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Oct. 9th, 2011

One can do worse with your interwebz time than watch Colbert, so I thought I'd share a clip. I saw it through my friend Dan's blog, incidentally, and I'm glad I didn't miss it.



[warning for sexually-explicit humor]

I was kind of taken back by some comments in the View clip. As I said over at Dan's blog:

What surprises me about all of this most was the way the people on the View acted like being gay is a choice no one would make. It’s one thing to say no one chooses to be gay because, well, IT’S NOT A CHOICE; but do we really think (say) the African-American community would be okay if we asked who in their right mind would choose to be African-American? Yes, there is discrimination (for both groups) but there is also unique value in that identity (again, for both groups).


The video got me thinking, though, about the nature of choice. Because I saw Moneyball last night (great movie, btw), geekdom is on my mind. So I'd like to ask a related question. Is being a geek, really a choice?

I understand choice to mean that what you were going to do is not pre-determined by things you have no control over. This is a major argument some philosophers put forward against free will: since future events are all controlled by past events which can't be changed and laws of nature which likewise can't be changed, what room is there for personal responsibility and choice? That seems to be what most people mean when they talk about homosexuality being a choice; though I'm open to corrections, of course.

A person might choose to write fanfic or join SCA in the same way they might choose to take ballet lessons. There's no lack of choice there, nothing forcing you to act one way or the other. Certainly I don't think this guy was forced to show his inner geek to the world like he did:



So acts of geekdom seem pretty much like free choices to me. But what about the underlying geeky character? It seems in a certain way this might be like having a family history of heart disease. You have better-than-normal odds given a certain set of genetically-determined traits (a desire to be different, an aesthetic sense that draws you to normally-ostracized art genres, an inexplicable liking for twelve-sided dice, even just a generally shy nature or high intelligence that pulls you to spend time alone). And like with the history of heart disease, if you "feed" yourself a certain way you're more likely to develop the full condition. The philosopher's argument I mentioned above would seem to say you're not in control of the fact that you had those experiences - they were controlled by other events in the past and by universal laws, etc.

But I'm going to be thoroughly unphilosophical and say that part of what it means to be rational (i.e. a human) is that we are not completely governed by our impulses. I have the choice to date the soccer player who parties on the weekend or the AV vice president who spends the same time teaching himself Klingon. (And five galleons if you can guess which one I would choose!) That choice is setting me on a path to socialize in a certain way, I am essentially opting for one set of likely experiences over another. Which does have the potential to change my currency.

So I guess my answer is that geekdom is a choice, at least up to a point. But I'd love other peoples' thoughts. What do you think, on this or the larger homosexuality issue?

This entry was originally posted at http://fidesquaerens.dreamwidth.org/11518.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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