Malcolm Gladwell’s promotional tour for his book David and Goliath is rolling along, but his responses to criticism aren’t getting any more persuasive.
Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath is on both the New York Times bestseller list and the Amazon bestseller list – and since I’m number 15 on its waiting list at my local public library, there’s clearly an eager audience waiting to read it. However, the book has received some less than positive reviews, even from admitted Gladwell admirers, and has also been the subject of some harsh criticism. The most widely read critiques are probably this article by dyslexia expert Mark Seidenberg, contending that there are significant factual errors in the book’s discussion of dyslexia, and this article by psychologist Christopher Chabris challenging some of the book’s reasoning and research. Chabris’ article generated this response from Gladwell himself, which was unfortunately more of a personal attack on Chabris (and his wife) rather than a response to Chabris’ criticisms.
A couple of themes have arisen in discussions of the book. I want to (more…)
I’ve just finished reading David Epstein’s excellent book The Sports Gene, a fascinating exploration of the research on genetic and physiological factors that may contribute to exceptional athletic performance. Ironically, I got the book only a few weeks before I saw the fascinating Alex Gibney documentary The Armstrong Lie, which was intended to be about Lance Armstrong‘s 2009 return to competitive cycling in the Tour de France, but instead ended up being about Armstrong’s secret use of performance-enhancing drugs. Clearly anyone who takes PEDs is trying to gain a physiological advantage in competition, but watching Armstrong’s behaviour in the film made me wonder about another factor in exceptional athletic performance: (more…)