About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerds According to Myers-Briggs

Nguyen Hung Vu - Introvert
If you ascribe to the Myers-Briggs personality type indicators, a psychological assessment tool in use since the 1940s (and re-purposed by nerds to classify their favorite fictional characters), a nerd isn't just some strange creature from an alternate universe (although he might want to be), there is actually a psychological imperative behind nerdy behavior.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) classifies basic personality across 16 different types based on variations in four specific characteristics—extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Nerds tend to select the INTP, ENTP, INTJ and ISTJ personality types (although they can certainly fall into other types).

*NOTE: some people believe that the MBTI is a valuable assessment tool, while others think it's poppycock. Often times bias against the MBTI is based upon the distortion of personality types in popular culture memes, and may be justified. If you know a nerd who scoffs at an MBTI reference, that's his choice, so keep this segment to yourself.

INTP – theoretical thinkers whose abstract minds can make connections between seemingly unrelated information. These are the nerds who see argument as a method of improvement that removes inconsistencies, and they can be ruthless with their logic. They see small talk as irrelevant, so they may seem aloof when they're really thinking some beautiful things about how the universe works. They can be independent, even rebellious in that they don't put stock in authority that hasn't been earned. They have a playful side they don't show outside their very close circle of friends, but it can be amazing when they let it loose. People suggest that Albert Einstein was an INTP.

ENTP – are more likely to be hackers and inventors. They're a bit more open to social interaction with strangers than the INTP type, and their fun-loving nature is more obvious. They share the INTP nerd's desire to improve things, but are more laid back and tend to look for real-world applications for their abilities. Some say that Walt Disney was an ENTP.

INTJ – love learning and practicing to improve themselves, and are self confident to the point of arrogance. These are the nerds who may not do well face-to-face with people because they come off as brusque or downright rude, but really shine when playing online (and trash-talking) with others. INTJ nerds may not care about other people's emotions, but this doesn't mean they don't care about other people; they don't want you to feel bad, but they have trouble understanding why you can't put your emotions aside and address the problem at hand in a logical manner. If Mycroft Holmes were a real person, he'd be an INTJ.

ISTJ –  spend inordinate amounts of time scrupulously gathering, parsing and correlating data. ISTJ nerds are amazingly loyal and reliable, but their reliance on rules might make them seem inflexible although they're just trying to make sure the world works the way it should. I have it on good authority that Queen Elizabeth II is an ISTJ.

INFP – aren't typically nerds because they rely on emotion over logic, are highly attuned to people's feelings, and usually look for ways to make everyone happy. However they tend to keep to themselves and often love books, which can give them a nerdy reputation. Their tendency toward self-perfectionism and talent with words reinforces this perception. J. R. R. Tolkein was an INFP, as was his most famous hobbit, Frodo Baggins.

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