Why Do the Humanities and the Science People Hate Each Other?

Voxcorvegis who is not only a gifted blogger but also a physicist has written an interesting post on the subject:

I have noted in the past the way that many of my colleagues in undergraduate physics were completely dismissive of the Humanities in general, and would happily have agreed that such disciplines were both useless and entirely unneccessary. Less charitable commentators may have even suggested that the only reason that anyone ever took them at all was because they were too stupid to take any “real” subjects. My own secondary field, history, was considered to be the furthest outpost of academic “seriousness;” beyond this, presumably, there was only a wasteland populated exclusively by heavy-set, multiply-pierced, hippy lesbians who’s fields consisted of writing horrible beat-poetry about their genitals and self-pitying essays in the passive voice*** about the need for a very nebulous revolution.

I also have observed the tension between the Humanities and the Science people at the universities where I have worked. The reason for this tension at these universities is that the people in the Sciences tend to be very conservative politically. Maybe it’s just these specific schools, I don’t know, but the issue is definitely there. Whenever we have a university-wide discussion on politics, academic freedom, the introduction of the business-model into academia, the science folks are always on the side of the most conservative opinions possible.

Science profs also tend to be extremely anti-feminist. Even the female scholars in the sciences seem to have interiorized the anti-women position profoundly. I read the Female Science Prof’s blog and it’s like she is from a different planet. I have not met a single female prof in the Humanities who is even remotely capable of such self-effacement and self-degradation for the sake of pleasing men as this successful academic and a scientist.

It might, of course, be just a coincidence that scientists tend to be so conservative at the schools where I have worked. I know individual scientists who comment on this blog (GMP, V., David Bellamy, Voxcorvegis) who are very progressive people. However, at work, I keep encountering administrators who come from the sciences and who are the vehicle of every oppressive pig-headed pro-bureaucracy anti-reason initiative anybody could ever come up with. I’m a huge admirer of science, which is why this antagonism between the Humanities and the Sciences bothers me a lot.

73 comments on “Why Do the Humanities and the Science People Hate Each Other?

  1. I haven’t encountered the science-humanities divide. It may be more American than Australian. I have encountered prejudice — once — running in the opposite direction, when I studied philosophy of religion and our dear Reverend Borthwick suggested that science students were more likely to be fundamentalist Christians as they had an unsophisticated understanding of theology.

  2. “Science profs also tend to be extremely anti-feminist”

    Not at my university, for the most part. I have definitely run into a few, but they are absolutely the exception, not the rule. And ironically, my advisor, who is a 50+ year old guy with his PhD from an ivy league school (so one might assume he might’ve internalized more of that kind of bias in that situation), has had almost exclusively female graduate students (though he jokes its not by design), and is one of the most sympathetic and pro-women-scientist people I have met. In fact, he actively works to increase opportunities for women in science and decrease the gender gap. I would absolutely call him a feminist. It might just be that I’m in a microcosm of awesomeness, but I have found a lot of really wonderful science professors.

    I will say, though, that I have run into a couple of female scientists who have internalized the anti-woman position. I think its because they spend so much time and effort fighting against the tide that is set up by the crazy anti-woman professors (and more often administrators), that there’s really nowhere else to turn. Sometimes agreeing is easier than fighting. There are definitely environments where it’s safer for the male professors to fight it than the female professors.

    I know I didn’t respond to the overall tone of this post, and I responded only to one particular bit, but as a (young) woman in science, that, in particular is something I think about a lot. But in response to the actual topic:

    I’ve never really understood the humanities/sciences divide either, though I have this crazy hypothesis (that is grounded in stereotypes and nothing else, ergo it’s not really a valid hypothesis), that the divide exists because scientists have a hard time grasping parts of humanities and those in the humanities have a hard time grasping parts of science. So they cling to what they know, and try to downplay what they don’t understand. Which is sad. As an academic, one should be open to questioning and learning new things in ALL fields, not just the one little one you happen to be in.

  3. beyond this, presumably, there was only a wasteland populated exclusively by heavy-set, multiply-pierced, hippy lesbians who’s fields consisted of writing horrible beat-poetry about their genitals and self-pitying essays in the passive voice*** about the need for a very nebulous revolution.

    After reading this the first thing that came to mind was the “vagina monologues”. ;)
    Seriously though, there was a time when religion thought it could explain all the world, then came science. :)

  4. I don’t think people in the sciences are conservative, it’s more that people in the liberal arts are very, hmm liberal.

    • We have extreme conservatives in history and other non-science disciplines here at UD. We also have a few–not many–in the sciences. The divide you mention is very evident, however. I heard a sociologist years ago say that people in each discipline really believe that all other disciplines are useless, but have learned to be polite. He was talking to a student, and I did not intervene; but I thought his attitude was nonsensical.

      Mathematics is sort of on the cusp, however. We practice not quite a science and not quite a humanity. The historical development of mathematics reveals a lot about the cultures that produced the mathematics. More mathematicians than scientists are theists of one sort or another, in my experience. Most scientists of my acquaintance are atheists. I know a few atheists who are literature scholars, but not many.

  5. I think that one reason for the science/humanities divide is that a scientist (or social scientist, or engineer, etc.) before writing this post would have read some statistics, while people like Clarissa build on 2-3 personal experiences and infer the wrong answer.

    As it turns out, there is a beautiful study by Gross & Simmons (2007) that can be found online. In table 7, they report the fraction of Democrats, Independents and Republicans by discipline.

    Phys/bio sciences D 53.6 I 32.1 R 14.3
    Social sciences D 55.7 I 37.7 R 6.6
    Humanities D 54.6 I 34.7 R 10.7
    Comp sci/engineering D 28.0 I 48.7 R 23.3
    Health sciences D 33.7 I 43.4 R 22.9
    Business D 38.9 I 36.8 R 24.2
    Other D 58.6 I 30.2 R 11.2

    This has a very easy interpretation: those fields in which there is a possibility of a very lucrative career outside of academia, and taking a career in academia is the exception rather than the rule, are more republican than the others.

    • People like Clarissa have enough brains to realize that you can’t answer every question in life with some stupid “study” you have found online. Such people also have enough brains to acknowledge that how people vote is hugely irrelevant to such a discussion because the proportion of people who are not US citizens in academia is very high.

      And people who have even a remote hope of becoming as smart as Clarissa manage to read a post that they are responding to and avoid saying stupid things like “people like Clarissa build on 2-3 personal experiences and infer the wrong answer” when it has been repeated three times already in the thread that I at no point tried to suggest that my personal experiences are evidence of any larger thread. I just shared my experiences – that I described as a coincidence – on my own blog. Of course, nobody is preventing you from starting your blog and instead of writing interesting posts, quote miles of statistics. Let’s see how many people will come to read a blog like that.

  6. I find it difficult to believe that Female Science Professor whose blog you linked to is real, but I must. Seriously, though: “this guy was a total asshole jerk to me but I just kept on being nice, and he kept on being an asshole jerk. Victory!” — that’s something I will never understand. I can see walking away from a rude jerk without saying anything, but continuing to talk to him and being nice? No. This is not the jungle, you do not have to “fear grin” and disarm the raging alpha male with feminine submission signals. Be a fricking evolved human being and give him the finger. What’s he going to do, be even more of a shit?

    Also she’s one of those women who puts the fact that she’s a mother on the “about” part of her blog. I wish women whose blogs aren’t primarily about their personal lives and family wouldn’t do that. It’s just more signalling to the male professional community that she’s nice and nonthreatening — “look! I’ve got a kid! You wouldn’t attack a mother would you?” — as well as being a message to other women in professional areas that this is the way a proper woman presents herself.

    • This is also a tenured person who has no reason to be fearful of anybody. I look at the tenured women in my department, and those are people who do not allow anybody to treat them even with 1% of this kind of disrespect.

    • FSP is a senior prof and in a male-dominated field. I trust that she has done whatever she had to to survive, keep sanity, and advance in her field a couple of decades ago, when she was generally the only woman in every institution she found herself at.

      From reading her blog, I find that her demeanor is generally somewhat reserved and that she may be an introvert. She writes about feminism a lot and she does perceive offenses . The fact that she deals with them by avoiding confrontation probably means she’s figured out that’s the best way for her to minimize the effects of such encounters on her daily functioning. To some people, it helps to blow up at every provocation, that clears the air for them and gives them satisfaction. But for many people, and I think FSP is like that, actually having a violent altercation is very unnatural and draining. I trust that she does what she needs to do to move on.

      • I’m also an introvert and I don’t violently altercate at work wither. :-) I think that people somehow perceive that I am not likely to smile and be useful when I’m offended or dismissed, so they don;t do it in the first place. If she had at least blown up about this on her anonymous personal blog and condemned those men there, that would be something. But this meekness in the face of insults is something that I don’t get.

    • I see no evidence that your “fire-and-brimstone” attitude is any more effective in achieving your goals than FSPs.

      If you want to effect change you must choose your battles and your enemies. No point in starting a fight with every a***ole that happens to walk your way.

      • “If you want to effect change you must choose your battles and your enemies. No point in starting a fight with every a***ole that happens to walk your way.”

        – This isn’t really about starting fights. There is a billion ways of stopping a jerkwad in the middle of their jerkwadness. But pretending like nothing special has happened is not one of them. I can guarantee that if one is prepared simply to get up and leave the room when anybody degrades them, one will not even need to do that. Because people will perceive your attitude and treat you with respect. People always read how we feel about yourself and treat us in accordance with that. If I feel that I’m not good enough, everybody will feel the same about me.

      • There is a billion ways of stopping a jerkwad in the middle of their jerkwadness.

        Has it occurred to you that I might not want to stop him right now. That I’m wisely saving my ammo for a better time and a better place?

        I won’t engage him on his terms, I will do so in mine. This is a basic warfare tactic: you engage the enemy on your terms and at your chosen time.

        • “I won’t engage him on his terms, I will do so in mine. This is a basic warfare tactic: you engage the enemy on your terms and at your chosen time.”

          – That’s everybody’s right, of course. It just becomes a lot more difficult to come out and say, “I’m here on my own merits and I will be respected” after you smiled and tried to be useful for 30 years. As in any relationship, it’s much easier to set the terms of engagement from the start than to pretend that you are fine with how everything is for years and then suddenly announce that you have been unhappy with how things have been this entire time and want to change the structure that has already been consolidated. First you say, “Just wait until I finish grad school,” then, “Wait until I get tenure,” then “Wait until I get Full Professorship,” then “Wait till I get named Distinguished Professor,” and so on. In the meanwhile, life keeps happening.

      • First you say, “Just wait until I finish grad school,” then, “Wait until I get tenure,” then “Wait until I get Full Professorship,” then “Wait till I get named Distinguished Professor,” and so on. In the meanwhile, life keeps happening.

        This is silly, there are known time units between “on the stop” and “until I get tenure” and judging from FSPs postings she does take action from time to time.

        I’m willing to bet that more has been achieved for women by carefully thought out actions than by the knee jerk responses advocated by the original blogger.

        • “I’m willing to bet that more has been achieved for women by carefully thought out actions than by the knee jerk responses advocated by the original blogger.”

          – What is the “carefully thought out action” in this particular case? Smiling and making yourself useful? Because I found no other course of action delineated in the post.

      • I don’t know about her, but in a similar instance at my institution, I exchanged notes with other colleagues about similar episodes taking place with a colleague on limited term contract. When the time came for a potential conversion to a TT offer, the hiring committee received about a dozen anecdotes of such behaviour, including reports written by students, junior and senior professors and even visiting faculty. Needless to say, the person was not considered for the position.

        • “I don’t know about her, but in a similar instance at my institution, I exchanged notes with other colleagues about similar episodes taking place with a colleague on limited term contract. When the time came for a potential conversion to a TT offer, the hiring committee received about a dozen anecdotes of such behaviour, including reports written by students, junior and senior professors and even visiting faculty. Needless to say, the person was not considered for the position.”

          – That’s a great strategy. Which this particular scholar did not use. According to her own account, she did nothing but smile and act usefully. Do you see a difference between your approach and hers?

      • Oh, let me clarify, said exchange of notes happened much later. At the time of the snub I did nothing since nothing could be accomplished at that point.

  7. I was a history major, but I spent some time in the delusion of being a biology major, so I’ve seen both sides. I think some of the liberal arts and science disciplines are useful and others are bullsh*t. Socialogy, for instance, is just making massive amounts of shit up, philosophy is straight-up intellectual masturbation, and psychology and anthropology are basically mining for gold in a sewer- every so often, there’s a useful nugget, but there’s an awful lot of sewage, and the same goes for any sort of women’s studies or social justice courses. Theology is another one of the garbage courses; while it’s useful to know what people believe, I eagerly await the day it becomes obsolete.
    Also I don’t think most people in the science disciplines are conservative, unless you’re talking about the computer engineers, the architects or the chemists. Biology, physics, and medicine are throughly incompatible with religion; if you are religious, you’re going to reject cornerstones of those disciplines and end up being a bad biologist/physicist/doctor. In my experience, the lawyers and business majors tend to be more conservative.

    • “Socialogy, for instance, is just making massive amounts of shit up, philosophy is straight-up intellectual masturbation, and psychology and anthropology are basically mining for gold in a sewer- every so often, there’s a useful nugget, but there’s an awful lot of sewage, and the same goes for any sort of women’s studies or social justice courses.”

      – Translation: if I’m incapable of understanding something, it’s because it’s stupid.

      • Translation: if someone criticizes a field I like I call them stupid rather than engaging in arguments.

        There are many fields who have gotten themselves down the wrong path, including some within the hard sciences. For example over the last decade there has been a healthy debate in physics if string theory is using wrong methods and ideas in the quest for a unified grand theory.

        I agree with the original poster that, for example, philosophy and sociology are on the wrong path. Philosophy is mired in a purposely obfuscated writing style as observed in a posting you recently linked to, while sociology eschews data to the extreme that a private foundation has been established to support evidence based sociological research.

        • “Translation: if someone criticizes a field I like I call them stupid rather than engaging in arguments.”

          – “Philosophy is straight-up intellectual masturbation” is not an argument. It’s an emotional outburst. What argument am I supposed to offer in return? “No, it isn’t, too. I said it isn’t”?

          ” For example over the last decade there has been a healthy debate in physics if string theory is using wrong methods and ideas in the quest for a unified grand theory.”

          – Do you see a difference between what you said and “this is all made up shit” argument?

          ” Philosophy is mired in a purposely obfuscated writing style as observed in a posting you recently linked to”

          – I can give you a long list of leading philosophers of today whose writing is brilliant and crystal clear. Have you read Zygmunt Bauman?

      • I can give you a long list of leading philosophers of today whose writing is brilliant and crystal clear. Have you read Zygmunt Bauman?

        The problem is not that there are no good writers, it is that obfuscated writing is deemed a valid technique within the field and thus allowed to thrive.

        Yes, some philosophers eschew that tradition, good for them. The problem is with the other 99%.

        • “The problem is not that there are no good writers, it is that obfuscated writing is deemed a valid technique within the field and thus allowed to thrive.”

          – Try to avoid the passive voice here. Deemed by whom? Many people (in all fields) have a very poor writing style. In the sciences, this problem is much greater than in the Humanities for obvious reasons. Why you choose to single out Philosophy as particularly problematic in this area is a mystery to me.

      • In the sciences, this problem is much greater than in the Humanities for obvious reasons.

        In terms of grammar this might be partially true, but in terms of clarity of exposition this is absolutely not so. Every scientific paper has to state clearly and in simple terms what is being claimed. We call it “the introduction”. I’ve read countless philosophy papers that one has to needlessly spend many an hour reading deep in the paper to gather a hint of what was being claimed.

        • “Every scientific paper has to state clearly and in simple terms what is being claimed. We call it “the introduction”.”

          – So do “we.” I’m right now battling with my own introduction because my mentor is saying that I have not yet managed to state my point clearly enough.

          You are actually proving my point about the extreme close-mindedness and a complete lack of logic among some scientists for me.

  8. When it comes to the political leanings of scientists, my own experience suggests (and, as another commenter rather indelicately noted above, the statistics support this view) that most of them are on what is considered to be the centre-left of the political spectrum. I suspect that in large part, this is due to the fact that right-wing parties in Canada and especially in the United States have become thoroughly dominated by profoundly anti-scientific ideologies (most notably fundamentalism, but also corporate-financed denialism), to the point that the scientifically literate cannot in good conscience support any of them. The real political difference between scientists and people in the humanities (and again, I can only speak from my own experience here) lies in the extent to which their politics relates to their research. In general, in so far as scientists are concerned, politics and research are two entirely different things. It shouldn’t matter, for example, whether the author of a paper in physics was a liberal, conservative, or socialist; if his data is valid and his calculations are valid then his conclusion is valid; politics never enter into it, and, if done correctly, they never should (the line grows somewhat blurrier as you get nearer to Human experiences; biology has become a political battleground of late, not just because of illiterate attacks from creationists, but also because of the often unchecked assumptions that go into fields like evolutionary psychology).
    Research in the Humanities, however, is inextricable from politics, for the very simple reason that anything that has to do with Human experiences must, necessarily, be politicized. Thus, when reading a paper about, say, trade routes in 18th century Europe, it matters very much whether the author was a Marxist or a Conservative, because their worldviews are actually important to the way that they interpret the facts.

  9. Research in the Humanities, however, is inextricable from politics, for the very simple reason that anything that has to do with Human experiences must, necessarily, be politicized.

    I disagree, and in fact this is one of the ills that permeates the humanities. On the face of a strong challenge they simply surrender: gathering data is hard, thus they do none, depoliticizing is hard, thus they do none.

    You want a discipline in which data is hard to gather? try astronomy. Yet they’ve chosen to be scientific about it, obtain data and make some remarkably predictions and discoveries.

    I will also add that political science has entire subfields which are depoliticized. Nowadays it is possible to predict the formation of coalitions, popular support, effectiveness of reform without taking sides on the political issue at hand.

    Say, one might agree or disagree with Gorbachev’s policies but political theory predicts that the population more often that not will withdraw support from a liberal leader who is slowly reforming a repressive political/economical system.

    • At the risk of sounding like a post-modernist (which I am not, I assure you) the inevitable problem here is that there is no objective metric by which something could be called “depoliticized.” I sincerely doubt that a liberal’s conception of “depoliticized sociology” would overlap very much with a conservative’s conception, and so on.

      • there is no objective metric by which something could be called “depoliticized.”

        This is true, but again this doesn’t mean they should surrender and not try at all.

        Strictly speaking even the hard sciences are subject to political biases, using the broader definition of politics as “the process by which groups of people make collective decisions”. There are various examples where science went astray under the pressure of internal politics. Still, they don’t give up and thus little by little accepted truths start to arise, while the remaining ones remain as candidate theories under consideration.

        We might forever disagree between the political choice social-democracy versus laissez-faire capitalism, still we can reach statements about them than we can all agree on: the first one has a larger state with a social net, the second one has more income inequality but more economic activity. I’m over simplifying things, but you get the picture.

        Yes, it will be difficult, but this is only all the more reason to get started as soon as possible.

        • “We might forever disagree between the political choice social-democracy versus laissez-faire capitalism, still we can reach statements about them than we can all agree on: the first one has a larger state with a social net, the second one has more income inequality but more economic activity.”

          – Does anybody disagree with such a definition?

      • ” the inevitable problem here is that there is no objective metric by which something could be called “depoliticized.” I sincerely doubt that a liberal’s conception of “depoliticized sociology” would overlap very much with a conservative’s conception, and so on.”

        – Yes, it’s like the calls to be non-partisan we keep hearing. For the Republicans, a non-partisan president is one who always supports the Republicans and vice versa.

        Now, for people who have actually studied philosophy instead of engaging in childish whining about it (and I don’t mean venetablecorvex), it is well-known that one can never liberate oneself from one’s ideology. You can achieve some partial awareness of its workings but a complete freedom from it is not possible. Hence, this entire discussion of “depoliticized sociology” is nothing but hilarious.

      • You can achieve some partial awareness of its workings but a complete freedom from it is not possible. Hence, this entire discussion of “depoliticized sociology” is nothing but hilarious.

        Once again another call to surrender. If physicists had used the same flawed logic that Clarissa and the rest of the humanities uses we would never know the weight of any object since Heisenberg’s principle assures us that we can never know the exact mass of an object.

        This is all true, but as we know physicist have developed increasingly precise methods that get us much of the way there and we can mostly tell the mass of objects.

        I claim that the humanities could be better I claim it is possible. Clarissa and thevenerablecortex claim they can’t and they are doomed to failure. I’m now confused, I thought they were supposed to be the pro-humanities guys.

        • “I claim that the humanities could be better I claim it is possible. Clarissa and thevenerablecortex claim they can’t and they are doomed to failure. I’m now confused”

          – You are confused because you cannot even summarize what people say in a coherent sentence.

          ” I thought they were supposed to be the pro-humanities guys”

          – Supposed by whom?

        • ” If physicists had used the same flawed logic that Clarissa and the rest of the humanities uses ”

          – “Clarissa and the rest of the humanities” is a very interesting turn of phrase coming from a person who complains that others don’t write well enough.

      • - Does anybody disagree with such a definition?

        That is my point precisely. That the subjective nature of the field of study shouldn’t preclude the search for universal truths simply because there are cases where it cannot be reached.

        The humanities people like to argue that because we cannot get to Jupiter, we shouldn’t even try to go for a walk around the block.

        • “That the subjective nature of the field of study shouldn’t preclude the search for universal truths simply because there are cases where it cannot be reached.”

          – From the grammatical structure of this sentence, it looks like the only “it” that “cannot be reached” is the “subjective nature of the field of study.” I am not seeing how that can possibly make any sense.

          This is a fair warning to everybody who comes here and criticizes the writing style of some unnamed “people in the Humanities.” Be prepared to have your own writing taken apart.

    • “I disagree, and in fact this is one of the ills that permeates the humanities. On the face of a strong challenge they simply surrender: gathering data is hard”

      – What data? Many scholars (both in the Humanities and in the sciences) do not gather data. They create ideas, which is a completely different level of abstraction.

      “You want a discipline in which data is hard to gather? try astronomy. Yet they’ve chosen to be scientific about it, obtain data and make some remarkably predictions and discoveries.”

      – I have started to feel like the thread is populated by a bunch of five-year-olds. Have you, folks, all been educated in American high schools? Is that the reason for such a weird “collecting data rules” and “I hate the impractical” position?

      • Ideas without data (where data is used here in a broad sense) is intellectual masturbation. You can go back and read the original philosophers who were trying to figure out nature using purely the domain of ideas and see all the non-sense they came up with starting with Aristotle and all his followers until Galileo finally decided to start testing the so called ideas against the real world.

        I have started to feel like the thread is populated by a bunch of five-year-olds.

        There you go again, calling the opposition stupid. This is so unbecoming of you. It also exhibits great shallowness of thought on this subject.

        • “Ideas without data (where data is used here in a broad sense) is intellectual masturbation. ”

          – A person who says “where data is used here” should keep very quite about the deficiencies of somebody else’s writing style. You tend to overuse tha passive voice and your writing is consequently weak and confusing.

          “I have started to feel like the thread is populated by a bunch of five-year-olds.

          There you go again, calling the opposition stupid.”

          – If you consider five-year-olds to be stupid, that’s your problem. Please refrain from attributing it to me.

          “This is so unbecoming of you.”

          – I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Are you fully aware of the meaning of words you use, since you are such a paragon of good writing?

          “It also exhibits great shallowness of thought on this subject.”

          – Truly horrible writing. What is “it”? What is “this subject”? Five-year-olds?

      • Here it goes one more time: In terms of grammar this might be partially true, but in terms of clarity of exposition this is absolutely not so.

        As to petty criticism of writing, you wrote “should keep very quite about the deficiencies of somebody else’s writing style. ”

        But pointing this out in no way would refute your comments. To the contrary it would only show lack of arguments. We are discussing here if philosophy seeks an obfuscated writing style.

        In the process we also chanced on the mantras used by philosophers and political scientists to eschew any objectivity simply because the nirvana of objectivity and ultimate truth is unattainable.

        • “In the process we also chanced on the mantras used by philosophers and political scientists to eschew any objectivity simply because the nirvana of objectivity and ultimate truth is unattainable.”

          – Pompous, bombastic, meaningless.

          ” We are discussing here if philosophy seeks an obfuscated writing style.”

          – I don’t know if philosophy does, but you definitely do.

  10. I work in an interdisciplinary science field that attracts a number of different scientists. In the four different institututions in which I have worked i have found the majority of the scientists to be relatively liberal. I hope my experiences are typical and not Clarissa’s!

  11. Clarissa: There is a big difference between an “emotional outburst” and an opinion. All of my statements were opinions, not outbursts. Secondly, I am not stupid, and I do know something about all the fields I was talking about. I do a shit ton of reading, and have taken a wide variety of courses. I am ruthlessly practical, so I despise disciplines that are impractical and have nothing to say.
    For every Hannah Arendt, Mills and Locke, there’s someone like Descartes or Plato, who can write ten pages without saying anything. Descartes, for example, is the king of circular logic. Plato’s work is either public fellating of Socrates or the working out of concepts better left to science.
    Women’s Studies has little basis in logic and churns out wide-eyed dreamers. Social justice is an imaginary discipline funded on idealism- humans require a certain amount of inequity.
    Anthropology has been done wrong since its beginning; while Margaret Mead started steering it onto a corrective course, the whole discipline should be scrapped. Psychology also suffers from a bad beginning, and as a result the field is totally corrupt. And all anyone really needs to know about religion is that it requires blood sacrifices. Christianity is true to that tradition: it’s main innovation is in convincing the followers to either kill themselves or hound someone in the community to death.

    • ” I am ruthlessly practical, so I despise disciplines that are impractical”

      – How do you define “practical”?

      ” and have nothing to say”

      – Nothing to say to whom? To every person in the world?

      “For every Hannah Arendt, Mills and Locke, there’s someone like Descartes or Plato, who can write ten pages without saying anything. Descartes, for example, is the king of circular logic. Plato’s work is either public fellating of Socrates or the working out of concepts better left to science.”

      – I don;t even know what to say except that you sound extremely childish.

      “Women’s Studies has little basis in logic and churns out wide-eyed dreamers. Social justice is an imaginary discipline funded on idealism- humans require a certain amount of inequity.”

      – Now you have started being offensive to a large group of people, the absolute majority of whom you have not even met. And what does “social justice” have to do with women’s studies departments? Do you even know what such programs study?

      “Anthropology has been done wrong since its beginning; while Margaret Mead started steering it onto a corrective course, the whole discipline should be scrapped. Psychology also suffers from a bad beginning, and as a result the field is totally corrupt. And all anyone really needs to know about religion is that it requires blood sacrifices. Christianity is true to that tradition: it’s main innovation is in convincing the followers to either kill themselves or hound someone in the community to death.”

      – I;m sorry, I fail to take you seriously after these infantile proclamations.

  12. Practical: Having some utility in the wider world, or a discipline that enables humans to understand the world around them better. Thus, engineering, study of literature, linguistics, history, and most of the hard sciences are practical, and philosophy, women’s studies and social justice are impractical.
    Have you read Descartes? He has an entire essay devoted to debating whether God exists, and at the end, he’s back to his start: He has to believe that God exists because he is unwilling to think that God exists. Great mathmetician, lousy at logic.
    As for Plato..yeah, the dude had a serious crush on Socrates, because easily 80% of his (surviving) essays are all about Socrates, a guy who didn’t bother to fight a false conviction. And in the end, nothing about Plato’s essays are applicable to the modern world. Same goes for most of the famous philosphers and theologians.

    Psychology can be- and has been-, horribly misused. Ever heard of lobotomies? Forced sterilizations? Shock treatment? At one time, they were legitimate therapies. And, until recently, psychologists and doctors could force *anyone* into a hospital, whether they needed to be there or not. Even today, psychology is still mostly guesswork. The best way to deal with a psychologist is to lie like a rug, because they can offer very little help.

    Anthropology is equally corrupt. Until Mead came along, it was a sophisticated way to prove how anyone who wasn’t white was inferior- and deserved to have their graves desecrated, their land confiscated and some representatives of their race publicly displayed.

    I know that ‘social justice’ programs are about organizing communities and attempting to recognize injustice. I simply don’t believe that social justice is anything more than a hallucination. For that matter, ‘justice’ is a pretty persistent delusion. Everyone believes it exists, but it doesn’t. (Before you start in again: legal systems are not the same as justice.)

    • “For that matter, ‘justice’ is a pretty persistent delusion. Everyone believes it exists, but it doesn’t. (Before you start in again: legal systems are not the same as justice.)”

      It might interest you to learn that reams and reams of the very philosophy that you so glibly dismiss as irrelevant have been given-over to discussion of this very idea. But why bother reflecting maturely on something when you can just assert it?

    • It’s a weird idea to view theory as “corrupt”. What was its pristine starting point? Is there anything about any human activity that couldn’t be considered just as corrupt?

    • “Psychology can be- and has been-, horribly misused. Ever heard of lobotomies? Forced sterilizations? Shock treatment? At one time, they were legitimate therapies.”

      – A spoon can also be horribly misused. Some people have been killed by spoons. Let’s abolish these horrible devices then, shall we?

      “Even today, psychology is still mostly guesswork. The best way to deal with a psychologist is to lie like a rug, because they can offer very little help.”

      – Help with what??? Academics in the field of psychology do not treat patients. This is pretty much like saying that professors of mathematics are useless because they offer no help.

      “Thus, engineering, study of literature, linguistics, history, and most of the hard sciences are practical, and philosophy, women’s studies and social justice are impractical.”

      – Philosophy, literary criticism, linguistics, history, women’s studies, etc. are so interlinked that it makes no sense to draw such a line of separation between them.

    • Yes. You are right. Let’s all just throw out Plato. He had nothing relevant to say. And the study of art and culture? Couldn’t possibly “enable humans to understand the world around them better.” Impractical, and worthless. Your edgy contrarian opinions should become the new foundation for Western philosophy.

      What you have said here reminds me of the kind of pseudo-intellectual know-nothings I used to hang with when I had no self-esteem. These crap-minds would masturbate their teensy egos in limp attempts to sound profound by dumping on shit they obviously did not understand, whenever they weren’t picking their nose and fucking around on WoW, all so they didn’t actually have to spend the effort trying to learn about a world beyond the tip of their dicks.

      And if that’s not you, I seriously recommend you reconsider your notions of philosophy and the arts, because that’s exactly how you come across. Educate yourself, goddammit.

      • I’m really stunned at the logic here. Person reads Descartes, fails to understand Descartes, and instead of concluding that s/he is not yet at the level where understanding this thinker would be possible, decides that Descartes is the one who’s stupid? According to the logic, all literature in Arabic should be worthless because I can’t understand a word of Arabic.

  13. Uhm, seriously?

    It is astonishingly sexist of you to claim that “the appropriate” response to sexist assholery is X rather than Y and that FSP is weak or stupid or “like a 1950’s housewife” for not responding the way that you deem worthy. FSP (or anyone) ought to be allowed to react to assholery in whatever way they deem fit. In her case, scathing sarcasm and passive-agression is her tactic of choice (the fact that you don’t even seem to have registered her sarcasm at all makes me O_o). It would also be her prerogative to be genuinely helpful if she so desired. Or to tell him off. Or to walk away.

    To say that someone is No True Feminist unless she dresses down publicly every asshole she meets is sexist plain and simple. Your attitude also puts the burden of taking down the sexist society upon women at all times in all places (rape culture anyone?). This is a deeply mysogynistic attitude. Sexist assholes are responsible for stopping their own sexist assholery. The women they are sexist assholes to are not.

    As for your original post, In my experience there is no such divide among academic scientists. Academics of all stripes are much more liberal than the general populace. In fact in Biology (where I’m at) I’d wager that we are more “liberal” simply due to the fact that we wrestle every day with creationist idiots. I do think that there was a bit of a backlash from scientists when post-modernism was the rule of the day (since some post modern scholars went so far as to say that science was irrelevant it was a direct challenge), but that this has quieted some recently. Though you dismissed animalinstincts data as irrelevant, I’d say it’s reasonably close to reality. Lawyers, Doctors, and Engineers tend to be more conservative (i.e. they hold political beliefs more consistent with the average populace).

    • You have to be a really vile jerk to dismiss the horrible suffering of rape victims by comparing their tragic ordeal to some comment somebody made during an academic meeting. Are you completely brainless or just simply cruel? Don’t you realize that rape culture is created in a huge degree by jerkwads like yourself who trivialize the experiences of rape victims?

      Go away from my blog, you stupid rape apologist.

      • Rape apologist “jojo” has turned out to be a long-term troll of this blog. It has now been banned once again. What a poor, miserable creature does one have to be to try to comment at a space where it has been explicitly banned. Such a useless little freak.

  14. Clarissa: I didn’t say Descartes was stupid, just that he should have stuck to math. God isn’t worth thinking about, so I find wasting reams of paper to justify or prove the great big angry man in the sky’s existence both an unjustifiable waste of trees and a waste of a great mathmatician’s time.

  15. Wow, what is it about this topic that turns two thirds of my fellow STEM folks into agressive ignoramuses? There’s a lesson in here somewhere about the way our education system in STEM fields encourages authoritarian personality types among bright students. And on that topic: I don’t think it’s even necessary for one of these folks to have tried and failed to understand something before coming out against it; if it doesn’t immediately become a powerful vehicle for their own ego the way their own field does, then it’s worthless to them.

    It’s also worth noting, perhaps, that abstractions in STEM serve a very different purpose than abstractions in the humanities. In STEM, good ones allow us to make specific predictions about observable phenomena, and everything else is fluff. (Except for my field of math, in which standards are even stranger.) Evidently in the humanities, though what y’all do can be extremely useful in clarifying our understanding of something, even defining “the thing whose behavior we are predicting” is incredibly tough, let alone finding clear testable predictions. I found this hard to get past at first, at least.

    Plus it seems STEM folks are a bit politically naive, if not inarticulate – which is perhaps understandable. We’re trained to use abstractions to think about eigenvalue problems and bound states and X-ray crystallography and protein deformation – and to do so, we’ve unlearned all the skills we need to think clearly about politics! (We seem not to know what the word means. “The process by which groups make collective decisions?” Really?)

    Anyway, what FSP did makes complete sense to me: if you’re not so naturally socially talented that “social skills” are hard, and if you value “behaving competently enough that interactions go smoothly,” even when your interlocutors are not at their best, and if you perhaps haven’t thought hard about whether or not you’re treated with respect and what you can do to change that (again, political naivete?) then why not treat an asshole stranger as a challenge? Why not see it as a chance to model, to embody superhuman social grace? When else would you get the opportunity, except in this and in analogous situations?

    Perhaps this is naive. But supposing all of this, what’s the argument against?

    • We seem not to know what the word means. “The process by which groups make collective decisions?” Really?

      Yes, really. Google it.

  16. Pingback: Humanities vs. Natural sciences | zinemin's random thoughts

  17. Science guy here. I hate the Humanities/Liberal Arts people because they all have these agendas. History? Creativte writing? Where in the world am I going to need “creative writing” in my profession? NONE. I’m an engineer. My profession requires solving real-world problems, not how some author “feels” about some character no one’s gonna care about once they graduate.

    Another reason I hate Humanities/Liberal Arts people is because I think the thinks they are taught is absolute bullshit. All the history, literature, and sociology classes are Race obsessed and do nothing but attack the White man as if he is a Nazi taking people to the gas chambers. ALL White people are by definition racist, and they should, because of THEIR past, feel bad about it. Never mind all the successes such as technological innovation, the entire White race is a plague on the Earth that must be done away with.

    Literature classes, sociology classes, and pretty much every other bullshit major class attacks men as sex-obsessed, domineering, assholes who only view women as sexual objects to be subjugated. In fact, it is assumed that ALL men grow up with one goal of objectifying women, and that any compliment made by a man to a woman is some sexualized insult.

    Basically, the American school system has been poisoned by cultural Marxism and excessive bitching, and it has become, quite frankly, disgusting.

    • “All the history, literature, and sociology classes are Race obsessed and do nothing but attack the White man as if he is a Nazi taking people to the gas chambers.”

      – Wow, you have taken ALL the history, literature, and sociology classes in existence? :-) :-)

      “ALL White people are by definition racist, and they should, because of THEIR past, feel bad about it. Never mind all the successes such as technological innovation, the entire White race is a plague on the Earth that must be done away with.”

      – This is nothing but your own fantasy. And as fantasies go, I have to say it is a pretty boring and limited one.

      “Literature classes, sociology classes, and pretty much every other bullshit major class attacks men as sex-obsessed, domineering, assholes who only view women as sexual objects to be subjugated.”

      – And you know that because you took ALL of such classes in existence. :-)

      • “Wow, you have taken ALL the history, literature, and sociology classes in existence?”

        -LOL Who needs to take classes, when Google is right there. I’ve learnt more from my very own research than useless teachers. And personally, I’d rather work on developing circuits to create a product people will actually use than some sociology class. I don’t need to take every single Liberal Arts class to know that care more about “feelings” than about facts.

        “This is nothing but your own fantasy. And as fantasies go, I have to say it is a pretty boring and limited one.”

        -Of only that were true. I’ve taken these classes. They cater more to political correctness than to truth. That’s whole point of Karl Marxism, & that’s why I think they’re bullshit.

        “And you know that because you took ALL of such classes in existence”

        -They are required for every degree. Even us Science & Math people have to take some Humanities/Liberal Arts classes. DUH!

        But I love how you studied such worthless classes & believe Science people are these “anti-Feminist”. Just proves my point about Karl Marxism corrupting the education system to be true. But hey, it’s cute that you major in the Liberal Arts.

        Can I get an order of fries with that, too? LOL

        • You get your knowledge of the world from Google, eh? :-) There is something cute in that. I also really like the term “Karl Marxism.” It suggests there is a non-Karl kind of Marxism. :-) :-)

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