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Why STEM is objectively superior to non STEM degrees. watch

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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    In a quantative way, STEM subjects at degree level without a doubt has far greater utility. Some social sciences are essential to having a functional society, such as Economics/Law, so they more important than "softer" subjects. But equally, literary subjects are usually perceived as more enriching than STEM subjects, usually culturally (eg languages, literature, etc).

    A modern society has both, but not in equal proportions. STEM wins when it comes to job opportunities for obvious reasons (higher utility == more demand because it's *needed* not just *wanted*). Non-STEM wins when it comes to feeling satisfied about the work they do.

    But if you draw a graph, the happiness of a STEM graduate will most likely increase as they progress into a graduate job with more experience (from a lower starting point), whereas the happiness of a non-STEM graduate will most likely stay level or decrease as they progress further mid-career - mostly from the substantial differences in pay.

    It's pretty hard to stay happy when the realities of how much it costs to have a comfortable life kicks in.

    So, which one wins overall? It depends which priorities you deem more important in life. But STEM is *hard*, not everyone's capable of doing it, so it's not really a wonder why so many would defend a non-STEM careerpath.
    The assumption that STEM degrees lead lower satisfaction jobs is just wrong. I for one would hate to have a job that involves something like teaching or working in a library/museum/court. Different strokes for different folks.
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    (Original post by cipi)
    The assumption that STEM degrees lead lower satisfaction jobs is just wrong. I for one would hate to have a job that involves something like teaching or working in a library/museum/court. Different strokes for different folks.
    I think you misunderstood me, I mean it's harder so it's more difficult to enjoy in the early stages of the career whereas English Literature for example might be more enriching early on. I was arguing that it does a 180 as time goes on.
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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    I think you misunderstood me, I mean it's harder so it's more difficult to enjoy in the early stages of the career whereas English Literature for example might be more enriching early on. I was arguing that it does a 180 as time goes on.
    Ah ok, fair enough. I kinda agree with this - although if you reach the stage you learn nothing new would probably be boring.
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    Why is there always some little egotistical naive kid on TSR making threads like this? :facepalm:

    I'm so sick and tired of all this superiority complex I see on TSR.

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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    It doesn't beg the question, that's a logical fallacy referring to circular logic - it raises the question.
    As far as I'm aware the two phrases are completely interchangeable in colloquial use. I think the context made it clear I wasn't referring to the fallacy, and clearly so did you as you correctly identified an equivalent phrasing


    Defining utility is an axiom in itself, and that's where we can have a discussion. In modern society, it can be argued that all high utility subjects share the same common theme - they lead to social positions that are essential for the functioning of society. An example might be applied physicists, in other words engineers, because every part of a first world citizen's life revolves around them performing their jobs correctly.

    The dwelling I presume you reside in, needed people to calculate whether the structure will fall (especially taller buildings). The potable water that comes into your home, requires people highly skilled to decontaminate and filter and process and pressurize and deliver the water. The food you eat, as we're no longer an agrarian society, require modern machinery and industrial scale processing to sustain.

    This could go on ad nauseum, but the point is STEM offers students a chance to develop the analytical skills required to go into these highly essential, sought after jobs. If economies fail, and anarchy begins, then these people will no longer be in a position to do their jobs properly and we both know what happens to social order then.

    These are all examples of high utility.

    The less needed, but equally valued, would be artistic works. The wealth of ancient empires lead people to paint, and sing, and enjoy life - that's great, but not essential.
    What do you mean when you say it is 'an axiom in itself'? Do you just mean you're assuming a definition without justification?

    I contend that your conception of your utility is far more subjective and less concrete than you think. Can you provide a rigorous definition? I don't think 'leading to a social position that is essential to the functioning of society' really does the trick, since is simply raises the further question of what constitutes something 'essential to the functioning of society' - which I contend is subjective. Certainly our current society could not function as it does without art and media, and certainly some societies could exist that have no need for building engineers, advanced plumbing, processed food etc. Indeed, some societies could exist that have zero need whatsoever for virtually the entirety of STEM. Certainly for STE without the M! And a society could even exist and function without the M, it would just be a bit more painful and have a lower life expectancy!

    We should probably also consider the slightly uncomfortable truth that the practical application of most science learning in future employment is approximately zero unless you stay in academia or go into one of a few very specific areas.

    Also, some non-STEM degrees are 100% more analytical than some STEM degrees in at least some senses of the word.


    Personally, I can think of many graduate level jobs that (in effect) require STEM degrees. It's pretty difficult to work in Chemical Engineering without some graduate level background in chemistry, or Doctor without some graduate level background in medicine, or NASA scientist without some graduate level background in physics/engineering. A reputable lawyer without a law degree.

    This could go on ad nauseum.
    Well you don't need an undergraduate degree in Law to be a lawyer, but okay... Law isn't STEM anyway! I'm not disputing that there are some jobs that do require education in STEM, as there are some jobs that require education that doesn't fall within the arbitrary boundary of STEM.


    There's no one denying that experiences/transferable skills are perhaps more essential than the degree in itself, but the graduate level background is the starting point for the higher end knowledge labourer jobs.
    Right, and for most 'knowledge worker' jobs, all you need is 'graduate level knowledge' - not STEM!


    Really, I'm not disputing that STEM is more useful than non-STEM for certain things! If you want to be a doctor, you've got to study medicine! If you want to be a theoretical astrophysics researcher, you'd probably better study maths or physics! The point is that this doesn't magically make STEM somehow objectively 'superior'.



    The happiness topic is far beyond the realm of TSR, but I will comment this: economists/psychologists do study correlations between overall happiness in life between people who have high income and those that don't.

    It increases until about £60,000.00/year (ie all the material goods necessary for a comfortable life with family), then plateaus and falls (the overall stresses and responsibilities of very high income persons, with exception of passive income)
    Yeah of course, the data is out there with regard to income vs happiness. But education vs. happiness really is not well established, and I'm fairly sure there is a lot of contradictory research even on the correlation alone, let alone identifying a causal relationship as well.
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    Gah! Who woke this thread up...
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    (Original post by Implication)
    As far as I'm aware the two phrases are completely interchangeable in colloquial use. I think the context made it clear I wasn't referring to the fallacy, and clearly so did you as you correctly identified an equivalent phrasing
    If we're having a debate, it's better to use formal language - it's more precise, without ambiguity.


    (Original post by Implication)
    What do you mean when you say it is 'an axiom in itself'? Do you just mean you're assuming a definition without justification?
    Not quite. It's a definition we must both agree on before we make our first chess moves. If your references to a particular word or phrase does not correspond to my references, and these ambiguities are not cleared up, then it is impossible to make any progress in terms of persuading the other or learning from the debate.

    (Original post by Implication)
    I contend that your conception of your utility is far more subjective and less concrete than you think. Can you provide a rigorous definition? I don't think 'leading to a social position that is essential to the functioning of society' really does the trick, since is simply raises the further question of what constitutes something 'essential to the functioning of society' - which I contend is subjective.

    Certainly our current society could not function as it does without art and media, and certainly some societies could exist that have no need for building engineers, advanced plumbing, processed food etc. Indeed, some societies could exist that have zero need whatsoever for virtually the entirety of STEM. Certainly for STE without the M! And a society could even exist and function without the M, it would just be a bit more painful and have a lower life expectancy!
    I refer to "functioning society" as economically and socially well developed, with basic human needs met. It's not a rigorous definition by any means, but if we were to search for one then it's best to look at literature within sociology/economics about satisfying human needs and wants as well as capturing other concepts like social mobility, etc.

    Utility in an economics sense isn't that subjective.

    (Original post by Implication)
    We should probably also consider the slightly uncomfortable truth that the practical application of most science learning in future employment is approximately zero unless you stay in academia or go into one of a few very specific areas.
    It depends what we're referring to, if it's the course content then only specialist jobs. If it's analytical/transferable skills developed then graduate jobs as a whole. A scientific mind is always valuable.

    (Original post by Implication)
    Also, some non-STEM degrees are 100% more analytical than some STEM degrees in at least some senses of the word.
    That's an interesting statement, analytical in the sense that you're interpreting data in a scientific way? I'm sure philosophy, English language/literature, etc can be analytical too - but it's a different kind of analysis.

    (Original post by Implication)
    Well you don't need an undergraduate degree in Law to be a lawyer, but okay... Law isn't STEM anyway! I'm not disputing that there are some jobs that do require education in STEM, as there are some jobs that require education that doesn't fall within the arbitrary boundary of STEM.
    I've been having this back-and-forth with Princepie and we still haven't come up with a rigorous definition of STEM. I've personally defined it as anything highly scientific in its analytical methods. Personally, I'd group Social Science as a subset of Science, but less empirical because the complexity is higher and it's harder to isolate variables.

    (Original post by Implication)
    Right, and for most 'knowledge worker' jobs, all you need is 'graduate level knowledge' - not STEM!

    Really, I'm not disputing that STEM is more useful than non-STEM for certain things! If you want to be a doctor, you've got to study medicine! If you want to be a theoretical astrophysics researcher, you'd probably better study maths or physics! The point is that this doesn't magically make STEM somehow objectively 'superior'.
    It's back to the utility concept again. I go by "if we didn't have these people performing these roles, would we be more or less able to satisfy peoples wants/needs in pursuit of happiness?" If the degree subject had a chronic shortage, would there be an issue for future generations?

    The junior doctors employment contracts case illustrate that society clearly does need doctors (many of whom feel dissuaded), many of them, who need to study Medicine. If we reached a true breaking point where there's only as many doctors per capita as Sub Saharan Africa, then greater numbers of people would suffer and die.

    By extension, Medicine degrees are "superior" in the sense that if it were scrapped, human civilisation becomes less sustainable/worse for all.

    (Original post by Implication)
    Yeah of course, the data is out there with regard to income vs happiness.

    But education vs. happiness really is not well established, and I'm fairly sure there is a lot of contradictory research even on the correlation alone, let alone identifying a causal relationship as well.
    The problem with sciences like these is that it's really hard to avoid biases, isolate the variables, and interpret the data correctly.

    Education does improve employment propects in professional jobs, STEM providing an easy route into careers that express a clear preference/requirement for it, which increases income/job-security. I suppose it's hard to determine whether STEM specifically has a meaningful difference.

    Human happiness in itself is tricky, there are some things that provide a lot of hedonistic happiness but in the long term causes overall suffering, like binge eating unhealthy food. I still think it's one of the better indices to use when we're talking about whether it's worth making the investment in science education.

    If not "better" in the easily measurable indices, STEM degrees creates excellent (critical) minds, which in itself is quite the achievement.
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    Just do the degree you want and get on with life. Banging on about STEM being better won't solve your low self esteem. Just focus on actually getting your degree and a job first.
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    (Original post by Lord Samosa)
    Just do the degree you want and get on with life. Banging on about STEM being better won't solve your low self esteem. Just focus on actually getting your degree and a job first.
    If we suppose everyone took this mentality to heart, and nearly all candidates chose a major that didn't give them many transferable skills, would that not be a poor investment as a taxpayer?
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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    If we suppose everyone took this mentality to heart, and nearly all candidates chose a major that didn't give them many transferable skills, would that not be a poor investment as a taxpayer?
    I understand why you'd want to tell people about considering the transferable skills (or lack of) they can get from certain degrees, but most kids arguing about STEM being superior are often patronising. (And don't even have a degree themselves, so kind of hard to take seriously)
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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    If we suppose everyone took this mentality to heart, and nearly all candidates chose a major that didn't give them many transferable skills, would that not be a poor investment as a taxpayer?
    But arts & humanities courses DO have transferable skills!

    Most FTSE100 CEOs have an arts degree...
    http://eu-a.demo.qlik.com/QvAJAXZfc/...UKDACHAPAC.qvw

    And referring to a major makes me think you are not of these parts...
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    There were 725 candidates overall.

    I have listed everything with two or more candidates. STEM and Social Sciences (I personally consider a subset of STEM) and Business courses are strong favourites.

    Humanities/Arts (History, Languages, Philosophy) occasionally pop up, but certainly not "a majority" unless you're counting Business/Social Science as an "Arts degree"

    Overall tallies

    163 Social Science + 155 Business = 318 Business and Social Science degrees
    17 Humanities/Arts degrees
    49 Engineering + 42 Natural Science + 8 Computer Science + 2 Life Science + 2 Medicine = 103 STEM degrees
    6 Vocational degrees

    Individual tallies

    105 Economics graduates (Social Science)
    53 Law graduates (Social Science)
    5 Politics graduates (Social Science)

    163 Social Science graduates

    72 Business graduates (Business)
    34 Business Administration graduates (Business)
    13 Accountancy graduates (Business)
    12 Finance graduates (Business)
    8 Management graduates (Business)
    8 Commerce graduates (Business)
    4 Marketing graduates (Business)
    2 Management Science graduates (Business)
    2 Business Law graduates (Business)

    I'm lumping together Accountancy/Finance/Marketing into it because I understand it to be a lot to do with the operations of a business.

    155 Business graduates.

    6 PPE graduates (Humanities/Arts + a smidge of Social Science)
    4 History graduates (Humanities/Arts)
    3 Philosophy graduates (Humanities/Arts)
    2 Modern History graduates (Humanities/Arts)
    2 Modern Languages graduates (Humanities/Arts)

    17 Humanities/Arts graduates

    14 Mechanical Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    11 Chemical Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    8 Civil Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    4 Electrical Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    4 Mining Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    2 Architecture graduates (Engineering)
    2 Engineering and Economics graduates (Engineering)
    2 Industrial Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    2 Engineering Science graduates (Engineering)

    Architecture is difficult to place, but I feel there's a lot of Engineering skills necessary for that kind of role.

    49 Engineering graduates

    19 Chemistry graduates (Natural Science)
    10 Physics graduates (Natural Science)
    9 Mathematics graduates (Natural Science)
    8 Computer Science graduates (Computer Science)
    2 Applied Physics graduates (Natural Science)
    2 Metallurgy graduates (Natural Science)
    2 Biology graduates (Life Science)
    2 Medicine graduates (Medicine - Science)

    42 Natural Science graduates and 8 Computer Science graduates and 2 Life Science graduates and 2 Medicine graduates

    2 Welding graduates (Vocational)
    2 Electronics graduates (Vocational)
    2 Mining graduates (Vocational)

    I'm not certain why these are standalone degrees and what subset they fall into, so I felt it was closer to a vocational course than anything else

    6 Vocational course graduates

    EDIT - categorisation errors
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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    There were 725 candidates overall.

    I have listed everything with two or more candidates. STEM and Social Sciences (I personally consider a subset of STEM) are strong favourites, as well as Business courses. Humanities/Arts (History, Languages, Philosophy) occasionally pop up, but certainly not "a majority" unless you're counting Business/Social Science as an "Arts degree"

    Overall tallies

    235 Social Science
    83 Business
    17 Humanities/Arts
    49 Engineering
    52 Natural Science
    6 Vocational course
    2 Medicine

    Individual tallies

    105 Economics graduates (Social Science)
    72 Business graduates (Social Science)
    53 Law graduates (Social Science)
    5 Politics graduates (Social Science)

    235 Social Science graduates

    34 Business Administration graduates (Business)
    13 Accountancy graduates (Business)
    12 Finance graduates (Business)
    8 Management graduates (Business)
    8 Commerce graduates (Business)
    4 Marketing graduates (Business)
    2 Management Science graduates (Business)
    2 Business Law graduates (Business)

    83 Business graduates.

    I'm lumping together Accountancy/Finance/Marketing into it because I understand it to be a lot to do with the operations of a business.

    6 PPE graduates (Humanities/Arts + a smidge of Social Science)
    4 History graduates (Humanities/Arts)
    3 Philosophy graduates (Humanities/Arts)
    2 Modern History graduates (Humanities/Arts)
    2 Modern Languages graduates (Humanities/Arts)

    17 Humanities/Arts graduates

    14 Mechanical Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    11 Chemical Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    8 Civil Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    4 Electrical Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    4 Mining Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    2 Architecture graduates (Engineering)
    2 Engineering and Economics graduates (Engineering)
    2 Industrial Engineering graduates (Engineering)
    2 Engineering Science graduates (Engineering)

    49 Engineering graduates

    19 Chemistry graduates (Natural Science)
    10 Physics graduates (Natural Science)
    9 Mathematics graduates (Natural Science)
    8 Computer Science graduates (Computer Science)
    2 Applied Physics graduates (Natural Science)
    2 Metallurgy graduates (Natural Science)
    2 Biology graduates (Natural Science)

    52 Natural Science graduates

    2 Welding graduates (Vocational)
    2 Electronics graduates (Vocational)
    2 Mining graduates (Vocational)

    6 Vocational course graduates

    2 Medicine graduates (Medicine)

    2 Medicine graduates
    Woah... the sound of goalposts being shifted...
    Anyway
    FTSE100 was my comment.
    But fundamentally Economics, Law, etc are not STEM.

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    STEM focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It's very empirical and analytical, based on real world - and theoretical, thought - experiments and observations.

    Social Science is STEM-lite, a hazy science of human behaviour that doesn't fit neatly in to Science vs Humanities. It's still empirical and analytical and based on logic, it just happens to be a little less clear what the findings mean. It has to be interpreted.

    Humanities involves itself with creative and cultural studies, like Art or Drama or History or Philosophy or Languages.

    EDIT - I noticed I made a mistake, I should have split up Business from Social Science, my bad.
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    (Original post by hezzlington)
    Another equally ridiculous generalisation.

    No we won't have the same size gravestones.
    I think what they mean is that we all end up in the same place in the end. dead. It won't matter whether we had design careers or science ones anymore.
    or to put it bluntly, shut the **** up and let people live their lives.
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    (Original post by Rather_Cynical)
    STEM focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It's very empirical and analytical, based on real world and theoretical experiments and observations.

    Social Science is STEM-lite, a hazy science of human behaviour that doesn't fit neatly in to Science vs Humanities. It's still empirical and analytical and based on logic, it just happens to be a little less clear what the findings mean. It has to be interpreted.

    Humanities involves itself with creative and cultural studies, like Art or Drama or History or Philosophy or Languages.
    This thread is about STEM not STEMlite.

    And Cambridge, for one, includes social sciences alongside arts & humanities when assessing admissions statistics. That's good enough for me.

    Although ironically we discovered the OP is doing Economics not a STEM course anyway...


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    (Original post by jneill)
    This thread is about STEM not STEMlite.

    And Cambridge, for one, includes social sciences alongside arts & humanities when assessing admissions statistics. That's good enough for me.

    Although ironically we discovered the OP is doing Economics not a STEM course anyway...


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    At this point, it really does come down to semantics because we haven't really agreed what STEM is. Is it a spectrum, or strict dichotomy?

    OP's doing Economics? I'd bet you 50 internet points that he considers Economics part of STEM
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    I am doing mathematics come september. Ive had second thoughts about doing maths and econ.

    It's great to see that ive triggered so many ppl once i have enlightened them to the truth.
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    (Original post by MiniDoughnuts)
    I think what they mean is that we all end up in the same place in the end. dead. It won't matter whether we had design careers or science ones anymore.
    or to put it bluntly, shut the **** up and let people live their lives.
    Hurling expletives? It's educational debate, not educational tantrums.
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    (Original post by MiniDoughnuts)
    I think what they mean is that we all end up in the same place in the end. dead. It won't matter whether we had design careers or science ones anymore.
    or to put it bluntly, shut the **** up and let people live their lives.
    Okay.
    We're all going to end up dead, so why bother doing anything at all.I'm being facetious but it's just a pointless comment the other user made. It does matter what we decide to do with our lives.
 
 
 
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