A United Kingdom psychology lecturer and psychotherapist said using "slurs" against those with high IQs — such as "nerd" or "geek" or "egghead" — should be called hate crimes, the Telegraph reported.
Sonja Falck has studied the impact of bullying on high-IQ children and the "divisive and humiliating" anti-IQ terms should be categorized the same as homophobic, racial, and religious slurs in the U.K. — and are hate crime's "last taboo," the outlet added.
What are the details?
Falck has spent eight years researching discrimination against high-IQ people and interviewing high-ability adults about their experiences, the Telegraph said, adding she's recently discovered a common theme among them after conducting extensive interviews with 20 high-IQ people: the idea of belonging or not belonging.
"That was a really big one," she told the outlet. "That's where being taunted with names like 'nerd' or 'egghead' or 'brainiac' comes in because the person is being set apart as being different to others and feeling like they're a misfit, and they don't belong."
Falck also told the Telegraph that all her interviewees felt like that at some point in their lives.
Her recent research on the subject can be found in her new book, "Extreme Intelligence" — and at the book's launch Falck said the next government must take legislative action to force societal change, the outlet said.
"The N-word was common parlance in the U.K. until at least the 1960s. Other insulting slurs about age, disability, religion, and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently. Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter. It is only with the benefit of hindsight and academic research that we realize how wrong we were. The same can be said about anti-IQ words like 'nerd,' 'brainbox,' 'geek,' 'egghead,' 'smart-arse,' 'dweeb,' and 'smarty-pants,'" she said, according to the Telegraph. "Slurs such as these will continue to be used unabated at the expense of the brightest members of society unless and until legislative action is taken."
In England and Wales, any threatening or abusive communication directed toward a person regarding race, color, disability, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity is called a hate crime, the outlet said, adding that it's covered by a variety of statutes, including the Public Order Act 1986, and penalties can include imprisonment, fines, or both.
"The government says it is committed to creating an outward-looking, inclusive society yet continues to tolerate divisive, discriminatory language," Falck added, according to the Telegraph. "In the short space of time since racial, homophobic and religious hate speech was banned, it is now seen by most as morally abhorrent. It would be progress for British society to come to feel the same way about hate-filled, prejudicial slurs against our high-IQ community."
More from the outlet:
Falck went on to warn that such name-calling, especially as a child, can cause psychological damage that may last a lifetime and that extending legislation to include these slurs would help to stamp out the "archaic" victimization of more than one million Britons with a gifted IQ score of 132 or over.
Falck is herself a member of the international high-IQ society Mensa, which supports non-discrimination against those with very high IQs.
"Very high-IQ individuals often experience isolation or bullying from people around them because they are perceived as being different from the majority," Mensa CEO John Stevenage said, according to the Telegraph. "Mensa as an organization gives people with very high IQ a community which is non-judgmental and inclusive of difference. Put simply, everybody is different, so no-one is."
Here's interview clip of Falck on "Good Morning Britain" discussing the issue: