Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

>> But, how much do liberal arts majors contribute to said "well-rounded collective" and at what cost?

> Are you asking how they contribute to well-roundedness

Yes.

> How they contribute to well-roundedness is handled with the whole Subset A vs Subset B thing

Not clear. You're claiming that an LA degree has some "roundedness" value. That's not obvious. And, even if it's true, that doesn't imply that we need a lot of LA degrees to get whatever benefit there is. For example, how much worse off would we be with half as many English majors?

> I'm pretty sure that Hunter Thompson guy was good to have around.

I'd agree, but would ask whether his existence depended on the existence of a large number of LA majors. I'd point out that similar folks existed before we had a lot of LA majors and we don't have more Hunter Thompsons now.

> If they're equal then they're no additional cost, because their education costs exactly the same dollar amount.

Huh? It doesn't matter whether LA majors cost more or less than STEM majors. The question is the relationship between the cost of LA majors and the benefits of LA majors. (There's a similar question about STEM majors.)

It's interesting that we had a thread a while back about how China was better because its political leadership had engineering degrees....




> You're claiming that an LA degree has some "roundedness" value.

I think I understand our point of disagreement.

I don't mean to claim LA majors have a "roundedness" value. I'm claiming that the collective average of STEM and LA leads to a rounded group, assuming "roundedness" in this case is considered to mean equally proficient in the diverse areas of knowledge.

As a metaphor, assume we have a bag full of red, purple, and blue marbles, where the purple is equivalent to roundedness (having equal amounts of red and blue). Replacing all of the red marbles with perfectly-purple ones actually decreases the purpleness of the bag -- it shifts the average color towards blue. Even if we give the blue ones with "a bit more 'rounded'" purple, to echo your call, the average remains shifted more towards blue than it was when there was red to balance it out.

LA majors don't have a roundedness value -- pure-LA is as unrounded as pure-STEM. I'm generally working under the assumption that "roundedness" means that you're knowledgeable in many areas, instead of only knowledgeable in a single one. Replacing a specific set of specialists with jacks-of-all-trades leaves the group with less average knowledge in the direction of the replaced specialists' knowledge base.

You could be arguing to make everyone completely and equally rounded/purple -- replacing both the blues and the reds, so that everyone would graduate with both a full LA degree and a full STEM degree. But your call for adding "a bit more 'rounded' to STEM majors" instead of having LA majors didn't sound like that, and making everyone be dual-degree seems a bit infeasible.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: