Critical angles 1

November 5, 2004

Richard Hoggart is outraged that a young woman with a degree in chemistry works in a factory that makes cheap perfumes (Opinion, October 29). I am no chemist, but I am quite prepared to believe that there are intellectual challenges in perfumes.

The world goes round because most of us work for a living and only a few of us are cultural pundits. But I don't see anything inherently contradictory between having a varied intellectual life and working in perfumes.

Despite the fact that, or maybe because, I am a statistician, I agree with Hoggart's main theses: that we need the humanities and that university education is nothing if it does not teach students to question.

But socialist prejudices are not the same as critical thinking - and the latter is common currency in science.

Stephen Senn
Glasgow University

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