I think I've hit upon one of the reasons for the perceived smugness (and weeniness?) of Lispers. They are often lateral thinkers.
I've spent the last year or so learning Lisp (using Scheme for a side project) and so I've pestered a lot of people on freenode's #lisp and #scheme (and a #emacs) and what usually happens is something like the following:
Vincent: So how do I do [[X]]? Lisper: Why do you want to do [[X]]? Vincent: Umm - for auto-didactic purposes? Lisper: You don't want to do [[X]] - you can but it doesn't make sense. You really should do [[Y]] instead. Here is how to do [[Y]]. Vincent: But damnit I want to do [[X]]. =Lengthy argument/discussion during which I realize that doing [[X]] is dumb.=
Hanging out on #lisp a lot, I see this kind of exchange all the time - so it is not just me. People on #lisp invariably want to know the entire context of a question, and when they find out, they generally suggest a solution which is lateral to the question posed.
There is probably an analogy with functions and macros here but I will let someone more erudite pursue it.
Now, lateral thinking is generally recognized as a quality of smart people, so it is hardly exclusive to Lispers. But Lispers are infamous for being an insular community, not friendly to people wanting to approach the language from one blub or another and so it's worth pursuing this topic a bit further.
I'd like to advance the following: the perceived unhelpfulness of Lispers is structural. It derives from the selection criteria operating on Lispers providing advice and "blubbers" looking for it. Here is why: Lispers are, generally, out of the box thinkers, or they wouldn't be using Lisp1. People asking for help on #lisp are 1) new to Lisp and 2) almost surely trying to get a particular thing done, right now. If they were voracious auto-didacts without a particular goal in mind, besides learning, they would likely be content to just figure out any questions themselves. Finally, Lisp is different, which means people coming from other programming languages will probably be laden with a lot of habits which don't serve well in Lisp. As a consequence, they will often be asking questions that amount to "how do I make Lisp act like PHP/Python/Whatever". These questions are exactly the kind of questions that a seasoned, lateral thinking Lisper, is likely to want to divert into other, more lispy questions. And they probably should - it doesn't make a lot of sense to answer the wrong question with the right answer.2
Nevertheless, the overall effect is a kind of impedence mismatch between learners of Lisp and the Lisp learned. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that this observation, more or less, has been made before. But maybe re-iterating it can somehow help make that impedance mismatch a bit less of a barrier to entry for people interested in the language.
1: It is hard to argue that purely on the basis of ease of use (libraries, set up time, familiarity) that Lisp is a win over "batteries included" languages like Python.
2: There is something else interesting here, but it is somewhat lateral to the overall point of this post. Lisp, a language which will let you do anything, no matter how poorly advised, seems to be, in some larger sense, conceptually restrictive. If it wasn't, the question "how can I do [[X]]" would always make sense. What this may reflect is that the community exerts pressure to regularize the use of Lisp which other languages regulate with syntax and/or limitations on semantics.