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(Naked Capitalism)   Malcolm Gladwell has apparently spent 10,000 hours being a right-wing corporate shill   (nakedcapitalism.com) divider line 94
    More: Interesting, Malcolm Gladwell, Philip Morris International, Philip Morris, Tony Snow, big tobacco, Assistant Secretary, Dinesh D'Souza, American Spectator  
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3646 clicks; posted to Politics » on 11 Jun 2012 at 10:40 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-11 10:46:03 AM  
87 clicks and no replies yet?

Perhaps a few more, and this thread will hit some sort of tipping point
 
2012-06-11 10:47:22 AM  
Well, whaddya know...your blog doesn't suck!
 
2012-06-11 10:49:28 AM  
Your blog sucks. After the very first sentence, I should not be asking myself, "Who is Yves and why is he here?"
 
2012-06-11 10:49:49 AM  
convicted criminal James O'Keefe

that has such a nice ring to it
 
2012-06-11 10:50:30 AM  

Parthenogenetic: 87 clicks and no replies yet?


Shhhhsh. We're reading.
 
2012-06-11 10:50:59 AM  
You know, this is like accusing Obama of palling around with terrorists which I'm guessing you don't like.

Just a guess.
 
2012-06-11 10:54:53 AM  

She comes in colors everywhere: Parthenogenetic: 87 clicks and no replies yet?

Shhhhsh. We're reading.


More like
media.tumblr.com
Holy crap that's a convoluted mess.
 
2012-06-11 10:56:18 AM  
This guy needs an editor.
 
2012-06-11 10:57:09 AM  
ARE YOU
i45.tinypic.com
A WIZZARD?
 
2012-06-11 10:59:38 AM  
So, since Gladwell's views tend to run on the conservative side, that somehow invalidates his arguments?

He's just a writer. He's not really an authority figure on anything he writes about, he just does some research, and writes what he thinks. What's wrong with that exactly? If you don't like his viewpoints, you are free to stop reading. Better yet, do your own research and figure out why you think Gladwell is wrong.

What's the problem here?
 
2012-06-11 11:03:28 AM  
shameproject.com

the bastard! he was open to intellectual curiosity!

i skimmed TFA and what i got was... he was involved in conservative groups in college and worked for some conservative papers when he got out of college. also, if you're really super picky and looking for something, you can probably find something where you think he obfuscated something (sort of).

who gives a shiat? his books are interesting pop-psychology. i'm pretty sure his political beliefs have little to do with it.
 
2012-06-11 11:04:02 AM  
This is news? Is there anyone who *didn't* know this about Malcolm Gladwell?

I don't happen to think it's as malicious as the author seems to... but ... dude's a corporate shill who's very knowledgeable about the mechanisms and systems that drive global economies, and who makes cogent observations from time to time.

In other words, he's an economist with an audience... It's like watching a magician. You enjoy the show, and you don't overthink it or else the illusion is ruined. Or, you can learn a thing or two about showmanship and 'lo... transparent as air.
 
2012-06-11 11:04:58 AM  
A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.
 
2012-06-11 11:06:20 AM  
from the comments...

Capo Regime says:
June 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm
I've despised Gladwell and their creation of silly memes. Once my 8 year old was totally freaked out because her teacher told the class they would need 10,000 hours to get really good at something. This was of course lifted from Gladwell. An so decided to part with tuition for a waldorf school.

so... your child was told that to be good at something, she would have to practice... and your reaction was to remove her from the school. i hope that person doesn't wonder why their precious snowflake doesn't have any fully developed talents or interests later in life.
 
2012-06-11 11:06:54 AM  

zetar: A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.


Ignore every specific example presented by Gladwell as evidence of his theses, and they're actually pretty elegant and interesting. But yeah, it's like reading something your manager would put on the company reading list.
 
2012-06-11 11:08:13 AM  

zetar: A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.


actually his thesis was that bill gates worked hard, and also happened to be in the right place at the right time. the central thread of that entire piece was that the identifying characteristic of a lot of success stories is dumb luck timing and the right connections, mixed with a good work ethic.
 
2012-06-11 11:11:41 AM  

zetar: A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.


The thesis was actually what you said. That he had the privilege to get access to these things that made him successful. Sure, he worked hard, but hard work was nothing without privilege.

I'm surprised your friend got that out of it. The hard work thing was more directed at the Beatles.

That said, the only Gladwell book I really like is "Blink". Sometimes Gladwell sounds like he's channelling Thomas Friedman. In Outliers, he beats you over the head with the same thesis for 250 pages. In Tipping Point, he creates far too many annoying buzzwords.
 
2012-06-11 11:13:35 AM  
Gladwell has always struck me as a huckster who has very cleverly found a way to market himself as a public intellectual by appealing to people who prefer simple, clever explanations for things rather than the actual, deep explanations that reality gives us. He's always struck me as a more clever version of John Stossel.

This article was a bit of a mess but largely seemed to confirm that.
 
2012-06-11 11:19:59 AM  

eiger: He's always struck me as a more clever version of John Stossel.


In all fairness, though, I've crapped stuff that's more clever than John Stossel.
 
2012-06-11 11:21:24 AM  
Ah yes, Malcolm Gladwell, aka the social psychology writer most appreciated by marketers because he knows the least about social psychology.

I, too, have aspirations of compiling incredibly obtuse observations into very opaque tracts and then claim wisdom. Maybe I'll get a TED talk out of it.

Learning about social psychology from a Malcolm Gladwell book is like learning about forensics from a CSI episode.
 
2012-06-11 11:22:24 AM  
FTA: This Philip-Morris document, titled "THIRD-PARTY MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT CONTACT LIST," lists Gladwell alongside dozens of notorious corporate promoters and right-wing journalists, ranging from Fox's mustachioed libertarian John Stossel, Bush press secretary and Fox News anchor Tony Snow, Grover Norquist, Milton Friedman and the head of the Heritage Foundation, Ed Feulner. This is a remarkable list, and it includes a disproportionate number of libertarians, like Reason magazine editor Jacob Sullum-whose role as a paid promoter of big tobacco was also exposed in the tobacco documents.

exiledonline.com

Gee, I never would have guessed that well-known libertarian Penn Jillette -- who, coincidentally, did a Bullshiat! episode that stated that there were no dangers from second-hand smoke -- was considered by Philip-Morris to be a media contact. I would have never guessed. Looking at that list, Malcolm Gladwell is in good company.
 
2012-06-11 11:22:55 AM  

Avonmore: So, since Gladwell's views tend to run on the conservative side, that somehow invalidates his arguments?

He's just a writer. He's not really an authority figure on anything he writes about, he just does some research, and writes what he thinks. What's wrong with that exactly? If you don't like his viewpoints, you are free to stop reading. Better yet, do your own research and figure out why you think Gladwell is wrong.

What's the problem here?


Which is what the writer of TFA was trying to do?
 
2012-06-11 11:24:41 AM  
I thought "Outliers" was great, and really anti-conservative, as it really disproved a lot of con talking points.

However, a conservative friend of mine read the same book and thought it totally proved his stance that success only comes about via hard work, it has nothing to do with parentage, luck, etc.

I have no idea, after reading that book, how he could come to that conclusion.
 
2012-06-11 11:24:45 AM  
Apparently hipsters don't like Malcolm Gladwell? I'll note that down in my vintage moleskin.
 
2012-06-11 11:27:10 AM  

Rapmaster2000: zetar: A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.

The thesis was actually what you said. That he had the privilege to get access to these things that made him successful. Sure, he worked hard, but hard work was nothing without privilege.

I'm surprised your friend got that out of it. The hard work thing was more directed at the Beatles.

That said, the only Gladwell book I really like is "Blink". Sometimes Gladwell sounds like he's channelling Thomas Friedman. In Outliers, he beats you over the head with the same thesis for 250 pages. In Tipping Point, he creates far too many annoying buzzwords.


Yeah, he mentioned the Beatles and Jobs, too. My rebuttal was that they were both more than ready to stab a friend in the back to get ahead (Job and Woz over the Atari deal, Beatles and Pete Best / Ringo).
 
2012-06-11 11:29:23 AM  

Rapmaster2000: zetar: A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.

The thesis was actually what you said. That he had the privilege to get access to these things that made him successful. Sure, he worked hard, but hard work was nothing without privilege.

I'm surprised your friend got that out of it. The hard work thing was more directed at the Beatles.

That said, the only Gladwell book I really like is "Blink". Sometimes Gladwell sounds like he's channelling Thomas Friedman. In Outliers, he beats you over the head with the same thesis for 250 pages. In Tipping Point, he creates far too many annoying buzzwords.


I think all three of those books read like bloated essays. He could make the point in ten pages, but continues on for another 200+. That's why I preferred the collection of actual essays, "What the Dog Saw.".

On the Bill Gates story, I think it's as much a matter of right place/right time and connections as it is of hard work. After all, how did his grandfather manage to get appointed as a bank examiner in Seattle??
 
2012-06-11 11:32:19 AM  
(In my best Stephen Colbert voice...)
Schrodinger!
 
2012-06-11 11:35:42 AM  

Gough:

I think all three of those books read like bloated essays. He could make the point in ten pages, but continues on for another 200+. That's why I preferred the collection of actual essays, "What the Dog Saw.".


For bloated essay, nothing beats Friedman. I had to read The Lexus and the Olive Tree because my professor thought it was brilliant. Oh.my.God. 400 pages of "So I was eating sushi with Don Cornelius, Rae Dong Chong, and the Queen of Norway. The waiter asked if we had seen Titanic. Truly, the world is flat!"
 
2012-06-11 11:36:58 AM  

eiger: Gladwell has always struck me as a huckster who has very cleverly found a way to market himself as a public intellectual by appealing to people who prefer simple, clever explanations for things rather than the actual, deep explanations that reality gives us. He's always struck me as a more clever version of John Stossel.


THIS. I read Blink and I was thoroughly disappointed. He does a good job of tying a few anecdotes together into the facade of a system of thought, but ultimately there's nothing there. It's like the fake Rock Ridge at the end of Blazing Saddles. I much preferred Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan. He seems to write from the position of "knowing what I am talking about", rather than Gladwell's "wouldn't it be interesting if I had something to back this up?" writing style.

Then there's Jared Diamond, who I largely agree with but cannot read because of his insufferable love for the sound of his own voice.
 
2012-06-11 11:37:13 AM  
Dude has an opinion.
Expresses his opinion in public.
Companies that find his opinion interesting or share similar opinion hire dude as a speaker at company events.

Not sure I see the problem here.
 
2012-06-11 11:38:52 AM  
For all the people defending Gladwell, let me put this out there to you. Gladwell implied in an article on his personal blog that Enron didn't do anything illegal:

"Can anyone explain-in plain language-what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong? . . . The question is strictly a legal one: according to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?"

I don't know. Seems pretty farking evil to me to defend the Enron guys. But, hey, he's just asking questions right?
 
2012-06-11 11:42:01 AM  
Say what you want about Gladwell, he looks at things from an difference perspective and is an excellent writer. Unlike the guy who wrote TFA, who attempts to bring down Gladwell via an unstructured mess of word vomit that lost my interest in 60 seconds.

Not to mention that you can make an argument that Gladwell causing anyone to write that much in an attempted refutation means he is performing superbly at his craft. Gladwell isn't trying to be right about everything - he's just trying to get people to think. And it appears he did exactly that with whoever writes this crappy blog.
 
2012-06-11 11:43:06 AM  
It would be fun if more right-wing corporate shills called for the end of college football.
 
2012-06-11 11:47:27 AM  

James F. Campbell: For all the people defending Gladwell, let me put this out there to you. Gladwell implied in an article on his personal blog that Enron didn't do anything illegal:

"Can anyone explain-in plain language-what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong? . . . The question is strictly a legal one: according to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?"

I don't know. Seems pretty farking evil to me to defend the Enron guys. But, hey, he's just asking questions right?


But I get what he's saying there and it's a valid question - what blame does the SEC share in their complicity/incompetence in allowing mark-to-market accounting at Enron? Skilling absolutely bullshiatted the potential value of Enron's deals, but he never should have been allowed to do so in the first place. Enron was the first energy company the SEC let do this.

Shell companies, yeah, that's illegal, but completely bullshiatting your expected profits in mark-to-market is pretty much legal. It's up to shareholders and analysts to call your bluff. If that's the question Gladwell is asking then it's a valid question.
 
2012-06-11 11:47:59 AM  
I got through one and a half of this guys books, and I had put the second one down and was thinking about it when it dawned on me that it was all pretty weak sauce.
 
2012-06-11 11:48:00 AM  

James F. Campbell: For all the people defending Gladwell, let me put this out there to you. Gladwell implied in an article on his personal blog that Enron didn't do anything illegal:

"Can anyone explain-in plain language-what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong? . . . The question is strictly a legal one: according to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?"

I don't know. Seems pretty farking evil to me to defend the Enron guys. But, hey, he's just asking questions right?


That's really an oversimplification of the issue. Almost all recent financial scandals have had the issue that based on the current legal framework it is impossible to identify the person that did something illegal and it is impossible to identify the activity that is actually illegal.

Not sure how pointing out this issue turns into defending Enron.

What we can discuss is how we need to adjust the legal system to ensure that activities we deem to be illegal also make them illegal.
 
2012-06-11 11:52:02 AM  

balloot: Say what you want about Gladwell, he looks at things from an difference perspective and is an excellent writer. Unlike the guy who wrote TFA, who attempts to bring down Gladwell via an unstructured mess of word vomit that lost my interest in 60 seconds.


[quizzical dog.jpg]

balloot: Not to mention that you can make an argument that Gladwell causing anyone to write that much in an attempted refutation means he is performing superbly at his craft. Gladwell isn't trying to be right about everything - he's just trying to get people to think. And it appears he did exactly that with whoever writes this crappy blog.


Justin Bieber must be a fantastic musician if so many people complain about his performance abilities...
 
2012-06-11 11:53:33 AM  

LouDobbsAwaaaay: eiger: Gladwell has always struck me as a huckster who has very cleverly found a way to market himself as a public intellectual by appealing to people who prefer simple, clever explanations for things rather than the actual, deep explanations that reality gives us. He's always struck me as a more clever version of John Stossel.

THIS. I read Blink and I was thoroughly disappointed. He does a good job of tying a few anecdotes together into the facade of a system of thought, but ultimately there's nothing there. It's like the fake Rock Ridge at the end of Blazing Saddles. I much preferred Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan. He seems to write from the position of "knowing what I am talking about", rather than Gladwell's "wouldn't it be interesting if I had something to back this up?" writing style.

Then there's Jared Diamond, who I largely agree with but cannot read because of his insufferable love for the sound of his own voice.


I gave up on Guns, Germs, and Steel for this reason. It was like, "I get it, you made your point, just stop typing!" Talk about a bloated essay....
 
2012-06-11 11:55:04 AM  

Rapmaster2000: The thesis was actually what you said. That he had the privilege to get access to these things that made him successful. Sure, he worked hard, but hard work was nothing without privilege.


Yep- I distinctly remember Gladwell going on and on about how Gates had access to computers in high school at a time when many college students didn't. I also remember him specifically theorizing that the reason that Gates dropped out of college was that he already had so much experience in computers and programming that college (even Harvard) really wasn't doing much for him.

However, it might be more appropriate to say that Gladwell's thesis was that the privilege was just as important as the hard work. Lots and lots of people are born into wealth and privilege, but few of them are as fantastically successful as Bill Gates. Lots and lots of people work hard, but similarly few of them are really successful. You really need both to get that far ahead.
 
2012-06-11 12:16:47 PM  
I read his last book because I frequently see his work on required reading lists. I thought it might be something intellectually stimulating. What a tedious slog that was. Maybe Blink or Outliers have more to offer, but I can't see picking up anything else of his based on What the Dog Saw.
 
2012-06-11 12:17:56 PM  
Somebody has never actually read Gladwell, or they'd know that he had connections and luck on his side, not just 10,000 hours.
 
2012-06-11 12:18:41 PM  

Wooly Bully: Well, whaddya know...your blog doesn't sucks!


FTFY
 
2012-06-11 12:20:09 PM  

balloot: Not to mention that you can make an argument that Gladwell causing anyone to write that much in an attempted refutation means he is performing superbly at his craft. Gladwell isn't trying to be right about everything - he's just trying to get people to think. And it appears he did exactly that with whoever writes this crappy blog.


You could make the same defense for Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, etc. Just because you elicit a reaction out of someone doesn't mean you are practicing a "craft". A monkey throwing feces and garbage at preschoolers elicits a reaction, but I wouldn't call what it is doing a "craft".

I'm not putting Gladwell in the same camp as these other "craftsmen" (the monkey included), BTW. I'm just saying that a "reaction == success" argument is too broad to be useful.
 
2012-06-11 12:25:57 PM  

The My Little Pony Killer: Wooly Bully: Well, whaddya know...your blog doesn't sucks!

FTFY



Meh, the writing's not good but it isn't just some loudmouth's opinion; there are actual verifiable facts and sources. Not in the same league as truly sucky blogs.
 
2012-06-11 12:34:30 PM  
Gladwell is part of the pop-school of simple-minded economists who look at the hypothetical behavior of an idealized hypothetical "rational" person and then extrapolates that persons actions to society as a whole. His political leanings, one way or another, never really interested me much since his methodology is flawed.

"Debunking Economics" by Steve Keen is a far better read than anything I've come across from Gladwell or the Freakanomics guys.

/drtfa
 
2012-06-11 12:54:06 PM  

James F. Campbell: For all the people defending Gladwell, let me put this out there to you. Gladwell implied in an article on his personal blog that Enron didn't do anything illegal:

"Can anyone explain-in plain language-what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong? . . . The question is strictly a legal one: according to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?"

I don't know. Seems pretty farking evil to me to defend the Enron guys. But, hey, he's just asking questions right?


i'm not even particularly trying to defend gladwell, i find his writing to be thought-provoking at best but hardly meaningful in any large sense.

but he is asking a question, and you are saying through asking a question he is implying there is no answer. but he is not saying there is no answer, he's asking a question. you should never be afraid to ask a question, even if it questions common knowledge. if that common knowledge is correct, it can withstand the scrutiny, and if it can't withstand the scrutiny it's not correct.

and as someone who was studying accounting in college just after the enron situation, i can say it's not really a stupid question. the sarbanes-oxley act was written largely in response to enron, and put a lot of laws on the book that codified that some of the things that enron did *were* illegal. but before that point, they weren't.

enron did some illegal things, but there was a lot of careless mixing between the laws they broke and the things they did that were just despicable and later became illegal.
 
2012-06-11 01:07:44 PM  

LouDobbsAwaaaay: eiger: Gladwell has always struck me as a huckster who has very cleverly found a way to market himself as a public intellectual by appealing to people who prefer simple, clever explanations for things rather than the actual, deep explanations that reality gives us. He's always struck me as a more clever version of John Stossel.

THIS. I read Blink and I was thoroughly disappointed. He does a good job of tying a few anecdotes together into the facade of a system of thought, but ultimately there's nothing there. It's like the fake Rock Ridge at the end of Blazing Saddles. I much preferred Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan. He seems to write from the position of "knowing what I am talking about", rather than Gladwell's "wouldn't it be interesting if I had something to back this up?" writing style.

Then there's Jared Diamond, who I largely agree with but cannot read because of his insufferable love for the sound of his own voice.


I have three of Gladwell's books, unread. A glance at any of them confirms that everything he has to say could be said in ten pages. In fact, the thesis sentence will do 80% of the job.

I liked Taleb's The Black Swan and his other books are on my to read list. He does have genuine expertise and insight and his thesis strikes me as sound. It is an important one.

I have several Jared Diamond books. I haven't read them thoroughly, but that is partly because the examples he uses are written in journalistic "human interest" style prose, which is too prosy for my taste. He has good points and good examples to back them up in Collapse, Germs and Steel, and The Third Chimpanzee. They're not badly written but I just don't feel the need to read every word to get the gist and the main points of the argument and evidence.

I don't mind authors who love the sound of their own voice provided they have something worth while to say and a decent style. Some of my favourite authors are arrogant (well, most of the greats are arrogant--it's a professional tick of greatness) and others are wordy and even precious on occasion. I can live with a far amount of authorial ego as long as they make me laugh from time to time. Even Proust makes me laugh from time and time and some of his sentences are five pages long, surely the result of loving the sound of one's voice as well as poor punctuation and a complete disregard for the common or Twitter type reader who can say everything they have to say in 140 characters or less. Usually less.

All in all, I'd say you were fairly perceptive and would rank the three authors as authors and thinkers in this order: Taleb, Diamond and distantly, Gladwell. Taleb basically overturns one of the (false) assumptions of economic and market-thinking; Diamond gives liberalism a solid historical and anthropological grounding in an analysis of why societies have succeeded and failed, and Gladwell is a glib author of business books, which are among the most frivolous, time-wasting and superficial works of puffery this side of self-help manuals. Stick to reading real economists and leave the business section to middle managers.
 
2012-06-11 01:08:51 PM  

zetar: A friend was raving about Gladwell last week and specifically his thesis that Bill Gates success was due to his, "spending 80 hours a week programming since he was eight years old."

I said that Gates' success was due to being able to get $50k immediately from his father to buy QDOS from Tim Patterson (and thanks, Mrs. Gates for being on the Girl Scouts board with the Chairman of IBM!).

I haven't read of any of Gladwell's stuff, but apparently his thesis is that Gates was successful because he worked harder than you. I respectfully disagree.


Not quite. It's not only the 10,000 hours thing that Gladwell notes; he also notes the luck that Gates had to be essentially born into a rich family and a rich community and to be only a bike ride away from one of the few accessible computers on a college campus at U-Dub.

Gladwell isn't necessarily strictly conservative, either. See him getting shouted down for pointing out the truth of what the tax rates were like in the Eisenhower years.
 
2012-06-11 01:14:09 PM  
Re: Jared Diamond. I have had Collapse sitting on my bookshelf for awhile, but man is it hard to read.

Re: Authors. As someone who has no formal education in the economy, I had to start with guys like Michael Lewis. I know that people will scoff at such a popular author here, but I can tell you what a credit default swap is and baseball was the perfect example to use to help me understand how identifying undervalued assets in the market works. I just don't know quite where to go from Lewis in order to understand more.

Gladwell is a fun guy to read. He's thought-provoking, but the truth is that he's writing books for the hundred-level readers, not the 400-level readers, just like Lewis. I understand what I'm getting from him, certainly.
 
2012-06-11 01:22:17 PM  
<b><a href="http://www.fark.com/comments/7156286/77414093#c77414093" target="_blank">burndtdan</a>:</b> <i>James F. Campbell: For all the people defending Gladwell, let me put this out there to you. Gladwell implied in an article on his personal blog that Enron didn't do anything illegal:

"Can anyone explain-in plain language-what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong? . . . The question is strictly a legal one: according to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?"

I don't know. Seems pretty farking evil to me to defend the Enron guys. But, hey, he's just asking questions right?

i'm not even particularly trying to defend gladwell, i find his writing to be thought-provoking at best but hardly meaningful in any large sense.

but he is asking a question, and you are saying through asking a question he is implying there is no answer. but he is not saying there is no answer, he's asking a question. you should never be afraid to ask a question, even if it questions common knowledge. if that common knowledge is correct, it can withstand the scrutiny, and if it can't withstand the scrutiny it's not correct.

and as someone who was studying accounting in college just after the enron situation, i can say it's not really a stupid question. the sarbanes-oxley act was written largely in response to enron, and put a lot of laws on the book that codified that some of the things that enron did *were* illegal. but before that point, they weren't.

enron did some illegal things, but there was a lot of careless mixing between the laws they broke and the things they did that were just despicable and later became illegal.</i>

I completely disagree. The tone of his question is asinine, and belies an ulterior motive in asking it.

"<b>Can anyone explain-in plain language</b>-what it is Jeff Skilling and Co. did wrong? . . . <b>The question is strictly a legal one</b>: according to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?"

Can *anyone* explain to me (implying that many have tried, and failed) in *plain English* (pre-qualifying acceptable responses) what was done wrong from a *strictly legal perspective* (rendering the previous demand that it be in plain English impossible).

Frame it in reverse.

"Can anyone explain to me - in plain English - why the actions of Skilling & co. were legal in the first place? The question is purely ethical: according to Rawls' interpretation of ethics in American and International business, what specific transgressions should we be willing to overlook?"

Way to say a whole lot of nothing, but still color inside the corporate lines, gladdy.
 
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