November 17, 2009

CJR: "Criticism of Gladwell Reaches Tipping Point"

Terry McDermott blogs for the Columbia Journalism Review:
Criticism of Gladwell Reaches Tipping Point

... I should add here that my hatred of Gladwell is boundless, at least the equal of any critic, but I, a much more rigorous (and therefore slower and much poorer) writer, at least know its source – pure unadulterated jealousy.

Gladwell’s earlier books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers have been publishing phenomena. Tipping Point alone has been on bestseller lists for five years. Gladwell in many ways is the social science equivalent of the New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman, another favorite target of critics whose books sell huge numbers. Both are popularizers, in some sense hucksters, adept at phrase-making and simplifying (and often over-simplifying) complex subjects. A key difference, however, is that when Friedman is wrong, he helps start wars. When Gladwell makes a mistake, he dilutes public understanding of science – not a good thing, surely, but he’s a feature writer; that’s what they do.

There is plenty of reason to criticize Malcolm Gladwell, but you get the sense that his chief flaw is being popular.

The comparison to Tom Friedman is a valid one.

Still, "being popular" correlates with being influential. That Malcolm is a tireless and influential proponent of wrong ideas is a problem, especially as his ideas take on (particularly in his most recent bestseller Outliers) an increasingly coherent and politicized form that reinforces and extends the dumbest tendencies in the conventional wisdom.

From the standpoint of the general welfare, there are two potential solutions for the Gladwell Problem: either Malcolm becomes less wrong or he becomes less influential. I would prefer the former solution, but Malcolm seems hellbent on the latter.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

55 comments:

RKU said...

Frankly, I've never paid much attention to Gladwell. He always struck me as a silly nitwit, and I just don't have much time for silly nitwits.

But with all this current Gladwellizing, I took a quick look at his Wikipedia entry, hardly a totally reliable source, but a useful first-cut, especially for someone quite prominent.

Apparently, he graduated with a history degree from some Canadian college I'd never heard of, and that constitutes his sole academic training. The only distinction listed for all his years in H.S. or college is that he won the 1500-meter Midget Boys title, presumably indicating that he's very short and very fast.

Maybe the Democrats should nominate him to run against Sarah Palin. The Lincoln-Douglas debates between two of the most remarkable minds in today's America would be quite interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

He graduated from Trinity College at the University of Toronto.

I think Toronto along with McGill are the top universities in Canada. Though I'm not Canadian so I might be mistaken. Most Americans don't know any Canadian colleges aside from maybe McGill and the universities with one of the Canadian provinces in their names, which they only "know" because they know the province and just assume that there must be a university there.

Greg said...

David Brooks is the Gladwell of op-ed "intellectuals".

Like Gladwell, Brooks is fond of brain science and psychology henfinds it impossible to understand.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with Trinity College at U of Toronto. Canadian college admissions aren't as competitive as American ones. In fact, Gladwell had an article where he talks about that: http://www.gladwell.com/2005/2005_10_10_a_admissions.html

Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything published in the CJR which would not have been at home in a badly xeroxed Marxist tract. It really is one of the more disgusting publications in American public life.

Anonymous said...

I never liked him, but at least dobbs was a voice on I
immigration - it'd be nice to see the issue explored

MQ said...

U of Toronto is a very good school.

Friedman is way worse than Gladwell. You can imagine making the mistakes Gladwell makes if you were a smart but glib popularizer who was a little too credulous with his sources. Friedman's idiocies go far beyond that.

Anonymous said...

they don't 'make mistakes' they are out there to popularize the lies that keep the power elite in power.

Honestly, do you see someone who talks about, say, the over influence of the jewish elite, or the failure of multicultarlism, or the lower average IQ of nams raking in corporate speaking fees and doing the book show circuit?

Also Gladwell's 'talent' is making people feel smart by, as someone alluded to, setting up a fake 'them' strawman to argue with.

Anonymous said...

Steve- long shot, but you might compare 'The Audacity of Hope' with Ernst Bloch's 'The Principle of Hope'.

Dan said...

Get a grip, folks. Malcom Gladwell is just the Canadian version of Joel Osteen. His gospel is uplifting at best and innocuous at worst. If it is upsetting that people who should know better adopt Gladwellisms as truth than target and correct them.

To his credit I find Gladwell to be apolitical and cautious in his prescriptions. He appreciates the important of self-determination and he is reluctant to buy wholesale into big government social engineering. When he writes that being successful requires luck and work he means both.

Does Gladwell practice bad science? Yes. But so do many sociologists, pundits and politicians. Unless and until Gladwell concerns himself with saving the world we ought to consider him an artist and leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Gladwell and Friedman is that there are millions of educated, intelligent people who get their information about how the world from their books. The number of people who actually read blogs like this is minuscule.

Anonymous said...

Gladwell at his worse comes across as a decent science fiction writer who repeatedly makes fundamental logical errors which ruin the suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy the ride. He's a good writer that can spin a tale, but his relative "genius" fails when when the tale involves left brain critical analysis or ideas that touch upon PC sacred cows.

On the other hand, Freidman is simply a crass middlebrow propagandizer, globalist party tool and, at his lowest, simply evil. Freidman is an unremarkable writer and doesn't even attempt to synthesis original ideas like Gladwell, hairbrained as many may be.

Steve is wrong to think Gladwell has a choice in becoming a different kind of writer. Gladwell is constrained by his given intellect despite being a gifted writer with curiosity and a nose for a saleable angle. He cannot just decide to become "smarter".

While PC dogma misinforms Gladwell's views on his major blunders like the used car salesmen (anti-black racism) and the NFL draft (blank slatism), no intelligent person would craft much less defend such illogical arguements once exposed.

His uncritical admiration for his latest "zinger" pet academic theory puts an unimpressive ceiling on Gladwell's IQ. Such knee-jerk appeal to authority and blind outsourcing of critical analysis to often unremarkable authority figures themselves is the mark of someone in waters too deep.

All that said, I am not the mass market, I do enjoy some of his work (football brain damage) and I feel Gladwell at least tries to think originally and seek truth (unlike Freidman).

Black Sea said...

What made Gladwell's career is David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker. Both were journalists at the Washington Post, became friends, and when Remnick took over editorship of the New Yorker, he started publishing Gladwell there. Eventually he gave Gladwell a guaranteed contract of something like $250,000 annually simply to produce around 50,000 words for the NYer, regardless of how much of this output was accepted for publication. (I don't remember the exact dollar or word count figures.)

The NYer, though not read by huge numbers of people, is a great launching pad for Gladwell's work, because it is read by a huge number of people who work in publishing and other media, and are thus in a position to promote someone like Gladwell, who is exactly the sort of person they would like to promote. And Gladwell does have an appealing schtick, which, from what I can tell (I haven't read his books, but I have seen a few articles) is along the lines of "everything you thought you knew about X is wrong." People love the idea of revelation, "new" news, and Gladwell feeds that hunger. He's a huckster, but hucksters only exist because there's a demand for them.


Freidman, on the other hand, projectile vomits green feces -- while thoughtfully stroking his chin -- everytime he opens his mouth on Charlie Rose or anybody else's TV show, which is really his job these days, since blathering on insanely while gazing into Charlie's eyes is even easier and more ego gratifiying than having to type up the sort of rotten offal that the Times pays him for (not that he needs the money).

The guy is a pure distillation of eveything fatally diseased and terminally corrupted about America's pundit class. Gladwell would have to pull a Roman Polanski, drugging and raping a 13 year old, (preferably an alter girl) all the while whispering into her ear, "this is gonna lead to something BIG," then immortalize his exploit under the title "Everything You Thought You Knew About Statutory Rape Is Wrong" even to begin to descend to Tom Friedman's level, on Friedman's best day of thinking, writing, and pontificating, ever. And still, he wouldn't be there.

Freidman is, indeed, the "New Untouchable."

Chief Seattle said...

For all his faults, I still look forward to a Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker. I might not bet my life savings on his facts being perfect, but he's a good read and finds interesting topics. You could ask for more in a mainstream journalist, but you probably wouldn't get it.

Friedman on the other hand is an outright fraud with an agenda. I wouldn't bet my Vegas weekend fun money that he's got his facts straight - in fact just the opposite. When the NYTimes prints his garbage it's usually *exactly because* they want to mislead me that they put that duplicitous fool on their pages.

To badly paraphrase Matt Taibbi's brilliant critique of Friedman, "he wouldn't just call the businessmen sharks, he would have them spout it."

Anonymous said...

Gladwell was on Colbert tonight. Judging from the looks of him, his career's really been nothing since he and Paul Simon broke up.

Otto Von Bismarck said...

Malcolm Gladwell is an advice columist who happens to be a social scientist. What I mean by this statement is that Gladwell stories and anaylsis is "feel good science" for middle class people disappointed by life. His articles are meant to make people appreciate themselves inspite of their failings. Outliers basic premise is that you do not have the wealth and fame that you think you deserve because of luck and not talent. That you should quiet worrying about life and just live it. This type of anaylsis is good for maybe getting someone out of a deep depression, but it is disaterous for social policy. The problem in our country is that this "feel good science" is dominating the way we think about things in terms of serious issues like politics and science. Our nation's intellectual pursuits are being reduce to a pursuit of middle class happiness than solving actual problems. Gladwell trival advice would not be bad if it was not being treated as real science. Gladwell is just Tony Robbins with a higher IQ, and a more sophisticated audience. Not a bad man, just given more praise and importance than he deserves.

Sorry for grammer and spelling errors.

Otto Von Bismarck said...

Friedman, however, is the anti-christ. Thomas Friedman's opinions actually kill people. I would not be surprised if Friedman had a 666 tatooed somewhere on his body. I hope that man quiets someday, since I know he will never fired. Friedman is evil.

Sorry for spelling and grammer errors.

Steve Sailer said...

"Gladwell is constrained by his given intellect despite being a gifted writer with curiosity and a nose for a saleable angle. He cannot just decide to become "smarter"."

"Malcolm Gladwell" is a valuable brand name. Just because Malcolm is personally innumerate doesn't mean that articles produced under the "Malcolm Gladwell" brand have to be.

For example, just because crime novelist Elmore Leonard ("Get Shorty" "3:10 to Yuma" and a million other novels) is about a million years old doesn't mean his novels can't be carefully researched by somebody who burned a lot of shoe leather to get the lay of the land.

Critics wonder how a man that old can continue to produce such realistically detailed novels.

Leonard does it through division of labor.

Five years ago I met this guy whose job was research assistant and legman for Leonard. The novelist would call him up and say something like, "My next book will be set in Detroit in 1955. The main character will be a lathe operator involved in a crime of passion."

Elmore Leonard has better things to do than totter around Detroit looking for period details. So, the assistant would fly to Detroit, take pictures of buildings that had been there in 1955, go to the main library and read all the crime news in the local papers for 1955, talk to people who had been cops in Detroit in 1955, study up on how to operate a lathe, that kind of thing. He'd organize it all and bring it to Leonard in Florida.

Gladwell can certainly afford a research assistant who knows how to use Excel.

Dennis Dale said...

The Friedman comparison is apt I think in an unfortunate way; while Friedman is less respected the more informed his audience, his influence has only slowly waned, and not necessarily because of that. It seems he'll never answer for being wrong on any particular issue, and will now dribble on (a la David Broder at Wa Po) fashioning rationales for whatever status quo is regnant, long past the point of embarrassment.

He's holding lifetime tenure at Middlebrow University, College of Credulity (I imagine it resembling Faber College, with similar "Knowledge is Good" slogan).

Expect Gladwell to follow a similar path. One thing the two of them do understand better than any of us, is that there are no real consequences for being wrong (if we won't hold presidents accountable for war crimes, what's some columnist whose only real sin is an unfortunate combination of credulity and enthusasm?), but where you upset convention or Power, the consequences of being right are professionally fatal.

headache said...

Its clear Gladwell wouldn't have been as influential without the Afro.

Middletown Girl said...

Gladwell had a perfect last name. He makes his readers feel glad and well. He is a crowd-pleaser to liberals, a Sesame Street idea of an intellectual. He is a black guy who looks almost totally white, thus surely making NPR-types pee in their pants with relief and joy. He has a bohemian look but has credentials of being a rational thinker. He is everything to everyone. Black, white, freak, geek, cool dude, rebel, mainstream, etc, etc.

I would say he is to intellectualism what Oprah is to populism. He tells people what they want to hear. Because he has an oddball way of relating his ideas and stories, his audiences get the feeling--or are fooled into thinking--that they are hearing something NEW when it's the same PC crap all over again.

Indeed, that may be the whole secret to his success. We've all been complaining--even some liberals--that political correctness has led to rigidness of thought and dogmatism in the academia and media. Instead of empirical research and rational thought, we've been bludgeoned with Big Brother truisms.

Gladwell redeems political correctness by employing the subtler nudgocratic methods of Cass the ass Sunstein. And, the fact that Gladwell goes about in a off-the-wall, 'brilliant', and freakonomicesque way to arrive at his conclusions imbue political correctness with the cache of freshness and cutting-edge intellectual boldness.

In other words, Gladwell has found a way to pump carbonated bubbles into stale water, thus fooling people that it's new and refreshing spring water. Gladwell doesn't go about the old PC way of saying, 'if you believe in racial differences, you're a disgusting racist, SO SHUT UP!' No, he finds some data, connects dots here and there, and comes up with a quasi-elliptical and unconventional method of drawing his conclusions. But, honest people know full well that Gladwell's conclusions are the same old, same old. It's PC given second life through intellectual carbonation.

Of course, this sort of thing exists on the Right too. We all know Creationism is a boneheaded idea, and really dumb people are associated with it. It's impossible to win intellectual respect with an idea so retarded. So, what have some clever religious types come up with? A silliness called INTELLIGENT DESIGN which is supposed to be scientific, new, and daring, but in fact is essentially Creationism through the backdoor.

Gladwell's thing is to re-introduce and re-establish PC through the backdoor(of bogus pseudo-intellect). When liberals read Gladwell, they can fool themselves that they are intellectually cool and daring than politically correct.

Dennis Dale said...

Critical mass reached: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/12/gladwell-200912

Gladwell needs to go self-referential and apply the Gladwell method to the Gladwell phenomenon. It'll be like John Malkovich entering the John Malkovich portal.

Holtz said...

Steve, if you wanted to take on another big fish Steve Levitt has a closing the gaps post up. Although it's basically just summarizing the Fryer/Dobbie working paper.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/closing-the-gap/#comment-518723

You responded to the points in the Harlem study previously when David Brooks wrote a column about it.

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/05/david-brooks-on-harlem-miracle.html

sabril said...

" but where you upset convention or Power, the consequences of being right are professionally fatal."

I basically agree. Gladwell is like a court astrologist from the middle ages. He knows that his primary job is to please the king.

Kijkfaas McGee said...

'A key difference, however, is that when Friedman is wrong, he helps start wars.' Oh! journalists have such high opinions of themselves. Thomas Friedman starting wars! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Do they learn such things in J-school? Bah, ha, ha! It's too much. People read Gladwell's gibberish and then promptly forget about it, his gallant attempt to neutralize psychometric science a hazy memory in the back of their petulant skulls.

Jeremiah Whitmoore said...

What a blessing it would be if Mr. Friedman and Mr. Gladwell were simply ignored by most people and their books were read for humor by rest of us.

Jonathan said...

So much vitriol against Friedman... apparently I'm late to this particular hate-fest. I don't read the NYT, but I did enjoy his _World is Flat_. Would someone please direct me to a blog post/review/essay really dissecting Friedman's opinions? (I.e. not just saying that he vomits green feces or that he is the antichrist).

And yes, U. of T. is a good school, and Trinity College is a good college within it.

R J Stove said...

Dennis Dale remarks:

"The Friedman comparison is apt I think in an unfortunate way; while Friedman is less respected the more informed his audience, his influence has only slowly waned, and not necessarily because of that."

I wouldn't have thought that Friedman's influence or public respect waned at all. Maybe they are infinitesimally smaller in the States than they were a few years back; but out here in Australia, the broadsheets happily syndicate his columns. (This is despite, or because of, such tasteful Friedmanisms as "Every week you [Serbs] ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.")

Aussies really do have a genius for what Alistair Cooke (speaking of England) called importing the worst of America instead of the best. Of course no Australian broadsheets' editors now would even consider reprinting articles by Patrick Buchanan, Peter Brimelow, or Elizabeth Wright. As for reprinting anything Steve Sailer has published? "The horror, the horror!" Joe Sobran? Stop, stop, don't even mention that name, or you'll frighten the children. (The first and most devoutly held principle of any Australian mainstream-media boss in 2009 is the assumption that we are, indeed, children.)

It wasn't always like this. I am old enough to remember when The Australian - now as embarrassing an outlet, and as contemptuous of political opponents who can employ subordinate clauses, as the very worst of Rupert Murdoch's British News-of-the-Screws-style tabloids - actually ran articles by Sir Peregrine Worsthorne and suchlike contrarians unclassifiable on a left-to-right grid. Couldn't happen these days.

Pat Shuff said...

Robert Kiyosaki with The Rich Dad series of books, which have sold over 27 million copies in 109 countries. Robert is a multi-millionaire, and says himself “I am a bestselling author, not a best writing author”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Having read neither Gladwell, Kiyosaki but, like most, many popular sellers, more at an early age,
which largely didn't stand the test of time whether Greening of America or Population Bomb or a pop-psych self help like I'm Ok/Your Ok. With the therapeutic Primal Scream, one glance at the back cover was all it took.

Just to say that with bestellers, or ten most popular anything, the touching of multitudinous hearts with personal relevancies at a given time is the further more interesting point, the phenomenom.

Bruce Banned said...

He is a black guy who looks almost totally white, thus surely making NPR-types pee in their pants with relief and joy.

I'm not sure he identifies as Black, though. Just for the perks.

Black Sea said...

"Would someone please direct me to a blog post/review/essay really dissecting Friedman's opinions?"

Funny you should you ask:

http://www.nypress.com/article-19271-flat-n-all-that.html

I'm sure about 20 people will be firing off links to this.

Black Sea said...

This, by Tabbi and in a similar vein, is also pretty good:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/21432

Otto Von Bismarck said...

http://exiledonline.com/thomas-friedman-the-empires-useful-idiot-an-exile-classic/

This is a good article Jonathan,
sorry for my juvenelle humor. I could not help myself. Actually, this article is a bit juvenelle also, but has more substance than what I and others have said.

I personally do not like Friedman, because most of what he says mounts to simple catch pharses, with no substantive anaylsis. Faread Zakeria has almost the same opinions as Friedman, but has real ideas and anaylsis to back them up. Friedman is a human sound bit, who is for jet setting yuppies who do not want to think that hard about foreign policy. Its not just that his ideas are wrong, but he does not put the effort to support them. He comes up with a new catch pharse, and everybody is treating him like he is Jesus. Friedman is dumbing down the intellectual elite in America with his sound bit commentary.

Sorry for spelling and grammer errors.

outlaw josey wales said...

There are plenty of famous and wealthy people who arguably should not be famous and wealthy. Steve thinks MG does not deserve to have the status that he does because the topics MG writes about are those that SS writes about, and SS is rigorous while MG is buffoonish and ignorant. Yet SS has to ask his readers for money (which takes courage in many senses) while MG rakes in the bucks.

Sadly, as said in Unforgiven, deservin' got nothing to do with it. I too liked MG's work in the New Yorker, because of the perspective and the writing, notwithstanding the likelihood that his methodology or arguments are or could be flawed. I don't agree that MG is influential merely because he sold a lot of books. Have his works resulted in material changes in the behaviors of large numbers of people or in people with actual authority to implement public policy?

Steve could become a media person in principle. People like Pat Buchanan or G. Gordon Liddy appear on tv, and their ideas are at least as controversial as Steve's without the benefit of actually being statistically or empirically rigorous.

burger flipper said...

"Gladwell in many ways is the social science equivalent of the New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman, another favorite target of critics whose books sell huge numbers."

Terry's writing doesn't seem as rigorous as he claims. The critics whose books sell huge numbers would have a field day having at that prose.

I always love the Gladwell drama. Great beat-downs from McArdle, Pinker and you.

Yet somehow I suspect he thinks he has come out on top. I hope Pinker doesn't let the racism smear lie.

MarAkin said...

Jealousy is not a good emotional strategy, Steve.

MQ said...

Glad to see so many people here see the true evil of Tom Friedman -- he's an ignorant apologist for all the worst elements of globalization. Gladwell is just a chirpy and somewhat annoying popularizer type.

TH said...

"Gladwell is like a court astrologist from the middle ages. He knows that his primary job is to please the king."

I don't think there were court astrologists in the Middle Ages, at least not in Catholic Europe. The Church rejected astrology. However, at the end of the Medieval period, astrology was reintroduced to Europe from the Muslim world, and with the Renaissance, astrology became all the rage.

Anonymous said...

Steve...

Gladwell can certainly afford a research assistant who knows how to use Excel.


I put his occasional slip shod research down to a varient of assortive mating which again bounds Gladwell's intellect.

Like marriage, people tend to selectively socialize most comfortably with people of similar minds. My guess is that Gladwell's closest associates are probably similarly well-educated, aspiring yet middle-brow hyper PC elites.

Gladwell projects a fragile ego which suggests his employees are probably less, not more, intelligent. So if Gladwell doesn't know eigenvector from igen, what are the odds his assistants would?

Even if Gladwell wanted to hire smarter employees, *most* individuals cannot accurately assess the intelligence of other much brighter than themselves. As a result, they usually end up with employees who are only incrementally brighter at best.

Again, I maintain Gladwell is really quite middlebrow. It's hard to explain how Gladwell didn't spend one day beyond undergrad doing research or graduate work given that:

- he grew up with professors as parents and with fellow faculty brats yet still slavishly admires academia

- has a healthy intellectual curiosity

- has very good writing skills

- would've had powerful AA benefits of affirmative action that to open the most elcusive doors, provide the best mentors and a free ride

Gladwell is bright enough to know at some level that he's a intellecutal poser (thus his honor at Pinker's compliment buried within his defrocking). Gladwell also has the integrity of at least trying to seek knowledge in form if not in substance. In both these senses he is also far ahead of Freidman.

Still, Gladwell is a cultural warrior and actively destroying our civilization by promoting BS PC themes in much of his work.

For example, his NFL draft BS is all about using the popularity of football to sell radical blank slatism and justify AA to the masses.

DYork said...

Is Malcolm Gladwell the Damien Hurst of ideas?

albertosaurus said...

You, Steve Sailer, you are the one who got me to read Gladwell. I thought you had recommended him so I bought Outliers. I was about a third of the way through it when I threw it across the room. Trash!

It reminded me of Steven Jay Gould - very well written but obviously agenda driven. However Gould who was often wrong in his conclusions was usually right on his facts. Gladwell however is astonishingly wrong on his basic facts.

It makes me wonder just who reads such books and is impressed. He writes such contra-factual nonsense that you would think that any reader who likes to "argue" with the author while reading would soon find him out. They must be really, really stupid.

Deckin said...

I like the 'academic crush' analysis, but that's not the prime mover--not that your analysis commits you to it being so. After all, Gladwell could have developed crushes on Rushton, Jensen, Hsu, Clark, heck, even Pinker. But he didn't and that he didn't pretty much explains why he never asks the tough questions of those on whom he does. He leads with his ideology. The soupcon of empirical findings that color it, is just the cover the New Yorker, Slate, Huffington Post crowd need to think it's a case of dispassionate data analysis. So lets' not begrudge the man his besotted nature, lets' see if he'll ever change the ideology of his affections. Me doubts it very much.

Henry Canaday said...

Friedman apparently wrote an intelligent column yesterday. Alert the media.

Dutch Boy said...

Dear Middletown Girl:
Apparently there are some scientists who haven't heard that Creationism is a boneheaded idea. Of course, with your undoubted scientific credentials we should defer to your opinion on the matter:
Participating scientists include:

--Guy Berthault, a renowned sedimentologist from France and experimenter in fundamental physics and sedimentology, member of the French Geological Society and the Association of Sedimentologists.

--Maciej Giertych, a population geneticist from Kornik, Poland, who holds advanced degrees in genetics, forestry and tree physiology.

--Thomas Seiler, a physicist from Germany with a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Munich

--Jean de Pontcharra, a physicist in France and director of the renowned research group CEA-LETI (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Laboratoire d'Electronique et de Technologie de l'Informatique).

--Josef Holzschuh, a geophysicist from Australia with a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Western Australia.

Abstracts of the presentations can be seen on-line at http://sites.google.com/site/scientificcritiqueofevolution/Home.

“The Scientific Impossibility of Evolution” conference is being held in direct response to Benedict XIV's request that both sides of the evolution controversy be heard. Thomas Seiler, a participant in the conference said: “In the light of astounding new scientific breakthroughs, particularly in geology, we hope the worldwide scientific community will acknowledge the overwhelming evidence against the theory of evolution.”

Tatu said...

"He is a black guy who looks almost totally white, thus surely making NPR-types pee in their pants with relief and joy."

This is actually the first time I even realized that he's black. Funny thing, the one-drop rule.

Anonymous said...

"Gladwell can certainly afford a research assistant who knows how to use Excel."

Hiring someone to figure out the facts would complicate his job as a professional liar.

David Davenport said...

... Of course, this sort of thing exists on the Right too. We all know Creationism is a boneheaded idea, and really dumb people are associated with it.

Get that, Mr. Auster?

Truth said...

""Gladwell is like a court astrologist from the middle ages."

Or from the Regan administration.

"Its clear Gladwell wouldn't have been as influential without the Afro."

I agree with you headache; a tight fade or some dreads and he'd be covering the community affairs beat in Hamilton, ON.

Otto Von Bismarck said...

"He is a black guy who looks almost totally white, thus surely making NPR-types pee in their pants with relief and joy."

Actually to be specific, he looks Jewish to me. The first time I saw him the thought that went into my head was, oh my god he is a black guy that looks like a jew, he is going to be the dean of Havard one day.

Otto Von Bismarck said...

Truth, this not critizism, but why don't you update your blog. I find you funny, please start a regular blog. I will read it.

alonzo portfolio said...

I accept that The New Yorker is an important platform for the likes of Gladwell to advance. Still, I find it interesting that it seems so little read, even among likely Dem voters. For example, for 10 yrs. daily, I've been observing the reading material, if any, in the hands of Marin residents riding the bus home from SF. In all that time, I can count on both hands the number of times I've seen the mag (which of course has a distinctive layout).

Anonymous said...

Steve is the canary in the coal mine, Gladwell is just the canary.

David said...

> there are some scientists who haven't heard that Creationism is a boneheaded idea. Of course, with your undoubted scientific credentials we should defer to your opinion on the matter [list follows] <

Argumentum ad verecundiam.

> a participant in the conference said: "In the light of astounding new scientific breakthroughs, particularly in geology, we hope the worldwide scientific community will acknowledge the overwhelming evidence against the theory of evolution." <

PR puffery. The notion that the earth is 6000 years old is not exactly an "astounding new scientific breakthrough!" that will be "acknowledged" by "the worldwide scientific community!" (Funny word, "acknowledged." Why not "considered"? Ah, I know - because the evidence is "overwhelming!" that evolution is "impossible!")

Two can play argumentum ad verecundiam. Isn't the ultimate authority ad verecundiam involved in that conference the Pope, who commissioned it to air "the other side"? In what do his scientific credentials consist, his infallibility?

Dan said...

Must add David Brooks to the roster of incoherent New York Times favored pundits.

In this recent column he determines that investing for the future does not require self-discipline but rather the foresight of knowing the in the future one can steal an even greater share of national wealth.

To be honest I struggle to paraphrase what he said since it is incomprehensible.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/opinion/17brooks.html?_r=1

The standard thing these days is for Americans to scold each other for our profligacy, to urge fiscal Puritanism. But it’s not clear Americans have ever really been self-disciplined. Instead, Americans probably postponed gratification because they thought the future was a big rock-candy mountain, and if they were stealing from that, they were robbing themselves of something stupendous.

MK said...

Pinker replies to Gladwell:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/books/review/Letters-t-LETSGOTOTHET_LETTERS.html?_r=1