America’s “Intellectual Inequality” Undermines STEM

Source: Civic Engineering, ONU. Sunrise over a row of cannon at the Antietam Civil War Battlefield at Sharpsburg, Maryland USA
Two years ago an article called “The Decline of Historical Thinking” warned that too few people in America were studying the right stuff to understand society (foundation to engineering):

Lately, I’ve noticed a feature of economic inequality that has not received the attention it deserves. I call it “intellectual inequality.” I do not refer to the obvious and ineluctable fact that some people are smarter than others but, rather, to the fact that some people have the resources to try to understand our society while most do not. Late last year, Benjamin M. Schmidt, a professor of history at Northeastern University, published a study demonstrating that, for the past decade, history has been declining more rapidly than any other major, even as more and more students attend college.

Some people have the resources to try to understand our society while most do not.

The big question becomes how many of those with these resources are in any position to improve society. Evidence today suggests far too few, as “today’s civics crises” are being linked directly.

For many close observers, a direct line can be drawn from today’s civics crises to a long-standing failure to adequately teach American government, history and civic responsibility… and the cost is a citizenry largely ignorant of the work needed to sustain a democracy.

STEM fails when its graduates are “ignorant of the work needed to sustain a democracy”.

People like to ask me how I made a “transition” from history to a career in tech, when they instead should be asking others how dare they work in tech without a foundation in history.

Information technology is really about economics, information security is really about philosophy (ethics), and both depend on an understanding of history.

As an example of what it can look like, some indeed are taught STEM properly with a lens on history, as an ONU civic engineering blog explains:

Finding answers would take research, so the eight engineers became historians. They researched the Village of Forest. They studied artillery. They learned about the Civil War. They had historians come speak to their class.

Can you imagine a software engineer saying something even close to that, or imagine a “civic software engineer” title? How many big tech companies are inviting historians to come speak to engineering? No wonder so many in tech, suffering from deep intellectual inequality, are undermining democracy.

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