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Superiority complex within majors

  1. Jul 29, 2011 #1
    This was mentioned in a recent thread here, and I happened to notice a great deal of it at my school.

    I took a sophomore level stats class as an elective this past semester, and before the final (I got an A in the course by the way!) I sat down at our tutoring center to study some of the definitions and such in preparation. While I was working, a few engineering majors sat down near me working on some Calculus I or II. Anyway, I said nothing to them and one of them felt the need to say something along the lines of "What is that, basic statistics?" in a very condescending manner. I just said "yup" and kept about my business. They then went on a tangent discussion about how they have to take "Stats for Engineers" and it's way more complicated than the course I was taking.

    They had a trig question, and I answered it for them to their surprise I suppose (I also work at said tutoring center), which prompted them to ask me what my major was. I told them "Physics" and then off they went on another tangent about "So, you just have to take like, physics I/II, statics and dynamics? Must be nice, we have to take <insert Eng courses>".

    Rather than argue with the morons about the merits of both physics and engineering, I just left. But what gives? Is there an "Intro to being a jerk" course under most engineering majors?

    (No offense to any engineers, it's just that I notice this the most from them. It's likely due to the fact that there are just a ton of them around though. I notice the same behavior from anyone in any science, compared to anyone not in any science. It seems to me, if I were doing something that I am interested in (which I would imagine is what people in college do), then the supposed difficulty or purity of whatever subject that is compared to that of my peers is irrelevant)
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
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  3. Jul 29, 2011 #2


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    Two semesters worth actually. Don't you read the course catalog? Idiot. Go back to pre-calculus. (Just kidding ;) )

    I think engineering does attract jerks sometimes. It's a "manly" major and people who are kinda diluted enough to do a major just because of the societal impression are probably socially inept to top it off. I think physics might have a little of that going on. There are certainly some people who might go into physics simply because they want people to think they're smarter and better than them.
  4. Jul 29, 2011 #3
    Sounds like they were venting their frustration on you.
  5. Jul 29, 2011 #4
    What frustration?
  6. Jul 29, 2011 #5
    Of having to take hard courses that they barely understand :smile:

    Anyway, there certainly are quite a few jerks in engineering who think they're better than everybody. But there are quite a few jerks in all majors!
    I know that a lot of mathematics students really looked down to engineers and even physicists. And a lot of physicists looked down on math people and engineers.

    Anyway, it's quite sad to feel better by letting somebody else feel worse. I like to avoid those people. Feeling better than another major is a dumb thing, whether it is engineering, physics, psychology or the like.
  7. Jul 29, 2011 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Engineers are just jealous because physicists get to narrate all of the cool tv shows.

    I mean seriously, when is the last time you saw an engineer hosting a discussion on the multiverse, or wormholes, M-theory, or time travel? No, you have to look to Dirty Jobs for that! :biggrin:
  8. Jul 29, 2011 #7
    It's called a hierarchy of college majors.
  9. Jul 30, 2011 #8


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    Quiet you mathematician.
  10. Jul 30, 2011 #9


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    My Calculus professor explained something during a lecture in my first semester, but I forget what it was. Anyway, a student said, "You just said in one sentence what a manual at my work takes 4 pages to explain." He replied, "That's because the manual was written by an engineer. No offense to engineers, though. They get things done."

    I'll never forget the steam I saw coming out of that young man's ears. I thought he was going to lose it. I found out later that both of his parents were engineers.

    My professor was incredibly bright, but he did have a certain superiority about him that I find off-putting. I have much more respect for a humble genius.
  11. Jul 30, 2011 #10
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  12. Jul 30, 2011 #11
    It could be that the Engineers have been treated the same way by Scientists previously and it was a defense mechanism?

    I think these attitudes have a lot to do with your locality and this relationship varys between schools.
  13. Jul 30, 2011 #12
    Funny, I've experienced the same thing. Engineering seems to have a particularly high number of arrogant people. Also economics. Engineers like to say they keep the world running and they understand everything, economists sneer at everyone else, who will all (they think) make less money than them when they graduate.

    Also, in my experience, physics majors tend to be very insular. They will only fraternise with you if you are a certified genius. Maths students seem more willing to work together. Again, just my experience.
  14. Jul 30, 2011 #13
    With economics majors - I think they're pretty calm. Finance majors on the otherhand...talk about an Ed Hardy convention!
  15. Jul 30, 2011 #14
  16. Aug 1, 2011 #15
    My dad (physicist) loathes the day I decided to study engineering :) But a couple years along my career path and I do almost everything but what I learned at university. Engineering was more about how to solve problems, for me anyway. Saying that, I always did feel a little higher on the food chain than those grubby art kids :p Never saw any physicists or mathematicians actually, they spent most of thier time in the library while I was at the pub learning fluid dynamics.
  17. Aug 1, 2011 #16


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    I will say something about econ students. They like to argue. Watch out!. :)
  18. Aug 1, 2011 #17
    There is far too much being read into this.

    You were sat next to some arseholes, they exist in every profession and walk of life.
  19. Aug 1, 2011 #18
    It is natural for people to feel like they have chosen the superior path, it is to avoid cognitive dissonance. It is also natural to want to feel better than others at something to merit your own existence, in college either your classes are easier or you are an autistic nerd.
  20. Aug 1, 2011 #19
    I certainly was not thinking about you when I typed my last post :tongue:
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