Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Not Nearly Nerdy E Nuff

Well, well, we seem to have a bit of war, a tussle if you will, concerning who claims the mantle of most nerdy-worthy sci-blogger. After taking the test and giving it a bit of thought, I have come to the conclusion that the test is faulty (one might even argue that it is a Tower of Fawlty-ness).

I know, some would say that I am merely disgruntled after scoring a measly mid 70. That’s an obvious argument to make, but in spite of my apparent “disgruntledness”, even had I scored triple digits and therefore been fully gruntled by the result, I would still claim that the test is a less than accurate quantifier of individual nerdosity.

The test suffers from no fewer than three problems. First, it was missing appropriate questions. While some areas were covered adequately, some quintessential nerd zones were passed over. For example, all good nerds had an interest in dinosaurs and other prehistoric life as a child (and most likely still do). Was there a question relating as to whether or not a brontosaurus could ever have been eaten by a T. rex? No. What about appropriate nerd paleo-putdowns? Who else but a true nerd could appreciate the multi-level nature of a cut such as “He couldn’t tell the difference between an allosaurus and an eohippus”?

Second, some questions left out obvious “high nerd” answers. Oh sure, there were answers more nerdy than others, but what if your desired answer topped them all and wasn’t on the list? For example, while there was a question regarding which of the listed programming languages really aren’t nerd-worthy languages, the really good answers are missing. As I have mentioned elsewhere, while one could argue whether or not BASIC (or even Pascal) is less nerd-worthy than COBOL (which is clearly not nerd-worthy at all), the superior uber-answer of Microsoft’s “C Sharp” dung-o-rama was nowhere to be found. For that matter, neither was their Visual Basic (and if I need to explain that vanilla BASIC and Visual Basic are about alike as tofu and roasted soybeans, subtract 10 points from whatever score you received).

Third, what if you could rightly claim several answers? There was no provision for multiple-multiple choice answers (i.e., the test itself was not nerdilicious). As an example I offer the question regarding cool professions. I am an engineer, programmer and a teacher (i.e., I teach engineering and programming, and also do engineering/programming work on the side), and I occasionally do some research. Do I get points for that? Do I get points for NOT having a single favorite calculator but rather either owning or using each of the types listed, and having specific calculator preferences depending on the job at hand (I favor a Sharp scientific for general use but reach for my TI-85 if I need to do simultaneous equation solutions with vectors, and a TI-89 for certain other chores, and yet I still use an my ancient APF scientific from college for some tasks)?

And speaking of calculators, how many bonus points do I get for lusting after the super-sized six foot long slide rule that hung above the chalkboard in one of my college math classrooms? Or for STILL having a slide rule in my office desk? Or for not only having a home chemistry set as a kid, but for, ahem, “augmenting” it with items from my high school chem lab when I was a lab assistant? Sorry, but this nerd test is lacking. And the very fact that I am able and willing to point out the flaws in such an inane little diversion and place it on Science Blogs should be sufficient to grant me at least a fiefdom in Nerdonia.


  1. #1 Doc Bushwell
    September 10, 2006

    After reading your critique of the test, I am convinced that your nerdosity quotient is in the stratosphere. If one resets the Nerd Test at a 1-10 scale, your score goes to 11.

    “…one might even argue that it is a Tower of Fawlty-ness.”

    Or a ripe bouquet of Flowery Twats.

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