50% Of Internet Startup Companies Have One Co-Founder Born Outside The US

In the book, The Geography of Genius, historical creative cultures are examined. Silicon Valley is the last place that they take a look at. One of the pieces of creative culture that they talk about is “strong ties” versus “weak ties”.  Stanford Professor Mark Granovetter wrote a paper in 1973 about The Strength of Weak Ties.

A strong tie is a close friend or family member. If you are looking to get creative, you are not likely to find it here. Strong ties make us feel good and they also construct our world view. You are more likely to become surrounded by groupthink.  However, strong ties also give us support.  That support network allows us to take risks with weak ties.

You are more likely to learn something new from a weak tie. Why? They usually have a different background than you. We are more willing to offend someone we have a weak tie with. The stakes are not high since it’s not a family member or close friend.  Scientists with weak ties are more likely to be creative than scientists with lots of close, strong relationships.  That aloofness is actually good for creativity.

It seems like today, some people go through life looking for ways to be offended.  I find that those people are perpetually offended.  They aren’t creative either.

I point this out because President Trump will sign a new immigration executive order today.  The first one he signed was ham handed and executed poorly.  The approach he used might work for a private company, but doesn’t work for a government.  America needs immigration.  It’s vital to our success.  New networks arise out of immigration creating lots of weak ties.

However, creativity cannot happen without safety.  If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the need for safety is in the foundation.

There are no Silicon Valley’s in countries which have a continuing incidence of terrorism.

The countries Trump is temporarily halting immigration from are beehives of terrorist activity.  It doesn’t matter how many weak ties a person has if they have fear that they could randomly be hurt in a terror attack.  There are statistics being tossed about that show you are more likely to be hurt by someone that is a US Citizen than an immigrant.  I have also seen stats that say Muslims are 50 times more likely to commit a terrorist act. Like a lot of broad brush statistics, those statistics are misleading.

People with agendas on each side toss out numbers that prove their hypothesis rather than having an unbiased hypothesis and seeing what the numbers say.  Confirmation bias reinforces what people on each side want to believe.  If you look at the underlying definition of what constitutes a terrorist act, the surveys are all different.

My gut says that we can all agree that a very high percentage of Americans don’t want to actively import ISIS like terrorism into the US.  Limiting it, or stopping it is a good idea.

The real problem is statistically trying to figure out who from a country embroiled in a radical terrorist war is likely to bring that into the US when they emigrate here.  If statisticians figured out where to put armor on WW2 bombers to make them safer, they ought to be able to come up with a process to figure out which people to let in, and which to keep out.  An aside, the research on the bombers was done by an immigrant.

The problem is in WW2 we were in a fight for the survival of our country.  Today, politics gets in the way of unbiased statistics.  Our country can survive some terrorism.  The urgency among our population to stamp it out isn’t there.  As Shelby Steele from the Hoover Institution says, “Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.”



  • Pingback: Chicago’s Growing Tech Community | Points and Figures()

  • steve_adams21

    I think a lot of people would appreciate the rule of law actually being applied. If you are in the country legally or illegally and commit a crime you will be punished and leave. Is that so wrong? If you are in the country illegally the allowed crime is lower as you already committed a crime being here. If you commit no crimes and actually pay taxes instead of suck benefits stay a while longer.

    • Not arguing about having actual enforceable borders or the rule of law. Agree with you. But, having a good immigration policy is good for the US. We don’t have a good immigration policy today.

      • steve_adams21

        “We don’t have a good immigration policy today.” Yep – Lots of areas that 90% of people agree that could be made better which would help so many areas. BTW thanks for the posts – always interesting.