Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The engineer terrorist   posted by Razib @ 12/30/2009 10:25:00 AM

Slate reviews the scholarly literature. Explaining the mechanics of the over-representation of engineers at the higher echelons of transnational terrorism is a guessing game, but the empirical reality seems relatively robust. Though I suspect that sociological and economic factors are necessary (see the linked paper in the article), I think the ultimate precondition has to be the psychology and training of engineers, who are geared toward analysis of a problem and devising a solution. The most ingenious/ridiculous models of Young Earth Creationism seem to spring from the minds of fundamentalist engineers, who must resolve their Biblical literalist premises with the world as it is. One can foresee how the same sort of mentality would be much more explosive in the Islamic world, where the fundamentalist premises lead to a set of inferences (e.g., Islam's manifest superiority over the West) which seems at variance with the state of the world. The engineer resolves this contradction by devising "solutions."