[Note: Paul Graham is the author of this essay. Go to his site--has several other excellent essays, especially if you're interested in LISP.]
Why Nerds are Unpopular
by Paul Graham
When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of about the same popularity. We graded them from A to E. A tables were full of football players and cheerleaders and so on. E tables contained the kids with mild cases of Down's Syndrome, what in the language of the time we called "retards."
We sat at a D table, as low as you could get without looking physically different. Our table was populated by complete nerds, cases of delayed pubescence, and recent immigrants from China. We were not being especially candid to grade ourselves as D. It would have taken a deliberate lie to say otherwise. Everyone in the school knew exactly how popular everyone else was, including us.
I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story. There is a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you unpopular.