Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Revenge of the nerds?

I can't say I'm feeling particularly vengeful, or that the current state of the welfare state feels like an attempt to keep me in my place. (I'm not sure if the article is intended as tongue-in-cheek or not.)

Punchline: Through the lens of the Jock/Nerd Theory of History, the welfare state doesn't look like a serious effort to "equalize outcomes." It looks more like a serious effort to block the "revenge of the nerds" - to keep them from using their financial success to unseat the jocks on every dimension of social status.
Of course, there are enough times through the course of a week that I'm grateful I don't live in a hunter-gatherer society, I'm not sure I'd be all that upset even if it was. I'm also not sure that the "nerds rule the modern world" theme is accurate. After all, as I tell my students, it's not the technologists who get rich, it's the ones who turn the technology into a business. Be nice to the suits, they're the ones signing your paycheck. Bill Gates is a brilliant businessman, but a mediocre (at best) technologist. Jobs is brilliant in design and marketing (especially marketing himself, but that's another rant for another day), not tech.

One of the comments on the article mentions the Coward/Thug theory of history as well...which, when you stop to think about it, also has some evidence to recommend it:

Females may be impressed by brave behavior, but too much bravery will lead, on average, to a shorter life span. The cowards who ran away from danger but survived will be left to spread their genes and the thugs who killed the brave or stole their women will also be around.
And so it goes...

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