Marcus's Reviews > David and Goliath

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
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Dec 03, 13

bookshelves: pop-science, self-development
Read from October 15 to 18, 2013

Gladwell is taking a lot of heat for biasing the examples he chooses in his books to make points that are often later shown to be somewhat tenuous. That may be the case, but he is a heck of a writer. He knows how to tell a compelling story and the conversations he sparks go on for years.

Whatever harm that may come from the lack of rigorousness in his brand of pop-psychology is easily overshadowed by the positive cultural impact that comes from people giving serious consideration to his ideas and how they apply to their personal lives and to society on a larger scale. As with any book, don't read it passively, decide what you buy and what needs to be further examined. Enjoy it, it's a fun read.

[Update]
I came across a cool and relevant quote in The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran from Darwin's The Descent of Man:
"...false facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path toward errors is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened."
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Reading Progress

10/15/2013 marked as: currently-reading
10/19/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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message 1: by Ahsan (new)

Ahsan Your review is on Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/goodreads-bes... :)


Marcus Ashan - thanks for the heads up! I'd have never known... Awesome.


message 3: by Cjeight (new)

Cjeight Your review expresses my thoughts exactly on both this book and Gladwell's "Outliers".


Gillianandrews1 Thanks for this review! While it is certainly true that some of his arguments are "tenuous", his ideas lead us to think outside of the box and consider looking at assumptions with a different perspective. Well written and succinct. Thanks.


message 5: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Peter This is the first of his books which I've started to read, though I've known about him since 'Tipping Point' was released. So I'm curious to know what makes his books & his beliefs "tenuous". Please elaborate for me. Thx!


Marcus I hope it doesn't sound snarky if I send a google link, but there's just too much and it's been explained better elsewhere:

https://www.google.com/search?q=malco...

Nobody is saying that he's lying or anything so nefarious, just that he tends to touch on topics superficially and specifically choose examples that support his ideas. That said, even most of the articles that are down on him concede that he's still worth reading.


Chuck O'Connor His ideas repackage the Horatio Alger cliche.


Marcus Thanks Chuck. That clears everything up.


Chuck O'Connor Marcus,

What in your opinion is Gladwell's premise? Does he convincingly support it?

My take is that this book, like all his books, is one long post-hoc fallacy (he conflates correlation with causation) and hedges this perspective with a passive-aggressive rhetorical style. He exposes his conservative roots by implying a plutocratic argument at the center of the book.


Marcus That's fine, it is an opinion that could probably be supported by an argument. Your first comment was just a drive-by though.


message 11: by Chuck (new) - rated it 1 star

Chuck O'Connor No, my first comment was a summation of my comprehension of his book. I chose to state what I see as his intention and judge its merit in that comprehension. You seem to be a fan-boy of Gladwell and need a primer in critical thinking.


message 12: by Chuck (new) - rated it 1 star

Chuck O'Connor Also, your quote-mining of Darwin proves too much. It is a damnation of Gladwell's methods, not an endorsement thereof.


Marcus "false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness."

It seems like you are almost the case in point, trying to take some salutary pleasure in disproving Gladwell, albeit without ever making it to the proof part.

I am not shilling for Gladwell, I specifically pointed out his lack of rigor in my review, just saying he has great style and a talent for starting conversations.


message 14: by Chuck (new) - rated it 1 star

Chuck O'Connor No, Gladwell perpetuates false views as a perceived falsification of progressive economics and social science.

It is a perfectly sound critical approach to point out the logical fallacies at the heart of an argument to falsify its conclusions. Gladwell needs to provide the evidence for his methods, his interlocutors do not.

A drunk at a bar can have style and be good at starting conversations. That doesn't mean the content of his ideas correspond to reality.

And I take no salutary pleasure in proving the shoddy thinking of Gladwell. I'm sad he is considered a public intellectual.


Marcus Thanks Chuck. Once again, you've really clarified this for me.


message 16: by Chuck (new) - rated it 1 star

Chuck O'Connor You don't read serious writers do you?


Marcus Never.


message 18: by Aaron (new) - added it

Aaron Ferguson All this David and Goliath business. Are they really arguing over the validity of a book that is an adaptation of some scrolls found In a cave? This is obviously metaphor.


message 19: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz Thank you for the insightful review.


message 20: by California (new) - added it

California Thank you! I just picked it up on iBook hoping to get into online reading vs. the book. This far digging it.


Raelene I agree with your review. I love reading his writing. As with any book, we have to form our own opinions. I choose to enjoy thought provoking reading like this, and regarding the comments on this thread against the book, if I was going to change my life because of something I read in a book, only then would I do further research seeking evidence. At the end of the day, if these kind of books cause people to slow down before making judgments, opening our minds to remember our perspective is not the only perspective to consider, then I say two thumbs up for these kind of books.


Yusuf Agah Efendi useful


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