…because politics is more difficult than physics (Albert Einstein) * Are university degrees equal?

Our modern society agrees that equality is important. Gender- equality or equal opportunities regardless of skin colour, for example. But what about the career path we choose? Why is it that some degrees are considered more useful and more difficult than others? And if Albert Einstein was right about politics being more difficult than physics, why is it that today students of the humanties or the arts are often regarded as less “useful” and less successful as students, who study sciences, engineering, medicine or law?


Maybe it is because of the money? As tuition fees and unemployment rises young people tend to choose “safer” subjects (which does not always correspond to the actual numbers: see the flood of unemployed law students). Maybe we are already so used to measuring everything in terms of money that education is little more than an investment that has to pay off at some point. I am not sure if it’s a good development to look at things only form this perspective.

The subject, students study is increasingly used to judge their intelligence, their ambition and most important their value. Law-students, business students, medical students and recently also informatics (IT), engineering and sciene students (chemistry, physics and maybe even biology) have a good reputation. Their job prospects and starting salaries are considerably high and courses are regarded to be difficult.

Language, Art, Education, Journalism and Social Sciences, like politics, sociology, psychology etc. students are often looked down on. A little bit like “wasn’t motivated enough for law”, “wasn’t intelligent enough for business”.  They might have less promising career prospects and they might earn less money but it does not mean that these subjects and the people who take the time and effort to deal with them are less valuable for society.

There’s such vast ignorance and lack of respect of how hard it is to be a secondary school teacher or how difficult it is to make the right political decisions. And if it was not bad enough that these young people merging into the work force get paid next to nothing, in most cases the entire environment does not recognize that this degree was hard work. It might not be as easy to measure how good some is at being an artist as it is to measure how good someone is at calculations for building bridges but that certainly doesn’t mean that a humanties or arts student is less hard-working or intelligent.

I think there’s a lot to loose for society: if all you get after putting your effort in politics, is non-paid internship and a condescending smile, people are going to quit doing it.

How are we going to live without teachers, without psychologists (even of you don’t need help, you probably find the research and studies interesting). How are we going to live without politicians and the journalists, who analyze them? How would a discussion about establishing new rules for society after the credit-crunch, the recession and the euro-crisis look like without sociologists? How boring would life be without art, literature and fashion? And even if some claim,  that they would live perfectly fine without art, the loss of this massive industry would flood the labour market with unemployed gallery-owners, curators and the like.

I think we should appreciate that we have the opportunity to choose from so many disciplines and also the benefits that come wit graduates, specialized in so many fields. Diversity is not only about culture, language or skin color. There’s also an educational diversity that should be valued and maintained. It’s amazing how much knowledge mankind has accumulated over the course of its existence. It’s our duty to keep and develop it.It’s narrow minded and doesn’t show any intellectual perspective if someone thinks one subject is superior to the other. As a modern society we need as many  experts as possible: we need the doctor as well as history student.

* Albert Einstein said this in  response to being asked why people could discover atomic power, but not the means to control it, as quoted in The New York Times (22 April 1955).


8 thoughts on “…because politics is more difficult than physics (Albert Einstein) * Are university degrees equal?

  1. I think a degree, whatever the subject may be is extremely versatile. Important skills are learnt whilst studying that employers want. For instance, my dad got a degree in History and has worked in the media and journalism ever since. That being said, I chose politics myself due to a genuine interest.

  2. I agree! I think that degrees in the humanities are especially versatile as your dad’s example shows. It’s just been my experience that some people look down on people, who study subjects like history and politics. They think that nothing valuable can be learnt in these subjects. I also think that everyone should choose a subject to a genuine interest. It can’t make you happy to work in a field that doesn’t interest you, no matter how much you earn…

    • wait, you want somthing from the people which is defently impossible. You are only seeing the competence of the ones that have studied politics (I am refering to politcs because “real” history is far too difficult to understand for a casual person). But when you consider that most people aren’t interested in “real” politcs but more in the superficial doings of the politicians (which also means if they make a mistake they will get easy a bad image (However in most cases this is definitely not right)) then you will see that it is hard for an common person to think politician are the best. We are living in a world which is full of corruption. Everyone is totally pissed that so many politician are doning what they want and are allways thinking how to get more votes or money. If we also take the austrian Federal Chancellor which has only the “Matura” which is also not known to most people than please give me a reason why people should think that someone which studies politics is the smartest ever. There is no benchmark for the people to see what an student that has studied politics is able to do and achive. On the other hand a technician shows everyone whit his output what he had achived and the consumer (people) is heaving fun with it!

      If look at history than it is really difficult, then only thing I could came up why history is import would be that we shouldn’t expirience the past again by doing the same mistakes again. An other point would be the education of our childs. But infact I would say history alone isn’t good enough it must be combined with expeditions or stuidies to use the learned knowledge of the past in our culture.

      But in conclusion politicians and history and journalism is the importants subject ever! Because without this subjects peoples would get dump and would never be able to except new things! So you must educate the peoples. You must show them what it means to start a war, you must show them what it means when you drive a car as a drunken one. As a politician you must change laws or invent new ones too establishe a “peacefull” life togehter. Another point would be, for instance, genetic engineering which is an important achivement of sience but impossible to use if the peoples aren’t ready for it (galileo).

      If you where God you would have to bear every day the moaning, scolding of his sheeps if they are not happy and so does the politicians.

  3. I think you have a lot of good points: also the thing we talked about wages and demand for certain professions. Not well-educated or bad politicians might of course be reason to make people believe subjects like politics are easy. But austria’s chancellor actually has the Matura (A-levels), he even studied law but never graduated.
    I guess the point I am trying to make is: there might be some less intelligent people, who study psychology or politics but there are probably more who are very smart and capable. The subject, you study does not determine how intelligent you are. Of, course I think that science or engineering are very important too ….

    I don’t get the last line about god. Your are not even religious =)

    • Well I got carried away… While I was finished I didn’t even know what I was writing at the top and somtimes the bottom contratdicts the top XD

    • But God and sheeps are a good examples to describe the intelligence/might/responsibility difference between controllers in the higher positions and the people.

      Yeah, but we allways categorize people and this is natural. I think politicians need a better commercial, a commercial which is not on such a low level 😛

      I don’t think peoples are really thinking that they are dump, moreover they can’t express their grudge in a other way. What are you saying if you are angry at someone, you will say that he/she is dump, but in fact you know that he isn’t dump, but you are angry and you want to express your feelings by saying that he/she is dump.

      Politicans, journalists have to deal with many people from different social ranks. On the other hand technicans have less to nothing to do with unaducated ones.

  4. Hey
    even if it has been stated earlier I still want to emphasize that point-
    the problem is, that an education in natural science teaches you something you really need for your job, you cant just walk into a lab without any knowledge.
    on the other hand, guys like journalists and politicians are often considered to be self taught, which leads to the wrong conclusion that the human sciences are a luxury. I personally think that we need people who studied politics, sociology and so on, we need people who grasp a bit more of whats going on in our world, to break it down for the rest of us.
    Sorry, just one more thing, your argument for psychology was kinda terrible- because they make sometimes funny studies?? Seriously. I hope for a better point there- plus the problem with pyschologists is that we have far too many of them.

    In conclusion, I for myself have three points why the public does find it hard to support human science in rough times:
    – education in human science, e.g. philosophy, educates the human being. but it does not make him a better worker, i.e. there is no direct value for the ecoomy.
    – there are a lot of students who dont study because they want to learn but because they want to party, and those are more often found in human sciences.
    – the direct output of, e.g. a professor of psychology, is what- studies that show that red is an aggresive colour, and red cars get more often stopped for that reason? Its the elfenbeinturm-problem- future generation, do sth about it.

    now, please dont hate me, I really believe that a society needs educated citizens, they are always the first to be put down when a new dictatorship is being established, We need educated politicans, journalists, historians, philosophers and so on.

    Rock on,

  5. ok, sorry about the point with the funny psychology studies (but, hey what else would all the glossies that many people enjoy to read write about). I just wanted to loosen the article a little bit up. Anyway, I am convinced that psychology is very important e.g. we have changed the way we raise our kids (which was a very good move) and we have changed how company’s are organized due to psychological research. Not to mention, that psychology has helped many people to live a more happy life or even prevented them from committing suicide. I disagree that the humanities only educate the human being and that there’s no benefit for the economy.

    The publishing business is huge for example: if no one would write books, magazines, newspapers and produce TV films and series we would loose a big chunk of the economy. The same is true for the art business, which is despite the economical crisis flourishing. There are loads of jobs in Psychology and there are Philosophers, who earn 6 figure salaries. This is probably because human nature is curious and wants to learn. You could take all the psychological magazines, that are geared towards non-psycholgist as proof that there’s interest for these issues in society. The advertising business is another part of economy that directly benefits from sociologists and psychologists.

    Also, we need educated individuals to make political decisions. People, who work in the EU or UN are more often than not graduates of the humanities. (but I think you agreed with me on that)

    About the not-necessary-psycholgical studies: of course there are studies that may not change our life at all or for the better. But equally not all natural sciences studies have a significant benefit for society and end up being published in the “quirky” section of newspapers….

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