[Book Review] The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

TTP
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
July 21, 2016

Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting author of a few thought-provoking books.

In Blink, which was his best book by far, Gladwell did an exceptional job of buttressing his thesis with some very convincing evidence.  David & Goliath was a strong book, but not as strong as Blink.  And in Outliers, his work was even a little less convincing in relation to his main proposal.   That’s just my take on it.  Your mileage may vary.

The Tipping Point , is actually my least favorite of them all.  This is because the strong data that made his other books strong was just missing here.

In this particular book Gladwell seeks to argue that at times resounding change in society is driven by three major factors in an epidemic-like fashion: the people involved, the context of the situation and the idea.  This particular foundation was not only sensible, but very practical.

Even though one can see his thesis taking place in many of his examples, the constellation of examples he used could have been much stronger.  Yes, the reader can see how each example in the book could couple with a his main thesis.   The issue is, however, that his thesis would have stood stronger if he provided better examples.

Overall the ‘epidemic’ of change that can take place with the right convergence of elements that the author argues does seem to have a place at least in certain portions of societal change.  That in and of itself is quite fascinating because on paper, many times when people expect wide-ranging change to take place, it doesn’t.  What the author notes serves to at least explain why some changes did work, and some of those changes didn’t.

However, with that said this particular book is not one of those that an individual ‘has’ to have.  If you appreciate his work, and find it quite fascinating, then by all means go ahead.  The book wasn’t a complete let down after all.  It just could have harpooned his main thesis a lot more precisely.

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[Book Review] Outliers – The Story Of Success – By Malcolm Gladwell

A Foray Into The Ideas That Leads To An Individual’s Success

OUtliers
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
June 23, 2016

Outliers – The Story Of Success By Malcolm Gladwell delves into the intricacies of what makes an individual successful.

Gladwell postulates many of the finer points responsible for bringing us some of the greatest individuals of our times.

Throughout the book the author cites examples of several individuals – similar to his other books – where he uses data accumulated to showcase the leading drivers for what make individuals so successful –  primarily an individual’s environment/culture.

For context purposes, regarding Gladwell’s other books,  if Blink is an 8.5/10 and David & Goliath is a 7.5 out of then this book is 7.  This book is still good and worth the read if you’re interested in the subject.  It’s just that for me personally, wished it was backed by more data.

Most of the examples made sense, although others could be interpreted in a few ways.  Still, what the author delineates shows more than ample evidence for the fact that an individual’s surge through the ranks of success have much to do with the circumstances that that particular individual lives through.

As the author mentions a few times, IQ alone will get you nowhere if you have no creative potential [not his words].

There are countless individuals who are cerebral studs, but for one reason or another, don’t attain the level of success they are able too.  The reasons for this are given a cursory glance by the author, and it’s quite reasonable the way he states his case.

In its whole, the book could have been slightly more robust, but its drawbacks aren’t so much that it prevents one from learning a few things, and that’s always a plus.

[Book Review] David And Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

D&G
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
June 3, 2016

As George Bernard Shaw once said:

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

Soon after reading Blink – The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking, was really looking forward to reading this book.

David And Goliath – Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell does a fair job of giving many excellent examples of what we know as the classic David Vs. Goliath narrative.

The book begins rather strong, analyzing the classic David Vs. Goliath story many are familiar with.

Gladwell does a rather incisive job of showing why it’s likely that David was in fact the favorite in the classic David vs. Goliath fight, once one views the whole ordeal from a big picture, outside-of-the-box mindset.  Unfortunately, that’s not how we are taught to think.

Society often equates size with strength, money with power, and authority with knowledge.  That type of mentality has proven extremely flawed in countless examples, and some of these are shown and dissected by Gladwell.

In its nascent stages, the book read fairly quickly, showing not only excellent examples of the author’s main thesis, but doing it rather concisely sticking to the main points.

The latter half of the book, although interesting, was vastly more long-winded than it had to be.  Would have much preferred additional examples and outside-of-the-box type of analysis.

If Blink was 9 out of 10 scale, then this is a 7 out of a 10 scale.  This book by Gladwell is still a great book to read, and more books should be written on this type of analysis.

Its quite intriguing the amount of times that people in underdog situations actually have an advantage [or many] due to the very circumstances that people claim should hinder them.  Its way beyond a glass-half-full type thinking.

This is a great book for everyone to read, especially people that go through more struggle than others.

Defeatist attitudes serve individuals no good, and hinder many people more so than they should.  This is why this book shines, because it shows that one should just forgo those thoughts and press on.

History is littered with examples of circumstances in which individuals, or groups, pressed on, sometimes even out numbered 10 to 1 – as the book elucidates some examples – regardless of the fact that it seemed that victory was only a dream, and achieved resounding victory.  Better yet, in many more times than one would expect, these individuals not only made it through but set monumental examples worthy of admiration.

In a society where more and more people are showcasing defeatists attitudes, and inside-the-box mentality, this book has made some waves, and rightly so.

It has shown what’s possible when the individual, living in his unbounded creative consciousness and imagination, shows what he’s capable of, no matter the ‘odds’.

[Book Review] Blink – The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell

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TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 25, 2016

First of all, am thankful or Tracey, John, Shauna, and the other people who were very quick and incisive in their recommendation of this book.

When asked if this book was ‘worth a read,’ the unanimous vote of all these people was more than enough for me.  Am very grateful for them giving me their honest opinion not too long ago, because now after having been able to read it, it was more than worth it.

Blink – The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell, is quite a unique book.  In essence, it offers countless examples, much of it backed by experiments or notable circumstances which show what takes place in the first moments when people are rapidly sifting through information.

In that way, the book is a slight misnomer, because although it states partly in its title ‘the power of thinking without thinking,’ just because the conscious mind isn’t ‘thinking’ does not mean that the subconscious mind isn’t processing information at warp speed.  The latter part is what many people overlook in their daily lives, and sometimes mistakes get made of monumental proportions when in hindsight, it should have been the most obvious thing to some.

Gladwell hones in on a bevy of examples that buttress his thesis quite well.  From snap decisions, to fascinating aspects of the subconscious mind, to what he calls thin-slicing, each of these ideas is touched upon by the author.   All of these concepts help the individual get to the kernel of whatever circumstances they are going through and achieve a deeper, more accurate understanding.

One particular section that was of interest was one called ‘The Importance Of Contempt’, which discusses the work of John Gottman.  In it the author details why what looks like positive interactions between married couples, are in fact negative.  But this can only be seen if one knows what to look for.

The author also discusses the notion of priming people.  Priming is where words are used in order to stimulate the brain to think about a particular thing/emotion.  If the person knows not of this technique, they might be subject of manipulation, as countless emotions can be brought to bear by those unknowingly, by simply repeating certain words or having the person read words that convey a common theme.

An excellent, although nefarious, example of this is when George Bush [as well as others] in his post-9/11 speech used the word terrorism dozens of times in that newscast.  Of course, the word was immediately ingrained into the populaces psyche, and a new era of terror was brought into the fold.  That however was a rather obvious version of priming.  If priming is used in a subtle way, it can serve to socially engineering people to particular emotions/agendas.

Moving forward, the author also covers another straight forward experiment in which when people in a minority group were “asked to identify race on a pretest questionnaire, that simple act was sufficient to prime them with all the negative stereotypes associated with being African American and academic achievement – and the number of items they got right was cut in half.”[1]

The author further elaborates:

“As a society, we place enormous faith in tests because we think that they are a reliable indicator of the test taker’s ability and knowledge.  But are they really?  If a white student from a prestigious private high school gets a higher SAT score than a black student from an inner-city school, is it because she’s truly a better student, or is it because to be white and to attend a prestigious high school is to be constantly primed with the idea to be “smart”?”[2]

The author proceeds to link the above not only into discussions about the unconscious, but also into his central thesis.

As the author states:

“The results of these experiments are, obviously, quite disturbing.  They suggest that what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influence than we realize.”[3] [Bold Emphasis Added]

All of the above concepts, and much more, are discussed at length by the author as he links at times seemingly unrelated topics to show how important that initial reaction before one blinks is, and how although it can lead one to profound and correct answers, can sometimes steer one awry.

In the society we currently live in, being able to have lightning-quick, accurate discernment is highly beneficial, especially given how much propaganda takes place in various forms of media.

Being able to ascertain who has agendas, who wants to profit from you, and who doesn’t care about throwing you under the bus is priceless in a world where in certain sectors its getting more ‘dog-eat-dog’.

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Sources:

[1] Malcolm Gladwell, Blink – The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking, p. 56
[2] Ibid., pg 56-57
[3] Ibid., pg 58