miss the days when only the politicians were unethical.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Isn’t being unpopular part of the definition of a nerd?

Well it was in 1983.
13 posted on 06/02/2008 2:04:47 PM PDT by cripplecreek (I miss the days when only the politicians were unethical.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Wait until that nerd masters futures trading, retires at 28 and shows up at his 10th reunion. Watch the women swoon the nerd...


14 posted on 06/02/2008 2:07:50 PM PDT by Righter-than-Rush
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To: the_devils_advocate_666
Only if your daddy is a high-powered Intellectual Property lawyer and your mommy sits on the board of the United Way right next to an IBM Vice-President.

Then after mommy cuts a deal for you to sell your product to IBM and daddy writes up the contract for you, yeah, then you get the big bucks.

15 posted on 06/02/2008 2:08:32 PM PDT by Knitebane (Happily Microsoft free since 1999.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

I went to 2 different high schools and was the smartest boy at both. I got beat up lots. The only people I was popular with were jocks and cheerleaders, but only when it was time for them to study for a test. I certainly couldn’t get dates from my own class, so I usually had to look one or even two grades lower.

Fast forward four years, I suddenly got real popular, when everyone realized that I was going to have a big paying job upon graduation.


16 posted on 06/02/2008 2:11:37 PM PDT by CholeraJoe (Skirting the line between rakishly charming and frighteningly maniacal.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
And that's why smart people's lives are worst between, say, the ages of eleven and seventeen. Life at that age revolves far more around popularity than before or after.

Homeschoolers aren't having these worries.

It is only worse between the ages of 11 and 17 because segregating children into same aged packs, treating them like prisoners, marching them about to the sound of Pavlov's Bells is and UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY UNNATURAL WAY TO TREAT CHILDREN! ( Yes, I am shouting.)

17 posted on 06/02/2008 2:14:32 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
And that's why smart people's lives are worst between, say, the ages of eleven and seventeen. Life at that age revolves far more around popularity than before or after.

Homeschoolers aren't having these worries.

It is only worse between the ages of 11 and 17 because segregating children into same aged packs, treating them like prisoners, marching them about to the sound of Pavlov's Bells is and UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY UNNATURAL WAY TO TREAT CHILDREN! ( Yes, I am shouting.)

18 posted on 06/02/2008 2:15:12 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: 2banana

6’2” 240 former Marine/LEO/athlete now computer nerd. I do alright.


19 posted on 06/02/2008 2:15:29 PM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: 2banana

6’1” 260 lbs, rugby player and a nerd.


20 posted on 06/02/2008 2:17:26 PM PDT by DarthVader (Liberal Democrats are the party of EVIL whose time of judgement has come.)
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To: 2banana

I saw a bumper sticker once that said something like:

“Your star athlete will work for my honor student.” I have seen many variations.


21 posted on 06/02/2008 2:17:33 PM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
I was a nerd. In junior high (middle school), I'd get tripped by the jocks while running to classes, spilling my books on the ground while they laughed. One time they jammed gum into my hair and the P.E. coach had to cut it out with scissors. Another time, my head was banged into a drinking faucet in the hallway, chipping a tooth. I spent time after school playing chess with other nerds, or at the public library.

In high school, things got better. The jocks asked for my help to pass their classes, so I tutored them in math and science and they showed me how to work on engines and other stuff. Some years later after becoming an engineer, I ran into some of them. I was driving new cars and had nice suits, while they were stuck in dead-end jobs and broke.

Karma... Life is sweet now. My wife and I retired in our early 50's. Those jock jerks are still broke and will have to work until they die to survive.

22 posted on 06/02/2008 2:17:58 PM PDT by roadcat
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To: cripplecreek
Nerds are unpopular?

Alas in the fullness of time jocks learn to love nerds and the maniacal weapons systems they create for them to use.

23 posted on 06/02/2008 2:18:34 PM PDT by usurper (Spelling or grammatical errors in this post can be attributed to the LA City School System)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
For example, teenage kids pay a great deal of attention to clothes. They don't consciously dress to be popular. They dress to look good. But to who? To the other kids.

Kids dress so they can gain admission to the government school protection gang.

Cliques ( or tables A,B,C, or E) are protection gangs. They serve the same purpose as protection gangs in prison. If you treat kids like prisoners, no one should be surprised that they act like prisoners.

24 posted on 06/02/2008 2:19:03 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: 2banana
I am a 6'3”, 225 lbs, combat vet and....a nerd.

... 6'1”, 240 lbs, former Marine, combat vet and....a nerd as well.

25 posted on 06/02/2008 2:20:03 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (Party ahead of principles; eventually you'll be selling out anything to anyone for the right price.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

I would hazard a guess that a significant majority of this forum would fall into the “nerd” catagory.


26 posted on 06/02/2008 2:20:55 PM PDT by neodad (USS Vincennes (CG 49) "Checkmate Cruiser")
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
I think I have read this before and it does seem reasonable but I think there is another reason for popularity. (I actually didn't read the entire article again so I hope I don't mis characterize anything)

I remember a girl I met many years ago. She absolutely fascinated me. I have never seen anyone attract boys like she did and also make friends with other girls so easily. I was not the only person to notice and discussed her with others.

I think it is all the common things such as looks, personality, and unlike the author's opinion, intelligence.

I really do think that in addition to these qualities, some people simply have a genetic ability which might be characterized as many things but probably charisma is the closest word to describing it but still is not exactly it. I did notice that she was a cheerleader, prom queen, homecoming queen, etc. but the one thing which got my attention was she was named "sweetest".

27 posted on 06/02/2008 2:21:25 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: cripplecreek
Photobucket
28 posted on 06/02/2008 2:24:52 PM PDT by lesser_satan (Cthulu '08! Why vote for the lesser evil?)
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To: cripplecreek
Nerds are unpopular?

Yes. . .until they graduate from college and get all the high paying jobs, while the people that were popular in high school are still delivering pizzas. ;)

29 posted on 06/02/2008 2:25:38 PM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall cause you to vote against the Democrats.)
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To: Rammer

ping


30 posted on 06/02/2008 2:28:49 PM PDT by Rammer
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To: cripplecreek
As long as there are three people left in the world there will be an A group, a B group and C group, we’re social animals that organize ourselves into hierarchies, we can't help it. Teenagers lack experience and don't yet know how to value themselves and haven't had time to break the code which is simply relax, don't play someone else's game and let the game come to you, which is the definition of cool.
31 posted on 06/02/2008 2:29:46 PM PDT by Old North State
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To: roadcat
Karma... Life is sweet now. My wife and I retired in our early 50's. Those jock jerks are still broke and will have to work until they die to survive.

Maybe, but look at it this way: hot young chicks didn't want anything to do with you when you were young....and they still don't.

If us nerds had been magically given the choice in Jr and Sr high of being the popular football captain who dates the cutest cheerleader, but in our 50's would have to trade places with those kinds of guys who are broke now, we'd have jumped at it!

32 posted on 06/02/2008 2:30:03 PM PDT by mikeus_maximus
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Bump for later.


33 posted on 06/02/2008 2:30:19 PM PDT by stevem
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Stop bashing nerds or I'll call the Wizard!


34 posted on 06/02/2008 2:34:37 PM PDT by Rebelbase (McCain: The Third Bush Term ?)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Tale of the Ultimate Nerd

age 14, 5'10", 120 lbs, natural long blonde hair
shunned by the other girls in the 9th grade
photo appeared in Seventeen Magazine 1964 as part of a group of girls known as the Fashion Board. Offered a contract from Ford Modeling Agency in New York City which parents resoundingly rejected.

After instant popularity, I remained with my two best friends throughout high school.

We're still friends today after all those years.

Short-term fame was a result of the head of the fashion department spotting me at Baily's Ice Cream counter in Boston. She immediately contacted my mother. And, with permission, I modeled for the store's fashion shows at $5 - $10 an hour. In store, I was the White Stage sportwear girl.

At home and with friends, I was just me... one of 7 children who had to do homework and chores... :o)

35 posted on 06/02/2008 2:36:04 PM PDT by xtinct (I was the next door neighbor kid's imaginary friend.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
I prefer to refer to us as Deltas.
36 posted on 06/02/2008 2:36:17 PM PDT by Ukiapah Heep (Shoes for Industry!)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
At least a nerd can be big enough that they don't get beaten constantly.

When you're 4'9'' and 95 lbs soaking wet going into High School, you're a walking punching bag.
I speak from experience.

37 posted on 06/02/2008 2:36:50 PM PDT by Just another Joe (Warning: FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: Knitebane
Then after mommy cuts a deal for you to sell your product to IBM and daddy writes up the contract for you, yeah, then you get the big bucks.

You are correct about Bill Gates. While I don't begrudge him his fortune, he was born very well connected. It's not as if he was the illegitimate son of a 3rd shift convenience store clerk and a Somali wet nurse.

38 posted on 06/02/2008 2:39:43 PM PDT by E. Cartman (Better to have your enemy before you than beside you or behind you.)
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To: mikeus_maximus
If us nerds had been magically given the choice in Jr and Sr high of being the popular football captain who dates the cutest cheerleader, but in our 50's would have to trade places with those kinds of guys who are broke now, we'd have jumped at it!

True, I probably would! However, one of my fondest memories of high school is when the cute tall leggy blond girlfriend of a jock seduced me. He let me go over to her house because he thought I was helping her with the books. Or so we thought. Turns out she was a nympho. The boyfriend never found out, which was good because he was a black belt karate dude.

39 posted on 06/02/2008 2:42:20 PM PDT by roadcat
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To: gridlock

Let’s see those hot chicks!


40 posted on 06/02/2008 2:42:40 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Are you ready to pray for Teddy?)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

I’ve always had crushes on nerds.


41 posted on 06/02/2008 2:44:11 PM PDT by Hoodlum91 (I support global warming.)
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To: gridlock
Because they wind up making all the money and getting all the hot chicks.

I'd have to say Gates only got that half right.

42 posted on 06/02/2008 2:44:22 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY (Your parents will all receive phone calls instructing them to love you less now.)
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To: gridlock
Because they wind up making all the money and getting all the hot chicks.

Who'll spend their money, if not on jewels and cruises, then on African dictators.

43 posted on 06/02/2008 2:44:28 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Are you ready to pray for Teddy?)
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To: E. Cartman
I am sure there are exceptions but most of the extremely wealthy people started off wealthy or moderately so. It was their Father or Grandfather who did the hard work. Making the first 10 million is much more difficult than making the last billion.

A good example is Howard Hughes.

44 posted on 06/02/2008 2:48:14 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: CholeraJoe
In high school I was a nerd who managed to avoid a lot of the problems it seems many other nerds had.

For one thing, I was one of the smallest kids in my class as a freshman but grew to be one of the biggest by my senior year.

Also, many of the jocks in my classes found me to be a bit of a screwball -- and maybe someone to be grudgingly respected -- when I regularly volunteered to play goaltender for hockey games in gym class . . . without any pads.

45 posted on 06/02/2008 2:49:00 PM PDT by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: DarthVader
6’1” 260 lbs, rugby player and a nerd

I don't think anyone who plays rugby could be called a nerd.

46 posted on 06/02/2008 2:49:30 PM PDT by retrokitten (Never let someone be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.)
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To: xtinct
Offered a contract from Ford Modeling Agency in New York City which parents resoundingly rejected.

Ouch. Your parents rejected an opportunity for you to make as much as $250.00 per hour, plus travel expenses, at least until you aged out. Even then, the demand would still be there, but the hourly rate drops off.

47 posted on 06/02/2008 2:50:38 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus; Brucifer

Insightful bump


48 posted on 06/02/2008 2:52:07 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Yes, it’s quite perceptive.
I think the biggest mistake nerds make is not going out for sports. It is one of the few kid-approved activities which are purposeful and recognize ability and hard work. The nerdy kids may never become the most-popular jocks, but they can get healthy exercise and a measure of respect from going out.


49 posted on 06/02/2008 2:53:52 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

185 lbs. Rugby player, cliff climber, spelunker and I like to design and build my own telescopes.

I am a nerd.


50 posted on 06/02/2008 2:55:27 PM PDT by TexanToTheCore (If it ain't Rugby or Bullriding, it's for girls.........................................)
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