Monday, January 11, 2010

Watch out for engineers

Interesting article in Slate titled Build-a-Bomber asking why so many terrorists have engineering degrees.  A study by two sociologists, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, has shown engineers were three to four times more likely to become violent Islamic terrorists than their peers in other disciplines.

I found this interesting because of a phenomenon called the Salem Hypothesis which holds that there is a correlation between being a leader in the young-Earth creationism movement and having an engineering degree.

From the Slate article:

"Gambetta and Hertog write about a particular mind-set among engineers that disdains ambiguity and compromise. They might be more passionate about bringing order to their society and see the rigid, religious law put forward in radical Islam as the best way of achieving those goals."

Substitute "conservative Christianity" for "radical Islam" and the above statement makes just as much sense.  I'm not trying to denigrate engineers, just noting that otherwise intelligent people who have an absolutist mindset about religion might be drawn more toward academic fields with little ambiguity.

Or this all may just be complete bullshit.

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