Social engineering is when you use social techniques to achieve an engineering goal. It is a term mostly used in the technology commnuity to refer to ways to breach computer security systems. I call you up, sound officious (my British accent helps), and assure you I am calling to help you. There have been some suspicious activities on your credit card recently and would you mind reading the three digit security number off the back of the card to verify you still have it in your possession.
I have easily accomplished with social engineering something I could do with much more effort using a key logging program - a program similar to a computer virus that records what you type keystroke-by-keystroke, and sends me the results so I can pick out those magical three digits.
In my venture capital life we often hear about highly engineered, possibly over-engineered, technologies. Compared with other technologies they are clearly masterpieces. Compared with the ability of the human mind to be tricked (positively or negatively), they may not be worth the Powerpoint program they were conceived on.
It is not even clear to me that these guys would need the drugs!