Instigator / Pro

THBT: On balance, getting a STEM degree is more useful to society than getting a Liberal Arts Degree


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics

After 3 votes and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
Voting period
One week
Point system
Winner selection
Voting system
Contender / Con

Burden of proof is shared. PRO argues that getting a STEM degree is more useful to society than getting a Liberal Arts Degree. CON argues that getting a Liberal Arts degree is more useful to society than getting a STEM degree.

Round 1
Society: Those we choose to help or interact with
Useful: Offering some measure of utility

My Case
To evaluate usefulness to society, I will compare STEM and Liberal Arts on various metrics. By any meaningful measure, someone can offer much more value to society with a STEM degree than they can with a Liberal Arts degree.

1. Value of Skills Learned
Skills Taught in STEM
STEM classes prepare students to develop new technology and scientific theories—with the rate at which technology is rapidly advancing, Liberal Arts majors can’t possibly keep up. New AI models such as Chat GPT can accomplish the same things as essayists in a fraction of the time. STEM teaches students to develop new things—and once they are developed, they can be mass produced. STEM skills always remain relevant, because new technology can always be developed.

Skills Taught in Liberal Arts
Liberal Arts classes teach students skills that will likely be unnecessary in twenty years. Before computers had spellcheck, being good with language was a big focus. Today, plenty of Liberal Arts majors learn how to write convincingly—and it won’t be long before Chat GPT or some other program can do better than them. AI can already crush the bar exam. In essence, Liberal Arts majors continue to learn skills that STEM majors are making obsolete.

2. Contributions to Economic Growth
Market Demand for STEM Skills
The demand for STEM skills continues to grow. However, these skills are in short supply, meaning that anyone with a STEM degree has huge potential to help the economy.

Importance of STEM at Large Companies
Qualified STEM majors are essential in helping companies to grow and solve problems. As technology grows, so does the demand for technicians who can maintain them. The demand for “skilled labor” has become a common thread at these companies—and the lack thereof is the bottleneck that limits innovation.

3. Opportunities for Innovation
The innovation coming from STEM fields gives strong evidence for their utility. Humanities don’t offer anywhere near the same level of innovation. To illustrate this point, I will focus on technological and scientific developments from the past century.

New Technology
  • Computers
  • Mobile Phones (and Smartphones)
  • Internet 
  • Flash Drives
  • LED Light Bulbs
  • MP3 Players
  • Digital Cameras
  • Source

Scientific Contributions
  • Antibiotics
  • Vaccines for polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox
  • Blood Storage
  • MRIs
  • HIV Therapy
  • The Human Genome Project
  • Source

4. Potential for Charitable Contributions
Salary Differences
STEM majors make an average salary of $82,793. Liberal Arts majors make an average salary of $39,349. When global charities are considered, these salary differences add up. Top charities can save a life for just $5,000. If nothing else, a STEM major can afford to save 8-9 more lives per year than a Liberal Arts major.

5. Finding Solutions to Global Problems
STEM research has saved billions of lives globally. Compared to scientific and technological advancements, the combined impact of Liberal Arts majors is negligible.

Improvements in agricultural technology during the Green Revolution saved billions of lives. We can credit Norman Borlaug, a STEM major, for a good chunk of that.

Over half of all deaths globally are caused by disease. The Covid vaccine alone saved millions of lives.

Thank you for your argument. However, I must disagree with your claim that STEM degrees are inherently more useful to society than Liberal Arts degrees.
I agree with your definitions of society and useful.
  1. Importance of Liberal Arts Skills
While STEM skills are certainly in demand, this does not necessarily mean that they are more useful to society than Liberal Arts skills. The ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and understand cultural differences are all crucial skills that are increasingly necessary in today's globalized world. These skills are not just desirable, but essential to achieving progress in areas such as diplomacy, international relations, and social justice.
Furthermore, it is misguided to assume that AI will eventually replace all Liberal Arts majors. While AI may be able to perform certain tasks, it cannot replicate the creativity and emotional intelligence that humans possess. The future of work is likely to involve greater collaboration between humans and machines, and as such, interdisciplinary teams that bring together individuals with different areas of expertise will be more valuable than ever.

2. Contributions to Economic Growth

It is important to recognize that economic growth should not be the sole measure of usefulness to society. The contributions of artists, writers, and philosophers may not be as directly tied to economic growth, but they enrich society in invaluable ways. For example, literature has the power to inspire empathy and understanding, which are essential for building more just and equitable societies.
Moreover, the idea that STEM fields are the only ones that contribute to economic growth is a fallacy. The creative industries, which encompass fields such as advertising, design, and entertainment, are a major driver of economic growth in many countries. These industries rely heavily on individuals with Liberal Arts skills, such as writers, artists, and marketers.

3. Charitable Contributions

It is unfair to suggest that Liberal Arts majors are less likely to make charitable contributions than STEM majors. While it is true that STEM majors may earn higher salaries on average, this does not necessarily translate into greater charitable giving. Many Liberal Arts majors work in nonprofit or public service sectors, dedicating their careers to making a difference in their communities. Furthermore, many charitable organizations rely heavily on individuals with skills such as communication, fundraising, and community engagement, which are often the purview of Liberal Arts graduates.

4. Finding Solutions to Global Problems

To suggest that Liberal Arts fields have negligible impact on finding solutions to global problems is simply untrue. In fact, many solutions to global problems require a combination of technical expertise and understanding of cultural, historical, and social contexts. For example, addressing climate change requires not just scientific knowledge, but also an understanding of political systems and cultural attitudes towards sustainability. Similarly, addressing poverty and inequality requires not just technical expertise, but also an understanding of the historical and social factors that contribute to these problems.


Critical Thinking Skills:

Liberal arts courses teach critical thinking skills that are highly valued by employers. These skills include analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of information, as well as the ability to communicate ideas effectively. These skills are highly transferable and can be applied to a wide range of fields, making liberal arts graduates highly adaptable.

Cultural Understanding:

Liberal arts education provides students with a broader understanding of the world and its cultures. This understanding is important in today's globalized world, where many companies operate on an international level. Having knowledge of different cultures and languages can help employees communicate and work effectively with colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

Creativity and Innovation:

Liberal arts majors are often highly creative individuals, as they are taught to think outside the box and challenge conventional thinking. This creativity and innovation are highly valued in fields such as marketing, advertising, and design, where companies are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to promote their products or services.

Social Responsibility:

Liberal arts education emphasizes the importance of social responsibility and encourages students to engage with and contribute to their communities. This emphasis on civic engagement and social responsibility can lead to a career in public service, non-profit organizations, or advocacy work.

In conclusion, I stand by my assertion that both STEM and Liberal Arts degrees have their own unique value and contributions to society. It is essential that we recognize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the diversity of skills and perspectives that different fields bring to the table. Any attempt to dismiss the value of Liberal Arts skills is short-sighted and ultimately harmful to the progress of our society.

Round 2
My opponent's entire opening statement is AI-generated and should be disregarded, again showing that STEM majors have made many skills taught to Liberal Arts majors obsolete:

ZeroGPT92.94% AI Generated - 99% AI Generated - "Your text may include parts written by AI"
Round 3