December 29, 2009

The Crypto-Counter-Steveosphere

In recent years, David Brooks of the NYT has taken up Malcolm Gladwell's rhetorical straw man device of writing as if the conventional wisdom in 21st Century American media circles consists of a cartoonish caricature of my ideas. Gladwell and Brooks then go on to refute Sailerism to vast applause.

Not surprisingly, Brooks writes in the NYT:
It’s become fashionable to bash Malcolm Gladwell for being too interesting and not theoretical enough. This is absurd. Gladwell’s pieces in The New Yorker are always worth reading, so I’ll just pick out one, “Offensive Play,” on the lingering effects of football violence, for a Sidney award — in part to celebrate his work and in part as protest against the envious herd.

Gladwell's problem isn't that he's "not theoretical enough." Gladwell is relentlessly theoretical. For example, he entitled one chapter in his bestseller Outliers "The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes." Gladwell's problem is that most of his countless theories are so wrong that a few minutes of reflection can debunk them.

Note that the one Gladwell article Brooks specifically endorses is one that I endorsed in a post entitled "David Brooks' lonely struggle against the Sailerite conventional wisdom." Unlike Gladwell, Brooks is smart enough and sly enough to know he doesn't want to get in a headlong battle over simple matters of fact, so he chose to endorse a Gladwell article pre-approved by me.

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

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve vs. Brooks is great, Steve vs. Gladwell is even better, but nothing, except perhaps Emilianenko vs. Zulu, compares to Steve vs. that Jim Manzi fellow. Man, that was an epic thrashing.

Richard Hoste said...

In recent years, David Brooks of the NYT has taken up Malcolm Gladwell's rhetorical straw man device of writing as if the conventional wisdom in 21st Century American media circles consists of a cartoonish caricature of my ideas. Gladwell and Brooks then go on to refute Sailerism to vast applause.

This reminds me of when Murray Rothbard asked if the WASP male was so powerful why he couldn't find a defense of him anywhere and only attack.

OneSTDV said...

How many mainstream journalists/intellectuals/pundits regularly read iSteve? I'm very curious about this.

I know Derbyshire reads everyone in the Steveosphere and I imagine Pinker comes here probably on a weekly basis.

Charles Murray probably checks in as well.

Anybody know who else visits here or, gasp, other sites within the Steveosphere?

Anonymous said...

Brooks is a great writer, but his attempts to write about psychology and science are awful. It's always the same, and he always makes the same error(s). He talks about how things "used to be", and how the problem is "now we know that's all wrong." It now turns out that "people are really affected by their blah blah blah..."

It's always the same thing, and he's writing for those who know nothing about those fields. He's really an ignoramus when it comes to this stuff. He just writes really well, imo.

TGGP said...

I don't see any reference to "Offensive Play" in your VDARE article.

David Brooks is no good at political science/sociology either.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know who else visits here or, gasp, other sites within the Steveosphere?

La Griffe used to check in from time to time.

Anonymous said...

oneSTDV - Anybody know who else visits here or, gasp, other sites within the Steveosphere?

All sorts of the great and good may do but they arent going to admit it in public, maybe not even to each other. That alone could but them a Watsoning. They are only going to go public if they already have a debunking or an attack all lined up.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know who else visits here or, gasp, other sites within the Steveosphere?

Mickey Kaus, if I recall correctly, has cited and linked to Sailer on numerous occasions.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a trend with bloggers--cute self-promotions: Steveosphere?

With Ann Althouse, it's Althousiana. She's a B**** though.

Stir the pot said...

"as protest against the envious herd."

That might be aimed at Steve.

Regarding Brooks, some recent NYT articles of his have most readers telling him he's wrong to the point of delusion, in the comments.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/opinion/22brooks.html

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/is-the-american-dream-over/

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of when Murray Rothbard asked if the WASP male was so powerful why he couldn't find a defense of him anywhere and only attack.

Do you have a reference? I don't doubt you, just would like to read it myself.

Richard Hoste said...

Do you have a reference? I don't doubt you, just would like to read it myself.

See pages 157-159.

Anonymous said...

TGGP said...

I don't see any reference to "Offensive Play" in your VDARE article.


Steve provided the wrong link - he intended to link to this blogpost with the footnote being what he was talking about:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/10/david-brooks-lonely-struggle-against.html

Mr. Anon said...

Let us not forget that David Brooks is the kind of conservative who gets hired by the New York Times. Which is to say, he is not a conservative at all. He is a tailored nitwit who sits at a desk and writes about things he does not understand, when he is not busy sitting in a televsion studio talking about thinkgs he does not understand.

And let us never forget that David Brooks allowed himself to be fondled by an unnamed republican senator:

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/275765

I believe the proper term for David Brooks is "Starf**ker"

Rohan Swee said...

Stir the pot: Regarding Brooks, some recent NYT articles of his have most readers telling him he's wrong to the point of delusion, in the comments.

I dunno, pot. I followed your links and saw a few commenters rather tamely chiding him for peddling the warmed-over "New Economy" bullshit that non-delusional people stopped buying a decade ago, but the majority, even if disagreeing with him on points (or taking the opportunity to grind their preferred axes), appeared to be on board with his fatuous, Tom Friedman-grade, cloud-cuckoo-land premises. Depressing, really.

David said...

Steve, don't mention these people. They never mention you. Blackouts can work two ways.

Stir the Pot, w/ Tabasco said...

@ Rohan Swee

"I dunno, pot."

Please, all my friends call me Stir ;-)

"the majority, (of David Brooks' commentators) ...appeared to be on board with his fatuous, Tom Friedman-grade, cloud-cuckoo-land premises."

Try sorting the comments by reader recommendations.Well over half of the first few pages I read tell Brooks he's wrong with stuff like "He lives in a fantasy world - nice work if you can get it."

Or

"you're so hopelessly out of touch that you've entirely missed the point!"

http://community.nytimes.com/comments/opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/is-the-american-dream-over/?sort=recommended

If the NY Times/Brooks represents elite opinion, or propaganda, and their own readers are not buying what they're selling, its a sign that the pain of a declining economy is waking average liberal air-head readers to the NYT's BS.

Svigor said...

This reminds me of when Murray Rothbard asked if the WASP male was so powerful why he couldn't find a defense of him anywhere and only attack.

Bingo! Of course, the answer is, Lord WASP is so powerful he needs no defense.

Anonymous said...

Theory is proven, Gladwell can't even generate a useful hypothesis. He is Mister Conjecture.

Anonymous said...

That pisses me off. Brooks reads and cribs from your work when it's ok to do so then takes a cheap shot at you in print while never acknoledging your labor. What a fn coward.

Dan in DC

albertosaurus said...

Gladwell's problem is that most of his countless theories are so wrong that a few minutes of reflection can debunk them.


In a number of standardized tests they present a paragraph that is to be read followed by a multiple choice question block. This tests reading comprehension.

Such tests are largely power tests rather than speed tests. I propose a speed test where one of Gladwell's crackpot theories is presented and the testee is timed for how long it takes for him to see through it.

This kind of test wouldn't test just g. It would also measure life experiences. For example, Gladwell's theory that Bill Gates' success was accounted for by his access to a time shared terminal in 1968, would immediately strike anyone who used the time share terminals at the Lawrence Hall of Science(opened in 1968) as odd. I, in fact didn't use those terminals (to play Star Trek) until about 1970. Is that why I didn't become as rich as Bill Gates? Two years too late!

Or anyone who had ever heard "Lucio Sulla" or "Mithridate Re di Ponto" or even "Bastian und Bastienne" would be unlikely to be impressed by Gladwell's statement that Mozart never wrote any exceptional music until he was in his twenties.

So the Gladwell test isn't really an intelligence test. More like a credulity test.

albertosaurus said...

Just today I started using the Google taskbar with it's integrated spell checker. It works great. Just click on the icon and it spell checks your comments. This fills a gap in the Blogger software's functionality.

BTW there is a word in this posting that is reported as misspelled.

Anonymous said...

Delusional much? He's talking about Pinker, not you. If you had half a brain, you would have learned to code your "findings" in language acceptable to the zeitgeist. Instead, in the name of "truth", you wind up a nattering small-time blogger with a white-nationalist publisher, to boot. You will never be invited to the shi-shi parties, nor will you know what real money or fame is. Perhaps you think you will be vindicated in the long run...but in the long run we are all dead!

Envious herd, indeed!

Black Sea said...

Gladwell's weakness lies not in the theoretical, but in the analytical. He comes up with plenty of interesting or provocative theories. Having come up with them, he types them up and -- his work done -- cashes the check. He's learned through success that most of his readers won't bother with the analytical legwork either.

stari_momak said...

Crunch con Rod Dreher reads you -- and even occasionally acknowledges that fact.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer has hypothesized and written about the possible impact that Andrew Sullivan's use of the prescription transdermal testosterone supplement, Androgel, may have had on Sullivan's ability to focus on writing books.

A thinner-skinned writer might have chosen not to publicly acknowledge that he reads Steve, but Sullivan has many times drawn attention to bits Steve has written.

Sullivan has also praised bits Derb has written, though Derb has been told that when a third party offered to introduce Sullivan to Derb, Sullivan declined, presumably owing to Derb's criticism of homosexualism and his mildly expressed distaste for some of the practices and behaviors associated with homosexuality.

See: http://www.theatlantic.com/fs/esearch.php?sort=time&source=sullivan&words=Sailer&x=0&y=0

Statsaholic said...

I think some of the commenters above are underestimating the extent to which mainstream figures read Steve.

I recall that after the election Sailer had a link to an obscure Blog showing the Percent Scotch-Irish for different counties and how it correlated with the Percent that voted for McCain (or perhaps rather I should say the Percent that voted against Obama?).

A few hours or so later the map from the obscure Blog showed up on the Front Page of NYTimes.com.

Gee, I wonder how that happened?