Being an engineer, yesterday’s editorial entitled "Engineering terror" made me perk up. Drawing from the results of a study by a pair of Oxford sociologists who noted that a high percentage of the violent Muslim jihadis had been trained as engineers it went on to make some very loopy generalizations:
...data to suggest that there is a "mindset" inherent to engineers that may make them attractive candidates for Islamist recruitment.
...[engineers] are known to have the most pronounced tendency to vote conservatively
...anyone who's had engineers as friends knows they can be prone to sneering at "soft" academic disciplines.
...engineering may be the most religion-like of scholarly fields...
Well, I suppose someone had better get busy modifying the iron ring ceremony to include an admonition to kill the infidels.
Anyway, it was inevitable that rebuttals would be forthcoming. And sure enough there were two excellent letters printed today (here and here).
D. Hoffer of Winnipeg:
There is a more logical explanation. Muslim extremists recruit methodically and evaluate their recruits meticulously. The dumb ones get to wear a suicide belt and blow up a restaurant. The bright ones are more useful...
Flies don't cause manure and engineering schools aren't incubators for terrorism recruits. Engineering schools are, however, a useful way for terrorists to learn how to be massively destructive.
Ian B. McLeod, Oakville, Ont:
Bravo! Messrs Hoffer and McLeod.
...this ... sullies the name of all engineers and is truly unbelievable coming from a world renown national newspaper.
The engineering profession has done more good on this planet than all other vocations combined. ... ... ... ... Without engineers, the planet would quickly grind to a halt. The same cannot be said for editorialists.
...that all engineers are conservative (I doubt you will find one in Engineers Without Boarders), and that as a group we are highly religious is grossly false.
... the social scientists that came up with this cockamamie theory ... need a refresher course in engineering cause and effect.
The entire premise of the social scientists theory is backwards. ... I guess it takes an engineer to point out the intuitively obvious.
I would have thought that the National Post editorial board would have figured that out on there own, seeing that you collectively spent all those years studying such nuanced causation in your enlightened social science classes.