The left, including affirmative action’s own astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, dismisses philosophy as useless. In my post of most and least respected majors, I list philosophy as being useful, along with STEM.
On the surface, philosophy may seem useless, or at least devoid of any practical applications. You cannot build a bridge with philosophy, nor can you develop a life saving treatment for a disease with it. So what good it for? Despite it satisfying a human yearning to understand universal, fundamental ‘truths’ and other abstractions, a degree in philosophy is most useful as a means of signaling that can be used as a ‘stepping stone’ to more prosperous endeavors. By getting a degree in philosophy, generally regarded as hardest of the liberal arts subjects, you are signalling to employers that you are very smart, which will give you a substantive advantage in the hiring process. True, philosophy in itself offers nothing in the way of ‘experience’, but having the degree demonstrates top 1% intellect, critical thinking, and comprehension – skills that are necessary in any job where competence is valued. A philosophy major can thus be trained to perform complicated tasks with relative ease and mastery that even experts without such a difficult degree cannot do.
Let’s say I have a web 2.0 start-up and I need a programmer. If none are available, I would feel confident hiring the philosophy PHD over someone with a useless degree, knowing I could get the philosopher quickly up to speed with some programming tutorials. In essence, the philosophy degree serves as a giant to billboard to the world proclaiming,’Hey, I’m really good at understanding complex, esoteric stuff!’ In the post-2008 economy of hyper-efficiency where the support of labor vastly exceeds the demand, employers more than ever are placing a greater emphasis on talent IQ as opposed to connections, personality and other EQ factors.
Therefore, it is no coincidence the critics of philosophy, such as the liberal Neil deGrasse Tyson, excel at EQ and come up relatively empty handed at IQ. Tyson, who has no advanced published research to his name, is a joke and merely a showman to those who study physics and engineering professionally. Same for Robert Shiller who, despite winning a Nobel, is still a showman who is more popular for his good looks, book sales, and liberalism than economic research. On smart sites such as Reddit and 4chan, philosophy is upheld as sacrosanct like STEM, and there’s evidence a backlash against Tyson is percolating, that will likely culminate in him being relegated to the dustbin of defamed pseudo science ‘popularizers’ like Malcom Gladwell.