I've never read any Malcolm Gladwell. I hear he's a plagiarizing pop scientist, and the same people that are really into TED seem to love his work. That's reason enough for me to be doubtful-- but based on this thread, it seems like you all really hate him. My dad's trying to get me to read Blink; why shouldn't I?


I don't hate Malcolm Gladwell. My experience, however, has been that people with a superficial understanding of things will use Gladwell to justify whatever fuzzy thinking they're trying to pass as gospel truth.

Here's a lengthy conversation between insomniasexx and myself about the nature of truth in journalism. I can summarize my position thusly:

- If you know a little and present it as a little, you give your audience a jumping-off point to learn more.

- If you know a lot and present it as a lot, you give your audience an insight and a wealth of knowledge that they can integrate into their experience.

- But if you know a little and present it as a lot, you give your audience the impression that there isn't much knowledge available. Worse, if you legit make shit up you are essentially denying a path to self-education to the curious.

Malcolm Gladwell, for better or for worse, is the source of the 10,000 hours nonsense that has pervaded seminars, TED talks, and all things pseudointellectual. I haven't read his book so I have no idea if he really hammered the point home or not but he absolutely condensed the art of mastery down to rote mechanics. Considering the brilliant works created by people who have done less (or more), Malcolm Gladwell has not assisted the pursuit of understanding of that subject... but as far as a vast horde of the incurious are concerned, "10,000 hours" is what it takes. Stop thinking and do your pushups. Or tell people to do their pushups. Or get paid by people to tell them to do their pushups.

So. Like I said in the post you linked: I haven't read his works, but the people whose arguments and opinions I disvalue have. Guilt by association? Sure.

posted by galen: 1407 days ago