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Terrorist engineers

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 by Nigel Jones

From time to time I comment on things related to engineers (as opposed to engineering). This is one of those times!

Anyway as you may know, someone tried to blow an airliner out of the sky the other day. What you may not know is that once again the perpetrator was an engineer. I say ‘once again’ because as this opinion piece in the New Scientist discusses, engineers are distressingly common in terrorist groups. Anyway, I suggest you read the article as it addresses some of the ‘obvious’ reasons, while suggesting something insightful about engineers as a group. I also suggest you read the comments as many of them are very thought provoking.

My next posting will be a little more cheerful.

4 Responses to “Terrorist engineers”

  1. DGentry says:

    "…engineering professors in the US are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious as other academics…"That seems odd to me, though of course I've conducted no formal polls nor research. In Silicon Valley at least, engineers seem to be no more likely to be right-wing and/or religious as the rest of the population. Which is to say, strongly left-leaning and mostly non-religious.

  2. Sparks says:

    It was terribly difficult to not leave a comment on the original article in Slate on this topic that there are more engineers in terrorist attacks for the same reason that there are more armed criminals involved in shooting incidents (than unarmed ones)…

  3. Nigel Jones says:

    Actually I avoided the Slate article and went to the primary source because it addressed a lot of the issues – including the one that Sparks has raised here. I think if you go back and read the full article, you'll see that they explicitly explored this avenue – and rejected it.

  4. Mike says:

    “engineering professors in the US are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious as other academics”

    Mmmm….statistics. What is it they say about them?

    Since, in my experience, “other academics” are to the left of the public in general (to the far left, some would say) I don’t find it difficult to accept that engineering professors (hopefully more logical than, say, their liberal arts peers) would be more “right wing”.

    But the obvious insinuation here is that engineering professors are somehow the equivalent of Attila the Hun. That would be a bad conclusion, and typical of the left-wing media!

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