Wait, Wait! The Situation with That STEM Paper Is Actually Much Worse

Reactions to my posting earlier today on the BLS paper by Yi Xue and Richard Larson have been quite strong, both in reader comments on the blog and private e-mail to me. People were outraged by the fact that Ms. Xue did not disclose in the paper the fact that she now works for Palantir, a firm that hires H-1Bs in the Big Data area (and likely that she herself is a foreign worker). She had simply described herself as “a former MIT grad student.” Even more interesting, her paper cites Big Data as an area where there is a labor shortage.

I especially liked Alan Tonelson’s tweet, in which he placed the paper in his “fakeonomics” category. But when one reader, Statistical Observer, wrote that he “will send a strongly worded comment to the academic department head and president of the second author,” my first reaction was that this was unfair and far too drastic. So I started to write a reply to Mr. Observer, saying, “Hey, come on, it’s not as if Fwd.us is behind all this” — and then I thought, “Well, wait a minute, let’s check that out.”

It turns out that Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale is actually one of the major contributors to Fwd.us, and is listed prominently on that organization’s Web site. That certainly puts Xue’s current job at Palantir, and possibly her failure to disclose that fact, in an interesting light.

And a further search turned up an even more interesting connection: Palantir, as mentioned a Big Data company, is using Big Data to help Fwd.us pressure Congress on immigration issues. Palantir has developed software tools for that, and uploaded them to GitHub, a popular Web site at which software developers share code. In other words, Palantir has developed software resources that H-1Bs and other stakeholders can use to push Congress on H-1B, green cards, amnesty for unauthorized immigrants and so on!

Further inspection revealed that Fwd.us has lots of software for this purpose on GitHub, such as here, here and here.

A more paranoid person than I might suspect that all this explains how that BLS journal accepted such a sloppy paper — the journal may have come under pressure from certain parties. Well, these days, anything is possible.

The result of this exquisitely well-organized campaign will be that Congress will receive all these messages from H-1Bs and their allies, and mistakenly think there is a groundswell of support for expanding foreign tech worker programs.

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9 thoughts on “Wait, Wait! The Situation with That STEM Paper Is Actually Much Worse

  1. When the gov’t was seeking comments on extending work permits to H4s, many if not most of the comments seemed to be from foreigners. The gov’t form does NOT ask you to identify yourself as a citizen or non citizen. Seems to me that that makes the comments process ripe for influence from foreigners and even foreign governments. Same thing happened when they were seeking comments on financial institutions accepting matricula consular. The Mexican gov’t utilized its “citizens groups” in this country to lobby for it.

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  2. You can complain about data quality at this address:

    Division of Management Systems
    Bureau of Labor Statistics
    U.S. Department of Labor
    2 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Room 4080
    Washington, D.C., 20212-0001
    E-mail: dataqa@bls.gov
    Fax: (202) 691-5111

    Matlloff

    Thank you Again for all your work;

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  3. I recall reading the comments on the H4 EAD proposal when I left mine. The majority seemed to be from beneficiaries of the program. How dare they! I cannot imagine going to another country and making demands – or even contacting – the government of that country where I would be a guest regarding government policies. If I did not like the other countries rules, I would just not go.

    I expect the same courtesy in my country from guests here. They are free to leave at any time.

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  4. What many are not aware of is the increasing usage of experienced laid off USA citizens working on projects for foreign businesses. When USA citizens get laid off and replaced by H-1Bs and remain unemployed for extended periods of time their resources run out and when an opportunity arrives for short term contracts they immediately jump on board to get the needed $. Projects usually include technology indirectly used for advanced radar systems and missile defense installations. Businesses headquartered in Spain and Italy will acquire the rights to recruit project contractors with experience in aerospace and defense. So when “Bob Smith” loses his job at Lockheed Martin in 2009 and then becomes employed sporadically for several years in commercial industries only to be replaced by H-1B foreign workers Bob’s 20 years of aerospace and defense experience is quite useful for these Spanish and Italian projects. The down side to this is that Bob’s expertise on the surface is being used for these projects only to not realize that his contribution to the project resulted in his advanced technology knowledge being “transferred” to China, Russia, North Korea..Many USA citizens are now “traitors” without even knowing it directly and the root cause of this is that they are in need of $ because hiring for their age group is very limited when there is a large supply of lower paid workers including the H-1Bs. So if anyone wants to take up the cause and verify what I wrote here and then present the cause and effects of “whatever became of the knowledge and expertise” that many laid off high tech aerospace USA citizens once utilized it would make a selling point of the overall security threats due to the H-1B program. China and Russia ARE obtaining vast amounts of high tech experience and knowledge from laid off USA citizens via Italian and Spanish project work.

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