John flags me to the Slate piece this morning, asking why (and whether) so many terrorists are engineers. The answer to "whether" is apparently "yes;" the anecdotes hold up to more formal scrutiny. The answer to "why" remains, necessarily more speculative, and Slate feels free to speculate away (they do cite evidence that engineers are "more conservative and religious" than other scientists, but this only begs the question).
I will add two cents. I'm not even remotely an engineer myself, but I went to law school with quite a few and a find myself teaching quite a few in the law school. In this (skewed?) sample, I see a lot of people who have worked hard to develop a skill and then find themselves faced with the prospect of spending their lives in not-very-interesting jobs with lots of cubicles and a fairly low salary ceiling--that, at least, is the sort of thing that drives them to law school. A corollary is that they often find themselves (as they see it) ruled by idiots--find themselves taking orders from people they see as stupider than they are. Think Dilbert.
They may well be right in this view. Think Dilbert again. Of course it is equally possible that these bosses have skills that the engineers don't have and which to the engineers are therefore invisible.
Afterthought: Ignoto tells me I need to elaborate on that point about engineers in law school. Fair enough. My experience is that the engineers often do well, but often not as well as they expected, or think they deserve. My first dean told me that this is because engineers are not good at what lawyers need to learn how to do, and that is to cope with ambiguity. Might be. Of course a question would be whether we do in fact teach law students to cope with ambiguity.