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April 13, 2008

Engineers Tend To Become Radicals?

Mark Devlin at Industrial Equipment News easily disembowels a 90-page paper written by a couple of Oxford academics.

The authors suppose an interesting direction: engineers radicalize. On the other hand, I don’t see the authors trying to prove the reverse: that it’s handy and serves many of their purposes for radicals to become engineers.

The following is just incredible (Page 19 if you’re following along). Here, I thought I’ve made some leaps of thought in my time…

Before attempting to explain what’s ‘wrong’ with engineers, we must consider the further question of whether they are overrepresented also among a different group of violent Islamic extremists from the ones we considered in the first sample, namely those born in or residents of Western countries who became active in recent times, mostly after 9/11.

What’s wrong with engineers? How could seemingly intelligent, highly educated (characteristics that aren’t necessarily associated) authors (of real books, apparently) begin ANY related thought process in such a way as to assume that there’s something wrong with engineers, and seemingly ignore the radical-TO-engineer direction so very consistently? Anyone care to comment on what’s wrong with sociologists?

The whole column is a joy to read. First, because the excerpts from the paper demonstrate that possession of a PhD is no talisman against profound goofiness. Secondly, because Mr. Devlin disposes of their arduous pap with alacrity.

Savor the difference in the intellectual competence of academics vs. a person who actually has to think for a living.

Please enjoy with my compliments, darling puddin' heads.

Thanks to Tom M.

Just Wondering... [ace] Okay, I know a lot of engineers read this blog and I don't want to piss them off, especially because they can make kickass letter bombs and shit.

I'm just brain-noodling here.

Question: Do any engineers believe their profession is overrepresented by those who are either strongly apolitical -- as in not just apathetic, but anti-political as a matter of considered principle -- or else strong ideological partisans for one party or the other or a fringe group like Libertarians?

Stop. Building. That Letter Bomb.

I'm asking because the engineer's mindset -- and likely then the personality type most strongly attracted to the profession -- is much concerned with streamlining, simplifying, cutting through bullshit, cutting down on wasteful steps, etc. And I wonder if then doesn't result in a tendency towards rejection of politics entirely as simply irrelevant to one's day-to-day life or else a strong identification with one political faction due to identifying one of any key factors (freedom, security, what have you) as primary and discarding most others as secondary at best.

I'm not talking extremists or radicals, necessarily. Just wondering. I really don't know myself; I just think it's an interesting question I'd pose to the engineers... and their girlfriends or boyfriends. (The latter would probably know better.)

I don't know many engineers but a friend of mine seems to me to have the personality type and brain type of engineers. His philosophy of life seems to be reduce all bullshit and all nonproductive/nonpleasurable distractions to zero, sometimes a bit further than I would. (Most guys are like this, anyway, of course; that's why, seriously, we hate holidays and sending cards and crap. It's all artificial nonsense and we rate it all as having low utility. Even though we know our moms and girlfriends like getting cards and thinking-of-you notes, we can't help being annoyed that you guys shouldn't derive any pleasure from that stuff. But I'm thinking engineers might tend to be uber-guys on this score.)

Again, I'm not knocking any engineers and I don't even have much of an anecdotal reason for asking this question at all. I know one dude who isn't even an engineer, he just seems to me to think like an engineer.

I'm just curious about human personality types. I have a pretty good idea what sorts of people are attracted to writing, for obvious reasons. And law. Just based on general lore I have an idea of what types of people become musicians.

I'm just wondering if anyone who actually knows notices any correlations between the engineering profession and personality type and political bent.

digg this
posted by Laura. at 12:29 PM

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