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2013-08-08 / Guest Column


If A Philosopher Falls in the Forest...

The humanities division at Harvard University is attracting fewer undergraduate students these days. The kids, it seems, have finally figured out that it’s tough to get a job after graduation if pretty much all you’ve been preparing for is listening for the sound of a tree falling in the forest.

It’s okay if you’ve got a family business to go into but – if you’ve got to make a living some day and pay back all those loans, maybe computer science or accounting or engineering or math...

The University, for its part, has responded by preparing a report suggesting the humanities division aggressively market itself to freshmen and sophomores, convince them of how useful spending four years studying history and gender studies and philosophy can be [“Harriet, the toilet is overflowing. Quick, call an existentialist!”]

After all, it’s probably just an ‘anti-intellectual moment.’ It’ll pass.

In other words, they’re trying to snooker your kids! Is it any wonder that the late William F. Buckley once said that he would rather be governed by the first 300 names in the Boston phone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University?

Maybe time to intervene with a little fatherly, or motherly, advice, “Do what you love, but don’t quit your day job...and make sure you study the stuff you need to know so that you can actually get one.”

Dr. Finger practices medicine (Otolaryngology) in Brooklyn. He ran for Congress in ‘06 on Libertarian and Republican lines. Visit our blog at:

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