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July 14, 2005

Comments

dsquared

Halfway through the second year of the first child's life is, I seem to remember from somewhere, the peak period for male disappearances of all sorts ...

J.Cassian

Looked at another way, maybe he chose to become a primary school assistant *because* it offered him ideal cover as a sleeper. In any case, it's easy to see the appeal such an outward pillar of the community would have to a terrorist "controller" needing a "cleanskin". Yet another way in which such terrorism corrupts society by encouraging you to suspect everybody, no matter how overtly nice they seem (cf. informers in a police state).

Andrew

The other side to being a chemistry lecturer is that he presumably would have the technical knowhow (or at least theoretical knowledge to learn about it) for sophisticated explosives...

Informers in police state: fascinating comparison!

Abiola Lapite

"n any case, it's easy to see the appeal such an outward pillar of the community would have to a terrorist "controller" needing a "cleanskin"."

The more "responsible" the citizen, the better the cover. Muslims wanting to escape being tarred with the brush of terrorism will have their work cut out for them.

"The other side to being a chemistry lecturer is that he presumably would have the technical knowhow (or at least theoretical knowledge to learn about it) for sophisticated explosives."

That's almost certainly what he was doing in the UK. Still, it's dismaying that someone who enjoys such a privileged position in society, and who has had far more exposure to modern scientific reasoning than most people, should turn his skills to such ends. Scientists are amongst the least likely segments of any society to buy into the whole religion thing.

dsquared

... but having got religion, they are more likely than the median to be extraordinarily doctrinaire and unquestioning about it, in my experience.

Abiola Lapite

Well, one can see why it would be so: they consider themselves more rational and empirically grounded than most (and they usually are, at least in their own specialties), so any positions they arrive at must "obviously" be impeccably supported by the evidence, and anyone who disagrees with them when they say God wills such and such must either be a knave or a fool.

Russell L. Carter

The flaw seems to lie in this intellect partitioning business. Competency in one area allows one to relinquish responsibility for the remainder? Why is this done?

Jim

A lot of Creationists or whatever their new cover name is now seem to have degrees in the sciences, though apparently never in biology or genetics.

I agree also about the tendency of these people to be dogmatic and inflexible about other matters, such as religion, reference that engineer I mentioned a few weeks ago who was absolutely convinced on relgious grounds that the world was only 6,000 years old. You would think that their training would make them sceptical and anti-dogmatic, but what happens instead, I think, is that they experience the explanatory power of their particular branch of science as infallible. It may be that they are not the people on the cutting edge of their fields, where scepticism is a necessary feature of research.

I don't think it is a case of them having one little closet of their lives where they get to be irrational. I think they are just sloppy.


Russell L. Carter

"I think they are just sloppy."

Maybe so. I have no better theory. But "sloppy" seems a reach for thinking processes that reveal first that a big chunk of biology, a science on equal par to all the engineering disciplines, is flat out wrong, and after a long process taking years, reveals that the entire rest of the world is the enemy for whom I must die to kill.

I am quite familiar with anti-technology thinking in the enviro front, and this is just alien.

Religious nutcases are also very familiar, as it runs in the family. But not in the engineers.

Jim

Russell,

Heh. But engineers are not exempt. Biology is bad enough, but try having a discussion about linguistics with an engineer. So many of them seem incapapble of dealing with data that is complex or conflicting.

 razib

i thought this was well known:
"Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi- professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate."

most technical people are not religious radicals, but a disproportionate number of religious radicals are technical people. i observed this as a child attending mosque with my family, the hard core of the religious wacks were the engineers (immigrant muslims in the USA tending toward professionals in any case).

source:
http://www.fpri.org/enotes/20041101.middleeast.sageman.understandingterrornetworks.html

 razib

cut off:
understandingterrornetworks.html

Russell L. Carter

With a nod to both Jim and razib: so professionals and in general the technically competent are susceptible to pernicious superstitious nonsense. Are we leaning toward contingent notions of truth?

http://www.michaelberube.com/essays/pdf/realism_enginst.pdf

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