America's Necessity For The Brilliant: America Needs Its Nerds

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In the American commonplace, it’s better to be athletically skilled than intellectually advanced. Praises are given to athletes, while intellectuals become outcasts. Furthermore, the recognition and status of athletes and other favorable figures grows due to American societal views, even if intellectuals are the ones to advance our society. In his essay, “America Needs Its Nerds”, Leonid Fridman condemns American social values and beliefs that repeatedly supports the gifted athletes and despises those who are considered intellectual. Fridman makes a reasonable argument against American views on the intellectually curious and academically serious through clear examples, comparisons, and descriptions of social distinctions of the two groups and social rankings in other industrialized nations besides America.

Fridman starts off his argument by defining the word “geek” to epitomize his introduction of bias towards those who weren’t considered academic. He believes there is a clear prejudice against “geeks” and “nerds” and uses the dictionary definition to represent society’s typical preconception about intellectuals. He uses a primary example of anti-intellectualism at Harvard, one of the most high-ranking academic institutions to further his argument. Even at prestigious schools, like Harvard, athletes are ranked higher than the intellectuals on the social ladder. On top of that, few students are willing to admit how studious they are. Moreover, Fridman expands the example of Americans’ anti-intellectual values in society through childhood experiences in elementary and high schools. Children, who are intelligent, are disadvantages of learning social and communication skills due to being castoffs and rejecting society’s norm. These lucid examples convey his argument against the ostracism of intellectuals.

Following his examples of society’s perspective on intellectualism, Fridman expresses his frustration by proclaiming “enough is enough.” He encourages “nerds” and “geeks” to rebel against the status quo and fight anti-intellectual values that infiltrate American society. Fidman then goes on to mention that intellectuals are praised in other industrial nations. They are admired and considered exemplary students. To further his point, he refers to the wage gap between professional ballplayers and faculty members of universities in America. Professional athletes are better paid in America, where in many parts of the world, being a university professor is reputable. Lastly, to make his final point, Fridman questions how long America can continue to be preeminent if academic achievement and ability is being looked down upon. In other words, it will become hard for America to compete with others if education is not prioritized. The series of questions he provides make readers think about how they view intellectualism.

Society, as a whole, continues to push down “nerds” and “geeks”. In America, athletes are glorified, while the academically curious are neglected and overlooked. However, intellectuals continue their work and remain the backbone of America’s infrastructure despite societal views. Fridman encourages readers to take a stand against these values. America will struggle to remain a global power if academic achievement and intellectual ability is not emphasized. Through his clear-cut examples and descriptions and compelling argument, Fridman leaves the reader with one thing on their mind: America needs their “nerds”. 

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