04 January 2010

Engineers and terrorists, part 2

Apparently there is decent evidence to support the point I made here. Slate looked into it, and found studies that show that engineering tends to attract people who believe in eternal truths and the necessity of order in a system. In particular, the people involved tend to be far more religious and conservative, and that they disdain "compromise and ambiguity".

This makes me worry, though, about the leadership in charge in China right now. The vast majority of high party heads in the CCP are engineers of some kind or another.

A former hydraulic engineer

So far, they've been pragmatic technocrats on most things, but I wonder if this background plays into the counter-productive policies to Xinjiang. The government (and increasingly the people of China) are very nationalistic, and Hu Jintao in particular has made the "harmonic society" a large part of his overall policy plans. Making a "harmonic society" by coercing those who are not in harmony seems counter-productive to those who study society and politics first, but fits in perfectly with an engineering background.

I've seen people who have praised China for putting engineers in charge, rather than "politicians", with the idea that engineers, due to their scientific training and "common sense", are able to get things done. I worry that we'll see the limits of that in spectacular fashion soon.

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