Reading an old “office war story” by Wardsmith over the weekend, it struck me that most of the libertarian leaning people I know in my fleshbot life work as engineers, programmers, or in some other kind of “techie” capacity. Also, in my experience those industries have a far higher population percentage of people who describe themselves as libertarian leaning. And since there are a lot of people here that have far more experience with both the tech and libertarian worlds than I do, I’d like to ask one – and perhaps two – questions:
The first is, is this observation of mine true beyond my own experience? Are these industries (relatively) heavily populated by libertarians of various stripes? Or do I just happen to have an odd and uncharacteristically libertarian cross section of techie acquaintances?
If my observations are somewhat correct, then my second question is: why is that?
The more I think about it, the more I find myself fascinated by this second question. I can think of three obvious potential answers:
Potential Answer #1: Libertarianism and Science/Math/Engineering are somehow linked. And I would think most likely linked by the parts of the brain that control logic and reasoning. Is it possible that the part of our brains that uses pure reason, unencumbered by emotional pulls and tugs, is more susceptible to libertarian arguments? If so, this seems a powerful argument for why we as a society should start to collectively take libertarian arguments more seriously than we do. (Actually, since we tend to be such emotional creatures, it might also be a pretty good explanation for why we currently don’t.)
Potential Answer #2: The business culture draws libertarian-leaning people. That is to say, the model tech companies use simply appeals to libertarian leaning people more. It’s not the actual job tasks or the inherent skills one needs for the industry, as in Potential Answer #1, so much as the industry’s culture that is the attractor. Had a few things gone differently in the 70s and 80s, the industry might well have been radically different than it is today, and consequently not been a draw to those that lean libertarian. But it didn’t so it does.
Potential Answer #3: The business culture creates libertarian-leaning people. In this scenario, young people who go into the tech industry aren’t any more likely to be libertarian leaning than they are for any other industry. But after spending so much time in an industry where there are so may libertarian leaning folks (for possibly arbitrary reasons), they adapt to fit in with their community over time, in the same way groups of people come out of liberal arts colleges leaning more liberal than society at large.
So League techies and libertarians, I’m really curious. Is my initial observation even close to being correct? If so, is it for any of the three reasons above? Or some combination? Or some other reason I’m not even touching upon?
Thanks in advance to assistance from the hive mind.