The Difference Between Scientists And Engineers

I have degrees in science and engineering, and have worked for many decades as both.

For an engineer to keep his job, he has to be brutally correct and honest – all the time. Products and reality don’t lie.

For a scientist to keep his job, he has to obtain funding. This is generally accomplished by convincing politicians that something you want to study is important, and frequently involves exaggeration and/or fabrication.

This is what happens when engineers don’t do their jobs correctly.

About stevengoddard

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106 Responses to The Difference Between Scientists And Engineers

  1. squid2112 says:

    These guys learned the hard way too:

    • _Jim says:

      Hmmm … what did annual inspections show? Had an annual inspection program been instituted? Any reports from those inspections still exist today? Just wondering out loud …

    • _Jim says:

      A deeper look into the Silver Bridge collapse suggests the conveyance of loads significantly above that which was originally anticipated, e.g., “a typical family automobile was the Ford Model T, with a weight of about 1,500 lb (680 kg) … maximum permitted truck gross weight was about 20,000 lb (9,072 kg). By contrast, at the time of the collapse, a typical family automobile weighed about 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) and the large truck limit was 60,000 lb (27,216 kg) or more.” *

      Rush hour at the time also meant stop-and-go traffic on the bridge several times a day, five days a week.

      That the bridge had inadequate redundancy through the use of just a pair of I-bars meant bridge collapse with the failure of any single I-bar anywhere on the bridge was a contributing ‘design flaw’ along with overloads effectively shortening the bridge’s life (sans any rebuilding/serious maintenance of the I-bars).

      *h/t wiki

    • _Jim says:

      A brief side note:
      – – – – –
      Reviewing the collapse and subsequent investigation in his 2012 book To Forgive Design, engineering historian Henry Petroski finds it “a cautionary tale for engineers of every kind.”

      As a result of the thoroughness of the investigation, the cause of the disaster was precisely and indisputably found to be “a design that inadvertently made inspection all but impossible and failure all but inevitable. If ever a design was to blame for a failure, this was it.”

      He does not fault the bridge’s designers, who were ignorant of many of these hazards. Instead he points to the future.

      “If there is anything positive about the Silver Bridge failure,” he concludes, “it is that its legacy should be to remind engineers to proceed always with the utmost caution, ever mindful of the possible existence of unknown unknowns and the potential consequences of even the smallest design decisions.”

      – – – – – – –

      At least with engineering there is a learning process (“corrective feedback”) that takes place when something goes wrong; one cannot say that about ‘Climate-Science’ …


  2. EW3 says:

    Your point is spot on.

    Engineers have actual customers that demand results. (was a EE then Software engineer)
    Scientists (I have a BS in Physics) only need to impress each other and the people they get funding from. Very incestuous relationship.

  3. omanuel says:

    You have identified the problem in post-WWII science, Steven: After the end of WWII, “For a scientist to keep his job, he had to obtain funding.”

    The politicians that controlled the funding for research therefore controlled the science. Marvin Herndon wrote an essay on this problem several years ago. I will try to find and post it below.

    • omanuel says:

      This is the link to Marvin Herndon’s analysis on the Decline in America’s Science:

    • stpaulchuck says:

      actually it was LBJ that added fuel to the funding fire. He spent so much money on Viet Nam that eventually NASA got the chop, with Nixon chopping even more, and thousands of scientists and engineers were put on the street with nowhere to go.

      Thus begins the Great Battle For Funding.

      Consider two PhD’s before the grant committee. The first one want to study the South American Hoodoo ant which may or may not contribute to our knowledge about natural poisons and how those may be turned into useful pharmaceuticals. Then consider the second candidate who screams, “Fund my research or YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

      Number two is (lately) the CAGW crowd, or course.

  4. nigelf says:

    The Tacoma Narrows video reminds me of where we are in this whole scam right now…the violent oscillation just before the collapse.

    • Fred from Canuckistan says:

      Was thinkin the same thing. You can almost picture the crew of Mikey, Gav, Kevin, Mark et al hanging on to the pitching rails screaming “Global Warming, Accccckkkkk! Global Warming”

    • Anthony S says:

      Lets add a layer to that analogy. The early suspension bridge engineers (Roebling et al) were deeply worried about affects from the wind, so for the Brooklyn Bridge, a deep stiff deck truss and extra cable stays were used to limit sway. Over the decades, engineers did what engineers do, and slowly optimized the designs, removing redundancy and stiffness losing fear of the wind. Eventually, you end up with Tacoma narrows, where the structure was so light and flexible that the wind eventually ripped it to shreds.

      This relates to climatology in that the engineers that designed the Tacoma Narrows bridge ingored the concerns of past engineers about wind, rather like todays climatologists ignore and rewrite the past temperature/weather records.

      Reality always has the last word though..

      • _Jim says:

        Witness that same ‘effect’ with ever-increasing mileage standard for automobiles; as safe as a 1986 Chevy Caprice was, there is no way to make that ‘mass’ approach 40 or 50 mpg and consequently a LOT less people-protecting steel will be incorporated into the design.

        Air bags/air bag technology does go some distance in protecting human occupants, and this is the kind of technology that will become critical when most ppl are driving veritable ‘egg crates’ around at 85 mph on highways. Maybe ejection seat ‘bubble pods’ will become an option in the Corvette line (and later for the jelly-bean-shaped ‘commuters’ the rest of us will drive) for those occasions where the ‘vette (or jelly-bean) crosses over the center median and into the path of an on-coming tractor-trailer ‘semi’ rig (or head-on into a wall or tree) …


  5. philjourdan says:

    When government gets involved, accuracy and honesty become superfluous.

  6. Keitho says:

    The reason the general public take civil engineering for granted is that our output very seldom fails. Roads, bridges, water supply and many other aspects of civil engineering are used safely by billions of people everyday. Likewise with the other disciplines, electricity, aircraft, cars and so on are safely used by billions. It is axiomatic that engineers have a grip and can be trusted to keep society safe.

    Science is seen by most as somewhat tentative and subject to rapid change. It is only when science translates into engineering that it becomes truly accepted. Even space exploration is engineering .

    That said all engineering uses science at its base and engineering rejects a lot of science that it finds just too tentative. That’s because engineers work to keep people safe while improving their lives. Scientists, as the article says, just need to wow their mates and generate funding. Science is a low risk pursuit.

    • _Jim says:

      re: Keitho says August 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm
      The reason the general public take civil engineering for granted is that our output very seldom fails.

      Yes … then, there are these ‘events’ showing that ‘issues’ still remain with us today for whatever ‘failures’ took place in the ‘design and analysis’ phase of this structures creation:

      60 million dollar high school stadium closed pending engineering reports and corrective action

      “Report: Engineering failures mainly responsible for cracks in Allen ISD stadium”

      “Engineering failures are primarily responsible for the structural problems at Allen ISD’s $60 million stadium, according to Nelson Forensics’ investigation.

      The problems extend beyond cracking in the concrete at the concourse level and also include shortcomings with retaining walls, concourse framing, press box support columns, press box structure, single-story structures, main scoreboard and durability of the structure.”

      • If one understands the physical and chemical properties of cement and concrete there is no excuse to have cracks in concrete. Most of the problem arises from lack of proper specification of the concrete (too much water or too high slump) and then lack o proper supervision of the construction workers. Unfortunately, many civil engineers do not have sufficient training (many hate chemistry) and have no understanding of the properties of the materials they work with. Only a few states in USA have laws requiring registration and then the laws are not strict enough with penalties including jail for engineers that breach competency requirements. I understand in Italy engineers and scientists have been jailed over dangerous construction and lack of warning concerning earthquakes. It is civil engineers that has given the engineering profession a less than good name.
        it is disappointing when civil engineers back AGW. It just shows up their lack of understanding and incompetence. Heat transfer is a chemical and mechanical engineering subject which scientists do not understand (hence the crap from so-called climate scientists)

    • ilma630 says:

      Problem is, wonky science gets used to generate policy that is inflicted on everyone. Which is more damaging, a single bridge collapse or an entire nation screwed for generations?

      • _Jim says:

        For a single bridge collapse I can give you pictures and point figures at individuals; an entire nation collapsing with the cooperation of the populace, the press and government not so much. As an example, I give you FDR, who most ppl consider a great president who did all he could to ‘help’ Amurica



  7. pesce9991 says:

    The scientist may get funding by bs as you say but if he doesn’t get results the funding stops. And I think most scientists are honest, like you. 😉

    • _Jim says:

      You really don’t belong on the ‘adult’/big people boards, now do you?


    • geran says:

      Fish, you continue to miss the point. It’s almost as if you try!

      A “scientist” gets the results he is being paid to get. THAT is the problem. Want a study to show puppy dogs cause migraine headaches? Got 5 million dollars? You will get a study linking puppy dogs to migraines.

      (BTW folks, “pesce” is the Italian word for “fish”. I am not insulting Italians or fish.)

      • pesce9991 says:

        Just imagine a world-wide conspiracy of top scientists colluding in a massive fraud on the public. You obviously have. It is the most ludicrous brain fart ever contrived. It is delusional thinking, politically motivated.

        There is no doubt that some scientists propose stupid studies and get politicians to and fund them. But to think this is the norm and all science is based on this folly is pure nonsense.

        By denying what real, legitimate world class scientists are studying you are deluding yourself, but worse, you are doing a disservice to the world by shaping a false scenario.

        By the time your ‘RESEARCH’ is found to be false it will be too late. You are undermining the public image of science and scientists. Sad, because you have a science background and should know better.

        • I have zero tolerance for conspiracy talk on this blog. If you want to discuss observations, fine. Hiding behind conspiracy theory is unacceptable and will get you banned.

          Comments like yours are the antithesis of intelligent discussion.

        • DedaEda says:

          Science is, what powers that be say that it is. In the middle ages, the scientific pursuit was, how many angels can dance on the tip of a pin and Galileo was a weirdo. Science is, unfortunately a relative term.

        • Truthseeker says:

          Fish-head, there is no reason to invoke conspiracy when greed, self-interest and incompetence will suffice.

        • pesce9991 says:

          And that is equally bizarre, Ts.

        • philjourdan says:

          SO greed is bizarre in your world? Interesting.

        • Dave N says:

          “But to think this is the norm and all science is based on this folly is pure nonsense”

          You’re right: it’s not the norm; it’s a bunch of climate scientists and some government leaders. (See also truthseeker’s comment)

          If anyone thinks that *all* scientists *and* all governments are on the AGW bandwagon, they really *are* stupid; there would otherwise be no-one known as “skeptics”.

        • philjourdan says:

          There is no massive conspiracy. Are you a truther? You are the only one talking about a conspiracy.

          Everyone else is simply saying – you get what you pay for. And the price is high.

          Watch out for the black helicopter.

        • omanuel says:

          There is no conspiracy.

          Mainstream scientists just accidentally overlooked the same precise data that disproved their research conclusions.

          Click to access Preprint_Solar_Energy.pdf

        • philjourdan says:

          It is called self interest.

          Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.

          #1: Scientists say that there is no (or minimal) AGW – what do the feds do? Look to spend their money on something that is a threat.

          #2: Scientists say there is AGW, but nothing that man can do about it – what do the feds do? Move the money to mitigation (planning).

          In both scenarios, the funding for the scientists dries up as the money goes elsewhere. When you have never had a real job in your life and your income depends upon PULLING in government (or even private – hello BEST!) money, you do what is necessary to keep the money flowing.

          That is not a conspiracy. it is simple economics. Looking after your own self interest.

      • philjourdan says:

        I figured it was one of the romance language due to pescado being fish in Spanish and Pisces – Astrology.

        • cdquarles says:

          And if your local language sound changes the p to f with the e remaining a short sound spelled with an I and finally have the sce change to sh, what you get in English is … :).

          I’ve always been fascinated by languages, spoken, written or code. I guess that’s why I loved Tolkien so much. I suffer from the philology bug, too, just not to the point where I can write legendary mythology using a personally synthesized from extant human language that I ‘translate’ into late Victorian British English.

    • darwin says:

      By Jove! I think he’s finally got it!

      Global warming exists because the “funders” want it to … and the scientists want funds.

      • pesce9991 says:

        Keep thinking in bumper sticker slogans and you’ll get nowhere.

        • “Keep thinking in bumper sticker slogans and you’ll get nowhere.” he slowly sounded out, while tailgating the silver Nissan.

        • pesce9991 says:


        • philjourdan says:

          Start thinking or you will get nowhere.

        • pesce9991 says:

          HAW, HAW, HAW! What a card.

        • Gail Combs says:

          It is not bumper sticker slogans or a conspiracy, it is just reading the primary documents and understanding the implications when it comes to who gets grant money.

          1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created in 1988. It was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations.

          The IPCC mandater:

          The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of human induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for mitigation and adaptation.

          The IPCC’s ROLE

          The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.

          Click to access ipcc-principles.pdf

          2. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a definition for ‘Climate Change’

          “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

          3. The USA ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on 21/03/94.

          4. The US government spent $106.7 billion from 2003 to 2010 on climate change. That means they spent money on looking at “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere”

          It does not take much in the way of brains to see that the grants are going to be for science that conforms to the treaty already signed by the USA.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Of course a question is why in heck in did Congress sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, aside from the fact that Clinton, a globalist, was president.

          Enter stage Left Senator Tim Wirth. This is the SAME Tim Wirth that said: “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” from his Dossier

          OOOooh KKKAy,

          So Wirth sees global warming as a useful political tools and he runs with it. This is very evident from this PBS interview with Wirth where he exposes his bag of dirty tricks when he organized the 1988 Senate hearing at which James Hansen addressed global warming.

          …Believe it or not, we called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer… [There is the first dirty trick]

          …. Dukakis was trying to get an edge on various things and was looking for spokespeople, and two or three of us became sort of the flacks out on the stump for Dukakis, making the separation between what Democratic policy and Republican policy ought to be. So it played into the presidential campaign in the summer of ’88 as well…. [There is the political goal.]

          So a number of things came together…

          … What we did it was went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right? So that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room and so when the, when the hearing occurred there was not only bliss, which is television cameras in double figures, but it was really hot. … [There is the second dirty trick]

          So Hansen’s giving this testimony, you’ve got these television cameras back there heating up the room, and the air conditioning in the room didn’t appear to work. So it was sort of a perfect collection of events that happened that day, with the wonderful Jim Hansen, who was wiping his brow at the witness table and giving this remarkable testimony. …

          Of course the next question is what was in it for Wirth? Wirth led the U.S. negotiating team at the Kyoto Summit and he became president of the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund. Unfortunately I can not find any financial data on him.

          The United Nations Foundation was started by Ted Turner who said:
          ” A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.” link

          Somehow I do not like the fact that CAGW in the USA can be traced back to an elite who wants a major reduction in population and a Senator who is another follower of the teachings Thomas Malthus. Especially when lack of affordable energy is killing off thousands of people in the UK and the EU every winter.

    • philjourdan says:

      If the funding is for BS, then as long as the BS continues, so does the funding. That is what we are getting – and the proof is the BS from the alarmists.

    • Beale says:

      The predictions of “Climate Science” have consistently proved false. If that doesn’t constitute not getting results, what would? But the funding shows no signs of stopping.

      • pesce9991 says:

        The predictions of “Climate Scientists” are consistently proven false in your opinion , but they are consistently proven to be correct by the scientific community. I’ll go with the scientists who do the work rather than the deniers who do the Monday morning quarterbacking.

        • _Jim says:

          Get a J. O. B.

          Living life on EBT is no way to go through life …

        • philjourdan says:

          When have they ever been proven to be correct.

          Name a single prediction that has come to pass. Again, belief =/= fact.

        • pesce9991 says:

          In your little world, philly, you are bound to come up with absurd questions like name one prediction that climate science got right. Even if they were just guessing, some predictions would have to come out right. Except in your little area of total denial. Then every one would have to come out wrong. Even those that came out to be correct, all you have to do is claim the facts are wrong, and voila! you are right! Such is the denialist’s happy kingdom of small-time thinking.

        • Chip Bennett says:

          So, when he asked for citing even one alarmist prediction that has come true, why did you post a list of 10 things that have completely failed to come true?

          1) Terrestrial temperature change has stubbornly failed to keep pace with the increase in atmospheric CO2

          2) Still waiting for any evidence of “notable changes” in the Earth’s climate. The 1940s, Little Ice Age, and Medieval Warm Period continue to mock this prediction.

          3) Sea level didn’t start rising. It has merely continued to rise, continuing a trend that long preceded any anthropogenic change in atmospheric CO2.

          4) Changes in sea ice extent remain stubbornly within normal, historic variation – and the current sea ice extent, at a decadal high, mocks this prediction.

          5) Hurricanes, far from increasing, are at an all-time low.

          6) What species have gone extinct due to climate change? The polar bears seem to be quite happy at the moment.

          7) Would that be the same Australia that is experiencing record cold and snow this winter?

          8) What tropical diseases are increasing as a result of climate change? Malaria is increasing, due to an absurd prohibition on use of DDT to prevent it.

          9) What food crops have been adversely affected by climate change?

          10) The oceans have not been “acidified”. They remain quite basic.

          Thanks for the laugh.

        • pesce9991 says:

          Thanks for confirming what I said was the essence of denial.have completely failed to come true?

          1) Terrestrial temperature change has stubbornly failed to keep pace with the increase in atmospheric CO2

          2) Still waiting for any evidence of “notable changes” in the Earth’s climate. The 1940s, Little Ice Age, and Medieval Warm Period continue to mock this prediction.

          3) Sea level didn’t start rising. It has merely continued to rise, continuing a trend that long preceded any anthropogenic change in atmospheric CO2.

          4) Changes in sea ice extent remain stubbornly within normal, historic variation – and the current sea ice extent, at a decadal high, mocks this prediction.

          5) Hurricanes, far from increasing, are at an all-time low.

          6) What species have gone extinct due to climate change? The polar bears seem to be quite happy at the moment.

          7) Would that be the same Australia that is experiencing record cold and snow this winter?

          8) What tropical diseases are increasing as a result of climate change? Malaria is increasing, due to an absurd prohibition on use of DDT to prevent it.

          9) What food crops have been adversely affected by climate change?

          10) The oceans have not been “acidified”. They remain quite basic.

          Thanks for the laugh.

          I will leave it to you to do the research, since I have already and it’s up to you to educate yourself. Here is my answer without re-reading what I have previously read:

          1. global temperatures have been rising upwardly, not everywhere at the same time but “on average” over the entire globe in recent years.
          2. The evidence is available, more than your ability to perceive it.
          3. sea temperatures are warming it seems faster than land temperatures globally. Warming seas expand and the rate of expansion has increased.
          4.Sea ice increasing is the result of more calving of the great icebergs and is itself a sign the waters are warming.
          5. The “all time low” is cyclical and may not be related directly to warming of the seas. But hurricane intensity has increased which is related.
          6. Numerous species of birds, insects and animals are on the verge of extinction or have become extinct recently due to ocean temperatures. Migration habits have been modified. (all stuff you can look up if you are really interested in the facts.
          7. This is sad. You should know that climate changes don’t happen over one year and that no localized temperature trend (like Australia) is indicative of what the globe is experiencing.
          8. Again, google your question just the way you wrote it here and read.
          9. Another good question you should not fear to ask the google-man.
          10. No, that’s just not true. Find out how. Educate yourself rather than following circular logic.
          Here’s to an open mind!

        • philjourdan says:

          I think you left your mind open, and your brain fell out. You did not refute a single thing he said.

        • philjourdan says:

          6) What species have gone extinct due to climate change? The polar bears seem to be quite happy at the moment.

          That is a red herring. Species go extinct every day. And they CLAIM that it is due to AGW. However, it fails the sniff test as the rate of extinction has not increased, nor is there any smoking gun.

          So I predict that 10 species will go extinct in the next 10 years due to purple jello. When 10 do, I am proven correct. I do not have to show a causality.

        • philjourdan says:

          False assumption Pesce. None of their predictions “have” to be true. A random guess would sometimes be true. An ill informed guess does not have to be because it is not random.

          You did not answer the challenge, just more childish ad hominems. So I will repeat it. Name ONE prediction that has come true. Just one. That is all you have to do to nullify my statement. That you did not shows you cannot. So instead more childish taunts from the resident juvenile.

        • pesce9991 says:

          Really, phil, I have already given you several and you claim I’ve given you none. This indicates the case is shut closed to you and all you need to do is deny the evidence, say it was ‘fixed’, or that climate scientists are incompetent. No sense in giving you more because your answer will always be the same.

        • philjourdan says:

          No pesce, you have only given your opinion. Nothing else. That you cannot tell the difference is evident. That you should know the difference is not since your maturity level indicates a 7 year old on a school yard issuing childish taunts.

          Your word is worthless due to the frequency of proven lies. If you have nothing but your worthless words, then my point stands. Your protestations are duly noted and discarded as merely more lies.

        • pesce9991 says:

          Before accusing me of an ad hominem make sure you understand the term. Then before posting make sure you are not using them yourself. You violate this time after time. Or is that OK by your rules?

        • philjourdan says:

          Just for you pesce (actually not – I already gave it to one of your sock puppets):

          1ad ho·mi·nem
          adjective \(ˈ)ad-ˈhä-mə-ˌnem, -nəm\
          Definition of AD HOMINEM
          1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
          2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

          from your post:

          than the deniers who do

          You should learn the meaning of words that you do not understand. Your reading level is actually dropping.
          You are more than welcome to point out any that I have made.

          Note: Commenting on observed behavior is an observation. If you do not want to be seen as a child, stop acting like one.

    • Gail Combs says:

      You have never met many scientists.

      Most are loyal to their pay check whether they are in government or in industry.

      Licensed engineers are protected by law and also have a duty by law. This promotes honesty.

      Scientists have no such protection. Their work can be stolen and attributed to another in the company and they can be ordered to lie. In both these circumstances they have only two choices, shut-up or look for a new job. I am speaking from direct experience and from the information from a lawyer that I was given. Whistle-blower protection by the way is an absolute laugh. You end up with the corporation AND THE GOVERNMENT after you telling you to shut-up.

  8. dmmcmah says:

    “For an engineer to keep his job, he has to be brutally correct and honest – all the time. ”

    That is extremely idealistic. I have worked with many engineers that were clueless over the years, and some that could even be described as frauds. This was in optical design for lasers for eye surgery and nuclear power. And yes they kept their jobs.

    • _Jim says:

      Maybe in those fields; in designs in product for manufacture (or under contract to the govt) undergo not only ‘design verification’ early in the first proto stages but also testing by the ‘Evaluation Engineering’ test group in the companies I have been involved with. Ultimately, I would think product in your line of work undergoes some sort of ‘acceptance’ testing or safety testing supervised by some federal agency like the FDA or NRC too.

      Scoundrels exist at all levels and in all fields, which is a main reason extensive testing is performed by everybody involved in ‘technology’ (HP/Agilent, Schlumberger, et al have all made billions over the years selling into the ‘test and measurement’ markets!)

      In God we may trust, all others we parametrically test …


        • _Jim says:

          Vanity Fair – a noted ‘technology’ rag. Uh huh.

          Fail, bit chilly; nothing there counters what I wrote above. ‘Acceptance testing’ is still performed at the factory on each ‘box’, subassembly or LRU (Line Replaceable Unit) on equipment for our armed forces here in this country. Do a search on the word “test” in that article; it comes up fairly often. Also be sure you know the difference between factory ‘functional’ testing of each subassembly, assembly or LRU, as this differs from the ‘performance testing’ the military might perform in an ‘operational’ environment in the field.

          For that matter, EOL (End of Line) testing on commercial product (e.g. 2-way infrastructure gear) sees some pretty extensive testing. Do you want to see some videos of same? Pretty boring stuff with LabView controlling all the instruments … about all the operators do anymore is scan the bar code and connect up the UUT (Unit Under Test) to the test set … troubleshooting and ‘remediation’ of ‘failed’ product is another issue though.

          There is a LOT more that goes on behind the scenes and far beyond what little that article covered.


    • pesce9991 says:

      lol A little reality check.

    • Shazaam says:

      I’ve encountered some clueless frauds working in the engineering field over the years. The one constant that seems to have preserved their employment is that without exception, the boneheads worked for a non-technical boss. In one case a lawyer, in most others, MBAs.

      I have never encountered an incompetent engineer with a technically adept supervisor / boss. They only seem to survive under non-technical management. And I say companies that choose to do that deserve what they get.

      There are vehicles on the road that will vapor-lock when under 1/4 tank of gas on a hot day, yet that doesn’t qualify as a recall situation in the post-bail-out days of government motors. Politics….

      • Gail Combs says:

        I’ve also “encountered some dishonest frauds working in the engineering field over the years.”

        In all cases they had an ‘Angel’ high up in management. In one case (aircraft parts) they were INTENTIONALLY shipping substandard parts (molds) mainly because they were operating on a Just-in-time basis and the molds were being shipped to a foundry and then onto the aircraft manufacturers.

        Don’t want to interrupt the supply line now do we?

        (Three aircraft crashes were traced back to this company by the FFA.)

        • geran says:

          I didn’t know that the Future Farmers of America investigated aircraft crashes.


        • Gail Combs says:

          Geran, I think Future Farmers of America would do a better job than a government agency at times.

          And yes I meant Federal Aviation Administration – (fumble fingers strikes again.)

  9. Traitor in Chief says:

    objects with highly variable dynamic loads are very susceptible to failure. The list of aircraft failures is longer than this one, but this is an example.

    • Gail Combs says:

      The cause was tracked down to trace elements in the ceramic molds leaching into the metal and causing brittleness/weakness in the turbine blades.

      Nothing in that Wiki list covers that.

  10. darrylb says:

    If one studies the climate model methodology, It would be like an engineer building a model from the atoms on up.
    Along the way conveniently biased guesses about unknown values are added. the biggest being the influence of various cloud conditions. It is no surprise the models are completely off the mark when compared to real world observations.

  11. Chip Bennett says:

    …ah, yes: Tacoma Narrows. A case study for every engineering student – well, at least it was at my school. It made for an excellent engineering application of calculus, with respect to resonant frequency – and a dire reminder of what happens when we fail to account for such things.

    • cdquarles says:

      That bridge film reel was used in my physics class to illustrate resonance phenomena. True, that was back in the dark ages. I wonder what they use today to show that.

  12. Justa Joe says:

    Climate “scientists” couldn’t last too long in the field of manufacturing. Claiming that you were right all along immediately after some huge mistake that cost some company BIG money wouldn’t be a trait that is “sustainable.”

    If climate scientist were even scrutinized to the extent sports handicappers or bookmakers are scrutinized they would be laughingstocks and then unemployed. You can’t make wild predictions based on faulty biases. It would be exposed quickly.

  13. “Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.” ~ Albert Einstein

  14. Eliza says:

    What happened to the poor ol dog?

    • inMAGICn says:

      I think his name was Tubby. He was riding in the car abandoned on the bridge. His master tried to get him out but the dog was terrified at the swaying and wouldn’t allow himself to be pulled out. The owner had to leave him when it became obvious Galloping Gertie was about to give way. He made it out, but, alas, Tubby fell into the chuck and died.

  15. Anthony S says:

    Another instance of an engineer not doing their job:
    The engineers that designed the Hotel New World in Singapore built a building that could support the weight of the occupants, but forgot to check if it could support its own weight. When renovations increased the weight of the building it collapsed.

    A case of an engineer not doing their job, but AMATEUR peer review catching the mistake, reporting the error to the engineer, and the engineer admitting their mistake, and having the building fixed.
    The error was kept secret from the general public though, despite the risk of a large tower toppling over in the middle of Manhattan.

  16. Scientists vs. engineers is a false dichotomy; you are obviously contrasting good engineers with a particular brand of bad scientists, to wit dogmatic academics (and, as a physicist, a scientist, who has worked as an engineer, I can assure you “engineers” and “scientists” are not mutually exclusive terms–although that should already be obvious to anyone trained in either category, without me having to point it out). The true dichotomy is between a scientist (whether an engineer or not) who limits him/herself to thinking in terms of unquestioned dogma (“settled science”, “consensus”) and one who tests every conclusion against real-world (objective) observations that can definitively pass or fail that conclusion. You can also look at it in terms of models (a model is just a set of conclusions that require testing): The good engineer, and good scientist, uses models that have been thoroughly tested; the bad scientist, and bad engineer, uses models that ignore definitive contrary evidence. Both groups are human, and include both good and bad practitioners of their craft.

    • inMAGICn says:

      Thanks. I’m an engineering geologist.

    • Gail Combs says:

      I have always referred to myself as an industrial chemist to distance myself from research chemists. And yes there was a bit of engineering involved since I was the one who was always sent into the plant to track down and solve glitches in production.

      Early in my career, I finally gave in and started arriving early, to touch base with third shift, and doing a walk through asking the production workers if their were problems I did the same for second shift before I left. This of course was done with permission from their foremen.

      I relied on the engineers and research types for their depth of knowledge but I am the one who took all the bits and pieces of knowledge from all sources and put them together to solve the problem.

  17. TheJollyGreenMan says:

    A good engineer will do his design keeping in mind that one day he will hold his kids hands while crossing the bridge. The modern day climate scientists believe man is a plague and scar on the beautiful face of Mother Gaia and that there are too many kids around in any case.

  18. SMS says:

    The duplicity of scientists is shown in the number of studies where the initial results are later reversed. One day eggs are bad for you, the next study shows they are ok. Same for salt, bacon, coffee, wine, etc.

    I wish I had the link to the paper, but a statistician did an analysis of studies where statistics were involved. His study showed that 90% of the studies he reviewed misused statistics to get a conclusion. Misusing statistics can give you any answer you want in science, and a big payday; but not in engineering. You have to be right in engineering or you lose your job.

    • Gail Combs says:

      Here is a link to an article about that study:

      Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

      Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science….

      (It is an interesting read)

      And here is the link to the paper: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
      It gets booked marked as a nice addition to How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data

      And the rest of the collection of science fraud papers and articles. {:>D

    • cdquarles says:

      This is very true in the medical field, from diagnosis to all kinds of procedures. Obesity has been redefined. The BMI is a meaningless number. It does not tell you how fat someone happens to be (and even that will not necessarily tell you how ill someone is or who will die first). Medical studies will always find the answers paid for. It can’t be helped. Double-blind trials became the gold-standard here to minimize biases, but even these are subject to survivor biases (how different are the people who live versus those that didn’t and of those who died, did we properly attribute the causes in the face of serious uncertainty?).

      I’ve been around too many pathologists, sorry. Oh, don’t get me started on plain x-ray film analysis. 3D stuff like computed tomography was a major breakthrough, but keep in mind how that was ‘ground truthed’ initially.

  19. nickreality65 says:

    The fundamental precept of AGW/C^3 is this: Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from around 290 ppm to 400 ppm over the past 150 years. There are no known natural explanations for this, therefore it must be due to industrialized mankind. Because increasing CO2 concentrations cause the climate to heat up, desperate measures are needed. What I refer to as the dog ate my homework theory, “Oh, where did my homework go? Only logical explanation is the dog must of ate it.”
    While dredging the internet I came upon this explanation for natural causes that explains it all without mankind’s pitiful 3% contribution in brief, but fascinating paper.

    Click to access missing_geothermal_flux.pdf

    By an engineer from an engineer.

  20. nickreality65 says:

    With science – it has to work in theory. With engineering – it has to work period. The example above was one of those unknown unknowns except to the perceptive fellow who spotted the potential. Challenger O-rings, Kansas City hotel walkways, Corvairs, lots of examples.

    Just what is “climate” science all about anyway? Heat transfer, chemistry, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, physics, statistics, data collection and analysis, etc. That sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, it’s the university course curriculum for a degree in that applied science called mechanical engineering, the degree I earned. The only thing special about “climate” science weasels is their puerile, “We’re special and you aren’t!” arrogance.

  21. Truthseeker says:

    I am neither an engineer or a scientist, but I take an engineer’s view of science.

    If you cannot use it to build something that works in the real world, it is speculation.

    • Tel says:

      I certainly take that view about “dark matter” and cosmology in general.

      • DEEBEE says:

        Listening to the cosmologists now it seems like cosmology and astrology were the same at the time of Big Bang. Then they diverges as the universe expanded.

  22. nielszoo says:

    Having also worked as a scientist for a few years and an engineer for a few decades one profession cannot exist without the other. The scientist finds the basic relationships in math and nature that are true and repeatable and the engineer applies those relationships in the real world doing real things. The scientist fails far more often than the engineer because he or she is supposed to be looking for the fundamental truths in the universe. The scientist is also supposed to be held on the line by his peers who validate his work by recreating it. He or she stands on the shoulders of scientists who came before and by using the machines and processes designed by engineers from those discoveries. In the private sector the scientist’s work is validated (often) by engineers who must use those discoveries to make the products and services that people buy… which covers the paychecks of said scientist and engineer.

    Today it seems that many who would call themselves scientists in our universities and publicly funded “think tanks” have a work ethic akin to continually rewriting a Master’s thesis worthy of a C- with the ultimate goal of staying on the grant gravy train. Their work is reviewed by others who are doing the same thing with the same goal. Many of these “scientists” are working in demanding technical fields like psychology, psychiatry, sociology, cultural anthropology and any number of gender/sex/skincolor/haircolor ‘ologies that seem to be multiplying at a terrifying rate. Not one of them qualifies as a real science, the results are far far away from fundamental truth and none of them can be duplicated. As SMS noted, statistics are twisted around and called scientific “proof” of any number of ideological results. Our good friends engaged in the “scientific” study of Global Cooling Global Warming Climate Change Climate Disruption Climate Boo Boos have usurped this work ethic. I guess they figured that the study of one of the largest and most complex chaotic systems that comprise our planet could use the influence of methodologies honed by getting grants to study public restroom use by Venezuelan born sex workers in Yonkers.

    Real scientists and real engineers work together to discover the secrets of nature and use that knowledge to make life better or to discover the basic truths that control our Universe. Without both of them we’d still be living in caves.

    • Gail Combs says:

      “…Today it seems that many who would call themselves scientists in our universities and publicly funded “think tanks” have a work ethic akin to continually rewriting a Master’s thesis worthy of a C- with the ultimate goal of staying on the grant gravy train. Their work is reviewed by others who are doing the same thing with the same goal….

      Real scientists and real engineers work together to discover the secrets of nature and use that knowledge to make life better or to discover the basic truths that control our Universe.”

      There is the quote of the day.

  23. nickreality65 says:

    I suppose there might be a subtle difference between conspiracy and herd/group think, going along to get along, not wanting to rock the boat, protect one’s career. Have some 1st hand stories, but not the space here. One of the management allegories I enjoyed over the decades was the “Trip to Abilene” example. Usually I can Google to locate a copy.

  24. KevinK says:

    “With science – it has to work in theory. With engineering – it has to work period. ”

    Well… actually, IN THEORY there is no appreciable difference between theory and practice.

    But, IN PRACTICE there is one h–l of a difference.

    I have Bachelor’s and Master’s of SCIENCE degrees in electronics and optics (aka applied radiative physics) and much of what I do is re-application of old learning’s from others. But I also have quite a few inventions (with patents and all) where I created new knowledge (psst, “hey folks if you put a fijamer valve upstream from the whanety accumulator, you can get 10 percent more efficiency out of this thing”) (hypothetical example, DO NOT GOOGLE IT). I consider that a form of science, in fact to get the patent I had to describe the steps in detail so someone “normally skilled in the art” could reproduce it.

    Some aspects of engineering start to approach art, there are an almost infinite number of truss shapes that can carry a given load, some of them start to look “pretty” when compared to a plain old “box” shape,

    And in engineering we also have “peer review”, it’s brutal, “Whatda mean you using a safety factor of 1.6, we’ve always used 1.55 for this application”, etc. etc. But the end product ends up closer to perfection because of it.

    And if the product works and someone wants to buy it for a price you can afford to make it at are the only real metrics in engineering.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  25. B says:

    Science is an arrogant profession, engineering is not.
    What do I mean by this?

    In engineering we have to consider what an outlier moron might do with our product. We must consider every last safety issue we can think of. We must make products right to the best of our ability. In engineering we have to address every question, every critical look at our work one way or another. If we don’t address things brought up in the various aspects of the design review process and they turn up as a serious issue in the final product we will be skewered. The questioner is never in jeopardy. People buy our products out of their free will. Only the government can come in and over-ride these principles*.

    In science through a bit of peer review and very limited testing they have the arrogance to alter the world. GMO, climate change politics, vaccines, etc. They do not even consider unforeseen consequences, it’s one size fits all. If someone questions the safety or effectiveness they are attacked personally, insulted, or worse. Those who find problems or go against the grain are skewered. If someone brings up the fact that humans are not fungible then it comes out that it’s just too bad for the people who have adverse reaction, that’s it’s better for the whole. Science uses government to force its products upon everyone.

    And that’s the fundamental difference, the scientist is always right, how dare we question him. The engineer is always wrong, we must question him to get a better product.

    *example: Automakers used engineering data to oppose the unbelted average male standard for airbags. It was well known it would kill children and small adults. The government of course forced the issue and people died. The government still does not admit its error and instead there are crude work-arounds so airbags ideally don’t deploy under those conditions.

    • nielszoo says:

      I believe I’d temper your response some. The scientist is not usually concerned with the end uses of his or her discoveries (with the exception of “research” like the atrocities committed in the name of science perpetrated by the losers of WWII.) Are Curie, Maxwell, Planck and the others who’s work was used, directly or indirectly, to create nuclear munitions bear the responsibility for the deaths in Japan or the Cold War? I’d have to say no.

      The “right and wrong” of the application of knowledge is dropped in the laps of the engineer and then passed up to the business owner or politician. The engineer decides if some fundamental bit of science fulfills a need or makes something work and then is tasked with applying it safely and judiciously. The scientist is trying to find the bits that the universe is made from and is not necessarily worrying if those bits are good or bad. They’re just bits of knowledge and the application of that knowledge is where the morality or restraint is exercised. Fire was our first great scientific discovery and it’s saved billions of people and killed millions more. Is the original “scientist” that discovered it responsible for that? The engineer is placed between the scientist and the world to make the decision about what should be applied to what problem. We are the ones who have to do the “due diligence” and make sure we can safely use discovery A to do job B. We know we can do it and we as engineers are also deciding if we should use it. That same kind of discretion is placed in the hands of doctors and they have to answer the same question; just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should do something.

      Our current problems are due to the short circuiting of that safety net. The science is going straight to either the Marketing department, the government or the press office of the latest eco-terrorist group with an axe to steal from a logger… with no due diligence, no filtering and no moral compass. The arrogance you speak of is more a product of the selfishness of those using “science” to further goals that are anything but science. GMO’s or vaccines are not inherently bad ’cause if they were we would have Gregor Mendel’s and Jonas Salk’s name on the same list at Attila and Adolph. It’s the application of that knowledge where the short circuit lies. Are there bad scientists? Absolutely. Bad engineers? You bet. Fortunately for us there are far more good ones than bad. Politicians, activists, crusaders for Cause X and the altar boys of Cause Y are the ones who are applying the arrogant superiority layer to the world so that it conforms to their own vision and to hell with those of us who disagree.

  26. Steve koch says:

    Really interesting post, I’ve been thinking about the impact that federal funding has on climate science for a while. You cannot survive, let alone thrive, in academia without grants and there are virtually no grants for anything that casts doubt on CAGW. Plus any climate scientist who dares speak out vs CAGW or the ipcc will be brutally attacked by the hockey stick team. Like Most people, most climate scientists are not heroes and play it safe rather than risk their career speaking out.

    Taxing energy was a policy that appealed to many different political groups even before CAGW became an important political movement. Many gop leaders wanted to discourage oil imports cuz it made the USA vulnerable to the oil barons. The greens hated the modern USA economy and wanted it to move backwards and be much less consumer oriented and less materialistic. Dems wanted to placate the greens and, of course, wanted the huge potential tax revenue of energy taxes, the increased political power and opportunities for graft that energy taxes would facilitate (many gop pols agreed).

    The problem was that it was recognized that raising energy taxes would hurt the economy so there would be a political price to pay. The genius of CAGW is that it provides a great rationale for raising energy taxes that would be quite persuasive to the typical low info voter. It almost worked.

    Engineers tend to work on a variety of projects that require mastering challenging technical material so it was natural for engineers to take a look at CAGW and climate science in depth, especially after ClimateGate.

  27. Gail Combs says:

    I am afraid you are a bit off here Steve. ACADEMIC scientists (and engineers) have to worry about grants and funding while engineers and scientists working in the real world of industry have to worry about whether or not it “works”

    A scientist can get away with futzing around the lab for a little while but sooner or later their employer expects them to PRODUCE, either a new product, or test method or test results or patents.

    It is Real world vs Academic world, not engineer vs scientist that is the divide between the Air Heads and the realists.

  28. _Jim says:

    Just a bit’o humor …

    – – – – – –
    Understanding Engineers

    People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the non-technical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations. This document will teach you everything you need to know.


    You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You:

    A. Straighten it.
    B. Ignore it.
    C. Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months designing a solar- powered, self-adjusting picture frame while often stating aloud your belief that the inventor of the nail was a total moron.

    The correct answer is “C” but partial credit can be given to anybody who writes, “It depends” in the margin of the test or simply blames the whole stupid thing on “Marketing.”


    Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction. “Normal” people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:

    – Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation
    – Important social contacts
    – A feeling of connection with other humans

    In contrast to “normal” people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:

    – Get it over with as soon as possible.
    – Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
    – Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects.


    To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories: (1) things that need to be fixed, and (2) things that will need to be fixed after you’ve had a few minutes to play with them. Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems. Normal people don’t understand this concept; they believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers become category (2) at the age of consent and remain that way until about thirty minutes after their clinical death. Longer if it’s a warm day.


    Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other peoples who can’t handle the truth.

    Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They say things that sound like lies but technically are not because nobody could be expected to believe them. The complete list of engineer lies is listed below.

    – “I won’t change anything without asking you first.”
    – “I’ll return your hard-to-find cable tomorrow.”
    – “I have to have new equipment to do my job.”
    – “I’m not jealous of your new computer.”

    – – – – – –
    A few more at:

  29. Smokey says:

    Understanding Engineers #1

    Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?” The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want!” The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, “Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn’t have fit you anyway.”

    Understanding Engineers #2

    To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

    Understanding Engineers #3

    A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, “What’s with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!” The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!” The priest said, “Here comes the green-keeper. Let’s have a word with him.” He said, “Hello, George. What’s wrong with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?” The green-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.” The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.” The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there’s anything he can do for them.” The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”

    Understanding Engineers #4

    What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.

    Understanding Engineers #5

    The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?” The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?” The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?” The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

    Understanding Engineers #6

    Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.” Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.” The last one said, “No, actually it had to have been an environmental engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

    Understanding Engineers #7

    Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.

    Understanding Engineers #8

    An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week.” The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want.” Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess and that I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?” The engineer said, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog – now that’s cool!”

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