email - January 2008

What Do Engineers Know?

Phillip answers Ken’s question differently than we did.

Last month, we gave Ken some “grandfatherly advice” in response to his email asking what engineers know about evolution. Phillip sent us a different answer.

Subject: Reply to Ken, PhD candidate...
From: Philip
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2007

Dear Do While,

I read Ken's email and your reply in the December 2007 monthly email page.

I would like to reply to his question, as I think it is worth reflecting on the issue.

Below is my reply. I'd really appreciate if you could kindly forward it to him (you can include my email address). Alternatively, you can use it in your newsletter.

Thanks and best regards

Philip

>>>>>>>>

Ken,

You asked a pertinent question. Many other people are probably pondering over the same thing.

"What do engineers know about evolution anyway?"

Well, engineers know about how things work. They live in a world in which fancy theories are quickly put to the test by grim reality. And if it does not work, not only are they out of a job, but people may lose their lives.

Engineers understand, design and build complex systems in which thousands and thousands of components work together, and interact with different materials, fluids, chemicals, electromagnetic fields and waves, electrical currents, climatic conditions, temperature, pressure, and, and, and.

Trust me, when you cross a bridge or fly in an airliner you'd rather know for a fact that the people who designed and built it knew what they were doing, and were applying sound knowledge that has stood the test of real life.

Think carefully: if, as you board a plane, you were told "This is a brand new design, based on brand new information, the latest our best engineers with over a hundred years of experience in the field have come up with. We just redesigned it because all the previous aircraft we designed and built in the past 100 years ultimately crashed due to flaws in the information available, and in our understanding of that information. But this one IS the right design! Have a nice trip! " How exactly would you feel?

Next time you board a 747, look around. Try to figure out what it takes to keep over 300 tons of metal screaming across the sky, eight miles above ground, with a few hundred people inside. And ask yourself again: "What exactly do these guys know about how things work?"

So, what do engineers know about evolution? Or biology? Or paleontology? Or geology? Engineers understand how things work, what works, why it works, what does not work, and why it does not work. They have very little time for nonsense, and have an innate aversion for it.

You bet your life on it.

Think.

Philip

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