A little more about "Outliers"

Since I wrote a somewhat negative post mentioning Outliers and Malcolm Gladwell the other day, I thought this was a worthwhile follow-up, "Lost in the Crowd" from the New York Times, which starts sounding positive:
"As usual, Gladwell intelligently captures a larger tendency of thought — the growing appreciation of the power of cultural patterns, social contagions, memes. His book is being received by reviewers as a call to action for the Obama age. It could lead policy makers to finally reject policies built on the assumption that people are coldly rational utility-maximizing individuals. It could cause them to focus more on policies that foster relationships, social bonds and cultures of achievement." (from NYT, "Lost in the Crowd")
But in the end, I am not so sure:
"Gladwell’s social determinism is a useful corrective to the Homo economicus view of human nature. It’s also pleasantly egalitarian. The less successful are not less worthy, they’re just less lucky. But it slights the centrality of individual character and individual creativity. And it doesn’t fully explain the genuine greatness of humanity’s outliers. As the classical philosophers understood, examples of individual greatness inspire achievement more reliably than any other form of education. If Gladwell can reduce William Shakespeare to a mere product of social forces, I’ll buy 25 more copies of “Outliers” and give them away in Times Square." (from NYT, "Lost in the Crowd")


Posted on December 17, 2008 and filed under Life.