Writing for the European Journal of Sociology Diego Gambetta, of the Italian European University Institute and Steffen Hertog, an associate professor have a theory.
They added up all the numbers and divided it by their shoe size and found that engineers are much more prone to become members of violent terrorist organisations.
Apparently twice as many members of violent Islamist organisations have engineering degrees as have degrees in Islamic studies. Nearly half of those terrorists who had degrees had degrees in engineering.
There was an opposite pattern among non violent Islamic groups. In these groups, people with other degrees than engineering were over represented.
Left-wing terrorists are likely to be humanities graduates rather than engineers, except in movements in Turkey and Iran.
The leaders of extreme right-wing groups in the US may be more prone to be engineers than chance would predict.
Gambetta and Hertog dismiss claims that terrorist groups want to recruit engineers because engineers have valuable technical skills that might be helpful, such as in making bombs. Many of Hamas’ engineers have admin roles.
Gambetta and Hertog think that engineers are more likely to become terrorists because of the way that they think about the world. They are more likely to be conservative and far more likely to be religious. They are seven times as likely to be both religious and conservative as social scientists.
They also have a marked preference towards finding clearcut answers. Radical Islamist groups deal with the complexities of modernity by getting rid of it.
This notion combines with frustrated expectations in many Middle Eastern and North African countries, and among many migrant populations, where people with engineering backgrounds have difficulty in realising their ambitions for good and socially valued jobs.
Places where there are fewer radical Islamists, are those which hire engineers with engineering. A particular religiously fundamentalist ideology gives engineers a philosophy that is in tune with their mind-set and an understanding of the world that helps make sense of their poor economic prospects.
It also means that those who bang on about the dangers of refugees should perhaps be making similar statements about engineers.