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Hard on Soft Science

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"All science is either physics or stamp collecting."

Many "hard" Science Fiction authors, trained as they are in the hard sciences, such as chemistry or physics, tend to take digs at the "softer" sciences (social sciences such as sociology and anthropology) in their works. The reasons for this vary, but the most common criticism is that it's much harder to perform repeatable experiments. Scientists strive towards empiricism and the "scientific method", and many humanities or social sciences are trying to study things that cannot easily be studied strictly and subjected to experimentation, which makes hard science writers feel justified in considering them as "pseudoscience".

This happens outside of science fiction as well. Often, scientist characters in non-sci-fi shows will insult the softer sciences when they have to deal with them. In real life, common targets are Psychology (see below), Psychiatry (often portrayed as the medical equivalent of the Church of Happyology, which is ironic considering that church's own attitude towards it), Economics ("The Dismal Science"), Linguistics (except by some, c.f. Sheldon Cooper), &c.. Some can have a grudging respect for economics and political science, the two that can tell if one will get more funding soon.

Think of it as an interdisciplinary Take That!. How much the rivalry is Serious Business, and how much friendly banter, depends on the people involved. It's still an influential conflict that not only has spawned new theories and schools, but became a full blown "war" during the 90's. The standard comeback from soft scientists is that their subject is more "applicable" or more relevant to life and society at large (e.g.: as hit and miss as psychology can be, even biologists admit that neurological or even pharmacological solutions to mood disorders should only be a last resort). Another reaction is that these complaints come from those for whom science has been fetishized by, usually non-scientists, thus missing the point entirely and cheapening both.

A related phenomenon is "hard science" and business students criticizing subjects like Literary Criticism and Philosophy for being more Wild Mass Guessing and having little utility in careers outside the academic world. This overlooks actual, legitimate philosophies that adults can also make use of (like for example, studying logic and reasoning), and of course, how in Real Life some businesses prefer candidates who bring different ways of thinking to their jobs.

Similarly, there are a number of quantitative-minded sociologists who use complex statistical methods that rival those of the hard sciences in their own research.

Compare and contrast Science Is Bad and Science Is Wrong. See M.D. Envy and Not That Kind of Doctor, which can be related. There may also be a bit of overlap with A Degree in Useless, as students of the hard sciences may consider degrees in soft sciences to count as one.

Not related to erections in any way and more specifically not related to the Sci Fi Ghetto.


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    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld and The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, by A.A. Pessimal, two academics from the Discworld cross to Earth and encounter their peers from Caltech. Sheldon Cooper pretty much instantly accepts Professor Ponder Stibbons when Ponder reveals more than a surface knowledge of quantum physics. note . however, Ponder's co-researcher, when she explains her doctorate is in zoology and animal psychology, gets the flat and disinterested response "Oh. Interesting.", spoken in a way that clearly reveals Sheldon considers this beneath his dignity. As she is also an Assassin, she finds her fists beginning to itch. Penny remarks later on her self-control.
  • In Girl Genius story Raised by Jägers there's a riddling sphinx that preys on the Philosophy Department, with great success.
    Footnote: Philosophy students and faculty members alike were notoriously susceptible to riddles, which were known to bring the entire department grinding to a halt for weeks as the answer was debated. Nobody outside the Philosophy Department noticed any difference.

  • Invoked in Arrival, when Ian, a theoretical physicist, meets Louise, he's reading her book on linguistics and the development of human languages and argues his belief that science is the foundation of civilization rather than language. Louise argues that communication is what allows those scientific discoveries to be shared and described, firmly shutting him up. Moreover, given that they're dealing with a race of Starfish Aliens with a Starfish Language who don't think in a linear manner, Louise's expertise turns out to be far more useful than Ian's and his idea of using simple linear equations fails. Strangely, the aliens are able to recognize more complex three-dimensional equations (because they are non-linear).
  • Sunshine: Both Played With and Downplayed. The eight protagonists are: six engineers of various kinds, a theoretical / particle physicist, and a psychiatrist. You'd think the psychiatrist would be the odd one out, particularly since a point is made that he is on their mission because a previous mission which only had hard scientists & engineers failed and it's thought that was due to human (interaction) failure (so this mission is the first to include a non-engineer / non-hard-scientist). But actually the physicist is the one who stands apart from the rest and has tension with the others. It is escalated pretty soon in the movie when a crucial decision has to be made regarding the mission, and the Captain declares the decision won't be made democratically but will be solely up to the physicist, because he is the only one who can interpret, or even grasp, the complex parameters involved. So in the end, it's more "theoretical vs. applied sciences".

  • There's an old joke where the dean of a college complains how much the various science departments are costing the college. The chemistry department needs test tubes and bunsen burners, the physics department needs particle accelerators and Tesla coils, the astronomy department needs telescopes, etc.. He says, "Why can't they be more like the Mathematics classes? They only need paper and a wastebasket. And the Philosophy department is even cheaper; they don't even need the wastebasket!"
    • Ironically, math could be considered "harder" (as in more theoretical, less empirical) than any of the other sciences.
    • Randall Munroe had a strip about this here
  • Q: What did the <insert choice of Butt-Monkey field here> major say to the <insert any "practical" or "hard" science here> major?
    A: "Would you like fries with that?"
  • A graffito frequently seen in toilets in the science departments and library at the University of East Anglia, Norwich: written on the toilet paper dispenser: Sociology Degrees. Please take as many as you need.
  • Another old joke:
    • Chemistry: Physics without thought.
    • Mathematics: Physics without purpose.
  • What do aerospace engineering and <insert choice of Butt-Monkey field here> majors have in common? They spend most of their time working on ways to get high.

  • In Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, a few intellectuals met by the computer scientist protagonist are insufferable idiots with little grip on reality. On the other hand, the insufferable idiots are shown to have social skills, unlike most of the protagonists, and Enoch Root is both a priest, philosopher, and cryptographer.
  • The statistician narrator in Stanisław Lem's His Master's Voice pejoratively calls the group of linguists, psychologists, "pleiographers" etc. "elves".
  • Inverted in Stephen King's The Stand. Not only is hard science bad, but one of the heroes is a sociologist.
  • In Starship Troopers, Heinlein goes on at length about how flawed 20th century psychology was/is. However Future!Psychology teaches nothing but "hard truths"... by the math department.
    • Prior to the events of Starship Troopers there was an event known as the "Revolt of the Scientsts" in which social scientists attempted to overthrow the government and establish a utopia. It failed miserably.
    • Another Robert Heinlein example, from the "Notebooks of Lazarus Long" in Time Enough for Love.
      If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.
  • Discussed and subverted in Michael Crichton's Sphere. One of the Jerkass physicists asks what somebody from such a useless field as psychology is doing on the mission. The psychologist protagonist points out (perhaps only to himself) what terrible people skills the average physicist has. It turns out the psychologist is the only one mentally stable enough to handle the nigh-omnipotence the title sphere gives without killing everyone.
  • Also discussed in another Crichton novel, Timeline, where there is an even starker contrast as it's between a physicist and a historian. Perhaps deconstructed, since the physicist protagonist solves problems in the present, while the historians solve problems in the past.
  • Once again, discussed in a Crichton novel, Airframe, where the narration (partially from the point of view of the non-scientist main character) talks about engineers in the employ of the protagonists's airline manufacturer - one is a elitist, temperamental Manchild with horrible people skills, which, according to the narration, is typical of a lot of engineers...
  • Shows up repeatedly in the works of Greg Egan, most notably in Schild's Ladder.
  • This is zigzagged in That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis — one of the protagonists and most of our villains are sociologist-types. It goes so far that Values Dissonance rams this book into Poe's Law.
    • On one hand, one minor character is an eminent chemist. He has a brief conversation with the (currently bamboozled) sociologist protagonist: Sociologist: "I can quite understand that it [the villains' scheme] doesn't fit in with your work as it does with sciences like Sociology, but—" Chemist: "There are no sciences like Sociology." The chemist is then murdered by the villains, the sociologist framed for the murder, and blackmailed into running propaganda for them. Lewis's objection to sociology (within the book, at least) was that it, like the other soft sciences, invites the scientist to treat people as specimens, without compassion. His chemist says, "I happen to believe that you can't study men; you can only get to know them, which is quite a different thing."
    • On the other hand, the de facto main character of the trilogy is a philologist (one who studies language), and his ability to communicate complex ideas ends up being extremely important, and the main villain of the first two books is a physicist. Said physicist expresses much derision for any discipline that isn't a physical science.
    • In the end it treats the branches as more complimentary; "soft" sciences are useless without harder material backing them up, but "hard" sciences turn out dehumanizing without "soft" sciences to keep them in check.
  • Deliberately inverted in Seanan McGuire's short story "Laughter at the Academy"; a mad psychologist, disgruntled by the lack of respect for her field, repeatedly sparks Schizotypal Creative Genius Personality Disorder in previously-stable hard scientists to make a point about where true power lies. Her mentor was a mad linguist, who killed half her graduating class with a particularly powerful idiom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Bones, Temperance Brennan takes constant digs at psychology, saying it's unscientific...this despite constantly being proven wrong, or using principles from it herself (with bizarre justifications about how it's not psychology), or even the obvious effectiveness of psychological profiler Dr. Sweets. This is frequently lampshaded by other characters.
    • This behavior was actually the subject of a Take That! in an episode where Booth and Bones head to a mental hospital where Bones makes pointed remarks to the head psychologist there. Eventually after a while of this the psychologist finally gets sick of this and points out that while her expertise in the dead is all fine and dandy, he's using his training to help 'living people' who desperately need it, soft science or not. She offers a rather Backhanded Apology which he notes is perhaps he best she can do. Shortly thereafter upon seeing him adroitly dealing with a patient having a panic attack she gives a much more heartfelt apology.
      • In the same episode, Bones mistakes a delusional patient for an actual doctor. It's unclear as to whether this supports her view (psychiatry minus the pharmacology degree can be perfectly emulated by any reasonably bright basket case) or not.
    • It also got thrown in her face in "The Beaver in the Otter". Having run out of physical evidence to identify the killer, Booth uses a nail gun (the murder weapon) in front of several suspects. Sweets observed the crowd and indicated the most likely suspect (correctly) based off of her reaction. Brennan sincerely asks him what he saw...and he blows her off pointing out she's just going to dismiss it. She's left genuinely at a loss over in her inability to figure it out.
    • She's since changed her mind during a period where Sweets was staying with her. Apparently he leaves his psychology books and journals by the toilet and she started reading them. Much to her surprise she found them scientific, eye-opening, and useful for understanding the thought processes and emotions of both herself and others.
      • Given her lack of social skills in youth, emotional detachment/repression, sensitivity to criticism, and arrogance in regards to her own intelligence, insight, and objectivity, it's not hard to believe that she had a few negative experiences with a psychologist or two when she was younger and wrote off the whole field as quackery for years as a result.
    • Bones and Sweets are interrogating a super genius because he menaced a scientist who was building a device that theoretically could destroy the universe. The man works as a welder. When Sweets tells him that for being a genius his profession is very humble, the man retorts that at least his work is real- psychologists cannot say that of themselves.
    • On one occasion, Brennan voices her distaste for psychology to a psychologist played by Stephen Fry, and he promptly agrees. He seems to regard himself primarily as a therapist, though of course he is trained in psychology.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon (a theoretical physicist) is often belittling engineers (like Howard) even calling them "the Oompa-Loompas of science" once. Of course, Sheldon tends to belittle anyone who doesn't live up to his lofty standards (i.e., everyone else), including his other friends Raj (an astrophysicist) and Leonard (an experimental physicist).
    • Sheldon also fell victim to a more literal version of this trope when he briefly comments on the inaccuracy of the social sciences in the episode "The Friendship Algorithm", while he presents Penny with his "friendship questionnaire". He wasn't happy about doing one, as in his view the social sciences are 'largely hokum', but saw no alternative. Sheldon even botches the methodology: no social scientist in their right mind would expect a respondent to handle a 200-question exam.
      • Not to mention that questionnaires or interviews are subject to people altering their answers to please the one asking the questions - hence why many social sciences try hard to make sure the subjects are comfortable and act as they would naturally.
    • He was also horrified by the thought of funding going to the English Literature and Philosophy departments: "Oh, the Humanities!"
    • Leonard's parents (a neurologist and an anthropologist) apparently only used sex in their relationship for reproduction, and both wrote papers on it. His mother visits and discusses this with Sheldon, pointing out because her paper was from a neurological standpoint that means it was the only one worth reading, to which Sheldon promptly agrees.
    • In the episode where Sheldon has to give a speech, one of his opening jokes is at the expense of a geologist, which he (drunkenly) follows with 'I joke with the geologists, but it's only because I have no respect for their field.' This one is interesting because of the fact that geology is a hard science.
      • As is neurobiology, Amy Farrah Fowler's field which Sheldon is condescending toward, leading to their 'breakup' and Sheldon's acquiring 25 cats. Most of the evidence suggests that Sheldon just thinks all other scientists (or for that matter, all other humans) and their work are innately inferior to him and his work.
      • Sheldon's hatred of geology ("the dirt people!") has become a running gag.
      • An episode of the prequel spinoff series, Young Sheldon, explains it: He had a crush/friendship with a girl who introduced him to geology during his childhood, but her relationship with a friend of his lead him to decry the field as "meaningless", even though he was fascinated by it.
      • Physicists and geologists historically were rivals (covered in the book A Short History of Nearly Everything) as in the past they were the two major branches of science solving many of the same problems and competing for the same talent and benefactors. Given that it's Sheldon, it's not that surprising he hasn't yet gotten over that grudge from centuries ago.
    • Amy Farrah Fowler has also belittled Bernadette's field of microbiology, saying that while she studies the brain ("the organism responsible for Beethoven's Fifth Symphony"), Bernadette studies yeast ("the organism responsible for 'Miller light'.").
    • Interestingly, Sheldon usually takes linguistics very seriously even though it is considered one of the "soft" sciences, often pointing out phonetically correct ways to say the words he's written (and pointing to the word written in the international phonetic alphabet).
      • Which makes his horrible handle on Klingon phonetics and pronunciation even funnier. And Chinese. Although in one episode he is seen learning Finnish - for recreation.
    • He took it pretty badly when another physicist made fun of his own specialty this way, though.
    • Interestingly, however, when Raj's sister Priya was going out with Leonard, Sheldon uncharacteristically never mocked her academic discipline (the law), despite disliking her. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that a discipline comprised largely of making and/or interpreting strict rules and regulations which maintain or promote social order is right up Sheldon's alley.
    • Sheldon's arrogance towards other disciplines and walks of life can also frequently be his undoing. In one example, he pompously informed Penny that, as a theoretical physicist, he had a flawless knowledge of everything in the universe. Penny promptly asked him to describe who Radiohead were. Several seconds of desperate twitching later, this was snottily amended to everything important in the universe.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, an early episode has McKay claim that medicine is more akin to voodoo than real science. This while said "voodoo" is being used to administer a gene therapy which will allow him to use Ancient technology. Medicine is voodoo to HIM, because he can't understand it. It just feels like he is belittling the entire profession because... well... he's McKay.
  • House makes plenty of jokes at the expensive of psychologists and psychiatrists, regarding them as studying a shoddy science and uninteresting branch of medicine respectively. Then again, there's barely anyone or any profession House doesn't hold in disdain, so it's not that new for him.
    Wilson: Never before has a profession been so decried by someone who needed it so badly.

  • Among other tunes Tom Lehrer performed in the 1997 performance on is "Sociology". The Take That! flies both ways, though - he was satirizing both sociologists and people who frown on them, something that flies above the heads of Youtube commentators.
  • This piece by physicist and musician Arthur Roberts is dripping with disdain for the weaker sciences. Many of his other songs also feature barbs at social sciences, albeit less prominently.

  • The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry is hosted by a biologist (Adam Rutherford) and a mathematician (Hannah Fry), and depending on the subject either plays this trope straight or inverts it; notably in the episode about how the universe might end, it's Adam who is complaining that none of this sounds like real science, and have any of these phycisists come up with something that can be tested?

    Video Games 
  • In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, the Prime Minister (a former scientist) is talked into taking part in a scientific demonstration after the demonstrator brings up how he abandoned the hard sciences for politics.
  • In the College of Winterhold in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the specialists of the other five schools of magic (being Destruction, Alteration, Illusion, Conjuration and Enchanting) treat the Restoration specialist with derision, claiming that it's not a real magic school. This is in stark contrast with the overall attitude of most other Nords in Skyrim to magic in general, in that the Restoration school is the only one that they really embrace.
  • The Institute of Fallout 4 practically has this as their M.O., and serves as a Deconstruction of the notion: they come off as a massive advertisement as to why the social sciences should exist. Everything they do is the result of asking themselves the question "Can we do X?", but never "SHOULD we do X?". As a result, practically everything they do is either a waste of time for them (making synthetic gorillas for some inane reason and mass-producible laser weapons that are weaker than your average pipe pistol) or a never-ending nightmare of paranoia for the surface. It's quite telling that despite being one of the only organizations that was protected from the effects of the War and, therefore, never lost any scientific knowledge, they're still the technological inferiors of several other factions. The only true breakthrough they've made has been the creation of third-generation Synths—which they wouldn't have been able to do without DNA from Shaun—and even then, the only use they could think of for a truly sentient Artificial Human that was physically indistinguishable from a normal person was for menial labor. Whenever evidence is screaming at them that they should change their policies, they perform mind-boggling mental gymnastics to avoid taking any responsibility for their actions.

  • xkcd:
  • In Skin Horse, Dr. Lee thinks very little of the "soft sciences", including psychology. Tip is forced to show her the error of her ways by using psychology to effortlessly seduce her.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Heartily mocked in the author's note for this strip.
    • In this strip Liz comments on how the trope attitude has resulted in her studies in memetics, linguistics, and sociology landing her a fast food job. In fact, she studied this very meme in school. And later, she ends up a Lieutenant, and in direct charge of a scientific conference tasked with spit-balling ideas on how to contact exo-galactic world ships, and indirectly save the galaxy... because her education would allow her to guess how other people and races would think.
  • Inverted in this Hark! A Vagrant strip. H. G. Wells seems a little hard on hard science.
  • One Girl Genius strip involves a mad social scientist griping about the fact that the Sparks who go into the hard sciences get all the funding.
    Scientist: I told the Baron, give me a thousand orphans, a hedge maze, and enough cheese, and I can...
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, otherwise noted for indulging heavily in this trope, has taken a crack at it a couple of times:
    • First it lampooned Rutherford's statement by claiming that every physicist has a couple of years in grad school when they don't even know what questions they should be asking, followed by a decade, maybe a decade and a half of productive work, followed by spending the rest of their lives telling other scientists how deluded they are.
    • Later, it let the Biologists stand up for themselves once more, though with a much different argument: Trying to study something like biology with pure, fundamental mathematics would take more computing power than you could fit in a universe, and thus the things a biologist studies simply don't exist at such levels. She's more than happy to team up and hate Chemists though.
      Biologist: The only difference between you and me is that your systems are so simple, you can afford to put 400 dudes on figuring out how HALF A PARTICLE works!

    Web Original 
  • BOFH and his assistant got some analyst estimating them for security purposes. Using Inkblot Test and Word Association Test. Guess who was a butt of the joke?
  • Gordon Freeman of Freeman's Mind feels indignant toward psychology. Although, this may have less to do with scientific elitism than the fact that Gordon is a friggin' loon, and as such not enamored of what they probably have to say about him. He's even more dismissive of string theorists, who are toward the soft end of physics research, essentially regarding them as goat-sacrificing cultists.
  • The page picture is the first image of the What If? entry "All the Money", in which author Randall Munroe handwaves away how you managed to acquire all the money that exists by invoking A Wizard Did It. The image is of Rob and Megan from xkcd, and Rob has drawn a pentacle on the floor.
    Megan: Whatchya doing?
    Rob: Economics.
    Alt Text: Well, yes, I can see THAT.

    Real Life 
  • The Sokal hoax was a downplayed example, a Take That! from a physics professor to postmodernist social studies academics who pepper their writings with nonsensical scientific analogies to make their work sound more rigorous than it is. Sokal sent a paper of pure drivel which would embarrass a second year physics student, but wrote it so it agreed with the political and social views of the journal Social Text. Sokal's paper (in brief - the real paper contains more nonsense than can be discussed here) argued that a properly free mathematics would free us from the social constructs which are implied by our rigid, unyielding, dogmatic, anti-feminist, capitalist, and unjust theory of gravity. Of course, they did publish it of their own free will. Though Sokal didn't have a problem with the humanities or soft science as such, he did want to expose what he viewed as a serious problem they had that could ruin the field.
    • The Grievance Studies hoax, or "Sokal squared", similarly produced ludicrous papers mimicking the tropes of humanities, in particular gender studies. Several of these papers were accepted for publication, sometimes in quite well-established and respected journals.
  • Real scientists engage in this to varying degrees, though mostly it tends to be light-hearted ribbing between colleagues. Especially given that actually annoying the other fields means they won't be able to ask that department for help when something comes up in their work that they can't answer on their own.
    • Nearly every academic discipline has this; it's hardly unique to the sciences. Philosophers are mocked by pretty much every discipline, including - maybe especially - philosophy itself. Economists likewise. And sociologists, especially the more qualitatively-minded ones. And virtually every time someone in a more traditional academic discipline deigns to even mention Communications, it's in the form of a Take That!. In all cases, these things can range anywhere from good-natured ribbing to genuine seething hatred. Many who are so hateful of other fields will however not be well regarded, no matter their skill in their own field.
  • In 2012, an atheist philosopher from Belgium duped a theology conference with a Sokal-style hoax. The philosophers who were duped acknowledged they thought the paper was bupkis, but admitted it wasn't out of the range of what they had previously published.
  • Evolutionary psychology seems to be the go-to field (or approach) for many secularists who want social norms and mores explained, but dislike the nature of fields like sociology or social anthropology.
    • And many other psychologists, and also biologists are detractors of evo psych and accuse it of being reductionist, essentialist, or lacking in evidence. Evolutionary psychology adherents, on the other hand, accuse them of being politically correct and rejecting its evidence due to this contradicting pet theories.
  • Richard Feynman was infamous for this approach. An anecdote supposedly had him insult the Philosophy department at his university during a faculty speech, which resulted in the entire department walking out on him. He did eventually grow out of it as he began studying the arts, multiple languages (although he rather famously hated Japanese), and began his popular writing career. He also noted that Psychology was rather useful when trying to crack combination locks, as people tend to pick combinations that have some significance for them (other scientists using mathematical constants, overconfident Army types leaving them on the default, etc).
  • Sometimes you don't even need scientists to get that. Just get some engineering/exact sciences (computing, math, physics) and humanities/social sciences (anthropology, history, psychology, communication studies) together and they'd probably taking shots at each other's areas. Not to mention paychecks...
  • Conservative publicists sometimes approach this attitude, since they see modern academic teaching in literature, sociology etc. to be overriden by left-wing philosophy, while science such as physics and mathematics remains perfectly objective and politically neutral.
    • Institutionalized in the governance of the Iranian higher education system, where the government has repeatedly "crack[ed]down" on social science professors for spreading western and "insufficiently Islamic" ideas and ideologies. For similar reasons as above, the far more apolitical hard sciences don't attract that scrutiny. On the other hand it should be noted that, in universities in Qom, which is the ideological heartland of the Iranian regime, western philosophies and political theories actually are taught openly, often with the intent of teaching students how to disprove and argue against them.
      • Even hard sciences become politicized under sufficiently autocratic regimes. The study of genetics in the Soviet Union was hamstrung by a strong preference for communist theorists even when they were incorrect, and Nazi Germany's research on atomic weapons was crippled by their antisemitism (many of the pioneers were Jewish, and the Nazis even referred to the entire field as "Jewish physics").
      • Even in less autocratic places, biology is often politicized thanks to certain groupsnote  imposing their religious views. Similar problems exist in medicine, with certain groupsnote  imposing their views of birth control, artificial insemination, vaccination, and stem-cell research on science, to say nothing of those who object to all medicine.
  • Graffiti seen on a toilet roll dispenser at the University of East Anglia: Sociology degrees. Please take as many as you need.
  • Quantitatively-oriented sociologists who use statistics and surveys can display this attitude toward their postmodern colleagues.
  • Likewise, quantitative psychologists who make heavy use of math and/or physiological measurements may frown upon touchy-feely qualitative approaches like social or humanistic psychology.
  • Margaret Thatcher, a research chemist before going into politics, remarked "What a luxury" to a student who told her she was studying Norse literature.
  • Mathematicians tend to look down on every other subject in a tongue-in-cheek way (and pure mathematicians even look down on applied maths).
  • In construction, "soft" is planning, "hard" is execution: architects design buildings emphasizing the art, leading engineers to struggle in finding out how to make them actual edifices, making them frequently dis\mock architects. Add a third party, and there is an old joke:
    What's an architect? Someone who wasn't manly enough to be an engineer, nor gay enough to be a designer.
    • Even architects can get into this in regards to the other, less practical art careers as they need an awareness of construction methods to do their designs in the first place.
  • Physicists in particular have a reputation of being contemptuous of every other scientific discipline and other people in general. One particularly infamous website stating Psychology wasn't real was run by a Physicist.
  • Computer scientists and I.T. disciplines are generally benign for the most part in non-tech matters, but are notorious for thinking everyone but them (excepting a select few) is completely hopeless when it comes to operating a computer, with extra treatment given to non-STEM degrees. Shows like The IT Crowd reinforce this stereotype, and they tend to be remarkably self-aware of it. Amusingly enough, a computer science journal was also the subject of a Sokal hoax when someone managed to get the paper Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List published, which is nothing but the title over and over again, even on charts and graphs. It was considered a failing of the pay-to-play publisher, similar to some of the other hoaxes, than the field as a whole.
    • Within the field there's also a division between computer science (which deals with the mathematical aspects of computation, algorithm design, and programming methodology) and computer engineering (the actual practice of getting the computer to do what you want, which includes programming, hardware, and networking). Computer engineers have been known to take potshots at scientists, like claiming you can get a Computer Science degree without ever actually writing code (not true, though upper-level CS courses do tend to be more language-agnostic, assuming that you learned your chosen languages' idiosyncrasies at the intro level).
  • Occurs in Speculative Fiction: writers and readers of Science Fiction on the harder side of the scale sometimes look down on soft SF or — even worse — Fantasy. This even occurs within fantasy with the debate of hard vs. soft magic systems. Fantasy youtuber Daniel P. Green discusses the debates over "rules" and "wonder" based fantasy here