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Friday, March 17, 2017

The fake intellectual

Steve Sailer, quite rightly, despises Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is a poor man's John Maynard Keynes, making a nice living selling false ideas useful to the establishment to the middle class midwits who erroneously consider themselves to be intelligent. But I had no idea that he was a complete shill who is essentially nothing more than an ad man dressed up rather unconvincingly as a public intellectual.
Malcolm Gladwell says that he got into journalism by accident, that his real dream was to work for an ad agency. “I decided I wanted to be in advertising. I applied to eighteen advertising agencies in the city of Toronto and received eighteen rejection letters, which I taped in a row on my wall,” he wrote in his What the Dog Saw. If true, then Gladwell didn’t fail at all.  Rather, he has achieved his dream of becoming an ad man beyond all expectation. His position as a public intellectual and respected New Yorker makes him infinitely more effective and useful as an ad man than he would ever be if he were sitting and writing ad copy in the office of some big-name advertising conglomerate.

Yep, Gladwell has come a long way from his youthful days at the National Journalism Center, but, on the other hand, he hasn’t really moved at all. As Philip Morris put it, the National Journalism Center “was developed to train budding journalists in free market political and economic principles . . . to get across our side of the story.” Their investment in Malcolm Gladwell has paid off beyond their wildest dreams.
Seriously, Gladwell's resume reads like a demon's list of American corporations, from tobacco companies to pharmaceutical companies, Bank of America, and even freaking ENRON. The more one looks at the "news" media, the more it becomes readily apparent how totally shot through with corruption it is.

I've always considered Gladwell to be a nonsensical babbler, but I actually thought he believed his bullshit. It turns out he is merely a ruthlessly cynical con man. Of course, it only stands to reason that the fake news would rely upon fake intellectuals.

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94 Comments:

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 17, 2017 8:20 AM  

What? A Jewish Jamaican Canadian of middling intelligence finds a personal opportunity in branding himself for a master?

How unique!

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 17, 2017 8:20 AM  

I can't remember who it was, maybe Pinker, who has been on Gladwell being a joke for a while. Adams or Cernovich may have also mentioned it, regarding the 10,000 hrs to expert bs Gladwell was peddling. The fake intellectuals like his stuff, because it falsely justifies why they are at the top.

"Gladwell said hard work leads to people being at the top of their field. I'm at the top, so I must work hard, and nepotism and corruption don't explain anything about how I got here." - Every modern Leftist

Blogger William Meisheid March 17, 2017 8:30 AM  

As I look out at the proliferation of fake this and and fake that, with the endless they did this, no we didn't polarizing almost every topic of discussion, it seems as if the underlying structure of trust that undergirds civilization is rapidly crumbling into a chaos that leaves mere power as the only means to go forward as people coalesce around their chosen strongmen, either intellectual, financial, or socially significant individuals. Things are becoming dangerous and it is happening very fast, faster than I could have imagined.

Anonymous Looking Glass March 17, 2017 8:31 AM  

@2 I was under the impression the 10k hours was descriptive not proscriptive: you already had some natural aptitude for the activity, so you were more willing to put in the hours. Further, increase in skill being below linear, the top of the field will need to put in significantly extra hours of effort to the absolute top.

Granted, this Exile piece is so long and hard-Leftists that it's not a very enjoyable read.

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 8:37 AM  

The "fake" meme is going to define the coming slide down the slope of hope.

High social mood caused people to believe whatever BS helped them rationalize their "Everything is Awesome" pre-conscious feelz. The herd trusted EVERTHING, no matter how putrefied its gangrenous essence.

Only in such an environment could the oiliest snake-oil salesmen like this rise to prominence.

I now see that "fake" will be the term used as this Pollyanna-stupid belief (in the palpably unreal) rolls over to eventually its polar opposite.

Fake Americans
Fake News
Fake IOU's (Fake Bonds, Fake Banks, etc.)
Fake Stock Markets
Fake Economics
Fake Political Representatives
Fake Religions (Fake Pastors, Fake Priests, Fake Popes.)
Fake Foods
Fake Medicines
Fake Doctors, Lawyers, Truckers, etc.
You name it, people whose pre-conscious turns to fear and distrust will attach the term "fake" to everything they once embraced with both arms.

We have no mental experience with this. I lack the ability to even vaguely imagine how it will play out.

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 17, 2017 8:38 AM  

@4 - More studies showed that 10,000hrs will certainly lead to skill acheivement, but expert level was still not always grasped. There is a missing element that the tests can't account for.

There is another guy going around on the podcast circuit who reminds me of Gladwell, peddling similar stuff, that talent does not exist and that it is all skill acquisition. It sells well with the TED Talk crowd because again, they want to believe that they got where they are because of skill acquisition.

as to Newton, Bach, Mozart Beethoven, Clausewitz, etc., they just politely ignore them in these studies or hand wave them as all skill acquisition geniuses because because.

Blogger peter blandings March 17, 2017 8:44 AM  

OT, but are there going to be 3 volumes of the collected columns? and are they all from your time at WND?

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 17, 2017 8:44 AM  

@5 - What we are seeing is diversity's true strength: low trust societies and high corruption.

Between abandoning Christianity and embracing cultural Marxism, along with importing millions of invaders, many Westerners will quickly find nothing about the Modern West that is worthy trusting let alone fighting for. Which is why we need to do more than point out the emperor has no clothes, we need to build parallel structures so that there is something to hold onto in the deluge of corruption we are in.

Hey Vox, perhaps a Crypto Fashion t-shirt could be made:

war is peace
freedom is slavery
diversity is strength

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 8:50 AM  

@8 The Remnant already knows what's real, and will reconstitute traditional structures as soon as the corpse of today's folly gets out of the way. Everything it its time.

Blogger Eric Mueller March 17, 2017 8:50 AM  

I'm glad that when everyone was pumping up Gladwell's books several years ago, I came across a few of your blog posts on him. I didn't waste any money on his books like I was planning to at the time.

Blogger Phillip George March 17, 2017 8:54 AM  

Vox the cynic in me says governments only exist as a device for corporations to eliminate competition.
Think of Big Pharma crushing alternative health through the FDA.
Every lobbyist is someone's paid whore.
Every journalist is ...........

Think of it explicitly this way. There will never be a United Nations International Year of the Normal Person.

Normal People should be mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Fanfare for the Common Man Vox. Without a 911 truth and reconciliation and Pedogate heads on pykes we are still up to our necks in a sewerage of corruption as bad as anytime in all history.

Blogger Dirk Manly March 17, 2017 8:55 AM  

He always sounded like a nut to me. Even the titles, such as "Freakonomics" just screams that the man's writings are insane.

Blogger Dirk Manly March 17, 2017 8:57 AM  

s/nut/pseudointellectual nut

Anonymous Looking Glass March 17, 2017 9:03 AM  

@6 Yeah, I just looked up some of the criticisms of the 10,000 hours discussion. My understanding of it is roughly correct, but his argument would appear to not be. (I.e. Experience is valuable. Mastery is hard.)

It also doesn't surprise me that someone is doing the TED route with that type of stupidity. It fluffs the vanity of that crowd so wonderfully. He's probably making millions.

The reality, though, is actually much harder for most people to understand. You can reach basic competence, with a 100 IQ, in quite a lot of things with a solid time investment. "Competence" is quite reachable, if one has time & drive. "Mastery" is hard and takes a natural disposition to aspects of the work. "World Class" requires rare natural talent for the task (or no one else in the field; a classic Science trick). "World Changing" requires insanely rare skills matched with a personality and timing of events far outside of the person's control.

More succinctly: you're born an Engineer. You can't make them. Plenty of people with high enough IQs can "do" the work, but truly excelling in the field requires an in-born conceptual viewpoint of the world that cannot be taught.

These points tie in with some comments a few weeks ago that I triggered someone else with. Past about 130 IQ (so 2SD), IQ really doesn't mean very much. Think of it as a baseline for "very smart". After that, it's wholly down to where the specific mental skill set of the person revolves. It takes a fairly different mental approach to do Engineering compared to something like Theoretical Physics. Newton & Jean-Francois Champollion were both brilliant minds, but in completely separate ways.

That's the rub: you can't do everything. But it's also why they sell the "you can learn anything!". It's done not to actually learn anything, but so the listener can pat themselves on the back and say, "see, I knew I could learn Sanskrit, if I wanted to".

Blogger Cail Corishev March 17, 2017 9:04 AM  

@4, Gladwell's defenders often say that his book does take a more sophisticated view than "10,000 hours will make anyone an expert." That may be true, but the book isn't the whole story, since few people will ever read it. He also did many articles and interviews where he did imply that it's as simple as that. He's been dining out for years on the fact that people love that idea.

Blogger Dexter March 17, 2017 9:04 AM  

He wrote for the American Spectator—notorious in the 1990s as the primary media organ promoting anti-Clinton conspiracy theories—as well as the Moonie-owned Insight on the News.

Heh, I regard contribution to these "notorious" publications as a point in his favor.

Blogger Johnny March 17, 2017 9:07 AM  

>> it seems as if the underlying structure of trust that undergirds civilization is rapidly crumbling.

My way of thinking about this is that civilizations are by their nature elaborate scams. To paraphase Thomas Jefferson, truths we go along with because they are declared "self evident."

>>Things are becoming dangerous and it is happening very fast, faster than I could have imagined.

Same opinion here. Revolutions are like snowballs rolling down a hill.

The biggest fake economist is Paul Krugman of NYT fame. Regardless of his inate ability, his politics drives his economic thinking

Anonymous Icicle March 17, 2017 9:10 AM  

Seriously, Gladwell's resume reads like a demon's list of American corporations, from tobacco companies to pharmaceutical companies, Bank of America, and even freaking ENRON.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZOXncnMBQQ

lol

Anonymous Grayman March 17, 2017 9:12 AM  

Gladwell, just another intellectual "participation Trophy" for the masses.

@14,

As someone who has had to hire engineers and scientists, a 15 minute conversation can usually tell you if they have the mental though process needed for the task, the resume is window dressing relative to their ability to think in the manner needed.

Blogger Johnny March 17, 2017 9:16 AM  

>>regarding the 10,000 hrs to expert bs Gladwell was peddling.

What can be established with time put in is the competence that goes with the conventional thinking. We will call that competence.

Real mastery as I choose to define the word here is when ability arises to such a level that the master is capable of judging what constitutes competence. That is, you exceed the mere accumulation of information.

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 17, 2017 9:18 AM  

@14 - Well put.

I've experienced this first hand. I come from several generations of engineers. While my father is at least 1SD above me, and I'm in the midwit range of 100-115, I could handle the physics and the calculus, but the engineering concepts...it felt like I could play the notes but not really know the song.

Blogger Dirtnapninja March 17, 2017 9:24 AM  

Durandel Almiras wrote:@5 - What we are seeing is diversity's true strength: low trust societies and high corruption.

Between abandoning Christianity and embracing cultural Marxism, along with importing millions of invaders, many Westerners will quickly find nothing about the Modern West that is worthy trusting let alone fighting for. Which is why we need to do more than point out the emperor has no clothes, we need to build parallel structures so that there is something to hold onto in the deluge of corruption we are in.


Yes. its not enough to merely be against something. A proper revolution requires viable alternatives.

Anonymous Icicle March 17, 2017 9:24 AM  

Fake Political Representatives

Also Fake Intelligence Agencies. They help fake-up the representatives and fake-up the news. I'm deeply curious what Trump is planning with his wiretapping claims. He's obviously taking his time with it, savoring the moment.

Dennis Kucinich was also bugged. How many others?

What about the lower levels of law enforcement with the post-9/11 Fusion Centers? That links the CIA and others to the lower ends.

Whatever these agencies are doing, it is not for average Americans.

Anonymous Grayman March 17, 2017 9:25 AM  

@21

I have a similar experience, come from a line of successful engineers, including the apollo program. The engineering is "self-evident" to me, but I have to put effort into the math and physics heavy lifting. I tend to test at just under 2 SD above.

Blogger seeingsights March 17, 2017 9:27 AM  

I've never been impressed with Gladwell. However, it was after reading Vox Day's post here that I consider Gladwell a hack intellectual. Two other types of hack intellectuals come to mind: neocon theorists of invade the world foreign policy, and left liberal judges of invite the world immigration policy. Hack intellectuals (you can call them pseudo or fake intellectuals) start with the result they want and work their way backwards to rationalize it.

Blogger seeingsights March 17, 2017 9:37 AM  

I consider a true intellectual as someone who has gives good practical advice and/or makes correct predictions. One example is Steve Sailer. Circa 2000, he advocated a strategy that Republicans would do better if they sought to increase their share of the white vote rather than going after the minority vote. Such a strategy would lead to a confortable win in the Electoral College. Trump followed that policy and got more Electoral College votes than Republicans from 1992 to 2012.
And to give another example, this time from a non conservative: historian Allan Lichtman created a model to predict the Presudential winner. He has been correct since 1984 and predicted a Trump victory.

Anonymous Rocklea March 17, 2017 9:39 AM  

@6
Fake=Witchcraft
burn them at the stake

Blogger James Dixon March 17, 2017 9:41 AM  

> ...it seems as if the underlying structure of trust that undergirds civilization is rapidly crumbling into a chaos that leaves mere power as the only means to go forward...

Welcome to the historical norm.

> Things are becoming dangerous and it is happening very fast, faster than I could have imagined.

People have been issuing warnings for most of my life. It's not their fault most people didn't listen.

Anonymous Looking Glass March 17, 2017 9:42 AM  

@21 I'm out at +4 SD, which puts me just above anyone else in the family. (Obviously, genetics being what they are, I come from a very smart family.) That's part of the reason I can understand the issue at the +2 SD barrier.

Since most "very smart" people actually aren't outside of their topic area, it's lead me to a fairly refined process of extracting information from people from within their topic field. It's why the IQ level doesn't matter that much beyond a point. You really need a natural understanding of specific fields to survive in today's environment in those fields. Creativity within anything technical requires a mastery of the logic of the System and experience with the System. That's a deep skill to that, and if you don't come to the grounding of that skill from a natural understanding, it's highly unlikely you'll ever truly excel at it.

Maybe the better way to explain it: we teach Mathematics, these days, so that anyone of reasonable intelligence can "do" Calculus. You'll need to reach Graduate Level mathematics work before you actually have a clue what it even starts to mean. (This applies to Physics & Chemistry as well, but the Mathematics is the more prominent example.) Few people actually need to understand Calculus for the tool to be useful. Much in the way that there's really a very small set of Scientists & Engineers that do advanced R&D for most of the technology industries. Yet you can find advanced discussions of Processor design in comments sections of blogs.

Anonymous Icicle March 17, 2017 9:47 AM  

You'll need to reach Graduate Level mathematics work before you actually have a clue

I don't think fluxions and Riemann sums are really graduate level.

Blogger Salt March 17, 2017 9:49 AM  

What Gladwell sells burns on impact, like the Pinto. Yup, he's an ad man.

Anonymous fop March 17, 2017 9:49 AM  

Proof of concept that Gladwell obviously spent at least 10,000 hrs. being a pseudo-intellectual hack.

Success!

Anonymous Baseball Savant March 17, 2017 9:55 AM  

Bill Simmons swings from Gladwell's nutsack which has always been disappointing to me.

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 17, 2017 9:56 AM  

@29 - Looking Glass, have you ever noticed Gasset's Mass Men phenomenon with high IQ types? The summary is that those who are experts in one narrow field of specialty extrapolate that they are experts in multiple fields, such as say, politics. So the doctor who specializes in the study of a particular group of bacteria will proceed to speak as an expert on economic policy.

I can't tell if that is something high IQ types fall into or if it is just the mid-wits above 100 IQ types but below the 3SD barrier.

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 9:56 AM  

That's what I like about engineering; "fake" openly fails (planes don't fly, engines don't run, products that don't work can't be sold.)

The rest of the world lacks such objective testing, and is thus governed by belief, not objectivity. This is in part why my talking with my son the engineer is an entirely different experience that talking with his brothers who are IT professionals.

Thank HEAVEN none of my kids went into Comms, Mass Comms, Poli Sci, Cultural Anthropology, Economics, etc.

Blogger LibertyPortraits March 17, 2017 9:59 AM  

You can get some useful things out of his books which are available at libraries. For instance I learned more expressive people tend to persuade less expressive people and it encouraged me to be less stone faced in my interactions. Is it bullshit? Probably but I needed to stop being so monotone and expressionless so I needed the lesson.

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 10:00 AM  

@34 physicians are a special case; it is inevitable that sooner or later they'll do (or not do) something that truly harms someone (out of ignorance or human fallibility) and I believe it's part of their indoctrination to acquire the God Complex (omniscience) as a kind of mental armor, lest they be incapable of "doctoring."

They didn't call the Beach Bonanza "doctor killer" for nothing.

Blogger Johnny March 17, 2017 10:09 AM  

>>The summary is that those who are experts in one narrow field of specialty extrapolate that they are experts in multiple fields, such as say, politics.

Bill Gates comes to mind.

Blogger Mr. Naron March 17, 2017 10:16 AM  

Gladwell's writing about football and concussions was enough to expose him as a fake. Anyone who blames helmets for the increase in head injuries knows nothing about how football is played or it's history. I can't count how many times I've had to hear a mid wit parrot his crap.

Blogger pyrrhus March 17, 2017 10:16 AM  

@37. Which is funny because the massive replication crisis in much of medical research over the last several decades, including 85% non replicability of NIH papers, has demonstrated that Doctors are really terrible at science.

Blogger pyrrhus March 17, 2017 10:18 AM  

I enjoyed Gladwell's early book, 'Blink', which was non political and interesting...When he gets into anything complicated like eigenvectors, he's toast.

Anonymous BBGKB March 17, 2017 10:18 AM  

war is peace freedom is slavery diversity is strength

Ever since I saw it written as Die Verse City I have gone with that spelling but it might have been voice to text.

Anonymous Rocklea March 17, 2017 10:28 AM  

I get the feeling flushing toilets will be a bonus once all this plays out..
On the bright side it may forestall the robot apocalypse.

I wonder what 10000 hrs of civil war makes.
Perhaps grateful women, men with resolve, stronger progeny, real leaders, high trust ingroups and distrust of the Other.

Blogger Scott Birch March 17, 2017 10:34 AM  

Outliers was an interesting book by him. He went from 10000 hours to a couple of generations. So he's getting closer to common sense.

Blogger Weouro March 17, 2017 10:35 AM  

He's a shitty writer, too. I bought one of his books after reading parts of the first chapter because the writing was great, stylistically and otherwise. But after that first chapter, which I'm sure he had someone else write or heavily, heavily edit, the writing was awful. It was a truck to me to buy the book. Now I always read from the first and last chapters and randomly in the middle.

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 10:38 AM  

@40, Almost zero physicians are scientists. Most are highly-trained plumbers. Surgeons are highly-trained anatomists. After working in the physiology dept of a medical school and two decades of selling drugs to docs, this was painfully obvious. Most of what doctors do amounts to a series of simple, nested if-then propositions. In fact, given the toll of preventable medical errors (like an NP who subbed Augmentin(tm) for a patient's amoxicillin Rx when it was noted that the patient was penicillin allergic), a lot of times people would be better off with a well-vetted software program for diagnosis & treatment.

On Topic: Popular books like Gladwell's and Jared Diamond's are always likely to be nothing more than facile rationalizations for whatever fad is in fashion. They're a symptom, not a cause.

Blogger GAHCindy March 17, 2017 10:40 AM  

Maybe somebody here can help me understand the motivation behind taping the rejection letters to the wall, or wanting people to think that's what he did. Secret king behavior? Actually healthy? Something I'm not understanding, because I'd just throw them away and reassess my strategy, possibly my career path, after a few, let alone 18.

Anonymous LastRedoubt March 17, 2017 10:44 AM  

@46. DC Sunsets

I found Guns, Germs, and Steel to be mostly forgettable, but the fun tidbit I love out of the beginning was the degree to which the arrival of Native American tribes 15-16k years ago corresponded with the extinction of the large land mammals on the North American continent.

Blogger tz March 17, 2017 10:49 AM  

My opinion on Gladwell is mixed.
In David and Goliath, he did a takedown of MLK and the freedom marchers that might have been penned by James Edwards.
At least he is making arguments and presenting information, so I can agree or disagree, not shrieking insults.
Here, at least, you can read or listen and decide for yourself. I disagree with several of them, but it is important not to create a red bubble like the fake media did.

Anonymous Avalanche March 17, 2017 10:50 AM  

@14 "But it's also why they sell the 'you can learn anything!' It's done not to actually learn anything, but so the listeners can pat themselves on the back and say, 'see, I knew I could learn Sanskrit, if I wanted to.'"

It's ALSO to make you hopeless unless you DO have that inborn: "THIS is what I want to do/learn/excel at!" All the "tests to show you what field you should study" were beyond useless (in my case at least). They all always said: 'you're so SMART! Why, you can be ANYthing you want to be!'

Not having that inborn: "I want to study/become ..." medicine, engineering, construction, chess, whatever... left me hopeless about direction. I COULD actually "be" anything" -- and who did that study on "too any choices means most people avoid choosing"? (I ended up being a widely (self-) educated generalist, which turned out to be very useful in technical editing, the field I fell into. Scott Adams' "Failing Upward" book, with his 'benefit from everything you ever do,' is useful.)

So, "you can learn/do anything" can be demoralizing to vast number of smart -- but generally directionless -- kids. How better to keep them from finding or choosing a field?

Anonymous Avalanche March 17, 2017 10:55 AM  

@25 "Hack intellectuals (you can call them pseudo or fake intellectuals) start with the result they want and work their way backwards to rationalize it."

Or, in the case of some Hawai'ian judges: just announce their desired result and don't bother to rationalize it.

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 10:55 AM  

So, "you can learn/do anything" can be demoralizing to vast number of smart -- but generally directionless -- kids. How better to keep them from finding or choosing a field?

My wife described the faces of the "Special Ed" 4th graders in her class when they realize they can't even remotely keep up with the non-SpEds. Those who push the "inclusion model" are as vicious as those who claim "everyone can do anything."

Blogger Midnight Avenue J March 17, 2017 11:01 AM  

I worked for a mid sized company years ago when The Tipping Point was popular. The management bought a copy for everyone to read and for a year we had monthly meetings and a few international struggle sessions where we meditated on how we could all be better fly-wheel pushers.

Gladwell's analysis of Atticus Finch as just another parochial White guy was really so incisive and refreshing, I just about hung up my pen and never bothered to ponder any literature ever again...

Blogger Resident Moron™ March 17, 2017 11:03 AM  

@William Meisheid
"... as if the underlying structure of trust that undergirds civilization is rapidly crumbling into a chaos that leaves mere power as the only means to go forward as people coalesce around their chosen strongmen, either intellectual, financial, or socially significant individuals."

That's exactly how it is. What's more, despite the promise that fighting endless wars to civilise the world was going to bring the blessings of modernity to our benighted fellows outside the West, what is actually happening is that we're becoming more like them.

We no longer have social cohesion, shared values, working education, honest institutions, or ethical standards beyond rank opportunism.

That's exactly the condition of those we're supposedly saving.

Blogger Resident Moron™ March 17, 2017 11:05 AM  

I should clarify, that's not defeatist nor fatalist; it doesn't have to be that way. Indeed we have more reason apparent in just this year - young as it is - to be optimistic, than we've had for the previous 20.

Tyrants always overreach, it's inherent in what makes them tyrants.

Blogger Midnight Avenue J March 17, 2017 11:06 AM  

@ 52 d.c. sunsets,

I wonder how much the inclusion model helps anyone. There are a handful of kids in our local school system with learning disabilities, retardation of physical growth and mental handicaps, and two with profound nonverbal autism. They are brought out to stand on stage for school concerts and awards ceremonies and all, but I wonder if they want to be there.

I suspect I'm quite right that it's about parents egos and soothing their hurts about having a kid who is way out of the range of normal in any type of function.

Anonymous Avalanche March 17, 2017 11:10 AM  

@48 "I found Guns, Germs, and Steel to be mostly forgettable, but the fun tidbit I love out of the beginning was the degree to which the arrival of Native American tribes 15-16k years ago corresponded with the extinction of the large land mammals on the North American continent. "


Except that concept is just stupid. Humans arriving in N. America could not POSSIBLY has resulted in the massive deaths of literally MILLIONS of all animals above about 100 pounds, here and yet ALSO in S. America and Siberia, yes? (AND the disappearance of Clovis Man -- who, apparently, substantially PREceded "travelers from Siberia" and, judging from Clovis camps and caches found so far, covered much of what became the U.S. and Canada -- before disappearing in a geological eyeblink!)

Check out two (fantastic, interesting, thought=-provoking, and well-referenced) books:
"The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: How a Stone-Age Comet Changed the Course of World Culture" by Richard Firestone, Allen West, Simon Warwick-Smith and
"Cataclysm!: Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catastrophe in 9500 B.C." by D. S. Allan, J. B. Delair

Alas, both 'oldish' (2006 and 1997); much of the follow-up fighting is published and argued in various professional journals... but for a great intro to the concepts -- both books are brilliant!!

Blogger dc.sunsets March 17, 2017 11:24 AM  

@57 Lots of popular "theories" get traction and one has to wonder about the cunning of those who can seize such illogic and make it seem plausible.

I never tire of how an asteroid striking the Earth is blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs, when as I understand it the latter is believed to span hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.

Maybe it's anything but surprising that someone who wanted a career in advertising ended up spinning tall tales on which Cargo-Cult Savages in coats and ties base their weltanschluung.

Anonymous VFM 3061 “Chief Who Notice Things Make Chief Go 'Hmm'" March 17, 2017 11:31 AM  

But...but...I've been throwing footballs at tires hanging from trees every day after work at Denny's for 5 years! I've logged 9,992 hours! I'm just about to start making Tom Brady money and banging Gisele-level chicks! DAMN YOU (((MALCOLM GLADWELL)))!!!

Blogger Durandel Almiras March 17, 2017 11:32 AM  

@46 dc.sunsets - I have a bunch of doctor friends. None of them remember what they studied in the first 3 years of med school, let alone undergrad. They all admit much of their work is just trial and error problem solving based on what various organizations state is the proper practice. So yeah, my friends agree with your assessment.

Medicine needs to go back to the apprenticeship model, along with many other professions. Med school is nothing more than the AMA's way of restricting supply so that demand far outstrips it and keeps salaries high.

Blogger Jose March 17, 2017 11:35 AM  

Pinker (who himself isn't entirely blameless of this), mocked Gladwell thusly:

"Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “sagittal plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong." [Emphasis added.]

(From the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/books/review/Pinker-t.html )

Anonymous Looking Glass March 17, 2017 11:46 AM  

@40 The biggest problem with Medical Research is Medical Researchers. They are a particular ire for me, personally. Medicine is a really advanced Algorithm. We call them "practitioners" for a reason, as that's what they do: Practice. You'd be absolutely amazed how much of Medicine is actually the visual recognition of by the Doctor rather than any analytical analysis. If you ever end up in the "rare disorder" realm, you'll quickly find that a Doctor having seen the disorder is the diagnostic criteria.

dc.sunset, I see, has had the same experiences.

On Gladwell in general, I liked listen to him with Simmons. He was the only person Simmons has around that isn't a complete Geek about a single topic. Gladwell is probably best thought of as "easy listening jazz" to the intellectual. He's good at being just good enough & agreeable at the same time.


@34 I haven't really spend time pondering Gasset's approach to the discussion (Lord knows there's enough books I don't have time to read), but a quick look through some quotes from "The Revolt of the Masses" strikes me as a Spaniard dealing with the tension of the civil war that was to rapidly arrive. (Without doing a deep study, it also strikes me there is something of a category error with his approach to the way a society associates itself, but that's a first glance thought.)

As to the question about what causes the problems with those with High IQs thinking they can apply their skills everywhere? This is going to sound horrifically arrogant, but I can explain.

1) They're not smart enough.
2) They're not Christian.

Thus, they've never achieved being "careful". Without being careful, all you end up being is an ideological Bull in a China shop because you cannot control the impulses that you have under control within your field of expertise.

This is a hard one to explain unless you have significant mastery of a skill set, but the effect you are normally seeing with high IQ Men is that they have entire mode of operation with their expertise. Once they're removed from that "mode", while still being intelligent, they'll not have those built up necessary self-limiting aspects to rely on without thinking. So you add extreme self-confidence, hubris, ego and a lessened ability to admit failure when trying new endeavors together and you end up with something of a mess. If you add Money & Yes-Men, ain't no one going to tell you that you're wrong. (This would be your Bill Gates example.)

It also goes back to the problems with modern Christianity. Being a Christian doesn't automatically make you "careful". Far from it, sadly. To be careful is to accept responsibility for the choices that are under your control. Reaching a place where one is responsible for their actions, melded with high intelligence, let's a Man start to appreciate their position in the world & with respect to the Lord. It's not the "woe is me, I know nothing" that comes from running away from responsibility, nor is it the "I know everything, haha" borne from an over-compensating ego.

When you reach "careful", you can be properly humble about both your abilities and your lack of abilities. That's a place few every actually want to reach, as it doesn't fluff your ego the entire time, nor does it let you be a Secret King.

Anonymous LastRedoubt March 17, 2017 11:59 AM  

@57. Avalanche

Cool. I'll look those up. I wasn't sure how accurate it was, but it was mostly fun to browbeat the "eeeebil white men make species go extinct, indians lived with nature" types, given the leftist-approved source.

Blogger dienw March 17, 2017 12:06 PM  

@ dc.sunsets
This morning I used fake psychology on a clinical psychologist (husband of a fellow artist); for despite admitting his field considers it unethical to diagnose from afar, he feels it is his duty and others (97,000 signatories to a letter) to diagnose Trump and "warn" about his personality disorder.

Fake Psychology
Fake Ethics

Anonymous Looking Glass March 17, 2017 12:09 PM  

There's also the issue when talking about High IQ of "how high?". Beyond some point, there are significant bio-mechanical realities that crop up. There is no such thing as "eccentric behavior". All of those behaviors are learned ways of forcing more energy into the brain or causing specific stimulation to occur.

Normally it causes a lot of pacing (you can think while walking, it's much harder while running as that eats up a lot of energy you want shifted to the mind), but there can be other issues crop up. Especially when you can end up causing a differential load on the Mind. A simultaneous place of mental fatigue & under utilization can lead to some strange places & actions due to creating a very strange mental profile for a time frame.

Vox is right on the edge before it becomes a constant issue, but even he's not fully immune for the physical energy limitations. From the Dark Streams & the details of his life, he's clearly always been extremely physically active and in ultra-high stimulation environments. (Electronic Music is really good for pushing certain stimulation vectors that are useful in heavy thought applications.) While things he "likes" (or, well, liked), they're also instinctual pursuits and those were the outlets that he simply favored. We will always seek out that which is useful to our survival, and for those with a massive need for mental energy, the subtle little activity differences will show up.

Blogger frigger611 March 17, 2017 12:18 PM  

yeah, American "journalism" fits perfectly the old hillbilly adage around these parts, "It was shot at and missed, but shit at and hit."

Blogger serge March 17, 2017 12:42 PM  

Steven D. Levitt wrote "Freakonomics" and Jared Diamond wrote "Guns Germs and Steel".
There is no way Gladwell would have attained the fame and fortune he did without being, like Obama, visually black. Or at least, black enough for people who read the New Yorker.

Blogger William Meisheid March 17, 2017 2:18 PM  

Looking Glass - trying to see where you are going with this or what you are trying to explain. Are you saying those who are +2SD need to be careful because they will tend to fall into the traps you describe and no one can put the time in to be reliable on so many fronts that we who choose our champions need to be carefully selective about who we listen to on any given topic?

Anonymous joe camel March 17, 2017 2:24 PM  

While not a Gladwell fan, I could not help but laugh at the insane progtard rant you linked from some shrieking moonbat at fake news "exhiled.com". Nowhere in Levine's hysterical screed regurgitating anti-tobacco propaganda of the third reich for his left wing audience, does it occur to him that consumers of tobacco are not "victims" as he paints us, or that the Gladwell article he cites simply repeats anti-smoking propaganda by falsely claiming we receive fewer pension payments, when research shows we live 1 to 3 years longer than nonsmokers. If anything, Gladwell could be criticised for spreading anti-smoking propaganda promoted by the consumer- betraying Phillip Morris group which refuses to defend the reputation of it's products, or it's consumers because it fears the omnipresent oppressive power of government to shut them down via arbitrary lies. Too addicted to illicit tax revenue to admit it was the filters and not the product, governments around the world knowingly lie about the safety of these products, just like they do with claiming gun bans are for safety, or that blacks are victims of white violence and not the other way around.

In all honesty, Levine's unhinged rants at Gladwell almost make me dislike mr 10 000 hours less than before. Especially since he can't resist attacking more serious intellectuals like Anne Coulter and John Stossel in the same article while also linking imaginary SRD junk science from the medical profession as fact, and then rightly criticising medical profession's shameless shilling for the pharmaceutical industry. It would seem logical that if the medical profession lies about the one thing, then they are also lying about the other.

I suppose all journalists, friend or foe, shill for someone or they wouldn't get paid. Unless they have their own products to sell, that is.

Blogger Benjamin Kraft March 17, 2017 2:47 PM  

@68. William. He says it in a lot more words, but it comes down to pretty simple terms.

#1: Vainglory is a hell of a drug.
#2: The drug pushers are everywhere, all the time.
#3: The price is cheap.
#4: The side effects often take a long time to become evident.

It's very easy to apply your confidence from your mindset in one discipline you actually have experience in to another discipline you haven't the faintest clue in. You'll do it without even trying if you aren't actively on guard for it.

Christianity explicitly provides guidelines for avoiding and/or repairing damage due to vainglory, along with other ideological infections and disorders.

As far as not being "smart enough", I doubt that has much of anything to do with it, unless you consider self awareness to be an aspect of intelligence. Lack of self awareness is also a hell of a drug, especially considering it's a zero state. His analogy to being "careful" or constantly cautious or "on guard" is one I like a lot better than "not smart", because "not smart" is, in this case, closer to a degenerate (broadened and softened) slang usage than an accurate one.

In other words, sure, it's dumb, but there are a lot of different kinds of "dumb", and everyone is susceptible to this variety.

Blogger Tatooine Sharpshooters' Club March 17, 2017 3:11 PM  

Gladwell and other TED Talk-style goons are popular and successful for two very basic reasons:

1. People in general are shit at math (even basic arithmetic) so they'll believe any properly hyped set of numbers, even government statistics.

2. The thought of multiple causation is difficult, even terrifying, for many people, so anyone peddling pleasingly pat answers will instantly become a prophet (Bill Nye, NdT, etc).

Blogger William Meisheid March 17, 2017 3:20 PM  

@70 Benjamin self awareness

Back in 1965, John McPhee wrote a book about Princeton and later New York Knicks basketball star, Bill Bradley. While trying to come up with a title, he interviewed Bradley who was shooting baskets in the Princeton gym. After about 20 minutes of talking to Bill, who was facing him and about 10 feet from the basket, which was to his back, he finally asked Bradley what he considered the most important thing one needed to succeed at basketball. Without a moment’s hesitation, Bradley bounced the ball once and without looking shot the ball up over his head into the basket behind him, while saying, “A sense of where you are, both in basketball and in life.” That became the title of McPhee’s book.

I read the book in late 70’s and ever since then, I have considered that one of the most important traits a person can possess and is most glaring in those who lack it, no matter what else they have going for them. I think that is what is at the root of what you are talking about. Now, taking that understanding and applying it appropriately are different things, but without the root, there can be no full-bodied branches.

One working definition of wisdom I have found useful is it is knowledge combined a sense of where you are.

Anonymous VFM 3061 “Chief Who Notice Things Make Chief Go 'Hmm'" March 17, 2017 3:44 PM  

@William Meishied,
I know where I am--stuck as a fry cook at Denny's and out $19.95 for that stupid book by Gladwell.

Blogger Midnight Avenue J March 17, 2017 3:50 PM  

Interesting, William .meisheid.

Glad we'll, et. al. and the entire public education/entertainment industrial don't foster a sense of where you are in reality or relative to other persons or things. irs refracted and enlarged, so no sens of where is truthful or real. And that makes figuring out not only the possible destination but also the probable one, more frustrating and depressing.

As someone said above, no wonder young people are churned out of schools with starry eyes but no sense of purpose or direction. If you want it, work for it...but if you didn't get it, you obviously didn't work hard enough so it's your fault. No proper guidance, all smoke blown up asses from day one.

I saw yet another article about an initiative to get girls into STEM so we don't lose half of our productivity. It's been discussed before so I don't need to get into this stupidity, but my goodness, you can't force interest or ability, and women are not only NOT barred from STEM, but are actively promoted beyond their ability to do STEM because reasons?

I know passionate feminists who advocate for better education and opportunities for women and minorities but wail and moan because they have to take upper level stats for their psychology and sociology degrees L-O-f'in-L!

Anonymous Looking Glass March 17, 2017 3:58 PM  

@70 & @68

There were definitely a LOT of words, haha.

I was covering a lot of topics, but let me see if I can wrangle it down further.

#1: IQ past +2 SD (so the top 14% or so) really doesn't mean much. To be good at most topics simply will take more time than is available in life.
#2: "Vainglory is a hell of a drug." (great line!)
#3: Most in the >2 SD range are Generally Smart/Topic Experts.
#4: Don't trust someone outside of their Topic Skills.
#5: Generalists are vanishingly rare.
#6: Develop voices you can trust on specific topics.
#7: Remember they are human with their own interests as well. ("Brits & Guns" rule.)

While I could go to bat for arguing that a lot of the problem for trying to be cross-discipline really is "not smart enough", lack of self-awareness is probably the better way to think about it. When someone gets "outside their lane", they're no different than anyone else of normal intelligence. They have no inherent advantage in the topic. Their general intelligence might make things faster to uptake, but you don't ask someone if vacationing in Fiji is a good idea that's never been there.

Thankfully, I learned very early on that being smart is great & all, but skill trumps just about everything. It's why I like interacting with "normal" people a lot more than really intelligent ones.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 17, 2017 5:01 PM  

Having read Gladwell far too many times, I have no doubt this is true.
But I just couldn't stomach the Communist claptrap of the article. I got to the part about Ernest being the evillest evil Hitler imaginable because he once said that Blacks are, on average, not as smart as Whites. The shrieking at that point was just to rabid to continue reading.
I'm glad, well, that someone else got through it.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 17, 2017 5:22 PM  

Hey Vox, perhaps a Crypto Fashion t-shirt could be made:

war is peace
freedom is slavery
diversity is strength


You left out "Arbeit macht frei."

Anonymous Trump-Democrat March 17, 2017 5:25 PM  

The more one looks at the "news" media, the more it becomes readily apparent how totally shot through with corruption it is.


in the past I was a very harsh critic of the news media, I recall in the late 0s and early 10s going so far as to call for the execution of various individuals in the news media, (hope that was legal) I have since calmed down and mellowed out and tried to give them the benefit of the doubt more. I figure the best thing I can do is find positives in places like CBN and Fox News Channel and try to help build upon and expand and cooperate with what they are trying to do

Anonymous Art Deco March 17, 2017 5:29 PM  

He's a magazine journalist. His job is to turn in interesting copy on time. If he's right about something, that's gravy. He likely has neither the background or the research skills to produce non-error-laden work, but it does not have to be right to serve his employers' purposes. He's no worse than the next man in journalism. Get a grip.

What's the point of slamming Keynes? Keynes is notable as a progenitor of a nexus of macroeconomic models. Macroeconomics has some trouble settling on a consensus model. It's neither necessary nor proper to attack his integrity.

Blogger William Meisheid March 17, 2017 6:03 PM  

But apparently it's completely within the realm of acceptability to say, "white men can't jump," isn't it?

Anonymous Trump Democrat March 17, 2017 6:06 PM  

re 58

Welt·an·schau·ung

noun, German.


1.a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity's relation to it.

usage:

1) If you favor Swift, you are embracing a Weltanschauung that says that all of life is a high-school melodrama.

2)Obamacare is an existential threat to their Weltanschauung, their idea of America

3)I give the name of ‘radical empiricism’ to my Weltanschauung.

Blogger Eowyn March 17, 2017 6:22 PM  

Bi-racial Gladwell, who's most likely gay, predicted last November that Trump will be in jail within a year.

https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2016/11/19/malcolm-gladwell-is-insane-predicts-trump-will-be-in-jail-within-a-year/

Anonymous Icicle March 17, 2017 7:21 PM  

he feels it is his duty and others (97,000 signatories to a letter) to diagnose Trump and "warn" about his personality disorder.

Fake Psychology


Also called psychiatric abuse. They used in the former Soviet Union against dissidents and still use it today in China.

Bi-racial Gladwell, who's most likely gay, predicted last November that Trump will be in jail within a year.

Who is to say if they will. But don't think they are not trying.

Anonymous Trump-Democrat March 17, 2017 8:32 PM  

But despite everything, I am extremely optimistic. I strongly believe that an increasing number of people "get it" myself included, and I haven't seen this large a number of people of all races "get it", in my entire life, so it should be interesting to see what happens.

Blogger VD March 17, 2017 9:02 PM  

These points tie in with some comments a few weeks ago that I triggered someone else with. Past about 130 IQ (so 2SD), IQ really doesn't mean very much.

This is incorrect. Once past 3SD, the nature of the processing changes. It's more than just the same thing but faster.

It is almost impossible to explain this to anyone who hasn't experienced it. It's like a sprinter trying to tell someone how to run faster. It's the difference between someone who can work out an equation and someone who can grasp it on sight.

The elite math students get this. They all know the difference between what they call the "math minds" and the normal minds who are merely conventionally intelligent.

Blogger Jose March 17, 2017 9:09 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jose March 17, 2017 9:12 PM  

Gladwell, and in general non-expert TED talkers, are cunning business people. How many people do you think can get $45k for a one hour talk with absolutely nothing interesting or new?

Marketing. It works.

Blogger Matthew McDaniel March 17, 2017 9:55 PM  

https://infogalactic.com/info/Dan_McLaughlin_(golfer)

Apparently that 10,000 hours rule doesn't always work out. Vox, you wrote about this guy back around 2010 I believe..

Blogger Matthew McDaniel March 17, 2017 9:58 PM  

VFM 3061 “Chief Who Notice Things Make Chief Go 'Hmm'" wrote:@William Meishied,

I know where I am--stuck as a fry cook at Denny's and out $19.95 for that stupid book by Gladwell.


I know where you are too, brother. Doing the Lord's work. Mmmmmm, Moons Over My Hammy...

Blogger tuberman March 17, 2017 10:05 PM  

The first time I read Mike's book "Gorilla Mindset," it struck me on a subliminal level (I had to think about it after), that the Mindset concept looks at the mind as a frontier to explore, to test as if in new territory, so to break habits or bonds and to move forward only once one has created the Mindset necessary.

The Frontier mentality is completely American, as it's looked at by most Europeans as a myth. Yet even in Europe the brilliant understand the great frontier is mental, and it is the few who push civilization onward.

In America even midwits sometimes do wonderful things with a combination of the Mindset discipline and the frontier spirit.

Then again, maybe I just wanted to do a quick ad for Mike's book.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents March 17, 2017 10:06 PM  

What's the point of slamming Keynes?

For pure entertainment. For example:

In the long run, John Meynard Keynes is still dead.

Anonymous Shut up rabbit March 18, 2017 4:06 AM  

Durandel Almiras wrote:those who are experts in one narrow field of specialty extrapolate that they are experts in multiple fields,

Pretty much sums up "The Big Bang Theory".

In reality they would be even more socially awkward, have no friends, spend all their free time in the lab have have absolutely know clue about anything other than their extremely narrow specialization and maybe the latest Harry-Star-Trek-Marvel-Wars comic-book-film.

"I fucking love science" = I like looking at NASA photos on the Interwebs

Anonymous Looking Glass March 18, 2017 10:25 AM  

@85 The more funny anecdotes are knowing the answer to mathematics question type you'd never seen before, then trying to figure out how to actually do the intermediate steps. (True story.)

"After that, it's wholly down to where the specific mental skill set of the person revolves. It takes a fairly different mental approach to do Engineering compared to something like Theoretical Physics. Newton & Jean-Francois Champollion were both brilliant minds, but in completely separate ways."

IQ testing tends to scale with speed at pattern recognition and certain computational tasks. So, yes, there is a difference between 130 & 160 that everyone will notice. However, beyond basic schooling, the difference matters little due to the time investment necessary to actually understand different fields. The further right-shifted someone's IQ, the much easier it is for them to handle highly computational skill sets.

Yes, out at my range, I could have handled grabbing a PhD in pretty much any hard science field, which is unlikely for someone at 130 to handle. In that extent, yes, SD shifts to the right matter a lot. However, having a hard science PhD doesn't mean I'm going to listen to the person deal with Military Strategy. If that's been their hobby for the last 20 years with extensive time spent learning about it? I'm all ears.

Also, there is a mental version of "the zone" or Overspeed. (Physical Performance Nervous & Muscle harmony states that allow for peak performance.) It takes a bit of practice learning when to interrupt people to point out their entire story &/or point is logically impossible. Who said Sigma? :)

Blogger Jose March 18, 2017 12:32 PM  

Shut up rabbit wrote:

Pretty much sums up "The Big Bang Theory".

In reality they would be even more socially awkward, have no friends, spend all their free time in the lab have have absolutely know clue about anything other than their extremely narrow specialization and maybe the latest Harry-Star-Trek-Marvel-Wars comic-book-film.

"I fucking love science" = I like looking at NASA photos on the Interwebs


The Big Bang Theory is a work of fiction written by people who hate {STEM and those who understand STEM and other complicated things}. In my experience, having interacted with hundreds of STEM graduates including many PhDs, I'd put the accuracy of the description above at less than 1%. Even at MIT (and presumably Caltech) less than 10% would fall into that categorization; MIT nerds go to the gym, party (less hard than others, but they do), raise families, and work in productive jobs that require social graces.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people with room temperature IQs who suffer from the social handicaps described, so, yes, TBBT is nothing but the mediocre ragging on those who they envy, for the enjoyment of the hoi polloi. The same hoi polloi who "loves science," as long as they don't have to learn any.

What do you say about a 160-IQ student at MIT? "Let's send him to Harvard and increase the average in both schools." :-)

Lubos Motl on TBBT with bonus insulting of Bill Nye, The "making up experiment results is okay when I do it for the greater good" Guy: http://motls.blogspot.com/2017/03/this-nyes-monologue-is-no-big-think.html?m=1

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