Why STEM will always need the humanities.
The Saber Tooth Curriculum  is a satire of modern academia and its resistance to change. In the allegory, New-Fist-Hammer-Maker teaches his children how to scare saber-tooth tigers with fire. The training is highly successful, and these children grow up into great protectors of the tribe. Within a few years, all the children are compulsorily schooled in the trade of tiger-scaring. The tribesmen sleep soundly for years.
They sleep soundly, that is, until an ice age creeps in. The saber-tooth tigers all die off; in their place arrive ferocious glacial bears that can’t be scared by fire. The situation is dire, until, luckily, one clever inventor devises a method for trapping the bears in camouflaged spike-pits. Soon, this method is widely-used among the men of the tribe. The schools, however, continue teaching children the archaic art of tiger-scaring, stressing the importance of knowledge as opposed to mere trade. “Why won’t you teach bear-trapping?” the rebellious inventor asks one wise old academic.
“If you had any education yourself,” the academic replies severely, “you would know that the essence of true education is timelessness. It is something that endures through changing conditions like a solid rock standing squarely and firmly in the middle of a raging torrent. You must know that there are some eternal verities, and the saber-tooth curriculum is one of them!” 
The stance of the author—ahem, the spurned inventor, rather—is that teaching for the sake of mere tradition is foolish; that once upon a time, the saber-tooth curriculum was a trade too; and that we’d be wise to teach new trades rather than old ones if we’re interested in surviving.
The notion that we should continuously revise our curricula–out with the old, in with the new–isn’t limited to stodgy allegory. In fact, it appears in a literary tradition as storied as the “great books” program that emerged out of Columbia in the 1920s. Indeed, several texts universally included in the list of great books seem to denounce the very canon they compose. “Knowledge is power,” writes Francis Bacon—knowledge, that is, derived from empiricism and experimentation, rather than from the fallacious works of philosophers past. Descartes, a contemporary of Bacon’s, also scorned the so-called great books that preceded him.
As soon as my age permitted me to pass from under the control of my instructors, I entirely abandoned the study of letters, and resolved no longer to seek any other science than the knowledge of myself, or of the great book of the world. 
It appears that our literary canon is contradictory, and, in fact, self-effacing. Even the great books themselves deem the great books stale and unworthy of study. Was our inventor right all along? Is it time to scrap the list altogether in favor of a more pragmatic approach?
Patrick J. Deneen , associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, takes a different approach: he believes that only the oldest texts ought to be retained, as opposed to only the newer, more practical ones. Deneen divides the traditional list of great books into two groups. The first extolls the value of our entire literary history, while the second (containing Descartes and Bacon) denounces it. The books in the former group contain a wealth of advice on how man might adapt to nature, while books in the latter spurn the very idea of adapting to nature, and urging the reader instead to conquer nature with science. Deneen thus names the former group the humble books, and suggests that we ought to consider teaching only the humble books.
Deneen’s rational is clear enough. Sure, the empirical pursuit of the sciences (and of nothing else) is commendable. So is seeking fulfillment in that pursuit. But what if that pursuit fails? Max Delbrück worked tirelessly to support his proposed dispersive model of DNA replication. His attempts ultimately failed, however, ending with Meselsohn and Stahl’s famous validation of the semiconservative model. Meselsohn and Stahl no doubt achieved fulfillment, but Delbrück was lost in the pages of the history books (history of biology, anyway; Delbrück was an accomplished physicist). And we must acknowledge that, for every Meselsohn and Stahl, there are hundreds of Delbrücks. How are these poor souls–assume, for now, that they were educated only on Descartes and Bacon–how are these poor souls supposed to handle failure, when they’ve been taught only to best nature and not to conform to it? It’s best, argues Deneen, to not attempt to reach such dangerous heights in the first place. The arrogant books (my word, not his) offer unlikely immortality (and likely suffering), whereas the humble books secure guaranteed happiness.
Hold on, though. How are we supposed to defend ourselves against the glacial grizzlies, now? It seems that neither side gets it completely right. Without the advice of the classics, we risk despair, in the event that we fail to conquer and refuse to conform. But without the encouragement of the modern dissidents, we risk stagnation and death, since we’d never even strive to conquer nature in the first place. We need both.
Once having read all the great books (if so, great job), the student is free to make an educated choice about whether he’d rather strive for the greatness of the sciences or rest upon the comfort of the humanities. Most importantly, with experience in both science and the humanities, he’s never left high and dry. If his attempt at achieving greatness through science fails, at least he has a wealth of philosophical advice to fall back on.
One can hardly deny the merits of education in bear-trapping. At the same time, it seems that, like a solid rock in a raging torrent, the saber-tooth curriculum may truly be timeless.