Adventures in Ethics and Science

And the nerdiest is …

The entries have been gathered, the aspects of geekiness quantified, and the composite scores calculated.

While computer-love made a positive contribution in the nerd index, the development of knowledge in other venues (and frequently, in multiple areas for the same nerd) was factored in as well. After all, the thing about nerds that made those beautiful people in high school so scared is that nerds enjoyed learning things for the sheer joy of learning them. That this is learning for learning’s sake is pretty evident from some of the areas to which the formidable brain power on display was applied. Being able to name Jupiter’s moons, or to do a mental sort of states by area or population isn’t a wildly handy skill, but it does give a nerd a sense of what his brain can be harnessed to do.

Given that the social difficulties of the nerd seem to arise in large part from living in a world where the love of learning is feared, rather than cherished, there were no nerd points awarded for social awkwardness per se. However, glorying in one’s nerditude despite social pressures, setting aside appearances, or challenging the fashionistas with a geeky T-shirt, earned points.

Nerds read books, watch TV and movies, play games, collect toys, go out (albeit to fan cons and ren fairs, libraries, geological expeditions, and nerd proms), play and listen to music, and tell jokes. They raise nerd children (or expose the kids they babysit to geeky ways of knowing), and they make their parents and partners accessories to their mental conquest of the world. Sometimes, their mental activities leave a permanent mark on the landscape. All of this was factored in to the nerd index.

I’d share the algorithm, but it’s proprietary.

There were many impressive nerds in the field of competitors, but a few attained nerdliness orders of magnitude above the pack. And, we may all be just a little bit nerdier for having trotted out our geek bona fides.

Results for the nerd-off after the jump.

Sixth place (tie):Mike Dunford and Dr. Joan Bushwell
Fourth place: Karmen Franklin
Third place: Orac
Second place: Rob Knop
First place: Mark Chu-Carroll


  1. #1 AndyS
    September 18, 2006

    One could make the case that participation in the nerd-off disqualifies you from winning.

  2. #2 Sean Carroll
    September 18, 2006

    Man, I was sure that Rob’s “I wear glasses… even though one of the lenses is currently missing” would have been good enough for first place. There’s some tough competition out there.

  3. #3 PZ Myers
    September 18, 2006

    Janet’s algorithm is secret, but I suspect there must be some built-in handicap for physicists and mathematicians to give the rest of us a slight chance.

  4. #4 Rob Knop
    September 18, 2006

    I think what sunk me was that this isn’t a pair of glasses where one of the arms is soldered on.

    I used to wear pairs of glasses like that in grad school. Soldering an arm in is both less obtrusive and way nerdier than using a paperclip to hold it on…. Just think if the missing lens *and* the soldered arm were on the *same* pair of glasses!

  5. #5 Kadin
    September 19, 2006

    Uhh…I think you mean fifth equal. If two people tie for first, they don’t each get second place, do they?
    And a person placing after that would then be seventh.

  6. #6 Rob Knop
    September 20, 2006

    Kadin — nice try, but the contest is closed. You aren’t going to dethrone any of us!

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