Exactly three years ago, I had outlined the way to detect terror suspects. Without racial profiling (which is illegal and doesn’t work), without torture (illegal and doesn’t work), carpet bombing (costly and cannot be applied in North America and Europe).
In an article called “Geeks are killing us,” I had pointed out that most terrorists had a background in natural sciences, engineering, maths or medicine. Almost none of them had a background in social sciences, literature or art. This, not someone’s nationality or religion, seemed to me the best indicator of someone’s future as a terrorist.
Listening to my warning would have prevented countless terror attacks since and saved hundreds of lives. Unfortunately, the guys working for American, French, Belgium and Turkish security services prefer to waste their online time on Facebook or playing poker instead of reading my anti-terrorism blog.
- Najim Laachraoui, one of the Brussels airport suicide bombers, had studied electromechanical engineering.
- Elton Simpson, one of the shooters at the Curtis Culwell Center attack, worked at a dentist‘s office. (I have consistently tried to warn the world world about dentists.)
- Nadir Soofi, the other shooter in that attack, had been enrolled in a pre-medical course.
- Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters, had a degree in environmental health and had dropped out of a graduate program in environmental engineering. (In my previous article, I had specifically asked the security services to look into people who had dropped out of science degree programs.)
- Tashfeen Malik, the other San Bernardino shooter, had studied pharmacology.
- Salah Abdeslam, recently arrested for the Paris bombings, had worked as a mechanic.
And so on, and so on.
I had already suggested three years ago that people who enjoy cutting people open or, even worse, dissecting dead bodies, can’t be normal. The longer they carry out that work, the more they regard humans as machines. Engineers and computer scientists of course study such courses because they prefer machines over humans anyway. None of these professions are known for their empathy (just think of Dr Radovan Karadžić or Dr Ben Carson).
I had also suggested back then that people in the social sciences, who regard humans as humans and technology as secondary, are much nicer and harmless. This will be a bit generalizing, but I have since noticed that people with technological backgrounds tend to be rather cold when it comes to discussing political or social issues. They immediately focus on the technical aspects, leaving the questions of values and ethics aside.
These findings have now been confirmed in an article in “The New Yorker”:
Exactly what I had written three years ago. Maybe this time, somebody will listen.
(Hat-tip to my reader 中本哲史, who not only came across the story in “The New Yorker,” but who remembered my three-year old article. I bet he is a geek, too.)