Our STEM obsession


The right wing tends to fear the “softer” side of academia such as the liberal arts for two reasons. First, that part of academia has been dominated by leftist radicals pretending to be normal since the 1960s; second, as a field without clear answers — in disciplines like literature, philosophy, psychology, and art — it seems to be the antithesis of conservatism, which is based on conserving utility by looking at past success and failure. Conservatism resembles the scientific method.

On the other hand, liberal arts seem from a distance to simply be a form of learning to use language and appearance to weasel out of hard answers. This appearance occurs because until one understands the methods of, say, philosophy, the use of argument seems arbitrary much like a foreign language may appear to be random sounds. This mistaken notion rapidly changes when one looks into the liberal arts and sees both how deeply conservative it is and how it is not prone to stumble into many of the pitfalls of populist politics.

After all, literature and philosophy and art teach a meta-science to the scientific method, which is observing cause->effect logic through the acts of characters and their consequences. Art does not — as liberal professors insist — belong to the whims of the perceiver, but to the intention of the artist. In keeping with the classical tradition, art and literature from the 1970s and before tackled “big topics” instead of personal details. Philosophy similarly takes on the big issues that STEM, being isolated to details by its need for linear comparison, cannot tackle. These are the master sciences which are needed to guide science, technology, political science and psychology.

Literature in particular offers a strong conservative bias because it shows characters struggling with decisions in awareness of how they will end up. In the same way, philosophy argues ideas to their logical extensions, such as how they would manifest in reality. Even visual art portrays the conflict between human inner worlds and the outside, showing our tendency toward solipsism versus our need for realism. Many of the greats in these fields expressed solidly conservative ideas like defense of monarchy, responsibility, self-reliance, nationalism, eugenic breeding and a deep connection to the transcendental.

STEM provides a false god in that it, like modern science, claims to answer questions far beyond its scope. Science verifies details and makes theories, but never proclaims an ultimate truth; that requires the type of inter-disciplinary study that only a more abstract approach can provide. Like law and some forms of economics, STEM tries to reduce humanity to leaderless invisible hand systems in the pattern of the Revolution. It surmises that knowledge, rather than interpretation and application, along can rule us better than those who see from above in the abstract approach of the liberal arts. This fallacious viewpoint leaves us with scientists who master a detail and make broad conjectures about it far beyond its reasonable context. This is the basis of the “social engineering” that has failed so spectacularly in liberal societies; instead of being based in knowledge of the past and logic, which converts abstractions into concrete details, it is based in concrete details turned into abstractions.

Applying science beyond its correct discipline — interpreting materials science and inventing technology — imposes a type of categorical thinking on reality which is as blocky and knee-jerk as every satire of nerds. The magic word “therefore” warns that someone has used categories to magically draw equivalence or separation in order to simplify a complex issue, and by cutting out that complexity, has totally missed the point. Much like democracy itself, rule by science creates an illusory world in which the only “solutions” are to re-apply the theory. And yet the theory has no basis in reality because it has reduced reality to several factors out of millions, run an experiment upon them, and based on a tiny result — a detail out of the big picture — has allowed human egos to claim that what they desire is objective fact.

The result of conservative support for STEM has been that conservatives have abandoned the gateway to culture that literature, philosophy and art provide. In addition, we have thrown ourselves into the same type of thinking that produced the Revolution, but now it wears a new name tag that validates it as conservative. This in effect lets the enemy in the gates. We have Trojan horsed ourselves. A more sensible policy would be to relegate science to what it does well, and recapture and renovate the fields of critical thinking and art so that they can express reality instead of the ersatz Potemkin vision that liberals have imposed upon them.

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16 Responses to “Our STEM obsession”

  1. hobbyhorse says:

    it seems to be the antithesis of conservatism, which is based on conserving utility by looking at past success and failure. Conservatism resembles the scientific method.

    Nonsense.Please stop putting words in the mouth of “Conservatives”. While you are at it, try understanding what “Conservatives” actually mean.

    And yet again you have things upside down–it is the Left who the ones that are maniacal about STEM, and who worship a the feet of the false God of Scientism.

    The right does not fear the “soft side” of academia, which is really a sim-characterizartrion of the one of the most crucial aspects of whole debate; it is about “soft science”, really pseudo science, masking itself as real science.

    The right has traditionally been the champion of the humanities.

    The crucial misunderstanding that you seem to harbor is that the current humanities professotiate is maintaining and expanding their so-called “fields of study”. They are not; they are ripping them apart and replacing them with Marxist propaganda One wonders if you have even been on a campus of a major University in the last 30 years.

    Beyond that, the Right does not want to support these parasites in their destruction of the Western intellectual and artistic legacy.

    You really need to get off your various hobby horses and think a little more deeply before you right. You are making a fool of yourself.

  2. hobbyhorse says:

    And no, it is not true that “After all, literature and philosophy and art teach a meta-science to the scientific method, which is observing cause->effect logic through the acts of characters and their consequences”.

    “Meta science”? What half baked nonsense.

    What I gather you mean here is that they are concerned with meaning, and so have a broader notion of Metaphysics, in the classical sen in the temperature that water boils, not the meaning of that measurement.

    For someone who would be a champion of “The Humanities”, you appear to be spectacularly ill-educated in the,.

    • What I gather you mean here is that they are concerned with meaning, and so have a broader notion of Metaphysics


    • -A says:

      You completely missed the point of Brett’s statements and took things at face value. Brett says it seems to be anti-conservative specifically because of the warping and distortion of it by the left. Brett is saying that Art and Philosophy are indeed Conservative subjects and past times.

      Literature is the gateway to culture in the trifecta of literature, cuisine and music. It is thought experiment. The use of fantasy to teach reality by telling a story of events and distilling them to their most rational conclusions. They are the key to a people’s soul. Philosophy is the ability to see something for what it really is based on what we know of it as a concept. This is indeed beyond science and an abstraction of the technicality of science itself. You claim Brett makes himself look stupid buy you are making yourself look like a sperg. Look at what he is saying, not the immediate surface value of the words themselves. This is called reading.

      • crow says:

        That’s ‘pastimes’, you dolt. Past times are times no longer current :)

        “Look at what he is saying, not the immediate surface value of the words themselves.”
        This is something either you can do, or you can’t and likely never will. The key to communication vs. useless argument.
        The larger picture IS the message, not the individual words.
        Rocket Science for crows.

        • -A says:

          You should have been an English teacher…are you an English teacher? That would explain a lot of your Crowness.

          Is my grammtical (spelling?) faux pas and my foolishness at thinking I can scold intelligence into a troll all you took away from my post?

          • crow says:

            It is my crowish humor, and nothing else, my dear -A. Reminding you, in the inscrutable way of the diplomatic crow, that for one with so much to say, it is of some importance to resist the occasional plummet into the morass of spelling-errors.
            No, I am not an English teacher.

  3. Neocolonial says:

    ‘Would you like fries with that?’

    I’m not convinced that the above really outlines why conservative / reactionaries don’t do liberal arts. In general, what we are talking about is why the children of conservatives don’t.

    I can’t recall anyone really making an positive argument regarding liberal arts degrees until 20 years after I completed university. Yes, STEM.

    As a teenager, the impression I got was that Arts was what you did if you were incompetent at anything useful. Or more often, if you wanted another three years to figure out what you were going to do with your life.

    20 years later, yes, I can see what you mean and agree with large portions of it. But back then, Arts students were simply the butt of all jokes, and no one with the capacity to do anything else* did Arts.

    *There are of course exceptions to this. Some people had specific career paths in linguistics, anthropology etc that were accessed via that pathway. All credit to them.

    • As a teenager, the impression I got was that Arts was what you did if you were incompetent at anything useful.

      The Arts, too, are known by the company they keep. They were conquered first by Leftists who dominated publishing and carefully excluded or marginalized right-wing voices.

    • -A says:

      The tinkerer in the garage could either be making the next masterpiece in statuary or could be building the next family of CPU. They tend to look the same from the outside to me. Art is just as practical as science. A true sculptor would probably be the first person you go to for building a deck instead of a physicist.

  4. Orthodox says:

    The academy is completely pozzed, to use the latest term. The battle between STEM and liberal arts is a sideshow to the larger battle. Conservatives have already completely surrendered the institutions, but if the academy means knowledge instead of institutions, it is the progressives who have abandoned the academy.

    In a healthy conservative society, there is still a debate about practical knowledge and “higher” learning. America has always favored practical, experimental and profitable knowledge. The tinkerer in the garage. That is not STEM, but the focus on the academy has shifted some support into STEM fields. In truth, despite all the charge of being anti-intellectual, the conservatives are far too supportive of the institutions.

    • America has always favored practical, experimental and profitable knowledge.

      Once upon a time, high schools delivered that. Then they were dumbed down to accommodate democracy, both in our home grown peasants who would be kings, and the new third world groups starting with the Irish, Italians, Greeks and Jews, who could not read and understand to the depth that was familiar to Western Europeans. College always delivered what the elites needed: critical thinking, including moral awareness, and four years to filter those who understood that from the pretenders to the throne.

  5. Wolfgang says:

    Why must it be “either STEM or liberal arts”, instead of “STEM and liberal arts”?

    By targeting only STEM, you’re not seeing the problem with today’s education, which is weird considering how often you rant about it: equality. We can’t have a huge variance when measuring the performance of the students (remember that liberals hate the gaussian distribution).

    If your goal is to prove that any student performs equally well given the same education, the best way to teach philosophy or math is to reduce them to memorisation.

    Instead of teaching students how to prove an hypothesis ‘X’ starting from ‘A, B, C’, having them memorise that “if A,B,C, then D follows” is more than enough. No need to get lost in details about underlying formal systems or make sure they understand that a material implication is always true when the antecedent is false.

    We’re left with a bunch of trained monkeys that overestimate themselves in virtue of having obtained an academic title.

    • -A says:

      I agree. Both should be taught to some degree to start off. The humanities teaches one how to think and how to see, the STEM fields teaches one how to test and how to measure.

  6. […] Stevens is concerned about Our STEM obsession. Many on the right, having cultivated an well-placed distrust of humanities and liberal arts as a […]

  7. […] This came up on our most recent and yet still unreleased podcast: many of, if not the majority of, the superstars in information technology are not people who went through the educational system to get STEM degrees. […]

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