Just about anything author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell has to say is interesting, even if you disagree with him.
He went on Reddit on Monday for an Ask Me Anything session to answer users’ questions, respond to critics, and offer insight into the way he thinks.
Here’s a look at the highlights:
On the “10,000 Rule,” which, as defined in “Outliers,” states that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve mastery:
“It doesn’t apply to sports. And practice isn’t a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I’ll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.”
“I don’t agree with a lot of what he says. But i was curious to meet him… We actually had a great conversation. Unlike most of the people who interviewed me for David and Goliath, he had read the whole book and thought about it a lot. My lesson from the experience: If you never leave the small comfortable ideological circle that you belong to, you’ll never develop as a human being.”
“I do not understand the impulse that many people have of looking first for what they DISAGREE with in another person or idea, instead of looking first for what they might learn from.”
“People going to college and in college vastly over-estimate the brand value of their educational institution. When I hire assistants, I don’t even ask them where they went to school. Who cares? By the time you’re twenty-five or thirty, does it matter anymore?”
On accusations of being a “pseudo scientist”:
“…I think it is important for me to stress that I’m not a scientist. I don’t write for academic journals. I’m a journalist who uses ideas and findings from scientists to try and get people to look at the world a little differently. That’s a very different kind of intellectual enterprise that the writing that is done for academia.”
On Steve Jobs and entrepreneurs:
“[I]n order to make something new and innovative in the world you need to be the kind of person who doesn’t care about what your peers think. Why? Because most of the greatest ideas are usually denounced by most of us as crazy in the beginning. Steve Jobs was a classic disagreeable entrepreneur. That makes him a difficult human being to be around. But were he not difficult, he would never have accomplished an iota of what he did!”
“If your parents are billionaires, that might actually be an obstacle to your own happiness and self-development. If you go to Oxford or Harvard, that might actually thwart your desire to graduate with a science or maths degree. And so on. Those kind of examples suggest that ‘categories’ of privilege aren’t all that useful. Is it better to be black or white, male or female, rich or poor? Well, it depends on where you live and who you are and what you want to do.
“If you want to be President of the United States or the CEO of a company, its probably not a good idea to be female. But it is if you want to be a college professor. It also depends on how you interpret your disadvantage–which goes to the discussion of dyslexia in [‘David and Goliath’]. Some–but not all–dyslexics benefit from their ‘disability.’ I suspect that is true of everyone who stands outside the center of society.”
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