outliersFor years I have been skeptical of Malcolm Gladwell’s books.  I’ve enjoyed a few of his articles, but the premise of each of his books seem to be a little light.  He seems to like to build an argument around an anecdote.

When I saw Outliers at the library, I thought it might be time to actually read one of Gladwell’s books, rather than just making assumptions.

Having finished Outliers, I will say that it was an interesting book.  Gladwell spins his stats and stories to make his case.

However, listening to the argument (it was an audio book) it seemed that Gladwell was pulling supporting facts from where ever he could and using them less than responsibly.

His distrust of intelligence and talent runs throughout the book and made me wonder.  Is it really true that intelligence and talent have no bearing on success?  Is it really luck and practice?

I did a little research on Gladwell and it seems he was rejected from graduate school.  Hmmm…

Gladwell may have some points.  A few months of extra maturity and practice might make a difference in junior high hockey.  Does potential really make no difference?

A storyteller does not equal a credible social scientist.  Gladwell is selling himself as a public intellectual, but he writes like an undergrad trying desperately to talk his way through a gamble of a hypothesis to get the attention of a professor.

The book reads like a few articles strung together with some extra padding to get to book length.

If you enjoy an interesting story, read this book.  If you’re looking for a credible source of data, this is not it.  Do your own research and reach your own conclusions.  Gladwell isn’t the intellectual he claims to be.  If you want stories built on legitimate data, check out Michael Lewis.


One thought on “Outliers

  1. I totally agree with your review! Although I do agree with the fact that Gladwell’s examples are extremely cherry picked, he does introduce a lot of ideas and concept that are worth considering (to an extent).

    I just wrote a post on my blog relating his latest book, David and Goliath with a personal journey that I have experienced. His fact pattern might not be the most justifiable, but he does bring up some thought provoking propositions in his novels.


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