Wednesday, November 25, 2009

gladwell parody

I'm amused by this Vanity Fair parody of Malcolm Gladwell:

Why baby Jesus? Research confirms there were upwards of 157 hotel-cum-stables in Bethlehem that night, with estimated 97 percent occupancy levels. So why did that star shine so brightly over his?


The results—codified and analyzed on a specially devised and integrated grid system known as blsht—were astonishing. All 323 volunteers experienced a quiet night in. In other words, they waited up all night, but no one—specifically, 0.0000 percent of a total world population of 6,783,940,189 human beings—bothered to come by.

So what does this blsht metric tell you about your appeal, compared with the appeal of the baby Jesus?

It tells you this: he was special.

And—here’s another thing—you are not.

I am gratified at the upwelling of backlash against Gladwell. For a long time, I've objected to the way that he uses jargon to sound authoritative and convince the masses that his ideas are scientifically accurate when they are not. He has been spreading misinformation on matters that I value, such as discrimination against minorities, and sexism.


Eugene said...

Agree. Also, did you see the recent article about Malcolm Gladwell the Love Guru? You'll never look at his books the same way again:

John said...

There is an upwelling of backlash against Gladwell?

I think the biggest criticism of Gladwell is that he actually doesn't have a lot of original ideas (or at least in his books). He basically summarizes other people's research. And when I saw him speak at a bookstore in downtown Mountain View, he didn't deny this when a questioner asked him about this.

I enjoyed The Tipping Point and Outliers, but not really Blink. He's got his new book out - What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures - basically a collection of different essays he's written in The New Yorker.

I'll have to take a look again, but I don't recall him "spreading misinformation" on the topics of discrimination and sexism.

If I want to read a work of fiction about spreading misinformation, I might try reading "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin - LOL.

Eric said...

Ooh, I didn't know there was such a controversy. My only brush with Gladwell was the chapter from Outliers on Korean Air, which agreed with what I previously from industry insiders (but which is not necessarily correct therebecause). Now I feel a sort of perverse motivation to read the rest of the book.