This could be a coincidence, but the similarity between the sub-headers, in particular, is pretty amazing. What is also interesting is that Popper posted his article on December 29th, 2009, while Whitaker’s appeared only on January 2nd. Given the Guardian’s track record of recycling old news as commentary on CiF, it makes one wonder a little.
Dig a little deeper, and the reliance of both authors on the same material is even more curious.
Popper – December 29, 2009:
A paper (PDF) released this summer by two sociologists, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, adds empirical evidence to this observation. The pair looked at more than 400 radical Islamic terrorists from more than 30 nations in the Middle East and Africa born mostly between the 1950s and 1970s. Earlier studies had shown that terrorists tend to be wealthier and better-educated than their countrymen, but Gambetta and Hertog found that engineers, in particular, were three to four times more likely to become violent terrorists than their peers in finance, medicine or the sciences. The next most radicalizing graduate degree, in a distant second, was Islamic Studies.
Whitaker – January 2nd, 2010:
A degree in engineering has no obvious connection with terrorism or religious/political extremism – and yet some research published earlier this year suggests it may be highly relevant.
Looking at the educational background of known militants, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog found that “engineers are three to four times as likely as other graduates to be present among the members of violent Islamic groups in the Muslim world since the 1970s”. In fact, the engineers in their sample outnumbered graduates of Islamic studies by more than two to one.
Gambetta and Hertog then set about trying to explain these findings. After rejecting several hypotheses, they settled on two factors as “the most plausible explanation”. One was the “relative deprivation” of engineers in Muslim countries and the other was what they called the “engineering mindset”.
Strangely, I couldn’t find references in Whitaker’s article to “Benjamin Popper” or “slate.com”.
No doubt this was an oversight or coincidence. I’m sure that attribution will shortly be provided by the editors if necessary.