Monday, December 01, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell can kiss my ass 

Oh, will he not just GO AWAY??? His last book, Blink, was horrid. It read well, sure. But it was the worst science reading I'd read in a long time. I wouldn't hate him as much as I do if that book hadn't been required reading and discussion at grad school. But it was. And too many of my colleagues loved it. He tells a neat story, and he tells a story a lot of people want to believe, about how the best decisions can be made in the blink of an eye, by some kind of intuition, some instant subconscious processing. But he cherry picks anecdotes to prove his theory. When he does reference actual research, he misrepresents it. Either he has no understanding of statistics, or he understands them really well and lies with them.

It's bad science. And if his book had stayed were it belonged, in the business / management section, I'd have no problem with him. But he's a household name, now. Everything he says is taken as truth. It's like he doesn't even need to bother with the anecdotal evidence or the 3 studies out of a thousand that showed results favorable to his thesis.

When I thought he had faded away, he comes out with a new book, Outliers.

There's a reason academics don't like pop science. It's books like these.

Ah, well, at least Steve Pinker has a new book out. He may write pop science too, but I've not found any misrepresentations of the literature, or attempts to prove things though anecdotes, in his books (what I've read, anyway. I haven't read everything he's published).

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