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News Science

Engineers Nine Times More Likely Than Expected To Become Terrorists (washingtonpost.com) 497

HughPickens.com writes: Henry Farrel writes in the Washington Post that there's a group of people who appear to be somewhat prone to violent extremism: Engineers. They are nine times more likely to be terrorists than you would expect by chance. In a forthcoming book, Engineers of Jihad, published by Princeton University Press, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog provide a new theory explaining why engineers seem unusually prone to become involved in terrorist organizations. They say it's caused by the way engineers think about the world. Survey data indicates engineering faculty at universities are far more likely to be conservative than people with other degrees, and far more likely to be religious. They are seven times as likely to be both religious and conservative as social scientists. Gambetta and Hertog speculate that engineers combine these political predilections with a marked preference towards finding clearcut answers.

Gambetta and Hertog suggest that this mindset combines with frustrated expectations in many Middle Eastern and North African countries (PDF), and among many migrant populations, where people with engineering backgrounds have difficulty in realizing their ambitions for good and socially valued jobs. This explains why there are relatively few radical Islamists with engineering backgrounds in Saudi Arabia (where they can easily find good employment) and why engineers were more prone to become left-wing radicals in Turkey and Iran.

Some people might argue that terrorist groups want to recruit engineers because engineers have valuable technical skills that might be helpful, such as in making bombs. This seems plausible – but it doesn't seem to be true. Terrorist organizations don't seem to recruit people because of their technical skills, but because they seem trustworthy and they don't actually need many people with engineering skills. "Bomb-making and the technical stuff that is done in most groups is performed by very few people (PDF), so you don't need, if you have a large group, 40 or 50 percent engineers," says Hertog. "You just need a few guys to put together the bombs. So the scale of the overrepresentation, especially in the larger groups is not easily explained."

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Engineers Nine Times More Likely Than Expected To Become Terrorists

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  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @10:43AM (#51000993)

    Many of the engineers I've worked with stayed on the verge of a nervous breakdown most of the time and were prone to extreme misanthropy. So I'm not surprised they would be attracted to a line of work where they get to blow people up.

    • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:15AM (#51001249)

      There is obviously a correlation between being dateless and becoming a terrorist.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's probably more like a correlation between having the kind of personality that is easier to groom for terrorism but also somewhat unattractive.

        Anyway, I think it's a myth that engineers and nerds in general do badly with dating. Most I know are married or in relationships. It's just school where people are immature, and I realized that most of the people I liked back then were unsuitable partners anyway.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Yes, I'm pretty sure that the correlation is the other way than the headline. That would-be terrorists are more likely to become engineers, in part to get the necessary skills to make the "tools of the trade".

  • Don't fuck with engineers - we *will* get even.

    • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:05AM (#51001175) Journal

      Hey look buddy, I'm an Engineer. That means I solve problems.
      Not problems like 'what is beauty?' Because that would fall
      within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve
      practical problems. For instance, how am I gonna stop some
      big mean motherhubbard from tearin' me a structurally
      superfluous new behind? The answer? Use a gun. And if that
      don' work, use MORE gun. Like this heavy caliber tripod-
      mounted little ol' number designed by me... Built by me...
      And you best hope...not pointed at YOU.

  • Or (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @10:45AM (#51001011) Journal
    Engineers are handy personnel assets in nearly every venture, and the field of terrorism is no exception.

    It is likely many promising young jihadists are schooled to suit the perceived needs of the movement.

    The claims in this summary reek of arriving at an opinion, and then fitting in the evidence as it suits your case.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The claims in this summary reek of arriving at an opinion, and then fitting in the evidence as it suits your case.

      You are aware of what a summary is, right?

    • If you can't trust then then it's safe to say they're not that handy. I think the summary mentions this...
    • Faulty Statistics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:17AM (#51001277)

      They deal with that in their summary - stating that they don't believe engineers are recruited for their utility value. My main problem is that they use this hand-wavey statement:

      Even if you make extremely generous assumptions, nine times as many terrorists were engineers as you would expect by chance.

      Well, it would be quite useful to have a run down of what assumptions they did make in coming to this conclusion. For example, it appears that most of these terrorists are males, and we know that engineering is heavily male dominated compared to other degree classes. So unless this has been accounted for, you would expect terrorists to be nearly twice as likely to be engineers than the general population anyway (oh scary!), but that is because terrorists are more likely to be males, not more likely to be engineers.

      It is pretty obvious that the terrorists identified so far are not representative of a general western population select by 'chance', so there is a lot of stuff that needs to be adjusted for before you can start claiming a particular degree is over represented among them.

    • It is likely many promising young jihadists are schooled to suit the perceived needs of the movement.

      So you think that they have a (figurative) farm system whereby they are training engineers years in advance of when they will need them? That argument fails Occam's Razor. A much simpler explanation is that individuals with technical skills are targeted for those skills.

      The claims in this summary reek of arriving at an opinion, and then fitting in the evidence as it suits your case.

      Sounds like you are trying to do the same.

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @10:46AM (#51001021)

    ...that I am totally not a terrorist, despite my nickname.

    Damned infidels...

    • I guess I fail as an engineer --

      - save my anger for Microsoft
      - liberal as all get-out
      - try to avoid blowing things up in the lab
      - not particularly religious

      • Yeah, me too. I even wish there were some other line of work I could get into, because 1) there's no women here and 2) most of my coworkers really are religious conservatives. How religion correlates with engineering, I have no idea. What attracted me to engineering was 1) working alone much of the time (open-plan work environments have completely ruined this), and 2) building cool things, making things work which implies a scientific mindset that things happen for a reason based in physics, not mysticism

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh good. Just what the world needs. More engineer bashing.

    For the record, I'm an engineer, PE license and everything. Liberal as they come (I think Bernie is too conservative on things like gun control). And I'm an atheist. Some of the engineers I know are conservatives, but few are religious. Logic and religion don't mix well. So I'm confused about this idea that engineers are more likely to be religious than the public at large. That just doesn't make sense to me.

    So I'm thinking the authors of this book..

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @12:15PM (#51001729) Journal

      So I'm confused about this idea that engineers are more likely to be religious than the public at large.

      Because deep down, terrorism isn't really about religion. Religion is just an excuse terrorists use.

    • (I think Bernie is too conservative on things like gun control).

      I'm a liberal engineer too, and I disagree about this. A strongly pro-gun-control position is a good way for a Democratic candidate to lose the general election, like what happened with Gore in 2000. Bernie's more moderate position is much more realistic in America at this time. Unless you live in the 'hood, your statistical likelihood of being killed by gun violence is ridiculously low, even if it is higher than western Europe or Australia

    • Some of the engineers I know are conservatives, but few are religious. Logic and religion don't mix well. So I'm confused about this idea that engineers are more likely to be religious than the public at large. That just doesn't make sense to me.

      It makes sense to me. Many engineers I've met seem to be both conservative and religious. Why? I have no idea. My guess is they're not very scientifically-minded and want a good income and stable career (hallmarks of conservatism), so they avoided going into sci

    • Oh good. Just what the world needs. More engineer bashing.

      Speaking as an engineer myself why should our field be above a good bashing when others aren't? We're not special. Folks here like to bash bankers, managers, marketing and other fields but can't imagine that engineers are anything other than wise saints who never do anything wrong or harmful. It's not true of course - engineers have the same human failures as anyone else.

      So I'm thinking the authors of this book... aren't engineers. Always easier to bash the other guy than look inward, innit?

      Given how much the engineers here bash other fields we certainly have a lot of engineers who can dish it out but cannot take it.

    • No, the authors are not engineers because engineers aren't trained to perform this kind of study. One author is a sociology professor the other is a comparative politics professor.

      Before you go crazy, everyone knows that few people are terrorists anyway, so few engineers are terrorists. They aren't trying to drive the engineers away with pitchforks.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If we posit that engineers tend towards engineering because they have more aptitude for technical thinking where the answers are usually clear - either it works or it doesn't. Then it makes sense that the same sort of person would also seek similar black-and-white explanations in other parts of their lives. Religious extremism is all about there being One Right Way. That's gotta be attractive to someone looking for clear-cut answers to problems that really don't have any perfect, or even necessarily cons

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If we posit that engineers tend towards engineering because they have more aptitude for technical thinking where the answers are usually clear - either it works or it doesn't. Then it makes sense that the same sort of person would also seek similar black-and-white explanations in other parts of their lives. Religious extremism is all about there being One Right Way. That's gotta be attractive to someone looking for clear-cut answers to problems that really don't have any perfect, or even necessarily consistent, answers.

      Except that religion tends to make no goddamn sense to a rational mind and gets rejected on sheer logical grounds. An overly religious "engineer" is like a doctor who smokes or a fat personal training, not to be trusted as there is a serious flaw in their thinking.

      • by wiggles ( 30088 )

        > Except that religion tends to make no goddamn sense to a rational mind

        Go read the Summa Theologica and get back to me on that. Nothing but logic and reason.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        Except that religion tends to make no goddamn sense to a rational mind and gets rejected on sheer logical grounds.

        Not a problem for people who can hold two opposing ideas in their mind without going nuts. As a Christian, I believe in evolution.

        • Except that religion tends to make no goddamn sense to a rational mind and gets rejected on sheer logical grounds.

          Not a problem for people who can hold two opposing ideas in their mind without going nuts. As a Christian, I believe in evolution.

          You've just posted a famous fallacy. To wit: you consider yourself not to have gone nuts, but to many others (both atheists and various extremists in other religions) you are in fact nuts. You claim to believe in X and not-X simultaneously, and that that is not crazy. hmmm....

          • by creimer ( 824291 )
            It really depends on whether or not the Bible is the literal word of God. I do not. So I'm incline to believe that the cosmos is billions of years old and not 6,000 years according a biblical timeline. Of course, some people believe I'm not a Christian because I don't put blind faith in the Bible.
      • Except that religion tends to make no goddamn sense to a rational mind and gets rejected on sheer logical grounds.

        There are plenty of high quality engineers and scientists who are not particularly rational and a fair number are deeply religious. There are members of the National Academy of Science who are devout. Some of our most famous scientists such as Newton were very religious. While religion is largely irrational, obviously there is something about it that some otherwise rational and intelligent humans find irresistible. Some people have a hard time with saying "I don't know". Some people are insecure and sc

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @10:57AM (#51001095)
    Engineers are wanted by all kinds of organizations... on other hand, social studies majors (that published this study) are 9 times less likely to even get a job as a suicide bombers.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @10:57AM (#51001097)

    >> (engineers) are seven times as likely to be both religious and conservative as social scientists

    The Paris terrorists didn't seem that "religious" or "conservative". From AFA: "She loved partying and going to clubs. She drank alcohol and smoked and went around with lots of different guys." (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3325180/Two-fingers-world-Pictured-Europe-s-female-suicide-bomber-booze-loving-extrovert-nicknamed-Cowgirl-love-big-hats.html)

    • ... and lost her mind.

      Which is a very typical path for religious converts (they tend to start out a bit unbalanced and vulnerable to begin with, get sucked into one religion or another, convert and become the worst, most zealous Godbotherers around)

    • There have been sex scandals involving famous televangelists, so I won't be surprised to see Islamic equivalents of preachers who don't practice what they preach. The loose lifestyle could also be a mere cover, similar to what a secret agent might do to hide in plain sight.
    • by 4im ( 181450 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:58AM (#51001609)

      From AFA: "She loved partying and going to clubs. She drank alcohol and smoked and went around with lots of different guys." (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3325180/Two-fingers-world-Pictured-Europe-s-female-suicide-bomber-booze-loving-extrovert-nicknamed-Cowgirl-love-big-hats.html)

      Except that particular story has turned out to be false - the images "proving" this were actually of a totally different moroccan woman. Her pictures were sold to media by a former friend, which turned on her and did this for revenge. That woman now lives in fear, for obvious reasons. Some of the media who published the pictures took them offline, but didn't fix their reports.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      The Paris terrorists didn't seem that "religious" or "conservative". From AFA: "She loved partying and going to clubs. She drank alcohol and smoked and went around with lots of different guys."

      I noticed at a class reunion that that some of the extremes had flipped, like a fairly freaky urban party girl now living on a small farm far out on the countryside while some of the absolutely most boring and conservative people had flipped out. Those who just leaned one way or the other were mostly the same. I know I'm being an armchair quarterback here but it's probably the same with some terrorists, they've lived the party life but lacked some deeper meaning and purpose to their life and then had a true

  • I'm actually quite surprised to see that engineers are more likely to be religious than not.

    Considering the fields that we (Engineers) study and how they generally explain how everything in the universe works as far as we can tell, that's strange.

    It reminds me of what Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Of the elite of the elite scientists of the world, 15% of them still have a personal relationship with a god in the vein of religion. Why is that number not zero?"

    • by hippo ( 107522 )

      Engineers are not scientists, Scientific methods are handy in finding out what is wrong but the goal of most engineers is to get the thing working and go to the pub. If I could sacrifice a goat and get this FPGA working I would.

      Belief in God or disbelief is hardly relevant to engineering.

  • oof (Score:3, Funny)

    by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:02AM (#51001147)

    I can hear Trump already: Build a wall and keep those engineers out! Close all the engineering schools!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Engineers of middle-eastern descend are more likely become jihadist.
    I don't recall reading or hearing about non middle-eastern engineers joining jihad.

  • I question how the expected number are derived -- from the population at large? Or from college graduates? MENA graduates proportionally far more engineers than western schools.

    There is also considerable confusion in the public and amongst engineers themselves about the differences with scientists. Briefly, scientists discover new effects while engineers use the available science to make their machines (systems) work.

    Scientists tend to focus very narrowly on the interesting effect. Engineers might like

  • Education (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:06AM (#51001181)
    Engineers spend a lot of time learning math and the sciences and do not get enough liberal arts exposure at all in their educational process. Therefore, you are training a sort of human calculator, who is not well connected with the feelings and hopes of others. On top of that, the frustration of seeing what could be dome as opposed to how little is actually done must frustrate the heck out of engineers.
    • On top of that, the frustration of seeing what could be dome as opposed to how little is actually done must frustrate the heck out of engineers.

      Why don't you read the original article? It basically makes that point.

      Engineers spend a lot of time learning math and the sciences and do not get enough liberal arts exposure at all in their educational process. Therefore, you are training a sort of human calculator, who is not well connected with the feelings and hopes of others.

      All engineering programs I have eve

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:07AM (#51001195)
    It's saying that being religious and politically conservative makes you more likely to be a terrorist. I'm sure this will cause no controversy whatsoever.
    • It's saying that being religious and politically conservative makes you more likely to be a terrorist. I'm sure this will cause no controversy whatsoever.

      Well, it's not what the original scientific article says. It's the WP article that misrepresented an article about Islamic extremism as being about violent extremism in general.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So we could fix a lot of problems by simply giving engineers from those areas projects that have a definite positive affect on their surrounding communities.
    We need to link people like Dean Kamen and projects like http://opensourceecology.org/ with Middle Eastern and African engineers.
    If they are using 100% of their time positively and are super busy, many birds are killed with one stone.

  • Selection bias (Score:5, Interesting)

    by taylorius ( 221419 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:15AM (#51001259) Homepage

    Maybe the engineers just tend to be the most "successful" at terrorism.

  • I don't come across many engineers who are conservative and religious. Most of them are atheist.
    • lol why post an article about religion and then automatically score someone a -1 for talking about religion...lol
  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:20AM (#51001301)

    An alternate explanation:

    People from countries whose predominant religion is Islam tend to be Muslim.

    Many of those countries are poor compared to Western nations.

    People like wealth, and wish to escape poverty.

    One popular method for escaping poverty is education.

    However, only certain kinds of education correlate strongly with financial independence.

    Islamic Studies majors, for instance, are a dime a dozen in Islamic countries.

    In the long run, a career in engineering is likely to be far more lucrative.

    But educational and economic opportunities in poor Islamic countries are limited.

    By contrast, there is a relative abundance of jobs and respected educational institutions in the Western world.

    But you can really only get into an math, science, or engineering program there, because the liberal arts programs are strongly biased towards the local culture.

    But math and science don't pay all that well.

    Therefore, people of college age in those countries look abroad to choose a college, and tend to choose engineering as their field of study.

    When they arrive in the West to attend college, they are immigrants, don't speak the language, and don't share the culture.

    They are also usually young.

    Young adults really want to socialize, especially with those of the opposite sex.

    The immigrant students can't socialize effectively with the local population, because of cultural differences, prejudices, and ordinary human nature.

    Also, they can't hook up with the opposite sex effectively, because there's no support structure in their host country to do that in compliance with their cultural restrictions.

    Young people who can't socialize tend to get depressed and angry.

    These students tend to blame the culture of their host country for their depression and anger.

    They become chronically homesick, and reject their host country in every way they can.

    A terrorist recruiter is trained to spot these disaffected students.

    The recruiter fulfills the student's need for socializing and the comforts of a familiar culture, by introducing them to other terrorist recruits.

    Having found community at last, the student stops seeking it elsewhere, and cuts off any other contacts he may have had.

    The community encourages and reinforces each other's anger, and directs it towards revenge.

    And that's why a lot of terrorists are engineers.

    • by Guppy ( 12314 )

      Liberal Arts Guys Think Engineers are All Killbots

      Hoho! How little do those liberal arts guys know -- Engineers aren't killbots themselves, they merely design and build them. For fun.

      "Ladies and gentlemen, my killbot has Lotus Notes and a machine gun. It is the finest available."

    • The authors address everything you suggested. Engineers who are more likely to be religious and conservative are also more likely to be terrorists, than other people.

    • In fact, if you read the original article, that's the kind of argument it makes. The WP article simply distorts what the original article was all about:

      These signs point to a classic explanation of the onset of rebel movements – frustrated rising expectations and relative deprivation – dating back to Aristotle and Tocqueville

    • I really wish a liberal arts major would format your post into paragraphs.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:21AM (#51001305)

    There is a strong selection bias - mostly they were reviewing the backgrounds of political prisoners and terrorist leadership, not the majority of the foot soldiers.

    In addition, from the linked pdf file:

    Only 33 cases out of a sample of 259 could be confirmed as having been to university. And for only 22 of them, we knew the exact subject. So they’re much more the kind of relatively socially marginal lumpen class that you would expect Islamists to be recruited from in the West. And among those few people who have a degree, and the 22 where we know which degree they have, a full 13 are actually engineers. So almost two-thirds of Western-based radical militant islamists turned out to be engineers.

    How can they extrapolate that "almost two-thirds of Western-based radical militant islamists turned out to be engineers"? All they know is that 13 of the 259 they reviewed had degrees in engineering subjects.

    • There are numerous other problems with the analysis. For example, the "nine-fold" claim comes from dividing the percentage of engineering graduates in the sample by the percentage of engineers in the general population of those countries. But since university degrees are greatly overrepresented among their sample, that greatly overstates the ratio. The first statistic that should strike people is not that engineers are overrepresented among terrorists, but that education is overrepresented among terrorists.

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      How? Very easily, they are not engineers and don't understand statistics.
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:27AM (#51001355)

    A lot of not very good engineers like these absolute answers and like things to be black or white. I run into them frequently. The worst is probably the IT security field, where things are often viewed as secure or not, with nothing in between. That is an epic fail in the real world, of course.

    Good engineers are not like that at all, they understand things like risk management, redundancy, real-world aspects, human factors and cost. But they are a minority, unfortunately.

    • The worst is probably the IT security field, where things are often viewed as secure or not,

      That question is easy, the answer is "not." All that remains is "how hard to access?"

  • I'd say it has more to do with being a male than with being an engineer.
    The trait that makes a person a terrorist is more primoral than "engineer type".

    Basically, terrorism is a fallback solution to changing/improving the world to fit your needs/desires.
    Which is what many male humans and thus male engineers would want to do.

    Tech experts are also prone to being smarter than average, narrow minded, misunderstood and socially excluded by people around them.
    This in turn leads to frustration. And I'd say roughly

  • In a lot of these countries, anyone who works with technology or turns a wrench calls himself an engineer. It could be an elevator operator or a guided-missile designer, or anyone in between.
  • Well maybe if they hadn't dragged their asses on the hdtv rollout.
  • " Survey data indicates engineering faculty at universities are far more likely to be conservative than people with other degrees, and far more likely to be religious"

    The statistic associating engineers with terrorism has been around for a while, but this explanation is a new one. This means that Texas ought to be a hotbed of terrorist activity.

  • Muslim engineers are MANY times more likely. How many non-Muslim engineers have become terrorists?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:57AM (#51001605) Journal
    Goes without saying correlation does not imply causation.

    Further it is hard to believe engg faculty are more conservative than business school faculty or law school faculty. I have been a TA in engg grad school. Our faculty ranged from my muslim PhD guru to dyed-in-the-wool Texas-homeland-hillbilly professor complete with knee high leather boots, 5 gallon hat and some kind of buckle-and-shoe-lace thing he wore instead of a tie, Korean war veteran.

    In Asia smart kids aspire to become engineers or doctors. They do well in home country and end up in USA engg school and suddenly are confronted with international level of academic competition. Those who just managed to make it just barely over the GRE score threshold find it very hard. I have seen grad students struggle. Psychological break down common because they have borrowed heavily to come to USA and their assistantship is on the verge of being taken away due to poor GPA. It transcends country of origin. Indian and Chinese students as likely to struggle here as are Middle Eastern, Taiwanese, Indonesian grad students.

    Further Engg/Med schools attract more international students, because lack of English knowledge is not as much of an impediment to Engg/Med schools compared to business or law schools.

    And the terrorists need engineers as much as any organization. Except for purely retail, purely accounting, purely law companies everyone else needs engineers. So they actively recruit among the frustrated engineers.

  • This must mean that the government should put permanent taps on engineers' computers, internet, and phone lines. Heck, cameras in their homes and cars as well. Because, you know, terrorism and the children.

  • Not all engineering shops have the same culture and these tend to vary by engineering specialty. Many engineers have little to do with tech. Structural, civil, environmental, chemical, even most mechanicals engineers may use software tools and electronic instruments, but many don't write code or develop electronics. If you walk into a shop full of PEs who serve the construction industry you will find a very different culture from some web shop. You will see much more muscular environment with far fewer
  • by nickweller ( 4108905 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @12:15PM (#51001727)
    "This explains why there are relatively few radical Islamists with engineering backgrounds in Saudi Arabia (where they can easily find good employment)"

    The reason you won't find many Islamists-engineer-radicals in Saudi Arabia is that they would dissapear into the prison system to be subject to various forms of torture. ref [youtube.com]
  • by BarneyGuarder ( 44042 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @12:18PM (#51001763)

    Many statements from the summary directly contradict my personal experience. The summary states:

    "Survey data indicates engineering faculty at universities are far more likely to be conservative than people with other degrees, and far more likely to be religious."

    Well, I'm an engineer and I work with engineers all day. I find the majority to be fairly liberal and not very religious. I always thought that it was a result of people being intelligent and familiar with the scientific method that made them less likely to swallow propaganda and dogma. Also, it is a largely foreign population and that is a factor since I meet the people who were educated enough to get jobs in different country from their own. I find that it is we Americans who are conservative and religious.

    Also, the summary states:

    "Gambetta and Hertog speculate that engineers combine these political predilections with a marked preference towards finding clearcut answers."

    I speculate that Gamgetta and Hertog are fearful and jealous of engineers. I work in chip design and there are very few clearcut answers. Furthermore, your opinion on whether or not something is a good idea has no bearing on whether or not it actually is. I find that to be a major difference between engineering and the the more "normal" fields; you have to build things that work in the real world, your ability to persuade someone will not improve the quality of whatever it is you are building. If my chips don't work, I can't argue in front of a judge that they really do work. Nor can I publish a book speculating how good they really are. No, I fscked up and I have to deal with it.

  • ...diatribes, usually against Einstein, or mathematicians that don't understand their wonderful two page proof of Fermat's Last Theorem(*), were always engineers. You always dread the big manila envelope in your (physical) mailbox. Then you open it to see about 100 pages of tightly written notes, or typed on a typewriter (none of them ever used LaTeX). Asking for your time to read through and appreciate, the great contributions that the writer has made to physics or pure mathematics, even though the first f
  • Engineering used by terrorists

    Lets declare a war on Engineering and ban all engineers

  • The point of the WP article isn't that we shouldn't make generalizations about groups, like "engineers" or "refugees". That's a good point to make, but it is missing one essential point: under existing US law, US engineers and refugees aren't legally equal. That is, it is entirely legitimate to discriminate against refugees in ways that it wouldn't be legitimate for US citizens.

    Nevertheless, the means by which the WP article attempts to make that point are wrong. Whether the author understands it or not, th

  • Are programmers more likely to be terrorists?

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @01:28PM (#51002495)
    There are a number of reasons for this: (1) family expectations of males to go into STEM, (2) STEM is more prestigious in Asia than it is in America or Europe and (3) colleges fold near-STEM majors into STEM, e.g. an accountant here might be called some sort of engineer in Asia. I've notice this in all parts of Asia- China, India, Syria, etc. A prime example of this that China's last three presidents have engineering degrees. Only two of the 45 US presidents had engineering degrees (Hoover, Carter).

    So my point is that if a lot of educated mideast males are engineers, it is more likely the radicals will be engineers too. I see nothing intrinsic in an engineering degree that would radicalize.

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