I’ve been getting these sorts of emails every couple days lately:
Respected Professor Gelman
I am a senior undergraduate at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur). I am currently in the 8th Semester of my Master of Science (Integrated) in Mathematics and Scientific Computing program. I went through some of your previous work and found it to be very interesting, especially ‘Discussion of the article “website morphing”‘. I am interested in working under your guidance in a full time research during this summer (May 2014 – July 2014)
I have a deep interest in Economics (especially Game Theory), Applied Mathematics and Statistics and I have consistently performed well in many courses. My past research experience convinced me of my potential for research and I am in search of an opportunity under your guidance to hone my analytic and research skills
As evident from my resume, most of my work till now hovers around analysis and application of abstract ideas, where in most cases I have had taken up famous research papers (like “On computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem, A.M.Turing, 1936”) and build upon them to solve a particular problem, often applying my coding skills and knowledge of statistics. As a result of these experiences, I am confident of my solid problem solving skills
I strongly believe that this opportunity to work under your guidance in a research project would provide me with an invaluable experience in real life research. I would seek this opportunity as a long term commitment to continue working under you in future
Thank You for your time and cooperation. Attached is a copy of my resume for your reference
OK, I understand the basic economics here. I live in a rich country, this person lives in a poor country so he wants to come here. The success rate of any pitch is approximately N*p, so I assume he’s going for the traditional spam plan and maximizing N. He has access to a long list of emails of math, stat, econ, and engineering professors in the First World and he’s sending this message to all of us. Finally, he is demonstrating his access to computing skills by stripping out an article with my name on it. But I don’t think this particular student wrote the software to do this. I get so much of this sort of spam that I’m pretty sure there’s a free or pirated program do do this strip-cut-and-paste action.
What amazes me is that these spammers seem uniformly to pick the most inappropriate of my articles for these pitches. Always, it seems, they’ll pick a discussion or a comment or an article on the history of statistics or something else that’s not really so close to my most active research. Maybe it’s something about the program they use to grab an article title? Maybe it purposely takes the title of an article with very few citations on the theory that I’ll be impressed that the student “went through” something obscure?
The whole situation just makes me feel sad. I hate to see people lie. I mean, sure, I liked American Bluff as much as the next guy, but actual lying in real life—especially this sort of thing, a poor person lying to a rich person in a hopeless attempt to climb the ladder of economic opportunity—it’s just a sad, sad thing.