Archives for Malcolm Gladwell



Book Review: Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest — David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – came out this week.   Like every other book by Gladwell, it is already a best-seller. And having read – and very much enjoyed — the book, I can see why. Gladwell once again presents a variety of interesting stories, this time centered on the question of whether underdogs are as disadvantaged as we believe (the opening story on David and Goliath – which makes this observation – is worth the price of admission).   My sense – from the few reviews I have seen – is that critics have primarily focused on whether the argument they think Gladwell is making is valid.  I am going to argue that this approach misses the fact that the stories Gladwell tells are simply well worth reading (i.e., these stories are interesting and make you think). 

The range of stories Gladwell presents is quite impressive. From the opening biblical story to a discussion of the number of students in a school classroom, the impact of dyslexia, the curing of leukemia, the battle for Civil Rights, French revolutionaries during World War II, etc… One has to wonder: where does Gladwell find these stories? Read More »



Will Freakonomics Help You Find True Love?

Probably not, but Malcolm Gladwell might.

My source for this conclusion: the always-interesting OKTrends blog, which provides data analysis for the OKCupid online dating site. Its latest analysis looks at how profile essays differ by race. Read More »



What the Reindeer Saw

Malcolm Gladwell explains Christmas, as imagined by Craig Brown for Vanity Fair: “In a hugely influential 2004 experiment at the University of Colorado at Bollocks Falls, Professor Sanjiv Sanjive and his team asked 323 volunteers to wrap themselves in swaddling clothes and spend the night in a stable, lying in a manger. Logic would dictate that at least one of them would be visited by shepherds, wise men, or kings from the East, right?” Read More »



Identical Twins?

I visited Bogota, Colombia last week. When I was introduced to my translator, he told me how good it was to see me again.

I complimented him on having a great memory (my last visit to Colombia was almost a decade ago) and made the usual sorts of excuses I make when I can’t remember someone I should clearly remember. (By now I have a great deal of practice with this particular line of conversation.) Read More »



"This Is No Picnic for Me Either, Buster": Obama and Outliers

My favorite Obama quotation is not one of his most poetic: My mother [would] … wake me up at 4:30 in the morning, and we’d sit there and go through my lessons. And I used to complain and grumble. And she’d say, “Well this is no picnic for me either, buster.” He had me at […] Read More »



The FREAK-est Links

What Hitwise can say about mortgage rates. (Earlier) Will the housing bubble lead to baby bundles? (Earlier) What will become of the “Tipping Point”? Climate change and impending doom? (Earlier) Read More »



What’s the Most Important Psychological Experiment That’s Never Been Done?

That is the very good question posed on the British Psychological Society’s research blog. The answers, provided by leading psychologists, are even better. In many cases, it’s not that the experiments haven’t been done, but that they can’t be, often for ethical or practical reasons. But even if the proposed experiments are only thought experiments, […] Read More »



Your Input Needed: Hunting the Black Swan

“Ferreting out antilogics is an exhilarating activity.” Do you agree with the above sentence? If so, you will probably enjoy the writing of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a polymathic gentleman whose new book is called The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Here’s how its dust jacket succinctly describes the thesis: “A black swan […] Read More »