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STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In education and employment, it's used as short-hand way of referring to the related group of 'geeky' subjects. Qualifications in these subjects are considered to lead to better job prospects[note 1]. This may be driven by the widespread belief that there is a shortage of qualified candidates for those positions, although it is not clear that such a shortage actually exists.[1]

In education and employment[edit]

Qualifications in STEM subjects are used to measure differences between groups of people within education. The gender imbalance in STEM fields is perhaps the best known example, but it has also been shown that other disadvantaged groups are under-represented.[2] Organisations like STEM Women[note 2] work to support those groups and work towards equality of opportunity within STEM.

STEM careers are frequently considered more prestigious than others, perhaps because they are thought to be 'useful' subjects. The term STEM came about to describe this phenomenon and its associated effects on education and employment, not because there was any validity to the idea that STEM subjects were inherently superior, or that students with an interest in STEM were inherently more intelligent.

In stupidity and woo[edit]

Unfortunately, the last point above is lost on some people. Such people think that STEM subjects are the only true academic subjects, and that anything the least bit 'soft' — particularly humanities subjects — is unworthy of serious consideration. Further they believe that their interpretation of anything in the sphere of the humanities and arts is obviously more logical and more sciencey than someone with expertise in either of those fields, because science. Social science, in particular, is often dismissed wholesale, and definitely not because some of its conclusions contradict opinions that these people hold dear.

A related failure of logic is to consider STEM subjects to be interchangeable. Thus, otherwise reliable sources end up pontificating on issues outside their realm of expertise, attempting to capitalise on the appeal to authority. Because they are proficient in a STEM subject, they believe they are perfectly equipped to answer any science question, hard or soft, at least as well as an actual expert. One rich seam of this sort of idiocy is the denialist portion of pseudoskepticism. It can also be seen in the parts of movement skepticism that attempt to dismiss gender and other social issues as unimportant or irrelevant.


'STEMlord' is a snarl word applied to people qualified in STEM subjects (and it's usually the T[note 3]) who fall prey to these logical fallacies. The term is a portmanteau of STEM and the Internet slang "shitlord". STEMlord is usually applied to vocal and opinionated people who are exceptionally obnoxious and arrogant, even for the internet.[note 4] A common trait among STEMlords is to respond to criticism with vitriol, ad hominem attacks and loud protestations of their superior logic.

In short, STEMlords are scientific method cargo cultists who summon Messrs Dunning and Kruger every time they enter a conversation.

As it is a snarl word, calling someone a STEMlord is an ad hominem attack when used as a reason to dismiss someone's arguments rather than as a summary of how their arguments are fallacious.

See also[edit]


  1. Although people with degrees in M might disagree.
  2. [1]
  3. at least when the term STEMlord is used, although arguably the Es are just as guilty.
  4. Thunderf00t and Eric S. Raymond are two particularly infamous examples.