If you got your college degree in one of the disciplines that falls under "Humanities", as I did, you probably had a series of similar experiences. 1) Many stairwell/lounge arguments about the value of what you were interested in studying vs. the skeptical engineering/math/science "our stuff is so much more difficult and important and useful" students. 2) Going to class in old, weird, buildings (my college was an old car garage and the elevators could fit 2 cars in them) while watching billion-dollar state-of-the-art biology, physics, chemistry etc. buildings going up all around you. 3) Zillion dollar alumni donations to science/technical programs while your own program barely could keep its ancient computers functioning. 4) Etc. etc. etc.
So, you could say I am a little sensitive to the ongoing (often subliminal) denigration of the value of humanities/social sciences that shows up every day in the media as more programs for investments in science are introduced, apocalyptic studies about how the US is falling behind are discussed, etc. I rant about this occasionally here, so I thought I'd rant again today.
Let us state this truth: There are practically no (I'd argue zero, but maybe there are a couple obscure ones) disciplines that can function today without scientific/technical knowledge and techniques of practice. And NO discipline functions without societal/people issues.
To draw a line between groups, that says "this is science" or "this is technics", leaving everyone on the other side scrambling for crumbs is completely ridiculous and will only hurt our countries' competitiveness in the end.
All you have to do is look at business, for example, where it is becoming increasingly clear that people issues are the greatest challenge they are facing. How do we share knowledge in teams? How do people cooperate? How do we increase productivity of knowledge workers? How do we make better decisions? In fact, science laboratories are facing the same questions.
Answers to these questions will demand a thorough integration of scientific, mathematical and humanities disciplines. Just now, when the challenges we face as humans on a shrinking globe are increasing in complexity daily, breaking down the artificial boundaries between science and social is the most important thing we can do. That is where enormous amounts of public and private funding should be invested.
If you have worked, as I have, in high technology PR, you have been a bridge -- a translator -- between engineers and laypeople. You have had to understand technology and understand human persuasion. I have learned that even the most technical of knowledge can be explained in a way that non-technical people can understand its importance and its benefits, if not its details. By constantly telling people they are stupid (falling behind etc.) we are reinforcing the mythic power of science/technology.
The rhetoric--the ideology--of science/technics must be challenged if we are truly to be able to solve our problems.