The newspaper of record has revealed an embarrassing correlation:
In the ranks of captured and confessed terrorists, engineers and engineering students are significantly overrepresented….
I would like to reassure my readers, my friends, and the FBI that even though it says “software engineer” on my business card, anyone with experience in the field knows that with our profession’s reputation for overdue, slapdash, bug-infested work, “software engineering” is practically a contradiction in terms, so nobody should confuse me with a real engineer.
Last December, [Umar Farouk] Abdulmutallab’s attempt over Detroit…. In February, Joseph Andrew Stack, a software engineer, crashed his plane into I.R.S. offices in Austin, Tex. In March, John Patrick Bedell, an engineering grad student, opened fire at an entrance to the Pentagon. In early May, Faisal Shahzad (bachelor of science in computer science and engineering) was arrested at Kennedy Airport for a failed attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square. Also in May, Faiz Mohammad, a civil engineer, was caught at Karachi’s airport with batteries and an electrical circuit hidden in his shoes. And going back, of the 9/11 conspirators who had been educated beyond high school, eight studied engineering. As this list suggests, the phenomenon isn’t confined to Muslims or Middle Easterners….
Well, even though Stack was a “software engineer” and Bedell majored in the subject, and even though I share an alma mater with Aafia Siddiqui, I majored in political science, not in “computer science”, any engineering field or, God forbid, any real science.
Gambetta and Hertog found engineers only in right-wing groups — the ones that claim to fight for the pious past of Islamic fundamentalists or the white-supremacy America of the Aryan Nations (founder: Richard Butler, engineer) or the minimal pre-modern U.S. government that Stack and Bedell extolled.
See, there’s another reason not to put me on a no-fly list: I have nothing to do with any religious fundamentalists or white supremacists or any other kind of right-wing organization. On the contrary, I am, as you all know, very liberal. Very, very, very…
Among Communists, anarchists and other groups whose shining ideal lies in the future, the researchers found almost no engineers. Yet these organizations mastered the same technical skills as the right-wingers. Between 1970 and 1978, for instance, the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany staged kidnappings, assassinations, bank robberies and bombings. Seventeen of its members had college or graduate degrees, mostly in law or the humanities. Not one studied engineering.
…harmless. Well. Mostly harmless.
via Crooked Timber