Monday, April 13, 2009

Why Young Americans Avoid the Math and Science Fields (Nowadays): A Hypothesis

Unfortunately, too many careers in math and science have become associated with militarism , environmental destruction, and greed for quite a number of people in the United States. Though, this association is often unconscious, or unarticulated.

Interested in physics ? There's a good chance you will be working for the military. Interested in geology ? You almost certainly will be working for an oil company. Interested in discovering a new medical cure ? Most likely the cure will be used for profit, and the producer will seek to restrict the use of affordable generics. Like math ? Time to work in some quant funds. In the 'real world', I've seen the disincentive these type of careers offer for intelligent people interested in social improvement.

These associations became particularly intense in American society after Vietnam. The best and the brightest, the intellectual elite, used the scientific revolution begun in the Renaissance to kill millions of extremely poor people. In a war which ended in defeat.

The values of greed and domination that many of the sciences have become associated with, are not things that fundamentally inspire - and so, many talented people go into more esoteric, or 'worthless', liberal arts fields. I suspect the emphasis on 'renewable energy' coming from so many in power, and their mouthpieces, is to make science and math seem 'cool' again.


Related: Cyber Security Talent Shortage