My Experience Is Similar

From a comment at Dr. Helen's.

Dr.D said...

The only schools that offer some hope of being conservative, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, are engineering colleges. Those where the faculty are regularly in contact with industry, particularly if they come and go between industry and academia, tend to be quite conservative. This is not true for schools where the faculty have little or no exposure to actual industry.

The contact with industry, with the constant demands for schedules, the need to produce an acceptable product at an acceptable price, the concerns for safety, etc. all of these things make engineers, and engineering faculty very conservative people. The focus is on what is possible, what will work, what can actually be accomplished as opposed to imaginary theory of what would be nice. The continuing effects of economic reality are extremely important in all of this, something of which people in liberal arts and humanities often seem to be unaware.

I can't say much about engineering school (I never went to one or finished college), but my experience in industry (aerospace engineering) is that most engineers tend to be libertarian/conservative with the libertarian faction predominating. That would be the socially liberal, economically conservative faction. Colloquially referred to as the pot smoking faction of the conservative movement. Also with a tendency to be gay friendly. Engineers don't care. Can you do the job faster than schedule and below budget is the only concern. Even meeting schedule and budget is considered a very good thing. Compare and contrast that with government.

And then my friend Eric had this to say in the same thread.

Eric said...

I am considered a conservative by liberals. But there is a problem in my saying "I am a conservative" because at that point my argument will not be with liberals, but with conservatives.

I have noticed the same thing. Conservatives and I agree that government should be a good steward of the economy. The goal should be to reduce the friction without giving up minimal required controls (like enforcement of contracts). Now where I disagree with Conservatives and Progressives is that government can be an improver of men. Government can keep criminals off the streets (I should add has been traditionally empowered to) and create an environment conducive to honest dealings (contract/business law). But government can not bring into being the New Socialist Man, The New Libertarian Man, The New Conservative Man, The New Christian Man, etc. Why? Because the ideal can't exist. Why you ask? Well it is a principle supposedly enshrined in Conservative thought. Self interest. And you know this may come as a surprise - my estimation of my self interest may not coincide with your estimation of my self interest. This may be for various reasons. One could be you are right and I am wrong. OTOH I could be right and you wrong. The principle of maximum liberty dictates that if you are not scaring the horses in the street or stealing then the very maximum deference should be given to the person closet to the "problem". The self whose self interest is in question.

Evidently this used to be called the night watchman theory of government. I think that was in the era of Peace Officers. Before the era of Enforcers.

The founder of a certain religion was against using law for moral uplift. You have to wonder how so many who claim to be followers can square that circle? About all you can say is that humans is very interesting creatures. I aspire to be one some day. Well maybe not. I try to treat people in a way they prefer (individually) to be treated. An idea that seems to be rather unfashionable these days. Every body (well almost) has an agenda for the other guy. I don't see how they can do it. I can barely manage my own agenda. I can do without busy bodies and the "it is all so unfair" folks adding to my load. I am certainly not interested in moral uplift at the point of a gun.

Eric has more on the subject here.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 08.05.10 at 06:58 AM


Conservatives and Progressives insist that government can be an improver of men.

Sad but true, the entire issue expressed in ten words. Beginning today, I'm using that line in every argument.

'M. and Eric say----'

dr kill   ·  August 5, 2010 8:25 AM

I served on engineering faculties for 37 years.

It is true that engineering professors are more conservative than humanities professors only because there are few Marxists on engineering faculties, whereas nearly all humanities faculty are Marxists.

However, engineering professors are by and large on the left/liberal side of the ideogical scale. This has been shown by surveys of presidential voting preferences. Engineering professors vote Democratic. The only exceptions are Civil Engineering and Agricultural Engineering, but even there the Republican tendency is not dominant.

Newer engineering faculty are even more skewed to the left/liberal side than are older ones.

That said, engineering students are generally moderately conservative, although I ran into many liberal students during my career.

It is also true that humanities students tend to be somewhat more conservative than their teachers, Marxists all.

bob sykes   ·  August 5, 2010 8:57 AM

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