1. 17
  1. 4

    I think it’s first a societal problem. Cold War era education philosophies put STEM first and foremost, while undervaluing basic human relationship skills, emotional intelligence, and social sciences. I would argue that social sciences itself is more difficult and worthy than STEM, but that’s a separate discussion. First we have to have an honest discussion about how much we actually value these other forms of intelligence.

    With that said, I wish they gave more concrete examples of how adding humanities would help in the issues of “misinformation online”. I suppose, for example, in foreseeing the ideological bubbles that arose online, where social media platforms could enforce some “cross-pollination” policy.

    1. 3

      First we have to have an honest discussion about how much we actually value these other forms of intelligence.

      To have that conversation you really need to clearly define value. Shareholder value, social value, moral value, etc. If we are talking about stockholder value – the answer is in, until social sciences can bring in more dollars they will be on the backburner. As Nei pointed out – it isn’t like these companies lack people trained in the humanities – it is just they (or at least the social part) have less value to the corporation, less value to shareholders and hence internally less power.

    2. 4

      Peter Theil has a philosophy degree from Stanford. Brett Kavanaugh has a cum laude history degree from Yale.

      1. 13

        This is an incredibly lazy form of argument. You can’t disprove an observation about a trend with a counter-example. Counter-examples disprove universal quantification, not statistical deltas.

        I see this pattern a lot, and we shouldn’t treat it as if it’s a compelling refutation.

        1. 1

          by golly! all them big words and everything. So, if you need it spelled out: neither the original post nor my response had anything to do with either universal quantification or statistical deltas, whatever they may be in this context. The original argument, which I see too often, is based on the theory that there is some magical ingredient in humanities that is necessarily missing in a STEM education. As far as I can see, however, it is as easy to absorb an arrogant and dismissive attitude and a tendency to use fancy nomenclature in lieu of thinking and open discussion from humanities courses as from science classes. And I think the underlying problem could and should also be addressed within science/engineering education which is taught in a narrow way. You should learn critical thinking and how to collaborate in engineering school, just as you should in a philosophy department, but it’s not only possible, but the standard, not to learn those in either program. As an example: I really like what Olin college is trying to do http://www.olin.edu/discover-olin

          1. 1

            Don’t get caught up in the labels. I didn’t read the article as you need a liberal arts degree to address the problems identified. I read it as simply suggesting putting more emphasis on humanities. To quote the person of focus in the article, “Students of computer science go on to be the next leaders and creators in the world, and must understand how code intersects with human behaviour, privacy, safety, vulnerability, equality, and many other factors.”

            1. 3

              I agree with that and think it’s important, but I don’t believe that adding a generic humanities course or two,or 100, can do it or is necessarily even the right approach. To teach people to be responsible citizens is a complex project. I plead guilty to assuming too much about what Baker meant. I have seen an argument that the humanities program is key to deeper understanding a lot and I think that’s a superficial and maybe reductionist approach.

        2. 3

          I don’t think Brett Kavanaugh is in the audience being targetted by the message in the article.

          1. 14

            The point is that humanities graduates don’t magically fix the issues of misinformation - they can be just as flawed and politically biased as anyone else.

            Really we need to optimise for hiring those with “moral backbone”, make them feel able to say “no”, and then listen to employees when they do. I feel part of this can be fixed by regulating and licensing employees similarly to how line engineers need to be licensed. When your personal license to work is on the line, you have a strong incentive to be rigorous in your work and to say no when your employer asks you to work inappropriately. When engineers say no, these decisions are often respected and engineers have a strong network of support where they will often be backed up in their decisions if they are made for the right reasons, even when that runs counter to the business arms aims.

            1. 0

              Those two were intended as counter-examples.

              1. 4

                The examples were also unnecessarily political, especially for lobste.rs. It distracts from whatever point you are trying to make.

                1. 0

                  How does it distract from the point?

                  1. 3

                    By using polarizing figures, you run the risk of the debate steering away from the actual point either parties were trying to make, and right into the realm of partisanship. It becomes hard, then, to exit the “no u” dead end that the discussion becomes. It’s usually frustrating for all parties involved, except maybe the trolls.

          2. 2

            Reading this article immediately reminded me about the “Project ATOLE : l’ATtention à l’écOLE” (materials are available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1l0_VRobxLnTCThuZmtyGq7a7Ybj3IWEG )

            As usual I believe this knowledge is more or less already present in companies such as Facebook or Booking.com, however the incentives of the market are set in such a way that companies are required to exploit users for profit instead of morally protecting them. The humanities can thus be used for good and bad, but as long as the shareholders decide the direction seems utterly clear to me