David Anderegg, a professor of psychology at Bennington College, says that the terms "nerd" or "geek" are damaging, much like racial epithets, and should be avoided altogether when discussing computers or science, reports the New York Times. The Times ran a story Dec. 21 suggesting that what America will need in the future are more "cool nerds," people with hybrid careers that combine computing with other fields. But Anderegg says that merely mentioning terms like nerd or geek serves to perpetuate the stereotype. In most of America, he said, nerds and geeks are people to avoid. The connotations are a bit different: a geek suggests a person with special expertise, while a nerd suggests social ineptness. And math, science, and computer science, Anderegg said, are courses that young people too often associate with nerds and geeks. As a result, he added, "they sabotage themselves in these fields, and the nation’s work force is suffering…"

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