God & social good lure IITians by the dozen
#1
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/...757686.cms

A significant recruiter at the IIT campuses across the country, completely unheralded at that, is GOD. Scores of IITians are finding a career in spiritualism to be a more uplifting option than i-banking or technology.
13 hours ago · Like · · Share

Murthy Avn I studied in one of the iits and i remember closed knit cults of iskcon. So many brilliant kids end up wasting their careers in this rubbish. This is as bad as drug abuse. Wait, in fact worse.
8 hours ago · Like

Murthy Avn ‎*closely knit cults of Iskcon.
8 hours ago · Like

Faheem Hameed Murthu. I think I had remarked about this. When the brightest minds in our country are seduced by this nonsense how will we ever reach the true heights our intellect demands of us?
8 hours ago · Like

Astrokid Nj ‎"Nothing was giving me a sense of completion. Things changed when I took my first meditation course. All aspects of my life became easier and relaxed. Then came the most inspiring moment - when I listened to Sri Sri at the ashram. I felt here was a man living his ideals. I felt I too needed to live my ideals. I finally chose my passion - where I would not feel I had compromised - it had to be spirituality" WTF do they do in this spirituality courses? I cant even get past 2 mins of listening to the Tree Tree dude without shooting myself in the head.
8 hours ago · Like

Murthy Avn ‎@Faheem: Yeah, and as I said before, I dont think these guys are the brightest minds in our country. They however *might* be the best engineering minds. There's a helliva difference there (which I have realized lately) . In fact, this brings me to an issue that I have been pondering over for quite sometime: that of whether engineers, in our society at large ...cutting across nationalities, are the most culpable of being unscientific in spirit.

After Scientisits, Engineers on an average have the best exposure to the scientific method. Also to the glorius fruits that good science brings home for the betterment of society. But you will almost always find an engineer who belives in vaastu or numerology. But almost never a scientist. Of course there are some loony scientisits but on an average, engineers are far worse. And I just don't mean this in a narrow sense of religion or superstition. I mean this as a rational outlook to life. If some psychologists did profile cognitive dissonance indices across professions, my guess it would be the highest for engineers. It is not difficult to see the reasons. One being the utilitarian mode of science education. Arts are never associated with their utility but science always is. For instance, I learnt the real rigor of the scientific method and its differences against other forms of knowing about the world around us only in my second year of Undergrad, and of my own initiative. While an engineer may be very good at figuring out how to solve a complex practical problem or provide you an elegant solution for that monstrous coupled differential equation, that still doesn't give you the rational way of looking at the world. Other reason of course is the financial benefits of being an engineer, it is simply a profession to many... and nothing more. I find this mass professional cognitive dissonance very disturbing and at times quite frustrating.
7 hours ago · Like

Ajita Kamal If you folks have this important discussion on our forums, it would be available for posterity and for conveniently referring people to. Just a suggestion. All those words will be gone forever someday unless they are archived somewhere we can back them up.
6 hours ago · Like
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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#2
Murthy,

Quote: that of whether engineers, in our society at large ...cutting across nationalities, are the most culpable of being unscientific in spirit. It is not difficult to see the reasons. One being the utilitarian mode of science education...Other reason of course is the financial benefits of being an engineer.

What you are saying is similar to the 'Strong Salem's Hypothesis',although that is restricted to people who claim science expertise.
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Salem_Hypothesis
If you dont have that restriction, I would say the 'fine arts (music, dance, painting, sculpture, etc)' people would have highest predisposition to religion, coz their field deals with religious object all the time.

Re: your point though, I dont understand how either of those reasons can have that impact. Do you want to elaborate?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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#3
Thanks, astrokid.nj. I'll post a couple that were added since, and then post a reply of mine further down.

Astrokid Nj: " http://nirmukta.net/Thread-God-social-go...-the-dozen
2 hours ago · Like

AnalySys Sciences: Not surprising actually. All the major academic institutes in this country are filled with 'spiritual' types. Almost every scientist's office and lab will be decorated with photos and idols of assorted gods and babas. This includes IISc (an institute that I visit almost every day) and my alma mater, UDCT. One should not underestimate the marketing expertise these religious establishments have at their disposal, not to speak of their considerable expertise in psychology. Guilt is a powerful motivator, and the foundation on which religion is built, and these guys know it.
53 minutes ago · Like

Faheem Hameed: Murthy - The issue is that the scientific method is not explicitly conveyed to the students. The gist of your comment above, with which I completely agree, is that our engineers are trained to be good problem solvers. However the stress here is perhaps more on the mathematical rather than the analytical. The true strength of these kids are they are Maths Whizzes and in many cases nothing more. So what we end up churning out mostly are remarkable maths prodigies and nothing much else.

Science for most part is still considered here as a body of knowledge and not a process of thinking.
9 minutes ago · Like
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#4
There seem to be two distinct issues in discussion here, so excuse me while I draw the line demarcating the two.

Murthy, you seem to be primarily concerned about explaining the difference in religiosity between engineers and scientists.

Faheem, you focus on the larger issue with our education system as a whole (which I ranted about a couple of years ago here: http://nirmukta.com/2008/12/20/why-india...t-improve/ )

I just wanted to point out to you guys that the response that AstrokidNJ wrote on the forums places Murthy's ponderings in the context of what other freethinkers have observed and studied: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Salem_Hypothesis

Edit: Astrokid.nj, did you read Jack Rosenau's post (linked in your rationalwiki article) that reports on a survey paper confirming the hypothesis?
http://scienceblogs.com/tfk/2007/11/the_...lained.php
Another strong correlation that Rosenau reports on is between engineers and terrorists (Islamic extremists), which is from another paper another paper that attempts to explain this phenomenon.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#5
Ajita,
I read the 1982 survey paper just now, and its very informative. I am particularly convinced of the need for some engineers/their societies to play an active social role in countering crap.
Quote:Explanatory Conjectures
Why have engineers become so important in the young-earth, "creation-science" movement? There are two major reasons: (A) the irresponsible attitude of engineers and their professional societies, and (B) the familiarity of engineers with certain difficult areas of science from which unintelligible but authoritative sounding "apologetics" can be developed
Also, the paper explains why I hear 'Second Law of thermodynamics' in creationist arguments. I have always wondered how the hell creationists got savvy enough to study thermodynamics.

I didnt read the 'Engineers of Jihad' paper (very long.. 90 pages), but the summary in the blog got me thinking about how seemingly orthogonal vocations/avocations of life (engg, religion) actually intertwine and define the values and political leanings of a person. An Engineer + Islam + toxic social circumstance can create a right-wing terorist, while some other combinations can create left wing terrorists. It certainly is complex, and I am glad sociologists can study and figure this out for us.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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#6
why is education mixed religion in our society !
Dear Astiks, I dont goto ur temples so u dont come to my educational temple !!
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#7
hello friends,
since we're discussing a topic related to IITs and religion, guess what I chanced upon near one of the entrances of the IIT,Delhi campus? It was a full-blown 'Shani Temple'!
On Saturday, March 26th,2011, I was on a family outing here in New Delhi when I noticed what appeared to be a clot in the traffic. 20-odd vehicles had been parked on the roadside near IIT Delhi Campus. I was dumbfounded by the sight that met my eyes next. I saw devotees flocking towards the 'Shani Temple' RIGHT OUTSIDE the entrance of the prestigious IIT Delhi.I saw people pouring oil over the black idols of 'Shani'(the god of the planet Saturn) and other imaginary friends( since it was Saturday, a day sacred to 'Shani'). I saw posters and signs proclaiming the glory of Shani and the benefits of worshiping him to cure all 'graha dosha'.The scene resembled a bustling market-place with Pandits,devotees,flower-sellers and dogs,all jostling for space. In the background, I espied the words 'Indian Institute of Technology' etched in gold, a pall of gloom having descended upon them. I was amazed at the audacity of the ignorant to have thrown up their altars and idol-houses right next to the entrance to an institution of science!What mockery!

We must do something about this. It is very unbecoming, to say the least. Verily, we shall forfeit our right to be taken seriously as a community of scientists and engineers if we allow such skulduggery to continue in the vicinity of the abodes of learning.
( For people familiar with the city of Delhi, the said temple is located at the main road connecting Adhchini in South Delhi to IIT Campus, Via NCERT. The area is known as Hauz Khas and the Metro station is not very far. It is hard to miss the temple as you approach the campus, it sticks out like a sore thumb!)
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#8
(27-Mar-2011, 02:28 AM)tarun Wrote: ( For people familiar with the city of Delhi, the said temple is located at the main road connecting Adhchini in South Delhi to IIT Campus, Via NCERT. The area is known as Hauz Khas and the Metro station is not very far. It is hard to miss the temple as you approach the campus, it sticks out like a sore thumb!)

While this topic maybe tangential to this thread, it is true that when it comes to shrines in India, zoning laws are either not existent or not enforced. Three instances which might classify as zoning violations in other countries are:

(i) Shrines that disrupt traffic (illegal shrines near major railway stations in Mumbai continue to be sources of unrest)

(ii) Shrines that exacerbate ecological hazards (as discussed in this thread)

(iii) Shrines within or in very close vicinity of state-run administrative or educational institutions (this thread).

The discourse in India about whether we have more shrines than we need should include such zoning concerns as well.
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#9
(23-Mar-2011, 07:13 AM)astrokid.nj Wrote: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/...757686.cms

Coming now to the topic of the thread, allow me to take a view that may go somewhat against the grain, that I can see a silver line in the fact that 'social good' is among the things that lures IITians by the dozen, driven though it may be by evangelism of various sorts. This means that we have an audience that ought to be provided, and is potentially receptive to, reason-based alternatives of advancing human welfare. It is more worthwhile to attempt convincing these students that 'you don't need god to be good' because they care about social good in the first place, than other students who have rejected god precisely because of the idea's association with annoying goodie-goodies and do-gooders or students who are apatheists because of a more overarching apathy about social causes. So within the bulk, I would think that the 'IITians who are lured by and sensitized to 'the greater common good' at least provide us with a shared basis for conversation about secular humanism than those (the majority) who are desensitized by apathy. Cases in point are this award-winning IITian and this IISc alumnus whose current claim to fame is their service of the greater common good, rather than their proselytisation about god. If only they had been drawn to more reason-based alternatives to harness their technical and managerial bent towards service during their formative years!

One thing that is obviously clear is that for a great many IITians (and BITSians and NITians...), engineering is not as much seen as allied to Science as it seen as an overture to Management, as evidenced by the very beaten paths from the IITs to the IIMs. In other words, the motivation for many engineers is not as much scientific curiosity, as entrepreneurial energy. 'Social business models' of the Mohammad Yunus brand can be an excellent option for absorbing these entrepreneurial energies which when unchecked and given free rein in a consumerist setting can potentially leave young over-achievers prone to burnout and mid-life-crises and leave them prime, plum pickings for evangelists. In this context, the work done by this remarkable couple at Rang De is of great value, as it catches the B-school crop young and provides a pathway for advancing human welfare that is non-sectarian and secular. Our IITs, IIMs etc are among the most cosmopolitan institutions in India and drawing them into these ventures will allow a greater footprint than otherwise. The playlist of the couple's interview is long, but entirely worthwhile and it is one Indian couple we can all be proud of. If today's champions of Akshayapatra had had such interning and volunteering opportunities during their college days, perhaps they would still have been in the mainstream rather than being absorbed by cults!
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#10
These institutions are selecting society’s future elite If they are at elite state universities or elite private schools,
they will continue up the academic, corporate, political, and economic ladders by passing SATs, GREs, placement tests, performance simulations, etc. that assess primarily algorithmic-level cognitive capacities (i.e., what we call intelligence).but none of the selection mechanisms that they have passed through in his lifetime were designed to indicate his extreme tendencies toward belief perseveration and biased evidence assimilation.
One may however think that if we are so bad at choosing How could humans have accomplished any number of supreme cultural achievements such as curing illness, decoding the genome, and uncovering the most minute constituents of matter? As cultural products, collective feats of societal progress do not bear on the capabilities of individuals for rationality or sustained efficient computation, because cultural diffusion allows knowledge to be shared and short-circuits the need for separate individual discovery. Most of us are cultural freeloaders—adding nothing to the collective knowledge or rationality of humanity. Instead, we benefit every day from the knowledge and rational strategies invented by others. In short, people just learn to imitate others in certain situations or “follow the rules” of rationality in order to accrue some societal benefits, while not actually becoming more rational themselves
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#11
(24-Mar-2011, 12:55 AM)astrokid.nj Wrote: I didnt read the 'Engineers of Jihad' paper (very long.. 90 pages), but the summary in the blog got me thinking about how seemingly orthogonal vocations/avocations of life (engg, religion) actually intertwine and define the values and political leanings of a person. An Engineer + Islam + toxic social circumstance can create a right-wing terorist, while some other combinations can create left wing terrorists. It certainly is complex, and I am glad sociologists can study and figure this out for us.

Here is a followup on Pak Tea House, a liberal blog, on the frequent occurrence of engineers proving more susceptible to radicalism than scientists.

Radicalism and Engineers, February 20, 2012

An excerpt:

Quote:According to Professor of Nuclear Physics, Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy, “We need to separate the scientists from the technologists, meaning those who use science in a narrowly functional sense rather than as a means for understanding the natural world. I have never seen a first-rate Muslim scientist become an Islamist or a terrorist even when he or she is a strong believer. But second- and third-rate technologists are more susceptible. These are people who use science in some capacity but without any need to understand it very much—engineers, doctors, technicians, etc.—all of whom are more inclined towards radicalism. They have been trained to absorb facts without thinking, and this makes them more susceptible to the inducements of holy books and preachers.”
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#12
(27-Mar-2011, 11:17 PM)arvindiyer Wrote: ... I can see a silver line in the fact that 'social good' is among the things that lures IITians by the dozen, driven though it may be by evangelism of various sorts. This means that we have an audience that ought to be provided, and is potentially receptive to, reason-based alternatives of advancing human welfare....So within the bulk, I would think that the 'IITians who are lured by and sensitized to 'the greater common good' at least provide us with a shared basis for conversation about secular humanism than those (the majority) who are desensitized by apathy.

Some more case studies of efforts by alumni from elite Indian institutions in the area of primary education are:

Shreya Mishra (Education Edge) :
Bridging the divide (The Week story dated Dec 17 2011)
On the edge! (Express Buzz story dated Sep 10 2011)
Founder on NDTV's Hum Log (Watch from 9m20s)

Puja Mishra (College in Purasi, Rae Bareilly):
IIM-Calcutta student rejects plum jobs to educate villagers (TOI story Apr 2 2012)

Such efforts without sectarian leanings seem worthy of encouragement.



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