College Professor Equates "Nerd" and "Geek" to Racial Epithets

Paul Lilly

Times sure have changed in the last couple of decades. Where calling someone a "geek" or "nerd" may have been viewed as derogatory back before the turn of the century, that isn't the case anymore. Still, should we be using the terms as loosely as we do today?

David Anderegg, a professor of psychology at Bennington College, doesn't think we should. According to Anderegg, these words serve to perpetuate stereotypes , are just as damaging as racial epithets, and should be avoided.

But again, nerd and geek don't have the same connotations as they did when Anderegg went to grade school, and while he concedes that they can be compliments in some areas of the country, in most of America he says these are people to avoid. He says that a geek suggests a person with special expertise, while a nerd suggests social ineptness, and neither are flattering.

Moreover, Anderegg says the workforce suffers because young people often associate nerds and geeks with fields such as math, science, and computer science.

"The best way to combat this is put it to bed, banishing 'nerd' and 'geek' to the linguistic dustbin," Anderegg said.

Just don't banish the world "tool," because it's the one we most want to use right now.

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