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  Topic: Why Engineers?, Why so may YEC engineers?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
The Wayward Hammer



Posts: 64
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 04 2006,11:03   

Why Engineers?

Many of the leaders in the DI / Creationism movement apparently have engineering backgrounds.  Being an engineer myself this has puzzled me – but not surprised me.  I have met many co-workers that are strong YEC.  So why so many engineers?

The short answer – I don’t know.  I do have some thoughts, however.

1. Why not engineers?  Would it shock us to find other professions strongly leaning to YEC?  Engineers are, at best, applied scientists.  The vast majority of engineers do “run-and-gun engineering” – quick use of simplified rules to design or diagnose.  Most of us could not derive all of these rules from basic physics and some of the most common engineering errors are misapplication of these rules.  Misuse of statistics must be high on that list.  

2. The engineering personality.  Many engineers I know do not, to put it mildly, enjoy ambiguity.  No one really does, but we tolerate it less than many other professions.  So, tentative scientific results tend to have the smell of BS because our world has hard physical answers.  

3. The engineering education.  In the dim dark past, engineering was a five-year degree in many places.  Today, almost always a super-sized four-year program.  What left the building?  Most of the humanities, much to the relief of many engineering students, were eliminated.  I am the only engineer I know that took philosophy in college.  I don’t remember a thing, of course.

Now, this is painting with a very broad brush but I wanted to start this conversation somewhere.

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 04 2006,11:25   

I think you've touched on the big reasons. Engineers--at least the ones I met at my alma mater--are confident people. They are confident in their skills at understanding complicated systems. They often come from religious backgrounds. They spend years working around complicated things which were designed. And they know fuck-all about biology. So that's basically a recipe for creating Davetards and AFDaves.

   
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 04 2006,12:12   

Maybe it's because it's a technical field that doesn't necessarily require a science background?

I'm a software engineer with no biology, but when I first noticed creationist type arguments 11 years or so ago it didn't take too long to figure out they didn't have anything. (Second law of thermodynamics indeedy )

Henry

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,03:24   

I think the main problems are:

Religion. I don't know if YECs tend to become engineers, but it looks that way. No matter what some people like to believe the testimonial always goes 'I found God, then I realised evolution was untrue', not the other way round.

Lack of knowledge in biology. I imagine if an engineer looks at a diagram of a protein interaction network, he might think it looks designed if he doesn't know any better.

Maybe to a computer scientists or an electrical engineer that might look something like what they design, but more complex. Ironically it was computer scientists, engineers and physicists who showed biologists that they look exactly like what we would expect if they evolved via duplication.

Jealousy. Ok this probably isn't true, but there are a lot of comments on uncommon descent that go along the lines of 'if it's more complex that what we can design, it must be designed'. Also the assumption that they know more about everything than biologists doesn't help. I'm not painting engineers as arrogant, just the creationist ones.

In conclusion: Engineer + God + Arrogance - Science = YEC.

  
The Wayward Hammer



Posts: 64
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,05:06   

Chris, I don't think you're far off on the "arrogant" comment.  It comes with the territory sometimes.  At one plant I worked in we had an engineering intern and his next semester he had the usual brutal schedule.  His girlfriend was an education major; her big class that next semester was going to be bulletin board art.  We had a lot of fun with that one.

I don't think engineers are particularly good at solving complex problems.  I was in a reliability group in a refinery and we did a lot of in-depth studies that came to this conclusion.  But, this was difficult for management to accept because they were engineers themselves and believed that they were good problem solvers - that's how they became managers.  It was a lot like YEC - the data did not support their position so they ignored the data.  We were not a popular group.

  
bourgeois_rage



Posts: 117
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,06:00   

As a computer engineer I have to agree with much of what is said above. Engineers tend to be confident and arrogant. I'm with Wayward Hammer in that I also took Philosophy in college, just three years ago, as well.

My guess is that intelligent design is the product of engineers trying to reconcile their faith with their knowledge. The obvious connection is God's a designer and an engineer. This falls directly in line with their confidence and arrogance. They view themselves on similar terms as God and then the problem just doubles. It's a vicious cycle.

--------------
Overwhelming Evidence: Apply directly to the forehead.

   
JMX



Posts: 27
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,06:05   

Engineers learn to think about "how", and not enough about "why", and this happens ,too, when they engage in other fields of science.

  
argystokes



Posts: 766
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,06:13   

I would doubt that engineers are more likely to be creationists than most other people.  I think that scientists are much less likely to be creationists, for obvious reasons.  Engineers, however, often seem to think of themselves as scientists, so they feel qualified to pontificate at length as if they are an authority on the subject.

I think Chris' equation fits the bill pretty nicely.

--------------
"Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?" -Calvin

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,08:42   

Quote
My guess is that intelligent design is the product of engineers trying to reconcile their faith with their knowledge.


ID is the result of cognitive dissonance.

now where have I heard that before...

;)

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
The Wayward Hammer



Posts: 64
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,11:38   

Another thing I have noticed in dealing with many YEC's is the staggering reliance on rules.  Or, rather, RULES.

There are many people that want a rule book for life.  If you're in this situation, look up rule book, do what it says.  What a nice fit for engineering.  Plug and chug. I would assume this appeals to military types too (AFDave).

Then there are the concept-based people.  Actions are driven by the underlying concepts and the tension between conflicting concepts.  Messy.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,19:32   

Every single engineer I know (maybe 10?) likes to argue. Alot. They make an off the cuff statement that turns out not to be right but they, to a man, will just claim it as fact and get angry.

Don't know if that helps.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,22:42   

Quote (The Wayward Hammer @ June 05 2006,16:38)
Another thing I have noticed in dealing with many YEC's is the staggering reliance on rules.  Or, rather, RULES.

There are many people that want a rule book for life.
 If you're in this situation, look up rule book, do what it says.  What a nice fit for engineering.  Plug and chug. I would assume this appeals to military types too (AFDave).

Then there are the concept-based people.  Actions are driven by the underlying concepts and the tension between conflicting concepts.  Messy.

Probably most people want a "rule book for life". Maybe it is a trait from being social animals.

  
rusty_catheter



Posts: 2
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 05 2006,23:29   

I think it may be more useful to examine questions like "why do YECs become engineers?" and extend it to include the other applied disciplines (such as medicine, dentistry etc.) with little interest in dissecting and extending theory. Any disproportionate representation of YECs in these fields is probably more due to existing predisposing properties of YECs and their backgrounds.

I suspect that their backgrounds, on average, place considerable emphasis on good education and good jobs. The fundies I knew at school were definitely swots, even if not bright. Engineering does not require learning great swathes of info and theory contradicting dearly held beliefs, and pays well. Tithing in fundamentalist churches confers conspicuous social benefits, and is less burdensome to the well employed. Without necessarily implying that YECs are involved in a conspiracy to do well (dastardly!) there is perhaps a social matrix and community network operating that encourages just such an uncontroversial outcome more consistently than otherwise.

Rustopher.

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 06 2006,09:47   

Rusty!

long time no see.

where ya been?

(the artist formerly known as Sir_Toejam)

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
Corkscrew



Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 07 2006,02:54   

Quote (rusty_catheter @ June 06 2006,04:29)
I think it may be more useful to examine questions like "why do YECs become engineers?" and extend it to include the other applied disciplines (such as medicine, dentistry etc.) with little interest in dissecting and extending theory. Any disproportionate representation of YECs in these fields is probably more due to existing predisposing properties of YECs and their backgrounds.

I suspect that their backgrounds, on average, place considerable emphasis on good education and good jobs. The fundies I knew at school were definitely swots, even if not bright. Engineering does not require learning great swathes of info and theory contradicting dearly held beliefs, and pays well. Tithing in fundamentalist churches confers conspicuous social benefits, and is less burdensome to the well employed. Without necessarily implying that YECs are involved in a conspiracy to do well (dastardly!;) there is perhaps a social matrix and community network operating that encourages just such an uncontroversial outcome more consistently than otherwise.

Rustopher.

Quote
I think it may be more useful to examine questions like "why do YECs become engineers?"


I have noticed a propensity for academically-inclined YECs to focus on more practical, even vocational subjects rather than, say, number theory. I suspect that this is because, if they feel like getting a deep understanding of how things work, they already feel they know where to go. They lack the "theory itch" that drives mathmos and scientists, and as such tend to go into subjects that involve applying knowledge rather than generating it.

Sound plausible?

  
rusty_catheter



Posts: 2
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 09 2006,22:43   

Hit it for six, Corkscrew.

They already know where to look for those sort of answers and already have an inkling from school that they don't like having exhaustively developed experimental results and natural observations that flatly contradict deeply held beliefs presented or explored in assignment topics. Eng, Med etc are practical without asking why too much, indeed, would still be effective regardless of the nature of the universe.

Rustopher.

PS: Howdy Toejam, fishy handle these days. Rusty.
.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 10 2006,08:45   

I also think these last replies are in the right direction. YEC infections are contracted very early in life, and abundant evidence shows that education does not cure it. Education in the most clearly contradictory areas (geology, biology, paleongology, etc.) is almost entirely avoided as too uncomfortable. Occasionally, exposure to these hostile disciplines is unavoidable, and tends to make YEC rationalizations and justifications more indirect and creative.

Yet, as would be expected given normal human variation, some YECs are going to be unusually technically-minded. For these people, engineering is ideal. It's technical, it's a field you can excel in without the intense skeptical approach to evidence required by science.

So I see a recruitment function operating here. Just as evolution allows one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, engineering allows one to be a technically competent YEC.

  
The Wayward Hammer



Posts: 64
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 10 2006,14:57   

Flint, I see your point.  It could be more of a selection bias than anything.  Engineering is a safer field of study if one is already inclined to YEC.

It tends to agree with observing my fellow engineers over the years.

  
slpage



Posts: 349
Joined: June 2004

(Permalink) Posted: June 27 2006,09:12   

It is an interesting phenomenon, the engineers-as-YEC/IDist thing.  My two oldest nephews are engineers, and neither is a creationist (one has admitted in writing that he would not consider himself informed enough to even draw conclusions on the subject).  Some of the most eloquent and information-packed anti-ID/creationism arguments/'defenses' of evolution I have seen have come from engineers.

Yet, I think it is true, that at least as far as internet and 'professional' anti-evolutionists go, engineers take up a disproportionate number of slots in the 'big tent.'

Take this guy, or this clown, or even old Sal Cordova.

Not only do they convince themselves that they know more than they really do, they all ternd to use pretty much the same silly arguments - no new information (without ever really defining information in a meaningful way), too complex for 'chance', they 'know design' when they see it, etc.

Odd...

  
sickoffalltheidiots



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Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 27 2006,09:56   

Picture AFDave or GoP in a corporate setting where they have to interact face-to-face with real people.  Pretty clear that they would have a hard time fitting in, much less be successful in those occupations requiring interpersonal skills.  What's left if you're technically bent (pun intended) and capable of a reasonable income?  Fundies, if they're not in the ministry, and not high school dropouts, are almost always annoying people to be around, and therefore are naturally selected to end up solitary, in their cubicle.
Their distance from humanity reinforces their delusions.

  
plasmasnake23



Posts: 42
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2006,08:10   

This is a slight tangent but it's been something I've been thinking about for a while. Relating to what other people have said about arrogance, there seems to be a lot of intellectual arrogance in ID arguments. The two that always make me think this are when they laugh about evolutionary algorithms and the like over at UD because nature is so obviously stupid that it could never come up with a better design than people, right? I mena ignore all those replications and huge amounts of time, there are always amazingly snide comments about anything that was designed using some kind of probablistic technique. That plus the whole irreducible complexity/argument from incredulity amounts to "I can't see how this was done, therefore no one can!" which seems like the purest form of intellectual arrogance. And then there's the whole already-mentioned "I know design when I see it!" thing. Yeah OK now I'm ranting, anyway I've just been thinking about all this for a while.

  
Henry J



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Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,06:26   

Re "there seems to be a lot of intellectual arrogance in ID arguments."

Yeah. They routinely claim that most evolutionary biologists are repeatedly or deliberately ignoring crucial evidence or logic or something. Never mind that actually overturning a theory is what scientists would typically consider a major success of their career.

Henry

  
afdave



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Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,06:41   

sickofalltheidiots...  
Quote
Picture AFDave or GoP in a corporate setting where they have to interact face-to-face with real people.  Pretty clear that they would have a hard time fitting in, much less be successful in those occupations requiring interpersonal skills.  What's left if you're technically bent (pun intended) and capable of a reasonable income?  Fundies, if they're not in the ministry, and not high school dropouts, are almost always annoying people to be around, and therefore are naturally selected to end up solitary, in their cubicle.
Their distance from humanity reinforces their delusions.
Hilarious.  Just hilarious ... this guy has absolutely no idea that not only has 'idiot' AFDave been in the 'corporate world' of the AF for 10 years and did just fine, but he has built and sold two companies already, both of which involved a huge amount of direct interaction with large, sophisticated customers, suppliers and government entities.

Classic, classic 'shoot-off-my-mouth-before-engaging-my-brain' statement by a typical Evo-Bot warrior!!

But you're right that I don't fit in well with Evobots!

--------------
A DILEMMA FOR THE COMMITTED NATURALIST
A Hi-tech alien spaceship lands on earth ... DESIGNED.
A Hi-tech alien rotary motor found in a cell ... NOT DESIGNED.
http://afdave.wordpress.com/....ess.com

  
sickoffalltheidiots



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Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,10:39   

I think I hit a nerve...

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,12:32   

Quote (sickoffalltheidiots @ June 29 2006,15:39)
I think I hit a nerve...

I think you did.

However I actually imagine Dave can function just fine in real life (please do not take that as suport for daves weird views); Assuming he actually was a pilot

BTW, did you put the second "f" in your name deliberately? It makes it sound yucky.

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,17:12   

Just wondering, but is an "evobot" anybody that accepts the notion that complex life forms have/had recent nearby ancestors very much like themselves?

Henry

  
blipey



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Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,17:24   

afdave:
Quote
Hilarious.  Just hilarious ... this guy has absolutely no idea that not only has 'idiot' AFDave been in the 'corporate world' of the AF for 10 years and did just fine, but he has built and sold two companies already, both of which involved a huge amount of direct interaction with large, sophisticated customers, suppliers and government entities.

emphasis mine

You aren't selling companies to the mafiosa are you dave?  I mean, if you are I certainly won't tell; Guido says that would be bad.

Guido also tells me it is VERY cool to talk about yourself in the third person.  Blipey thinks so also.

--------------
But I get the trick question- there isn't any such thing as one molecule of water. -JoeG

And scientists rarely test theories. -Gary Gaulin

   
bystander



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2006,20:27   

Is there another reason for the apparent number of engineer creos is that engineers along with scientists were the early adopters of computers. Most of this debate is done on computer. Outside of the web, I get the impression that most of the Creos are Lawyers of MDs.

I'm 44 and have been using computers for 28 years and so have most of my engineering comrades. Even when I graduated in 1980 most of the non-engineering types (Law/commerce etc) were getting their thesis done on typewriters.

Lets look back in another 5 years and see how many people  from other professions are in the debate.

  
Mark Frank



Posts: 46
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 30 2006,00:31   

I think the link between IT and ID goes quite deep. The ID set seem obsessed with the digital world as a model for life and indeed the universe. The vast majority of Dembski's examples are digital: bit strings, coin tosses, hands of playing cards. Then it is typically followed by a fuzzy bit that amounts to: "and real life is the same but on a larger scale". It even extends to digitising reality when calculating the Universal Probability Bound.

Also there is a recurrent theme on UD and elsewhere on the lines of "we have discovered that biology is information, so biologists don't understand it and will have to give way to software engineers and mathematicians (who, of course, will see that the biologists have all been wrong about evolution)". The analogy between a DNA sequence and a programme is stretched to breaking point and beyond.

  
Chris Hyland



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 30 2006,00:50   

Quote
will have to give way to software engineers and mathematicians (who, of course, will see that the biologists have all been wrong about evolution)
What none of them seem to realise of course is that mathematicians and software engineers have been an integral part of biological research for years and they don't seem to have much problem with evolution.

  
bystander



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 30 2006,01:39   

I went from Mechanical Engineering to writing software.  Nothing in Biology but I used to do those things from Scientific American (Game of Life and Core Wars etc).

What always got me was that you could get quite complex behaviour out of quite simple systems and it so doesn't surprise me that life can self organise.

I surprised that Mr Tard reading Scientific American over the same period as me didn't do the same things. Although he does say he believes in Front Loading which I suppose is the same as a great software writer in the sky writing his own core wars.

Michael

  
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