I think the society tells a lot of lies, or at least often lies by omission, and it is difficult to correct these lies, because they exist for a reason—there is some social mechanism that rewards the liars and punishes the truthtellers, for example by raising the status of the liars and lowering the status of the truthtellers.
If anyone asked me about education choice to maximize the chance of getting the job, STEM is the obvious answer. (Although it depends on who asks; some people do not have the necessary skills/traits. I don’t know what would be the right answer for them.) But if I gave such advice in public, I can easily imagine the backlash. Humanities are high-status, STEM is… let’s say medium-status because it is associated with nerds but also with money… definitely lower-status than humanities. The proper way to express it is that STEM makes people merely smart, but humanities make them wise. (Wise = something like smart, but mysterious and higher-status.) Recommending STEM feels like an attempt to give nerds high status, and invites an angry response. Which is the reason why you haven’t heard such advice more often and more strongly (in general, not just on LessWrong).
Problem is that the advice “study humanities, not STEM” is actually correct for a small part of the society; namely for the rich people. If you have so much wealth and connections that you will never need a job to pay your bills, but you still want to study something, because for some weird reason having a university education is considered higher-status than not having one… then humanities are definitely the right choice. You want to know something that other people at least partially understand, so that you can impress them with some smart quotations; you don’t want the inferential distance to be too large. Also, if you study something that makes it quite difficult to get a job, that’s good counter-signaling! As a rich person, you don’t want to be suspected for someone who might need a job. -- The problem is that by saying “study STEM” you now advertise that neither you nor your friends are upper-class. All pretentious people will loudly recommend humanities instead.
I have yet to meet the opinion in the wild that the humanities are better or more worthy of study than STEM, and I’m skeptical that a degree in, say, entomology has anything like the market of a science like physics. (That said, from some cursory checks I’m surprised at the level to which a non-applied math degree seems to affect one’s career, although I’m suspicious that the STEM label lets it get lumped in during analyses with potentially higher earners like statistics, physics and engineering.) And my courses were largely on subjects like web design, running radio stations and using AV equipment, which I wouldn’t put under the same heading as studying history or literature in any case.
More to the point, though, would this line of thinking have saved me my present headache? I knew at the time that STEM was more marketable, of course, but I still underestimated how little my own degree would do for me—I assumed that I would do something in an office setting and be a writer at night. I can’t even chock it up to the degree itself being terrible or just a big counter-signal for the eccentric elite, because plenty of my classmates went on to at least have decent desk-jobs.
Despite all of that, though, if I’d really believed that mathematics or engineering was the only path and that my stalling at precalculus level would simply have to be overcome—that it was this or nothing, in a nutshell—then I think I would’ve chosen a better direction.