Gladwell’s Stickiness Problem

The aughts been a good decade for Malcolm Gladwell. The  reigning king of urban intellectuals has never not had a book among the New York Times’s top 10 bestsellers since his first book, Tipping Point, debuted in 2000. (Currently, he has four.) With so much success, of course, invariably come brickbats. The latest volley of slings and arrows has arrived from the direction of Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor who, reviewing Gladwell’s book What the Dog Saw in the New York Times Book Review last month, declared that the author “unwittingly demonstrates the hazards of statistical reasoning and… occasionally blunders into spectacular failures.”

As someone who has just published a somewhat Gladwellian tome myself, I have a somewhat different perspective. The problem, I’ve discovered, isn’t just that Gladwell is wrong. It’s that his formulations are so darn sticky. Continue reading Gladwell’s Stickiness Problem

I Am Ready for Launch!

Wise space probeIs this some kind of an omen? I just learned that NASA is getting ready to launch their latest space telescope, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which will head out into the cosmos on Wednesday, December 9. Yes, WISE is ready for launch, just one day after Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger takes off from bookstores everywhere. To Infinity and Beyond!