Do engineers make good terrorists?

According to two sociologists at Oxford University, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, the mindset of a professional terrorist and the mindset of a professional engineer are so similar in makeup that there is a strong correlation between being an engineer and being a member of a terrorist group (paper downloadable from here). Their research states that members of the Islamist movement of Muslim culture show a disproportionately high number of doctors, engineers, and practitioners of other scientific fields. Their paper also makes the claim that engineers in particular tend to gravitate toward violent groups, but it isn't so much being …

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The vulnerability of children to images these days is frightening.

Recently, an experiment was performed at Stanford in which children aged 3 to 5 were presented with various foods (including vegetables and milk, which a vanishing number of kids like anyway at that age), some wrapped in McDonald's packaging, and some in plain packaging. The children were asked to state which tasted better to them after trying the foods. Somehow unsurprisingly, they liked the foods that they thought were from McDonald's better, which says a lot for conditioning to particular images as well as the power of suggestion. People start assimilating ideas presented by advertising at an extremely young age …

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Hacker researcher Bernhardt Lieberman has died.

About four years ago, a retired professor emeritus from the University of Pittsburgh named Bernhardt Lieberman was doing research on the hacker subculture. He interviewed a number of people in Pittsburgh (myself included at the time), and in 2004 attended the HOPE conference to interview another group of attendees about their lives, practices, education, and interests (computers and hacking aside).

I kept in touch with Bernhardt up until I left Pittsburgh in 2005, at which time I didn't have a net.connection for a couple of months. Life being what it is, I didn't actually get around to contacting him …

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It's no surprise that this didn't hit the evening news.

Last weekend the results of an interesting study were quietly released to the newswires without a press release or advisory notice, which pretty much guarantees that it'll be skipped over for bigger headlines. A study over the past few years to determine whether or not sex education programs that push abstinence over smart sex and birth control shows absolutely no noticable change in teenage sex or birth rates. The results of the study echo those of earlier abstinence-or-intelligence studies from the 1980's and 1990's, but it seems that history is doomed to repeat itself.