Comments on: Jumping to conclusions, Malcom Gladwell edition A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: MrRFox Thu, 26 Jul 2012 12:16:48 +0000 I’m expecting to see a ‘Counterparties’ entry like this –

“Malcom Gladwell makes the (rookie) mistake of showing-up in a Felix Salmon thread – Reuters”

By: dsquared Thu, 26 Jul 2012 06:46:17 +0000 [And now you are drawing conclusions about Blink, based, apparently, on its title and subtitle without having any idea what the book actually says]

I have actually read your book, and frankly resent your insinuation that I haven’t. So thanks for the offer but I already have too many airport hardcovers clogging up my shelves. And none of the points I made depend on anything in your book. They were:

1. That “the power of instantaneous decisions” is synonymous with “the benefits of instantaneous decisions” and that claiming otherwise is a ludicrous attempt to have one’s cake and eat it.

This is plainly true to any native English speaker.

2. That you might be remembering things a bit selectively with respect to how much sage advice you gave Lehmans and how they might be around today if they had only listened to you.

Fair enough I don’t have much evidence for this (other than that it’s a completely natural human thing to do, and your version really does sound too good to be true) but this event postdated “Blink” and therefore can’t possibly be in the book.

3. That you polish anecdotes in order to make them illustrate your pop-science points. Since you have built an incredibly successful career out of doing this and are a millionaire because of it, I am guessing it’s not the bit you were objecting to.

In general I am quite pleased with the phrase “a microcosm of what’s wrong with Gladwell”. IMO, what’s wrong with your books is that they always promise big conclusions and then try to take everything back in a footnote. This way of presenting things (the BIG IDEA on the cover and intro copy, the caveats buried in chapter 10) means that the point is bound to be misunderstood, and the thesis is bound to be massively oversold. And here you are, on an occasion where it looks like one of your big theses has been massively oversold and then misunderstood, trying to take everything back in a footnote.

When I write research, I am obliged, by professional standards and by the Global Research Settlement 2000, to put any significant caveats right next to the statements they qualify, and to write “in my opinion” in any sentence that I can’t back up with audited facts. This means my prose is horrible compared to yours, but it does mean I can’t go out with “BUY” on the cover and then put “of course the company might blow up in a storm of frauds” on page 22.

By: chris9059 Thu, 26 Jul 2012 03:54:07 +0000 “Is it Gladwell’s fault that allegedly intelligent people listen to him (and pay him) as though he actually knew what he was talking about?”

Yes it is if he misrepresents himself as someone who knows what he is talking about. the fact that one is able to find a sucker doesn’t absolve one of running a con.

By: Decatur Wed, 25 Jul 2012 22:27:37 +0000 make that last post read ‘observe-orient-decide-act’, for the OODA acronym

By: Decatur Wed, 25 Jul 2012 22:23:49 +0000 Malcolm Gladwell is a real person, researcher, author and yes, something of a self-promoter – but well worth reading. He’s not a fictional TV character, so why demean him with that comparison?

“Outliers” was much more than a long answer to the old “how do I get to Carnegie Hall” question. It made me as a parent try to open my eyes to new opportunities hidden close to home, and to install the desire to increase expertise and to practice skills.

On topic – “Blink” was an insight into the merits and pitfalls of snap judgments. The author’s discovery of his own biases was gripping – we all need to grapple with such lurking preconceptions that play into our instant perceptions of others, as well as habits that can influence us over the course of what seem like more deliberate decisions. I don’t recall now if he discussed the OODA loop ideas of Boyd but he showed in one sense how people in adrenaline-packed situations can spiral themselves out of their own observe-orient-act-do loops (fighter pilots or ‘fast companies’ try to keep the initiative staying inside the other guy’s OODA loop) and then make critical mistakes.

The financial chicanery that led up to the meltdown came at many levels from real estate speculation to the ‘too big to fail’ banks, but the common thread seems to be serial rationalizations justifying bad or unethical decisions, by people who needed their eyes opened to an honest look at what they were doing, and the real effects.

This aspect of the ethical lapse in high finance seems more like the slower, decision-playing-out-over time (as opposed to snap judgment) factors of cultural / habitual bias also discussed in “Blink”, like some of the airliner incidents. If it truly does reflect such ‘workplace culture’ biases operating over more deliberate decisions, it’s a troublesome industry trend.

By: B-Rob Wed, 25 Jul 2012 21:48:21 +0000 Anyone who read Gladwell’s book would understand that it was NOT advocating gut decisions. It analysed how they went right (using an art expert who saw and ancient Greek statue and, against all other expert opinions, knew it was a fake because it was “just not right”; and the Amadou Diallo case, where everything an innocent man did convinced the cops that he was a vicious rapist carrying a gun.

By: MrRFox Wed, 25 Jul 2012 12:36:06 +0000 What difference does it make what specifically Gladwell did or didn’t say to LB’s crew? He’s an entertainer masquerading in his act as someone who knows something about business/finance. Going to him for any kind of management counsel is like going to Hugh Laurie (Dr. House) for medial advice.

Is it Gladwell’s fault that allegedly intelligent people listen to him (and pay him) as though he actually knew what he was talking about?

By: malcolmgladwell Wed, 25 Jul 2012 12:29:37 +0000 Actually dsquared, I think you are making my point for me, aren’t you? People drew conclusions about my speech to Lehman without having any idea about what I said to Lehman. And now you are drawing conclusions about Blink, based, apparently, on its title and subtitle without having any idea what the book actually says. If you want a copy, by the way, I’d be delighted to send you one.

The other interesting point here is that Joe Gregory also invited Mahzarin Banaji to the conference. Banaji, whose work features prominently in Blink, is someone who has spent her career examining the mistakes and biases inherent in snap judgments. If Gregory was so smitten by his gut instinct, why did he invite so many people who weren’t smitten by gut instincts? The conference’s approach to snap judgements was a good deal more nuanced that people who weren’t there seemed to think it was.

By: Greycap Wed, 25 Jul 2012 11:55:38 +0000 “it turns out, that’s exactly what Gladwell told Lehman”

You mean, it turns out that post hoc that’s exactly how Gladwell claims he should have been interpreted. Brilliant idea. Why not just assume that whatever Dick Fuld claims about they way he ran Lehman must be the absolute literal unvarnished truth?

By: JustJustin Wed, 25 Jul 2012 10:59:09 +0000 Nice slip Felix–from Partnoy to Portnoy (and his famous complaint) in two sentences: “Now, in a classic case of history repeating itself, we find a new book — this time Frank Partnoy’s Wait — reprising the same Gladwell-Lehman story. Indeed, it’s in some ways the whole reason that Wait was written. Here’s Portnoy talking to Smithsonian’s Megan Gambino…”