In pursuit of knowledge….apparently not a good enough reason to some

I was rather pissed of at an interview with THEORETICAL physicist Jim Al-Khalili in THE this week.

When asked whether the governments’ favouring of STEM over other fields was a sign of neglect he twatted on about arts and humanities arguing that they were and he wasn’t convinced. Apparently, it is vitally important that we have more scientists and engineers to maintain the “UK’s position as a world leader in the knowledge economy”.

Fuck you. You are a flippin’ theoretical physicist. What exactly have you contributed to the “knowledge economy”? I would hardly even deem to call you a scientist.

Then he has a go at subjects other than medicine, law, science and engineering being worth the fees. Implication: the rest is a waste of money.

Well, if you are going to define “knowledge economy” in pounds, shilling and pence, you’ll make those conclusions. But it is parochial. Given that only 14% of medical research can be replicated, I would say that medicine isn’t contributing anything much other than shit to the knowledge economy. And, let’s not mention what theoretical physics has contributed….

Research for the impact agenda of REF has shown that humanities has contributed a vast amount to society, and I think that is a better definition of knowledge economy than how much money it’s put in the treasury coffers.

But, even more widely, many students do a degree because they want to LEARN. They want to acquire KNOWLEDGE. And I think that is an amazing reason to do something and more important than whether it contributes to society or increases the “knowledge economy”.

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