Thursday, September 23, 2010

Studying The Liberal Arts - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

True that:
Liberal arts education forces us to decode systems of symbols. We learn how complex systems of symbols can be and what is required to decode them and why that can be a pleasurable process. That skill will come in handy for a large number of future career paths. It will even help you enjoy TV shows more.
The counter arguments that the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) are intrinsically more difficult and draw higher IQ students, or that the Liberal arts are easy to learn and study on your own, are both wrong. Most folks on the STEM side of things think they are better read than they actually are, because they don't know what they don't know about how to read deeply and critically. They don't understand the history, they don't understand culture, and they resist alternative world views.

The truth is STEM teaches you how to do things, and how to develop processes, but has nothing to say about the purpose or meaning of things. So you get a lot of glib rationalization and shallow reasoning. Linear, unimaginative fields for linear, unimaginative people whose only goal in life is to get a job and serve the powers that be. Basically, its the Dunning-Kruger effect and the military industrial complex that prop up STEM and under-value the Liberal arts.

You have to ask: how valued was theoretical physics in the world at large until the Manhattan Project proved you could kill lots of people with math?