back to article Hate speech row: Fine or jail anyone who calls people boffins, geeks or eggheads, psychology nerd demands

Labeling super-smart people with terms like nerd, geek, or boffin is hate speech, and should be punishable as such, argues lecturer and Harley-Street psychotherapist Dr Sonja Falck. Likewise wonk, smarty-pants, and know-it-all: these terms are "divisive and humiliating," and the “last taboo,” the University of East London …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

    Personally, I have no problem being called a nerd. I think that that person is basing that statement on her personal experience in school, which she obviously did not appreciate.

    That's not the case today. Nerd is a badge of honor now, and I don't need to defend boffins in these hallowed pages.

    That book should have been written twenty years ago. It would have been more relevant then.

    1. Bilious

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      From personal experience: when those words are followed up with physical abuse, then their function is that of hate speech. It's envy, of course, but painful enough. A small and weak nerd is defenseless against the big bullies.

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        That's the nature of school. Banning the tools of bullying does not ban the bullying, it just means the bullies will find another way or a different victim.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          "hi i've normalised abuse and you should too!"

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        A small and weak nerd is defenseless against the big bullies.

        When at school I did face a certain level of bullying, including being physically attacked. Dealing with the teachers to get it stopped is always a bit dodgy, since the bullies always lie and have a gang of people backing up their lies whereas the people being bullied invariably don't.

        The help I got was actually from a staff member of an external club, who simply taught me the rudimentary basics of the defensive side of martial arts. He didn't teach me a single attacking move, purely defensive techniques to break holds and not be present where a punch was thrown.

        The net result was the next time I was attacked the big bullies ended up being practically incapable of landing a punch due to me not being present where their punches were landing, and when trying to do things like bodily throwing themselves at me failed horribly when I moved out of the way. Simple to say but rather more difficult to execute. Footwork is very important.

        The big bullies ended up taking a severe knock to their street cred for very visibly failing to beat me up, one tried again in a more confined space at a later point assuming that I wouldn't be able to dodge his attacks, and discovered that it simply ended up with me redirecting him his attacks into solid objects. After this point the bullies ignored me and picked on easier targets that weren't capable of defending themselves. So actually, the small and weak nerd can defend themselves quite effectively with a diligent study of basics martial arts techniques, because the key is technique and knowledge, rather than brute force and ignorance. Bullies only bully the weak; if your not the weakest person around then they will pick on somebody else.

        Epilogue: some years later I was reviewing CV's for my team with a couple of other people to ensure a fair process was carried out, and received a CV from of one of these bullies in for an entry level position. I took one look at it, and then after a brief "how forgiving am I" moment inarticulately started explaining that they'd been bullies at school and i'd been one of their targets to the much more senior colleague and the HR droid who I was interviewing with. Before I could say that I might find it difficult to work with the individual, my much more senior colleague had wordlessly torn their CV in half and dropped it in the bin, and the HR droid equally as wordlessly crossed them off the list of potential staff and we moved on to the next CV without either saying a single word about their application.

        1. Erebus_77

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          I got an easier run in school. Being a bone fide egghead, swot, whatever was a lot easier when you're also 6ft+ and played in the first XV at rugby in the front row

          https://static.simpsonswiki.com/images/b/b1/Professor_Moose.png

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            I'd consider my run tolerably easy as it was. Once they know they can't take you they pick on somebody weaker with twice the energy to make up for their humiliation.

            It's those kids that I feel sorry for.

        2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          I had an odd schooling as both a 'nerd/geek/insufferable-know-it-all' and a member of the school rugby team (right prop).

          It was apparently seen as a badge of honor by the school bullies to have a fight with me and walk away from it in a better state than I (a rare thing unless they had numbers on their side). This ended after I said I had enough of the school and on my last day I was... Well, given a good seeing off. Two of them in hospital (kidney bruising and a suspected dislocated vertebrae), one set of locked double doors broken (I went through them backwards) and lots of bruises all round.

          New school and the previous school nerd didn't take kindly to me getting better scores. We had a 'talk' in front on an exam room... With the rest of my year watching with fascinated interest over who was the new king nerd... Cloth ears all round later and we left it at that. Teachers never knew what had gone done since everyone stayed stumm over the whole thing.

          The odd thing is the leader of the bullies from the first school years later apologised to me on a night out where our paths crossed. He'd joined the army and explained that I was the only person he'd ever met until he signed up who could physically beat him when he bullied them. That was a weird moment and still makes me wonder just what the hell he went through in training...

          With regards to the names, the meanings of words change. Insults soften or the meaning is lost. The terms used aren't relivant anymore as insults, they're seen as terms of endearment, or even empowerment now. Sort of like how snowflake as managed in such a short period of time.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        "when those words are followed up with physical abuse, then their function is that of hate speech."

        But that would be true of literally any descriptor used in that context. The problem with that scenario is the physical abuse, not that the attacker says "nerd" while doing it.

        1. holmegm Bronze badge

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          "But that would be true of literally any descriptor used in that context. The problem with that scenario is the physical abuse, not that the attacker says "nerd" while doing it."

          Hmm. Then why isn't that true of the words that *are* banned, which result in fines and imprisonment, etc.? Isn't the problem with *those* words the physical abuse, historical discrimination, etc.?

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            I would say so, yes. No such words are banned in my country, though, so my knowledge of that is rather limited.

          2. Juillen 1

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            Yes, it's physical abuse that's the problem there.

            There are harassment laws on the books that cover when things 'go too far' or get problematic, but they don't grant political power, which is what people trying to ban words are after.

            If something meets the bar for bullying/harassment, then sure, go after someone. But if it doesn't, then for god's sake, stop getting out a microscope to examine every aspect and dedicating your life to spotting things that may, on a Wednesday, with the wind blowing a particular direction and if someone has odd socks on, be interpreted as being potentially offensive to someone who wasn't present at the time the word was spoken, and thus go for overwhelming sanctions, including sacking/pillorying and jailing the speaker.

      4. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        when those words are followed up with physical abuse, then their function is that of hate speech

        In that case the physical abuse is the problem. Expand hate speech rules if you hate speech.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          Expand hate speech rules if you hate speech.

          Depends who's talking...

          1. Captain Boing
            Big Brother

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            "Depends who's talking..."

            That isn't how freedom works. People condemn themselves from their own mouths, they don't need a sainted few to do it for them and take offence on behalf of some other. No-one should be free to shut down discussion because they consider the message unpalatable. You debate idiots and prove to them (and everyone else) that they are crazy. Maybe you learn something yourself?

            "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably."

            Salman Rushdie is quoted as saying "If freedom is to have any limits, it must be to deny it to those who would destroy it" - quite so.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

              You debate idiots and prove to them (and everyone else) that they are crazy. Maybe you learn something yourself?

              Has that ever worked with real idiots, or have you just learned if we ever create an energy based on human stupidity we'll have all the energy we need?

      5. Captain Boing

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        "A small and weak nerd is defenseless against the big bullies"

        until he learns to code, then kneel at his feet

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      her personal experience in school, which she obviously did not appreciate.

      There is a saying, which I've heard some of the profession agree with, that most psychologists don't study psychology to understand and help fix other people's mental issues, but study it to try to understand how and why they are so fucked up themselves...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          The joke in those circles is that half of psychologists want to help other people and the other half need help.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        This, I know from experience, is also true of Social Workers.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      As a fellow super-smart person, geek, boffin, smarty-pant, know-it-all, Besserwisser and Klugscheisser, I don't find the terms divisive or humiliating and they most definitely don't fall under hate speech.

      This is an affront to minorities that are truly the target of real hate speech.

      1. Trollslayer Silver badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        "This is an affront to minorities that are truly the target of real hate speech."

        A very good point.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      Even "the N word", when used by someone within the subculture to which "the N word" refers, isn't considered offensive to others within that subculture.

      1. Wibble

        N-word

        Nerd?

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: N-word

          Or "Ni!"

          I'll get me coat

          1. Psmo Bronze badge

            Re: N-word

            Icki icki icki fatang tsu boing? (Ni)

          2. big_D Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: N-word

            The one with the shrub in the pocket?

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: N-word

              Grrr! Shrubbery!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: N-word

              Nope, just happy to see you.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        True, but the words she's talking about aren't offensive when used by people who are not in the subculture. They were a few decades ago, but not now.

    5. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      Likewise.

      I think she's missed the point completely. Hate speech happens when you use a derogatory term to put down an 'other' group. Words like 'Remoaner' should need no explanation. Or 'Patriarchy' from the supremacist wing of the Feminist agenda.

      On the other hand, perhaps there's another point in there re: the weaponisation of Offence. I was rather bemused by the plebgate nonsense, having described myself as a pleb for as long as I can remember. After all, it's factually indisputable.

      Of course context matters. Any of these words should be just fine used in a context (such as academic discussion) where it's clear there is no prejudice or hatred, no divisive "us vs them".

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

        Can't say I disagree much with what you said, except the bit about "patriarchy". Yes, it's a rather grating term, and often has societal connotations about the person saying it that they might not wish to impart upon themselves, but I think its fair to allow feminists to keep using it until the point where the world is predominantly run by rich old white men. By derogating its use, you are derogating the overall struggle against inequality, and I'm pretty sure you don't mean to do so. Do you?

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          The term 'patriarchy' is an inherently sexist term used explicitly to attack a class of people due to an innate characteristic that's protected by law.

          It's more of a hate term than any of the ones mentioned in the article.

          I still wouldn't ban it; I don't like censorship. I would just require universities to teach it only as part of courses on fiction.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            "The term 'patriarchy' is an inherently sexist term used explicitly to attack a class of people due to an innate characteristic that's protected by law"

            "Patriarchy" implies not only maleness but also seniority, so it's not only sexist its also agist

        2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

          Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

          If you listen to the way "Patriarchy" is routinely used from the position of power and privilege of the BBC, it's attacking men in general. Including the majority of us who are not, nor ever have been, part of any ruling class.

          It's a privileged media elite oppressing a downtrodden class on the grounds of a biological characteristic. Just like the classic N-word in a society (if any still exist) where white supremacism is a respectable attitude.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            Is that you Jeremy?

            Luv, Diane

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

            Trump, Trump & Trumpisthan

    6. Blackjack

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      Movies like The Revenge Of The Nerds, made the term not an insult anymore. Sure the movie kinda sucked but it still counts.

      Besides what's next? People who call you flattering things as an insult go to jail too?

    7. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      Personally, I have no problem being called a nerd. I think that that person is basing that statement on her personal experience in school, which she obviously did not appreciate.

      That's not the case today. Nerd is a badge of honor now

      Agreed!

      30 years after people used to call me a geek or a nerd at school, they're not looking so clever stuck on the council estate in which we grew up. I've used what intelligence I had to make myself stronger, tougher, richer, and better educated than most people. I've traveled further and experienced more of what this world has to offer. If geek is all you got in return for what life has brought me, then bring it on.

      That doesn't mean I think we intelligence fairly in relation to other things.

      The simple reality is that we spend billions seeking artificial intelligence, while overlooking any perception of value in our own intelligence. The Professor Hawking quote, while I agree with him entirely, is not applied equitably to the pretty, or the young, who both flaunt their unearned and temporary prowess with abandon. This, despite beauty being found throughout the cosmos, while as far as we know, intelligence is found only here on Earth. I'm aware I'm guilty of double standards here myself mind, as I'd far rather a one nighter with a hotty than a genius, but then no amount of quadratic equations has ever landed me in the sack with a girl either.

      The n-word is hate speech, geek or nerd are really just envy speech.

    8. jgarbo Bronze badge
      Devil

      Re: these terms are "divisive and humiliating,"

      The good doctor has it all wrong. It's not hate speech, it's hate language. English is a hateful language. Ban English under punishment of a good tongue lashing, say 50 whacks. Then we all speak Aramaic, the language of gentle Jesus, and become meek and mild. No words for nerd, boffin, etc. Problem solved.

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    Don't need to SJW for me, I'll embrace the titles "Geek" "Nerd" "Boffin" and "Egghead" with PRIDE

    My Nicname when I was in the U.S. Navy was "The Geek". At first I wasn't sure what that meant, but someone told me that a 'Geek' was someone who did unusual acts in a circus, such as biting the heads off of chickens. I was actually kinda HAPPY to have that as my nicname after that.

    SJW's need to just BUTT the FEEL OUT. We *GEEKS* do not *NEED* *YOU*

    /me wears such titles with *PRIDE* but I can't remember what my 'geek code' is...

    1. anonanonanon

      Your title is too long

      I feel this is more an anti SJW thing, as in, huh, I'm oppressed by being called these words, no, my cv s aren't just chucked in a bin or anything like that, nor do I get paid less, get my rights restricted, or suffer systematic bias.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Don't need to SJW for me

      What exactly is it about the concept of social justice that you find so appalling that you feel the need to use the term "SJW" as an insult? Because every time I see someone use that term, it just makes that person look like they love injustice. That doesn't exactly strengthen your argument if you're trying to take the moral high-ground.

      1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Don't need to SJW for me

        "Social justice" is just a word game. They want to reconstruct society, but the result they're looking for isn't necessarily "just" in the average sense of the word.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Don't need to SJW for me

        "so appalling that you feel the need to use the term "SJW" "

        well said , ive saved your post to use on the next women hating white male asswipe who trots it out.

        It happens a lot on movie board i frequent when a women or black person gets a part in a movie.

        I suspect they'll just say some or all of:

        "Theyre throwing it in mu face!"

        "I dont want to be lectured!"

        "propaganda!"

        "agenda"

        "pc gone mad!"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't need to SJW for me

        What exactly is it about the concept of social justice that you find so appalling that you feel the need to use the term "SJW" as an insult? Because every time I see someone use that term, it just makes that person look like they love injustice.

        Probably because most so called "Social Justice Warriors" don't actually give a shit about social justice, and are political activists who care a lot about playing a game so ancient that it was originally written in latin; namely "Divide and Rule" in english.

        The idea is to split the country up into small disaffected power groups that hate each other to prevent them from linking up and forming common cause which allows politicians to build coalitions of disaffected power groups by promising different groups that they will screw over other groups to obtain their support. Of course, the big losers from this are generally everybody who's not in one of these groups. When the hand is overplayed then you end up with a situation where disaffected powergroups realise they actually they have quite a lot in common with the people they are being encouraged to hate and that turning against these people is idiotic, at which point they turn against the people trying to manipulate them.

        The hand has been overplayed, and massively. People have had enough with "divide and conquer" and want to play "unite and lead" instead.

        Quite why we are supposed to suddenly turn vengeful and hate the kids who bullied us at school who are generally stuck in such high end jobs as stacking shelves in supermarkets and flipping burgers escapes me. Personally, I consider the existing situation a perfectly fitting revenge without needing to bring new laws in and prosecute them, unless the idea is to get us to persecute the bullies (now shelf stackers/burger flippers) so they can then tell the people being persecuted that they sympthise with them and will bring us down to give them a chance to get ahead again.

        . . . And that's why people hate the so called SJW's who in practice are actually hypocritical lying 4,294,967,295 faced political activists.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Don't need to SJW for me

          "and are political activists"

          Wrong. SJW is a name called at anyone who suggests being nice, by the people who dont want to play nice.

          That's why ,2000 years ago , one man was nailed to a tree just for saying how nice it would be to be nice to people for a change.

          1. SundogUK Silver badge

            Re: Don't need to SJW for me

            SJW's don't want to be nice, they want to be in control.

          2. Juillen 1

            Re: Don't need to SJW for me

            No, many people suggesting being nice are actually branded right wing hate mongers, or not anti-racist or anti-sexist enough.

            Being pro-Social Justice is the default position for nearly everybody. Being a "Social Justice Warrior" is pretty much being intolerant, divisive, looking for trouble where it doesn't exist and engaging in bigotry and zealotry that would make the Crusaders of old proud.

      4. holmegm Bronze badge

        Re: Don't need to SJW for me

        Maybe he's interested in *actual* justice.

      5. Juillen 1

        Re: Don't need to SJW for me

        There is no problem with Social Justice. That is, after all, pretty much the default position for nearly everyone.

        There exists a subset of people who call themselves "Social Justice Warriors" who are anything but. They have only a highly dogmatic, very narrow and highly biased set of values that they push for very vocally. In a very large set of cases, what they're actually fighting for is social injustice and intolerance towards any view but their own, and conflating edge cases with statistical body, and projecting their own bigoted ideas onto people who aren't actually thinking/acting in the way the SJW states they are.

        So, please don't conflate Social Justice with Social Justice Warrior; the two are entirely separate issues.

  3. Herby

    Sounds like...

    A "professionally offended" person. They seem to multiply at times, and have NO relation to the actual offended people.

    I've been doing computer stuff for over 50 years, so yes, I am a geek of sorts.

    In the words of those across the pond: SOD OFF!

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Sounds like...

      Looks like what her mother's feared happened anyway - she became socially difficult.

  4. cheb

    Some of my best friends are boffins, one really is a rocket scientist. He takes great pleasure using the phrase 'It isn't rocket science, and I should know.'

    1. d3vy Silver badge

      Pfft.

      Not exactly brain surgery is it?

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Not exactly rocket surgery.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          Pah!

          It isn't rocket lettuce, though, is it?

          1. Captain Hogwash

            Brain Salad Surgery?

            1. chivo243 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              +1

              Nice ELP reference there!

            2. Santa from Exeter

              It'll work for you

              It works for me

      2. Wayland Bronze badge

        Nor Tree Surgery.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "one really is a rocket scientist"

      Speaking as someone with a little relevant experience, if you're working on rockets and not a chemist, you're more likely to be qualified as an engineer (MEng or BEng) than as a scientist (MSc or BSc). I'm not sure anyone working on rocket design actually minds being called a rocket scientist rather than a rocket engineer though....

      I've got an MEng and a B.S.C. but no-one really cares about my swimming ability, so it probably doesn't matter that I didn't get an SSC or a GSC....

      1. Terje

        Rocket science is mostly easy though, it's when you get to actual rocket engineering that it gets real hard real fast! And if you are a scientist working on rocket propellants I definitely admire them for the lack of self preservation needed to work in that field.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Rocket reading material

          Obligatory Rocket Propellant reading material plug

          Ignition (non fiction)

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ignition-Informal-Propellants-University-Classics/dp/0813595835/ref=asc_df_0813595835/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=310872601819&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17170767018320449164&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1007009&hvtargid=pla-466327069898&psc=1&th=1&psc=1

          A tall tail (fiction by sometime Commentard Charles Stross)

          https://www.tor.com/2012/07/20/a-tall-tail/

          Charlie also has a re-curring sysadmin character in his books called Bob Oliver Francis Howard

        2. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
          Pint

          Rocket science is mostly easy...

          No downvote because I understand where you are going with the post, but the time I took Space Dynamics definitely gave my math skills a run for the money. I still remember the outline of an exam problem: high speed aircraft flying a circular path at such-n-so altitude, speed, rate of turn... passes over point X at time Y. Satellite in a highly elliptical orbit with given elements. Compute relative Doppler shift if a 200MHz beacon on the SV as seen by the aircraft. For the next two passes as well. Arrrggghh!!! What also killed me was computing transfer orbits by hand. And I'm an RF engineer, with high confidence in my math skills.

          Now the aerospace engineers with their compressible flow problems... And compressible flows when your fluids are actively combusting and adding energy to the system... Those men and women are the real deal. A pint, I think, is in order

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        probably all the fiendish maths involved in calculating orbits and burns and stuff to make sure they didn't miss the moon or whatever, which would have been REALLY embarassing :V making stuff blow up is much easier!

        1. grahambb

          Wasn't it a woman who did that for the Apollo program? Oh, and a woman who led the coding team for the AGC too......

          1. Wibble

            Podcast: 13 Seconds to the Moon

            Must plug this most excellent BBC podcast series of 12 episodes which covered many of the unsung nerds / geeks involved with the Apollo moon landing. Cannot recommend it more highly, especially to the nerd / geek audience found here.

            1. 's water music Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Podcast: 13 Seconds to the Moon

              The podcast was interesting and Google easily finds it based on the title above despite the units error (unlike a Mars Climate Orbiter finding Mars). For the sake of any commentards using less successful search facilities the actual title was 13 pound-force seconds to the Moon

            2. Wibble

              CORRECTION: Podcast: 13 MINUTES to the Moon

              Rats; just seen the typo. Sorry.

              13 seconds to descend from 15km (50,000 feet) would probably have resulted in a moon landing failure. 13 minutes is far more sedate.

              The title comes from the previous dress-rehearsal Apollo 10 which stopped at 15km. There's a couple of episodes which explain word for word the cockpit voice channel, e.g. what was a 1202 alarm.

              Anyway, it's a most excellent podcast which I may well re-listen to if I find myself being abused with more awful Festimus "music" whilst in retail establishments.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    You can have our badges

    Whey you pry them out of our cold dead <insert_fav_nic> hands. Out of all of my friends, I'm the only one who is in IT.

  6. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    ...her mother turned it down because she feared it would result in her becoming socially difficult.

    Well, that work perfectly well, didn't it?

    Warning: this post has been written by a nerd.

    1. grahambb

      But not an English nerd :-)

    2. Keven E

      Chippy

      Dr Falck does not have a chip on her shoulder, despite the fact that the whole idea behind the book stemmed from the fact that as a child she was offered a place at a school for gifted children but her mother turned it down because she feared it would result in her becoming socially difficult.

      Kieren barely finished that when spewed <drink of choice> all over the screen.

  7. veti Silver badge

    I think she's trolling

    This is an effort to make the outrage industry see just how stupid it already looks.

    I recognise it, because I've made the same argument for the same reason myself.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I think she's trolling

      She's not trolling. She's trying to sell books. It's advertising, nothing more.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: I think she's trolling

        It's probably a lot of both.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          Re: I think she's trolling

          It's probably a lot of both.

          Adverlolling? Or Trollvertising?

          1. Circadian
            Pint

            Re: I think she's trolling

            @Rameses...etc

            “Trollvertising” - thank you, that’s a keeper!

          2. chivo243 Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: I think she's trolling

            Trollvertising!! El Reg has the branding covered ------------------>

    2. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: I think she's trolling

      The article said something about "last bastion of hate speech". It looks like people have having to look harder for victims to be offended on behalf of. The Hate Speech laws say it's hate speech if someone reasonably thinks that someone else could be offended by the words were they there to hear them. There is no requirement that someone was actually offended only that someone says they might.

      If I claim that something you said might offend a person I just imagined then you broke the law and could do prison time. Purely because I claimed it, not because it happened.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: I think she's trolling

        "The Hate Speech laws" - which laws exactly are you talking about?

        In the UK, it's forbidden to express hatred that is based on someone's "colour, race, disability, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation" - doesn't say anything about academic interests, athletic capability or lack thereof, or even offensiveness. It's also forbidden to say things that are "threatening or abusive", and intended to "harass, alarm or distress" someone. Note, that's based on intent - a judge and/or jury have to decide that you were wilfully trying to "harass, alarm or distress" people.

        Good luck persuading them of that just for using mild deprecations. If you shouted to an angry mob "Let's crucify all the dweebs!", that would be another matter, but at that point you'd deserve it.

  8. SW10

    I notice that...

    ... no-one is complaining on behalf of trick cyclists

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: I notice that...

      That shrink has a persecution complex, and definitely some Oedipal issues.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: I notice that...

        In her case, it's probably an Electra complex

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I notice that...

      I notice that this psychotherapist has written a book based on a small 20 person sample in which each was interviewed for 90 minutes, so not enough time for even the best of psychotherapists to determine anything positive about anything at all aside from how many people she interviewed and for how long.

      Aside from the fact that it has generated some great comments she was hardly noteworthy. As a psychotherapy paper, it isn't noteworthy, as something to get her noticed and consulted by people who don't know any better, she has probably done herself a great service with a marketing piece.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: I notice that...

        "...a small 20 person sample in which each was interviewed for 90 minutes..."

        Obviously it's getting easier and easier to get published. This level of investigation might just have passed muster at my Uni for a second year dissertation if it were very well written.

        Apart from which we need to be very careful to curb the trend of people deciding to get offended on behalf of others they haven't asked and who haven't asked them to. If their (ultimately patronising) positions get enshrined in law, self censorship will set in and the result with be the homogenisation of thought and loss of individuality - everyone silently marching in lock step.

        If someone gets genuinely offended and intent to offend can be proved, it's fair for there to be redress, but both have to be present - a genuinely offended party with a reasonable justification for being offended and an intent to cause hurt. If this standard is not met nobody will ever dare say anything in public in case they get a criminal record for it, as a mere accusation will be interpreted as guilt. That's not a fantasy - it's dominated several regimes in recent history and seems to be taking hold once more.

        BTW I'm proud to have been called a boffin by some very distinguished scientists when I worked in research systems engineering - it was a compliment.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: I notice that...

        has written a book based on a small 20 person sample in which each was interviewed for 90 minutes

        Indeed. MENSA seems to be the level she's determined to be smart, and they use top 2% of people, so there's around 1.5 million people in the UK would meet her test. And she's interviewed 20? Excel would quite recently not be able to cope with such a small decimal in terms of percentages.......

        Anyone thinking they're smart under such a system should realize you could have a whole city of people where you were the thickest resident. It's unlikely, but possibly more likely than a sample of 20 from a 1,500,000 set being representative, no?

  9. Teiwaz Silver badge

    wonk, smarty-pants, and know-it-all

    My parents used to throw those around a lot when I was a kid.

    swot, whizkid, brainbox, smart-arse, or dweeb

    I thought only kids threw those around at other kids.

    Are they going to send [More] lawyers and cops into the playground to round up offenders?

    Considering usual policy for bullying is to pull offender and victim in for a talking too poor assumptions, I imagine this will only increase the sense of misfit in the victims of bullying.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      The problem is, if they are being bullied, they can actually talk rings around the bully and make them feel socially inadequate...

      Unfortunately the bully's response is then of the highly intelligent "SMASH!" variety.

      As a big nerd (literally, 6' at school and overweight), I was something of an anti-bully, I'd stop the bullies bullying the weaker pupils. I never hit anyone, I just stood between them and their prey and told them to leave them alone... It always worked, even today, I have still never hit anyone in my life and I've never been hit. (hastily find a bit of wood to touch)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'll be honest, I don't want to know what gratifies you, nor your difficulty searching for your wood.

  10. Khaptain Silver badge

    Need to sell books

    Can't think of anything useful about this book other that her need to sell it for personal profit.

    She appears to be following way, way behind a band wagon that left the county years ago...

    I would argue that some of those words are probably more held as complements more that than insults...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Need to sell books

      Exactly.

  11. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Intention and devisiveness

    Most of the times I hear geek, egghead or similar the intention is a compliment. Occasionally the intention is to hurt. I just smile, say thank you and add a name to the list of the people I would not piss on if they were on fire. Some people used to try to hurt me with words when I was at school. At the time I correctly guessed the sort of thing they would say to me later: "Would you like fries with that?"

    Sometimes these words are used by others to create social groups from which I am excluded. They are often selling some sort of snake-oil or cult membership and do not want anyone debunking their claims. I used to think "forget them, there are plenty of other people not that gullible I can be friends with". Now we have anti-vaxxers and Trump voters. Time for a new plan.

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: Intention and devisiveness

      I just smile, say thank you and add a name to the list of the people I would not piss on if they were on fire. 

      Could not have said that more eloquently.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Intention and devisiveness

      "At the time I correctly guessed the sort of thing they would say to me later: "Would you like fries with that?""

      Liar. Nowadays we have touch screens, so they don't speak to customers.

    3. MJB7 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Intention and devisiveness

      Now we have anti-vaxxers and Trump voters. Time for a new plan.

      Ain't that the truth! I have no idea what the new plan looks like, but we need one fast!

      Icon: I'm a geek and proud of it.

    4. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: Intention and devisiveness

      "and Trump voters"

      Was with you all the way until that bit. Some people had good reasons for voting for Trump, and just because they cannot articulate them in words you understand in the way they mean the words - as against how you choose to interpret them - does not make their reasons invalid. Or wrong.

      I don't call people racist, bigoted or stupid for the words they use - I call them racist, bigoted or stupid if they believe it is acceptable for them to use words intended to cause harm or offence but that other people should not be allowed to.

      And before anyone tries to defend that Trump comment as "but he's only *joking*", remember what the bully's biggest excuse is for behaving like they do.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Intention and devisiveness

        Had a chat with a Corbyn-supporting friend of mine the other day. Well ex-Corbyn supporting - he gave up on him over Brexit policy early last year. But he's still deep in the social media bubble - and still a committed lefty, just thinks Corbyn is useless.

        There's a thing with nasty words and in-groups. So you get "Remoaners" and "traitors" from one side - and the other react with "gammon" and "quitter" and the like. And it's all terribly unhelpful and polarising - but does help to entrench people into their identities. So it works to get your side all nice and motivated - but is a massive turn-off to the uncommitted and helps the other side to build their identity and ignore your arguments.

        But how would it help if we legislated to make "gammon" hate speech? How long would it take to come up with something new? Rather like we dropped the term educationally retarded because kids were calling other kids retards. And now we have kids calling each other "special needs". It doesn't matter how hard you try to make your euphemisms - kids will be kids and adults who know better will find labels to use against people.

        Being in the social media echo chamber also starts to reinforce your view of things - i.e. groupthink. I've fixed his computer, and have seen his Facebook feed. And it's full of angry people calling Tories murderous vermin and then calling people on the right of the Labour Party Blairite scum who are no better than Red Tories - and therefore by extension also supporters of murderous vermin. It's awfully depressing. Both to watch and for the effect on his mental state.

        But people stop realising they're doing it. I remember a piece in the Guardian after the 2015 surprise Conservative win. There were several on how Labour needed to understand people who voted Conservative, not demonise them. Else they'd keep being suprised by election defeats - when it was self evident to them that they were the good guys and deserving of everyone's vote. There was an advert on the piece for the Guardian's own online shop, fundraising for the paper. Selling a T-shirt with the slogan, "Tories - Worse Than Vermin!" Hmmm, self-awareness...

        In the end it all comes down to intent. If you mean to be horrible and bully outsiders to reinforce your in-group you will. There was a report of a Labour students group calling people "Zio's" and shouting them down in meetings - because they couldn't shout "Jew" obviously.

        The only hope is the self-defeating nature of this. UKIP and the Brexit Party are dead, and were never successful at anything other than European elections - which have always been seen as a way to kick the government and not a serious election in this country. Labour's Left will hopefully learn the lesson that telling people in the centre of politics to fuck off and vote Tory might actually cause the ungrateful buggers to go and do just that. And maybe a few working class Conservative MPs in marginal seats will help persuade the more Thatcherite-than-Thatcher headbangers on the right of the party that calling people names alienates a lot of people whose support they might need once Labour sort themselves out.

        Meanwhile in the USA perhaps the Democrats could stop putting potential voters into the basket of deplorables and clean up some of the more egregiously rancidly corrupt practises of both parties in Washington - so we don't get lumbered with another term of that arse Trump. I'm happy to be rude about him, because he's a truly awful human being with few redeeming features - but that doesn't mean I can't understand why some people vote for him.

        As is the message to my Labour-voting friend. If Boris Johnson really is basically Trump with better hair (which by the way he isn't because he's really a hyper-ambitious social and economic liberal) - then how shit must your lot have been for him to increase his vote and for you to lose all those seats that you've held for 80-100 years?

        Sorry - I think I've gone off-topic here. But I think it's relevant enough to still post it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Intention and devisiveness

          Ah you were going so well at your cautionary tale about the dangers of divisiveness, of echo chambers and insular thinking, until you come out with this:

          "If Boris Johnson really is basically Trump with better hair (which by the way he isn't because he's really a hyper-ambitious social and economic liberal) - then how shit must your lot have been for him to increase his vote and for you to lose all those seats that you've held for 80-100 years?"

          If Johnson was socially and economically liberal in the past that sure doesn't seem to be having much effect on his judgment anymore. He'll do and say whatever he can get away with to benefit himself, which is now a lot. The fact you seem to believe him actually speaks volumes about why Labour lost (and there was that Brexit thing). Many of the items in the Queen's Speech have potential to make this system very authoritarian indeed. Their majority's big enough they'll reform the electoral process to ensure they're never out of power. Just watch carefully. If I'm wrong, I'll be very glad.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Intention and devisiveness

            Anon,

            Boris Johnson is, as far as I can tell, a normal socially liberal member of the "metropolitan elite" / "establishment" (to whatever extent they exist) - who's mostly talked about economic matters in the past as if he's about in the middle of the Conservative party. He'd have been a natural member of the Cameron lot if he wasn't quite so nasty to the EU - and also if he was more of a joiner.

            I also called him hyper-ambitious - which accounts for how he might not do what you'd expect him to do. However you'll notice that when he wanted to appeal to much more socially conservative Labour voters in the Northern seats, he went for law-and-order and not for any of the more controversial socail issues.

            That article where he's repeatedly called islamophobic for saying women wearing the burqa look like letterboxes was actually a piece when he was London Mayor talking about how we shouldn't ban people from wearing whatever they want (as was happening in Denmark and France) but should be tolerant even if we don't like their choices. This social liberalism is how he managed to be a reasonably popular mayor in London and got re-elected despite London being a Labour city. In 2017 London voted over 50% Labour, it might have dropped a bit below that this time, I haven't seen the stats yet.

            Also notice at the last couple of summits he's aligned with the European politicians not Trump. I think he'll end up being pretty much in the mainstream of UK foreign policy thinking (again except on Brexit).

            If he thinks there's votes to be had in ex-Labour constituencies by moving left on the economy, that may be what he'll do. He's probably a bit of a political chameleon, like Tony Blair.

            But in general I think he's in a similar place on the political spectrum as Cameron/Osborne - and we'll soon get to find out how flexible he is about his principles.

            Brexit is seen as a far right thing by too many people - when actually it cuts across the political spectrum. From lefties who've always opposed the EEC/EU (Bennites like Corbyn), to the neo-Thatcherite right of the Conservative party (way more Thatcher-than-Thatcher) to the more old-school socially conservative old right of the Tories and then back to some of the Blue Labour types.

            Politically I'd probably align myself with Ken Clarke and John Major - except on Europe. Where I've moved from youthful enthusiasm to pragmatic remainer to pragmatic leaver who was nearly persuaded to vote remain and would have preferred a soft leave option something like Norway.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Intention and devisiveness

              "Politically I'd probably align myself with Ken Clarke and John Major - except on Europe."

              I wasn't far off that myself back when we still had decent social benefits and public services to back up the sound economic policies.

              "Brexit is seen as a far right thing by too many people - when actually it cuts across the political spectrum."

              Brexit is the least of my concerns about this current Tory party, other than what they're going to replace the EU with. What I object to deeply is the severe authoritarianism that's been pushed, basically from Blair onwards through Cameron and looking to reach a high peak with the current lot. I'm talking about the ever expanding internet snooping (every URL you visit already shared with numerous organisations) and restrictions, the rolling back of human rights, increasing use of surveillance, biometrics and facial recognition and new powers to convict those who might previously have been considered innocent. Never mind the fact the Home Secretary supports bringing back the death penalty.

              If you can at least appreciate why someone else might disapprove of this direction then perhaps you might understand why policies like Voter ID that will swing future elections quite significantly in favour of this party are a cause for serious concern. We need more opposition, not less. A one party system, whoever the party, is seriously bad news for this country.

              Perhaps you think I'm paranoid, or stuck in groupthink like your friend. Time will soon tell, if you pay attention to what's beneath the mainstream propaganda.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Intention and devisiveness

                Perhaps you think I'm paranoid, or stuck in groupthink like your friend. Time will soon tell, if you pay attention to what's beneath the mainstream propaganda.

                I do think you're paranoid. But that doesn't mean they aren't out to get you!

                A lot of the time I'd say there's no conspiracy - partly because people in general are a lot less competent than they think they are. So their conspiracies blow up in their faces.

                Also there's always been a split in the Conservative Party (both parties) on social conservatism. In Labour that's often expressed as the more Northern lot thinking the Islington lot are all obsessed with one-legged black lesbian dance groups - whereas in the Tory party it's been the more socially liberal ones against the law-and-order ones who also often have an unattractive streak of illiberal puritanism about social policy. The hang-em and flog-em brigade who also don't seem to like it when people are having fun.

                Boris will I suspect disappoint the right of the party and turn out to be much more socially liberal. Also some of the ERG lot are old fashioned right wingers, but others are more libertarian and so also socially liberal.

                Finally, in my opinion, it takes a very strong-willed politician to stay liberal on law-and-order issues - especially terrorism related ones. Because they're the ones who get shouted at when there's a terrorist attack that they didn't do enough to stop it. Also they're the ones who get intelligence reports every morning on the threat level - and it becomes harder to resist the siren call of internet regulation. Remember when there were a series of Labour Home Secretaries who made Michael Howerd seem like he was actually quite liberal...

                Will the Conservatives try to take advantage of a large majority to make voting more favourable to them? Probably, if they can get away with it. From their point of view New Labour did it to them - and not having had a large majority since, they never got to fix any of it. Postal voting has led to a rise in electoral fraud and the 98 (?) boundary commission did screw the Conservatives over (partly because they'd run out of money to pay enough lawyers and Labour were rich at the time). Plus the boundary commision report that would have corrected some of those in-built Labour advantages has been rather cynically blocked since the Lib Dems didn't get their way over voting reform. As an example in 2005 Labour won a 60-seat majority on a less than 2% difference in vote share. Cameron in 2010 won by 8% and didn't even hit a majority - things have changed since then as Labour lost Scotland - and politics has gone a bit weird. Cutting the seats from 650 to 600 was a gimmick designed to counter the expenses scandal - but sadly trying to gain advantage with changes to the voting system is a bipartisan issue. Both sides do it and it seems hard to stop them. In the end the electorate kick the buggers out when they want to anyway.

  12. NerryTutkins

    Humble brag

    I'm not bothered so much by name-calling over my genius level intelligence. It's the ones about my irresistible sexual magnetism and massive cock that upset me most.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Humble brag

      Just one of the drawbacks of being a chicken farmer?

    2. .stu

      Re: Humble brag

      No, I think you misheard me. I said you ARE a massive cock.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Humble brag

      The downside of having a massive cock but only one leg - is that if I don't take viagra my left shoe comes off and I fall over.

      Normally my massive wallet breaks my fall though - so it's OK and the girls still like me.

      I'll get my coat - the one with an iPod playing 'Girls don't like boys girls like cars and money'.

    4. TomG

      Re: Humble brag

      I think you are misunderstanding people when they call you pencil prick (or maybe you do understand).

  13. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Context

    I think any word used in the wrong context can be offensive. At school "nerd" was often used as an insult. But around here, "nerd" is complement.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Context

      But thick is the new cool innit? Nut a mean bruv?

      The right to use poor grammar will be defended with disproportionate use of vitriol at all times.

      1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
        Headmaster

        Re: Context

        Does the right you assert complement the misspelling of compliment? That atrocity features more than once in this page, including the post up to which you followed.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Context

          " including the post up to which you followed."

          That word order is something up with which I shall not put.

  14. jake Silver badge

    Speaking as a guy ...

    ... who had the job description "Boffin at Large" on his business cards when he worked for one of the largest companies in the world, I'm fairly certain that I'm not alone in calling her basic premise nothing more than twaddle.

    But she'll make a quarter million quid or more selling a book to idiots, and she knows it. In other words, she's making a quick buck off the supposed downtrodden that she is supposedly championing. We have a word for that.

    1. NiceCuppaTea

      Re: Speaking as a guy ...

      Does it rhyme with shunt?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Speaking as a guy ...

        Does it rhyme with shunt?

        Yes, and is preceded by the rhyming phrase 'honey stabbing'...

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Thumb Up

      Re: Speaking as a guy ...

      ... "Boffin at Large" on his business cards ...

      I have always found it useful to have several different business cards.

      Along with cards with my formal title I have cards that read: "Q Branch", "Machine Wrangler", "Scapegoat" and "Mad Axeman".

      I also have some that read "Wile E Coyote, Super Genius" specifically for dropping into the collecting boxes at trade fairs.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Speaking as a guy ...

        I had Wile E Coyote on my business card - right until that anvil fell on me - and I was catapluted off a cliff when I confused dynamite with a cigar.

        1. John70

          Re: Speaking as a guy ...

          So it's you that's taking Acme to court over faulty gadgets?

          http://www.darkhorizons.com/dave-green-to-helm-coyote-vs-acme/

    3. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
      Thumb Up

      Boffin at large

      I've always pushed back against meaningless job titles. When pressed, my preferred reply has long been "dogsbody".

    4. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Speaking as a guy ...

      Hmm. Rather more likely she'll make about £2500, if she's lucky and gets good sales.

  15. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Wot?

    Well this somewhat nerdy geek would be delighted to be referred to as a boffin.

    I find her comments highly offensive.

    Now, where to I collect the money?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Wot?

      Class action lawsuit for defamation of a huge group of people?

      That's a joke, a joke I say ... everybody know that only lawyers make money in a class action case.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Wot?

        Actually, the named defendant(s) also make money, unless 'members of the class' who get a token payment, if that.

        1. grahambb

          Re: Wot?

          True, very true. I just got my class action payout in the Experian data breach.

          We are forming am committee to work out how best to splurge the $8.62.

  16. NiceCuppaTea

    As my dear old mum used to say...

    Sitcks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me... I wish more had had this knowledge imparted upon them, if you wanna be more current "words are wind"

    Plus being a geek is far better than suffering constant ID-10-T errors Every time someone calls you a geek / egghead / whatever all you should hear is "you're smarter than i am"which is of course a compliment.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Sitcks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

      Except perhaps "Fire" when tied to a pole.

      1. OssianScotland Silver badge

        Re: Sitcks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

        How do you tie fire (or even the word) to a pole?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Flame

          Re: Sitcks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

          How do you tie fire (or even the word) to a pole?

          Plane ticket to Warsaw, take cigarette lighter and elastic band/bungee cord, grab the guy at passport control and Robert's your father's brother.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: As my dear old mum used to say...

      "words can never hurt me"

      Try yelling "THEATER!" in a crowded firehouse.

    3. OGShakes

      Re: As my dear old mum used to say...

      Unfortunately this old 'Sticks and Stones' thing has been proven to be nonsense and words do cause massive harm to a developing mind. I say this as someone who embraces Geek as my identity and is happy to be called it. But having been bullied as a young child due to my differences, I still have issues as a 40+ year old when people make reference to me possibly being stupid in any way, my 140+ IQ and achievements do nothing to stop the memories of being bullied as I needed learning support for my dyslexia early on.

      Words left scars that have not faded!

    4. Blofeld's Cat
      Coat

      Re: As my dear old mum used to say...

      "Sitcks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me"

      I knew somebody who said that - they were crushed when the full Oxford English Dictionary fell on them.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: As my dear old mum used to say...

        "I knew somebody who said that - they were crushed when the full Oxford English Dictionary fell on them."

        This is like the person who died because of alcohol. Run over by a beer delivery lorry.

        1. OssianScotland Silver badge

          Re: As my dear old mum used to say...

          I think it was Spike Milligan who said someone died of deafness. Once he explained, someone told him "No, they died of steamroller"

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: As my dear old mum used to say...

      Sitcks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

      It's bollocks. Talk to all the people who've been psychologically scarred by childhood bullying...

      Sometimes used by adults who don't want to bother with the messy hassle of trying to sort it out. My primary school had a policy that bullying was bad, but so was telling tales on other kids. Though weirdly there was also a system where older children got different coloured "reporting badges" which was some sort of equivalent of having prefects of the Headteacher's own devising.

      Actually a quick smack in the face over some petty argument can often have fewer long term consequences than horrible words that can never be unsaid or forgotten.

      Because we're social animals we need to be in groups with other people. And we can become damaged if we can't be.

      Being disabled I did get servely bullied at school. Kids being kids. And got no support and had to sort it out myself. Looking back as an adult I now strongly believe that a few swift kicks to the bollocks would have solved the problem much better than turning the other cheek and not letting words hurt me. which was the only adult advice I got.

      As happens it didn't cause long term harm to me, because I actively decided to change my mental attitude and so the words of strangers now have no effect on me. I'm sure it has changed my personality in various ways though - it must have done. But some people never recover the social confidence that people aren't actively hostile and just waiting for a chance to get them. Not to mention the odd kid that kills themselves because they don't know how to cope.

      It's a pernicious statement that is self-evident bullshit if you even spend a second thinking about it. For a recent example take the word "pedo-guy". With a bit of added inuendo about some supposed secret evidence from a billionaire's hired private detective - even if you don't take that personally it's still damaging to your reputation as well as giving you the worry that someone you're talking to might half believe it.

      Because another trite saying is that "there's no smoke without fire".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What sort of society is Britain becoming, where "name calling" can land you a fine or a jail sentence, while people who commit actual assaults and robberies often get let off with a slap on the wrist? I've been called all sorts of names all though my life and it really hasn't harmed me. Not even a little bit.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Britain isn't a land where "name calling" can land you a fine or a jail sentence. Incitement to hatred can see you in front of the beak, but calling someone a nerd or a pillock can't unless done in circumstances likely to incite violence. Context matters, and the psychology nerd isn't going to get her way.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        And before anyone breaks in with the inevitable free speech argument please bear in mind that most countries have such laws, based upon what in the US is known as "fighting words".

        1. 0laf Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          I thought that was a preamble to actual physical violence?

          As in, "Them's fightin' words"

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Yes.

            In the US, "fighting words" aren't specific words at all. They're any speech, spoken or written, that are intended to start a fight. One of the key things in determining if such speech is "fighting words" (and therefore unprotected) is that it isn't intended as actual speech -- that is, they're not meant to engage in real communication, they're only intended to get a fight going.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nerd or Pillock might not get you a fine, yet, but there are a whole raft of words which are defined as insulting to certain races, religions or other minority groups that will. The list of banned words gets longer all the time and that's what this article is about.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          The court finds the defendant not guilty of insulting behaviour by using the word “cunt” because the plaintiff clearly is one. All legal costs of the defendant will be paid by the plaintiff. Court dismissed.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Nah, they lack the depth and ability to give pleasure.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          There's no such thing as your list of banned words. There is bigoted language which contributes towards incitement to hatred or incitement to violence, where context and usage define the crime. If you walk down the street and yell at a black woman "Get out of my way, you nigger bitch!", then you risk arrest (not to mention her punching you and a couple of bystanders stomping on you). But if I write those words here as an example to demonstrate my point to you, the vast majority of people will understand the difference and the cops will not be kicking down my door. Context and usage. No list of banned words, no list to which a common swear word like 'pillock' or a cultural reference like 'nerd' could ever be added to.

          1. baud Bronze badge

            Except that I don't think those words can be used anywhere except in the context you're talking about (if I write those words here as an example): so in effect those words are banned

      3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        "Context matters, and the psychology nerd isn't going to get her way."

        Tell that to Mark Meechan...

  18. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Dr Sonja Falck

    I am a geek, and I find it offending that an educated person like yourself would find the term "geek" pejorative.

  19. revenant Silver badge

    You can pry my honorifics from my cold, dead brain cells

    In my working life I've at different times been seen as a brainbox, a nerd and in some people's eyes, a guru. But I would really have liked to be a boffin.

    These words can be used in a disparaging way, but they are a pretty feeble weapon for the bully - especially as their use just emphasises the bully's own sense of inadequacy.

    So now we've reached a stage of enlightenment where even 'Nerd' is seen as a positive descriptor, and what happens? Some academic comes up with a paper to tell us that it is all so very very wrong and we should stop using the terms.

    I beg to differ. I think we should formalise the use of these terms as proper roles. Every successful development at some time needs nerds, brainboxes, gurus and boffins, so why not celebrate the marvellous diversity of human brains and give us the designations and remuneration to go with it?

    1. blcollier

      Re: You can pry my honorifics from my cold, dead brain cells

      >But I would really have liked to be a boffin.

      When you start getting called 'boffin' is when you know you've "made it".

    2. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: You can pry my honorifics from my cold, dead brain cells

      Being surrounded by people at the other end of the bell curve, I don't feel the need to celebrate the marvellous diversity of human brains.

      I find myself in a perpetual state of being staggered because I live in a scene from Idiocracy.

      The waste of time, money and resources these people represent is quickly becoming unaffordable IMHO.

      So while I believe intellect should be celebrated by our species, it would be enough if society could stop celebrating Stupid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Surrounded by idiots...

        Easy solution: take extra playground duties so you don't have to go into the staff room so often :P

  20. Caver_Dave
    Flame

    Elon Musk

    Apparently calling someone "pedo" is OK in the US - I just hope that it isn't in the UK

    [I used the US spelling on purpose!]

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Elon Musk

      If their name ends with “Glitter” then it’s acceptable.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Elon Musk

      No it's OK in S. Africa.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Elon Musk

        And OK in the US if you're from SA and/or have a lot of money.

    3. PerfectBlue

      Re: Elon Musk

      I may be wrong, but I beileve that was determined to be OK as it was supposed to be an insult rather than a litteral accusation of pedophilia. Though I haven't been following the case that closly so I may be wrong.

      I'm actually OK with this, as I understand the facts to be (My understanding is that Musk didn't try to dig up dirt until after the law suit was suggested). I think that we should be free to insult people online and that it would set a bad precident if it became a crime to be rude. Especially since people become offended so easily these days.

      Now, if somebody launched a sustained campaign of hate and abuse agains t an individual and were to bombarrd them with offensive messages, that would be a different story.

      A couple of insults should be fair game. Otherwise simply disagreeing with somebody and calling them a nasty name would become illegal. Supposed that you called disagreed wwith a review on the Reg which gave an easy ride to a bad product and you were to call the writer a shill or a hack on twitter. Do we really want ot live in a world where that's illega?

      People need to be more ressiliant, and to understand that the internet isn't the real world. I'd never shoot somebody in the head, repeatedly teabag their corpse, and intimate that I'd had close physical relations with their, mother in real life. But I priobably did it in Fortnight at least 3 times last night. One would be considered a criminal offence, the other would be conisdered a normal night in for a 12 year old.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Elon Musk

        "I may be wrong, but I beileve that was determined to be OK as it was supposed to be an insult rather than a litteral accusation of pedophilia."

        You are wrong. It was determined to be OK because the defendant was rich and the plaintiff a poor foreigner.

        "(My understanding is that Musk didn't try to dig up dirt until after the law suit was suggested)"

        Even if he didn't try to prove it until after he was sued, and I don't believe that to be the case, that is just evidence that he wasn't meaning it as an insult. If I call you a cunt, and you sue me for it, I am unlikely to go and see a doctor to try to prove that you are a female reproductive organ.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Elon Musk

          At the risk of repeating myself, Elon Musk is a P[A]EDO --- Person [Allegedly] Exporting Detritus into Orbit.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Elon Musk

        People need to be more ressiliant, and to understand that the internet isn't the real world. I'd never shoot somebody in the head, repeatedly teabag their corpse, and intimate that I'd had close physical relations with their, mother in real life. But I priobably did it in Fortnight at least 3 times last night. One would be considered a criminal offence, the other would be conisdered a normal night in for a 12 year old.

        I need to try this next time I game with a son and see if I get the yuk factor from them.

      3. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Elon Musk

        The initial "pedo guy" - sure I can see it's like how many of us grew up on the playground where "gay" was a generic insult.

        But he later posted something like "someone should check, it's true" or words to similar effect so I'm a little surprised he was cleared.

        But by the logic I can insult someone with a very emotive pejorative term, should I be able to shout "shut up you stupid n*****" as just an insulting term? Or "quiet down fag"?

  21. arctic_haze Silver badge

    So The Register crew would be sent to Gitmo?

    That would be a sad outcome. And you are hearing this from a boffin!

  22. Dr. G. Freeman

    My official job title is "Nuclear Resonance Geek"

    So, do I have to change it now ?

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Yes. You should promote yourself to "Nuclear Resonnance Boffin" immediately.

    2. IDoNotThinkSo
      Mushroom

      Surely it should be Magnetic Resonance Geek, in case someone gets worried about the "Nuclear" bit?

  23. 0laf Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Utter boffin

    Not sure about the rest but I had thought someone being called a "boffin" was complimentary.

    A 'Boffin' was/is a subject matter expert or a gernerally knowledgable person.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Utter boffin

      A person depicted by US media as bespectacled, physically awkward, flat top haircut, bespectacled and using a pocket protector in the breast pocket of an immaculately pressed white shirt. The nerdy dweeb pencil-necked geeks are shaping your future jock-boy.

      1. .stu

        Re: Utter boffin

        Anyone who wears 2 pairs of glasses deserves everything that's coming to them.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Utter boffin

          You forgot this ------------------->

          1. .stu
            Facepalm

            Re: Utter boffin

            Anyone who needs a troll icon for their crap jokes deserves everything that's coming to them. Oh shit that's me :(

            1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
              Boffin

              Re: Utter boffin

              Perhaps a bit too subtle? Those downvotes presumably didn't see what you did. I wonder how bespectacled they were?

  24. Stumpy

    She then embarked on a “contextual analysis of literature” and decided that calling someone a boffin was equivalent to the worst racial slurs. "The N-word was common parlance in the UK until at least the 1960s,” she said during her book launch, before noting that "other insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently.”

    Personally, I find this statement from her highly insulting and disgusting. Comparing our treasured epithets to racial slurs simply devalues the negativity of racial slurs (and slurs in general).

    Frankly, everything in this article shows that Dr Falck has many personal issues with dealing with those of (lesser, greater)? intelligence than herself, and should probably go see a shrink to work them out.

    Remember the phrase from the original bible (sorely mistranslated over the years) "... and the geek shall inherit the earth!". And Lo! in the 21st Century we have done so, and continue to multiply. Long may it be so.

    Geek and proud of it for nearly 50 years!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The geeks have inherited the earth?

      The Earth that votes Trump and Johnson leaders, has huge groups that promote flat earth, climax hoax, and religion?

      The Earth that deifies people who've been on TV, yet ignores those responsible for saving lives?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      And Lo! in the 21st Century we have done so, and continue to multiply.

      And divide, add, raise to a power, subtract and take the logarithm.

  25. dave 81

    Free speech is offensive by definition.

    Anything you say will offend someone somewhere. Stop all this bullcrap hate-speech nonsense, and restore the right to cause offense.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Free speech is offensive by definition.

      If you can't offend someone without deliberately using charged pejoratives you're not trying very hard.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Free speech is offensive by definition.

      Too many thin-skinned people about these days, just waiting to be offended so they can explode in feigned outrage.

      1. Stumpy

        Re: Free speech is offensive by definition.

        Virtue signalling and feigned outrage ... it's the new Rock 'n Roll

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Free speech is offensive by definition.

          On the other hand, isn't it tremendously useful to be able to contemptuously dismiss anyone who shows compassion or stands up for someone else as "virtue signalling".

  26. OGShakes

    Blessed are the Geek for they shall inherit the World (Wide Web)

    I love being a geek, a nerd and a boffin. How dare she say the words should be banned!

    We just need to teach kids that bullying is wrong, I suggest next time they pick on the ginger kid take them out side and give them a kicking they never forget. The Bully, not the ginger kid that is...

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Blessed are the Geek for they shall inherit the World (Wide Web)

      "Geek" has an interesting origin I believe, and is a contraction of "grotesque" and "freak". Based on that, it could be seen as very offensive, yet I don't think I've ever met anyone who is offended by it...indeed, some geeks revel in being called such.

  27. big_D Silver badge

    Mensa...

    In the UK if you pay £24.95 for the IQ test and score over 132, you can then pay £59.95 a year to receive a newsletter and attend events with other people who have also paid up to be in a room with people who scored highly on the same intelligence test.

    There are two types of high-IQ people, those who are intelligent enough to join MENSA and those that are too intelligent to join MENSA. ;-)

    I have a lot of friends who are MENSA members in Germany and I know many of the high-ups. I was travelling with one of them, when he told me, I should consider doing the test, as I was definitely intelligent enough.

    I replied, that I had never felt the need to prove how intelligent I am... He had a fit and nearly crashed the car - he drove up the kerb onto the pavement, but missed the lamppost - before informing me that MENSA wasn't about that at all!

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Mensa...

      I was a member of Mensa for a while, but to be honest I only did it so I could put it on my CV. I'm intelligent enough - I got called swot quite a lot at school, and at high school my nickname (from one of the teachers no less) was "The Prof" - but got bored of education and left after only a few weeks of sixth-form. With little more to my name than a handful of O-levels, something interesting and academic, like Mensa membership, was useful for CV padding.

      Of the names mentioned in the article, the only one which would potentially cause me offence is "egghead" - but only because I don't like being reminded that my hair is definitely less plentiful that it was in years gone by.

      For a while, the soubriquet of choice for the intellectually gifted at my school was "Tefal Head", after a TV ad that was running at the time....that's me starting to show my age.

    2. Ben1892

      Re: Mensa...

      I'm sure it used to be an IQ of 140 or above for MENSA .... just why would they lower the entry bar to allow more people to pay £59.95 a year to them?

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Mensa...

        From what I remember, Mensa membership criterion is being in the top 2%, and was around the 140 mark when I was a member a decade or three ago. I don't think the UK or worldwide IQ range has slipped so low that 132 represents top 2% now.

        I think you do a trial test at home and if you score 132 or higher then you can apply for the formal test for joining - and that has the threshold of around 140.

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Boffin

          The 98% percentile score varies between tests

          I seem to recall different scores for Wechsler vs. Stanford-Binet, for example.

    3. Anomalous Custard

      Re: Mensa...

      I did once consider joining Mensa, purely to wind up the owner of the place where I worked at the time.

  28. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    She needs to open her aperture:

    She is neglecting an entire universe of insults. For creativity and vehemence one needs to look at drill instructors. From my DI:

    DI: "[chairman!] Yesss! I figured out why you're such a total waste of sperm! You've got a glass stomach!"

    Me: "Sir, yes sir!"

    DI: "Do you even know what a glass stomach is?

    "Sir, no sir!"

    DI: "It means your head is shoved so far up your ass you can see through your f_____g belly button! No wonder you can't even stand up straight!"

    So I've gone from glass stomach to geek. I'm good with that!

  29. JDX Gold badge

    A bad as the N word

    Says an academic in a nice cosy little sub-reality, mostly detached from the real world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bad as the N word

      The "N word"?!? You mean <shudder> "Northerner"?!?

  30. PerfectBlue

    Speaking as somebody who identifies as a huge great nerd I think that we should take ownership of these terms: They OUR words, so it's OK if we say them. Psychologist, not so much.

    Or, to put it another way, If a rapper can use the racial expletive that shall not be named freely in public, then it should be OK for us, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or, to put it another way, If a rapper can use the racial expletive that shall not be named freely in public, then it should be OK for us, right?

      I believe it's a question of the race/colour of the person speaking...I tend to use the phrase "Guy Gibson's dog" as a synonym

  31. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
    Boffin

    A bad word

    None of these terms (egghead, boffin, brainbox etc) should be considered offensive. I believe young people have created a special word here in the UK to abuse the intelligent. I give you "spod". I think it may also refer to obsessive techies, who may not actually be super clever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bad word

      I don't think "spod" is a young persons' term - I definitely remember using it back in the mid-90s at least.

      An example that sticks in my mind was a conversation with a manager who had been interviewing for a developer. Back then we tended to informally categorise roles as spoddy (designers, developers, etc.) and non-spoddy (project management, etc.). The manager wasn't having much luck in finding a developer with suitable technical ability and social skills which meant they'd get on with people. That gave rise to the question "can you not find a spod-u-like?"

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: A bad word

        Young means "younger than me" and I'm ancient. Maybe it was a regional word, as I had never heard it until about two years ago.

  32. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    For those who would agree with nutty snowflake woman- no. Grow up. If you are seriously struggling with this then your parents obviously didnt do a very good job.

    https://dilbert.com/strip/2019-10-02

    1. Stumpy

      Re: Hmm

      I think we passed the Parody Inversion Point a long time ago.

  33. John Jennings

    Should never

    Have moved the West Ham Polly to University status.

    Thinking that its an academical institution empowers plonkers like noones business.

    I am quite happy being an old school poly graduate....

  34. The Central Scrutinizer

    Actually, the n word (nerd) is still quite popular.

  35. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    WTF?

    Oh dear

    Would the doctor have us rename a popular quiz show? What would it have to be named, one wonders. The entire point of the name is that the resident team are rather like walking encyclopedias! If that is not a compliment, then what is?

    As to words hurting - I can see that for a youngster, although when that stuff (I particularly remember swot and bookworm) was spouted at me in my youth (many years ago) I was told by my family (who were very working class as it happens) to simply ignore it as jealousy, which indeed it was. I was encouraged to always be better at what I enjoyed (the usual geeky subjects but also things such as geography, cartography and technical drawing).

    I never had the desire to be a part of the various cliques who appeared to celebrate idiocy and were indeed bullies, but I found that telling them they were not worth my time and trouble deflated them. Notably, many of them came from higher income backgrounds and were no doubt practicing to become slave drivers managers in later life

    I have had various titles such as Electronics Guru, Diagnostics Wizard and PCB Design God which I took as compliments as they came from other engineers. I remember interviewing for a job where the description was Must be able to fix anything in hardware and software. There were others but I am sure you get the drift.

    I even had one engineering director saying they needed to hire another me which is perhaps the highest compliment I have ever had considering the knowledge level of the rest of the staff.

    I have had the words geek and nerd thrown at me online and I would simply say "Thank You!" which rather seemed to put the trolls off their stride a bit.

    I must admit that a difficult childhood (and I was a difficult child as well) and almost 12 years in the armed forces rather thickens the skin, to say nothing of design reviews (where wearing the equivalent of asbestos underwear might sometimes be recommended).

    We certainly don't need a trick cyclist to tell us what is a compliment and what is intended as an insult (which is an insult to our intelligence in the first place, ironically).

  36. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Boffin

    "Boffin" is a term used quite often here on El Reg.

    There was an absolutely wazzo article a couple of weeks ago about Spadeadam, and in the comments section someone recommended the book "Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin". I bought the book based on this recommendation and I can honestly say that based on what's in there, if anyone called me a "boffin" I'd take it as a total compliment.

  37. Fading
    Headmaster

    I suspect....

    Many commentards here have first hand experience of being called such names during our adolescences. As one I would not begin to equate the unpleasantness I suffered (including physical) as genuine hate speach. Growing up is tough enough without creating additional boundaries between peers with heavy handed societal edicts.

    What I did learn at the time though was to hide my boffiness (still escapes sometimes) and that you learn more about the person throwing insults when they do, than you learn about their target. Latter experience also taught me that the most vocal/physical of the antagonists were often the most likely to have issues/problems that they themselves were trying to hide by directing abuse at an easy target - and that their perceived popularity was a sham outside of the school yard.

    Not to belittle anyone's bad experiences - but to create a world where hurt feelings are outlawed would be a misstep for society.

  38. .stu

    Being a boffin is like being cool; if you think you are then you aren't.

  39. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Coat

    Too late!

    I think everything I had to say has already been covered.

    The long white one with dozens of pens in the top pocket ->

  40. Falanx

    If you're talking about the relative badness of words...

    ...and you can't say one of those words, that's the much worse word.

    Please don't conflate them.

  41. JokerZero

    I really don't mind what term you use to acknowledge that I am probably smarter than you.

    Boffin, Geek Nerd or just Sir will do fine.

  42. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Harley Street psychotherapist promoting her new book ...

    You may have seen her name on other titles such as "The Ability to Make Money out of Psyco-twaddle", "How to Blame Others for Breathing and Get Cash", "Plenty of Wonga Here" and the forthcoming title "I Have Been Mentally Scarred Because I Was Called Slightly Brighter Than Average Before the Release of My Last Book" ...

    Get a life Doctor.

  43. Chronos Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Mr Carlin's list (mucho sweary)

    Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits, turd, twat, geek, nerd, boffin and egghead. It's getting a little cumbersome now. I suggest we return to the original seven and sodomise anyone who tries to expand them (or points out that motherfucker is a repetition, technically, of the word "fuck") with a big rubber thingy and then beat them with it until they recant.

    Seriously, has this person nothing better to do? Words, as Humpty Dumpty was rumoured to have said, mean exactly what people intend them to mean. Intent is all. In this sense, nerd, geek, boffin and egghead all point toward intellectual attainment which I would have thought was high praise. Perhaps someone's feeling a little insecure and needs a "time out and blankie" session, as our leftpondian colleagues would say?

  44. Amentheist
    Go

    I think we should focus on

    Enabling people to embrace who they are so that they can live happily with themselves rather than try to bend the world to everyone's needs.

  45. Mark Reed
    Coat

    To quote the great Jen Barber

    "Ich bin ein NERD!"

    Who's with me?!

    *crickets*

    I'll get my coat.

  46. Bob9911

    Oh bless Dr Falck, life must be so difficult for some people to cope with...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uh oh

    I have a username I use on numerous websites which the last word is "Nerd"...

    Anon because I don't want a fine or jail time.

  48. sbt Silver badge
    Boffin

    The good doctor was a bit niggardly...

    ...with her sample size. Not sure she's a boffin with only twenty respondents.

    I'm not bothered by labels, but I do get the sense that 'nerd' is used more perjoratively than 'geek', a somewhat more neutral term, of grudging admiration. Boffin seems generally positive, with perhaps a hint of ivory tower/absent mindedness or freedom from life's quotidian concerns.

    1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

      Re: The good doctor was a bit niggardly...

      It's psychology. I don't remember ever hearing of a study that had an appreciable sample size.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Alert

        Appreciate this!

        I guess the replication crisis is explained, then. Next!

  49. RLWatkins

    Nerds invented the aerospace industry....

    ... but didn't get much credit for it. Nerds invented the electronics industry, and made out pretty well. Nerds invented information technology, and a bunch of them wound up taking money to the bank in wheelbarrows. Nerds are busy inventing the genetic and biomedical engineering industry, and stand to profit tidily.

    Nerds rule. Psychologists need just to get over that, to make the move from denial to acceptance.

  50. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Let's ban more words

    I feel slightly uncomfortable when I hear the word, "banana". So can we make it a criminal offence to use that word?

    Another thing that should be made a crime is, "Looking at me in a funny way."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's ban more words

      You'd be referring to this?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5dy9URkLFI

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Let's ban more words

        "

        You'd be referring to this?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5dy9URkLFI

        "

        Of course. A brilliant prediction by the BBC, though they got the target wrong. Walking on the cracks in the pavement is a particularly egregrious crime that deserves a far harsher sentencing policy. And of course "urinating in a public convenience" is digusting behaviour which quite rightly saw most such establishments closed down or subject to a hefty entrance fee (which must be paid using archaic metal tokens).

        1. grahambb

          Re: Let's ban more words

          " And did those feet, in ancient times........"

          Join in......

  51. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I'm uncomfortable with this because at some point idiots will be pushing for the same protection from being called idiots. And you can change intelligence, so it should not be protected under the equality act.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      "you can change intelligence, so it should not be protected under the equality act"

      I'm not sure that is correct, mainly because no-one has ever come up with a universally correct way of defining 'intelligence'

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        You can changeyour education, but not intelligence (significantly)

      2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: jmch

        Babies are less intelligent than even the dumbest adults.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: RE: jmch

          Babies are less clever, doesn't mean they are less intelligent. Intelligence includes learning capacity, which is much higher in kids than in adults. And again, saying that without knowing a full definition of intelligence

  52. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Stems

    "he whole idea behind the book stemmed from the fact that as a child she was offered a place at a school for gifted children but her mother turned it down because she feared it would result in her becoming socially difficult."

    Apparently Mom was locking the stable door...

  53. Flywheel Silver badge
    Boffin

    Shut up already!

    Personally, I'm very proud to be called a geek by all and sundry: I've worked hard to achieve a certain level of geekery and the BCS have chosen to confirm that by allowing me to use letters after my name.

    I really wish these brainiacs would stop getting upset om my behalf and get on with problems that really matter in society. Or maybe get out more? Or both? FFS

  54. OGShakes

    The N word

    I can call anyone I work with a Nerd and no one gets upset, but if I called them one of a number of other N words I would be taken out of the building and given a 'good talking to'. So someone who clearly needs to spend time dealing with real prejudice, make her see what its like to be a second class citizen and feel unwelcome everywhere she goes. In other words make her dye her hair ginger and see how far she can get publishing her badly thought out book!

    Seriously though I know someone who is transgender who gets genuine shit for it, her whole family cut her out of their lives because she wanted to be her real self. Going to watch a football game in the local with my friend can be interesting and she was abused in one pub for using the correct toilet for her assigned gender. Compare that with someone calling me a Nerd as I can fix their computer, it does not even compare!

  55. Ker Avon

    The irony

    I remember being called a nerd/geek at school for having an interest in computers (and an interest in cars seems to attract similar labels)

    This was usually from football fanatics who could list every member of their home team since 1973, yeah, I'm the geek....

  56. Matt_payne666
    Meh

    Its about time!

    everyone else is being hard done by... now I can feel marginalised and special!!

    not really! i'm a grown up!

    and to think someone has probably financed her more generously than ive been, to turn out this nonsense!

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Its about time!

      You're a what?

      A 'grown-up'?

      That sounds pretty elitist to me. I think I'll sue you for millions...

      Oh, I forgot, this isn't the USA

  57. MJI Silver badge

    Clever people

    Can think of extremely clever ways to hurt their bullies.

    Been bullied, bully didn't like the outcome.

    1. MJI Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Clever people

      I see so I get downvoted, I was bullied for years, eventually I had enough so dealt with them using my brains.

      Have YOU ever been bullied?

      It is absolutely shit being bullied, horrible.

      My advice for any victims, if you have brains use them.

      At least one bully ended up with a Police record, they already had one, just had another added.

      Things I have learnt

      Bullying is not mutual piss taking.

      Bullies generally are a bit thick and do it to try to impress people.

      Sometimes you have to take up a notch with them.

      You are better than them.

  58. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    I feel a sudden urge...

    ... to use the term "trick cyclist" in the most pejorative way possible.

  59. Hoe

    I was called many, many names at school and Nerd \ Geek was always pretty high up there but they were also the two which really didn't bother me, mind you I have a pretty thick skin in that regards, words don't me a lot to me people use them losely to say the least, though that's not to say they nver did!

    I remember back in support days the amount of time I would ask a user if they have rebooted to be told yes, then when I checked the NIC card it's been connected for 18 days or something stupid, but sure yeah they rebooted this morning, just my reboot there and then just happened to work! :/

    The BS people talk, mind you can you blame them? After alll if our Politians are the example we should be lead by then the only thing we should ever say truthfully is out name, or you wife's name if it's a speeding ticket!

  60. myhandler

    I always remember being called "Einstein" in a broad Hampshire twang as I pushed a broom around a factory. Quite proud of that.

  61. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Would it be hate speech to call her a daft bint?

  62. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    SJW's - suck it up

    Did I like being called nerd/geek/swot in school?

    No.

    Was it said with malice?

    Yes.

    But it's nothing like "the N word" - I don't recall my ancestors being slaves, or made to sit away from "normal" people, and I don't recall us being systematically attacked, murdered, and generally abused and looked down on.

    **That** is what defines hate speech. Not something you hear that you don't like.

    Taking her point to its logical conclusion, no-one would be able to say anything that someone else didn't like.. A dystopian facade of utopia.

    Hate speech, racism, and other forms of hate are legitimate issues, but just like calling Cuomo "Fredo", this ain't the bloody N word, and I say this despite being on Cuomos side in his attack on the right wing troll who hassled him.

    People have the right to be jerks - no matter how much it annoys me when they are.

  63. ThatOne Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Chicken or egg?

    > they don’t like because it highlights the fact that they are socially awkward

    But are they socially awkward because of the names people call them, or are those names just the result of that awkwardness?

    All right, there is a tiny part of truth in this due to the fact that we tend to conform to the image other people around us reflect back to us (so being called a coward won't make you any braver), but that's all there is.

    Difference (of any kind) is and has always been shunned, and that happens to include intellectual difference. Kids who are different from the local majority (physically, mentally, in their interests and capacities) are bound to be rejected and laughed at, even if you ban all language... Banning doesn't help, education helps. All little kids are initially sociopath jerks, but they quickly learn the empathy, understanding and compassion they will need to live in society. (Well, most do)

    I think this bodes really ill for the rest of her book...

    1. kmedcalf

      Re: Chicken or egg?

      Every rational person should be terrified of a coward. Cowards are required to inflict maximal (and often fatal) physical damage to opponents in order to preclude the possibility that they might get up again and carry on their aggressive behaviour.

  64. IGotOut
    Megaphone

    Harley Street....

    ....means nothing these days.

    Search Harley Street Fake or Harley Street Fraud to see how this was exclusive medical street is nothing more than a scam artists dream address.

    1. TimMaher Bronze badge

      Re: Harley Street....

      Yup,

      Check out article on page 7 of Eye 1511. It’s about “The Grauniad” reporting on a very dodgy business engaged in company formations at number 29.

  65. riparian zone

    origins and context

    erm, geek was originally at term of abuse as it was the name of the alcoholic guy that would bite the head off chickens for booze, being part of the freak shows in 30's America. I think it was the 'Revenge of the Nerds' movies in the 80's that reclaimed some ground for nerds and others that were socially awkward /neurodiverse/super clever, etc. (not quite shure where that terms derives, it may be from knurd, or drunk backwards).

    Being owned buy the target of abuse is always a sign that its potency is lost.

    'What up, nerds?'

  66. JohnFen Silver badge

    What nonsense

    "Labeling super-smart people with terms like nerd, geek, or boffin is hate speech, and should be punishable as such, argues lecturer and Harley-Street psychotherapist Dr Sonja Falck."

    I call myself and my friends those terms (except "boffin", because I'm USian) all the time. When I've been referred to with those terms by people who aren't nerds themselves, it was never intended, or taken, as offensive. None of them are insults. It's true that "nerd" and "geek" were insults decades ago, but those days are long gone, at least in my corner of the world.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: What nonsense

      'Boffin' is far too complimentary to call any of your friends.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: What nonsense

        True....WAY over the top for them!

        But more importantly, how do you know my friends?

  67. bofh1961

    I always preferred to think of myself as a "propellerhead"

    For those who remember "Wacky Races" I always identified with Professor Pat Pending...

  68. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Words are no the problem

    It's the thoughts and intent behind the words that do the damage. You can be called a "bloody idiot" with a smile and a great deal of affection, and you can be called "absolutely brilliant" in a sarcastic tone with a great deal of malice. Ban all the "bad" words and people will still find hurtful ways to belittle and insult you.

    A person who uses a banned word with no intention to offend should not be held to account. Many such words were perfectly acceptable 50 or more years ago, but now they are being airbrshed from history (the latest "Dambusters" film dared not mention the historically accurate name of a particular dog).

    I wonder how many things that the snowflake generation currently do routinely that will be considered beyond the pale in 50 years' time?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mensa IQ test

    In the UK if you pay £24.95 for the IQ test and score over 132, you can then pay £59.95 a year to receive a newsletter and attend events ...

    I am pretty sure there is also the upper pass mark: if you are smart enough, you simply won't take the test, and will avoid the humiliation of being refused. I find that really nice, since some people can't figure it out themselves and do need to be told: Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops.

  70. DougS Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Call me when there are lynchings of geeks

    Or they start putting dweebs in concentration camps, or nerds are legally barred from marriage.

    She needs to get a grip on her priorities if she thinks this is "hate speech" on the level of what jews, African Americans or homosexuals face. By her measure I guess calling someone overweight or pale could be "hate speech" because hey someone could have their feelings hurt by either description. Since being female can be disadvantage for some things perhaps even identifying her as "she" could be considered hate speech if you take her insanity to its logical conclusion!

  71. TimR

    "In the UK if you pay £24.95 for the IQ test and score over 132, you can then pay £59.95 a year to receive a newsletter and attend events with other people who have also paid up to be in a room with people who scored highly on the same intelligence test."

    And these people think they are intelligent....?

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Yes, they've now got a Certificate.

  72. SVV Silver badge

    £59.95 a year to be a member of MENSA?

    I mean, just how stupid do you have to be to get ripped off that badly? It's more like a certificate of gullibility.

    1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

      Re: £59.95 a year to be a member of MENSA?

      So, you've never paid for any club membership? What kind of freak social outcast are you? I am not currently a paid up member of Mensa, but I am in two motorcycle owners clubs and have a gym club membership that costs more per month than Mensa does per year.

      What you get for the Mensa membership fee is access to networking events, social events, quiz nights where soap operas are not a subject, and most importantly (for me) lectures. When I lived in London the highlight of my month was the monthly lecture. I got to meet some very interesting people who at least partially understood me and to learn something new about the world.

      As for the nerd/geek/boffin tags, who cares. Whenever someone insults my intelligence, I just assume that they are jealous,... or that they are frightened of me. It's rare that they push the point these days as I am 6'4" and have a carefully cultivated "attitude problem" :-)

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Labels are divisive

    Nothing more, nothing less

    Egghead is nasty. Boffin is labelling someone for DARING to be clever.

    Normalise intelligence, don't exclude people - even yourself - just because you're clever.

    Being called "poindexter" isn't great.

    Anon because despite being a black belt in Judo, I'll probably be called a snowflake.

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Re: Labels are divisive

      I was labelled a 'Scientist'.

      Was that good or bad?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nerds & Geeks

    I think she has her definitions wrong. Nerds and geeks aren't really anything to do with intelligence (perceived or otherwise). You can be, for instance, a bicycle geek. Or a fishing nerd. A geek is merely a fan (very much like a bobble-hat). A nerd is a practitioner. I write software ... so I guess that makes me a nerd. However, I hate computers so at least I'm not a geek!

  75. markstorm

    Wow, so thin-skinned

    I see she's still got some growing up to do

  76. Stuart Halliday

    I did the MENSA test and around 145. Wasn't interested in joining. But I was called Doc at Primary School and was bullied at School for being naive and trusting.

    This went along at Work until I finally had to wise up and stop speaking.

    Discovered I was high Autistic (Aspergers).

    I was called Wizkid and didn't find that offensive at all. Then came along American Culture in the form of TV Shows and discovered that they disliked intelligent kids and called them Nerds and Geeks. These were derogatory terms in the 70/80s. Just didn't know what they meant!

    The days when the Internet came along, I found myself in demand by the general public around me. So, I guess I ended up in the Black.

  77. HildyJ Silver badge
    Pirate

    Self confessed smart-arse, and proud of it

    This just proves that eggheads can be trolls.

    Also, psychotherapists tend to be psycho.

  78. tekHedd

    Nerd culture: it's still hate speech

    Let us not forget: hipster culture is _ironic_. When they dress as nerds and call themselves nerds, it's a form of mockery, just like the beards and fake-old clothes. It's not acceptance, and never will be.

    I don't know if I'd want to jail some jock for calling me a geek, but then these days I'm a paid-in-full geeky adult, have been hitting the gym regularly for decades, and/or can afford a good attorney. So I'm no longer a good target for bullying as there isn't a power imbalance. But it's still hate speech, and always will be at some level. Yeah, I use the word, but just like the N word is to others, geek is _our_ word. Ugly glasses and an iPhones do not a hacker make.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I've lived in California too long..

    ..but when I hear the term "psychotherapist" what immediately comes to mind is someone from a very affluent background too stupid to even get into the Sociology or "xxx Studies" Dept in university and with not enough physical coordination to even make it into the Interpretative Dance programme. On the whole you would hear more sense from the typical howling and gibbering street person on Lower Market St..

    Also have learned over the decades..

    psychologist = someone trying to work out just how their parents and family totally f***ed them up and why they are so messed up

    psychiatrist = someone who is totally nuts and trying to work out why and never succeeds.

    There are a few psychiatrists who are not completely crazy. In a deeply disturbing way. They used to be M.D's. So just have the usual MD issues. The only landlord I've had who ended up jail was a psychiatrist. A very high profile one way back when in The City. There is a certain satisfaction to opening the Sunday paper one morning and seeing a large photo of your horrible ex-landlord on the front page. Being prosecuted in a high profile criminal trial for professional misconduct. He went to jail and paid out millions of dollars in damages. If nothing else it means I always win "Worst Landlord Ever" stories when the subject comes up.

    For some reason I have never been called a nerd etc. Might have something to do with being 6 foot 1 and built like a line backer. Since the age of 15. Not so much a seven stone weakling more of a twelve stone slab. That might have something to do with it I think.

  80. Speeednet

    This faux outrage at name calling is invariably highly selective. Normally it is in favour of one of the "protected species" black, brown, islamic, female or LGBT people. Meanwhile straight, white, Christian males are fair game for anybody to disparage or name call.

    The Urban dictionary for instance defines the term "Kuffar" thus: Also spelled 'kafir' or 'kaffir', Kuffar is a highly derogatory Arabic term used to refer to non-Muslims, though it is usually directed less against "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews) and more against others (Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, etc).

    A word the equivalent to the "N" word, is totally OK because it is not white people using it.

  81. Captain Boing
    Facepalm

    The N-word is the new N-word

    seriously?

    I want off this rock!

  82. Spanners89

    Grow up!

    If your offended by any of this or seeing it as bullying then you need to grow up. Whatever happened to stick and stones. I’m short but you don’t see me running to the papers screaming someone called me a midget. What is going on in this country!

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Psychosocial, qu'est-ce que c'est?

    Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better

    Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, away ....

  84. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    For Those of a Certain Age

    Calling someone a swot, whizkid, brainbox, smart-arse, or dweeb may seem “harmless banter,” but it is equivalent to hate speech, she reckons, and should be recognized as such in British law – with punishments including fines and imprisonment..

    A perfect Giles Cartoon of squat little kids being hauled into the dock...

  85. CommanderGalaxian
    Linux

    Jealousy is the sincerest form of flattery.

    To be fair, those who use terms like "brainbox", "boffin", etc to describe those more capable than themselves are really only highlighting their ignorance and jealousy of others.

  86. neversink

    Hate Speec Laws are Fascist Laws

    The problem with hate speech laws is that governments and police can arbitrariyl enforce the law. This is bing done today in Europe and other nations whereever hat speech laws are on the books. I would rather know who hates me than see them gagged.

    It seems only the USA holds freedom of speech sacred.

    We are not babies that need hand holding or protection from someone's speech. We can counter any hate speech with intelligent discourse.

    I have been called all sorts of epithets and I personally have ever been negatively effected by any of them. I don't like it but I would defend the right of anyone to insult my intelligence, my religion and my race, even if it is hateful.

    Why is it that little people who pretend that they are intellectually superior want to fine and imprison people because of what they say?

  87. Troutdog

    I don't need someone else deciding what is insulting to me.

    In fact, telling me what should be insulting is more insulting than any of the names discussed in the article.

  88. Androgynous Cow Herd

    As I firmly believed

    Those that seek cause to be offended are seldom disappointed.

  89. Celeste Reinard

    C'est pas juste...

    One has to pay to get rated? They couldn't figure out a business model to get it for free? (Like El Reg, where smartipants abound?) Wow! And then pay again to become a member? Not getting invited? Isn't that a bit sad? Would one want to be a member of such a club? It is not as if these tests are so hard to do... I admit, indeed I feel stupid all the time, until I get 'research' like this in my hands - with 20 subjects, nonetheless. A genius that knows density to make light bend. Okay, I am aware of my short-comings that go with a bigger than usual engine under the hood, and what kind of problems it can cause (with the last psychiatrist of whatever it was I spoke to I concluded they were thaumaturgists in more than one respect, especially when it comes to the latest rage emdr (o dear) and their habit of mixing latin and greek and still not making sense, like any other run-of-the-mill Thomist from mediocre times... I have the advantage to be able to read a newspaper while some dim bully is telling me (a 100+ times, I counted that) that I was not 'normal' and still stay calm, despite a nervous 'nature' (I have been over-bullied, indeed). Thst was much more fun to do: listening to a rapist (in french, I am dutch) for 2 hours (while reading the Guardian), accusing me of anything that applied to himself (being an imposter), then after a hour or so of loud intimidation, general lack of brains, explaining him in french about the use of the word 'normal'. (That was before I appeared to be 'sauváge' as well.) The way he was using 'normal' was done in a connotative, hence metaphorical, private manner, and not denotative, public manner, hence my incompetence of understanding was evident. Leaving Big Mouth with his mouth hanging open, etc., before he continued telling me I was 'sauváge' (brrrr!). And I continued with the Guardian. I skipped the bit telling him that normality as he used it is known only in a negative sense (in it's absence) - to avoid mutilation. (The guy had raped my best friend at gunpoint, I was reading from the laptop with a new (french) W10 install I gifted to her in order to avoid another case of feminicide, and he had no clue I was recording his bullships with it... It was a bit scary, since he could also fold me like a newspaper.)

    Yeah... I think I can handle being called 'boffin'. Or nerd. Smartsass. Professor (I am not, thank you, I don't like to lecture...). Einstein. (Let me tell you about Einstein, or Hawkins, and where they totally dropped the ball... that was on sociology...) As De Sausure observed some while ago, function precedes form, knowledge of this helps a great bit. ... One wouldn't say at the first impression that I am a Rwandan (I am pinkish white), I know what it means to be called an Umuzungu kazi (white woman) all day. It gets boring, it is a measure of racism imposed on me. Research like this is however not helping the case. ... To be brief (sic), the researcher hardly has even a hammer on boffinity, let alone a clue.

    Powerless in the face of stupidity, I high-fived with the guy after 4 hours - I was his friend. In form. ... We had a fascinating conversation.

    Reading up on Aristotle, he wanted to restrict mirth by law. Poor man.

    Live long and prosper.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020