The National Review Just Fake Geek Girl'd Neil deGrasse Tyson

Illustration for article titled The National Review Just Fake Geek Girl'd Neil deGrasse Tyson

It would seem the National Review looked up and realized that suddenly, its stockpile of liberal stereotypes were out of date. The old standbys like "latte-swilling limousine liberals" "hairy-legged radical feminists" and "effete Ivory Tower collectivists" just don't have the same punch. Meet the statistics-spewing, climate-change believing fake-geek poser!


The news peg: the popularity of Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Forget running the Hayden Planetarium "at the NEW YORK SCIENCE MUSEUM" (good Googling, interns), and forget his actual academic background. He is "the fetish and totem of the extraordinarily puffed-up 'nerd' culture that has of late started to bloom across the United States." And it is a scourge. A blight!

One part insecure hipsterism, one part unwarranted condescension, the two defining characteristics of self-professed nerds are (a) the belief that one can discover all of the secrets of human experience through differential equations and (b) the unlovely tendency to presume themselves to be smarter than everybody else in the world.

Examples cited: Al Gore, Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Nate Silver, Bill Nye (?) AND Richard Dawkins—"really, anybody who conforms to the Left's social and moral precepts while wearing glasses and babbling about statistics." Yes, because Richard Dawkins is so popular with us bra-burners these days.

This is just a really bold piece of rhetorical slight-of-hand. Author Charles C.W. Cooke is insinuating these folks don't really have any bona-fide credentials; they just play the part really well. At the same time, he's painting them as a bunch of stats-obsessed eggheads who don't understand the higher, finer things in life. He argues that claiming you're a "nerd" now translates to: "Look at me and let me tell you who I am not, which is southern, politically conservative, culturally traditional, religious in some sense, patriotic, driven by principle rather than the pivot tables of Microsoft Excel, and in any way attached to the past."

Sure, being a "nerd" has become a popular, mainstream thing, a mantle to which people aspire. And there are plenty of people on the Internet who like to spew "IT'S JUST SCIENCE" in lieu of any actual deep critical thinking. (Look to your right and you will see /r/theredpill.) Breaking: Sometimes human beings adopt popular postures to advance their own social status. Film at 11. But it's pretty disingenuous to claim that liberals have some monopoly on bullshit appeals to numbers. Ahem.


But then it becomes clear what's really happening here. As Sean T. Collins pointed out on Twitter, the National Review has essentially just Fake Geek Girl'd everyone who wants to evoke science and/or statistics in the service of making a point such as maybe we should be a lil worried about climate change, I dunno, just a thought:

The pose is, of course, little more than a ruse — our professional "nerds" being, like Mrs. Doubtfire, stereotypical facsimiles of the real thing. They have the patois but not the passion; the clothes but not the style; the posture but not the imprimatur. Theirs is the nerd-dom of Star Wars, not Star Trek; of Mario Kart and not World of Warcraft; of the latest X-Men movie rather than the comics themselves.


This is really the masterstroke. Take a bow, Charles C.W. Cooke! He's now painted his straw-man know-nothing eggheads as basically a bunch of damn clueless GIRLS. This is routine treatment for any woman who dares express an opinion about Serious Dude Nerd Things. Look to the treatment of Village Voice critic Stephanie Zacharek, who dared express a negative opinion of the Guardians of the Galaxy. She was called a "harlot," one commenter referenced her "old, dried out pie" and another suggested, "She should stick to reviewing chick flicks only."

Get off my lawn, you Big Bang Theory-loving bunch of high school girls! I bet your political convictions weren't even influenced by The Moon Is Harsh Mistress!


Photo via Getty.


Emma Golddigger

I didn't understand the point of that National Review article at all. (Maybe I'm not smart enough to understand it, but at least that means I'm not a neeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrdddddd.) Is the crux of it "fuck liberals for valuing intelligence and knowledge"?