Friday, July 10, 2009

Malcolmtarian Gladwellversalist

Okay, okay, I'm exaggerating. I have no intention of starting a new religion based on Malcolm Gladwell, nor do I think his books, such as Outliers and Blink, are holy writ. However, I'm beginning to suspect that if he didn't exist I would have had to invent him.

I've referred to Outliers in these 2 posts. Two main themes of this book are the "mismatch" problem of using faulty measures for examining and the importance of practice in the development of expertise.

Though Blink was written before Outliers, I'm just now getting around to reading it. In it, Gladwell points to the many benefits of "thin slicing" and gives examples of "intuition" being superior to analysis. However, he also points to risks and errors of intuition in the story of Warren G. Harding, a man who most looked like but was least capable of being an effective president.

Gladwell's writing provides an excellent explanation of the phenomena I named in the post "15 Seconds." Intuitions can be a critical source of knowledge not immediately available to conscious thought. They can also mislead and support discrimination.

Though Gladwell is a journalist, not a scientist, but he's done a great job of writing about the science and the experiences that support his theses. After you read his books, I doubt that you'll ever again think about examining and thinking the same way again.

1 comment:

  1. After I finished The Tipping Point I went back to the beginning and reread it. Then I copied the entire bibliography and used it as a basic reading list for two years. His more recent books haven't hit me in quite the same way, but whenever he has a piece in the New Yorker I devour it in one sitting. What an interesting thinker.