back to article Sociologists: Studying engineering turns you into a terrorist

A pair of sociologists have produced a piece of research in which they claim that graduate engineers are statistically over-represented among jihadi terrorists. They go on to suggest that engineers have a "terrorist mindset" making them likelier to turn jihadi than other kinds of people. The lead author of the study is Diego …

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Anonymous Coward

I'll give you another statistic

100% of Islamic Terrorists are Muslim!

So being a Muslim turns you into a terrorist.

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You've got to keep in mind

that the people on the list may not be terrorists in any real sense (given where the data came from) nor can we be certain that the degrees are correctly attributed.

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Paris Hilton

Sociologists Just Smarting

Because they are not taken seriously by other academic disciplines.

If I recall on the toilet wall at my old university, written above the toilet paper, were the words: "Sociology Degrees - Please Take One"

The picture is Paris Hilton, who would excel in Sociology.

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Pirate

Bass Ackwards as usual?

Would it not be more likely that jihadist types would try and recruit people who actually know how to make bombs?

The bigger question is, what proportion of jihadis raise funds from downloading music?

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Pirate

They may have a point

Because as an engineer, I'm feeling well inclined to launch a bloody jihad against sociologists.

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Surely,

that's because all the arts grads are flipping burgers?

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Rob
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Innumerate hippy cunts!

Huh! Just because they were too thick to study a real subject and had to settle for arty-farty socio-bollocks, they're now jealous of people who aren't retarded fuckwits and are trying to make themselves feel better with all this "They're not really cleverer than us, they're potential terrorists!" shite!

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Well I'm an engineer

and I do have fun at airports figuring out the holes in the security.

One small step to killing hundreds of innocent people, really.

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Coat

No worries, Lewis

In a few more years NuLabr will have closed all the science and engineering departments and we'll only have radical Islamists with sociology degrees - no chance of them constructing a working bomb.

What's the difference between an engineering graduate, a science graduate and a sociology graduate?

The engineering graduate asks: "How does this work?"

The science graduate asks: "Why does this work?"

And the sociology graduate asks: "D'ya want fries with that?"

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Paris Hilton

FFS

Lets face if if I was going to recrute a terrorist, I would choose somebody with a few practictal abilitys rather an a fecking sociologist who would want to drink lattes and write a paper about it

Yet another attempt by the chattering classes try to discredit people who actually are attempting to be of some practical use.

May of the terrorists are engineers because they see some practical use for engineering within the country they hail from (or aspire to live in)

Sociologists, the Paris Hiltons of acedemia

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Joke

Why didn't anyone tell me ?

Well I'm a mechanical engineer and I always thought I was C of E !

So I've got to be a terrorist now?

God...er... Allah help me when I tell the missus to put on a veil. Oivay !

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Flame

Statistically speaking...

this pair of sociologists appear to be 100% ARSEHOLES!!

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Black Helicopters

Arse V's sciences

Sociologists may think otherwise but allowing people with arse degrees near mathematics (even if it is just stats) and scientific sampling methods is just foolish. They should go back to enquiring if we require fried reconstituted potatoes with our mechanically recovered meat-like animal products.

Icon, 'cos I've never seen such stats abuse outside of a government report

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Black Helicopters

Engineers get things done - arts grads like to talk

Remember the whole anti-Thatcher crusade that never was?

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Go

Quick...

> The duo also cite Wikipedia. (Honest, they really do - note 4, page 4.)

Post by Andrew Orlowski in 5... 4... 3...

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Coat

Sociologists urgently needed!

Completely implausible post-title.

Coat please - the one with a degree in something actually useful the pocket....

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Anonymous Coward

Talking shite turns you into a sociologist...

...evidently. Remember when Diamond car insurance did this? "Since most accidents are caused by men, why pay the price for being a woman?" Except that if you select any arbitrary criteria, you'd find it unlikely to be an even split, so you could make that argument for absolutely anything - as the sociologist have done. Bless 'em - get 'em a job on Deal Or No Deal chanting "blue blue blue" at sealed boxes.

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Another stat

By reading that article I can conclude that 100% of socialogists are twats with a pointless degree. Carry on stacking those shelves boys....

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Alert

oh noes

Who will build your spaceships and anti lizard weapons if we dont have any engineers? or are the detailed instructions in the not so secret texts, ill have to take a look.

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Bronze badge

Another Source of Statistical Bias

It may well be that the professors are quite correct that, among college-educated members of Hamas, or Islamic Jihad, or al-Qaeda, there are more engineers proportionately than among college-educated members of Baader-Meinhof or the Red Brigades.

This may be because engineering is less incompatible with a traditional, conservative mindset than being a liberal arts student.

On the other hand, it might also be because the traditional, conservative - and often poor - countries of the Islamic world emphasize practical subjects like engineering in their post-secondary educational systems more than they do the liberal arts

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To be fair

Most people with a BEng spent half there early lifes blowing stuff up or pulling it appart, and the other half putting working out how to it back togeather. Or at least I did, but then I did fail to get a BEng and ended up with a BSc (My maths was not good enough).

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Hmm

Do people realise that hard line religious fundamentalists tend to steer clear of religious studies and philosophy subjects - to them, they consider those two subjects, subjects of the devil. So what do they do? they take 'hard subjects' which don't challenge their rigid beliefs. That is why there are so many taking engineering. Nothing to do with the mind set of engineers.

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Boffin

Don't forget

Howard Marks, the reformed dope-smuggler (an occupation which involved travelling to politically-unstable areas of the third world) has an MSc. in nuclear physics from Oxford University. In other words, he probably knows how to build an atom bomb. For real, not just something off the Internet.

Ever wondered why he can walk into a police station with a bifter on the go and not raise too many eyebrows?

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Sociology degrees

Some years ago, when I was studying mathematics at one of our leading universities, the gents toilets had a handy dispenser for sociology degrees installed in each of the cubicles. They came on a roll, with perforations between them to make it easier to detach one, and the paper was nice and soft.

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Typical bloody arts students

When I was doing my engineering degree at Southampton, a bunch of layabout arts and social science left wing students started a campaign called SCAMROC (Southampton Campaign Against Military Research On Campus) because they were jealous of all the research money the engineering and science faculties were pulling in for doing military research.

They managed to force the scheduling of a vote at the students union to demand students boycott all lecturers and faculty who received money for military research.

Fortunately the idiots forgot 4 key elements a) engineers don't like being threatened by arts students, b) the engineering faculty at the time was by far the biggest faculty on campus, c) engineers can organise themselves without having to plaster posters all over the campus and most importantly d) most engineers had already had a morning of lectures by lunchtime when the vote was taking place whilst most of the arts students hadn't even got out of bed.

Needless to say whilst engineers almost never attended union meetings, we flooded this particualr one and defeated the SCAMROC vote by more than 2 to1.

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And engineers are over-represented because...

...a higher proportion of middle-eastern university students actually study science and engineering subjects than in the liberal arts obsessed West, particularly the middle east students who study abroad. I can't think of ANY middle-eastern students I knew at Uni who weren't studying some kind of engineering or science subject. Maybe these sociologists should talk to a statistician first...

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Pirate

BSc

would that be a Bronze Swimming certificate? ;)

wait, If i wanted to do engineering but ended up doing science... would that make me a super terrorist?

pic related, Anon would approve of a mass-murdering doctor...

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Coat

Ig Nobel prize candidates.....

par excellence!!

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Hmmm

Let's just put aside the fact that the subjects of choice for many Muslims is Engineering, Law, Medicine, and Computing, studying society in a scientific way isn't really going to help them blow sh*t up is it?

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Flame

Correlation

Is the sample large enough to be statistically significant? No.

Have the independent factors which might account for this correlation been analysed? No.

Is this study, which cites Wikipedia as a source, anything more than desperately woolly thinking? I think not.

Nothing to see here, move on.

Dunstan, M.A., C.Eng., M.I.E.E.

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Joke

Title

If terrorists recruited Sociologists you'd end up with a group like the People's Front for Judea.

• JUDITH: They've arrested Brian!

• REG: What?

• COMMANDOS: What?

• JUDITH: They've dragged him off! They're going to crucify him!

• REG: Right! This calls for immediate discussion!

• COMMANDO #1: Yeah.

• JUDITH: What?!

• COMMANDO #2: Immediate.

• COMMANDO #1: Right.

• LORETTA: New motion?

• REG: Completely new motion, eh, that, ah-- that there be, ah, immediate action--

• FRANCIS: Ah, once the vote has been taken.

• REG: Well, obviously once the vote's been taken. You can't act another resolution till you've voted on it...

• JUDITH: Reg, for God's sake, let's go now!

• REG: Yeah. Yeah.

• JUDITH: Please!

• REG: Right. Right.

• FRANCIS: Fine.

• REG: In the-- in the light of fresh information from, ahh, sibling Judith--

• LORETTA: Ah, not so fast, Reg.

• JUDITH: Reg, for God's sake, it's perfectly simple. All you've got to do is to go out of that door now, and try to stop the Romans' nailing him up! It's happening, Reg! Something's actually happening, Reg! Can't you understand?! Ohhh! [slam]

• REG: Hm. Hm.

• FRANCIS: Oh, dear.

• REG: Hello. Another little ego trip for the feminists.

• LORETTA: What?

• FRANCIS: [whistling]

• REG: Oh, sorry, Loretta. Ahh, oh, read that back, would you?

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Flame

Missing the point

Sorry to spoil the sociology-bashing fest, but it doesn't actually matter what definition of engineering they use,so long as they're consistent. The important question - and the Register summary largely ignores this - is whether the % of engineers (however you define them) amongst jihadis is higher than the % of engineers amongst graduates in general. So long as you use the same definition of engineer for each of those two figures, the comparison is perfectly fair. Okay, you might not like the definition they use, but so long as they used it consistently, their conclusions are valid for that particular definition.

Perhaps it's the case that architects are extremely prone to turning jihadi and their controversial inclusion has skewed the data, reflecting badly on the poor innocent little engineers. I rather doubt this. The group whose name they're tarnishing might be a bit arbitrary, but unless it's only the subgroups whose inclusion you disupute who are responsible for the higher rate of jihadist tendancies, then the core group of "real" engineers must also have a statistically significant difference from average in this respect.

As a software developer; I can say more about the validity of their statistical methods than about the sources themselves. If the data sources they've used are unreliable, then so are their conclusions. A quick look through the paper, though (did anyone else bother to do this?), suggests that their actual methods are fine. However, feel free to carry on with the knee-jerk "would you like fries with that comments" if that's more fun than debating the paper itself.

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jai
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the real threat to our society

is that people like this get paid to come up with rubbish like this

my hard earned tax money is probably funding part of this so-called research

it's an outrage!!!!

(there should be a Mighty Boosh icon to attach to the comments)

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Law
Black Helicopters

erm

Well I'm a programmer, working for a company that does DVRs for CCTV systems (I write things that spy on people.. sorry).... one thing I've noticed is that a good way of coming up with solutions to problems like terrorists is to plot your own attack and then try to catch yourself doing it..... so that might explain the engineering thing (is software engineering included in the terrorist list?).

I think these sociologists have been advising the government on testing too, because to deal with our "new kind of threat" bombers, the government footage you need to pass on have people leaving packages, suitcases and bottles in areas, then moving away. This may have worked 10 years ago with our home-grown nutcases the IRA... but these days all the cool kids just tend to explode with the packages.... so before the governments next line of defence is operational, the terrorists have already got around that sneaky problem!!

Another hilarious fact - not a single bearded asian guy in any of the test footage.... infact, only one white woman and the rest we fat white men in suits.... maybe the systems are being built to compliment the already stupid profiling that goes on by the airport/tube staff, not replace it! :)

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Really funny

How the Engineers in our midst are still living out the military/industrial complex paradigm.

Whereas the Sociologists have long moved into the media/information complex paradigm. Same smoke and mirrors, but different sorts of bombs, see? And I don't mean cyber-terrorism either. If you'd only look, you'd see that what the country needs is a few battalions of Royal Sociologists to repulse the demoncracy of the Nu Insect Overlards.

I blame it on Ada - that's where IT all started to go wrong for the Engineers. Truth arranged by committees - make arranged marriages look good.

As there's no AI icon I had to choose the sad penguin. Let's cheer him up.

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Stop

@John Savard

Quite. Correct, too.

Less of the flame war on 'soft' sciences and the 'liberal' subjects please...all disciplines have their nitwits producing vapid papers to ensure tenure - just go to the Improbable Research site:

http://www.improb.com/

Nb, my degree is in Comp Sci, in case you were going to flame me...

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Pirate

Actually, if you look at it rationally

They're idiots. You can work with the numbers--but they're as backwards as they can be. YEC's, creationists, and others of that particular group are poorly represented in higher academic fields....Except for--wait for it--ENGINEERS.

This is purely anecdotal(actually, I think someone actually did numbers for it, but I'll be damned if I'm going to go bother finding it), but it makes sense if you think in terms of the old saying..."when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail". Same applies to engineers. An engineer looks around to see, expectedly, everything is engineered!

No one knows why creationists are highly represented in both engineers and web programmers, but one can guess.

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Boffin

Fatal combination?

Speaking as an engineer - who used to be a scientist - I see the other "divisions" of the student body as follows:

Artists: long on talk, short on action, easily distracted by nonsense. Good for climbing on barricades and then looking silly by doing things like stripping naked as an artistic protest. Literary types believe that action consists of writing articles.

Pol Sci and SocSci: Very long on talk, apt to get others to do dirty work for them, mostly waiting for their turn at the trough, so unlikely to rock the boat too much.

Scientists: Politics? What's that? Is is how we get our money?

Engineers on the other hand see the world, understand something about most of it, and have the tools to fix things they see as broken. They also get to travel, courtesy of globalization and the need for tech workers in industrialized countries. So, no surprise about the outcome of the research, really.

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I can just see it now

Head T to budding T: "Go forth and learn how to make a bomb so that we may bring fear and terror to those who don't pray to Mecca"

Budding T to head T: "Sounds good, what's the catch?"

Head T to budding T: "You will learn this by studying sociology as we need to distort the study conducted by those 2 twats in academia"

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Tim

I believe it

For a terrorist to make a name for himself (I'm assuming that there are few if any female terrorists of Musilim background) he has to stay alive long enough to do something useful (Generally Killing Infadels).

I'm fairly sure that saying:

"Not now I'm working on this bomb, I'll come throw rocks at the American tank later" goes down alot better than

"I'm watching this film and contemplating the deeper meaning behind the colour of the sky in the final scene"

I'm also sure the less throwing rocks at tanks you do the longer you live, although not being a scientologist I can't just publish it citing wikipedia, I'd have to actually perform some research.

This leads me to the conclusion you'd make a better terrorist being educated in engineering. Although further research is needed.

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Paris Hilton

Plenty of people call themselves 'engineers'....

...but very few actually are. Everyone from toilet cleaners to technicians. Engineering is the 'physical application of the sciences'. As in you have to know the theory of why what you're designing actually works rather than just being able to make a bracket, fix something or write software :p

How many of these 'engineers' were eligible for Chartered CEeng / CPEng status? None I bet. And don't both counting those muppets with 3rd class 'engineering' degrees either. Got one here that doesn't know Ohms law, and yes he has an electronics engineering degree.

Paris, cos I bet she puts 'Male Services Engineer' on forms.

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Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is probably a more reliable source than one of their other major ones - Fox News. Fair and Balanced indeed.

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Alien

@DeFex

Errr.. whilst the fuzzy thinking is just as evident in both groups, we're ragging on the Sociologists here. We'll do for the Scientologists later..

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Paris Hilton

Quetelet must be turning in his grave

Could it be that the only terrorists who get good enough to be noticed are engineers? Working with explosives tends to be very self-selecting (truly a case of survival of the fittest).

On a tangential note, I seem to remember noticing a preponderance of former LSE students among terrorists around the time that they caught Carlos the Jackal.

(we need a "may contain highly dubious content requiring an arts degree or below" icon - oh wait, found it!)

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Oh, and one more huge bias...

In addition to the complete randomnes sof the criteria and the fact that there is a bias toward engineering for middle-eastern students:

Is the list drawn up in any way representative? IMHO, 'basic' terrorist would end up nonames in Al Qaida in Iraq and would explode somewhere killing troups or innocent civilians.

Then you never have their name anywhere, because they're all the same, they're 'an iraki terrorist' or 'an afghan terrorist'. Those who get their name known are those who have a plan, or are part of it.

Guess what? Scientific people, like for instance engineers, make plans.

Sociologists, on the other hand, seemingly don't. They take some data, try to make it explode in a report, and because they're so lame you never hear about them again because the bomb report is comlpetely ill-conceived and does nothing at all.

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effect as cause?

Maybe they were already jihadist and decidet that engineering was the more useful course of study than sociology. They want to be effective bombardiers (engineering) not bombastic missionaries (sociology).

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Coat

Sociology Degrees

Second only in uselessness to Media Studies!

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Dictators through history

A while ago motivated by similar thoughts I selected a range of dictators, henchmen, and similar historical villains to work out what they had studied at college. Engineering proved quite popular, particularly in Communist countries, though law was also common, as was a military education; and a surprising amount had qualified as schoolteachers. A selection of subjects:

Engineering: Lavrentiy Beria (Stalin's head of secret police), Leonid Brezhnev, Pol Pot, Leopoldo Galtieri (Argentinian dictator), Osama bin Laden

Law: Lenin, Slobodan Milosevic, Ante Pavelic (Croat fascist leader), Richard Nixon

Art, literature, architecture: Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer, (Hitler couldn't get in to art college)

Medicine: Josef Mengele, Radovan Karadzic

Education/teaching: Robert Mugabe, Mao Zedong (also a librarian for a while), Benito Mussolini

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Joke

tetchy

tetchy... and all cos some flakes put together some poor research about ye're jobs. I'd hate to see the reaction if someone were to slander something more important.... say your religion. I'd say that would provoke some reaction, eh?

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