James's Reviews > What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
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's review
Apr 04, 2012

liked it
Read from March 24 to 27, 2012

While I was reading this, I couldn't help thinking of my favorite line in the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, in which a smirky hipster declares, "their first album was better than their first album."
I love Malcolm Gladwell. He's like a millennial John McPhee, writing engaging prose about stuff I'm surprised to find out interests me. As Steven Pinker's New York Times review of this title points out, Gladwell is not infrequently a little imprecise when writing about a field of knowledge that is new to him. Pinker's most glaring example is Gladwell's citation of some expert discussing "igon" values. Apparently 'eigenvalues' refers to a mathematical concept relating to vectors, but Gladwell didn't know that and neither did I. If he were writing about history, or some other subject dear to my heart, I would probably find slipshod work like that intolerable, but, since it's math, I have to admit I really don't care. All of this is sort of a roundabout attempt to acknowledge that, while I was rather underwhelmed this time around, I think that has more to do with my jaded Inner Hipster, than it does with Malcolm Gladwell's inexactitude. I'm weak, and, eventually, I find the stampede to jump on the hater bandwagon irresistible.

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