Florida’s Gov. Scott: We Don’t Need More Anthropologists

Anthropology scholars across Florida are up in arms as Gov. Rick Scott publicly said the state doesn’t need a whole lot more of them, writes Kim Wilmath at TampaBay.com.

He went on to explain the professions Florida does need more of, like those in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine), but it was his initial comments that have garnered considerable criticism.

Here are some of Scott’s comments, as reported at the Orlando Sentinel by Aaron Deslatte:

“We’re spending a lot of money on education, and when you look at the results, it’s not great…. Do you want to use your tax money to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t.”

Scott said he planned to propose emphasizing higher education spending on more applied science fields, technology and engineering.

“If we don’t think about how we can be better competitors than these other cities, states and countries, we won’t win,” Scott said. “I like competition,” he continued, comparing Florida’s job growth this year to his former state, Texas. ”I don’t want to be third, I want to be first.”

Daniel Lende at  Public Library of Science blog reports that University of South Florida anthropology chair Brent Weisman says:

“My colleagues and I in the Anthropology Department at USF encourage our Governor to do his homework on the modern discipline of anthropology before making another casual but ill-informed remark.”

The American Anthropological Association responded with a letter.  In says:

“Perhaps you are unaware that anthropologists are leaders in our nation’s top science fields, making groundbreaking discoveries in areas as varied as public health, human genetics, legal history, bilingualism, the African American heritage, and infant learning.”

The readers of the Herald-Tribune also disagree. In a poll, the Herald-Tribune asks: Do you agree or disagree with Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to cut state funding for college majors such as anthropology, which he says are not needed?

At the time of writing 826 people had voted, and 89% disagreed with Gov. Scott.