To the Editor:
While ''America Needs Its Nerds'' (Op-Ed, Jan. 11) by Leonid Fridman, a Harvard student, may be correct in its message that Americans should treat intellectualism with greater respect, his identification of the ''nerd'' as guardian of this intellectual tradition is misguided.
Mr. Fridman maintains that anti-intellectualism runs rampant across this country, even at the ''prestigious academic institution'' he attends. However, he confuses a distaste for narrow-mindedness with anti-intellectualism. Just as Harvard, as a whole, reflects diversity in the racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds of its students, each student should reflect a diversity of interest as well.
A ''nerd'' or ''geek'' is distinguished by a lack of diverse interests, rather than by a presence of intellectualism. Thus, a nerd or geek is not, as Mr. Fridman states, a student ''for whom pursuing knowledge is the top priority'' but a student for whom pursuing knowledge is the sole objective. A nerd becomes socially maladjusted because he doesn't participate in social activities or even intellectual activities involving other people. As a result, a nerd is less the intellectual champion of Mr. Fridman's descriptions than a person whose intelligence is not focused and enhanced by contact with fellow students. Constant study renders such social learning impossible.
For a large majority at Harvard, academic pursuit is the highest goal; a limited number, however, refuse to partake in activities other than study. Only these select few are the targets of the geek label. Continuous study, like any other obsession, is not a habit to be lauded. Every student, no matter how ''intellectually curious,'' ought to take a little time to pursue social knowledge through activities other than study.
Mr. Fridman's analysis demonstrates further flaws in his reference to Japan. He comments that ''in East Asia, a kid who studies hard is lauded and held up as an example to other students,'' while in the United States he or she is ostracized. This is an unfair comparison because Mr. Fridman's first reference is to how the East Asian child is viewed by teachers, while his second reference is to how the American child is viewed by fellow students. Mr. Fridman is equating two distinct perspectives on the student to substantiate a broad generalization on which he has no factual data.
Nerdism may also be criticized because it often leads to the pursuit of knowledge not for its own sake, but for the sake of grades. Nerds are well versed in the type of intellectual trivia that may help in obtaining A's, but has little or no relevance to the real world. A true definition of intellectualism ought to include social knowledge.
While we in no way condone the terms ''nerds'' and ''geeks'' as insults, we also cannot condone the isolationist intellectualism Mr. Fridman advocates.Continue reading the main story
People around the world need to open there eyes to what intellectual individuals can do for the world rather than only idolizing the celebrity’s and athletics. “America Needs Its Nerds” by Leonid Fridman talks about how in our society that we idolize celebrity’s and athletics more than intellectual people. Friedman effectively persuades an audience of intellectuals to value their academic prowess with a logical definition of “Geek,” comparisons that highlight the extent of the issue, and rhetorical questions that encourage actions. In the beginning of his essay, Friedman defines “geek” to catch the reader’s attention and offend them, so that they will take action. He cites the Webster’s New World Dictionary defining “geek” as a street performer who shocks the public by biting off the heads of live chickens.” The archaic term was used derogatorily about geeks. Today, intellectuals would be offended by this definition, and it would ultimately catch their attention.
He intends that intellectuals, when learning this fact, will become offended, read the article, and then take action to resolve the injustice. Halfway through his essay, he compares the United States with East Asia and the intellectuals at Harvard to athletes in order to show the dire need to take a stand. He compares to the intellectuals that live in the United States and the intellectuals that live Asia. who ironically do not feel comfortable expressing their own intellectual self’s to the world because the chance of embarrassment. In the last sentence in the third paragraph “Nerds are ostracized while athletes are idolized.” this quote is explicitly trying to inform the reader that intellectual individuals should be more idolize as well as any other athlete or celebrity.
At the end of his essays, he uses a rhetorical question to get the reader to think about how intellectualism should be valued and what they are going to do to change society’s fault. To prove his point, Fridman asked, “How long can America remain a world- class power if we constantly emphasize social skills and physical prowess over academic achievement and intellectual ability?” He asked us this show the necessity of knowledge we need to strive and stay a main power in the world. Present day, we emphasize the need for social skills an America rather than intelligence, and it will definitely catch the citizens of America who still want to be a striving country. Fridman asked this question to the intellectuals of the United States to evaluate the current situation we are in and ultimately speak up, take a stance and make knowledge the main focus of our nation rather than social skills.