Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so much?

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1846
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby eran_rathan » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

As someone whose profession and undergraduate degree included a fair amount of both (Survey Engineering - "Like civil engineers, with half the pay and we have to take law classes!"), I would say that both STEM and Liberal Arts -can- be rigourous, but STEM programmes -must- be rigourous, for the reasons mentioned by many of the previous posters.

I think also a large portion of it can be put at the feet of interpretation. In STEM undergrad classes, there is very little in the way of interpretation allowed, whereas Liberal Arts are in many cases about interpretation of events, history, meaning, etc.

My honest opinion is that many of the STEM fields would benefit from its practitioners having a classical liberal arts education (in other words, having to know history, writing, science, Latin, Greek, music and art), though I realize that it would take would be prohibitively expensive in terms of time and money, not to mention the amount of specialization these days. It would be difficult to produce a well-rounded and knowledgeable individual without first completely altering the entire education curricula as currently enacted.

EDIT: ninja'd regarding interpretation. It is a very valid point.
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:45 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I can't tell for certain which direction you're saying this works - are you saying exam questions for these classes are fully bullshittable, or that they require you reference the class material?

I'm saying that intro philosophy courses require critical reflection on the material. I thought you were denying that, but maybe I misunderstood.

I don't think that means that intro exams are bullshittable per se, but it does mean (as Zamfir says) that they're harder to evaluate, which means that it's harder to set strict passing criteria.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:30 pm UTC

IceFlake wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Eh, that's kind of the case though. Your first CS or EE class, you have to put in actual effort.

Absolutely not. During my liberal arts undergrad studies, my easiest classes were CS, math, and physical science classes I took either as core requirements or electives. They required almost zero preparation outside of class.

And hey, joke's on you! As a professional evaluator of admission applications, scholarship applications, and résumés, I'd be much more impressed by a CS degree with a women's studies minor than a minor in, say, math or physics.


*shrug* If it works, it works. But I've got about ten years experience in IT now, so college details beyond "hey, you went to school for CS" are mostly irrelevant now.

There's some pros to cross-training, to be sure, but fresh out of college factors fade pretty quickly against real world experience.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Your first CS or EE class, you have to put in actual effort.
I coasted through two years of bio/chem work with a ~B average. I think your bias is showing here, and I'd be very curious to see you handle an upper level history, philosophy, sociology, or art course.


Upper level classes were among those I took. They were ridiculously easy. Yes, there's a degree of aptitude involved in all things, but if you can read and write adequately, liberal arts is pretty much fine. Original thought is not overly important, so long as you pass the automated plagarism checks, of course. And I suppose one could say there's an art to echoing a teacher's preferred sentiments back to him without being unduly obvious about it. But, any difficulty is not intrinsicly connected to understanding the subject matter.

Music would indeed be different in this regard. There is an actual performance element there beyond the write a paper, take a test method of demonstrating proficiency in so many subjects.

If it makes anyone feel better, I also regard a lot of business classes as utter bullshit. Not all of them, exactly, but a lot of them fall into essentially a test on test taking skills and paper writing skills.

User avatar
freezeblade
Posts: 1405
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:11 pm UTC
Location: Oakland

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby freezeblade » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:18 pm UTC

It's really quite interesting when your major straddles the line between the two sides, people will still fall into the two groups.

In Architectural Design, you're expected to think like an artist/designer, yet still take a full regiment of engineering and physics classes. The students seemed to form into two cliques; one that felt more strongly about the engineering side, looking down on the "art students," and the other side that fell more along the lines of the designer, and looked down on the "number crunchers." Both sides were fully capable of good designs, but it was really quite interesting to see the duality and complexity of the split.
Belial wrote:I am not even in the same country code as "the mood for this shit."

User avatar
slinches
Slinches get Stinches
Posts: 1036
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:23 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby slinches » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:50 pm UTC

Yup, it's the fundamental divide between those that prefer problems with solutions that have logically/mathematically provable correct answers and those that prefer problems where the only judge of quality is the subjective opinions of your peers.

Both can be very challenging and rewarding, but it takes a different mindset for each. The ridicule (outside of general good-natured ribbing) usually occurs when someone from either group mistakes one sort of problem for the other.


ETA: I don't actually see much real ridicule here. And what little there is, isn't malicious.

Who
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:53 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Who » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:08 pm UTC

Because you're afraid of us and we can smell your fear.

Actually I feel like that applies more to the softer sciences than the humanities.

IceFlake
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:09 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby IceFlake » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:14 am UTC

Quercus wrote:Edit: question for the arts/humanities bods: I'm not sure whether there's anything equivalent to this, but maybe there is - were there any points in your lectures etc. where you would just totally lose the thread to the extent that your professor might as well be talking/writing in Venusian? I don't mean this in any pejorative sense - I get that arts/humanities are can be just as challenging as science/maths, I'm simply exploring the idea that they are challenging in different ways.

Ye gods, yes! Literary theory springs to mind. It was an undergrad survey course, so we studied many different critical traditions. Some came very naturally to me and some required mental gymnastics of which I was just not capable.

12-tone music theory just seemed like math for the sake of math with no regard for aesthetics. I understood the mechanics of it but not why anyone would want to create, study, or listen to it. I got better (a little bit).

Then there was the class (Chaucer) that had you learning a new language (Middle English) as you studied the text. I can do one or the other, but both at once is quite challenging.

User avatar
studyinserendipity
~Hanners~
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:30 am UTC
Location: teaching your children about cephalopods
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby studyinserendipity » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:50 am UTC

IceFlake wrote:12-tone music theory just seemed like math for the sake of math with no regard for aesthetics. I understood the mechanics of it but not why anyone would want to create, study, or listen to it. I got better (a little bit).
Haha, I was going to mention 12-tone stuff, but I figured it was too math-like.

My senior year I took a class that had us analyzing Bach chorales using the 12-tone row. We would make charts numbering the occurrence of each tone in the chorale, and I think there were some equations we used too? It was extremely bizarre.
People wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

she/her/hers

cphite
Posts: 1369
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:50 pm UTC

I spent four years in college as an art major, specializing in drawing. Later, I decided that I wanted a job someday and switched to computer science :wink:

So I spent the next few years cramming as many classes as I could (and even getting the dean to sign a paper letting me take more than I technically could) and graduated, got an IT job, and I am frankly very happy that it worked out that way.

I offer all of that to preface this: The art major was so much harder than the computer major. And it's not about which you're better at... Purely in terms of the amount of work required, and the level of expectations that people have, the art degree is harder; and it's not even close.

To graduate as a computer science major, you have to learn enough to pass the tests and do the projects; but that's relatively easy. Just being good at memorizing things can get you past the tests; and most of the big projects are group projects, or at the very least are things that you can ask other students about. Don't misunderstand, I worked hard for my degree - I studied, I did the work - but I know plenty of people who just kinda did the least they had to do to get by, and they got by.

Compare that to the art major. First off, if you can't draw/paint/sculpt/whatever at an acceptable level, you fail. There aren't any (or at least, many) points for it being a good try. Apart from literally stealing someone else's work, which is not recommended, you have to do it on your own. But you're talking hours every day to work on projects that have to be passable art projects. You can't just memorize stuff. Not that you won't be memorizing stuff, there is actually a TON of that... but for the projects, it just ain't enough... And when the projects re focused on specific technique, for example, you can't even just BS your way through it.

In addition to your normal classes, in order to graduate you need to complete a show. So for example, in my case, it would have been drawings and paintings. The thing is, it couldn't be anything that you'd ever submitted for a class, or even worked on in a class. It all had to be outside work. Stuff you did on your own time. And it was graded by the entire department, pass or fail.

My point is only this: I will never look down on liberal arts majors, especially the ones who actually do stuff. Art, music, dance... these things take real talent and real hard work.

Chen
Posts: 5579
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Chen » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:24 pm UTC

The ones you mentioned at the end (arts, music, dance), aren't those considered fine (or performing) arts and not liberal arts?

User avatar
studyinserendipity
~Hanners~
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:30 am UTC
Location: teaching your children about cephalopods
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby studyinserendipity » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:15 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The ones you mentioned at the end (arts, music, dance), aren't those considered fine (or performing) arts and not liberal arts?

I think the music degree I went for in college could be either bachelor of science OR bachelor of the arts (I think there was 1 class difference between the 2 degrees)... is that how they are divided? My music classes were classified under the liberal arts umbrella of the university.
People wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

she/her/hers

IceFlake
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:09 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby IceFlake » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:40 pm UTC

studyinserendipity wrote: I think the music degree I went for in college could be either bachelor of science OR bachelor of the arts (I think there was 1 class difference between the 2 degrees)... is that how they are divided?


Probably bachelor of arts and bachelor of music/fine arts.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:18 am UTC

cphite wrote:Compare that to the art major. First off, if you can't draw/paint/sculpt/whatever at an acceptable level, you fail. There aren't any (or at least, many) points for it being a good try. Apart from literally stealing someone else's work, which is not recommended, you have to do it on your own. But you're talking hours every day to work on projects that have to be passable art projects. You can't just memorize stuff. Not that you won't be memorizing stuff, there is actually a TON of that... but for the projects, it just ain't enough... And when the projects re focused on specific technique, for example, you can't even just BS your way through it.

In addition to your normal classes, in order to graduate you need to complete a show. So for example, in my case, it would have been drawings and paintings. The thing is, it couldn't be anything that you'd ever submitted for a class, or even worked on in a class. It all had to be outside work. Stuff you did on your own time. And it was graded by the entire department, pass or fail.


And then what do you do, get employed or make a living from being a professional artist? It is technically possible but what fraction of fine art graduates become professional artists? Or use the skills they learned in their degree in their working life? University is in and of itself a great learning experience so I accept that regardless of what anyone chooses to do, there is benefit.

But can it be something that's, more useful?

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:34 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:But can it be something that's, more useful?

It could be, but not everyone organizes education around their career like that.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:24 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:But can it be something that's, more useful?

It could be, but not everyone organizes education around their career like that.


And that's okay. But to address the OP, its a big part of, for me at least , the frustration with so many people doing these types of degrees.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby doogly » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:28 pm UTC

"Useful" is such a dirty word. This is what I was talking about, being the natural ally of humanists against the engineers. Meditate on the dao.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:14 pm UTC

I'm finishing a PhD in molecular cell biology, and the strongest recruiting push I'm getting right now isn't from science related jobs, but from consulting firms. This whole 'you have to go to college to learn a valuable trade skill' thing is a very strange notion people seem to have. Sure, maybe take some accounting courses in the mix of all the 14th Century Scandinavian Poetry, but we should dispense with this notion that college is for training Excel Spreadsheeters of tomorrow.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby doogly » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:18 pm UTC

Major caveat: Do not take on debt to study 14th century poetry. Do not get fucking chumped.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
ahammel
My Little Cabbage
Posts: 2135
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:46 am UTC
Location: Vancouver BC
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby ahammel » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:49 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:And then what do you do, get employed or make a living from being a professional artist? It is technically possible but what fraction of fine art graduates become professional artists? Or use the skills they learned in their degree in their working life? University is in and of itself a great learning experience so I accept that regardless of what anyone chooses to do, there is benefit.

But can it be something that's, more useful?

Like a degree in the natural sciences! Employers will literally start strangling one another with their own neckties for the chance to hire somebody with an evolutionary biology degree, as I can tell you from personal, and certainly not bitterly sarcastic, experience.
He/Him/His/Alex
God damn these electric sex pants!

User avatar
Mighty Jalapeno
Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You A Hero!
Posts: 11265
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 pm UTC
Location: Prince George In A Can
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:08 pm UTC

And don't forget the huge range of physical engineering sciences, ranging from civil to structural to mechanical to electrical, heating and lighting specialists, architectural studies students, drafting technologists and CAD/CAM designers...

Oh, wait, there's only a couple hundred positions and three actual jobs available for this entire field, and they can hire grads for most of it? Nevermind.

User avatar
freezeblade
Posts: 1405
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:11 pm UTC
Location: Oakland

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby freezeblade » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:58 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:And don't forget the huge range of physical engineering sciences, ranging from civil to structural to mechanical to electrical, heating and lighting specialists, architectural studies students, drafting technologists and CAD/CAM designers...

Oh, wait, there's only a couple hundred positions and three actual jobs available for this entire field, and they can hire grads for most of it? Nevermind.

So close to home, this hits. Especally when I have a hybrid degree that most employers have no idea what it means. B. Arch is a 5 year degree, with a thesis and a boat-load of engineering classes. Everyone was told that this is so much different and important than that B. Arts; focus in Architecure (4 year) degree. How much good did it do? fuck all. I got lucky and got one of those positions that uses AutoCAD, after floundering around for years not being able to get a job during the recession (which started when I was in school), but I could have done that with a community college drafting class. Not bitter at all, I swear.
Belial wrote:I am not even in the same country code as "the mood for this shit."

User avatar
Mighty Jalapeno
Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You A Hero!
Posts: 11265
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 pm UTC
Location: Prince George In A Can
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:10 pm UTC

Ayup. Nearly every job I've ever held used about 10% of my schooling, despite SPECIFICALLY REQUIRING my diploma. I could have taken a 4 month CAD course and a 4 month Building Code course, and been able to do pretty much all of these jobs (outside of the experience gained by working all of these jobs.) So when I get bounced out of a job due to fluctuations in the provincial, federal or global economy, I am back out there on the market, competing with grads who are HAPPY to be making $14 an hour, while I have a family of five to support. Just a couple weeks ago I finished my upgrade to a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology Leadership, which is basically just the business degree to my engineering diploma. I am pretty sure I learned nothing useful at any point during the last $17,000 I just spent.

I wish I'd taken one year of engineering stuff to ground myself in all the basics I'd have actually NEEDED, and then just focused on all the liberal arts stuff I'm trying to take for fun right now. Sadly, my student loans, grants, bursaries and retraining programs would only pay for 'useful' courses.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm finishing a PhD in molecular cell biology, and the strongest recruiting push I'm getting right now isn't from science related jobs, but from consulting firms. This whole 'you have to go to college to learn a valuable trade skill' thing is a very strange notion people seem to have. Sure, maybe take some accounting courses in the mix of all the 14th Century Scandinavian Poetry, but we should dispense with this notion that college is for training Excel Spreadsheeters of tomorrow.


And those consulting firms are after you, with your PhD in molecular cell biology, and not a liberal arts major. Would you like to pause for a moment and reflect why that might be the case.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:48 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:And that's okay. But to address the OP, its a big part of, for me at least , the frustration with so many people doing these types of degrees.

I'm not seeing why that's a cause for frustration. Unless you're literally a recruiter, frustrated at the lack of new talent, a student's career-worthiness seems like it's between them and the career services office. Being frustrated that they aren't prioritizing future earnings seems like being frustrated that other people don't like football or fancy French cooking as much.

BattleMoose wrote:And those consulting firms are after you, with your PhD in molecular cell biology, and not a liberal arts major.

Who says they aren't after liberal arts majors? I know plenty of people with philosophy degrees, English degrees, and so on who became consultants.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Mighty Jalapeno
Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You A Hero!
Posts: 11265
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 pm UTC
Location: Prince George In A Can
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:53 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Who says they aren't after liberal arts majors? I know plenty of people with philosophy degrees, English degrees, and so on who became auto mechanics, contract janitors and waitresses..

Modified for my own personal circle of acquaintances.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:41 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The ones you mentioned at the end (arts, music, dance), aren't those considered fine (or performing) arts and not liberal arts?


Yeah, those are usually classed differently. Even the most diehard fan of code and math will recognize that there is skill involved in crafting art, or performing music. That's a little different than your random sociology degree or what not. Not everything falls neatly into STEM or liberal arts.

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm finishing a PhD in molecular cell biology, and the strongest recruiting push I'm getting right now isn't from science related jobs, but from consulting firms. This whole 'you have to go to college to learn a valuable trade skill' thing is a very strange notion people seem to have. Sure, maybe take some accounting courses in the mix of all the 14th Century Scandinavian Poetry, but we should dispense with this notion that college is for training Excel Spreadsheeters of tomorrow.


Well, sure. Consulting firms want certain skillsets, though. You very well might not end up doing exactly what you went to college for(a LOT of people don't), but your college degree does give you an advantage when seeking out that initial job. How much does vary quite significantly depending on field.

And a great deal of that sadly isn't transparent when selecting a degree initially. There's nothing particularly wrong with someone knowingly selecting a degree that's not very helpful in seeking employment, simply because they want to learn it. However, there is something kind of wrong with colleges implying or outright stating that your degree will open employment doors that it really won't. Hell, look at the STEM mantra. Yeah, plenty of STEM degrees are solid, but not every STEM degree is equal, for sure. But...they get treated as a bulk group pretty often.

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Who says they aren't after liberal arts majors? I know plenty of people with philosophy degrees, English degrees, and so on who became auto mechanics, contract janitors and waitresses..

Modified for my own personal circle of acquaintances.


Agreed. I know people with anthrology, etc degrees who have found success in other fields. But I dare say that the degree did not help them greatly towards that success, and the corresponding debt had a real cost. I suspect that the same drive that resulted in them successfully completing college also helped them elsewhere, but the degree itself...meh.

Certifications seem like they're seeing similar bloat as well, at least in tech fields. Certifications are getting super common, but may not actually convey familiarity. Sure, not all are affected equally, but there's a lot of garbage certs at this point, and a lot of those are marketted towards people who don't yet know the field. It's troubling.

So, all and all, it isn't just a liberal arts problem. It's a broader educational issue that just happens to show up more for liberal arts.

User avatar
Mighty Jalapeno
Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You A Hero!
Posts: 11265
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 pm UTC
Location: Prince George In A Can
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:44 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Agreed. I know people with anthrology, etc degrees who have found success in other fields.

Well, yeah. Studying furries is rarely lucrative.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:42 pm UTC

Hah! Anthropology, of course. =) Marginally better career-wise.

cphite
Posts: 1369
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:43 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
cphite wrote:Compare that to the art major. First off, if you can't draw/paint/sculpt/whatever at an acceptable level, you fail. There aren't any (or at least, many) points for it being a good try. Apart from literally stealing someone else's work, which is not recommended, you have to do it on your own. But you're talking hours every day to work on projects that have to be passable art projects. You can't just memorize stuff. Not that you won't be memorizing stuff, there is actually a TON of that... but for the projects, it just ain't enough... And when the projects re focused on specific technique, for example, you can't even just BS your way through it.

In addition to your normal classes, in order to graduate you need to complete a show. So for example, in my case, it would have been drawings and paintings. The thing is, it couldn't be anything that you'd ever submitted for a class, or even worked on in a class. It all had to be outside work. Stuff you did on your own time. And it was graded by the entire department, pass or fail.


And then what do you do, get employed or make a living from being a professional artist? It is technically possible but what fraction of fine art graduates become professional artists? Or use the skills they learned in their degree in their working life? University is in and of itself a great learning experience so I accept that regardless of what anyone chooses to do, there is benefit.

But can it be something that's, more useful?


I'll steal a line from one of my favorite movies:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

For me, art is useful. Music is useful. Dance is... well, I could take or leave dance, but I suppose for a lot of people dance is useful. Because these things bring beauty to life. They make life more than just the act of staying alive. Making people happy is useful; and so is making them sad or angry, or anything really.

Math, science, engineering - all the "useful" things that keep society rolling are great. We need them. The arts are part of what makes it worth keeping society rolling.

cphite
Posts: 1369
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:48 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The ones you mentioned at the end (arts, music, dance), aren't those considered fine (or performing) arts and not liberal arts?


I've generally seen Fine Arts as a subset of Liberal Arts.

But even if we look at the more stereotypical categories like literature, philosophy, language, history... these things are all extremely important to society. They aren't necessarily your best choice of study if having a successful career is your primary concern (not that you can't) but that's more an indictment of society than of the subjects, in my opinion.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:17 pm UTC

cphite wrote:But even if we look at the more stereotypical categories like literature, philosophy, language, history... these things are all extremely important to society.


I would disagree with that. Let's say every college scrapped every philosophy class, and ceased to offer it after the current lot graduated. What would you expect the net effect to be?

Compare vs, say, chemistry.

User avatar
Quercus
Posts: 1810
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:22 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Quercus » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:21 pm UTC

cphite wrote:For me, art is useful. Music is useful. Dance is... well, I could take or leave dance, but I suppose for a lot of people dance is useful. Because these things bring beauty to life. They make life more than just the act of staying alive. Making people happy is useful; and so is making them sad or angry, or anything really.

Math, science, engineering - all the "useful" things that keep society rolling are great. We need them. The arts are part of what makes it worth keeping society rolling.

I just wanted to say that I didn't study science purely, or even mostly, because it was useful. For me biology has been just as if not more beautiful than any work of art, poetry or music. My life is hugely enriched because of the science I have studied. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was a piece of scientific data - the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image.

I'm not saying you're doing this, but, well, I won't mis-categorize the arts as less useful than the sciences if you don't mis-categorize the sciences as less beautiful than the arts.

User avatar
Carlington
Posts: 1588
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:46 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia.

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Carlington » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:32 am UTC

As a counterexample to some of the things I've seen in here: I studied physics for a while, but then changed degrees because I wanted a job someday (also because we spent so much time in undergrad just re-learning high school physics to make sure everyone was at the same point that I was burnt out on the whole idea). Now I'm studying languages and linguistics and plan to major in both. Unless and until you've had to study a grammar written in 1970 on a language spoken by 30 people in the south of Taiwan, and use this to construct a supportable theory for the syntax of the language, I don't believe you can make the blanket statement that arts courses are easier than science courses. It took me more time and mental effort to understand split-s case systems than relativity.
As for 'usefulness', I suppose there's not much you can do with linguistics outside of going into academia (not wanting to end up in academia is why I left physics), which is why I'm also studying a language. I enjoy it, and the world will still need interpreters for a little while yet.
The main regret I have in leaving my science degree is that it meant leaving maths behind as well (I really enjoyed maths a lot), but I wouldn't really have found anything outside of academia in pure maths anyway.
Kewangji: Posdy zwei tosdy osdy oady. Bork bork bork, hoppity syphilis bork.

Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
doogly: Hands waving furiously.

Please use he/him/his pronouns when referring to me.

User avatar
PAstrychef
for all intimate metaphysical encounters
Posts: 3068
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:24 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:31 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
cphite wrote:But even if we look at the more stereotypical categories like literature, philosophy, language, history... these things are all extremely important to society.


I would disagree with that. Let's say every college scrapped every philosophy class, and ceased to offer it after the current lot graduated. What would you expect the net effect to be?

Compare vs, say, chemistry.

You think that , ha ha ha, nothing noticeable would happen. But you're wrong. There would be a slow failure of civilization.
Eventually, a society that failed to contemplate itself and its place in the universe, that ran on a set of rigid rules, if it ran at all.
The idea that a) a college degree is a kind of superior job-training exercise and b) therefore any studies that don't (semi) automatically bring a good chance of making a higher salary are silly is infuriating. (By that metric, you should all be trying to be football or basketball players. Those guys attend one or two years of college and then get to make millions playing a game) Sure, at the moment a degree showing you can write computer code or deal with machinery is likely to get you more money. Does it make you a better human being? Are you able to think critically, work creatively, understand the complexities of modern life and history, empathize with people different from yourself, have a deep appreciation for the interstitial or recognize that human life is messy and inexact? If writing code leaves me richer and miserable, but studying Nordic poetry leaves me poorer but happy, which is a better choice? Can we separate this from the issue of debt?
Science is a wonderful thing. It explains and expands our understanding of the universe around us. But it can't, by definition, tell us what relationship we should have with that universe. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, science doesn't care if you belive in it. It works anyway. But plenty of the things that scientific study has shown us are morally troublesome.
Also, it's important that people want to study societies and the inner workings of the mind, and how art affects us and what it says about our view of the world. That the tools currently available to do so aren't as precise as the ones used in most STEM studies doesn't make the endeavor less valuable. Look at the types of experiments done as science in earlier eras. Was isolating babies to see if they spoke an "original" language as they learned to talk good science? How about trying to find a mixture or process that would turn lead into gold? Without alchemy there would be no modern chemistry. And modern chemistry can do things that alchemists could not imagine.
Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a puffer fish.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:51 am UTC

These things are important (literature, philosophy, language, history). And have very important positions within our educational systems and or societies. We do value them. I value them. And we should teach these things. But the truth of the matter is that there are *very few* positions in our society for professional philosophers, historians and so forth. And I mean people who practise, not exclusively teachers. But as everyone here accepts (although I don't think everyone believes it yet) is that there is a very great deal that people get out of a degree than just the vocation that the degree teaches. But the skills that people get out of doing a degree vary greatly on the degree. Recruiters know this and they target accordingly.

If writing code leaves me richer and miserable, but studying Nordic poetry leaves me poorer but happy, which is a better choice?


This is such a false dichotomy. You can be happy doing something and be paid for it. That's the goal I strive for.

User avatar
PolakoVoador
Posts: 1028
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:11 pm UTC
Location: Brazil

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby PolakoVoador » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:18 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:These things are important (literature, philosophy, language, history). And have very important positions within our educational systems and or societies. We do value them. I value them. And we should teach these things. But the truth of the matter is that there are *very few* positions in our society for professional philosophers, historians and so forth. And I mean people who practise, not exclusively teachers. But as everyone here accepts (although I don't think everyone believes it yet) is that there is a very great deal that people get out of a degree than just the vocation that the degree teaches. But the skills that people get out of doing a degree vary greatly on the degree. Recruiters know this and they target accordingly.

If writing code leaves me richer and miserable, but studying Nordic poetry leaves me poorer but happy, which is a better choice?


This is such a false dichotomy. You can be happy doing something and be paid for it. That's the goal I strive for.

But not a lot of people have that luck, specially if you are going to choose your degree based on "can I get well paid for it?" as your sole (main?) reason.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby doogly » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:01 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
If writing code leaves me richer and miserable, but studying Nordic poetry leaves me poorer but happy, which is a better choice?
This is such a false dichotomy. You can be happy doing something and be paid for it. That's the goal I strive for.

The thread should really just be renamed "false dichotomies."
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7604
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby Zamfir » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:06 pm UTC

Sure, at the moment a degree showing you can write computer code or deal with machinery is likely to get you more money. Does it make you a better human being? Are you able to think critically, work creatively, understand the complexities of modern life and history, empathize with people different from yourself, have a deep appreciation for the interstitial or recognize that human life is messy and inexact?

For me, personally: my job and education have greatly contributed to all of those, expect for the appreciation of interstitials. My employer makes good money on interstitial-free products, I am not going to appreciate anything that cuts into my profit-sharing scheme. :wink:

I don't see the dichotomy between enlightening yourself as a human being, and doing applied work with directly clear uses. (Doogly and cphite are hinting at a similar divide). It's not like heavy industry is devoid of creativity, or the complexities of modern life, or people unlike oneself.

It won't be everyone's path to being a good person, but I am skeptical that other fields do so much better. Be it Norse poetry, or humanist sciences. There's beauty in well-designed machinery, and human tragedy as well.

quantropy
Posts: 195
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:55 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby quantropy » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:21 pm UTC

I think that there are quite a few reasons why those studying science tend to look down on those studying arts & humanities.

One thing is that we live in a scientific age, but it hasn't always been so. For example at the start of the industrial revolution in England the establishment was typically landed gentry, educated in classics at Oxbridge, staunchly Church of England. The new ways of thought occured outside of this establishment (e.g. the Lunar Society). Likewise in Roman times a highly valued skill was rhetoric, rather than science. Even the Greek thinkers tended to look down on experimental science. Scientists still see themselves as rebels, existing in an establishment which is largely composed of people educated in the arts and humanities. Hence they make an effort to hold on to whatever status they have.

Also, living in a scientific age means that polymaths tend to be best known as scientists. Leonardo da Vinci may be best known to us for his art, but today he would almost certainly be a scientist. The chapter "Bringing culture to the physicists" in Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman explains how someone tried to organise a series of 'cultural' lectures for physicists to expand their horizons, but then ended up with the physicists giving the lectures. And then there's Ed Witten - started out in history and politics, but now best known as a physicist.

I think it's reasonable to say that the sciences are hierarchical in nature, so lack of knowledge in one area is likely to prevent you from progressing. The arts and humanities require greater breadth of knowledge. This means that if, for example, you're watching a history documentary, it's not to hard for a non-expert to understand the arguments being presented. In a physics documentary it's much less likely that a non-expert will understand the research. It also means that it looks much easier for students of the humanities to 'bluff' their way through. Back to Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman, the chapter "Always trying to escape" explains how he felt couldn't write an essay about Faust, and so wrote about something else entirely, but then put a few lines related to Faust at the end - he got a B+. Ok, science students may only complete 3 out of 10 problems on their problem sheet, but that's less visible.

Finally there's the idea of lifelong learning - talked about, but not enough to get away from the idea that you do your learning first and then do the rest of your life. If you really believe in lifelong learning, then it makes a lot of sense to study the heirarchical subjects (mostly the sciences) first, and get on to the arts and humanities later. It seems inconsistent for a 20 year old to be studying the philosophy of Plato when Plato said that at that age the prospective philosopher should be studying mathematics.

cphite
Posts: 1369
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Re: Why do people here and xkcd hate liberal arts maors so m

Postby cphite » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:29 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
cphite wrote:For me, art is useful. Music is useful. Dance is... well, I could take or leave dance, but I suppose for a lot of people dance is useful. Because these things bring beauty to life. They make life more than just the act of staying alive. Making people happy is useful; and so is making them sad or angry, or anything really.

Math, science, engineering - all the "useful" things that keep society rolling are great. We need them. The arts are part of what makes it worth keeping society rolling.

I just wanted to say that I didn't study science purely, or even mostly, because it was useful. For me biology has been just as if not more beautiful than any work of art, poetry or music. My life is hugely enriched because of the science I have studied. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was a piece of scientific data - the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image.

I'm not saying you're doing this, but, well, I won't mis-categorize the arts as less useful than the sciences if you don't mis-categorize the sciences as less beautiful than the arts.


I wasn't doing that intentionally, sorry if it came across that way.

My point is simply that something doesn't have to serve some practical purpose to be useful. The arts are useful in that they enrich our lives. To be able to find art inside of science, even better.


Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 22 guests