Putting Education Reform To The Test

Explaining Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s War On Anthropology (And Why Anthropologists May Win)

Google Image Search / Public.resources.org

A cat statue found on Key Marco in Southwest Florida.

It’s been a rough week for anthropologists with Gov. Rick Scott singling out the field as an inefficient use of higher education budgets.

Why should taxpayers foot the education bill for an anthropologist who can’t find a job? Scott asked a business group last week. Colleges should “drive” students into science, technology, engineering or math — known as STEM — programs, he said.

“I got accused of not liking anthropology,” Scott said. “But just think about it: How many more jobs do you think there is for anthropology in this state? Do you want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs? I want to make sure that we spend our money where people can get jobs when they get out.”

But don’t expect to see anthropologists on street corners holding signs reading “will study social interactions for food” anytime soon.

Sarah Gonzalez and I took a look at the issue on Florida public media stations this morning.

According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data, job prospects for anthropologists are nearly as strong as they are for the  math and science graduates Scott prizes.

Scott is correct that math and science jobs dominate the list of the 30-fastest growing jobs between now and 2018.

Biomedical engineers top the list with a bullish 72 percent growth expected. The list also includes skin care specialists, dental assistants and environmental engineering technicians.

But the difference in job growth between those jobs and anthropologists is slight. Anthropology jobs are expected to grow by 28 percent, while computer software engineers and environmental engineering technician jobs will grow by 30 percent.

“The expected growth isn’t that much different in terms of percentage,” said Chris Cunningham, an analyst with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The highest growth is dominated by your science and health care fields but when you look at everything, the social sciences aren’t really as far behind as the general perception is.”

Anthropologists’ job prospects are far better than other social sciences. Historians, for example, should only count on 11 percent job growth by 2018.

Scott could have two arguments in his favor. Anthropology degrees can be time-consuming to earn and STEM jobs tend to pay higher salaries. An anthropologist can expect to earn about two-thirds of what a biomedical engineer earns.

The bigger issue is the difference in job prospects for those who have a college degree and those who don’t: All 30 of the Bureau of Labor Statistics fastest-shrinking jobs require no college education. Farmers are at the top of that list.

Scott is working on that aspect, floating a Texas proposal designed to keep the cost of college down and ensure as many students as possible earn a degree.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data does have a large caveat, Cunningham said, the agency conducted the last survey prior to the full impact of the recession. The numbers may not reflect a long-term reset in job prospects.

The agency will issue an updated report in February.


  • Nutcase

    Jiminy crickets people: Anthropology IS A SCIENCE! It is a broad and serious endeavor.

  • Adks12020

    I’m an anthropology graduate and it drives me nuts when I have to explain to people what anthropology even is.  It involves the study of numerous different sciences, sociology, history and current events…While I watched friends taking business classes out of text books and filling in multiple choice tests I actually used real scholarship to ask and answer questions about the world around me.  That is what college is supposed to be about, not just regurgitating facts from a text book. 

    Anthropology is a difficult and rewarding field of study….just make sure to get a grad degree.

    • xangria

      But what kind of job can you get with it?

      • kiki

        Cultural Resource Management, Museum Curator, Forensics, or Private Archaeological Firm. Maybe authenticator for the black market, if your unethical of course.

    • Well stated.  The fact that people have to ask what kind of job you can get is rather inane.  Most people who graduate with a degree in some sort of general discipline are qualified for a large spectrum of jobs.  This economy is so bad right now for recent grads, that even if everyone graduated with a sciene, math, or health degree, we would likely see a very simlar number of jobless young people.  BTW:  some of the smartest and most independent thinking people graduate with a “can’t find a job” degree because they follow passion, not a fickle job market.  End up being very productive in many job types.  I swear this govener sounds just like communist.

  • SocialWorker

    So if Scott has his way, students or prospective students who cannot afford to privately pay for their own education (and how many of us take loans these days?) must study what the state deems to be valuable and of the greater good for Florida.  Now we (members of the shrinking middle class and of the poorer class) are going to lose the right to choose our own educational paths because the financial help we need wouldn’t be abailable?  For a party who screams “socialism!” at Obama a little too often, this sounds eerily Marxist to me…

  • Scarr

    Whatever Gov Scott’s major was, clearly there *is* []as he would put it] one too many jobs in that area.

    • Randal

      I was beginning to think I ‘are’ the only one that noticed…

  • Tiredmeliorist

    Scary how this rhetoric on jobs could be transplanted back to Soviet Russia. Is education simply about “skill-training”? Anthropology steeps you in creative, enlightening ways to better understand the human world- past, present, and future. Its lack of “hard skills,” however, makes it an easy target. Often called a “boutique discipline”, Anthro has other enemies than just Scott. His apparent hatred for well-rounded, independent thinking is unfortunately all too prevalent this days, as conservative politicians step precariously close to fascist thinking.

  • Peregringa

     Obviously we’re all concerned about the job market, but I’m disappointed that this article only defends the importance of anthropology by citing the average anthropologist’s net monetary worth. A degree in the humanities or the social sciences builds nimble thinkers capable of solving unfamiliar problems and making interpersonal and interdisciplinary connections.  As luck would have it, these skills aren’t just inherently valuable; they’re also highly marketable.

    This is just one more example of how the humanities and liberal arts are getting edged out of our academic system in favor of “practical” degrees.

  • Tommerr

    Scott must be a religious nut. Anthropology is human history.

  • Luciano Pedota

    what good is it to have all the material wealth that the jobs which science, technology, enginering and math generate if we don’t understand the culture and patterns of behaviour that surround us?? In fact, I would say that in order to understand the complexity that surrounds us – specially in urban centers – experts with STEM Education backgrounds, working in projects where the human factor is a central component, need to collaborate with, and make sure their team is comprised of, anthropologists! Otherwise, such projects are more likely bound to fail due to a lack of understanding of the multiple and relevant variables (values, attitudes, norms, perceptions, traditions, etc)  that affect our interactions, processes, decisions, and outcomes.

  • roger perrone

    I think the problem with this analysis is that it takes Gov. Scott’s words at face value; his real message is in code. His attack on anthropology is another thrust of anti-intellectualism typical of the conservative wing of the Republican party. Face it – many people don’t even know what anthropology is, and they are heavily represented in the Republican base. This is just another version of Republican class warfare – “real” Americans vs. the eggheads. Refutations based on the value of anthropology or the job prospects of anthropologists will never reach the people for whom this message was intended.

  • Scarr

    Just think what will happen when the Gov finds out that anthropologists and evolutionary biologists study homology.

  • Observateur

    Kudos to NPR for bringing the story to light, and non-kudos for framing it in typical “objective” journalistic context; that is, going on to soberly analyze anthropology graduates “real” chances of getting a job vis-a-vis STEM grads.  It would have been but a short step to take the dialogue up a notch where it belongs, which is whether all academic training (and the public funding thereof) should be for the purpose of immediate employment, or whether there’s anything left to be said for the humanities and quaint matters such as interest in other cultures and their history.  This could have been done, I think, without breaking out into fear and loathing and hives over NPR’s own public funding.

  • Kar

    The good governor needs some lessons in English. “How many jobs do you think there is —–?” Which college did he attend? And how does he write state laws? Is it any wonder this country is in such mess?

  • Mac

    This article is misleading. The “growth” in anthropology jobs the author boasts is derived from a very low existing base. The meaningful question is “How many anthropology jobs are there compared to the number of anthropology graduates seeking such jobs?” 

    No one can object to a student taking on potentially ruinous loans to study anthropology. Same with sociology, political science, gender studies and the like. But, one can object to taxpayer money directed toward such chi-chi “disciplines.”

    The STEM disciplines give us results that are verifiable and utterly replicable — the true measure of a “science.” No such results exist in the soft “social sciences.” What does exist is an endless supply of meaningless definitions (sociology is pure jargon) and eternal re-hashing of prior research without ever arriving at anything like the first principles of the STEM disciplines.

    Anthropology is like astrology, another “discipline” for which there exists an enormous literature. Astrology, too, produces no verifiable or replicable results. It, too, consists of massive amounts of  ambient information in which there is no real or useful knowledge.

    The governor is right. The time for these self-indulgent pseudo-disciplines is ending. We, as a nation, no longer need their jargon and unverifiable disputations. They are simply fodder for the Ivory Tower, tenure-generating squishy “research” beloved by drone academics.

    We dumped astrology and phrenology from the curriculum. Now — on to bigger game!

    • Anonymous

      Wow.  Astrology and phrenology weren’t “dumped from the curriculum,” they were never included because they are pseudosciences.  Social sciences are definitely based on actual facts and hard evidence, and based on what you just said we should stop studying history entirely.  The social sciences help us understand ourselves better, but I guess some people aren’t concerned with knowing anything that doesn’t lead to the almighty dollar.  What a sad life.

    • wes

      Wow Mac, I believe that was the most well written and thoughtful comment I have ever read on NPR.  Thanks for including citations and fact based evidence to back your claim that anthropology has no “no verifiable or replicable results.”  How many anthropological studies have you analyzed?  I’m sure plenty, which is why I am confident that you’ll be able to come back into this debate with some of that STEM-like hard evidence that us “soft science” supporters so desperately need to learn about.  I could probably chime in with some hard evidence to support my claims, but that would just be too difficult for me right now since I’m too busy relying on my background in logic and epistemology, making up my silly ideas about what your words actually mean.  I’m sure you understand it all so much better than I could, reflecting on your own thoughts and arguments using all that hard evidence.  I’m really impressed.

      • mac

        Actually, Wes, I have looked at quite a few anthropological studies. I have a PhD myself (history) with a speciality in the history of Fundamentalism and am well-published in peer-reviewed journals. In the process of doing research I encountered jejune articles by anthropologists and psychologists on the same subject and was disgusted with their shallow analysis and selective and incompetent use of evidence. (History, you see, does not claim to be a “science.” It has, however, has a place in the curriculum for a few thousand years.)

        As for “no verifiable and replicable results,” it has been some time now since we discovered that F = MA. It has not been necessary to “reinterpret the data” and fund yet another doctoral dissertation to examine if the equation is still true or if some change has taken place in the behavior of matter.  Now, try and cite for the rest of us a single sociological or anthropological finding that is universally true and immediately  replicable. 

        When you have completed that task, I have several thousand other equations from mechanics and electro-magnetics that can be demonstrated in any high school lab. Just where are the anthropological or sociological equivalents of these?

        As for the writers who asserts that astrology was never in the curriculum, you’re wrong (which you would know if you’d studied history.) It was a part of a medieval university education and you need only read Dante to learn this.

        • Matt

          First of all Mac, I would be very interested to see where you received your PhD in history. Second, your account doesn’t read at all as a pissing contest with researchers in other disciplines regarding your super special analytical tool. Yes, history has been around for thousands of years. Your methods are still based largely upon textual evidence which is only comprehensible with an understanding of the context, meaning it is intrinsically tied to social science. Anthropology is indeed a science and your own statement proves that. The scientific method, in its purest form, maintains that nothing can ever be proven or disproven. Rather, hypotheses can only be accepted within the bounds of that experiment. This is done by the manipulation and control of variables. If anything, anthropology and other social sciences are the truest sciences precisely because they re-define, re-interpret, and re-experiment. The only reason supposed “hard” sciences give “verifiable and replicable results” is because they control and manipulate the variables specifically for that purpose. Social sciences study humanity. As a supposed historian, you of all people should know that humanity cannot be universalized, should not be universalized. Doing so only serves to destroy the diversity of the human species, which is one of its greatest hallmarks. You commented on the ivory tower previously. Newsflash Mac: you’re an Ivory Tower Academic. Stop your disciplinary pissing contest and actually listen to what others have to say. Who knows, you might learn something. Others have already started working to bridge the gap between History and Anthropology. I would suggest BK Axel’s edited volume, From the Margins. Good luck.

          • mac

            SUNY at Stony Brook, FYI.

            The “squishy” sciences can “re-define, re-interpret, and re-experiment” because these disciplines are liable to pointless manipulation. They consist of nothing BUT subjective variables. (Try constructing a bridge using load factors that you have “re-defined, re-interpreted, and re-experimented” according to whatever is currently trendy.)

            I note you use phrases such as “so-called historian” or “pissing contest” or “Ivory Tower Academic.” (Actually, I was a corporate CEO with hundreds of millions of dollars under management.)  I was taught to eschew such language as unscholarly.

            I doubt it is necessary to “bridge the gap between History and Anthropology.” My experience is that “good” anthropology is little more than mediocre historical writing. 

            (I’m still waiting for the anthropological equivalent of F=MV.)

            Good luck.

          • mac

            Of course, I meant to say F=MA

          • Cstuartdc


            While I am on your side from a policy standpoint (see my post above), I can’t agree that anthropology is a pseudoscience like astrology.  If you were a CEO, God help the company you led if that was your understanding of the world.
            I’ll give you an example where an anthropologist’s view is helpful.  Take our modern diet which consists of a grain-based diet.  Nutritional scientists (biochemists – a hard science) give all sorts of reasons why we should eat grains, pointing to double blind studies, outcome studies, and yet America gets fatter.
            Anthropologists insert themselves into the argument and note that hunter-gatherer societies have little to no lifestyle diseases and it was the advent of agriculture that had the biggest impact on human beings and health.
            Thus. . .the “Paleo Diet” emerges.  Sometimes, a historical approach to a problem, or more accurately, an anthropological approach, works better than a reductionist approach.  Reductionist approaches work fine if you are trying to build an a-bomb; they don’t work for all kinds of problems though.
            That being said, I don’t believe the student should have the choice, on a taxpayor’s dime, to choose ANY major he/she wants.  It’s not fair to the taxpayor and ultimately not fair to the student.

          • mac

            I agree completely — “a[n] historical approach to a problem, or more accurately, an anthropological approach, works better than a reductionist approach.” But, doesn’t that prove my point? That History, as a discipline, is quite capable to undertaking this sort of task without having to burden itself with the jargon of anthropology? 

            And, BTW . . . what is it about champions of anthropology, such as yourself (“God help . . .”) and “Matt” that renders them unable to conduct a discussion on academics without lapsing into ad hominem comments? 

          • Anonymous

            Here’s a verifiable and replicable result that Anthropology has derived, Mac: Anthropologists discovered pre-historic stone tools and weapons and have re-created them, using stone-age techniques.

            Besides the insight into our early ancestors’ development, this knowledge should prove of intrinsic value to us all as conservatives such as Scott reduce most of us back to subsistance-level cultures. Marketable tools indeed, Sir!

  • Secondlaws

    Stop educating the MBAs.  They’re the SOB’s who are destroying the USA.

    • JoeSchmoe

      There ya go!

  • JimbobtheDevil

    Using this logic government should stop providing assistants for students on a pre-law track, too.  God, wouldn’t that be nice?

  • Roy Cook

    People are beginning to forget that the “American Dream” consists of more than just a paycheck. Enjoying your career is just as important. I separated from the Navy to be a fish & wildlife biologist, and although I make 1/2 of what I made in the military, I’m at least twice as happy.

  • Colleen

    I am an anthropologist in Indiana – I have an amazing job and I “get” to go to work every day! I have been gainfully employed doing anthropology since I was a graduate student in the early 1990s. Don’t give up on anthropology – the world needs our scientific and humanistic perspective on culture, the past and human development.

    • Anthrostudent

      That’s right don’t give up on anthropology. I know it is hard to find any kind of job out there and I will have my MA in Anthropology soon. I figure just keep trying and if the stats are correct more jobs will be opening up for Anthropologist in the near future. 

  • I am interested in anthropology, can you use it to make products for export to China?

  • Peter

    Rick Scott’s daughter has a degree in anthropology. I believe she is currently pursuing another degree in  Business Administration. Perhaps her experiences with finding a job related to her field influenced his comments. 

  • James Rettig

    This country needs to get back to basics. Everything is now so convoluted we have no idea of what anything costs, its benefits and most important, how it will be paid for.

    Everybody feels sorry for everyone and everything to the point that we are in 14,000,000,000,000 in debt and counting.

    Look at the war in Iraq. We occupy them and pay them money for the resources we use? Does anyone read the art of war?

    The wealthy need to pay more tax and invest in this country for their own families future.

    The middle class needs to take care of their own. Married should stick it out and raise their kids. Pay for your own college education and QUIT WHINING.

    WE DROVE THE COLLEGE COST UP OURSELVES. These campuses resemble shopping malls.

    My dad worked two jobs to support and feed 5 kids at home. We went to county and state schools.
    If you want to be an anthropologist, PAY FOR IT YOURSELF. 


    • Matt

      I was vaguely with you for most of your rant until the last line: “If you want to be an anthropologist, PAY FOR IT YOURSELF”…what exactly are you saying here? That we should pay for STEM majors but not humanities and social science majors? Or are you trying to say that college students in general should pay their own way? Either way, I think your argument is largely irrelevant. I am an anthropology graduate student. I hold degrees in both biology and anthropology. I paid for these degrees through my service in the United States Army. Not everyone is given the same opportunities as me. My family set aside money for me and I was healthy enough to perform military service. Some families don’t have the ability to set aside money and not everyone is healthy or of the right mindset for military service. According to your final statement, they should be relegated to their station in life and not be allowed to be given opportunities to improve their lives. That is fundamentally against any American Dream that I knew about. For all your supposed adherence to traditionally American values and experience, you’ve left out the most important part of being American: the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That’s the American Dream. I’m not saying that every student’s education should be paid for but I am saying that this is the reason that scholarships, grants, and loans exist. They should not be restricted based on any discriminatory criteria whether it be race, age, gender, major, economic status, etc. To do so undermines those rights which compose the American Dream. Better start thinking about some things man.

  • Alicia J Gorman

    Thank-you for this. I am an anthropology major who plans on getting my Ph.D, and I found Scotts comments both irritating and a little funny. My own specialization within anthropology is archaeology, without which businesses couldn’t build offices or stores, states couldn’t build roads, and construction workers wouldn’t have jobs, since federal regulations require an archaeologist to ensure that there are no important cultural materials at a site before building. So, basically, ya need us! And the economy needs us in order to continue construction and all that goes along with it. Besides this, anthropology is very interdisciplinary and teaches its students analytical thinking on a broad array of subjects in a way few other fields do. But I don’t mind “hard” sciences getting all the glory too much, ’cause we archaeologists use that stuff too.

    • Jehwriter

      Analytical thinking is anathema to the conservatives like Gov. Scott. If their base starts actually thinking they are ‘up a creek without a paddle’ and will lose their jobs.

  • Arthur_aficionado

    Anthropology *is* science. Gov. Scott should consult a course catalog.

  • anthromajor

    I am an Executive Managing Director, Senior VP with a large real estate company in a major US city.  I possess a bachelor of science in Anthropology.  It was my education and training that helped me land a job in real estate years ago.  My employer noticed that my background could be helpful a multi-cultural environment.  Not only did my education help me attain an understanding of diverse cultures, the intense math and science courses prepared me to manage multi-million-dollar assets.  As my career unfolded, my clients appreciated my ability to understand complex family and social systems.  If you don’t think anthropology has a role in the global economy, think again.  Businesses hire people with backgrounds in anthropology to avoid expensive missteps abroad.  Ever hear of the American attempt to market “Mist” soda in Germany? Don’t think the armed forces employ anthropologists to help us understand other cultures?  Trillions and trillions of your tax dollars later, don’t you wish our politicians had listened to them? I am currently helping large non-profit raise money to help veterans of the Iraqi and Afghan wars to find jobs and homes.  My background has been particularly helpful in this area.  Remember, ignorance is expensive, too.

  • Claude Long

    Anthropology is the STUDY of various human factors.  That is the problem the social (religious) right wing zealots have with it.  They don’t want any study (of history) except for one book.  One of the men who work with me is a born again right wing fanatic and we talk alot at work about many issues.  One day after hearing another outrageous statement about what he thought other people should be doing with their  lives I said to him “Do you know what the major difference between your religion and the extreme Muslims governing Iran is?  They are in charge over there.”  If he has his way, they will be in charge over here too.

    • Glau06

      So your study of anthropology did not allow you to objectively study the various factors involved in your co-worker’s world-view? In stead you seem threatened and judgemental.  I’m glad that we have open-minded individuals such as yourself to call out all of the “social (religious) zealots” out there. People who you label “born-again right wing fanatics” probably adhere to beliefs, societal norms and traditions that are foreign and dangerous to you, but should be respected and protected as much as yours. 

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t read anything in Mr. Long’s comment indicating he was not respectful while listening to his co-worker. Probably more rsspectful and patient than I would be, but I’m an accountant, not an Anthropologist. Does not mean he is required to endorse the man’s ralings otherwise. Nor even put up with it on the job, actually. Unless he’s working there undercover for a thesis workplace social interaction.

        Anthropoligists study cultures with lots of bizarre, dangerous, and even horrific practices, beliefs and societal norms:

        Well aware of Godwin’s law, I nevertheless point out that Nazis thought Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, the mentally ill and even brunettes were, variously, evil, sub-human, uselessly expendible or not as good as blonds. Soviet Communists thought the government could successfully control production and human potential. American slave owners thought blacks weren’t people and men up to the 20th cent. thought women had no souls.

        Aztecs used to pull still beating hearts from the chests of conquered warriors and virgins to offer to god. Some cultures still practice infant male and female mutilation based upon pre-historical rituals or paternalistic control issues.

        Catholics believe in virgin birth and Papal infallibility, not to mention transubstantiation. There are Christians who think they can force their god to cause the Apocalypse by drapping themselves with poisonous snakes, or by having their army invade a country in the Middle East.

        Anyway, studying those practices or beliefs from a dispationate or objective mindset does not have to equate with personally accepting or mentally respecting them, nor preclude considering their validity with a critical mind.

        Psychologists (not to mention online comment readers) often have to listen to a lot of tripe from a calm perspective.

        We protect speech because we believe in the sanctity of free speech as codified in our Constitution and our laws. Even as we note how such rights can also be perverted to give corporate owners double the power of speech to that of non-owners.

        We are right to feel threatened when we see religious zealotry become the new Political Correctness. This to the point that too many of this country’s leadership is too terrified of it to even hint they don’t agree, or too ignorant or deluded to see where it is taking us as a nation.

        So yes, respect but always applying critical thinking.

  • Crowley3

    Using Scott’s logic – taxpayers should stop funding farmers.  Why would taxpayers continue providing farm subsidies if farming is one of the fastest-shrinking jobs?  I think there is war – waged by Republican – on higher education.  Why wouldn’t you want your electorate to be smart and think critically?  Oh yeah – they wouldn’t vote for you.

  • When the author claims that farmers do not need a college education he shows such ignorance that the whole article is put in question.  We need fewer farmers because of tremendously improved productivity; productivity that is improved from working smarter, not harder.  We need anthropologists but not like we need graduates in the STEM programs.  We need the technologists to aid the few farmers left to further improve productivity.  Grants, loans, etc. should reflect this need.

  • Noneofyourbusiness

    Sweet, sweet irony.  A bunch of dummies, talking about not being dummies, while in fact being…dummies.  The fact that the rate of anthropology job GROWTH is increasing as fast as other careers means nothing!  Follow the links you condescending rubes.  Total anthropology jobs in 2008 = 5,600, jobs in a any other the other fast growing job sectors = tens to hundreds of thousands.  Anthropology is objectively a drain on our society’s resources.  If you want to study something fine, but don’t ask others to pay for it.  FYI: people with degrees in STEM majors are also well rounded. Don’t alienate others with your condescending comments.  Your field of study IS generally useless.  Just try to blend in and stay under the radar of everyone else actually supporting society.

    • Danny Laesch

      Thank you none!  Finally someone on here isn’t a soft-hearted liberal.  Speaking of liberals, someone should point out that our founders had a great disdain for the study of the humanities in their entirety: anthropology, philosophy, history, arts.  Where would we be today if John Adams had studied Locke or Jefferson Voltaire?  I mean, seriously, it was Jefferson’s formal education not in the humanities, such as Latin, Greek, Metaphysics and Music, that allowed him to write like he did.  I mean, who thinks about Anthropology as a way of pursuing happiness?  Good point none.

      • JoeSchmoe

        You can’t POSSIBLY be serious?  The founders didn’t like the humanities?  Apparently you’ve never read a single thing about any of them, because you’re 100% flat, dead wrong.

        • Danny Laesch

          Hey Joe, sorry, sometimes my sense of humor is a bit too dry.  I have read many of Adams’, Washington’s, Jefferson’s and Franklin’s texts and in fact do realize what huge advocates of the humanities they were.  I am also a big advocate of the humanities!  I thought the references to Locke and Voltaire would have helped, but clearly I did not make it obvious enough!  I hope this finds you well.

    • JoeSchmoe

      It’s nice to be able to call someone else’s field of interest and their job “useless”.  Ever think they might feel the same way about yours?  This is the problem with the right.  It’s my way or the highway.  Can you guys see that you’re the problem in America today?  Those of us who can think past the ends of our noses and who are capable of forming an independently arrived-at thought can see it.

    • Anonymous

      Uh, who called who “dummies”, Mr. None? Such a revealing word choice, I must say. But I haven’t see any other comment as ad hominem as yours. At least not towards anyone except Mr. Scott.

      And Scott deserves being ridiculed. As short-sighted, anti-entrepeneurial, government intrusive ideas go, this one certainly takes a cake. Because government job statistics are the best basis for predicting what knowledge and which talents are going to be valuable and worthwhile in the marketplace, let alone advancing human knowledge?

      I wonder when Scott will get around to telling Floridians what a drain on taxpayers it is to investigate medical frauds?

    • Iam175

      What makes you think all of us anthropology majors are asking you to pay or other tax payers to pay for it? Not all anthropology jobs are found under the name of anthropology, most are actually not. Plenty of anthro majors working for local governments, marketing and advertising, and non-profit organizations.

    • enigmadreaming

      So small fields are useless, or is it simply that we need fewer of them?  And, if we need fewer of them, why are they such a target for Scott?  From your numbers, it sounds like the state pays much less for education in anthropology than other fields.  Not to mention the fact that people with anthropology degrees are hired in many other fields, specifically because of their breadth of knowledge, so I think your “anthropology jobs” figure might be slightly off.

      When I have to make a hiring decision for someone to work for me, I always have in mind the fact that I can train just about anyone to do the job.  What I cannot train them to do is think critically, which is what enables them to do the job well.  

    • Tibialplateau604

      I got my degree in Biological Anthropology. I teach upper-level honors biology courses in an advanced program at a highly-regarded high school. The notion that somehow what I studied doesn’t “fit” into STEM is absurd. I am a STEM teacher. I feel like having the “anthropology” part of my degree made me more rounded than I would be if I would have solely studied biology. The perspective of studying the past is highly beneficial in trying to develop my students into more aware, globally conscious, and free-thinking young scientists. Anthropology is such a great backbone to a variety of careers, including STEM careers. You speak of irony- all I read is great ignorance.

    • Bradleymof


  • Kn900125

    Scott has a point. What Florida will be needing in the futre are lab techs to test the poor for marijuana before they can get welfare. Now theres a career that is much more interesting than antropolgy – drawing blood and taking urine samples

  • shrubs

    I have news for Gov. Scott… I am finishing up my PhD in a STEM field and I too can’t find a job. Where do you stop cutting the viable fields? 
    When they came for English Literature, I did nothing, because I was not an English major. When they came for History, I did nothing, because I was not a History major. When they came for Anthropology, etc… The chorus of the 99% grew louder because all of those people joined the protests…Then they came for my field and there was no one else to speak up for me so I joined the protest. I think critically, I can write, I program, I analyze, I conduct lab and field work, I teach very well, I volunteer my skills, I just can’t get paid to do these things. So my brain will atrophy and I will either start a business providing menial services to the privileged generations before me, work for one of those businesses, or remain unemployed.

  • Fine_arts

    Gov. Scott is completely missing the point of a higher education by assuming that the field in which one get’s a degree must also be the field in which one finds a career.  I have both a BFA and MM in piano performance.  Now there’s a degree with extremely limited opportunity for a career in that field!   However, I have been able to apply the analytical and creativity skills that I acquired through that education to an extremely lucrative career in the high tech industry.  I frequently find that some of my colleagues who have only a math/computer science education lack the creative problem skills that I obtained through my education.

  • Tom Gardner

    Governor Scott appears to be displaying Classic Republican Hypocrisy.  Let market forces prevail, the Republicans keep saying; don’t let the heavy hand of government interfere!  If Governor Scott is correct in saying that STEM jobs pay better and are more plentiful, then those market forces should increase the number of people entering STEM programs and reduce the number of people entering programs of instruction in anthropology and all those other fields Governor Scott says pay too little and have less demand.  I can only conclude that Governor Scott either does not believe in the effectiveness of market forces–or he does not believe that individuals should have the freedom to select careers for themselves.  I guess this means that Governor Scott is not a true Republican.  Perhaps he is, instead, a old style Soviet collectivist who believes that the state must decide what is best for its citizens.  More likely, though, he is a hypocrite who simply lacks core values or beliefs.

  • Anonymous

    What is his opinion of political science education.  Should the state pay or not?

    • Anonymous

      I was thinking the same thing.

      If conservatives are serious about small government, then there are going to be fewer jobs for poli sci. majors. Or maybe he thinks Bible Studies will serve just as well for gov’t work?

  • JoeSchmoe

    Typical GOP yahoo.  Florida is a scary place.

  • What happened to free market or freedom, for that matter?

  • Cstuartdc

    I hate to tell you. . .a lot of those statistics for careers are gathered from polling the professionals themselves or trade associations like “The National Association of Anthropologists” or something.  They’ll ask, “Gee whiz. . .do you think they’ll need more anthropologists in 10 years?” to which they’ll say, “Well, golly gee, yes.”

    Of course taxpayors shouldn’t have to pay for another lawyer, or another major like “History of the Transgendered Disabled.”

  • Cstuartdc

    BTW, no one is saying a person can’t major in anthropology. . .it’s just about who and why the taxpayor should subsidize certain fields.  My field of chiropractic should be a fair target too. . .so I try not to take this personally as a professional, but rather from the viewpoint of taxpayor.

    I forget who the CEO was who remarked (a science company like GE or Intel), “If we want to be “massage capital” of the world, America is well on their way.  If we want to lead in technology, we are well behind.”  He was lamenting the fact he needed to recruit engineers and scientists from India and China.
    Yeah, certain fields are “fun”; that doesn’t mean they should get to have taxypayor subsidy.

    If someone want to be an anthropologist or a basket weaver, pony up cash, that’s all.

    • Anonymous

      But but but. Wasn’t it the business, math and economics majors who actually fricking screwed the American economy??? We wouldn’t even be in the revenue and job deficient position we’re in if it wasn’t for that.

      Why are the social science fields under attack? Perhaps Scott ought to be investigating what the business majors are being taught on the holy taxpayer dime.

      And while he’s at it, investigate the areas of study that produced Bush, Cheney, et al, who squandered our nation’s wealth and blood starting a needless war and then ineptly managing two wars and expanding government exponentially. And who self-servingly cut taxes to the richest just in time to serve a triple whammy upon all tax revenues, national and local.

      Finally, since when is any college course equivalent to learning massage? Massage, BTW, is a venerable, and worthy health skill, not to be dismissed snidely. Try one sometime. Might improve the blood flow to your brain. It is significant that whoever you are quoting didn’t say, “burger flipping capital of the world”. Better to piss off individual entrepeneurs than McDonalds.

      [Laughing]. GE a “science company”. Tell that to all the people with malfunctioning and poorly designed GE appliances.

  • Hlouisnini

    Dear Gov – Please advise when your local chapter of the Flat Earth Society next meets I would to apply for membership if you will sponsor me.

  • T Todd

    This is the same jerkoff that believes that arts & liberal arts are a complete and total waste of time.  So to Scott I say – you get no music, no books, no magazines, no news, no colors, no websites, no music – not even ads, commercials and snazzy jingles for the Corporate Masters you lick the boots of.  Why? Those are the things created by people with degrees in the arts.   In light of that, you should just poke your own eyes out, plug your ears and get out the Corporate shoeshine because you sir, are a complete and total waste of patriotism, politics, and ideas.  How do people remotely vote for such Soviet style grey-building sticks in the mud?   Its completely and entirely confounding. What the hell country are we living in where YOU and your shill-masters get to dictate the freedom of education that I and anyone else chooses to engage it?  SOVIET! 

  • tolly

    Does he actually think there are enough jobs for everyone if everyone started getting those degrees? No. The more degrees you filter into a concentrated area, the less job opportunity there will be for most of them. Wtf.

  • Derone73

     gov scott wants them to study science, technology, engineering and math even though his fellow republicans running for president dont seem to believe in science or making school affordable for anyone at all

  • Jimmy

    Scott doesnt realize that eliminating funding for anthropology, generally defined as the study of human (inter)action past and present, is essentially equivelant to eliminating the percentage of the population who possess a vision of alternative means of defining and achieving goals.  Break down the biomedical engineering topic and one may find a cohort of individuals, namely Main Street United Statesians, who blindly move throughout life without a mild understanding for the supplychain of their own personal consumption.  Where do Oreo´s fit in to the human diet, when did humans start consuming them, and where, ie what factory and chemist laboratory, do they and other industrially processed foods come from?  Who the heck cares says Scott, as well just develop a pill that can negate one´s obesity and heart disease.  It is almost too progressive an outlook on life, that we can chalk up all past ideas for completing tasks and negate the idea of applying a rationale to current behavior (unless the rationale is driven by economic analysis), in support of industrializing that very rationale- making a product, performing research to find out it is bad, and then making a new product to negate the old one´s effects as well as a new product to replace the old one, is significantly more profitable than applying a socioecological analysis in the first place to develop a more aptly suited product.  Furthermore, anthropologists-which many do- go on to be marketers or advertisers as criticizing or positing alternatives to modern societal development are usually met with disappretiation for “nagging” by Main Streeters; does Scott discredit marketers or advertisers, do they not need to analyze modern social behavior, is it not beneficial for an American company looking to expand abroad to understand its intended target to maximize profitability, does Scott not support American exports?
    Scotts reasoning behind his lack of support stems from a confused interpretation that hard sciences are what make up society; he himself did not study a hard science.  Or perhaps Scott´s hatred for Anthropologists stems from the many books, chapters, articles, and conferences that address the biomedical engineering and for profit health scare scheme- that made Scott a millionaire- and left the rest of America obese and unable to pay for medical advice.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that the right wing, who decry communism, are now in the business of centralized planning of all of our choices — from our college educations, reproductive choices, through to our social security and medicare years.  Plus, welfare is now lavished only on the centrally chosen corporations like Halliburton.

  • Rina_lilies

    Ignorance galore! Next on Government agenda is telling us what and how much we can eat, ops, wait… they already have done that too! Moving to Canada … 

  • Hanna

    Anthropology departments can (and sometimes do) provide valuable contributions to university students’ education and usefulness to the state of Florida and to our broader society.  (I have completed graduate education in anthropology at a FL university, but now work in the real-world.)  But in most cases, the criticisms of anthropology and the academic departments that house the discipline’s adherents are spot-on.

    The reality of those faculties is that they waste enormous intellectual energies, students’ tuition and public dollars producing scholarship the sole intent of which is most often to impress other aloof anthropologists.  To students’ (and all of our) great detriment, pedagogy in anthropology courses is often tantamount to indoctrination with Marxist ideology and advocacy of moral relativism.  

    To realign our allocation of scarce resources for greater social value than anthropology departments provide would be good public policy.  It would ultimately be good for anthropology too.  Such a shift would send an informative signal to students wondering about the real-world usefulness of different fields of study.  It would save many young people from illusions that self-righteous hypocritical social criticism is a marketable skill.  And it would encourage anthropology department faculties themselves to undertake reflection about their own roles in university education and knowledge-generation for the 21st century.

    “Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?”
    —Ronald Reagan, campaign speech, 1980.

    “There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”
    —George Washington, address to Congress, January 8, 1790.

    Taken from: Sagan, C. (1997). The Demon-haunted Worid: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Chapter 23: Maxwell and the ‘Nerds’. 

    Also read: Petsko, G.A. (2010). A faustian bargain. Genome Biology, 11 (10):138. Disponible en: http://genomebiology.com/content/pdf/gb-2010-11-10-138.pdf

  • Slm86

    Arguments aside, where are these job prospects for anthropology graduates? Signed an unemployed anthropologist who sincerely regrets not getting that hard science degree I was good at to pursue something I had a passion for… 

  • anthroprof

    One things to consider for all of the commenters asking “why should the tax-payers have to pay for this?!” For the most part, the tax-payers DON’T, even at state universities. Levels of state support are miniscule compared to what they were even 10 years ago.  I teach (yep, Anthropology!) at a public uni in Virginia (Wm & Mary, where, in fact, Gov. Scott’s daughter was my student – but that’s another story), and state funding across our state accounts for less than 20% of university expenditures. Tuition dollars and private giving cover the vast majority of expenditures.  

    I think it’s a travesty that state’s have retrenched their commitment to higher ed in general – this ensures a narrowly educated electorate that is not in a position to make critical assessments of  claims being made on their behalf – like those about how “their money” is being used wisely, when, in fact, state revenues and expenditures  - and esp. support for education in the form of both student loans and grants, and university budges, are at historic lows.

  • Marlowe Fox

    Rick Scott’s ignorance as to the utility in anthropology is a reflection of the theoretical arrogance and myopia of modern business. This philistine concept is not new and P.B. Shelley anticipated and countered this argument in his work, “A Defense of Poetry” (1821). Shelley’s defense of poetry can be interpreted as a more general defense of the humanities, which includes anthropology. One of the more remarkable passages states as follows:Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.In summary, poets and other humanities scholars, are best suited to observe and interpret natural phenomena that others may utilize their discoveries and develop a practical application. As the “hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration”, they provide insight into the human psyche which psychologists employ in their profession. As “mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon them” they provide foresight for social progression. In conclusion, they explore universal aspects of humanity from which we base laws to create a just and civilized society. Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer J. Adler have succinctly stated the premises of Shelley’s work in the following passage:In “A Defense of Poetry”, [Shelley] attempts to prove that poets are philosophers; that they are the creators and protectors of moral and civil laws; and that if it were not for poets, scientists could not have developed either their theories or their inventions. More so, Mary Shelley explored a similar theme in her seminal work “Frankenstein.” The work explores the consequences of science without the guiding rubric of philosophy (specifically ethics). Victor Frankenstein was so consumed by whether or not he could create life, that he did not consider the consequences of his act. Frankenstein’s creation would eventually kill everyone he loved and destroy his life. The humanities would provide insight as to why Frankenstein felt the need to create life and what consequences would result therefrom. More so, they would have helped Frankenstein decide if he should create life rather than merely if he can. The Greek philosopher Longinus stated that, “sublime impulses need the curb of stability as often as they need the spur of inspiration.”Scott’s carte blanche to economic opportunism will yield devastating long-term consequences if they are not calibrated by the humanities. Thus, by removing funding for anthropology, or any of the humanities, will result a generation of myopic scientists and business entrepreneurs who are so consumed by if they can do something, they will neglect whether they should do something. The result will create a modern Frankenstein of society. 

  • Morgan

    Anthropology-related skills are also becoming more and more important in the tech world due to increased focus on user-experience design. For a great example, see Genevieve Bell, anthropologist and top-level researcher at Intel.

  • Kevinfa

    The statistics produced by the Bureau of Labor do not impress me in the least. I have been working in a field that was supposed to burgeon into one of the highest paid jobs in technology – aviation maintenance. Never happened despite 30 years of forecasts saying so. We still make less than an auto mechanic. Bet your life on that?

  • That’s good Gov. Scott.  Act, then think.  The other way around is for sissies.  And I agree with previous posts…sounds like either an authoritarian or communist government telling you what to study and what job to look for.  Patronizing buffoon.

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