I think a lot of what rationalists read as antipathy toward nerds or atheists is less about having nerdy traits or not believing in gods and more about taking nerdiness or atheism as a defining part of one’s identity. To be clear it’s fine to identify that way and people shouldn’t have a problem with it, but this confusion results in a lot of criticism which seems to badly misunderstand the thing being criticized.
I don’t have any specific examples at hand, but to be a *little* more specific, but I frequently see people saying that pop social justice hates atheists. I don’t think that this is at all true, I think the communities in question are pretty heavily atheistic, and I think most of what people are responding to is not anti-atheism but anti-[atheism as a political tribe or defining feature of someone’s identity].
I don’t really think I buy this. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying, I don’t think rationalists have made a mistake at all. Rather, they (And I) are frustrated by a group of people who are generally very, very interested in policing language and attitudes very carefully, but only in other people.
They are not just reacting to the direct hostility, they are also reacting to an attitude that says,
“When you talk about me and the groups I’m part of or support, your language has to be as precise as a scalpel and I get to call out any mistakes and immediately make the conversation entirely about those. When I talk about you and the groups you’re part of and support, my language has to be as precise as a shotgun and you need to learn to take a joke and let people vent without getting all pedantic.”
This is a bum deal, and I’m not surprised people don’t want to take it.