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Friday, 27 July 2012

Malcolm Gladwell

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I am a big fan of the writing, talking, social commentary and hairstyle (possibly no longer extant) of Malcolm Gladwell.
He is a UK-born Canadian who now lives in New York where he has been a staff writer on The New Yorker magazine since 1996. He father was an English university lecturer and his mother a Jamaican psychologist - perfect credentials for his work! His most famous book is probably The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference . I don't know if he coined that phrase but he certainly brought it into popular usage since 2000 when the book was published. It deals with the way very small changes can have big impacts in areas such as epidemiology (the study of the spread of and control of diseases in populations) and crime rates. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking deals with the ways in which gut instinct can provide better results that use of huge amounts of information. Pearl Harbour has been cited as an example of this. The US military had a phenomenal amount of 'intelligence' available and yet did not act; if they had simply read what journalists were writing in the weeks and days before the attack and acted on that, the disaster may well have been avoided.
Outliers; The Story of Success looks at the way many people achieve success in a way that is definitely counter-intuitive. In it he explains why star ice hockey players are usually born in the first three months of the year!
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is a collection of his best work from New Yorker magazine.
His books always make interesting reading but there has been academic objections to his style by some, such as Stephen Pinker, who claim he uses poor research and has 'links' to commercially interested parties. I don't know if any of that is true but it does not detract from the huge entertainment and usefulness of his writing.
Click here to see and hear Malcolm in action on Ted Talks


joanne said...

Malcolm is so fun. I love his writing, and his TED talk on spaghetti sauce is great. He's got a wonderful, intelligent sense of a humor and expands on the seemingly ordinary in the most brilliant of ways. I don't much care about the research part or the accuracy. He's got such great entertainment value it ceases to matter to me.

bazza said...

Yes Joanne. I thought, for balance, I would mention his detractors. Perhaps I shouldn't have. But you got the right word - fun! His writing is so enjoyable and absorbing.

Kelly said...

He and his writing sound interesting and entertaining. He sounds like he writes on a variety of subjects. I'll have to check out his work.

Kelly said...

Btw, Bazza, I'm going to track back to the last couple of your posts and comment. I've been a neglectful blogger, for the most part, this year. I blame it on the new kitten "my wife wanted"- that enjoys gnawing on my legs and the sweltering computer room.

bazza said...

Kez-man! His writing is always, at the least, interesting! You've got to show that lil' kitten whose boss, right now. That's what they understand. Be merciless.
However if Mrs Kezza starts gnawing on your ankles that's a different thing.

Kelly said...

LOL... If Mrs. Kezza ever starts gnawing on my ankles, it will be time to throw her into the loony bin, I'd imagine. Or perhaps I will be strangely aroused. Hmmm. In all seriousness, though, I think I might have solved the cat gnawing problem. I rigged an old window screen up that fits perfectly into the doorway of the computer room. It's worked for the last couple of days. I've also had to kitten-proof the space behind the TV with heavy duty cardboard. She's cute, though, and very very playful.

I hope you're enjoying the Olympic games and the rain has tapered off. Would you like to borrow some sunshine from us Yanks? We'll happily give it away... for free. :)

bazza said...

Certainly enjoying the games. A friend and I are going to see some judo on Thursday. One advantage of all the rain we have had is that everything is so green. Even the people!

klahanie said...

Hey bazza,
Ah yes, Malcolm Gladwell, I'm somewhat familiar with his work and we have something in common, what with me being a UK-born Canadian who lives somewhere else but New York.
I thought "Tipping Point" was a new game show on ITV.
Cheers, old chap.
Gary looking rather like Penny, which is rather an improvement...

Dixie said...

Malcolm is akin to a 'serious' Billy Crystal. Love the talk video. Added your post to my favourites. This has opened a new window for me, though I already make the best spaghetti sauce around!

Judo on Thursday? Lucky you!

David said...

Dear bazza,
I've heard of Gladwell, although I've not read any of his stuff. Maybe now I'll give it a bash!
Thanks, bazza.
Very Best Wishes,

bazza said...

Gary: I have heard it said that dogs and their masters begin to resemble each after a while! Ginger says it's a great improvement.

bazza said...

Dixie: Although I am looking forward to the Judo, I have to meet my friend at the station at 6:30am. The session starts at 9:30 but they ask you to get there two hours prior because there is stringent security. At least it's indoors!

bazza said...

David: As a 'thinking man' I am sure you would enjoy reading his stuff. I find I enjoy it whatever the subject.

Dixie said...

Indoors? Let's hope they don't lose the keys again!!

bazza said...

Dixie: Typically of the British press; they take any small incident and make it into sensation-seeking headlines.
When I lost my own keys it wasn't in the papers!