Friday, April 14, 2006

Political Science Nonsense

Yup. That's what Mr Chou Cheng Ngok thinks of his degree in Political Science (hopefully, half in jest :)). For those who are unaware, Mr Chou is the chairman of Popular Holdings Limited, the owner and franchisor of the many Popular Bookshops around the country and region. As explained in an interview with the Star today:
And the reason the affable Singapore-born businessman chose to do political science at Wayne State University in Detroit? He dropped out of medicine after figuring it wasn’t his cup of tea, but, too afraid to come home to face his father’s fury, he stayed on to do something he thought was easy – “political science is just talking nonsense”.
Ouch. Ouch again!

So obviously I picked an easy course to obtain my degree, and Kian Ming picked an easy one to secure his doctorate. And we clearly don't cut it to become doctors! >Sob!< (Well, I'm not sure about Kian Ming, but I certainly am not a doctor material :))

13 comments:

Benkaiser said...

Well it entirely depends on the individuals perception of certain of fields. Politics might be nonsense to him well real science isnt. Just like some people say studying business is studying stuff which could be obtained from the society....

Anonymous said...

At least you got your doctorate one uni down under makes one pay umpteem times both in money and in kind until one doesn't get the degree.

Benkaiser said...

toking bt csu?

sigma said...

Arts-related degrees usually aren't rubbish (most of them anyways ;)), but I think there's no dispute that they're easier to study for than science-related ones.

Coincidentally, I just blogged about this yesterday! :P It was in response to a letter by a college girl in The Star's Education section lamenting how Malaysian society looks down upon arts-steam students.

But in terms of future prospects, arts-related degrees are certainly no slouches. In fact, I think in some respects it's much easier for these students to get employed compared to their science steam counterparts.

I mean, only the very misinformed would seriously declare that law, accountancy, architecture, financial analysts, etc students would have problems getting employed, and earn good money in the process.

Instead, I feel sorry for the science students doing, for example, B. Science (Bioinformatics). Sounds all nice and dandy, but seriously, how many biotech companies do we actually have in Malaysia right now? Ditto with IT companies. Their future employment prospects into their relevent fields seems to be a tad bit uncertain to me.

Anonymous said...

Bio Informatics is actually a lot of employment opportunities. This is a specialised medical field. Things like drugs screening, blood tests, DNA screening and stuffs like that. Any hospital needs people like this.

doink said...

Who says political science is nonsense. It helps trigger the other side of our mind. Perhaps he doesnt realise, it is what he had gone through during his course that helped him having such a big chain of bookstores. His critical mind, trained from that course, just like you, Tony =D

Each has their role in the society, though some may not be as obvious as science. Just imagine if there aren't any business and marketing students, who's gonna sell the product and technolgies by scientist? Where the hell those reseachers get their fundings from? This is just way to common to understand.

a guy who is having his finals in 9 days :S

Benkaiser said...

Science brings about progress and improvements. Social Science helps us govern our natural fucntion of survival and betterment of society

Anonymous said...

Science or Arts? - I think as Benkaiser put it, one creates advancements in technology for society while the other promotes harmony and culture within the society. Nevertheless, regardless of which subject one learns or professes in, without ethics, morals and common sense, anything that you did or learn can be just thrown out the window.

Kian Ming said...

Political science at the undergraduate level is pretty easy compared to the hard sciences. I say this because there is no one 'right' answer in political science compared to mathematics or the hard sciences, at the undergrad level at least. But then again, one might say that political science trains you to think critically and use a part of your brain that scientists might not utlize. The more 'subjective' nature of political science makes your professor or lecturer much more important in that he or she can challenge you in interesting ways or just bore you to death.

Political science at the grad level is a whole new ballgame. If any of you are interested, I can post some articles on the workings of Congress in the US which are just mathematical statements. Statistics are already commonplace in economics and are increasingly common in grad level political science, for better for worse. And the technical proficiency to understand the political science will probably increase over time.

The increase in the level of technicality comes at a price. Most laymen readers would say this tells them nothing about the 'real' workings of politics in the world. Most academics would say that the interesting 'puzzles' they are trying to solve might not be accesible to laymen and that's ok for the field.

The debate continues...

Anonymous said...

Mathematical statements on the workings of the US Congress? Wow! how does one factor in human emotions into the equation? :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kian Ming, as a graduate from a BA in International Studies the undergraduate course was much much MUCH easier compared to my current Phd research (in guess what...International Studies!). Even if the degree was less intensive in quantitative research, it opened up my eyes to various intellectual, theoretical, social, cultural and historical landscapes that would have traditionally been never been exposed to me if I had chosen to study a science or business related field. Unlike Mr.Popular Bookstore, I do not think political science or its related fields are a waste of time because it is a passion for the field that pushed me down this direction. I'm sure I would think accountancy would be a complete waste of time if I was forced to study a course I had no real interest in.

We live in a globalised, cross dimensional, multi layered and complex society (duh!), I don't think dominance in science isn't going to cut it in making us a globally competative nation.

In order for Malaysia to achieve a reputation for academic excellence we need to establish strong research bases both in science and art streams and that would possibly mean changing the general attitudes we have towards what value we place on education.

Having said that though, while I'm convinced that I'm doing it hard as a Phd candidate, I'm sure it's no walk in the park doing research on something significant like finding a cure for AIDS or cancer!

veii said...

On the point of numerical operations in political science - if you have watched The West Wing before, you'd get a rough idea of how it works. The way I see it, US political scientists have to figure out exactly what words to use in a particular speech, in order to elicit the response that they want. They do this through polling to get current feelings, and they cross-reference (e.g. a state with a lot of manufacturing jobs would be interested in protectionist positions) empirical data in order to craft their manifestoes.

Anonymous said...

Yeah political science was probably easy at Wayne State University.

It's not easy at Oxford or Yale.