In trying to define what a nerd is, dictionaries are a great help if you find it worthwhile to learn that a nerd is someone who is both stupid and intelligent. That about covers every single member of our species. So if you're wondering where you stand vis-à-vis my take on what it means to be a nerd, or if you're wondering whether that compelling force wrapped in a body two desks over is a closet nerd, here's a quiz for you to check out with or against your expectations or suspicions.
1)you know the difference between a nerd and a geek, i.e., which one is the intellectual gourmet and which one is the intellectual gourmand
2)I say you're “cute, cute, cute” and you know I'm complimenting you without repeating myself
3)you don't need a laugh track to know when to laugh, and don't need a guide to tell you when or how to turn on your TV or computer
4)in all probability you know and savor the difference between a Heisenberg and a Heineken
5)you know where you weigh in on any number of scales, including the Autism-Spectrum Quotient and Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
6)you know why Pericles wore his helmet at festivities where Bacchus was an honored guest
7)you understand the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey and know who has wormed holes in the theory that this is the way to the future
8)you know which teams Daryl McBride and Eric Raymond play for. Give yourself an extra point if you pick the winner, and if it's going to be decided by Halloween.
9)people call you dweeb or whatever their choice word is for someone who is 'too' smart, then they ask you if you know how to tie your shoelaces
10)you know these real puzzlers: Charles M. Green and Mary Westmacott
11)your curiosity is boundless, inventive and audacious
12)you're not phobic about penguins
13)you wonder what the world would be like if people saw more beauty in numbers than in their hairdos
14)you heed Seneca's warning that the fates lead those who will and drag those who don't. So you don't make any apologies for being smart, because you know, as Santayana did, that your intelligence is your weapon against fate.
15)you know who said this: “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”
16)you wonder what light sees when it looks at a photon
17)you have asked how fast you're moving when you're standing still, and you've done the calculations, never confusing velocity with speed
18)you know who was in the background when he discovered the midground
19)when you were a kid, you wanted to know what are the minimum number of dimensions needed to make a universe, and before you left elementary school you had figured out how many elephants can stand on the same chair
20)when something goes wrong it's common for people to respond by asking, “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?” Nerds, on the otherhand, are more likely to say, “How did this happen to me? What haven't I learned?”
21)you know the correct answer to this: Is the universe conscious?
22)you have a keen sense of irony. Nerds are notorious for being socially inept. Yet you notice people think nothing of razzing you with rude, uncouth, hyper-critical, pejorative and dismissive remarks for wearing a pen holder and/or clothes that aren't fashionable
23)you wonder why we can't grasp infinity. Like, you have to ask, just where and when is the universe, exactly? In relation to what?
24)you wonder why there's something instead of nothing, and if nothing can exist given that existence is something
25)you're fascinated with the concept of time, especially its mind-warping paradoxes like how we can't experience the moment without at the same time losing it, yet the moment is eternal
26)as Plato said, dying is the business of philosophers, you can see why there are so few philosophers and why so many people spend their lives avoiding the painful necessity of thought
27)you're credited with having no sense of humor, yet you create the entertainment others need to get their laughs
28)in expressing yourself as an individual, you get labeled eccentric, but you don't give into the criticism because you're fearless in being true to yourself as an individual
29)your sense of justice oftentimes has you at odds with mainstream morality
30)you went through the whole quiz, dwelling more on the list items you're not sure how to answer. Because for you, understanding is both the means and the end.
If you scanned haphazardly down to here without pausing to consider why I chose the prairie image for the nerd quiz banner, you probably pride yourself on not being a nerd. But you're half way to being one, because you share something with all nerds: a well-developed curiosity that leads you to places that expand your purview even when you're just cruising.
If you made it through the whole quiz and made an honest effort in considering each of the items: CONGRATULATIONS! You're a nerd, and as such, a full member of the smart-set, an exalted tribe that includes the greatest thinkers, scholars, explorers, inventors, artists, leaders, scientists, philosophers, builders, athletes and other preternatural achievers who have ever lived on this planet Earth and/or in our imaginations.