I am not a geek. I am not a nerd. I’ve never watched a single episode of Buffy, Star Trek, Dr Who or any of the like. I just watched Firefly for the first time a few months ago. I’m not good at math. The only video game I’m even sort of moderately decent at is Mario Kart. I never hung out with geeks in high school. Maybe a little in college, but really it was more after college, and I always felt like I was being tolerated more than that I was a “friend”. (And seriously, even if I wanted to, getting into a geek clique was way harder than becoming friends with popular kids. The geeks were mean.)

Yet skepticism seems to have a huge overlap with “geek culture”. And I don’t understand that. I feel like there’s a pride that skeptics are geeks and an expectation that we should be… both from insiders and outsiders.

I’ve been put on the spot and asked my “geek cred” before… and I’ll be honest, I don’t think I have any.

Confession: I Google most of the punchlines to your jokes.

What is with all the geeks? Why don’t we attract more “mainstream” culture? Since I’m not a geek does that make me a geek geek or a cool kid amongst geeks? Is there anyone else out there who managed got by mostly fitting in and living in generally non-remarkable social circles?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Elyse

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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77 Comments

  1. Avatar of BigHeathenMike
    February 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm —

    I’m not a geek either. Most of the time I fake understanding the Star Trek references and I have never once seen Dr. Who, nor do I have any interest in it.

    I like mixed martial arts and watching Wipeout. While I get why geeks are attracted to skepticism and critical thinking, it’s becoming more mainstream…I think.

    …I hope. Either way, geeks and nerds are cool and they’re nice to me.

  2. Avatar of Kammy
    February 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm —

    I’ve watched a lot of the new Dr. Who now, but before I did, I actually really enjoyed telling my geeky friends that I hadn’t just to see them gasp and sputter. :P

    I think I’m a geek but I haven’t gotten involved in nearly all the fandoms most of my geeky friends have. While I may not be very much into Dr. Who and the like or most games, I just seem to really like people who are.

    On this topic, sometimes I’m insecure about my “skeptic cred” because I’m not all that sciency. I’m pretty comfortable not really knowing all the details of biology and astronomy, but sometimes I think people think I’m not as good of a skeptic as I could be because of that. I can live with that, though. I’m in it to promote critical thinking, a way of thinking, not so much what to think about.

  3. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm —

    @the Procrastinatrix: You want to really see them shudder, watch this.

    I have never seen Doctor Who but I’m a big fan of Torchwood.

    Sacrilege!!! Heretic!! Burn him!

  4. Avatar of Luke
    February 12, 2011 at 3:57 pm —

    The reason why we have a hard time attracting more “mainstream” culture is probably just because skepticism and the love for science is so heavily associated with “geeks”. Geeks tend to like science and skepticism. People may therefore think that liking skepticism and science makes them geeks.

  5. Avatar of Elyse
    February 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm —

    @the Procrastinatrix:

    I’ll call your “not sciencey” and raise you a “failed out of music college”.

    I’m not only not sciencey, I don’t have any college degree, and I’m certainly not smart enough to be here.

    Luckily, I can trick you all with my snark and great hair.

  6. Avatar of Rebisaz
    February 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm —

    I think you’re a cool kid among geeks. But then I’m a geek.

    TheProcrastinatrix, I’d never question your skeptic cred. I don’t think it takes a “sciency” mind to be logical.

    Mrmisconception, I am enraged at the very idea of it. Enraged.

  7. Avatar of Kammy
    February 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm —

    @mrmisconception:

    HA! I got into a big argument with someone once about how I thought Jack’s actions in one show were so completely out of character that I questioned Russel Davies commitment to character over shock value. The person reacted like some christians react when you tell them you don’t believe in their fairy tales. I’m laughing now, but it was V. Srs at the time. :P

  8. Avatar of Kammy
    February 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm —

    @Elyse:

    “I’m not only not sciencey, I don’t have any college degree, and I’m certainly not smart enough to be here.”

    Me, too!!! I wonder how many closeted non-degree holders/don’t feel smart enough there are amongst us? Come out, come out!! You’re not alone!

  9. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm —

    Elyse,

    I too am not very geeky in the traditional sense. The thing to remember is, while geek culture seems to be very specific (comic books, gaming, sci-fi, etc.) you can actually be a geek about just about anything. I see geekdom as being really into something, taking the subject seriously enough to be pedantic about it, but not so serious that you can’t have a sense of humor about it.
    I do not know you, but from what I have read here and heard on different podcasts you have been on, I would say that you are a geek (everyone I know is geeky about something). Your specific geekdom (and correct me if I’m wrong) is bar culture. You know about mixed drinks, which are best, exactly how they are mixed, what makes the best mixers, etc.

    You, my friend, are a bar geek.

  10. Avatar of Elyse
    February 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm —

    @mrmisconception:

    That’s what I tried to tell everyone at the intervention!

  11. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm —

    @the Procrastinatrix: Me, too!!! I wonder how many closeted non-degree holders/don’t feel smart enough there are amongst us? Come out, come out!! You’re not alone!

    Yep, no degree. Completely self educated on anything beyond H.S. and I must say I am a very good teacher.

  12. Avatar of gwenwifar
    February 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm —

    I don’t really consider myself a geek, though I think others see me that way. I have never seen Dr Who, I watched a few episodes of Buffy’s first season with much eye rolling many years ago (I soo don’t get how or why it became so popular) and though I have seen a lot of Star Trek, I really could take it or leave it (though my cat seems to really like it). Most ST references are lost on me entirely.
    Having said that, I do like technology, especially computer and internet technology, and most people turn to me for answers. I don’t really get why. I’ve learned a lot by fixing my own problems when I have them, but I have not yet nor do I ever expect to build my own computer.
    I think it boils down to this: skeptics tend to be open minded. Open minded people tend to try new things more often than less open minded people. And we tend to give them a fair shot rather than give up at the first obstacle. So more of us are into non-mainstream (for lack of a better word) stuff.

  13. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm —

    @Elyse: That’s what I tried to tell everyone at the intervention!

    I SOOO wish I could give you a COTW nom. :)

  14. Avatar of MikeTown
    February 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm —

    @mrmisconception: You, sir, saved me a ton of time trying to figure out how to put my points across. Thank you! :)

    I do consider myself a geek, and always have. I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I was 5. I love Sci Fi. I’m very sciencey, but I don’t have a degree (Discalculia is a harsh mistress). I’ve always found myself on the outside edge in social situations, unless there are other self-professed geeks around.

    I guess I’m just trying re-iterate that, whatever you have a passion about (be it science, art, music (playing or listening) or mixology) can put you firmly in the realm of “being a geek” if you so choose. Accept it, embrace it, and others who share “the passion”, even if it’s not precisely *your* passion, will start to accept you for what you are. A fellow Geek.

  15. Avatar of Northernskeptic
    February 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm —

    Elyse I think you may be narrowing the definition of geek needlessly. Not all geeks watch particular shows, just because you have not seen Dr Who or Buffy does not mean you may not be a geek. I think it’s pretty geeky to play Mario Kart and live tweet your game for all to see, or create a twitter account for your toddler to tweet gibberish. You just have a different breed of geekiness.

  16. Avatar of davew
    February 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm —

    Yyyeeeaaaahhhhhh! As a lifelong geek (and nerd) it made my year to hear about someone’s troubles fitting in amongst geeks. My problem has always been the opposite.

    Yes geeks tend to be obsessive and science fiction, science, and fantasy are very popular in geek circles. We also, generally, have crappy social skills. Social skills so bad that they may be mistaken for diffidence or even hostility — especially around the opposite sex.

    Why so many around here? My guess is geeks like to think about things as skeptics like to think about things.

  17. Avatar of ClrBear430
    February 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm —


    Really?

    I have ever considered that it could be hard to fit in with the geek/nerd culture before.

    D:

    (Pedantry w00t!)

  18. Avatar of Bemmie
    February 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm —

    This may be the ultimate act of geek sacrilege but I’m just going to come out and say it anyway.

    I have never seen Star Wars.

    Nor do I have any intention of ever seeing it.

  19. Avatar of Kaloikagathoi
    February 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm —

    I loved, and still love, Buffy! I had no idea that made me a geek. I thought it was the sometimes feminism of the show that appealed to everyone.

  20. Avatar of BonnieBeth
    February 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm —

    I don’t know how to answer this accurately. I think I’m kinda catching up on geek cred or something… even though I should have had it rub off on me a lot more for having geeky parents and geeky friends.

    I didn’t see Star Wars until I’d graduated high school. Didn’t see Firefly until after it had been canceled, still haven’t seen Serenity. I think my mom watched Doctor Who, so I had seen it, but kinda only kept watching the new series for Doctor hotness until I actually got into it. Don’t like Buffy. I’m not so much with the maths, it takes me a long time to “get it.” I very nearly dropped out of high school. Don’t have a “real” degree yet, and while I’m working on it, I’m still an art student! This is not science-y! This is not nerdy! The hell?! Am I a true Dorkosphere Reject? Do I even go here? *frets*

    Elyse, can I come hang out with you at the bar? It’s what I know. I feel safe there.

  21. Avatar of Scopes Monkey Matt
    February 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm —

    I think the ‘definition’ of geek is expanding, as it continues its movement away from insult towards awesome-compliment. These days it really just means ‘enthusiastic and proud.’

    I’m a middle-aged composer (not a traditional geek job) but still happily call myself a geek.

    For the stats, here’s where I stand: Yes to Firefly, no to Dr Who, Yes to science, no to under-the-hood computing.

  22. Avatar of Bjornar
    February 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm —

    I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none when it comes to geekitude. I have occasional problems interacting with people who haven’t accepted the scientific method as their personal savior, but have no problems accepting people who haven’t seen Star Wars or Buffy. Admittedly I’ve always told them, jokingly mind you, that they’re nekulturny, but… Okay, maybe I should stop doing that.

  23. Avatar of Elyse
    February 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm —

    @BonnieBeth:

    We can cling to our booze together.

  24. Avatar of Brian G
    February 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm —

    @the Procrastinatrix: Yep, I’m a degree holder… but an art school degree. So I’m always wondering whether I ‘fit in’ or not, smarts-wise.
    I’ve always been pretty geeky, but in high school that transmogrified into ‘Freak’ for whatever reason. Even though I got along with most social groups. Who the eff knows.

    @Elyse: I can’t wait to one day have a beer/drink of choice with you that isn’t shared over VDS.

  25. Avatar of andiis
    February 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm —

    ” What is with all the geeks? Why don’t we attract more “mainstream” culture? ”

    I’m not so sure about all the labels, however I feel that like definitely attracts like. In a personal way, I mean.
    There is so little debate on these pages cos we all kinda agree. So I guess we are all mainstream, that is, we all swim together. That is why we are here, isn’t it ?
    I see the same dozen or so posts on most days and I nearly always agree with them.
    No anti-vaxxers here, no true believers, no flat-earthers, no ufologists, no ghost-hunters…you get my drift.
    So lets celebrate our sameity, our oneness, our bloody fuggin normalness…to the power of ten.

  26. Avatar of spa_yedimonster
    February 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm —

    Nerd is actually the Emo! It’s true all the young kids are talking about it.

  27. Avatar of spellwight
    February 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm —

    I barely hang on to my geekdom by my fingernails. I consider myself a passive geek.

    I never went to college, I like Star Wars but not enough to quote anything. I’ve just started watching Dr. Who. Though I was a huge fan of Firefly and Dollhouse, I can’t stand Buffy. I have lots of friends who make me watch geek-culture movies/TV (once, usually) so I get most of the references, but I seldom come up with my own.

    Let’s just say I’ve always been skeptical but only identified as a skeptic late in life (I’m almost 50) and I really enjoy coming here to find like minds.

    Geeks are thinkers who don’t just go with the flow. That’s why geekdom and skeptical thinking seem to go hand-in-hand.

  28. Avatar of ad_astra
    February 12, 2011 at 8:34 pm —

    I am pretty geeky. I really like comics, video and tabletop gaming, and I’ve been known to go to conventions and even (gasp) wear a costume. However, if you saw me in public you’d never guess (unless I was wearing a nerdy t-shirt). I’d like to think the geek subculture is one that often thinks against the norm and it’s that kind of dangerous thinking that can lead to skepticism!

    Are you a cool kid among geeks? Not if you ask other geeks who will scoff at your inability to “get” D20, scifi, anime, or fantasy references! I think you’re cool because you’re a skepchick though ;)

  29. Avatar of James Fox
    February 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm —

    @Elyse: You’re a vaccine geek, own it. And I was a Star Trek geek in 1968 and moved on to others forms of nerd and geekdom over the years. For me it was more about history, scifi, singing, and movies. I merged this with some mainstream sports involvement in high school and college so I’m still pretty comfortable in both the geek/nerd and normal worlds. ;-)

  30. Avatar of Kerry Maxwell
    February 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm —

    I reject the idea of Dr. Who, Star Wars, et al, as touchstones for membership in “The Skeptical Community”. Now if you have no interest in the writings of Carl Sagan, Martin Gardner, and Randi, I might seriously question your skeptic cred. Buffy we can live without (sorry Liz). But managing by mostly fitting in and living in generally non-remarkable social circles? Sorry that’s just plain weird! ;)

  31. Avatar of DataJack
    February 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm —

    I am a few flavors of geek, and my darling wife is not. We are both skeptics, though.

    We both enjoy your company, Elyse, so your doing something right.

  32. Avatar of Danarra
    February 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm —

    Seconding the vaccine-geek thing. That’s spot-on.

  33. Avatar of James Fox
    February 13, 2011 at 12:33 am —

    @Kerry Maxwell: Agreed, but for me it’s been fun to see scifi geekdom of different varieties provide a portal to the world of skeptical thinking and rational thought. Combine Spock, Kirk and Picard and you get Sagan, right??

  34. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    February 13, 2011 at 1:45 am —

    @Kerry Maxwell: Dinner with Liz, Amanda, Bob Novella and a bunch of other Boston Skeptics this evening. Liz hardly mentioned Buffy, not more than 1 or 2 dozen time. Bob on the other hand talked about zombie movies non-stop for over 2 hours. Bob wins.

  35. Avatar of davo_301
    February 13, 2011 at 7:45 am —

    lets see no degree, failed 6th form (collage) and work on a factory floor god i feel thick now, should I be stacking the chairs/ sweeping the floor or handing out the drinks here?

    I do have one anorack… gaming as I type this I’m uploading vids of my Let’s Play on youtube (playing a game and comentating at the same time). I do fear that gaming is harmful of critical thinking/ skeptical thinking. Think about it Mario doubles in size if he touches a mushroom, Resident Evil has herbs that heal you from zombie munching and act raiser you are a god…

    I watch star trek if nothing else is on and am forced to watch Dr Who (other half is a massive nut on that stuff) and I can watch the old stuff without giggling now.

  36. Avatar of Elyse
    February 13, 2011 at 8:59 am —

    I have successfully infiltrated! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  37. Avatar of Elyse
    February 13, 2011 at 9:02 am —

    @Northernskeptic:

    think it’s pretty geeky to play Mario Kart and live tweet your game for all to see, or create a twitter account for your toddler to tweet gibberish.

    Have some dignity. Ridiculously stupid and annoying is not necessarily the same as geek. Because otherwise the entire case of Jersey Shore are geeks… and geeks are not orange; they’re seethru white… Like me! OMGOMGOMG!!!!

  38. Avatar of Felicia
    February 13, 2011 at 10:57 am —

    I often have the feeling that I’m not enough of a geek. I’m a bit too allround, I’ve seen a few of the more important shows, I play one or two computer games, I know a bit about science, but I’m not hugely into any particular area. So I sort of recognise the whole feeling of not quite fitting in, as when I meet the “real” geeks of a particular area, I’m just laughable in my attempts at following along. The real problem is that I definitely don’t fit in with mainstream people either…

    Anyway, as for why skepticism tends to attract geeks, I’m sure someone has already said this but I’ll throw it in there anyway: I think it’s because geeks tend (on average!) to be of a more intellectual bent than “normal” people (whatever that means), and skepticism is or is seen as a very intellectual exercise.

  39. Avatar of ripple
    February 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm —

    I don’t think watching sci-fi or having any number of science degree(s) is the requirement to being a skeptic. I do think science fluency is, how can one honestly form an opinion that is any better than a true believer’s without being scientifically informed? how one gets informed is flexible, blogs, books, college, whatever. Its not HOW one learns, but THAT one is learned.

  40. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    February 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm —

    @Elyse: To quote Marian Call, if you are even having this conversation, you’re in.

  41. Avatar of BlackCat
    February 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm —

    I think that “mainstream” is overrated. This is probably controversial, but one reason skepticism doesn’t attract mainstream attention is because it involves thinking, not feelings or touchy-feely feel good garbage. The “mainstream” doesn’t like thinking, only feeling.

    What’s so great about geeks anyway? Am I one? I suppose, but I don’t care. I never really felt like I belonged in any group at all. Sure, I love video games, anime, Star Trek: TNG, DS9, Babylon 5, Firefly. Do not care about Dr. Who, Buffy, etc. But I also like things like science, philsophy, DS games, Guild Wars, Mad Men, Japanese culture, Roman history, programming, building computers, sociology, etymology, manga, good stories, and cats. What do any of these things have to do with each other? Nothing. People have a lot of interests; sometimes those interests overlap, some more than others. What important is not focusing on differences, but what people have in common. (Though I wish more people were interested in things that I am. I feel pretty esoteric.)

  42. Avatar of NDNative
    February 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm —

    I have “lurked” on this forum for a number of years. Too scared to post b/c I don’t feel smart/geeky enough. Reading this post & comments make me feel less like an outsider looking in.
    Thanks

  43. Avatar of scribe999
    February 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm —

    I’m proud to be a geek…and a skeptic…and a human being…EXCELSIOR!

  44. Avatar of Maddie_the_cat
    February 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm —

    This is an interesting comment thread for me since I’ve never been one to really fit in to one group. I got into Buffy because I was looking for shows with well done lesbian characters, but stayed for the scify/fantasy fun. I got into Torchwood before Dr. Who and probably like the Torchwood slash fiction better than both. I have decent quant skills but switched my major from Physics to Women’s studies back in the 80s because I didn’t like the math that much. Yet I out-quant all my writer friends since I took calculus and linear algebra and do my own taxes and investments. Also, in spite of being a lesbian and supposedly well educated, I have a total teenage girl crush on both Jack and Ianto of Torchwood. I plan to go to Burning Man this year, where there is a lot of woo, but great art. So there! What am I? I don’t know but anyone on this blog is cool.

  45. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    February 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm —

    @NDNative: Ignorance is the default state of everyone. Skepticism is the realization of this and the idea that the only (tentative) way to overcome it is to apply the scientific method and reasoning to careful observation and experiment. Don’t feel as though you have to be an expert* or genius to comment; the first and most important step in this process is to ask questions, You just need to be curious and interested in where the questions lead, and I think you’ll fit right in.

    As for geekiness, there are way too many geek topics for anyone to be remotely familiar with most of them. There are people here who geek out about knitting and cricket. Most of the geekery is just jokes and obscure references, and if you don’t get them, it doesn’t matter. Most of us probably won’t get your jokes or references either. When someone else does get one, it’s a magic burst of happiness for both of you, and an invisible unicorn springs into existence. Double-plus Good!

    [*] To prove my geek cred, I’ll inject an appropriate quote that I heard at a winter botany walk at a local Audubon sanctuary yesterday, When stymied for an answer to a question, the woman leading the walk said this:

    Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. – Richard Feynman.**

    [**] I got this version from a comment to a blog post of Orac’s that I found while trying to discover the correct wording. I’ve also found “disbelief in the infallibility of experts.” I’m not sure which is actually right, or if it is apocryphal.***

    [***] Footnoting comments is an act of extreme geekery. I hope this makes you laugh and feel that a little silliness is perfectly acceptable.

  46. Avatar of halincoh
    February 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm —

    Not that I like labels, but if a label must be placed, I think it’s pretty difficult to place a label on oneself.

    I consider myself a happy chameleon, relatively eclectic, and a man with many interests. I move comfortably in many circles: science, skepticism, medicine, sports, art, and recently the performing arts. There’s much I know and there is even more that I do not know. I love trying something that I am unfamiliar with; I love learning what I do not know.

    What defines a geek?
    If it is someone who loves learning, then I’m a geek.
    If it is someone who loves doing, then I’m not.

    In this forum, James Fox and Skept-Artist know me the best.

    So, to them I ask, am I a geek?
    If they say yes, then it’s yes and if they say no, it’s no … and, either way … as I said before, I don’t real care for labels.

  47. Avatar of Brian G
    February 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm —

    @NDNative: I was apprehensive to comment here for a while as well. But once I jumped in, it was great. Welcome!

    @halincoh: Geek seems to be a relative term. At the very least, you are an improv geek. Dig it.

  48. Avatar of halincoh
    February 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm —

    Tis dugged.

  49. Avatar of dreamingtree
    February 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm —

    I’m of the mind that one single interest does not have to define you. I’m a skeptic and I’m a geek. I’m also a geek and I HATE Big Bang Theory (the show). This is blasphemous to many I’m sure, but just because I’m geeky doesn’t mean I’m going to love a show about geeks.

    I do not have a degree… I only made it about a year in college. That being said I enjoy learning… on my own terms. I had a really hard time getting through all the “core” classes in college since none of it had much of anything to do with my major. What’s weird to me is that a degree doesn’t make a person smarter… it just shows they are capable of putting up with endless tasks for four years. I worked at a call center with a guy fresh out of college. He could barely type, didn’t now how to operate a computer at any reasonable rate, etc… The guy had no common sense but somehow made it through college. And for that reason alone he was promoted before me, the person everyone came to for everything. Blah.

  50. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm —

    @Buzz Parsec: I’ll inject an appropriate quote that I heard at a winter botany walk at a local Audubon sanctuary yesterday

    Name dropper.

  51. Avatar of James Fox
    February 14, 2011 at 1:35 am —

    @halincoh: We’ll just call you Hal.

  52. Avatar of bentia
    February 14, 2011 at 3:12 am —

    I’ve found that many folks who would proudly refer to themselves as geeks also seem to have a propensity to believe in ghosts and/or UFO conspiracies.

    Me? I love ballet and we are most certainly NOT geeks, we are balletomanes and proud of it.

  53. Avatar of glassdirigible
    February 14, 2011 at 4:04 am —

    In most of the geeky groups I’ve been in the largest barrier to entry is a complete lack of social skills (usually to the point where the person is extremely rude or overbearing). This doesn’t seem to be that different from the rest of the world, but perhaps my friends are the exception.

    A lack of geek “cred” makes it harder to jump into conversations to begin with as does being shy, but eventually shared experiences can make up for those.

    @Skept-artist: I can’t speak for all geek circles but at my school the “Geek Club” is about half art students.

  54. Avatar of pseudomorph
    February 14, 2011 at 4:37 am —

    I am a bit of a geek, but wasn’t always so. I’ve always had a love of Sci-Fi, but did an arts degree and was decidedly non-skeptical when I was younger, and moved in semi-hippy circles that dabbled in alternative medicine and religion. It was only when I started studying science at the age of 30 that I became a fully-blown skeptic (and athiest). I think its because science gives you analytical skills, and teaches you to question everything and take nothing at face value. These are things that non-science people generally aren’t taught, so tend to take things at face value, and don’t question what they are told.

    I’ve always been envious of people who don’t have a science background but are still skeptics, as they have a natural skeptical ability that I had to be taught!

  55. Avatar of Felicia
    February 14, 2011 at 5:42 am —

    @dreamingtree: “I’m also a geek and I HATE Big Bang Theory (the show). This is blasphemous to many I’m sure, but just because I’m geeky doesn’t mean I’m going to love a show about geeks.”

    Thank you!!! I’ve seen bits and pieces and downloaded the first episode and went… this isn’t a show about geeks, this is a show about very smart people who are complete social misfits. It’s embarrassing and stupid and in no way representative of geeks as I know them.

  56. Avatar of Elyse
    February 14, 2011 at 9:50 am —

    @pseudomorph:

    I’ve always been envious of people who don’t have a science background but are still skeptics, as they have a natural skeptical ability that I had to be taught!

    No way do I have a natural skeptical ability. I have a natural gullibility far beyond the average person. If I want to stay alive and hold onto what little money I have, I must force myself to be skeptical. For me, it’s a survival skill.

    10 years ago, if you asked me, I would never vaccinate my kids and if I got diagnosed with cancer, I’d refuse chemo. Aliens totally live amongst us. Ghosts could fuck your shit up. And the Bush administration was at least an accomplice on 9/11 (ok, 7-10 years ago, give or take).

    I work very hard to be skeptical. In fact, I’ve had to teach myself to always question if something really makes sense. It’s not at all natural. It’s very forced.

  57. Avatar of Brian G
    February 14, 2011 at 10:06 am —

    @glassdirigible: That’s really interesting and heartening to hear. I have a few stories that I’m trying to work out about my dealings with other artists re: nonsense, mysticism and (almost) art-theft (‘hey, ideas are free maaaaaaaaaaan’ [/patchouli] ).
    I’ve also discovered an entire community of artist-skeptics/science enthusiasts/geeks through Twitter. So it’s nice to hear that there are even more artist geeks out there.

  58. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    February 14, 2011 at 10:40 am —

    @mrmisconception: Usually, I’m much worse.

  59. Avatar of BonnieBeth
    February 14, 2011 at 11:19 am —

    @Skept-artist: (‘hey, ideas are free maaaaaaaaaaan’ [/patchouli] )

    …but their development and execution are not. Additionally, their derivative works lack meaning due to the lack of inspiration, concept, and the thought processes that accompany the creation of awesome stuff. [/soapbox]

  60. Avatar of BrieCS
    February 14, 2011 at 11:33 am —

    I’m a late-to-the-geek-party-geek. I’ve always had geeky tendencies, but only after I met my husband and found out that it was okay to let my freak flag fly did I get super into it. Doctor Who, I’m new to, and I just finally started watching Buffy and buying the comic books I’ve wanted to read for years, and I watch Star Trek (it’s one of the only things that helps with my insomnia, and I’m serious on that), The Guild, Angel, Firefly, Bones and all sorts of stuff. If it’s geeky, I’m on it. I love cephalopods. I like computers and complicated science (even though I can’t do math, I like theories). I play D&D and Shadowrun and like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I play video games of most variations at least occasionally. My geek, it’s ongoing.
    I’m not a Super!Skeptic for quite a few reasons mentioned here before, but most people write it off to my being legitimately insane.
    I don’t have a good memory, though, which is a MAJOR geek failing – I can’t remember what dice to roll for an attack, I can’t remember quotes from shows, I forget character connections and can’t tell you the right equation for the speed of light without probably taking 10 minutes or Googling it. (I also haven’t finished my Associates in General Studies yet. Oh, yeah. I’m that awesome.)

    I think it’s SUPER hard for women to get into geek groups. Even if you are a geek. I am super, super dorky, but I have gone through three incarnations of geek groups and every time but the last it’s ended horribly (and this one is kind of new, so my paranoia abounds). Both female AND male geeks are harder on female geeks.
    It’s like women in science – you have SO much more to prove. It’s ridiculous.

    I don’t think skepticism is exclusive to geekery, though, but I think, like liberals in academia, it’s just a tendency. Geeks are exposed to more skeptical ideas and have a greater tendency to pursue factually-based education.

  61. Avatar of Brian G
    February 14, 2011 at 11:59 am —

    @BonnieBeth: (Still Skept-artist, just changed name!) Amen! Excellently put. I really need to work on the article I was referring to because it addresses exactly what you say in your comment as well as other issues that basically amount to misappropriation of said ideas and a lack of common decency. GRRRR!

  62. Avatar of James Fox
    February 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm —

    Well this geek dad took his 17 year old daughter to Seattle yesterday for an uber-geek day. Experience Music Project, SciFi Museum, Harry Potter Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, and dinner at Bizzarro Italian Café (food geek place). I guess that removes any doubt about me.

  63. Avatar of Mark Hall
    February 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm —

    I’m extremely geeky, but there are a number of geek touchstones I’ve missed out on… things like Dr. Who (never seen any) and I only recently read Dune.

  64. Avatar of scribe999
    February 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm —

    @James Fox: You are the ubermensch of geek dads.

    Is anyone going to PAX East this year?

  65. Avatar of piotrr
    February 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm —

    I’m half geek. Grew up with ST:TNG on the TV at pretty much every dinner, played with computers and didn’t get sports. Still don’t.

    Thing is though. Skepticism and possibly new secularism are movements dominated by, perhaps even led by geeks, a normally marginalized group. Maybe it’s the revenge of the geeks. Maybe geeks are taking over. Maybe geekdom is even becoming mainstream, or at least a major subculture.

    Of course it’s not geek-exclusive. It’s just geek-dominated. If geeks treat you with suspicion because you don’t share their cultural memes,
    consider why a previously marginalized group might be suspicious of outsiders.

  66. Avatar of Zapski
    February 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm —

    Total geek here. Hell, I even use the term Nerd proudly, even though I’m not socially awkward.

  67. Avatar of OnlyThis
    February 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm —

    I think I’m more a geek than not, but I don’t have the best geek cred. I go to the cons, sometimes (hell, I’ve even worked the last two years as a PAX enforcer), but overall I find them tedious. I do play video games way too much, but I don’t play online because I find social gaming stressful (Hold ON, people, I want to check every square inch of this room! Dammit, why are you sitting 3 miles back – your gun doesn’t have that kind of range. Yes, you’re a big boy now for camping the spawn point. Oh, look, you’ve played this map 3 trillion times and now know where everything is… good for you.) I watch Dr. Who, but only since David Tennant. I haven’t seen Buffy or Firefly, and I’ve been trying to get through Babylon 5, but haven’t made it through season 2. I have a liberal arts degree, but I work in computers. I love technology, but would rather use it than talk about it. I am awful at memorizing facts, names and dates, which makes me seem less of a geek than I am, since I can’t tell you the name of pretty much anything without looking it up. I think in pictures, and have a hard time verbalizing my thoughts, which makes it hard for me to be taken seriously. I’m also a girl… which has it’s own problems in the geek culture.

    I think the skeptic movement is dominated by geeks because math, science and technology are dominated by geeks. Geeks, as piotrr mentioned, are a historically marginalized group of people (although I believe this is quickly changing), and as such, can be suspicious of those outside their comfort zone.

  68. Avatar of halincoh
    February 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm —

    @James Fox: lol … close enough!

  69. Avatar of halincoh
    February 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm —

    @James Fox: listen , my friend … if you consider yourself a geek … then count me in.

  70. Avatar of pseudomorph
    February 15, 2011 at 4:33 am —

    @Elyse That makes me feel a lot better – I always imagine I was the only gullible one in my youth! It takes a lot of effort for me to be skeptical too, and I still catch myself being sucked-in (especially with the ‘eat lots of tomatoes and you wont get cancer’ type of stories). It makes me wonder why other people became skeptics – survival, science, natural ability or other?

  71. Avatar of pseudomorph
    February 15, 2011 at 4:43 am —

    BTW I’m new to commenting on forums and have no idea how these things work. At the risk of forever damaging what little geek credentials I had, can someone tell me how to make someone’s name into a link when your replying to their comment? Thankyou!

  72. Avatar of Brian G
    February 15, 2011 at 7:11 am —

    @pseudomorph: Welcome! Go to the upper left of your screen to the Meta category. Click site admin. On the next screen select Profile at the upper left. On that screen under Contact, type in your website and then Save. That should do it.
    I think after you post a another comment it will take effect.

  73. Avatar of Felicia
    February 15, 2011 at 7:38 am —

    @pseudomorph: You get the link by clicking the little arrow symbol next to the number to the right of the commenter’s name. A link is then automatically generated in the comment window.

  74. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    February 15, 2011 at 8:15 am —

    @Brian G: I think this makes your OWN name into a link. What @Felicia: said for making someone else’s name into a link back to their comment. Also, if you click on multiple of the little back arrows, you can link back to multiple comments. (You need to be careful doing this not to disrupt the HTMLy stuff each click dumps into the comment text box, or you’ll mess up the links.)

    You can even link to a comment on another blog entry! Like if Elyse has been ranting about something else, and some comment reminds you of that rant, you can go to her entry (a comment, not the main post – you can do that too, but it’s a little harder), click on the curly arrow as though you were going to make a followup comment, then cut the stuff in the comment box, come back to the first blog, paste it in the comment box, and voila! The first time I did that, I gave myself 10 geek points! (This is simpler than it sounds, just highlight, right-click to cut, back, right-click to paste.)

  75. Avatar of Brian G
    February 15, 2011 at 8:39 am —

    @buzz parsec & @Felicia: oops! I misread the question. That’s what I get for commenting before coffee. Fail.

  76. Avatar of pseudomorph
    February 15, 2011 at 9:04 am —

    Fabulous! Thanks @Felicia: and @Brian G: and @Buzz Parsec: I feel like a pro now :D

  77. Avatar of angua
    February 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm —

    @Elyse: That’s inspiring. I was similar to you for a few years but for different reasons: I neeeeded to believe what all the alternative therapists said was true so I could get better. It doesn’t work if you have the wrong belief system, you know! Critical thoughts block the healing! It’s your own fault if you don’t recover from the incurable disease you have! Toxins! Toxins! In your food, in your thoughts! Aaaaagh.

    Of course, the less it works the more desperate you feel. Scepticism has done more for my “mind and spirit” than alternative therapists ever have. (Now if it could just work on my body…. ;))

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