Prejudice against applied science

C. P. Snow wrote in 1959:

Pure scientists have by and large been dimwitted about engineers and applied science. They couldn’t get interested. They wouldn’t recognize that many of the problems were as intellectually exacting as pure problems, and that many of the solutions were as satisfying and beautiful. Their instinct… was to take it for granted that applied science was an occupation for second-rate minds.

I have found this unspoken prejudice to still be alive and well in academia. All through my education, my teachers and colleagues and culture at large contributed to my notion that software engineering was a boring occupation for second-rate minds. No one said that to me directly, just as no one says “black people are inferior to whites.” But both can be implied in the everyday ways that people talk about each other.

Of course, now that I am a software engineer, I indeed see that much of what we work on is as intellectually exacting as pure science, with solutions as satisfying and beautiful.

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