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    I just disagree with your condescending attitude towards medics by comparing it with your course. Medicine is more difficult than A&F and Economics, both conceptually and with regards to workload.
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    Mate, if you're not going to bring anything new to the table, we should discontinue this argument. You probably have a point in terms of workload, definitely not in terms of conceptual difficulty. I'm not going to restate my position forever, and you shouldn't either.
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    Can I just finish this little debate by reposting the most cogent post-


    (Original post by DeuceSevenOff)
    This is the IB forum; why is there a heated argument over intellectual value? It's not as if investment bankers pursue their careers in the name of developing economic theory, and it's not as if surgeons pursue their careers in the name of developing medical science.

    You have to make a distinction between the academics who actually aim to further the development of their discipline, and the careerists who merely aim to build a career from their education in such a discipline. It is a spurious argument to claim that one career built from an education in a particular science is intellectually challenging while another built from a different science is not, when it is an incontrovertible truth that academics in both fields, who are out there researching, developing new theories and trying to make new discoveries, are most definitely doing intellectually challenging work.

    The work economic researchers and medical researchers do are comparable, if not equivalent, in intellectual merit.
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    (Original post by Barny)
    I said a History degree is a joke, not that history the discipline itself is a joke.
    Ohhhh that's much clearer...

    You're unconvincingly back-pedalling and using rather vague definitions to hide the fact that you've realised you were wrong in the first place.

    You must be quite shocked that all people doing finance-related degrees aren't repugnantly arrogant and are willing to give time and space to other disciplines and degrees.
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    (Original post by Barny)
    I'm not dismissing an entire academic discipline as a joke. Christ, you are hard work. Can you stop reading between the lines and putting words in my mouth. I said a History degree is a joke, not that history the discipline itself is a joke.
    If you mean in terms of direct usefulness, sure, but that's a silly measure for a degree. Degrees are about learning skills, that you apply later in a job. So yes, medicine, among other degrees, is directly relevant to a job. However History is a great degree for learning verbal analytical skills - reading lots of stuff, comprehending it and producing a coherent argument - since they do it for every essay they write. What the actual topic is is irrelevant to that. Sure, it lacks quantitative skills, but if you want to do a non-quantitative job, for example in law, strategy consultancy or the civil service, it's a very valuable skillset to have.

    Now, mathematicians and physicists learn a lot of logic and quantitative analytical skills. Again, a very valuable skillset, but give a mathematician hundreds of books or articles to read and ask them to produce a short, coherent viewpoint on it, and most will struggle. Do the same with technical papers though, and they may excel.

    They're two different skillsets. The fact that science is directly applicable doesn't really matter for the vast majority of science graduates who don't go into that science. The main thing they develop are different types of analytical skills, both of which are required for different types of jobs.
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    (Original post by Drogue)
    If you mean in terms of direct usefulness, sure, but that's a silly measure for a degree. Degrees are about learning skills, that you apply later in a job. So yes, medicine, among other degrees, is directly relevant to a job. However History is a great degree for learning verbal analytical skills - reading lots of stuff, comprehending it and producing a coherent argument - since they do it for every essay they write. What the actual topic is is irrelevant to that. Sure, it lacks quantitative skills, but if you want to do a non-quantitative job, for example in law, strategy consultancy or the civil service, it's a very valuable skillset to have.

    Now, mathematicians and physicists learn a lot of logic and quantitative analytical skills. Again, a very valuable skillset, but give a mathematician hundreds of books or articles to read and ask them to produce a short, coherent viewpoint on it, and most will struggle. Do the same with technical papers though, and they may excel.

    They're two different skillsets. The fact that science is directly applicable doesn't really matter for the vast majority of science graduates who don't go into that science. The main thing they develop are different types of analytical skills, both of which are required for different types of jobs.
    agreed, but can I point out a degree is not necessarily just about learning skills that can be applied to the workplace. plenty of people do a degree because they are passionate about their subject with no thought of how it will help them get a job.
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    Oh entirely, but the reasons people do them aren't really as relevant in terms of whether the degree is worth anything. A useless, joke degree could still be fun, and that's why people do it, but it's still a joke degree. I was more trying to counter Barny's claim that History is a joke degree.

    Incidentally, that's why I think economics is such an employable degree - it's one of the few that develops both the logical and quantitative analytical skills as well as the verbal analytical skills. Probably partly because of this it's not the hardest of degrees, as few people are brilliant at both these, but most degrees don't develop both in any great sense.
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    (Original post by Drogue)
    Oh entirely, but the reasons people do them aren't really as relevant in terms of whether the degree is worth anything. A useless, joke degree could still be fun, and that's why people do it, but it's still a joke degree. I was more trying to counter Barny's claim that History is a joke degree.

    Incidentally, that's why I think economics is such an employable degree - it's one of the few that develops both the logical and quantitative analytical skills as well as the verbal analytical skills. Probably partly because of this it's not the hardest of degrees, as few people are brilliant at both these, but most degrees don't develop both in any great sense.
    I really dislike this "joke degree" title though- what would you consider to be a useless joke degree for example? because I'm pretty sure the academics who teach it would hopefully not see it as a joke. Even if the degree is useless in terms of getting a job, academically it could lead onto research work etc.

    So I would say that whilst agreeing with you, i think that when applied to any academic degree "joke" isnt really appropriate.

    obviously this does not apply to entirely vocational degrees such as the "bed selling" degree that was on the bbc news site recently. There is nothing academic about that at all, and i personally dont think it should be called a degree.
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    (Original post by Drogue)
    Now, mathematicians and physicists learn a lot of logic and quantitative analytical skills. Again, a very valuable skillset, but give a mathematician hundreds of books or articles to read and ask them to produce a short, coherent viewpoint on it, and most will struggle. Do the same with technical papers though, and they may excel.

    They're two different skillsets. The fact that science is directly applicable doesn't really matter for the vast majority of science graduates who don't go into that science. The main thing they develop are different types of analytical skills, both of which are required for different types of jobs.
    I'm not sure I'd go quite as far as 'struggle'. Certainly, the language used to express certain themes and opinions is perhaps not as eloquent as liberal arts students, but I would hardly say 'most' scientists would be so utterly confused after reading a book or paper that they'd be incapable of deducing the basic premise or form a coherent viewpoint (which implies either a) their responses would be full of contradiction - unlikely, and/or b) illogical, but you yourself said logic is one of the cornerstones of scientific degrees). I'm not sure I've seen evidence to that extent.

    Random spelling mistakes and slightly improper syntax I'd agree with.
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    (Original post by mendelssohn)
    I really dislike this "joke degree" title though- what would you consider to be a useless joke degree for example? because I'm pretty sure the academics who teach it would hopefully not see it as a joke. Even if the degree is useless in terms of getting a job, academically it could lead onto research work etc.

    So I would say that whilst agreeing with you, i think that when applied to any academic degree "joke" isnt really appropriate.
    Personally, I wouldn't say "joke" degree so much, but that was the terminology Barny used. He seemed to mean it as in "useless" degree. I don't think even that applied, as I think any degree could give you skills, since the topic doesn't matter as much as the process of learning. However I'm sure it's possible to make a degree so easy that it becomes useless.

    However most people would consider something like David Beckham studies to be a joke degree. I wouldn't necessarily dismiss it, though it probably is useless both for employment and research. However if studied in an analytical way, it could help develop analytical skills, however silly the topic may be.

    To me, a joke degree would be one that doesn't develop any skills. Even then it may be enjoyable, thus would work as a luxury to buy, but not as a real degree. Having said that, I'm not aware of any degree that doesn't develop any skills, though they may exist.

    (Original post by mendelssohn)
    obviously this does not apply to entirely vocational degrees such as the "bed selling" degree that was on the bbc news site recently. There is nothing academic about that at all, and i personally dont think it should be called a degree.
    I agree, it shoudn't be a degree (incidentally it wasn't, it was a foundation degree - a 1 year diploma), but vocational course are useful.
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    (Original post by CityMonkey)
    I'm not sure I'd go quite as far as 'struggle'. Certainly, the language used to express certain themes and opinions is perhaps not as eloquent as liberal arts students, but I would hardly say 'most' scientists would be so utterly confused after reading a book or paper that they'd be incapable of deducing the basic premise or form a coherent viewpoint (which implies either a) their responses would be full of contradiction - unlikely, and/or b) illogical, but you yourself said logic is one of the cornerstones of scientific degrees). I'm not sure I've seen evidence to that extent.

    Random spelling mistakes and slightly improper syntax I'd agree with.
    I wasn't referring just to linguistic skill, but it's a different type of logic. Many people do brilliantly at quantitative reasoning tests and badly at verbal reasoning ones.

    I'm not saying scientists would be utterly confused, nor their responses full of contradiction or illogical. Just not as good. Take the typical test I've done at every assessment centre I've been to - they give you a huge pile of articles, papers, etc., and ask you to produce a written answer to a question in a period of time, usually from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Now, if you're used to writing essays every week, where you do exactly this, you'll be far better at it than if you're used to answering problem sheets or technical questions. It's not a question of being illogical, just with practice, you tend to get better at things. Liberal arts students have done far more of this type of work, which is exactly what many civil servants, lawyers, etc. do.

    My post didn't imply either of those statements you made, it just implied they wouldn't be as good at it. However I think if you presented 30 different articles with 30 different, sometimes conflicting, viewpoints about a complex issue, many scientists I know would be quite confused by it. As would many arts students, but most decent arts students are used to this, whereas most hard science students are used to there being an answer. I'm sure many wouldn't, just as many arts students have good spacial or quantitative awareness. But people who are better at that side tend to be drawn to sciences and develop them further, whereas people who are better verbally tend to be more drawn to arts subjects and develop that type of analytical skills more.
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    (Original post by sl_6789)
    Ohhhh that's much clearer...

    You're unconvincingly back-pedalling and using rather vague definitions to hide the fact that you've realised you were wrong in the first place.

    You must be quite shocked that all people doing finance-related degrees aren't repugnantly arrogant and are willing to give time and space to other disciplines and degrees.
    No, read what I said. Just because you've decided to make up what you thought I meant and it differs from what I actually meant and indeed said, doesn't mean that I'm back pedalling.
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    (Original post by Drogue)
    I wasn't referring just to linguistic skill, but it's a different type of logic. Many people do brilliantly at quantitative reasoning tests and badly at verbal reasoning ones.

    I'm not saying scientists would be utterly confused, nor their responses full of contradiction or illogical. Just not as good. Take the typical test I've done at every assessment centre I've been to - they give you a huge pile of articles, papers, etc., and ask you to produce a written answer to a question in a period of time, usually from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Now, if you're used to writing essays every week, where you do exactly this, you'll be far better at it than if you're used to answering problem sheets or technical questions. It's not a question of being illogical, just with practice, you tend to get better at things. Liberal arts students have done far more of this type of work, which is exactly what many civil servants, lawyers, etc. do.

    My post didn't imply either of those statements you made, it just implied they wouldn't be as good at it. However I think if you presented 30 different articles with 30 different, sometimes conflicting, viewpoints about a complex issue, many scientists I know would be quite confused by it. As would many arts students, but most decent arts students are used to this, whereas most hard science students are used to there being an answer. I'm sure many wouldn't, just as many arts students have good spacial or quantitative awareness. But people who are better at that side tend to be drawn to sciences and develop them further, whereas people who are better verbally tend to be more drawn to arts subjects and develop that type of analytical skills more.
    Give a scientist an essay to write, and they will write an essay. It might not be as well written as a social scientists essay, but it will have good substance at least. Give a social scientist a PDE and they'll **** the bed. Hell, give a lot of social scientists basic algebra and they'll struggle. That's the difference, scientists can do both(albeit not to the same standard) where as a social scientist can't.

    I'm not sure if I agree with your last point either. A lot of my friends at school, and I accept this isn't typical in the slighest, avoided quantitative subjects because they simply couldn't do Maths, not just that they were better at arts subjects. There's a big difference between can do slightly and can't do at all.

    I think you have a slightly skewed view as to what science(specifically maths & physics) is about. We are certainly not always used to having an answer, indeed in many cases answers in the sense you are thinking of don't even exist. We are used to solving problems. That is the bread and butter of what physicists do. Given the choice between somebody who could read 30 pieces of paper and summarise it like any monkey can, or somebody that can actually solve problems, and I don't just mean in the quantitative sense, for me it's an obvious choice.
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    (Original post by Barny)
    Give a scientist an essay to write, and they will write an essay. It might not be as well written as a social scientists essay, but it will have good substance at least. Give a social scientist a PDE and they'll **** the bed. Hell, give a lot of social scientists basic algebra and they'll struggle.
    True, I know a lot of arts students that can't do maths, but what's the difference between struggling at algebra and being crap at writing essays? There are plenty of excellent scientists that don't know how to write a simple letter.

    (Original post by Barny)
    We are used to solving problems. That is the bread and butter of what physicists do. Given the choice between somebody who could read 30 pieces of paper and summarise it like any monkey can, or somebody that can actually solve problems, and I don't just mean in the quantitative sense, for me it's an obvious choice.
    History isn't about memorising facts and dates; it's about interpreting them, winding them together and thus SOLVING a problem. What makes the question "Why was there a Big Bang?" any more valid than "Why did the Industrial Revolution happen first in Britain?"? I'd be interested to know at what level you stopped doing history.
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    (Original post by Barny)
    Give a scientist an essay to write, and they will write an essay. It might not be as well written as a social scientists essay, but it will have good substance at least. Give a social scientist a PDE and they'll **** the bed. Hell, give a lot of social scientists basic algebra and they'll struggle. That's the difference, scientists can do both(albeit not to the same standard) where as a social scientist can't.

    I'm not sure if I agree with your last point either. A lot of my friends at school, and I accept this isn't typical in the slighest, avoided quantitative subjects because they simply couldn't do Maths, not just that they were better at arts subjects. There's a big difference between can do slightly and can't do at all.

    I think you have a slightly skewed view as to what science(specifically maths & physics) is about. We are certainly not always used to having an answer, indeed in many cases answers in the sense you are thinking of don't even exist. We are used to solving problems. That is the bread and butter of what physicists do. Given the choice between somebody who could read 30 pieces of paper and summarise it like any monkey can, or somebody that can actually solve problems, and I don't just mean in the quantitative sense, for me it's an obvious choice.
    I think you have a lot less idea of what a humanities or social science student does than I do of science. Hell, I probably have as much of an idea of what maths and physics is about as I do arts, as aside from having done more maths than arts subjects, my whole family are phyicists and mathematicians.

    In short, reading 30 pieces of paper and summarising isn't what I said, and summarising is very far removed from giving an argument. It's more like reading 30 opinions on climate change and how to tackle it and writing a policy paper, or reading lots of information and writing a proposal on where to build a supermarket. That's thinking, that's reasoning, and most scientists aren't that good at it. That's also what many graduate jobs involve. Scientists are used to solving technical problems, historians are used to arguing more open questions, or solving non-technical problems. What I meant by an answer is more of a solution - engineers (at a very simplified level) work out how to build things, physicists work out how things react with each other (whether it's light or gravity or planets or pressure). There is generally a solution. But when it comes to arguing a case in court, or creating a new policy, or deciding where to build a shop, many scientists would have trouble reconciling all the information, working out their opinion and arguing it. That's the bread and butter of essays, and while most scientists can do it, few are that good at it.

    I entirely accept your point that many arts students can't do maths, and most scientists can write essays, just not that well. I also entirely agree that many people choose arts because they can't do maths, although I also know quite few people who choose sciences as they were terrified of essays.

    But none of this makes History a joke or useless degree. Many, many jobs need analytical skills of the sort I've mentioned above, of the essay-writing, argument type, and as you've admitted, arts students tend to be better at that. However, while many jobs need technical skills, they usually need a specific type of technical skill. Give a physicist a patient with a rash and a fever and they'll wet the bed as surely as a historian will. Give a pure mathematician a formula one car and ask them to improve the aerodynamics and they'll probably make some attempt, but in all likelyhood they won't have the skills to do it well enough to get a job at it. Doing a technical subject makes you able to do one technical skill far better than someone who hasn't, and able to do more general, verbal/essay-style analytical skills a little bit worse.

    Now, there are a few jobs that require general quantitative skills, however usually they also require other skills too, like being a trader. Sure, a mathematician can become an algorithmic trader or a quant, but may be less good in a position where it's more about coming to an opinion about the future performance of a company, like equity research or bits of IBD. Analytical essay or paper writing is a very useful skill that people develop by doing arts subjects. Hence arts subjects are useful. I'm not disputing the use of science degrees, just arguing that some important, useful skills are developed far better by doing an arts degree.

    As a final thing, I want to stress that I'm not arguing a History degree is somehow better or more useful than a science one. I don't think it is. However it certainly is useful. Being able to do the verbal, argumentative, opinion side better is very important, and a more generally applicable skill than the technical stuff you learn in a science subject. However, as you say, a scientist can still do this, just not generally as well, whereas most arts students have no clue about the technical side. You argued that History was a joke degree, which I think I've shown it isn't. Moreover, you've admitted it has some advantages over a science degree, even though it has other disadvantages. That's all I'm arguing. Relative merits is something people will never agree on.
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    (Original post by Drogue)

    In short, reading 30 pieces of paper and summarising isn't what I said, and summarising is very far removed from giving an argument. It's more like reading 30 opinions on climate change and how to tackle it and writing a policy paper, or reading lots of information and writing a proposal on where to build a supermarket. That's thinking, that's reasoning, and most scientists aren't that good at it.
    LOL.

    That's also what many graduate jobs involve.
    Actually they don't, most of them offer work monkeys could do.

    Scientists are used to solving technical problems, historians are used to arguing more open questions, or solving non-technical problems. What I meant by an answer is more of a solution - engineers (at a very simplified level) work out how to build things, physicists work out how things react with each other (whether it's light or gravity or planets or pressure). There is generally a solution. But when it comes to arguing a case in court, or creating a new policy, or deciding where to build a shop, many scientists would have trouble reconciling all the information, working out their opinion and arguing it. That's the bread and butter of essays, and while most scientists can do it, few are that good at it.
    Some of the best and effective decision makers don't even have degrees, let alone science vs. arts. However, what you are arguing is seeming more and more like hot air, to be honest. If the job of a liberal artist is to consider the arguments and give a concise, persuasive essay on it, a scientists job is to assess the facts and present a uniformly workable solution.

    You also know that ex-scientists have made a) excellent lawyers with only a 1 year conversion course to offset an entire undergrad law degree b) positive, change-leading politicians (e.g. Maggie) without studying politics and c) lead policy makers. I've yet to hear of a history grad being employed as an engineer etc.

    Why do banks, consultancies, accountancies, law firms all come hunting for engineers and mathmos at the same time as going after the arts types? Presumably, it would be a bad business decision to hire one not able to reason, or write coherently or whatever else you've been arguing. The resulting reasoning (please excuse my non-scientist tendancies to 'reason'..) is that the qualities you are talking about are diminished in value over and what a decently educated English person should be able to do anyway. Further, most science courses now incorporate atleast a handful of extended writing exercises throughout the academic year, perhaps not as frequently as an essay a week, but enough that the skills you are talking about are developed in the ballpark.

    I entirely accept your point that many arts students can't do maths, and most scientists can write essays, just not that well. I also entirely agree that many people choose arts because they can't do maths, although I also know quite few people who choose sciences as they were terrified of essays.
    Not arguing against your points here, but your reasoning of countering a general observation with an anecdotal one is quite misleading. Far be it from me to 'reason' as I am a scientist... :rolleyes: .
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    (Original post by CityMonkey)
    I'm not sure I'd go quite as far as 'struggle'. Certainly, the language used to express certain themes and opinions is perhaps not as eloquent as liberal arts students, but I would hardly say 'most' scientists would be so utterly confused after reading a book or paper that they'd be incapable of deducing the basic premise or form a coherent viewpoint (which implies either a) their responses would be full of contradiction - unlikely, and/or b) illogical, but you yourself said logic is one of the cornerstones of scientific degrees). I'm not sure I've seen evidence to that extent.

    Random spelling mistakes and slightly improper syntax I'd agree with.
    Give a medic JS Mill's "Essays..." and tell them to read it and then write a 3000 word essay outlining its main themes and how they are relevant in society today. I'd be surprised if any of them could do it.
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    How is writing an essay outlining JS Mill's "Essays..." helping anyone? Medics save lives, scientists fix problems, arts students are a waste of space.
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    (Original post by Barny)
    arts students are a waste of space.
    Well you were almost managing argue coherently earlier...but no, you just blew it. Arts students are a waste of space? Why, every single one of them without fail go on to be unemployed?

    turn whats left of your brain on.
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    lol come on mendelssohn, that was clearly a joke, chill out a bit. I'm through with serious discussion on this thread as it's clear nobody agrees with my point of view and therefore I'm fighting a losing battle.
 
 
 
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