They matter

By | August 31, 2014

This is for those – especially the many engineeritis infectees – who persist in thinking that literature and the humanities don’t matter.

I found empirical support for the idea that the Harry Potter series influenced the political values and perspectives of the generation that came of age with these books. Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture. As Harry Potter  fans will have noted, these are major themes repeated throughout the series. These correlations remained significant even when applying more sophisticated statistical analyses – when controlling for, among other things, parental influence.

Other studies show similar things about other literature. This is not a fluke. It’s why I’ve long supported the idea that before anyone gets any STEM degree, they should be required to take two or three years of liberal arts/humanities courses only.

It might not make them love the humanities, and maybe it won’t even make them better people, but it can only help statistically speaking.

That is, assuming college were low-cost or free. In the current “fleece and extort everyone” model, this is untenable.