The weird thing is that the kids who hated math because it was useless outside of school seemed to love English class, which really is useless outside of school. Somehow they're able to get over the barrier of "school stuff is only useful in school" for English, but once they get into math class they have no imagination at all.
I suspect it really is incuriosity. They like English class because it's easy, you can make up whatever you want, and it doesn't have to be right because there is no right answer (although I seem to be very good at coming up with wrong answers somehow). If they applied some critical thinking to the situation, they'd realize it's a waste of time. Math on the other hand requires you to think.
I laughed at your 'incurious bastards' comment, too - there is, no doubt, a large component of laziness and dullness that results in students avoiding what they find hard. But the deeper issue of why they find Math hard and English easy is interesting, because as you acknowledge, you found English class difficult.
English class is about analyzing, above all, what someone else was feeling or why they did something. These kinds of questions admit no definite answers, but some kinds of reasoning about how other humans act and feel is far more plausable than others, and so some answers are better than others without there being a 'right' & 'wrong' answer. This focus on human motivation and emotion & with it a lack of precision is something that comes easily to many people. It is a natural ability we have, to empathize and gossip and wonder why someone else feels the way they do - no doubt, it is a skill that was evolutionarily highly selected for. The analysis of how other humans feel and why they act has been around as long as modern humans have, which is minimally tens of thousands of years.
Math, on the other hand, is a very recent development. It does NOT come naturally to most people beyond very basic size estimates and globbing and unglobbing small, easily visulaizable quantities. Unlike English studies, it is a highly structured, precise, deep and ordered discipline. The depth and ordering is the biggest problem from an educational perspective; if you, at some point, never quite 'get' fractions, it will be hopeless for you to try to understand anything that depends on them, which includes algebra, modular arithmetic, calculus, and all the mental models of the world that depend on them. When I used to tutor people in math (20 years ago - I'm getting old), that was usually the biggest problem - there was some previous bit of it that they never quite got, and all their subsequent math education was trying to pile bricks on sand. They usually gave up trying hard after a year or two of cluelessness. In essence, learning math takes a much longer peroid of time and it is much harder to teach correctly and effectively than English, and one big hole along the way will sink your future efforts.
In addition, knowing what math is useful for requires, well, knowing what math is useful for. You know it. I know it. But if a kid's teacher doesn't, and their parents don't, and society teaches that Math is for nerdy boys who will never kiss a girl (and don't even bother if you ARE a girl) well, that will squelch a lot of curiosity. I learned it from my dad. He taught me from a very young age how to navigate a boat. It was amazing - you draw lines of some plastic, run some numbers through a whizz wheel, steer your boat as it says, and you wind up where you want to go when you expected to get there! So for me personally, lines and courses and degrees and speeds and drift and times all had a reality and a practicality and a power - a power to predict the world - from as young as I can remember.
On the other hand, I found Shakespeare, as taught in schools, tedious at best - incomprehensible was more like it. The words were all weird, these people were running around knifing other people for no reasons that I could understand, random suicides offstage - I just didn't get it. Years later, a friend took me to see Shakespeare - live, not read out of a small book in a classroom. Wow - it suddenly made so much more sense. The fact that you didn't understand the words was made up for by the fact that you could see the pain, the love, the fear in the faces of the actors, in the dimness of the stage, or the clash of the swords; the wry observations of the servants, the nightmares of the queens, the guilt of the kings, and the wistfulness of the old. It was a story now, a recalling of those feelings that bond us all. Now, I love Shakespeare - but I had to see it as it was meant to be presented, as a play, not the 'scaffolding' - the script, stage directions, etc., and I needed a friend to introduce me as I had concluded it was all nonsense up to that point. And, I probably needed to be old enough to understand the panoply of emotions in a typical Shakespeare play; perhaps my emotional intelligence was below average.
So, it's worth condsidering that that is how the English major views Math. He/she doesn't see its power, predictive abilities, or raw beauty - there is no view of the creativity, the artistry, the variety, the cleverness, the struggle to understand, the complexity and the simplicity. They don't hear the music, they just see the notes - some spare black and white graphs, a bunch of circles and trianlges and lines all mismashed, a bunch of numbers festooned with ugly symbols that get pushed around on a page, which people claim is by some rules, but whenever they try, they do it wrong, they don't understand why, and they conclude it's just some arbitrary intellectual game with no relation to anything useful or that they care about. They never had someone make it real, or useful, or interesting for them, nor do they have the real world experience that comes with age to see that on their own, before they put it in the 'not for me' section of their mind.
For what it's worth - just another perspective. The "I don't think that students are not taught how math applies to real life. I think they are merely incurious bastards." is much funnier, though :-)