back to article Engineers are cold and dead inside, research shows

A study carried out by psychology researchers in Sweden has shown that people who go into engineering are less caring and empathetic than those who enter professions such as medicine. Chato Rasoal and his colleagues determined this by surveying 200 students from six different study programs, using a "well-established …

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  1. Silverburn
    Holmes

    Alternatively....Engineers are normal human beings, and those entering the "caring" professions are actually more empathetic that the norm?

    Not that I have any feelings about the whole thing anyway...apparently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm an engineer, I have sex every day with different people, I date more than three women at a time, I pay child support to my 5 children by 4 mothers.

      How can you say I am less empathetic and caring?

      Wo came up with these stupid statistics?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Joke

        Please leave Wo out of this. I'm sure he had nothing to do with your life choices.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Coat

          Wo is the president of China?

          1. Spoonsinger
            Coat

            Wo is the president of China?

            Hu is!

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. scrubber

            Chinese President?

            No, Wo's on first.

            1. Spoonsinger

              Re: No, Wo's on first.

              I'm asking YOU, Hu's on first.

              1. BillG Silver badge

                Hu's on first.?

                I don't know.

              2. Ploughmans Lunch
                Go

                Re: No, Wo's on first.

                Yu's next

              3. Seanmon
                Boffin

                Re: No, Wo's on first.

                The first woman was created when the first man was bitten by a radioactive Wo. Fact.

      2. gromm

        You're an Engineer and you have *time* to regularly find new bedmates?

        Something doesn't add up there.

      3. csmac3144

        Well you certainly aren't the typical engineer. Your description, however, is of a textbook narcissist and borderline sociopath.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: oversexed engineer

        I think what you described of yourself would certainly qualify you as "less empathetic and caring" that the average human.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: oversexed engineer

          Thank you Ted, that was the joke.

      5. apjanes
        Facepalm

        Hmm... I wonder...

        ... how many of those women who you dated, impregnated and then left to move on and impregnate another woman (not to mention the children who have a dad spread among four other families) would class you as caring and empathetic?

        When engineers produce a rather dubious definition of what caring an empathetic actually are, the study starts to look meritorious! :D

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Actually, all normal people have different levels of empathy.

      If you do a fair bit of reading about Neurology then you might be interested to learn that contrary to the prevailing social agenda people are very decidedly not born equal, or anything like it. There are 9 (currently recognised) areas in the brain (namely motor control, object recognition, spacial processing, attention span, language, memory, executive function, emotion, and artistry) that will function at different levels in any person.

      One could postulate that people with better systematising and memory skills are more likely to be drawn to engineering or technical fields as these fields reward people with a better memory and the ability to think logically.

      Meanwhile, people with above average motor control, spacial recognition and spacial recognition and likely to go into which kind of area? Kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life.

      1. Gartal
        Meh

        Being a prick

        I mean me, not you.

        The current use of the term all people are created equal is incorrect. Firstly it must be taken in the context of its time; there was no IVF.

        Bluntly, it means as my mother so succinctly put it and she was quoting some ancient Roman, " Everyone is born between the piss and the shit." That's it.

      2. boltar Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life."

        Alarming to whom? Sounds pretty obvious to me. If you're born thick you're going to end up in a lousy job, on welfare or a sportsman. If you're born smart then you'll (probably) end up in some academic or white collar profession.

        1. Cheapster

          If you are born thick and wealthy you should have a good career, lawyer sale exec etc. if you are born clever and poor you stand very little chance.

      3. Nigel 11
        IT Angle

        Why?

        Kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life.

        Why alarming?

        Most people, I suspect, "go with the flow" and do something that takes advantage of whatever natural abilities they discover they posess. Innate ability AND determination, that's a path to the top.

        A few will choose to do it the hard way and succeed by sheer determination. Fine if that's a free choice. A recipe for terrible unhappiness for all concerned if the path is imposed by others (typically parents).

        It's another facet of the old nature / nurture debate.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          Why alarming?

          Because I severely limited what I was posting so I didn't bore everybody to death. Suffice to say those are the major areas.

          Minor areas cover things such as sensitivity to particular inputs such as touch, light, smell, sound are also on a sliding scale. (see sensory processing disorder for the extreme) People with a low sensitivity to sound are quite likely to prefer loud heavy rock music, where at the other end of the scale your likely to find people liking the more delicate instrumental music, and that's just the really obvious starting points.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Social sciences FUD!

        >my warm and empathetic personality.

        It doesn't come out in your posts.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Social sciences FUD!

        The surveyers obviously never looked at the Slashdot forums! I think they are confusing the techie ability to hide our emotive side behind sarcasm and bad humour with "cold and uncaring", preferring hysterical public displays and outbursts as somehow being "empathic".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Social sciences FUD!

          Actually, I am going off Slashdot because so many cold, vengeful, authoritarian people seem to want to use it to propose their simplistic, mechanistic solutions for human problems. If they are not demanding the right to own automatic rifles because the bad guys have semi-automatics, they are demanding that everybody over the age of about 5 be taken to court for minor offences.

      3. Blitterbug
        Unhappy

        Re: even the Microsoft astroturfers love my warm and empathetic personality

        New kb pls kthxbai

    4. Shagbag

      Who gives a fuck?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Dave Bell

      I do wonder why there was not a control group. There's an implicit one from the design of the test they used, but is that enough.

      (The family statistician tells me that without a control group of some kind, you cannot really distinguish their claim from your hypothesis, but he'd have to read the original paper to decide how stupid they might have been.)

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        From personal experience of social science practitioners, they have no control group for one of two reasons. Either they don't understand the importance (or possibly the concept, it can be very hard to tell the difference) or because it prevents them getting the result they are after in order to draw their pet conclusion.

    6. Nigel 11
      Linux

      I'll bet engineers are a lot more empathetic than what I'd call the uncaring professions. Lawyers, bankers, politicians ... the usual suspects. You don't have to be a psychopathic narcissist to be in that crowd, but it surely helps.

      Engineers and programmers are far more commonly INT[JP]personality types than mere chance would suggest. Whether or not you feel that classifying personalities into sixteen groups has any more merit than IQ testing, the correlation is quite striking. These are quite rare personality types. (The rarest? I'm not sure).

  2. Joe Pineapples
    Unhappy

    Cold and dead

    I think it's through lack of pay and recognition over many decades. We were once a happy breed :-)

    1. fixit_f
      Flame

      Re: Cold and dead

      I like the sentiment, but not sure it's completely true. We have it pretty easy really with our cushy desk jobs, statutory holiday time, sick days and other such benefits. Go back 2 generations and people did some really awful shit for a living, things like mining and horrid factory work in nasty, polluted conditions. Our grandparents would probably only get a few weekdays off a year, and the general difficulty of life was much higher. So what you said is a nice snappy one liner, sure, and a lot of people upvoted you but I'd imagine your grandparents would find it a bit whingey :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cold and dead

        > Go back 2 generations and people did some really awful shit for a living, things like mining and horrid factory work in nasty, polluted conditions. Our grandparents would probably only get a few weekdays off a year.

        Now people work for nice, enlightened companies like Zynga and EA.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

    That should cover everybody!

    1. stanimir
      Meh

      Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

      Actually the summary says: 365 students from four different health care profession programmes and 115 students from two different engineering programmes

      I was wondering how they compensated for gender difference so I tried to read the paper but paying $45 to find out why exactly medical people dominate the empathy category looks unreasonable.

      Morealso why dollar currency for a site hosted in UK?

      1. jake Silver badge

        "Morealso why dollar currency for a site hosted in UK?"

        Because the bulk of the useful typing seems to being done out of the California office?

        Just ruminating ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

        "but paying $45 to find out why exactly medical people dominate the empathy category looks unreasonable."

        Is the article on JSTOR?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

          > Is the article on JSTOR?

          Hehe, you're killing me!

      3. RonWheeler

        Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

        '115 students from two different engineering programmes'.

        So the interview and employment styles/procedures/requirements of two engineering programmes are the elephant in the room they missed, never mind the small sample size.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow! "200 students from six different study programs"!

        > ... 115 students from two different engineering programmes

        >

        > I was wondering how they compensated for gender difference

        Gender difference? I'm sure that out of 115 engineering students there might have been a female one. Granted they would probably have to have examined her very closely to be sure.

  4. Number6

    Obviously

    Machines are much easier to get on with than people.

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

    What a surprising result.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

      Admission to a medical school pretty much guarantees a huge salary for life irrespective of whether or not you turn out to be good at dealing with people. Most degree courses don't have this guaranteed paycheck for those who don't drop out. Life as a GP is repetitive and if fun for a while, its an unimaginative or greedy kind of person who wants to spend 40 years repeating the same week so its not surprising GPs often move on to other less well paid jobs. I'd be interested to hear what psychologists have to say about the kinds of people attracted to this well paid but repetitive kind of work.

      1. scarshapedstar
        FAIL

        Re: Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

        This is perhaps the most spectacularly ill-informed comment... ok, never mind, this the internet.

        Nevertheless:

        1) GPs are paid less than specialists.

        2) Specialists do the same thing every week. That's why it's called a specialty.

        3) Psychiatry is actually both well-paid and repetitive...

      2. elderlybloke
        IT Angle

        Re: Medical researcher finds that medical people are wonderful!

        It seems that you are not fond of Doctors, and the best thing for you to do is to avoid all contact with the greedy rotters.

        My Doc. seems to be an exeption, he actually seems to be a carining sort of youth.

        He will grow out of it , as he is only up to age 47.

  6. Mr Brush
    Holmes

    Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

    Sales 'people' on the other hand are actually evil. Truely dead inside and would happily eat a baby if there was margin in it.

    1. I think so I am?
      Joke

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      So that mean that Fat babies are safe from pedophiles but are lunch for Sales people - Its a scary world for the next generation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      "Sales 'people' on the other hand are actually evil. Truely dead inside and would happily eat a baby if there was margin in it."

      I resemble that remark.

      But remember borderline socipaths need love too.

      1. Vic

        Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

        > remember borderline socipaths need love too.

        Isn't that why they carry cash?

        Vic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      "Sales 'people' on the other hand are actually evil."

      I know an guy who is moving over to sales. Very accurate on his part.

      1. Richard 120

        Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

        Back before I got a respectable job I did a stint in Sales and each day I could feel a part of my soul shrivel and die, I managed to escape to a programming job before I reached the baby eating stage.

        Others I worked with were genuinely evil, comparable in empathy to either cockroaches or starving wolves, or some evil genetic hybrid, in fact they possibly were some kind of evil genetic hybrid.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

          " comparable in empathy to either cockroaches or starving wolves, or some evil genetic hybrid, in fact they possibly were some kind of evil genetic hybrid."

          A cockwolf?

          A wolfcock?

          Scary either way.

          1. Bumpy Cat
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

            That should be "roachwolf" because "cockwolf" suggests something very, very different.

        2. Nigel 11
          Alert

          Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

          comparable in empathy to either cockroaches or starving wolves

          An apology to wolves, please! They are extremely empathetic creatures, and not only to members of their own species.

          A remarkable documentary I once watched showed what happened when scientists flew into the remotest wilds of Northern Canada to study wolves that had never before encountered human beings. What happened in one season was remarkable. The Wolves were neither hostile nor frightened. They were curious. Within a few months they had co-opted the scientists into their pack, and the alpha female was leaving her cubs for the humans to watch over.

          A wolf, and man's best friend the dog, are the same species. It's very obvious how that got started. I'm afraid that it's my own species that too often comes up short on the intrinsic empathy score-sheet.

          By the way, many large cities in both Europe and the USA now have urban wolves as well as urban foxes. AFAIK children eaten by urban wolves to date, zero. (Ditto urban mountain lions, which are potentially even more of a nightmare!).

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

            "By the way, many large cities in both Europe and the USA now have urban wolves as well as urban foxes. AFAIK children eaten by urban wolves to date, zero. (Ditto urban mountain lions, which are potentially even more of a nightmare!)."

            But watch out for the urban badgers.

    4. Marshalltown
      Trollface

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      Sales people need to be able to lie convincingly, like lawyer and politicians. Engineers are simply pragmatic.

    5. Lusty Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      Sales people are not evil....would you like a baby? what colour/size? I can get you a great deal but only until Friday at noon...

    6. chris 233

      Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

      >> Sales 'people' on the other hand are actually evil. Truely dead inside and would happily eat a baby if there was

      >> margin in it.

      Surely you mean marketing droids? Or legal?

  7. lightknight
    Holmes

    *facepalms*

    Just...wow.

    There are so many things wrong here, I don't even

    1. solidsoup

      Re: *facepalms*

      Quite an emotional response. Are you a doctor or a computer tech?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: *facepalms*

        Please express the force of your facepalm in kilopascals.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: *facepalms*

          "Please express the force of your facepalm in kilopascals."

          I think Norrises per nanoWales is the accepted unit here

          Not that I care

          1. fch
            Flame

            Re: *facepalms*

            ... let's see if a proper flamewar on units of measurement and/or the value of welsh oppression measured in metric will prove once and for all that nerdy engineering people have just as strong feelings as everyone else !

            Does the paper at the very least provide properly error-corrected measurements for emotional suppression in units of mmHg ?

            1. TRT Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: *facepalms*

              Typical engineering response to determine the measure of public opinion that is; build an emotional barometer. I think their case is proved!

              1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: *facepalms*

                It is equally typical for non-engineers not to get these jokes

                Engineers and non-engineers are simply two nations separated by a common language

        2. cortland
          Windows

          Re: *facepalms*

          Slugs/ft , preferably. Per second.

          Bam! Bam! Bam!

          3, (writing) ... Bam! Bam! 2, ...

  8. Semaj
    Meh

    Software Developers

    Ah but the difference with us is that we start out happy and optimistic then after 5 years or so in the industry, once enough coffee has been consumed and enough DailyWTFs have been observed; we become bitter, sarcastic, cynical bastards.

    1. Lyle Dietz

      Re: Software Developers

      It took you 5 years? I don't think I lasted 5 months!

    2. stanimir

      Re: Software Developers

      However, the study is on 'students', so no such observations as 5 years in the industry. Admittedly the results might have differed (i.e. being more interesting) analyzing seasoned professionals rather than 'students'.

      OTOH, according my girlfriend sarcastic/cynical/arrogant doesn't necessary equal cold/dead inside.

      1. Psyx
        Stop

        Stop Press: People who like to be left alone with machines less empathic than 'caring professions'

        "However, the study is on 'students', so no such observations as 5 years in the industry. Admittedly the results might have differed (i.e. being more interesting) analyzing seasoned professionals rather than 'students'."

        Yeah...because after 5 years in the industry, we're all fscking happy-clapping hippies who don't wish death on users on a daily basis.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Software Developers

      >become bitter, sarcastic, cynical bastards.

      That are symptoms for burn-out

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Software Developers

      I think it's telling that the study was about students.

      The actual sugeons and medical researchers i know (i.e. in the industry for a few years) can take it up with most engineers in terms of sarcasm, nihilism etc.

      1. cortland
        Coat

        Re: Software Developers

        Nihilism is a zero-sum philosophy.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Software Developers

      [anon just before]

      Probably should have added that i work in medical device industry where these fields come well into contact.

  9. wowfood

    Dead on the inside?

    Maybe I got into the wrong area on engineering, because I'm pretty sure I fall under the 'classic' category by their definitions.

  10. MooseMonkey
    Mushroom

    Die non-engineering scum

    The whole reason I did solid state optoelectronics engineering degree is to I could make Laser Glasses to kill off all non engineers. b*stard Google have now ruined my fun.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Wonder how that compares to what UI/OS you use?

    **** Warning: this is a joke. If you get riled by any of this then you are getting what you deserve! ****

    Linux with KDE: Like a kid in a sweetstore and just as hyper. "Give me the SHINY!"

    Linux with Gnome 2 and clones: Critical parents.

    Linux with Gnome 3: Trick cyclists

    Linux with XFCE: Enigmatic

    Apple OS X: Narcissistic

    Windows Vista: Masochist

    Windows XP: Miss Havisham complex.

    Windows 8: Past caring/given up on life.

    Windows 7: Happy in their own little world and will NEVER read the news in case something disturbs them.

    **** End of warning. You may now close your Links browser ****

    1. Gonzo_the_Geek
      Coat

      Re: Wonder how that compares to what UI/OS you use?

      What about us poor geeks who use Linux + Xmonad? What are we?

      Mine's the one with the plastic pocket protector...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wonder how that compares to what UI/OS you use?

        Attention seeking. :)

    2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Wonder how that compares to what UI/OS you use?

      I run Windows 7 and, at the same time, Debian with command line interface only. Hm, that actually fits well into someone not following the news ...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Linux with Gnome 2 Clone

      Narcissistic --- my desktop is configured just exactly how I want it. Must be a reflection of me.

      Miss Havisham complex --- the base model is the one introduced way back, by Win98/2000.

      SHINY --- I have a dose of that too, courtesy of Compiz and Emerald.

      Unity? Eurgh! Gnome Shell? What is that? --- Yes, above all, I live in my own little world...

    4. Mephistro Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Wonder how that compares to what UI/OS you use?

      You forgot:

      IOS: Small penises, but can't allow to buy an expensive sports car.*

      *: See the caveat in the parent comment

  12. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Coat

    Sir

    What about those of us who started out in Electronics, but switched to computing?

    Also, isn't it 'empathic' ?

    Don't bother answering, I couldn't give a toss what the answer is.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Holmes

    Am I bothered?

    Is this my bothered face?

    Sounds like a candidate for this years (Ig)Nobel prize.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Am I bothered?

      That or the "Scientists Now Know" section of Annals of Improbable Research

      I should send them my paper on Creativity - Bureaucracy Decay Studied by Pasta - Antipasta Collision Experiments, but I haven't yet got round to making up some data to put in the plots

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    And it

    took a study to work this out!!!!!

    Go talk to your local "in-house" IT bod, tell him you cant access your email...

    See how many fucks he gives...

    I am a souless, cold, emotionless empty hearted bastard who doesn't give a crap as to what happens to anyone except immediate family/frieds/big walleted customers...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Really?

    Or is it that engineers, being devoted to what is real and measurable and having a passion for truth and exactness, will fill in the questionnaire honestly. Whereas the rest will fill it in according to how they think they ought to be?

    And the truth is that most people have little empathy with others?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Really?

      For those of us who are actual engineers (not just those that get the title as part if their job description) we learn that the humanities are a third of the triumvirate that makes up the discipline. You cannot be a successful engineer if you aren't willing to acknowledge and accept the human component in every project.

  16. TeeCee Gold badge
    Mushroom

    New research shows....

    ....that psychiatrists get a big kick out of picking on some group of people and slagging them off in the press.

    You want to know who the real bastards are lads? Try looking in the mirror.

  17. Corinne
    Unhappy

    Doctors caring & empathetic?

    2 of the most inhuman & non-empathetic people I ever met were surgeons.

    I remember being warned by a nurse before I saw one of them to try to ignore his curt manner & lack of any consideration for emotional matters before I went in to see him - apparently he was renowned for it (though a very good surgeon).

    The other was a revered consultant at a teaching hospital. He would do his rounds without ever actually speaking to his patients, only to the students. Not even a "how are you feeling today" commentl.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

      Agreed. Was in for a throat checkup due to some issues and the guy was curt, insulted me straight in the face, treated me like livestock. So yeah... Doctors... with a few exceptions... very uncaring and unemphatic.

      1. dogged

        Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

        My better half is an anesthetist. Give me one good reason why she should care more about you than a car mechanic does about your shitty Fiesta?

        1. nichomach
          Thumb Down

          Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

          Because she gets paid a metric fuckton more than a mechanic. Because human beings are generally assumed to be a little more important than cars. Because humans actually do have feelings and can be hurt whereas cars can only be broken or fixed. However, I would note that as an anaesthetist it's somewhat unlikely that she'll actually have to deal with people in any state other than unconsciousness (unless she screws up, in which case, hey, Adomako here we come), so she'll probably be able to go through her entire career without it being an issue.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAymSVW_UIM

          1. dogged
            FAIL

            Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

            Because she gets paid a metric fuckton more than a mechanic.

            Not really. Mechanic wages go at about £25/hour + VAT. She only earns more than that on locum overtime, which is above and beyond existing hours. You know, the ones involving 13 hour on-call shifts, lates, earlies, weekends, nights... not many mechanics work those.

            A doctor has a responsibility to treat your illnesses, not your sensitive ickle feelings.

            Also, fuck you.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

              I think you miss the point that the illness spectrum shades off into all sorts of things. Given the importance of the placebo effect - even with local anaesthesia - paying attention to sensitive ickle feelings can save a lot of time, money and unnecessary surgical interventions.

              Mind you, if you are an engineer or a scientist, it helps if your GP understands that you just want the facts to make a decision based on his medical assessment and don't need any reassuring. My GP gets this. He happily gives me numbers rather than waffle, and I treat him like a professional. We get on well.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

              re: anesthetists - Actually get paid well, as it's one of the most critical roles in the room. Keeping a patient under, while keeping them alive is relatively tricky, and getting them under and back up again even more so. The better the anesthetist, the less the patient feels like death afterwards. I've been lucky in that all of mine have been good.

              Re: inhuman robots, it's the GP's in the firing line for me. I have referred my own 2x now, not just because he has the personal skills of a well-used toilet brush, but is also utterly incompetent. More concerned with "throughput" than actually healing anyone.

              Take his last stunner: upon being "summoned" to his office, he didn't offer a seat, eye contact or even acknowledge I had entered the room. His first word was "Well...?", then proceeded to misdiagnose tonsilitus as a "only a sore throat, and that i should think carefully about wasting his time next time". Went to the doctor across the hall later that afternoon, who immediately recognised it, and prescribed anti-bios. Stunning.

              1. cortland

                Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

                My Dad was in the USAF when an anesthetist acquaintance once said that that was "someone who sits on a soft stool and passes gas."

                Count backwards from one...

            3. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

              Under life and death pressure you basically have but two options. Detach yourself from your emotions to get the job done or allow your emotions to be battered, shattered, bruised and abused causing you to emotionally explode under extreme pressure,

              Emotionally exploding under pressure when somebodies life is in your hands means that person will die. This knowledge does not usually help you to remain calm and in an emotional position to reassure the patient.

              I know this, and i'm just a First Aider who has contrived to be in the wrong place at the wrong time a couple of times.

            4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              1. dogged
                Meh

                Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

                @Eadon - they'd be bored stiff with you. The "fanatically-proselytizing underachiever" type has already been documented quite thoroughly.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

                  Eadon, Dogged. Please would you two get a room.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

                    "Eadon, Dogged. Please would you two get a room."

                    Or, alternatively, get a guignol stage and perform a Punch and Judy show.

            5. JEDIDIAH
              Linux

              Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

              It sounds like it sucks to be a (quasi)doctor in the UK. Ha-zah for socialized medicine.

          2. Blitheringeejit
            FAIL

            Re: Metric Fuckton

            Surely we need this expressed in a Reg standard unit of some kind - but a quick check of the online converter suggests that we are missing both a unit of currency, and a unit of non-specific comparativeness.

            This is a major oversight which needs urgent attention from our Regist overlords - lest there be revolution.

            Is it really only Monday? Oh bugger...

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

          "My better half is an anesthetist..."

          And your other half posts on here...

          1. dogged

            Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

            I'm definitely worse, yes.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

          Screw up a car repair and it can be replaced, money can be refunded etc.

          Screw up a medical procedure and you can kill someone. You can't bring back the dead.

          Honestly, with attitudes like that it is no wonder the NHS pay out so much money in compensation (£1.2 billion).

          1. dogged
            Facepalm

            Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

            @AC:

            Screw up a car repair and it can be replaced, money can be refunded etc.

            Screw up a medical procedure and you can kill someone. You can't bring back the dead.

            Screw up a brake repair and you can kill several people. You really haven't thought this through, have you?

            1. NumptyScrub

              Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

              quote: "Screw up a brake repair and you can kill several people. You really haven't thought this through, have you?"

              Screw up a bloodwork culture and/or misdiagnose something serious, and you can start (fail to prevent?) an epidemic which wipes out the human race / kick-starts the zombie apocalypse. Car mechanics don't build nuclear weapons, so they are far less capable of that scale of destruction.

              I'd be interested to see the ratio of mechanical related deaths : medical related deaths before I decide which is more dangerous overall, I think.

              Also, I deliberately take my car to a mechanic that does actually give a fuck, even though it costs more. I'm sentimental like that, plus I don't want to encourage unprofessional behaviour by rewarding it fiscally. Your mileage may vary, of course :)

              1. Nigel 11
                FAIL

                Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

                Screw up a bloodwork culture and/or misdiagnose something serious, and you can start (fail to prevent?) an epidemic which wipes out the human race / kick-starts the zombie apocalypse. Car mechanics don't build nuclear weapons, so they are far less capable of that scale of destruction.

                No, you still laven't thought this through, even at the extreme. Suppose those screwed-up brakes are on a vehicle carrying the zombie plague blood samples to the path lab? In any case, it's not usually a doctor doing the path lab work that can distinguish the merely individually lethal cases from the imminent global pandemic cases. Certainly it won't be a surgeon.

                As others have pointed out, cool and detached may be necessary for a surgeon because (a) he can't afford to get emotional while things are going badly for the patient and (b) sooner or later he will make a mistake that causes a death, and if he's too empathetic that's the end of his career. Highly empathetic doctors will go into other branches of medicine. General practice for example, or geriatric care, or psychiatry.

                in fact thinking about it, a surgeon is very close to an engineer working on a human body. He needs to be a self-motivated perfectionist. He dosen't need to be empathetic, in fact it may be a handicap if he is.

        4. croc

          Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

          Do you ever remember having sex?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

        A fair number of caring and empathetic people start studying medicine but then discover they can't cope with cutting people up, watching them die, etcetera, and switch to another course.

        But that was, of course, in the old days. Nowadays GPs are so overpaid that the subject attracts mostly mercenaries.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

      Surgeons are well known for not being able to deal with patients when the concious. Senior consultants can be as bad.

      Actually, the requirements to even qualify and survive the early professional years in medicine are so tough it is a wonder any of them have any human qualities left.

    3. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

      Agreed. The head of the maternity unit where my wife had her baby couldn't connected with patients in any way beyond talking at them. Some of the mid-wives were the same. The older they were the more likely this was to be. Perhaps they start out caring then prolonged contact with the public works its magic.

    4. Adam Trickett
      Meh

      Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

      When I saw my surgeon in front of his team he was rude and very unfriendly. I'd never describe him as caring or empathetic. When he popped by the following day after my operation on his own he seemed like a normal chap - seemed friendly enough. I wouldn't say that the medical profession I've encountered were any different from everyone else: some were warm friendly people, some were rude...

      I've not read the study but without a control group I'm highly dubious of the report.

    5. Nuke
      Thumb Up

      @Corrine/Thad - Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

      Right on there.

      Perhaps some medical STUDENTS are attracted to the profession because they are caring, but they become hardened eventually. Theyhave to learn to switch off, maybe leaving a patient in trouble when the money runs out or it is time to go home - or they end up with with a nervous breakdown. Medics have to be detached and should treat patients like an engineer would treat broken-down machinery.

      I thought this was well known about medics. I had a GF who was a nurse but had to drop out - she could not stand it because she was TOO caring.

      FTFA :- "... readers in the physics-based professions, but we needn't worry about them as they obviously won't care what anyone thinks of them or be able to see why they should."

      That is right on too, for me anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Corrine/Thad - Doctors caring & empathetic?

        A certain amount of detachment is absolutely necessary, both for the doc and the patient. Too much, or the wrong kind, of emotional involvement is not going to help either, and can even be a breach of professional ethics. (By the way... are docs permitted to date their patients these days?).

        I'm not even in the profession, but my wife can't understand why my attitude to taking a thorn out of her finger is, basically, clinical. I'm nice, maybe even soothing --- but the thing has to come out, ok?

        Multiplying that up to the daily work of a surgeon, and I can see why they have a fairly mechanical view of the human body, and it is their mechanical skills that I've been very grateful for in the past. On the other hand, when concious, I demand a certain courtesy from any other human being, and more so from those in the service" or "caring" industries.

        Actually, I never even met the surgeon who did my only real-serious op. He left that kind of thing to his juniors! Damned goof job, though: perhaps he was right to leave the human interaction to people who were better at it. Or perhaps he was just damned busy operating.

        I think that the most serious corruptions of the finer human emotions that cause a person to take up medicine happen when the money gets, potentially, big. Usual the reasons for entering the profession (pushy parents excepted) are wholesome enough.

  18. jake Silver badge

    And as a side note ...

    See my post from a couple years ago:

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/694378

    This study is completely confuzled, right from the git-go.

  19. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    Jesus Christ

    I hope these guys get an "accident" so they can get some intensive "care".

  20. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Humanity can thank us later

    And a jolly good thing too, that engineers are cold (or should that be rational) and unemotional. Otherwise we'd still be sitting round log fires debating what colour this new-fangled "wheel" thing should be.

    tip 'o the hat to DA

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Humanity can thank us later

      On the other hand, we'd get paid a lot more money and given a lot more status for doing it. (Though I understand that, such is the cost per square metre of building in London nowadays, structural engineers get paid more than architects, I bet you the guys at Porsche who design the highlight lines on the wings get paid a lot more than the guys who design the engines.)

    2. Spoonsinger

      Re: what colour this new-fangled "wheel" thing should be.

      Obviously it's #DD4814. Everyone would know that instinctively, it's the shape they might have a problem with.

  21. MDevonB

    This explains a lot actually...

    "We're aware that we also have many readers in the physics-based professions, but we needn't worry about them as they obviously won't care what anyone thinks of them or be able to see why they should."

    I'd be offended by that if your opinion was in any way important to me, and I wasn't laughing so hard.

  22. Khaptain Silver badge
    Holmes

    It's logical really

    Engineers and Doctors share the same principal task - finding solutions to problems . BUT there is a difference....

    A patient comes into a Doctor's office with an ailment, the doctor studies the problem, prescribes a suitable treatment , the ailment is cured. The Doctor is happy he found a solution.

    A user phones up the IT department complaining about a problem. The Engineer analyses the problem and begins to look up the big book for the answer to the question "How to cure stupidity ?", unfortunately there is no answer. Engineer becomes upset and unhappy at not finding solution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's logical really

      Not really. the GP gets an old lady suffering vague symptoms, probably just caused by old age, and wanting a cure. (S)he has to come up with something that will make old lady feel better and hopefully not come back every week taking up time needed for serious patients. The medical profession has got good at this, even if the bottles now contain ingredients other than sucrose and aqua. The IT person gets a clueless user. The difficulty is that (s)he can't say there is a lot of it going around, take one of these every time you log on.

      The answer, of course, is for companies to provide enhanced user training which kicks in after they have, say, lost a password twice. The cure for stupidity is for it to have negative side effects which everybody else is aware of.

    2. Irongut

      Re: It's logical really

      Acually in my experience the patient comes into the doctor's office, the doctor doesn't really listen to them & prescribes a drug from whichever company took them golfing most recently, the patient says "I can't take that I'm allergic, it says so in my notes", the doctor prescribes another drug, the patient takes it for a week & it makes them violently ill but no better. Eventually the illness goes away by itself.

      At least that's how it goes for the missus.

  23. TWB

    This is the real reason engineering is unfashionable

    Not because it is hard or difficult for others to understand - but it has far too few women in it and many engineers are not cool.

    I know this because I am one of those miserable uncool ones and never had enough casual sex.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is the real reason engineering is unfashionable

      Don't feel so bad about it, you'd have been just as uncool and unlaid had you chosen medicine or the arts and at least (I hope) you gained a worthwhile qualification. Sure meant some of us had to work harder to keep up the batting average for the faculty but that ok, we forgive you.

  24. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    This article should be accompanied by a pic of Team Fortress 2's Engineer doing some naughty, sadistic stuff.

  25. fandom Silver badge

    They were cold-hearted and uncaring, remorseless human machines

    You say it like it's a bad thing

  26. Alan Denman

    A doctored report

    So how come the health profession always seem like ostriches, paper shufflers and containment pill pushers.

    They mainly send me cold.

  27. TRT Silver badge
    Boffin

    I'm not sure how I feel about this report...

    *rolls d20*

    *15*

    *checks CHA and WIS*

    I have no strong feelings either way.

  28. Drummer Boy
    Coat

    Perhaps we've become cold and heartless

    After trying to work with medical people on their requirements, and noting their entire lack of empathy with how software needs to be developed?

    Or, as my wife recently said to a overly empathic nurse - 'Stop simpering over me like I'm a small child, and talk to me like an adult'!!

  29. HMcG
    Thumb Up

    I for one..

    I for one welcome our new remorseless human machine overlords.

  30. Horridbloke

    Let's concentrate on what's important

    Is the report well-formatted?

  31. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Amazing

    Sounds like they've managed to get an interview with Gordon Freeman...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Amazing

      But he wouldn't have said anything!

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Amazing

        A swing with a crowbar is worth 1000 words, sometimes...

    2. nichomach
      Trollface

      Re: Amazing

      They probably should have gone for Duke though - "Don't have time to play with myself!"

  32. Triggerfish

    Psychologists as a measure of normal?

    Having studied at somewhere that was a centre of excellence for psychology.

    It seemed to me most psychology students consisted of the mad, or I knew someone who was mad and I am trying to figure it out camp.

    We're engineers its not that we seem cold to the psychologists, its because we have enough sense to not make any sudden movements or be to excitable around the flakey.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

      That's not psychology, that's abnormal psychology.

      Many psychologists work with perfectly normal people, including the ones that work on UIs and workflow as well as the ones who help make car and aircraft cockpits safer.

      One of my kids uses a psychology degree every day, running a school maths department. Understanding motivation, both of staff and pupils, knowing how to resolve conflicts, being able to spot the early signs of bullying, are all more useful for school maths teaching than being a whiz at polynomials. If you have to teach a subject that does not emotionally involve most children, it helps to know how to persuade them into doing well at it.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

        Psychology used to run a math department? That's a riot.

        It sounds like a bunch of paper pushers overthinking something simple while simultaneously screwing it up.

        Let competent people do the job. Don't discourage the student. Somehow the "educational professionals" can't manage this despite it being painfully obvious to an engineering student.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

          I take it you think you could easily run a maths department in a large comprehensive?

          Here's a hint - 95% of the kids won't be engineers, scientists or mathematicians, but you still have to teach them. One of your staff at least is an emotional mess, one or two may not really like children. Explain how you will use your knowledge of integration by parts to get the GCSE results up.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

            "Here's a hint - 95% of the kids won't be engineers, scientists or mathematicians, but you still have to teach them. One of your staff at least is an emotional mess, one or two may not really like children. Explain how you will use your knowledge of integration by parts to get the GCSE results up."

            Didn't you miss the one whose a bit too fond of the kids.

            TOTC because well that's sort of the problem.

            1. PC Paul
              Boffin

              Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

              "Explain how you will use your knowledge of integration by parts to get the GCSE results up."

              I can prove by induction that if the results were bad last year, and the results are bad this year, then the results are unlikely to be any better next year or for many years afterwards...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Stop

                Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

                1. Induction isn't integration by parts - fail.

                2. So you can prove by induction that after 2 years, making staff or methodology changes won't make any difference for years afterwards?

                As Wolfgang Pauli remarked, not even wrong.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

              So, in other words, no answer to the post so let's try to divert it into an attack on teachers.

              But yes, spotting paedophiles is just another admin job that teacher managers have to carry out.

          2. Vic

            Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

            > One of your staff at least is an emotional mess, one or two may not really like children.

            That's a fairly abnormal school - only one or two disliking children?

            > Explain how you will use your knowledge of integration by parts to get the GCSE results up.

            As with most "difficult" problems, the solution generally involves a pint of diesel and certain parts of the anatomy of the senior management...

            Vic.

      2. Triggerfish

        Re: Psychologists as a measure of normal?

        I should start using the joke icon, there's a lack of empathy for flippancy on here. :)

  33. hplasm Silver badge
    Happy

    Psycho-types, however-

    See people as puzzles to be dissected without mercy, and love nothing better that the feel of squeezing brain matter as it oozes between their cruel fingers.

  34. Yesnomaybe

    I am an engineer (Electronics), and my partner works in the healthcare industry. She would certainly agree with the article, and basically claims I am not just unfeeling, but borderline autistic. She says this a lot, and it would obviously hurt my feelings, if I had any.

    She, on the other hand, has to look after her staff and "customers", their emotional welfare and so on. By all accounts she does this reasonably well. She also runs her car absolutely into the ground, does not pick up on noises/vibration/smoke/warning-lights and other danger-signs. She'll happily drive off on a flat tire, without really noticing. No mechanical empathy whatsoever. That DOES hurt my feelings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So...there's a need for both personality types?

  35. John Deeb
    Terminator

    Passing off surveying as actual science might be indicative for being cold, dead and calculating inside. That's the only hint the study might provide to the ones still enjoying blood circulation through their brain tissue....

  36. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Dreaming in colour

    Several years ago there was a report by a phsycologist who 'proved' that people dreamed in black and white and only imagined that they dreamed in colour...

    Not sure what reminded me of that...

  37. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Holmes

    I'll

    go along with the 'engineers are cold unfeeling bastards' idea.... because I are one

    To quote a friend(also an engineer)

    "I dont want to listen to what you watched last weekend , or the latest ****ing football scores, I'm not ****ing interested in how many woman you shagged or ****ing fast your stupid iPhone is.. I'm here to solve problems and I dont ****ing well need your useless ****ing prattle putting me off, now **** off and bother someone who ****ing cares"

    But then, after explaining to my doc that I 'm fairly smart, and reasonably educated, he treats and talks to me like an adult

    The last phrase I heard him use was "The tests have come back positive, you will die within the next 21 days unless you have an emergency operation on your heart"

    I like that.. direct and to the point.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Re: I'll

      "I dont want to listen to what you watched last weekend , or the latest ****ing football scores, I'm not ****ing interested in how many woman you shagged or ****ing fast your stupid iPhone is.. I'm here to solve problems and I dont ****ing well need your useless ****ing prattle putting me off, now **** off and bother someone who ****ing cares"

      Let's not confuse "cold and unfeeling" with "insulting and rude"

      "Insulting and rude" would indicate an awareness on other peoples emotional capacity, evidenced by the attempt to influence their mood in a negative fashion. So your engineer friend is actually less dysfunctional than the rest of us. He is also an arsehole, but that is a separate matter...

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: I'll

      ""I dont want to listen to what you watched last weekend , or the latest ****ing football scores, I'm not ****ing interested in how many woman you shagged or ****ing fast your stupid iPhone is.. I'm here to solve problems and I dont ****ing well need your useless ****ing prattle putting me off, now **** off and bother someone who ****ing cares""

      You're friend is far too emotional.

      A simple STFU would have sufficed.

      It's what I would have said.

  38. SnowCrash
    WTF?

    Isn't this just a.....

    .....rehash of Myers-Briggs assessments?

    1. jake Silver badge

      @SnowCrash (was: Re: Isn't this just a.....)

      Yep. Same basic idea.

      Unfortunately for the wing-nuts, pigeon-holing humans just plain don't work.

  39. Thomas 4

    I'd feel rather hurt by the implication...

    ....but fortunately I'm an emotionless void with a lump hammer.

    1. Ploughmans Lunch
      Go

      Re: I'd feel rather hurt by the implication...

      Lump Hammer, don't you mean a fine adjustment impact tool?

  40. Greg D
    FAIL

    get some proper researchers

    and a survey base that's slightly larger than a swedish university.

  41. Sean Nevin

    As an electronics engineer with a strong background in physics, I should be offended by this. However, I can't really get there. Not because I'm "dead inside"; but because I know this "study" was thought up, performed by, and compiled by Psychologists, not scientists. Ask them what standard deviation is and they'd probably say it means everyone like a little weirdness in the bedroom...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. A scientist would realize the result of the survey at best may reveal a characteristic of Linköping University, possibly evidence to suggest reviewing the admissions process. Or perhaps scientists and engineers when presented with this sort of study deliberately give the inappropriate answers for fun. Publishing a paper pretending to give evidence for stereotyping based on such a clichéd study says more about the authors than anything else.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually, for most psychologists, SPSS is the basic computer tool. You are confusing psychiatry and psychology, a consequence of an overly narrow education.

  42. Irongut

    In other news

    Engineers and proper sceintists point out that psychology is one step up from asking "do you want fries with that?" for a living.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: In other news

      Down.

      At least shovelling fries is honest work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other news

      Sir John Rose (former CEO, RR) might not agree.

  43. Milo Tsukroff
    FAIL

    Cold and dead - those CARING profession's MACHINES

    Obviously a bit of research designed to prove a prejudice. Without us Physics-based engineers, those CARING professionals would have COLD and DEAD machinery - computers, cars, telephones, etc. They would squat around a fire (provided by a cold-hearted engineer, as they couldn't start their own) telling each other how much they care. And they would starve because they would have trouble figuring out how to make the spearpoint attach to the spear shaft. Too complex, you know.

    There's a reason why reason rules. Empathy gets you nothing when the car's broken down, the telly's out, the phone's kaput, or the computer blue-screens.

  44. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Happy

    I'm a medical engineer....

    ... and confused!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't there a report on the internet (so must be true) comparing Doctors to serial killers? Something about the mentality to cut open a patient was similar to causing deliberate injury IIRC.

    PS Work in a hospital, some of the most arrogant, self centred people I have ever met call themselves Doctors. There is one that is nice and polite and calls me by name.

  46. magrathea

    Engineers should now conduct 'research' into the frictional coefficient, angular momentum and rigidity of psychologists

  47. Big_Boomer
    Facepalm

    Doctors & Nurses

    My personal experiences of both during my better half's recent surgeries were extremely varied. One of the Doctors I found to be human and responsive and warm. The other was cold and remote but an amazing surgeon and top of his field (I checked!)

    A couple of the nurses in ICU were superb. Efficient and fully in control, yet warm and understanding. Others were cold and uninterested.

    Once on the main ward most of the nurses were Ok but she did nickname one of them Hirohito and another one Hitler.

    I consider myself pretty empathic and am one of the few men I know who can always see the other persons point of view, even if I disagree with it. However, I am rarely "passionate" about anything and before switching to IT I was an Electronics Engineer. Sounds to me like somebody already knew what results he wanted.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ouch..

    I'm hurt by this...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: ouch..

      What's a doctor doing reading The Register...?

  49. Joseph Haig
  50. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    WTF?

    Medics?

    Most of them are swotty little calculating machines who only go into medicine for the status and the money.

  51. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Happy

    If I were in computers/applied, I'd be rather concerned about this report. The theoretical physics lot can breathe a sigh of relief. Being favourably compared to medical students is an appalling thing to happen to you! Have you never heard of the game of 'intestinal skipping ropes'*?

    However, assuming this research to be 100% accurate, we can dump physics A Level. All we need to do is to get Harrison Ford to put physics degree applicants through the Voight-Kampff test, and those that fail can join the course.

    I wonder why our trick-cyclist friends didn't add the group of psychology students to the study?

    *Please see 'Struck Off and Die', a hard-hitting Radio 4 documentary from the 1990s for details...

  52. Toltec
    Joke

    An engineer through observation and feedback can produce a reasonable model to emulate empathy.

    A medical professional could not change a plug to save a life...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My GP wants to convert his practice to using Linux desktops.

      I think he can do a bit more than change a plug.

      1. Gavin King
        Joke

        "...to using Linux desktops"

        One could argue that he's got a plug loose, perhaps?

      2. Don Jefe

        Re:

        Note necessarily. Most GP's (private ones at least) are just looking for what they think is a way to save their practice money.

  53. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Scratch a cynic you will usually find

    A disillusioned romantic.

    They've measured people's rhetoric against their deeds and found them deeply lacking.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, I work with computers

    because, I don't know why, but computers really like me and want to please me.

  55. NIck Hunn
    Mushroom

    Never trust anyone named after a vegetable

    Swedish trick cyclist? Sounds like one of Baldrick's cunning plans involving a blonde turnip...

    1. Ploughmans Lunch
      Pint

      Re: Never trust anyone named after a vegetable

      Swedes? Every one I've met is either a manic depressive or a drunk.

      Cheers!

  56. sisk Silver badge
    Meh

    Like I care what someone in Sweeden thinks of me.

    Or anyone else for that matter, apparently.

  57. CyberCipher
    Meh

    Some of the most infamous terrorists of the 21st century were former engineers.

    So there's that.

    1. Dagg
      Trollface

      Re: Some of the most infamous terrorists of the 21st century were former engineers.

      Some were doctors, Ernesto "Che" Guevara

    2. cortland

      Re: Some of the most infamous terrorists of the 21st century were former engineers.

      When I tell my ban-guns friends what one can do with products sold by grocery and hardware stores, they look at me as I were a terrorist, right enough.

  58. d3rrial
    Flame

    I feel misrepresented by this Article.

    I am a cold, heartless, dead inside person, and I'm a computer engineer. I now feel misrepresented.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A thought experiment

    A thought experiment, to highlight the "usefulness" of caring.

    Which would you rather have as your doctor:

    1) a Bill Clinton-esque "I feel your pain" type who is so so hung up on how awful you feel he cannot reason about your illness

    or

    2) A Gregory House-like character who doesn't give one femto-fsck about how bad you feel if it is not diagnostically relevant, who can focus on reasoning out what is wrong with you and the most probable cure.

    Sometimes I truly wonder if The Powers That Be are actively discouraging anybody with a rational, analytical bent due to those people being the most likely to see through the Bravo-Sierra and start proposing solutions to the problems that keep The Power That Be in power.

  60. gromm

    Clearly, these researchers haven't met *my* doctor.

    Which explains a few things. Maybe he should have been an engineer instead.

  61. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    RE: Well, I work with computers

    "but computers really like me and want to please me."

    Don't anthropomorphize computers. They hate that.

  62. h3

    Con Kolivas was a pretty decent kernel programmer (Who for a while made my Linux box work like I wanted it to).

    I think there was a superiority type thing going on (Due to him being an accomplished Anesthetist as a day job). Reminds me of the jock / cheerleader thing in horrible US TV.

    Some medical people are not really humane. (Some of the psychiatric stuff is awful - e.g Electric Shock Therapy - engineers have to design the stuff but doctors choose to use it).

    If you see everything (All possible inputs and outputs). You have to become desensitised. (Either that or ignore stuff.) The mind anyway. (I don't think the medical profession knows even most of the inputs or outputs).

    Physical things are more limited in scope.

  63. NomNomNom

    should this bother me?

  64. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Terminator

    "By contrast the medical students were warm and bursting with empathy and love"

    Probably 1st years.

    This weakness will be corrected in due course.

    1. Vic

      Re: "By contrast the medical students were warm and bursting with empathy and love"

      > This weakness will be corrected in due course.

      ...When they can't afford E any more...

      Vic.

  65. Chris Hann

    Perhaps who was asking was part of the problem

    If I was questioned about my motivations by some psych undergrad I'd mess them about and pretend to be a sociopath too. The last thing I'd do for them is share my inner motivations. Those people are creepy!

  66. cortland
    Boffin

    Not dead, just vulcanized.

    Humans. Illogical, but fascinating.

  67. Paddy
    FAIL

    It doesn't add up.

    The psychology students probably decided to compute the stats themselves. Nuff said!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: It doesn't add up.

      "The psychology students probably decided to compute the stats themselves. Nuff said!"

      The weapon of choice for the head hunting types is SPSS "Statistics Package for the Social Sciences"

      Basically what you used before spreadsheets were available.

      Hopefully it's not quite as ghastly as it was when I used it.

      But I doubt it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It doesn't add up.

        SPSS >> Excel. I suspect it was too hard for you to understand; you actually need to have a good knowledge of statistics before starting to use it.

        Engineers and bankers seem to hate statistics, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it is because they think that every problem has a unique solution that is simple, easy to understand (and wrong).

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: It doesn't add up.

          "SPSS >> Excel. I suspect it was too hard for you to understand; you actually need to have a good knowledge of statistics before starting to use it."

          No. I just could not stand the user interface.

        2. jake Silver badge

          @ribosome &@John Smith 19 (was: Re: It doesn't add up.)

          ribosome sez: "SPSS >> Excel."

          Uh ... no. I don't think so ... That's probably the worst argument I've ever seen here on ElReg.

          John: Stop embarrassing yourself. You are clearly out of your depth in this discussion/thread.

  68. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    I am sooooo hurt by this.

  69. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Does anyone remember Richard Feymans comments on psychologists in an interview?

    He'd found this paper that analysed all sorts of ways rat experiments could be biased. He thought this an excellent example of proper science. Finding out all the pitfalls that could contaminate your results for this type of experiment.

    Then he looked at how frequently it had been cited to see how often psychologists used its findings.

    They didn't.

    He was unimpressed and concluded that if you don't use proper scientific methods to evaluate the data (including factoring out all the known biases) you're not really doing science at all.

  70. Amorous Cowherder

    If you have to spend 8 hours a day stick tubes up peoples arse's and mopping up their sick or sit in a nice office drinking coffee, staring out the window and changing thousands of peoples lives with a well designed thing, tell me who's more caring?

  71. MissingSecurity

    I think the answer can be found ...

    In the following:

    Patients listen to doctors, who are likely to be right 90% of the time, and a such problems are resolved with minimal issue.

    Users on the other hand never listen to an Engineer (even if they are 90% of the time right). So, out comes the sarcasm. We'll randomly spout about things you should check, while we surf the web, than when you have forgotten what we originally suggested, we tell you to try that, than low and behold, you system is now operational.

  72. medstudent88

    I read the actual study [Chato Rasoal , Henrik Danielsson & Tomas Jungert (2012): Empathy among

    students in engineering programmes, European Journal of Engineering Education, 37:5, 427-435] and this register article kind of missed the boat on the actual findings of the study. The engineers didnt actually do that badly in comparison to the other students. Also all of the other students were in nursing/medicine/social work/psych so you'd hope that empathy would be among their strengths. Most of the difference in empathy was actually sex-related, not program-related. The other students didn't actually score better than engineers in most aspects of empathy when you take sex into account. Also the study didn't report what is an average or good rating for empathy in the first place, so maybe all students had a higher than average empathy rating and some of the programs just did a bit better, who knows. Newspaper articles sometimes misrepresent study results...and I think they did in this case just to make up a story that people would read.

  73. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    Surgeons need good motor skills. Do physicians *need* good people skills?

    I think people have lost the skills to effectively take an oral medial history.

    The other question is how much of an ongoing relationship does the quakmedical professional need to have with their patient.

    The other issue is for doctors (like lawyers and cops) their place of work is quite intimidating and frightening to most people.

    BTW this issues was addressed some years ago in the dental profession, which now includes lessons on basically how not to act like Laurence Oliver in Marathon Man.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good news

    Whew. I thought it was just me!

  75. BlackOps

    When I was getting my engineering degree, psychology and hummanities classes were required to ensure that this would not happen. Clearly, these educators are failing us.

    In the intervening 20 years, I have witnessed engineers acheive amazing technology to help better the human condition. Psychology has given us Doctor Phil.

  76. aeroking
    FAIL

    You are one of them .. people who don't care about others.

    We're aware that we also have many readers in the physics-based professions, but we needn't worry about them ... (hypocrisy)

    You are just one of them, except that you apparently are not an engineering student/ or graduate.

    On the contrary, I have studied and practised engineering (Mech) and am back for more. Yet I care about people a lot more than most of those doctors. I hate it when people survey 200 people and use the result to judge a billion people or more. Any body can choose not to care. This article is just another blog-for-money article. ...

  77. AndrueC Silver badge
    Joke

    > However there's an intriguing footnote which may offer hope to some Reg readers, worried that the various

    > people in their lives might be viewing them as empty-eyed, stony and dead inside.

    Why would that worry me?

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joke of the century, really. I'm not going to argue about nurses and such, but just try the difference between going to a tech and a doctor, pointing to a person nearby, and telling them "that bloke's gonna be dead in a few months". Behind the inch-thick sugar-coating of medical bedside manner, the typical reaction of a doctor is simply "Yeah, so? Tough s##t, pal. Deal with it." For them, that's the reality of their daily lives so basically if they simply fail to recognize some more exotic ailment that's gonna kill someone as a result well that's just too bad for them. They stop caring in the first year or so on the job simply because it would emotionally destroy them if they kept giving a flying f### about every single patient. So they make sure they don't. I have yet to see any engineer with that level of callousness...

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