To the Editor:
In a recent column (“Room for All,” Feb 20, 2014), Kyle Bigley ’17 claimed that majoring in humanities is valuable in today’s economy. The humanities, he argues, provide people with unique skills that give them an opportunity equal to that of STEM majors to succeed in the job market.
Unfortunately, Bigley’s reasoning is riddled with holes. Like other pundits, he cherry picks data that support his argument and does little to test his theory. As a result, he reaches faulty conclusions.
This is especially true when he considers the academic backgrounds of the chief executive officers of technology companies. Though Bigley correctly states that “a mere 37 percent [of CEOs] had degrees in computer technology or engineering,” he does not mention how many people in the general population followed the same path. In fact, only 9 percent of college graduates fit this mold. Moreover, in general, STEM majors are more likely than their humanities counterparts to become CEOs.
Bigley’s reasoning is equally faulty when he compares unemployment rates across majors. Instead of looking at a representative array of different majors, he only considers English, information systems and architecture. Based on only these three majors, he concludes that people with humanities degrees have lower unemployment rates. But in doing so Bigley excludes all other areas of study and engages in what statisticians call selection bias, and he gives his own conclusions little validity.
By relying on biased data and overly optimistic assumptions, Bigley arrives at the erroneous conclusion that humanities majors perform just as well as STEM majors in today’s economy. Common sense would seem to indicate otherwise.
Matt Steiner ’16
To the Editor: