Computers are no Match for the Humanities


Photo credit Alyssa Tyler, Editor-in-Chief

Written by: Riley Wilson, Reporter

There is no denying the power of the internet, but when people believe it is all that matters, there becomes a problem. Foremost, computer scientists and people in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematical (STEM) related fields can be woefully ignorant of non-technical approaches to life’s problems. Second, it is important to remember that the strength of a society does not depend only on the wealth and technological aspects, but also on its ability to serve all citizens equally and help them become contributing members. Lastly, the computer does not always have the answers. 

In a study done by the research center Digital Humanities, the number of students majoring in humanities has fallen from almost 20 percent in the 1960s to less than five percent today. With this decline, the amount of students majoring in STEM fields has risen. These students, instead of reading Plato and Shakespeare, are learning how to code and create algorithms. They do not see the point in reading all the impractical things that have nothing to do with their science-related or mathematical careers.

Living in a world increasingly dominated by science, students are given facts and answers, knowledge and truth. The humanities, however, teach uncertainty, doubt and skepticism. They undermine the claims of all authorities. It teaches a person about who they are, where they come from and what they should or shouldn’t be. But now, science has replaced this as our main source of answers to these questions. 

When studying the humanities, students learn that they have an enormous capacity for deluding themselves. And they realize they and others are deluded into believing solely in science. When in actuality, it is more about the questions than the answers. What is the truth anyway? How does someone know something is true? What is the meaning of life? What is the point of life?

These questions cannot be answered by the computer. They are something that a person needs to find the answers to themselves. The internet and science is a powerful thing, but relying on it alone will not bode well. Although computers can give the hard facts, studying the humanities gives students the opportunity to think creatively and critically, to ask questions and to reason.