Engineers are Terror-ble?

Engineers are angry – Beware!

Are engineers statistically more likely to be terrorists than other disciplines (or rather terrorists are more likely to be engineers) . If that is explained by greater ability to do something once they decide (they don’t have to learn much new to make a bomb etc.). They have ability to learn how to fly a plane? Or if it can be explained by their disappointment with engineering/science.

As discussed here Slate / Build-a-Bomber and here Fred Borz/ Are engineers more likely to become terrorists a study (reported as an essay in new scientist) found that among muslims, engineers were 3-4 times more likely to become terrorists. Also 60% of `muslim terrorists’ born in the west had engineering backgrounds.

Actually it seems like the disappointment from thwarted expectations is what made these people angry.

Gambetta and Hertog propose that a lack of appropriate jobs in their home countries may have radicalized some engineers in Arab countries. The graduates they studied came of age at a time when a degree from a competitive technical program was supposed to provide a guarantee of high-status employment. But the promises of modernization and development were often stymied by repression and corruption, and many young engineers in the 1980s were left jobless and frustrated.

Regarding American domestic terrorists I am not sure the trend holds true…
The Unabomber is said to be a talented mathematician, more likely to target engineers then be one. Timothy McVeigh left the education system after high school.

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3 Responses

  1. Please correct “where 3-4 times more” to read “engineers were 3-4 times more.” Otherwise it looks like this is an anti-Muslim article, and I don’t think that’s what you intended.

    Furthermore, please don’t credit me with the research. I was just reporting an interesting question from someone else’s research. As I stated at the beginning of my blog entry FROM 2009: “An essay in the 13 June [2009] issue of New Scientist suggests that people who study engineering in college are more likely to become terrorists or extremists.”

    The blog entry goes on to note: “The article focuses especially on Islamic terrorism, but their research has broader implications. The article begins with data showing that demographic profiling was useless in Germany…. They ended up with 1689 individuals to investigate, and they did so, one by one. The result? Not a single threat!… But further study of extremists and terrorists worldwide turned up a surprising number of engineers. The authors think the finding is significant.”

    Fred Bortz

  2. Thanks for your suggestions.

    I do always get confused by where and were because I try to pronounce them the same.

    “hwair wur yoo”

  3. One reader suggested this might be correlated with the Salem Hypothesis.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Salem_Hypothesis

    This might also be relevant:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spotlight_fallacy

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