Why Eric Kaler may NOT be a nerd

Yeah, more of a geek

Last month, I wrote a post called Why Eric Kaler is a nerd. It was focused on a section of a Tim Post article that recalled how Kaler, the incoming president of the University of Minnesota, wooed his wife by talking about his research.

Post wrote:

In a move that should give hope to nerds everywhere, Eric Kaler wooed Karen with talk of micro-emulsions, surfactants and small angle X-ray scattering.

Quite charming, really.

But recently I ran across the funny Venn Diagram above, which shows the difference between a nerd, dork and dweeb.

From what I’ve seen of Kaler, he’s not technically a nerd by the standards of the diagram. (We may not necessarily agree with those standards, but that’s another discussion.)

Kaler obviously has intelligence, but he doesn’t (at least from what I’ve seen) suffer from social ineptitude — a key factor in nerddom. His need to talk research while dating? Yeah, that might qualify as obsession.

And inteligence + obsession = geek.

So there we go.

  • Anonymous

    Pardonne moi?

    The intersection of intelligence and obsession does NOT equal Geek.

    The term now enjoys a special status within the technical community, particularly among particularly knowledgable computer programmers. To identify oneself as a “geek” indicates a recognition that most people still consider programming computers to be a bizarre act, along with a certain fierce satisfaction in being very good at their inglorious profession.

    One can be obsessive and intelligent without being a geek. At the U of M, think: Tom Clayton and our world renowned theater director, Lou Bellamy.

    They aren’t geeks, but they still combine the admirable traits of intelligence and obsession (about good work).

    • Anonymous

      Heh, heh! Like I said, Bill, I can’t vouch for the standards used by this diagram. But I have heard the term “geek” applied to those who are both highly intelligent and obsessive about their fields or hobbies — music geek, gaming geek, film geek, etc. We might have to wait to see how the expression evolves.