Every time I mention the Salem Hypothesis, as I did in recent video, I get a bunch of complaints from engineers that they aren’t creationists. I know. Most engineers are not creationists, or even necessarily prone to creationism. That’s not what the Salem Hypothesis says.
Here’s what RationalWiki says:
The Salem Hypothesis is the observation of an apparent correlation between the engineering trade and creationist beliefs (possibly due to crank magnetism, this can also include climate-change denial and other crackpot beliefs).
The hypothesis suggests that people who claim science expertise, whilst advocating creationism, tend to be formally trained as engineers (with the possible exception of chemical engineers).
This hypothesis does not address whether engineers tend to be creationists (the converse); however, it has been speculated that engineering predisposes people to a creation-science view.
There is some evidence that this characterization of respected members of the esteemed engineering profession can actually be extrapolated out to fundamentalism and quackery of all kinds.
Here’s Larry Moran and Bruce Salem explaining further.
The Salem Conjecture was popularized by Bruce Salem on the newsgroup talk.origins. It dates to before my time on that newsgroup (1990) and I haven’t been able to find archives to research the exact origin. The conjecture was explained by Bruce on numerous occasions, here’s a statement from Sept, 5, 1996.
My position is not that most creationists are engineers or even that engineering predisposes one to Creationism. In fact, most engineers are not Creationists and more well-educated people are less predisposed to Creationism, the points the statistics in the study bear out. My position was that of those Creationists who presented themselves with professional credentials, or with training that they wished to represent as giving them competence to be critics of Evolution while offering Creationism as the alternative, a significant number turned out to be engineers.
I know it’s subtle, but it’s not attacking engineers, it’s saying that creationists who claim scientific authority often turn out to be engineers, and not at all qualified.
I’d add a corollary: if they’re not engineers, they often turn out to be MDs or dentists.
Anyway, I also got email from an engineer who understood the distinction.
My name is [redacted] and I am a Mechanical Engineer and graduate from Michigan State University. I am not a creationist, but I did find out I was working with at least 2 young earth creationists. In a building of ~15,000 people at the former FCA/Chrysler headquarters that isn’t surprising. It was my first exposure to such ideas in person. My circle of friends/coworkers couldn’t believe someone had those ideas.
After watching some of your discussions I see they all seem to use the same tactics. I’d use their numbers for the Grand Canyon v Mount St. Helens river carving time and their numbers would work out to make the Earth older than 6,000 years, so they’d jump to a different topic without admitting the error. They’d deny evolution say it was never observed. I’d tell them about MSU’s long running evolution project in the physics building so off to another topic, then another ad nauseam.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you at least a data point to help offset the Salem hypothesis. I wonder what makes us lean toward creationism, odd. Honestly, it’s kind of sad, as I got into engineering because I wanted to know how the real world actually works. I cant imagine chaulking it up to a sky daddy and not thinking about it.
Just for laughs, though, here’s a creationist who thinks the Salem Hypothesis is just great.
Perhaps the reason that engineers are more likely to be critical of evolution, is because evolution actually is more of a question of engineering than biology, as it deals with the development of the most intricate, purposeful systems available. Thus, the field of study most likely to be able to correctly analyze this question would, in fact, be engineers.
See? Not knowing anything about biology is an advantage for certain kinds of engineers who want to pontificate on evolution.