Saturday, December 13, 2003


An email from a reader:

“I am an engineer myself, and my younger brother is just completing his engineering degree. You mentioned how engineers tend to be more realistic, and therefore more conservative than the arts/humanities/social sciences morass.

However, even this oasis of commonsense within the universities is being white-anted by the hangers-on. In my later years of university we were required to take a humanities elective, in which a variety of social "science" lecturers would tell us about the evils of the industrial revolution, and how free people were before it, and how immoral business leaders were, and how scientists and engineers were responsible for the Holocaust, and the importance of the industrial relations tribunal, etc. and would generally show their ignorance about anything technological. Our tutor was a jolly and ignorant hippie who admitted in his totally unstructured tutorials that his criteria for evaluating the quality of an assignment was the number of footnotes it contained. It would have been hilarious if I wasn't paying for it. Strangely, the arts/humanities/social science crowd were not required to reciprocate by taking hard science electives.

In my brother's time, it has gotten even worse, with one subject of this ilk in nearly every semester, and some truly clueless people being appointed even in the Engineering faculty. For instance, when asked to summarise his thesis project, my brother was told that his summary was "a little more descriptive of the project than what we had originally hoped for", and what they wanted was "something a little more personal in regards to your perception or experience of the project". With "engineers" like this, you don't need terrorists to bring down skyscrapers.”


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