I'm going to disagree with colleague Chuck Murray again (he also reports to me-:), this time over global warming. He writes in his Electronics News and Comment blog that engineers are skeptical about the seriousness of global warming even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. Indeed, our quickie poll this week showed only 43% in a 108 respondent sample think global warming threatens life on earth.
When former vice president Al Gore spoke at the Embedded Systems Conference last week, Chuck noticed eye rolls and smirks in the audience made up mostly of engineers.
I've seen this too, Chuck. At the EDN Innovation Awards a couple of years ago, Wall Street columnist Walter Mossberg scolded engineers for being out of the touch with what consumers want in electronics. I saw looks of disgust around the room. One former colleague (I was editor-in-chief of EDN at the time) stared at his feet and shook his head.
Engineers and journalists (me) are different breeds, for sure, but they also have striking similarities. We're both taught to be skeptical about what people are telling us. The groups about which journalists are the most skeptical are politicians and PR people. Engineers tend to be skeptical about the work of their colleagues or scientists, and this holds true in the global warming debate. Chuck's blog post on the topic is well-reasoned and alludes to the unquenchable "thirst" engineers have for more data and information. That's fine. Where I disagree is with the suggestion that global warming is a media invention, which he all but says.
Chuck also writes that engineers have the "show-me" mentality. So do I. The words of my city room professor from 30 years ago still resonate: "Show the reader, don't tell him (or her)." And on the global warming debate, I think the scientists have done that.